"The offence of solidarity": Stigmatisation, repression and intimidation of migrants’ rights defenders

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The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders (FIDH -OMCT) publishes an international fact-finding report on obstacles faced by migrants’ rights defenders in France, entitled "The offence of solidarity: Stigmatisation, repression and intimidation of migrants’ rights defenders".

Does the existence of strong and and tested democratic institutions in themselves ensure that the working environment of human rights defenders is free of any hindrances and safe ? Alerted by the French League of Human Rights (Ligue française des droits de l’Homme - LDH), the Observatory dispatched an international fact-finding mission to review the conditions of exercise of the defense of migrants’ rights in France. A delegation visited France from 17 to 25 March 2009.

The findings of the report are worrying: abuses and dysfunctioning related to a "results-oriented" culture, quantitative targets of individuals providing assistance to migrants to be investigated, constant pressure on individuals in contact with migrants, encouraged by stigmatising and vague laws. The list of cases of arrest and sometimes prosecution of individuals who provided assistance to migrants in the report brings us to the conclusion that the environment of those defending the rights of migrants in France is unfavourable and can only contribute to strongly deterring individuals from any commitment. This blatantly contradicts the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on human rights defenders and the Observatory considers that it is necessary to refer the report to the relevant French authorities and the regional and international mechanisms monitoring the respect of human rights.

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