23 Jan 2019

Fit for purpose?

The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of
humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants: 2018 update

Sergio Carrera / Lina Vosyliute / Stephanie Smialowski / Jennifer Allsopp / Gabriella Sanchez


This latest study takes stock of and examines the latest developments that have taken place since 2016, specifically the legislative and policy changes, along with various forms and cases of criminalisation of humanitarian actors, migrants’ family members and basic service providers. The study uses the notion of ‘policing humanitarianism’ to describe not only cases of formal prosecution and sentencing in criminal justice procedures, but also wider dynamics of suspicion, intimidation, harassment and disciplining in five selected Member States – Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary and Italy. Policing humanitarianism negatively affects EU citizens’ rights – such as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. When civil society is effectively (self-)silenced and its accountability role undermined, policies to combat migrant smuggling may be overused and give rise to serious breaches of the EU’s founding values, notably the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. Moreover, policing humanitarianism negatively affects wider societal trust and diverts the limited resources of law enforcement from investigating more serious crimes.

Commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions (PETI), it updates the 2016 study Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants.

The media monitoring containing 92 entries has been conducted in cooperation with Michele Levoy, Elisabeth Schmidt-Hieber, Kadri Soova from the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM).

The study is available on the Parliament’s website (.pdf, 186 pp).

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