France: Conviction of man who offered tea and warm clothes to asylum seekers must be reversed
- Spokespeople available
Ahead of the appeal hearing tomorrow of Pierre Mumber, a mountain guide who offered hot tea and warm clothes to four West African asylum seekers in the Alps and was then convicted of “facilitating irregular entry”, Amnesty International is calling for the conviction to be overturned.
“Pierre Mumber’s humane gesture of offering warm clothes and hot tea to four asylum seekers who arrived in France through the mountains from Italy should be applauded,” said Rym Khadhraoui, Research Fellow at Amnesty International.
“Pierre committed no crime. But his conviction following this act of kindness shows how the French authorities are misusing the anti-smuggling law to criminalize people who offer help to those on the move.”
Pierre Mumber was convicted of “facilitating illegal entry” after three of the four asylum seekers later absconded from the control of the police.
Amnesty International believes that Pierre’s actions do not amount to “facilitating illegal entry” and rather constitute humanitarian assistance, which is legal under both French and international law.
His appeal hearing will take place before the Appeal Court of Grenoble at 13:45 (CET) on 24 October 2019.
Pierre Mumber was convicted and given a three-month suspended sentence by the lower criminal court of Gap (tribunal correctionnel) on 10 January 2019.
On 6 January 2018, Pierre Mumber gave tea and clothes to a Nigerian man and woman, Cameroonian man and a Guinean man in Montgenèvre, in France’s Briançon region. During winter, volunteers in the region regularly walk by the snowy roads to help people in need after crossing the mountains from Italy in dangerous conditions. Two police officers arrived and took the asylum seekers to their cars, accompanied by Mr Mumber. Later on, while Mr Mumber stood at a distance, three of the four asylum seekers escaped the police’s control.
After witnessing the risks and consequences for those attempting to cross the Alps from Italy into France, including the risk of getting lost in the snowy mountains in winter, Pierre Mumber was one of many people in the Briançon region who began providing humanitarian aid to people on the move, who were often ill-equipped for the dangerous journey.
At the French-Italian border, the French border police are denying entry to asylum seekers and migrants and unlawfully pushing them back to Italy, as well as criminalizing the legitimate acts of those who assist them.