France: Cédric Herrou again arrested

Criminalisation of migration and solidarity

French police accuses activist of "aiding and abetting illegal entry" before finding that his companions are legally present in France.

Herrou_Rebecca Marshall.jpeg

Herrou, Foto: Rebecca Marshall

The French farmer Cédric Herrou, who in recent years has repeatedly made headlines for showing solidarity with migrants and refugees in the Roya Valley and for the arrests that have resulted thereof, was taken into custody for the eleventh time in Nice on Saturday 26 October after he and two asylum seekers were stopped at a police check near the Italian border. The activist, who was released late in the afternoon, denounces the incompetence of the police.

"The police officer of the PAF was not familiar with the administrative documents of the prefecture for asylum seekers and regarded my two companions as illegal immigrants!” He called on the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner "without irony" to encourage free police training on foreigners' rights.

His lawyer Zia Oloumi commented on what had happened in front of the AFP: "As usual, Cédric Herrou went to the Saint-André-de-la Roche market near Nice to sell eggs and vegetables when the CRS subjected him and his two passengers to a check. He filmed the control of his fellow passengers by the police, who ordered him to stop. Cédric replied that he was allowed to film, whereupon they arrested him."

According to lawyer Oloumi, the police justified the arrest with "aiding and abetting illegal entry" before finding that the two people in Herrous's company were legally present in France. The two persons were released on Monday morning. Cédric Herrou was released on the same day.

According to Herrou, this umpteenth arrest constitutes further evidence of the abusive use of police custody and of the ongoing harassment and stigmatisation of migrants. "Every week we are arrested on our way to this market just because there are black people in the car. This is racial profiling. Due to these circumstances, we've always planned an extra hour for the trip."

For several years now, the farmer has been taking in numerous refugees and migrants on his farm near Breil-sur-Roya not far from the Italian border. There the French police regularly carries out illegal push-backs to Italy and actively prevents migrants from applying for asylum. For years, Herrou and numerous other inhabitants of the Roya Valley have been confronted with a wave of state oppression for their support to enforce migrants’ basic human rights. Arrests, roadblocks, night raids and drone surveillance have become the order of the day.

While former lawsuits against Cédric Herrou were dropped in most cases, the farmer is still under a judicial investigation before the court in Grasse for "aiding and abetting illegal residence" in France.

On 04.11.19 borderline-europe shows the film "The Valley", which documents the situation and the people in the Roya Valley, at 7pm at moviemento:

After the screening, there will be a discussion with the director, Nuno Escudeiro and the film protagonist, Chamberlain Nyedri, who himself reached France via the Roya Valley. The debate will focus on the criminalisation of migration and, associated with that, the criminalisation of solidarity.