Legal Centre Lesvos - Criminalization of facilitation at the borders of the European Union


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Speakers: Lorraine Leete (Coordinator) and Ozan Mirkan Balpetek (Advocacy and Communication Coordinator), Legal Centre Lesvos

Moderation: Dr. Latife Akyüz, EUV


Anti-smuggling laws throughout the EU were first established in order to protect the rights of migrants subjected to smuggling operations and avoid their criminalization before, during, and after their journey to seek asylum and a safe haven. At the same time, these laws also involve humanitarian assistance to migrants, shielding people and communities who assist and help migrants from being treated as criminals as well.

However, in bad faith, these laws have been utilized today to act exactly opposite to their origin; being used as a weapon of deterrence and criminalization towards migrants, humanitarian aid, and political activity on border crossings. As Fortress Europe grows with the security and military budget of EU border management skyrocketing, visibility and space for people who seek shelter and people who are in solidarity with them shrink.

As a non-profit and non-governmental organization, Legal Center Lesvos challenges the status quo on the criminalization of migrants and solidarity alike, while providing free legal services to migrants, broadening political advocacy on criminal acts on pushbacks, and operating refugee camps as prisons for people on the move.