Solidarity with Pierre-Alain Mannoni

++ Final court decision in the Pierre-Alain Mannoni case: after four years in court, the professor is acquitted of all charges of "aiding and abetting illegal entry, movement and residence++


"I would do it again anytime” - When Pierre-Alain Mannoni drove three young women to the nearest railway station in 2016, the engineering professor was arrested for "aiding and abetting illegal residence". His trial, which lasted over four years, entered its fifth round on 23 September 2020. On appeal in Lyon, the public prosecutor's office asked for a five-month suspended sentence. The final court decision was handed down on 28 October and includes an acquittal on all charges against Pierre-Alain Mannoni.


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Criminalization of solidarity and „fraternité“ in France, the "birthplace of human rights”

  • In October 2016, Pierre-Alain Mannoni saw three young, injured women from Eritrea at the side of the road in the Roya Valley near the French-Italian border. He offered to take them to the near-by train station so they could reach the next hospital and receive medical assistance. On his way to the station, the 49-year-old was arrested and accused of "aiding and abetting illegal residence".
  • In the following trial in 2016 in Nice, the 49-year old professor was initally acquitted but the prosecution appealed against this decision.
  • In the 2017 appeal trial in Aix-en-Provence, Mannoni was sentenced to a 2-month suspended prison term.
  • Believing in the rightfulness of his behaviour, Mannoni went to the Constitutional Court, which ruled in July 2018 his favour: according to the principle of "fraternité" ("fraternity") enshrined in the French Constitution, everyone must be able to help another person, regardless of their residence status.
  • In a fourth trial in December 2018, the court of cassation consequently overturned Mannoni's conviction and a new trial date was scheduled.
  • On 23 September 2020, his fifth trial in four years took place in Lyon. In this appeal, the prosecution accused Mannoni of wanting to withdraw the three Eritrean women of the “state’s control" and criticised his pro-active approach, saying: "Why not trust the state under the rule of law?” The public prosecutor's office demanded a five-month suspended prison sentence.
  • On 28 October 2020, the final court decision was made: Pierre-Alain Mannoni was acquitted and all charges against him were dropped.

The professor who had previously stated to have acted “for the people, for [him]self and for [his] daughter”, showed himself relieved and vindicated in his behaviour “the values of fraternité (fraternity) are solid values that are non-negotiable”, he said on Wednesday evening in Lyon, “I am proud to pass them on to my daughter”

Mannoni’s acquittal is in fact based on the principle of fraternité, which has been constitutionally recognized since July 2018. In response to the case of the farmer Cédric Hérrou, also from the Roya Valley, the Constitutional Council officially recognized the principle of fraternité; this obliged the French government to modify the law concerning the punishment for “facilitating illegal entry, circulation and stay”. Whilst assistance to enter France remains illegal, French citizens are now legally entitled to assist the circulation and stay of non-French citizens- given that they are motivated by humanitarian reasons and not by profit or other personal enrichment. Mannoni’s defense lawyer referred to this point: “No one can believe that Pierre-Alain received a favour in return”.

The Appeal Court had a similar view on the matter. And so, Pierre-Alain Mannoni experienced justice after five trials. To help people regardless of their residence permit is “from the point of view of natural view, from the point of view of the French law not to condemn”, Mannoni said.

Pierre-Alain Mannoni’s four years of waiting and fighting for justice have come to an end. Others – members of NGOs, private individuals or asylum seekers themselves – are still waiting for their trials, have been convicted or criminalized for their solidarity in other ways. They are all expression of an increasing and systematic criminalization of solidarity within the European Union – the engagement for the rights and dignity of people seeking protection is  impeded, prevented and punished. “The reason for this is racism”, Mannoni said.


 


We demand an immediate and definitive halt to all investigations and proceedings and an end to the criminalization of migration and solidarity with people on the move!


People on the move and activists have repeatedly reported about illegal deportations of migrants and other actions by the French authorities. In July of this year, for example, the European Court of Justice condemned France for "inhuman and degrading living conditions" for asylum seekers. The persons concerned had been victims of "degrading treatment".


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Thursday, October 29, 2020