The Australian Solution: A model for necropolitics at the border 7g - The Criminalisation of Solidarity and Humanitarian Aid


The Criminalisation of Solidarity and Humanitarian Aid

[imagecaption] Image: No More Deaths. [/imagecaption]


As borders become increasingly militarised and ‘deterrence policies’ push people into more inhospitable terrains, humanitarian aid is also increasingly criminalised. While states continue to abrogate their responsibility to protect human lives, individuals attempt to resist lethal indifference and seek ways to provide aid.

In search and rescue missions in the EU, ordinary citizens have stepped in to provide assistance to people in their communities. Groups like No More Deaths in the US provide potentially life-saving supplies to people undertaking dangerous desert crossings. In several instances, however, governments have moved to punish people for such acts, criminalising what in other contexts would be understood as humanitarian aid.  At least 250 volunteers and aid workers across 14 European countries have been arrested, charged or investigated for supporting undocumented migrants in the past five years

In a two-year long case in the US, Scott Warren, a volunteer with No More Deaths, was charged with three counts of felony for offering food, water, and lodging to two migrants who had crossed the US-Mexico border without authorization. Along with other volunteers he also faced separate misdemeanor charges for leaving water jugs and food for migrants on a national wildlife refuge in the remote desert. In November 2019 a jury returned a verdict of ‘not guilty‘. The actions of humanitarian workers like Warren and his colleagues represents a refusal to ‘let die’.


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