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Van der Leun and Rodrigues on the criminalisation of migrant aid

Aid workers being summoned to appear before a court in Greece and more stringent rules for rescue boats in Italy. Is providing aid to asylum seekers being criminalised? There's no doubt about it, according to Joanne van der Leun and Peter Rodrigues.


‘Prosecuting aid workers? Ten years ago, I would never have thought that that boundary would be crossed in Europe’, says Professor of Criminology Joanne van der Leun in Dutch newspaper ‘het Nederlands Dagblad’. It is the paradox of migration control measures. ‘The more you try to keep people out, the more migration will be criminalised.’ The criminalisation of migration has only increased, observes Van der Leun. 
The entanglement of migration policy with criminal policy is also called ‘crimmigration’. That governments are trying to get a handle om migration is understandable, says Van der Leun. But the way that it is done at the moment is counterproductive, according to her, and pushes migration further towards criminalisation.

Lack of European solidarity

There are countless examples of using criminalisation as a way to deter people, says Peter Rodrigues, Professor of Immigration Law. 'Penalising humanitarian aid is a means to prevent the arrival of asylum seekers. And when aiding asylum seekers becomes a crime, you're also criminalising the asylum seekers themselves.’ But whether criminal prosecution is legitimate or not is not very clear-cut according to Rodrigues. The line between smuggling and humanitarian aid is therefore blurred. 

Both Van der Leun and Rodrigues denounce the lack of European solidarity. The Dublin Treaty in particular, which states that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the country in which they first enter Europe, is causing problems and an imbalance between northern and southern countries within the EU. 

You can read the full article (in Dutch) in het Nederlands Dagblad.

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