Geneva - The recent decision by France’s Constitutional Court to revoke punishment for ‘crimes of solidarity’ with illegal migrants is a step in the right direction, says the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, commending the notable improvements adopted by the Swedish Migration Agency in regard to the duration of migration and asylum processing.
The resolution issued on 6 July, 2018 to revoke ‘solidarity crimes’ is a positive step regarding the treatment of migrants and refugees in Europe. The ‘offence’ of solidarity was previously issued under article 1-622 of the French immigration law, stating that whoever helps migrants, directly or indirectly, in movement, entrance, or illegal stay in France could be subject to up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros, states the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor.
The above-mentioned article included prohibiting offering migrants and asylum seekers in France any humanitarian aid, including food, water, clothing, and shelter, in addition to providing them with medical aid, taking them to medical centers, helping them in legal proceedings, or providing interpretation and translation services.
Dozens of French people have been detained on charges of offering humanitarian aid for migrants in the country and were prosecuted for crimes of solidarity, said Euro-Med’s legal researcher, Eman Zaiter, adding that, it was a shameful resolution.
France’s Constitutional Court decided to abolish ‘crimes of solidarity’ as they are incompatible with article 73-2 of the French Constitution, which guarantees everyone the right to offer others humanitarian aid without discrimination, including residence-related discrimination.
The decision by France’s Constitutional Court is an effective step towards improving the French community’s impression regarding migrants and refugees. It is a step towards eliminating the terrifying treatment of refugees in the country, added Zaiter.
The Swedish Migration Agency’s decision to speed up the duration of migration, reunification, and asylum processing is another commendable step. Thanks to this decision, the applicant now has the right to ask the Migration Agency to decide on his/her application within four weeks of submission at most, compared to six months in in the past.
“The new decision that entered into effect last week would provide relief to thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, and applicants for reunification, who have been waiting for a decision on their applications status for years,” states the non-profit organization, adding that some applications previously needed up to three years to receive a decision regarding their cases, which left refugees and asylum seekers under stress, leading unstable lives, especially when they are far away from their families and loved ones for a long time.
Giving the applicant the right to effectively follow up on his/ her case and to ask for a decision on their applications represents a positive step towards humanely treating those applicants, whose fate is linked to the pending decision of the Migration Agency.
The declaration by the Director-General of the Swedish Migration Agency, Mikael Ribbenvik, regarding the Agency’s serious attempt to have applications decided on within 30 days is another great step pointing to the success of Europe’s human rights record, states Euro-Med Monitor.
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on both France and Sweden to further build on these steps by taking further steps towards a humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing conflicts and by sharing the collective responsibility of asylum applications.
Euro-Med Monitor further calls on the EU member states to take positive steps in regard to dealing with refugees and migrants, in accordance with human rights standards, taking the humanitarian assistance as a priority.