Four people were arrested for helping migrants cross the border into France. It is the latest case over citizens providing aid to refugees in France. The activists were arrested on Tuesday in relation to the solidarity march organised in April by the activist group “Tous Migrants”. In response to the arrests, the activists held a 140 people strong picket in front of the police station where their friends were detained.
The April march, attended by some 100 local activists, was escorting 20 migrant people over an Alpine pass. The activists were responding to a blockade set up nearby by the members of a far right group Generation Identity order to keep the refugees out of France.
“My conscience is clear, I have nothing to feel guilty about”, said Benoit, one of the three men arrested along with a woman by police in Briancon in southeast France.
The arrestees were released after questioning. Three other activists are already on trial in this case, though a judge has delayed hearings until November pending a ruling by France’s top Constitutional Council on legislation covering aid to migrants. It is unclear whether the French police is planning on more arrests in relation to the march.
Earlier in July a French court ruled that so-called “crime of solidarity”- helping migrants who already entered the country is not in fact a crime. However, it is still possible to get arrested for assisting people to enter France illegally.
In the wake of this decision, a French court last week ordered charges dropped against a 73-year-old Martine Landry, a long-term activist and Amnesty International volunteer who helped two migrant children to cross the border from Italy to France in July last year.
In the past, several other activists, including Cédric Herrou, were sentenced for the same type of offense to suspended imprisonment or a fine.
Photo: the picket in front of Briancon police station, source: Tous Migrants