Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 5, 2019

Humanitarian Aid is Not a Crime: Doctors and nurses support Scott Warren, as the UN and Amnesty International voice global support

Humanitarian Aid is Not a Crime: Doctors and Nurses Support Scott Warren, as the UN and Amnesty International Echo Support and Urge Charges be Dropped

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON -- Doctors and nurses supported Scott Warren outside the courtroom on Tuesday, as the United Nations and Amnesty International voiced support for the humanitarian work and dropping the charges.
"Humanitarian aid is not a crime," was resounded in and outside the courtroom, and in voices around the world.

Justice Hindered in Federal Court
The federal trial began in the usual pattern of federal trials, with justice hindered by the prosecutors and court operating on the same team.
Inside the courtroom, volunteer Isabella Reis-Newsom was prevented from testifying on the reality of death and human remains in the borderlands.
On Tuesday, doctors and nurses turned out in support of Scott Warren and the right of all people "to receive life-saving care, regardless of immigration status," Sarah Roberts, RN, member of the No More Deaths medical team.
"Everyone has a right to survive. I'm sure that there are hundreds of lives that have been saved by humanitarian aid volunteers in Southern Arizona over the last twenty years," Roberts said.
No More Deaths said today, "Volunteer Isabella Reis-Newsom took the stand this morning to give a timeline of events leading up to the arrests. During those days, she went with volunteers to a shelter in Northern Mexico to provide people with harm reduction supplies and went on a search for someone who died in the borderlands.
"The court then refused to allow her to testify to the state of human remains she encountered on that search. The court also refused to allow evidence demonstrating the massive loss of human life in the borderlands, including a video of human remains taken by Armadillos del Desierto, a search and rescue/recovery organization.
"By not allowing evidence that demonstrates the nature /of death in the borderlands, the court is attempting to shield the jury from the violent and often invisible reality of the crisis of death and disappearance," No More Deaths reported.

Conspiracy Charge Allows Prosecutors Sweeping Powers
The Intercept reports on the conspiracy charge, which allows the prosecutors sweeping powers.
"The conspiracy charge in particular has cast an ominous pall over Warren’s case. As a prosecutorial tool, conspiracy charges can afford government attorneys sweeping powers in criminal cases." Ryan Devereaux reports in The Intercept on the first three days of the trial.

No More Deaths reports on Day 3 in court, June 3, 2019
1. We began the day with a powerful press conference featuring immigrant justice advocates from across the country. Patty Miller (Arivaca, AZ,) spoke on behalf of People Helping People in the Border Zone and the Rural Border Communities Coalition, followed by James Cordero and Jacqueline Arellano from Border Angeles (San Diego), Ravi Ragbir of the New Sanctuary Coalition (NYC) and Kaji Douša, Senior Pastor at The Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan.
2. The prosecution continued to build their “case” against Scott, spending most of the day playing video recordings of the testimony given by the two undocumented Central American men–José and Kristian–who were arrested with Scott. (Note we will be using only the first names of deposed witnesses to respect privacy).
3. Prosecutors attempted to erase the hardships experienced by undocumented people crossing the borderlands. One of the two witnesses, Kristian, testified that he had been traveling since October 4th, 2017 from his home in El Salvador. By the time of the arrest, he had been traveling for over three months and walking in the desert for two days. This is very different from the government narrative which claims the men were traveling for mere hours before they encountered help.
4. During their journey, José and Kristian experienced the routine and deadly Border Patrol apprehension method known as chase and scatter–a practice in which Border Patrol agents pursue migrants in vehicles, on foot, or in helicopters, forcing them to scatter into the desert. In the chaos, the two men lost their belongings, including “food and two gallons of water.” The No More Deaths Abuse Documentation Working Group has provided extensive documentation of the lethal impacts of this deadly apprehension method in our report series, The Disappeared.
5. José and Kristian testified that after arriving at the Barn, Scott gave them food, water, blankets and a place to rest. There was no evidence that Scott made any plans to transport them, hide them from law enforcement, or instruct them on how to evade any Border Patrol checkpoints.
6. Border Patrol Forensic Phone Analyst Rogelio Velasco gave a rundown of the contents of Scott Warren’s phone–he summarized 14,000 pages of emails and texts into a one page report. One part of his analysis showed the day José and Kristian arrived at the barn, Scott called a nurse and a doctor on the No More Deaths medical team. When asked why Velasco didn’t review the myriad other emails and texts discussing Scott’s humanitarian work, he replied, “I was looking for elements of criminality. If it wasn’t relevant then I skipped it.”

The United Nations urged the Uni
ted States to drop all charges.
“Providing humanitarian aid is not a crime. We urge the U.S. authorities to immediately drop all charges against Scott Warren,” the U.N. experts, including those dealing with migrant rights and the right to health, said in a joint statement, Reuters reports.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA: Authorities must stop criminalizing humanitarian aid

By Amnesty InternationaCensored News
21 May 2019, 10:10 UTC

The U.S. Department of Justice should immediately drop all criminal charges against humanitarian volunteer Dr. Scott Warren, and stop criminalizing humanitarian aid, Amnesty International said today.

“The U.S. government is legally required to prevent the arbitrary deaths of migrants and asylum seekers in border areas. Yet instead, authorities have willfully destroyed humanitarian aid provisions in deadly desert terrain and are criminally prosecuting humanitarian volunteers in order to deter them from saving lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

The U.S. government is prosecuting Dr. Warren for allegedly “harbouring” two undocumented migrants by providing them with humanitarian aid in the form of food, water, and clean clothing, in the desert town of Ajo, Arizona, where he lives. If convicted on all three criminal charges against him, Dr. Warren could face up to 20 years in prison. His felony trial is scheduled to begin on 29 May.Amnesty International has sent an open letter to U.S. authorities as part of an international campaign calling for the charges against Dr. Warren to be dropped.

“Providing humanitarian aid is never a crime. If Dr. Warren were convicted and imprisoned on these absurd charges, he would be a prisoner of conscience, detained for his volunteer activities motivated by humanitarian principles and his religious beliefs,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

“Amnesty International opposed similar criminal prosecutions of humanitarian volunteers in Arizona 15 years ago, and we will continue to do so as long as necessary, until the government stops abusing its power. The U.S. government should immediately adopt and implement exemptions from criminal prosecution under ‘smuggling’ and ‘harboring’ charges, for the provision of humanitarian aid.”

Earlier in 2019, Dr. Warren and eight other volunteers with the organization No More Deaths/No Más Muertes were also prosecuted for misdemeanor charges of littering and trespassing, specifically for leaving water and other humanitarian aid in desert areas where migrants have frequently died.\
Arizona has the deadliest border area in the USA, accounting for 38.3 percent of the 7,242 border deaths recorded by U.S. border authorities over the last 20 years. The actual number of deaths is likely higher, as local media and organizations have sometimes counted more than official statistics, and border authorities have not always registered or collected the remains of bodies reported to them by volunteers.

Amnesty International acknowledges the volunteer activities of Dr. Warren and his associated organization No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, as vital humanitarian aid directed at upholding the right to life and preventing the deaths of migrants and asylum seekers in the Sonoran Desert.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Duncan Tucker:

The Intercept: Bodies in the Borderlands
SCOTT WARREN HAS a checklist he goes through every time he finds a body in the desert. The earthly components are straightforward. Log the GPS coordinates. Take photographs and notes. Scour the brush for more bones and pull together all the data pertinent to the investigation that local authorities will, in theory, initiate once they arrive. These elements are basic evidence-gathering. But for Warren, the process doesn’t end there.

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