France: Convictions against peaceful protesters who marched against xenophobic group must be quashed 

Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal hearing of seven activists convicted for the “facilitation of irregular entry of foreign nationals” when they participated in a march at the French-Italian border against the actions of the group Generation Identitaire in the Alps, Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Europe, said:

“Misusing anti-smuggling laws to convict courageous activists who marched against the illegal activities of the racist and xenophobic group Generation Identitaire is not only an outrage but a breach of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Misusing anti-smuggling laws to convict courageous activists who marched against the illegal activities of the racist and xenophobic group Generation Identitaire is an outrage

Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International

“Rather than being criminalized in this way, the Briançon 7 should instead be celebrated for opposing actions that threatened the safety and rights of refugees and migrants. Their convictions should be quashed.”

Rather than being criminalized in this way, the Briançon 7 should instead be celebrated for opposing actions that threatened the safety and rights of refugees and migrants

Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International

“Participating in a peaceful protest is not a crime. Doing so, shoulder-to-shoulder with refugees and migrants, is simply an example of solidarity. France must act to protect human rights defenders that stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants and urgently amend the offence of ‘facilitation of irregular entry’ to ensure that no act of solidarity is punished ever again.”

BACKGROUND

On 21 April 2018, the group Génération Identitaire launched the operation “Defend Europe” in the area near Briançon, France. Members of the group deployed a giant banner in a mountain pass, usurping border police functions, and blocking the passage of refugees and migrants from Italy into France.

In response, over 100 protesters organized a counter demonstration marching peacefully from Italy and crossing the French border, reaching the city of Briançon.

On 13 December 2018, the Criminal Court of Gap convicted Benoit Ducos, Lisa Malapert, Mathieu Burellier, Jean-Luc Jalmain, Bastien Stauffer, Elenonora Laterza and Théo Buckmaster, known as the Briançon 7, for “facilitating the irregular entry of foreign nationals” into France.

Members of Génération Identitaire were convicted in 2019 for the events of April 2018. In March 2021, French authorities banned and dissolved the organization for incitement to discrimination, hatred, and violence.

For a detailed analysis of the case see https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur21/4181/2021/en/

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 
Stefan Simanowitz email: [email protected]