Solidarity is not a crime – We stand with Mimmo Lucano for a refugee policy of solidarity and humanity

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.

Domenico Lucano (Kualchevolta CC BY-SA 4.0)

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). 

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


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