On 30 September 2017 around thirty activists, journalists, jurists, citizens acting in solidarity, members of NGOs and associations met in Milan to set up the Observatory which the 'Milan Charter: solidarity is not a crime' proposed in its document launched on 20 May 2017 during the demonstration 'Together without any walls', to safeguard the honour, freedom and rights of civil society in all its humanitarian expressions: when it saves lives at sea; when it protects and rescues people experiencing hardships at the borders; when it monitors respect for the principles of legality and equality; when it reports the failure to respect fundamental rights in procedures for administrative detention and forced removals; when it complies with the binding duty of solidarity which is a foundation of the Italian Constitution.
The people who drafted and signed the Charter are alarmed by evidence that the activities of independent monitoring, testimony and acts of solidarity by civil society - which constitute an essential guarantee for democratic life - are at risk, in Italy and in Europe. Instead of being protected and encouraged, the autonomy of activists acting in solidarity has been undermined by an intensifying process of criminalisation. We have witnessed the attempt to curb NGOs' activities through a code of conduct that sought to do away with their independent nature, systematic attacks against the possibility of enacting rescues at sea, trials against citizens who were "guilty" of offering assistance to refugees, charges against people who express dissenting opinions for "contempt for the institutions", the issuing of bylaws which prohibited giving food to refugees and the adoption of 'fogli di via' (orders to leave a town and not to return there for a specified period) which forbid activists from returning to border towns for three years.
The Observatory has been operative since the day of its launch and has been organised into two working groups: the first is active in fields of communication; the second one will support and defend activists facing charges for acts of solidarity and promote legislative and normative measures at a national and European level.
- setting up a network of activists at an Italian and European level capable of exchanging information, supporting each other and making their voices heard in the media and at the judicial and institutional levels;
- identifying and reporting the attempts enacted at a social, political, media, judicial and legislative level to tarnish and oppose initiatives driven by solidarity;
- connecting professionals and activists who engage in communication work in order to provide journalists and the media accurate and timely information to oppose the criminalisation of solidarity and of humanitarian activists;
- putting together an archive of best practices which are enacted, in Italy and in Europe;
- putting together an archive of relevant jurisprudence, in Italy and in Europe;
- connecting the professionals and activists who work in the legal and judicial fields, in order to support people and organisations that have been criminalised for acts of solidarity towards refugees and migrants. We deem it especially important to structure the possibilities of a legal defence not just on an individual basis, which must enter the national and European contexts for the purpose of setting some limits to the margins of arbitrariness which feature increasingly in the work of judicial authorities, police forces and bureaucratic structures;
- promoting the Milan Charter, translating it into the main languages and asking Italian and European NGOs, associations and activists to sign it;
- making the relationship with NGOs from other European countries which are active in the same field stronger and more operative, and the same applies to the Observatory, NGOs, MPs from Member States and MEPs who have shared, in a way that is not sufficiently coordinated, their work to counter the authoritarian drift which opposes solidarity enacted by the EU's authorities, which are busy transforming Europe into a fortress towards the outside world and into an army barracks for its own citizens.
Αναδημοσίευση από το Statewatch: http://statewatch.org/news/2017/oct/it-milan-observatory.htm