Criminalisation of humanitarian assistance

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European Union (EU) and national policies are increasingly affecting civil society organisations and individuals who provide humanitarian assistance and access to rights to undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. As documented by the ReSOMA collaborative research, new criminalisation trends emerged in the context of the so-called “European refugee humanitarian crisis” aiming to punish the facilitation of entry and residence of irregular immigrants in the Member States. This is often due to the unclear distinction between what is and is not smuggling, humanitarian assistance and financial gain. As a result, EU and national policies tend to hinder the movement and operations of NGOs providing humanitarian assistance by means of legal restrictions and administrative penalties. ReSOMA aims to further monitor criminalisation cases and threats while highlighting the litigation strategies used and their outcomes. In particular, it aims at documenting the great diversity in the guidelines and arguments used by lawyers, legal systems and national governments to address and avoid criminalisation.

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