Documentary film-makers Lauren Southern and Caolan Robertson have released shocking new recordings in which the director of a major NGO in Europe told their undercover team how she teaches migrants to lie and pretend to be persecuted Christians to border police.
Ariel Ricker, Executive Director of Advocates Abroad, was caught in the recordings admitting that the asylum process is simply theatre.
“This is all like a big theatre production, everyone has a part to play and a refugee has to act the part of the refugee in trauma for the interviewers, but it is extremely difficult to do this because unless they are taught how to be this character, this actor, then they go about it usually the opposite way,” Ricker says.
Ricker’s NGO, Advocates Abroad, provides legal aid to refugees and migrants seeking asylum in Europe. They have 380 staff members that are primarily involved in preparing refugees and migrants for their asylum interviews. In 2017, they worked with over 15,000 refugees. Southern’s team points out that they also recently campaigned with 12 British MPs to raise $100,000 in donations.
In the shocking undercover video, Ricker also admits to teaching the migrants how to cry, to “act the part” of the “refugee in trauma” and even throw up to show extreme emotion.
“Oh yeah, yeah. I see it like, I tell them that this is acting, all of this is acting […] it’s all acting as though this is theatre. So for them to get through they must act their part in the theatre and that is the refugee in trauma, because these EASO officers are so fucking stupid all they know is what’s written on the paper, EASO says ‘this is refugee in trauma, they have these characteristics’ so we coach people how to have these characteristics,” Ricker admits.
Ricker explains that they do role-playing, where they act like the “refugee” and the migrant plays the officer. This way they can see how they are supposed to act.
They also admit to teaching the migrants to pretend to be Christian — and how to pretend to pray.
“They also ask like whats your favourite holiday, some people say like Christmas and but like we explain you cannot just say this because this is not a sufficient answer, you have to say, you have to say it a certain way which is like ‘December 25th which is Christmas, which is the birthday of our Lord and Saviour,'” Ricker explains.
It gets worse.
Ricker explains that she has come up with a “formula” on what exactly they should teach migrants to say in order to appear sympathetic.
“So like um there’s a formula we came up with which is ironic because I suck at formulas, but its like ‘significant event, date and location.’ So [unintelligible] to answer all the questions the same way; ‘in December 2017 in Izmir in Turkey I was threatened for being a Christian because my boss and his friends jumped me when I was leaving my church. This is the Bible they tried to tear up, this is the crucifix I was wearing that they tried to tear, and they made me feel unsafe as a Christian in Turkey.’ Ba-boom. And that way you have the event, the date and the location so you’ve given them a very specific answer, and you’ve kept it to be a tight, short answer as well […] and it’s much harder to refute because you have all the elements there,” Ricker said.
Ricker even admits to being involved with smugglers.
“So the leader [of ERCI] was properly involved with smugglers?” the undercover journalist asks.
Ricker replied confidently, “of course they were, I mean we all are to some degree, like there’s no question of that. But it’s like how involved you are, how much you want to be involved […] some people will draw the line at being in cahoots with a trafficker but they won’t with a smuggler.”
The organization currently lists The University of Denver as an official partner.
Upon being presented with a transcript of the undercover records, the university said that “one of our college’s professors, Scott Johns, traveled to a Greek island near Turkey in December of 2016 and to mainland Greece in November of 2017 to volunteer with Advocates Abroad. He worked with other lawyers, mostly from Europe, to advise individuals seeking asylum in Greece.”