Caminando Fronteras

Last Wednesday, Helena Maleno Garzón received a visit from Police Officers, who informed her that she has to appear in front of the Moroccan justice authorities this Tuesday, December 5th. Without having access to the complete legal information, we were able to conclude that the Human Rights Defender is being accused of international crime for human trafficking and irregular migration by the Spanish State. The Spanish State has been investigating about her job. For that, they may have asked her country of residence, Morocco, to collaborate in this investigation. The foundations of the acussation against the Human Rights Defender are phone calls requesting assistance, which is executed by Salvamento Marítimo, who assist vessels of immigrants that are drifting and/or lost. It is a judicial process aimed to criminalise the work that Helena Maleno has been doing for years as a Human Rights Defender. It also should be noted that Helena Maleno is a Spanish journalist, activist and researcher, specialised in Migration and Human Trafficking. Helena has been active since 2001 in the South Borders, ensuring the right to sanitation, education, identity and a secure life for immigrants.

In her long journey, she has been working on:

- Investigating the Human Rights situation in the South Border for immigrants: rights violation by the authorities, help in case of aggression and violence, entrance denial when asylum is needed, protection of minors and victims of human trafficking, humanitarian help, etc.

- Documenting cases of violence against immigrants in frontier cities such as Ceuta and Melilla, highlighting illegal practices such as "hot returns" and reporting policies like "outsourcing in the borders".

- Protecting their right to living: alerting services of rescue and "Salvamento" of the corresponding country; each time the immigrants make calls asking for sea rescue.

- Identifying the bodies of those who drown, informing their families back in their countries of origin and securing a worthy burial that meets their traditions and wills. Turning those who are just numbers into names.

- Joining the families in their healing process and the constant fight to know the truth, to receive reparation and prevent these situations from happening once again.

- Opening investigations and putting pressure on the authorities when violence is used and leads to the violation of Human Rights, such as their right to life.

- Detecting and protecting the victims of human trafficking, especially women and minors, supporting them in court proceedings and helping them to get out of trafficking networks.

- Counseling the people who are potentially in need of shelter and helping them to get a chance to asylum.
- Boosting the empowerment of the immigrants, raising awareness on their rights and freedom in countries of origin, transit and destiny.

- Informing daily on social media (with approximately 80.000 followers) about their activity in order to support the process that the migrating communities go through. And handling the "security in the territory" about Human Rights.

Because of this work, Helena Maleno has managed to get known among the migrating communities, not only as a person of reference, but as a friend and colleague that provides help when it is needed. She has developed her work for national and international organizations and institutions as a "Defensor del Pueblo" of Spain, the General Council of the Judiciary, Women’s Link or the "Servicio Jesuita Migrante". A job of Human Right defense that has been awarded by the General Council of the Spanish Advocacy (2015) or the "Unión Progresista de Fiscales" (2014). Also, it is a work that goes hand in hand with pressure, intimidation and blackmailing by institutions who consider that this type of information ought not to see the light and criminal networks of human trafficking.

Once more, we are making an international call to DefendThoseWhoDefend. Today, we claim as ours the compromise with all the defenders of Human Rights, whose activity is being threatened because of the criminalisation of the solidarity under the excuse of national security.

On this day, we are not only putting in risk the life of Helena and her right to freedom. We are putting at risk the social State, State of rights, our own democracy and with it the freedom and fundamental rights of our towns, especially of those that pursue their right to movement. For that, our responsibility today is to support Helena. That is why our human right leads us to #DefendingMaleno (#DefendiendoAMaleno).

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