Increasingly in Europe, the actions of NGOs and individuals who rescue, assist and advocate on behalf of survivors, have brought both public and political attention to the scenes of humanitarian and civic action around asylum seeking. By the end of 2018, several of these actions have been publicly attacked and declared illegal, while those who continue to engage in rescue operations, humanitarian assistance and advocacy activities in favour of asylum seekers are subject to disproportionate policing and arrests for allegedly engaging in criminal activity.
Within this context, UAI published a report and briefing note in May 2019 which highlight the widespread and systematic use of criminal law and public defamation against NGOs and individuals who assist asylum seekers as an expansion and intensification of the wider criminalisation of migration in Europe. We, at UAI, seek to challenge the perspectives that abuse and criminalise migration and treat people as not worthy of mutual respect and hospitality. We believe that unless there is a collective endeavour to promote narratives, discourses and practices which emphasize our common humanity, human dignity and empathy with those affected by war, armed conflicts, structural violence (such as climate, poverty and oppression) as well as individual persecution, inhumanity will persist.