French Activist Facing Jail for Assisting Child Migrants

French activist Martine Landry is facing jail and a fine after she was charged with “facilitating the entry of two illegal foreign minors”. Her crime: having taken care of and escorted these two children from the Italian border post to the border post on the French side. She will be tried in Nice on Monday 8th January 2018.

Martine Landry is an experienced activist, and long-term Amnesty International member. She is involved in various local and national associations offering support and solidarity to migrants and refugees, including the National Border Assistance Association for Foreigners (Anafé). She is also the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regional referee on the issue of refugees and migrants since 2011 and is in charge of an observation mission in the area, and is involved in a group providing counseling and legal advice to asylum seekers.

Her criminal charge follows the events from July 2017, when the Italian police sent, on foot, two 15 year old Guinean children to France. Martine Landry picked them up at the Menton / Ventimiglia border crossing on the French side to accompany them to the Border Police, with documents attesting that they have the right to support from French Child Welfare Service. Shortly after, Martine received summons to appear at Nice Criminal Court. If convicted, she is facing up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 30,000 Euros.

In France, unaccompanied refugee children are not given the necessary care required by French legislation on protection of vulnerable minors, and face illegal deportation without the possibility of exercising their rights, or even being accompanied. Activists who offer help to both child and adult migrants are often intimidated, persecuted and harassed by authorities for so-called “crime of solidarity”.

<span title=”Ces derniers mois, plusieurs autres militants associatifs, dont Cédric Herrou, figure de l’association Roya Citoyenne, ont été condamnés en appel pour le même type de délit à des peines d’emprisonnement ou d’amende avec sursis.

“>In recent months, several other activists, including Cédric Herrou, were sentenced  for the same type of offense to suspended imprisonment or a fine. On 13th of December, four pensioners charged with a crime of assisting migrants near the Italian border had been fined 800 Euros each<span title=”Interpellations record

“>.

The authorities’ approach to people expressing solidarity with migrants on the French- Italian border is causing an outcry with local communities. Last Saturday,  locals and activists from a number of humanitarian organisations held a demonstration in<span title=”Cette annonce intervient alors qu’une manifestation devait avoir lieu ce samedi à Menton, le long de la frontière franco-italienne, à l’appel de nombreuses organisations humanitaires, sous le mot d’ordre :

    “> Menton, a town along the Franco-Italian border, demanding  “<span title=”Liberté pour tous et solidarité avec les migrants : ouvrez les frontières!

“>Freedom for all and solidarity with migrants: open borders!“. The protestors in particular demanded a repeal of “crime of solidarity” laws and abandonment of all existing lawsuits of citizens helping migrants.

<span title=”Cette annonce intervient alors qu’une manifestation devait avoir lieu ce samedi à Menton, le long de la frontière franco-italienne, à l’appel de nombreuses organisations humanitaires, sous le mot d’ordre :

    “>Pic: Amnesty International France