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PICUM's briefing: Cases of criminalisation of migration and solidarity in the EU in 2023

The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) released a briefing, titled “Cases of criminalisation of migration and solidarity in the EU in 2023”, which highlights cases of criminalisation at the European borders. It includes several cases of asylum-seekers wrongfully accused and, in some cases, imprisoned, pursuant to counter-smuggling  policies and represented by the Human Rights Legal Project. 

By referencing different cases of criminalisation, the briefing demonstrates once again that criminalisation of people on the move is a widespread phenomena in the European Union. Criminalization of migration is a state policy, in contravention with human rights principles, designed to prevent asylum seekers from entering Greece.

People are criminalized with charges of facilitation of illegal entry and smuggling. In Greece, this is particularly the case for men who are identified as the boat drivers, but as it happened to clients of HRLP, it also happened to men who were simply present on the boat, or because they were using their mobile phone.  

In most cases, boat drivers are identified on the basis of faulty evidence or unreliable testimonies and convictions are issued after procedures characterized by lack of fair trial guarantees. 

Furthermore, as most cases end up being deemed unfounded by courts and tribunals, it goes to show that “counter-smuggling policies have been based on misconceptions about what constitutes migrant smuggling, and end up harming rather than protecting, the rights of migrants and of people acting in solidarity”. 

In that regard, we must highlight once again the cases of Dawood and Chelik, who had respectively spent more than one year and more than two years in pre-trial detention, before the Court of Appeal found that Greece did not have jurisdiction to prosecute them. 

Several clients of HRLP are currently awaiting trial in pre-detention and face unfounded accusations and extremely severe sentences for the sole fact of migrating.

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