Alaa, Anouk, Hassan, Hussein, Mahmoud, Mohammad, Mustapha, Myriam, Walid, Youssef, Zakia. In prison because they are migrants? In prison because they have been in solidarity with migrants?
On March 23rd and 24th 2021 will take place. the appeal trial of eleven people prosecuted since 2017 for human trafficking and participation in a criminal organisation. In 2018, in view of their first trial, they made the headlines of all media. Today, we call on all those who believe in justice and solidarity to support them in this new ordeal.
The « solidarity trial », mistakenly called by some media « hosters trial », crushes seven migrants and four hosts for showing solidarity in a quest for a better life. Some thought they would find a more dignified welcome in England than in Belgium, others found the idea unbearable that people found themselves on the streets, helpless and hunted down. These are the deeds for which nine of them have already suffered from 2 to 13 months preventive detention.
In the first instance (Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles), four people were acquitted – for two of them the Public Prosecutor himself had requested acquittal – but the others were sentenced to 12 to 40 months imprisonment, some of them suspended. Incomprehensibly, the Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Office appealed against « the entire judgment » rendered. This new trial puts them at risk for sentences ranging up to 10 years in prison.
This call is yet another step in a long fight against the criminalisation of solidarity and for freedom, which resonates throughout Europe and beyond. Police and justice do not let go, trying to find charges even though the files are empty of any evidence of crime. Their prosecution is above all political. It is the symbol of an escalation of the repression that has fallen on migrants for too many years and, increasingly, on any movement of solidarity and protest against the security and unequal order. This trend can be observed everywhere in Europe with the same modus operandi : they do not drop the accusations and the prosecutions in order to exhaust the energy of people who support and the solidarity movements.
However, it is indeed the lack of rights, lack of safe and legal routes of passage and permanent accommodation structures that are a crime leading people into extreme precariousness, pushing them to find by themselves the means for their survival, safety and freedom. We denounce this trial which we consider being an attempt to intimidate the impulses of solidarity that have flourished in Belgium and elsewhere facing these injustices.
On top of the weight of the injustice of being prosecuted for having tried to manage or to help others to cope, beyond the ordeal of interrogations, police custody, prison and court, the criminalisation of solidarity results in considerable human and financial costs. The length of the procedures leads to lives being suspended for years because of the waiting periods as well as because of the financial costs involved. A trial like this causes irremediable psychological, social and economic damage:
We are therefore launching a call for solidarity and a fundraising pot so as not to add financial, lasting and terrible condemnation to the ordeals which are prison, preventive detention and prosecutions that have already spread for over nearly three years.
Let’s build solidarity to oppose its criminalisation !
What you can do ?
- Join us on the days of the appeal trial, on 23 and 24 March, at the Palais de Justice in Brussels, to show your solidarity with the defendants and exchange on this trial and all the others that weigh on migrants and solidarity in Belgium. A gathering is organised from 8:15 to 9:30 am Place Jean Jacobs.
- Contribute to the fundaraising pot: https://growfunding.be/fr/projects/solidarityisnotacrime
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Solidarity is not a crime
The citizens’ collective « Solidarity is not a crime » (SINAC) was created in 2018 emerging from the will to denounce the criminalisation of migration and solidarity through this trial revealing the xenophobic and security drifts of European states.
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