Below you can find our simple guidelines on how to fill in the form and some information on key questions. Remember, the Commission wants to know what you think, and if you’re hesitating, think about how many people lives will be touched by this policy.
How to fill in the form
- It will only take 5 minutes of your time.
- Questions 6 - 10 all relate to the criminalisation of those offering humanitarian assistance to migrants.
- If you’re limited on time, questions 8 and 10 are the most important to answer in order to get the message across that people offering humanitarian assistance to migrants should not face criminal charges.
- You do not have to answer all the questions nor do you have to fill in the empty spaces that encourage you to ‘elaborate’ your answer.
- You can fill in the form in any of the official EU languages.
- The first three questions are the only mandatory questions (they are about you--are you an individual, NGO, etc. etc.).
Answering this question is mandatory. It asks if you feel current law on migrant smuggling is sufficient for its purpose. Since we know it does not explicitly make humanitarian assistance in the context of migration legal, we would answer 'no' to this question.
Asks what are the key issues affecting EU law in this matter. While you can give multiple answers here and many of them are important. But if you indicate ‘insufficient protection of those providing humanitarian assistance’ (fourth from the top) this one relates specifically to the campaign and the problem of humanitarian assistance being criminalised.
Asks if the definition of the crime of human smuggling is clear enough in the current law. Since the current law does not explicitly make humanitarian assistance in this context legal, we would answer ‘No’, current law is not clear enough in this sense.
In technical terms, we recommend the definition of the crime be changed to look like this (which you can also use as an example): Article 1(2) of the Facilitation Directive (2002/90/EC) should be revised to state that Member States “shall not impose sanctions” on those who provide humanitarian assistance on a not for profit basis to undocumented migrants.
This Article currently gives Member States the option not to sanction providers of humanitarian assistance, but does not discourage them from doing so.
This question asks if only those people who gain financially from bringing people across borders irregularly should face charges or if anyone who does this, regardless of if there is a financial gain or not, should be charged.
The difference here is the following: a migrant smuggler is someone who is paid by people to bring them across borders irregularly. Migrant smugglers gain financially from the suffering and desperation of other human beings. On the other hand, when people offer life-saving humanitarian assistance in the form of bringing individuals from the sea to safety on dry land, there is no financial gain, it is just an act of humanity.
If you feel the second group (people offering life-saving humanitarian assistance) should not face criminal charges, you would answer ‘Yes’ to this question. EU law should not be more restrictive than UN law, and should therefore be revised in line with this law which clearly states that facilitation is punishable only if proven to be for profit or gain.
It is necessary to refer to financial gain to make clear that assistance for humanitarian and human rights reasons is not criminalised. The UN addresses this issue by excluding “family members or support groups such as religious or non-governmental organisations from punishment”.
This questions asks if the EU should make sure that all of the people who offer aid and humanitarian assistance to refugees are protected from prosecution. Should the EU protect people who save children from drowning off the coast of a Greek island from facing criminal charges as a migrant smuggler? If you think yes, then answer yes.
Here you are given the possibility to elaborate on your answer. We recommend you use your own words why you think it is important.
If you would like to read some more about the arguments you can refer to the two studies below:
The European Commission consults with different bodies (other EU institutions, experts, citizens, NGOs, etc.) when proposing new legislation and when modifying currently existing legislation. Depending on the type of initiative they are working on, the Commission offers different opportunities for citizens to give their input into these processes.
One of the Commission’s priorities for 2016 is Migration, and part of their work on this topic includes ‘migrant smuggling’. The Commission has singled this out as a key area of action in order to tackle what has with increasing frequency been referred to as the ‘refugee crisis’.
Migrant smuggling is a consequence of insufficient EU policies that do not meet the need for accessible and regular channels to enter the EU (for protection, family reunification, work or study) . This is why people continue to resort to the services provided by smugglers. The specific questions of this consultation are extremely relevant for the well-being and human rights of some of the most vulnerable people escaping war and persecution.
The consultation on Migrant Smuggling refers to the Facilitation Directive (named ‘Directive 2002/90/EC’) which states that anyone who is helping undocumented migrants enter or move through Europe are breaking the law. This directive does not outright protect individuals who are offering humanitarian assistance. So people who are saving migrants from drowning in the Aegean Sea for example can be arrested for migrant smuggling. Good samaritans can be fined for offering migrants a cup of tea and biscuits in their home, as recently happened in Denmark.
It is important to make sure that those people who want to be helping the most vulnerable continue to do so without fearing punishment, and since the European Commission is asking for our opinions on this, we should tell them what we think.
This campaign is run in partnership with Social Platform