German Opposition Party Files Human Trafficking Charges Against Migrant Rescue Groups

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Germany’s right-wing opposition party on Thursday filed human trafficking charges against several German migrant aid organizations, accusing the groups of facilitating illegal immigration from Africa to Europe.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) says its lawsuit is based on a German statute that makes it a crime to “aid or assist in illegal immigration repeatedly or on behalf of several foreigners, or for profit.”

The groups targeted in the suit — SOS Mediterranee, Sea-Watch, Doctors without Borders Germany, Save The Children Germany, Jugend Rettet, Mission Lifeline and Sea-Eye — pick up migrants off the coast of Libya and bring them across the Mediterranean sea to European ports. By using “their people-trafficking activity to acquire donations,” the groups are violating German law, according to AfD.

“These long overdue steps send a clear signal to all the illegal people-smugglers active in the Mediterranean, and to the world: These NGOs are human traffickers and radical leftist No Borders activists, not humanitarian life-savers,” AfD spokesman Petr Bystron said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They need to be punished, not succored and supported.”

One of Europe’s leading immigration-skeptical parties, AfD has enjoyed a rise in popularity since the 2015 refugee crisis, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel unilaterally suspended EU immigration rules and allowed nearly 1 million asylum seekers from the greater Middle East into Germany. Along with like-minded parties in Austria, Italy, and Hungary, AfD rejects multiculturalism as the EU’s “governing ideology” and calls for much tighter limits on immigration from Africa and the Middle East.

The same backlash that fueled AfD’s rise has forced Merkel to support a crackdown on illegal immigration and introduce tougher asylum policies. Following contentious negotiations within Merkel’s center-right governing coalition, Berlin said Tuesday it will open “transit centers” on the German-Austrian border to secure faster deportation of unauthorized migrants. (RELATED: Merkel’s Immigrant Woes Not Finished Yet, Hanging On Approval From Social Democrats, EU)

AfD framed the deal as a recognition of the German public’s skepticism of mass migration. But the German political establishment and its media allies continue to support high levels of immigration for ideological reasons, the party says.

“It is time to finally call a spade a spade and a crime a crime,” Bystron said. “Many other European countries have understood this, and closed their borders to mass illegal immigration.

“It is only the media and politicians who continue to tubthump for illegal mass migration against all reason and the interests of their own people,” he added.

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