Criminalisation of migrants in an irregular situation and of persons engaging with them (FRA)

This paper published in March 2014 examines the sanctions applied to counteract irregular migration.

Cover picture FRA criminalisation of migrants

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The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has published a new report on the criminalisation of migrants. It provides information concerning:

  • The punishments used for irregular entry or stay, when persons enter or stay in a territory although they are not authorised to do so;
  • The custodial penalties for irregular entry or stay for persons to whom the safeguards of the EU Return Directive should apply;
  • The risk that those who help such migrants or rent out accommodation to them are punished for smuggling human beings, or facilitating their entry or stay.

Based on this analysis, the paper proposes changes to policies against the smuggling of human beings, to render them more sensitive to fundamental rights.

Key findings of the report:

  • Importance of the risk that domestic EU Member State legislation on the facilitation of entry and stay may lead to the punishment of those who provide humanitarian assistance or rent out accommodation.
  • The use of criminal sanctions and imprisonment to fight irregular migration harms not only the persons concerned, but also casts a negative light on how society as a whole perceives them.
  • While all persons have rights, including migrants who enter or stay in the EU without permission, in practice, such persons are often deprived of their basic rights.

The report is available here (only in English). An annex presenting an overview of national legislation punishing irregular entry and stay, as well as the facilitation thereof, in the 28 EU Member States is available on the same web page.

Author : European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

Publication Date:
Sat 01 Mar 2014
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