On 30th September, the court in Locri, Italy, sentenced Domenico “Mimmo” Lucano, the former mayor of Riace, to 13 years and 2 months in prison for “criminal conspiracy to assist illegal immigration, fraud, embezzlement and abuse of office“.
The Prosecutor, who made no secret of the fact that he wanted to set an example with this punishment, had requested a sentence of 7 years. Mimmo Lucano got double that! An extremely heavy sentence, worthy of the worst criminals.
Although there were indeed some administrative errors, which Mimmo Lucano acknowledges, the sentence is disproportionate. It is difficult not to interpret it as a political sanction against someone who showed that another model of receiving migrants was possible in Europe: a model based on humanity, sharing and inclusion, when populists all over Europe compete with hatred and inhumanity.
It is neither a coincidence nor a mistake that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has praised the “Riace model”. By welcoming them unconditionally, Mimmo Lucano reminded us that exiles are neither a danger nor a threat, but rather a source of openness, exchange, knowledge and solutions. Riace, a stagnating village, emptied of its population that had left for more prosperous lands, was revitalized by the arrival of these new inhabitants: local craft industry and olive oil production were revived and the school reopened. In the face of the disgraceful and austere living conditions of Europe’s refugee camps, Lucano has offered up an alternative – a welcoming, human and supportive village – with the support of his fellow citizens who have re-elected him twice.
Italy, like other countries in the south of the European Union, is bearing the brunt of the lack of solidarity from other Member States of the European Union, and must assume a significant part of the European refugee reception crisis. By imposing such a heavy sanction on Mimmo Lucano, the Italian justice system is making a thinly veiled trial of citizen solidarity. This is not the way to solve the reception crisis: it is rather by adopting a new European asylum policy as soon as possible, with greater solidarity and fairness. It is up to the European Council to assume its responsibilities.
We, Members of the European Parliament from several EU Member States, who are more than ever committed to a European reception policy based on solidarity and humanity, give our support to Mimmo Lucano. We salute his noble fight for a dignified reception of those seeking refuge.
Mimmo Lucano has dedicated his mandates as mayor to his constituents and to those seeking refuge. Each of his actions, even his administrative mistakes, have been guided only by his desire to welcome with dignity. Showing humanity in an increasingly harsh society should not be a source of punishment.
In Italy, in France and everywhere in the European Union, solidarity must no longer be criminalized. While the European reception crisis is dragging on dramatically, people who have helped and welcomed should no longer be subject to legal proceedings or convictions; local authorities who volunteer to welcome people in vulnerable situations should be able to do so freely and with dignity.
We, the undersigned MEPs, commit ourselves to defending solidarity and to bringing the end of its criminalization to the attention of the European institutions. Like Mimmo Lucano, many Europeans have been or are about to be sentenced for “simply” showing humanity and solidarity: Pierre Mannoni (France), Dragan Umičević (Croatia) Fredrik Önnevall (Sweden), Anouk Van Gestel (Belgium), Seán Binder and Sarah Mardini (Greece).
This situation is unacceptable and we will fight alongside them so that solidarity is no longer considered a crime.
CAREME Damien Greens/EFA Francia
ALEMANNI Francesco Europa Verde Italia
ALFONSI François Greens/EFA Francia
AUBRY Manon The Left group Francia
BARRENA Pernando The Left group Spagna
BARTOLO Pietro S&D Italia
BITEAU Benoit Greens/EFA Francia
BJÖRK Malin The Left group Svezia
BLOSS Michael Greens/EFA Germania
BOATO Marco Europa Verde Italia
BOCCOLI Luca Europa Verde Italia
BOESELAGER Damian Greens/EFA Germania
BONELLI Angelo Europa Verde Italia
BRICMONT Saskia Greens/EFA Belgio
CHAIBI Leila The Left group Francia
CORMAND David Greens/EFA Francia
CORRAO Ignacio Greens/EFA Italia
CUCCHIARA Francesca Europa Verde Italia
DALUNDE Jakop Greens/EFA Svezia
DALY Clare The Left group Irlanda
D’AMATO Rosa Greens/EFA Italia
DELBOS-CORFIELD Gwendoline Greens/EFA Francia
DELLI Karima Greens/EFA Francia
DEVESA Ruiz S&D Spagna
DURAND Pascal RENEW Francia
ERNST Cornelia The Left group Germania
EVI Eleonora Greens/EFA Italia Coportavoce nazionale di Europa Verde
GLUCKSMANN Raphaël S&D Francia
GRAVAME Fulvia Europa Verde Italia
GRUFFAT Claude Greens/EFA Francia
GUILLAUME Sylvie S&D Francia
JADOT Yannick Greens/EFA Francia
KOSTER Dietmar S&D Germania
KOULOGLOU Stelios The Left group Grecia
KUHNKE Alice Greens/EFA Svezia
LALUCQ Aurore S&D Francia
LAMBERTS Philippe Greens/EFA Belgio
LARROUTUROU Pierre S&D Francia
LETTIERI Donato Europa Verde Italia
LOPEZ AGUILAR Juan Fernando S&D Spagna
MARQUARDT Erik Greens/EFA Germania
NEUMANN Hannah Greens/EFA Germania
NIENASS Niklas Greens/EFA Germania
O’SULLIVAN Grace Greens/EFA Irlanda
PEDICINI Piernicola Greens/EFA Italia
PELLETIER Anne-Sophie The Left group Francia
PEREIRA Sandra The left group Portogallo
PINEDA Manu The Left group Spagna
PUNGINELLI Maurizia Europa Verde Italia
REGO Sira The Left group Spagna
RIBA Diana Greens/EFA Spagna
RIVASI Michèle Greens/EFA Francia
ROMANO Elisa Europa Verde Italia
RONCHI Alessandro Europa Verde Italia
ROOSE Caroline Greens/EFA Francia
SATOURI Mounir Greens/EFA Francia
STRIK Tineke Greens/EFA Paesi Bassi
THUN UND HOHENSTEIN Róża EPP Polonia
TOUSSAINT Marie Greens/EFA Francia
URTASUN Ernest Greens/EFA Spagna
VILLANUEVA Idoia The Left group Spagna
WALLACE Mick The Left group Irlanda
YENBOU Salima Greens/EFA Francia
ZANELLA Luana Europa Verde Italia