Militarism and the police: how our streets became battlefields
As institutions like the police and border patrol become increasingly militarized, anti-militarism needs to become a cornerstone of social movements worldwide.
Militarism and the police: how our streets became battlefields
As institutions like the police and border patrol become increasingly militarized, anti-militarism needs to become a cornerstone of social movements worldwide.
#Border_Profiteers. Corporations profiting from borders, detentions and deportations - Berlin edition
This brochure has gathered a list of corporations that profit from deportations, from managing detention centers, from building fences, selling ships, drones or planes patrolling the Mediterranean, subcontracted security guards, providing data collection, border surveillance software, id control mechanisms, racist policy consultation, prison construction and any other form of oppression that limits peoples freedom of movement and right to stay.
The external borders of Europe are not in Berlin, but the border regime is all around us. This regime consists of more than just the state. In capitalism, many forms of border oppression are subcontracted to corporations. Borders are very profitable. Therefore this market is dominated by huge multinational corporations. And since keywords of the European borders are militarisation and surveillance, the list of corporate border profiteers is full of the usual suspects that also profit from war, prisons and privacy infringement.
The goal of this booklet is to promote action in Berlin and Brandenburg. Hence the focus is very much on companies that have an office in Berlin or action possibilities based on local struggles.
List of Border Profiteers
6. BORDER CONSULTANCY
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#profit #business #complexe_militaro-industriel #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #renvois #Allemagne #compagnies_aériennes #sécurité #détention_administrative #rétention #consultants #militarisation_des_frontières #renvois #expulsions #charter #Frontex
MIGRANTI : “AUMENTANO DI NUOVO I FONDI ITALIANI ALLA GUARDIA COSTIERA LIBICA”
Crescono di mezzo milione di euro i finanziamenti destinati al blocco dei flussi migratori: passati da 10 milioni nel 2020 a 10,5 nel 2021. In totale 32,6 milioni destinati alla Guardia Costiera libica dal 2017.
Impennata delle risorse destinate alle missioni navali che non prevedono il salvataggio dei migranti in mare. Dall’inizio dell’anno, oltre 720 vittime lungo la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale, almeno 7.135 dalla firma dell’accordo tra Italia e Libia. Oltre 13 mila i migranti riportati in Libia.
Continuano ad aumentare gli stanziamenti italiani alla Guardia Costiera libica. Il Governo ha infatti deciso di destinare 500 mila euro in più nel 2021 per sostenerne le attività, per un totale di 32,6 milioni di euro spesi dal 2017, anno dell’accordo Italia-Libia. Sale anche a 960 milioni il costo sostenuto dai contribuenti italiani per le missioni navali nel Mediterraneo, (nessuna delle quali ha compiti di ricerca e soccorso in mare) e nel paese nord africano, con un aumento di 17 milioni rispetto al 2020 per la missione Mare Sicuro e 15 milioni per Irini.
Tutto ciò, nonostante si continui a morire lungo la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale – con oltre 720 vittime dall’inizio dell’anno – e siano oramai ben note le modalità di intervento della cosiddetta Guardia Costiera libica, come testimoniato dal video diffuso in questi giorni da Sea-Watch.
È l’allarme lanciato da Oxfam, alla vigilia del dibattito parlamentare sul rinnovo delle missioni militari italiane. In un anno che vede il record di persone intercettate e riportate in Libia: più di 13.000. Dato che non ha suggerito evidentemente al Governo, né una profonda riflessione sul destino dei migranti, tra cui donne e bambini, che una volta rientrati nel paese nord-africano sono destinati ad essere vittime di abusi e torture sistematiche dalle quali stavano scappando, finendo nei centri di detenzione ufficiali e in altri luoghi di prigionia clandestini. Né tantomeno si è attuata una revisione dello stesso accordo con le autorità libiche, nonostante numerose inchieste e testimonianze abbiano confermato il coinvolgimento della Guardia Costiera libica nel traffico di esseri umani.
“Mentre lungo la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale si continua a morire, come dimostrano i continui naufragi di queste settimane, con l’ennesima tragedia avvenuta a Lampedusa pochi giorni fa, – sottolinea Paolo Pezzati, policy advisor per le emergenze umanitarie di Oxfam Italia – il Governo Draghi sta agendo in perfetta continuità con gli esecutivi precedenti sulle politiche migratorie, come dimostrano anche le recenti richieste al Consiglio europeo per un maggior coinvolgimento dell’Unione nel rafforzamento degli accordi con le autorità libiche. In sostanza si va avanti nella stessa direzione, in un paese dove “l’industria del contrabbando e tratta” è stata in parte convertita in “industria della detenzione” con abusi e violenze oramai note a tutti, anche grazie a questo considerevole flusso di denaro”.
“A pochi giorni dalla discussione parlamentare sul rinnovo delle missioni militari italiane all’estero, – conclude Pezzati – chiediamo perciò ai partiti di maggioranza di interrompere immediatamente gli stanziamenti per il 2021 diretti alla Guardia Costiera libica, che solo quest’anno ha intercettato e riportato in un paese non sicuro il triplo dei migranti, rispetto allo stesso periodo dello scorso anno. Assieme è necessaria una revisione delle missioni che contengono iniziative legate alla sua formazione e al suo supporto. Quello che serve è un cambio deciso di approccio, una gestione diretta dei flussi e non la mera chiusura delle frontiere delegata a paesi come la Libia o la Turchia”.
‘They can see us in the dark’: migrants grapple with hi-tech fortress EU
A powerful battery of drones, thermal cameras and heartbeat detectors are being deployed to exclude asylum seekers
Khaled has been playing “the game” for a year now. A former law student, he left Afghanistan in 2018, driven by precarious economic circumstances and fear for his security, as the Taliban were increasingly targeting Kabul.
But when he reached Europe, he realised the chances at winning the game were stacked against him. Getting to Europe’s borders was easy compared with actually crossing into the EU, he says, and there were more than physical obstacles preventing him from getting to Germany, where his uncle and girlfriend live.
On a cold December evening in the Serbian village of Horgoš, near the Hungarian border, where he had spent a month squatting in an abandoned farm building, he and six other Afghan asylum seekers were having dinner together – a raw onion and a loaf of bread they passed around – their faces lit up by the glow of a fire.
The previous night, they had all had another go at “the game” – the name migrants give to crossing attempts. But almost immediately the Hungarian border police stopped them and pushed them back into Serbia. They believe the speed of the response can be explained by the use of thermal cameras and surveillance drones, which they had seen during previous attempts to cross.
“They can see us in the dark – you just walk, and they find you,” said Khaled, adding that drones had been seen flying over their squat. “Sometimes they send them in this area to watch who is here.”
Drones, thermal-vision cameras and devices that can detect a heartbeat are among the new technological tools being increasingly used by European police to stop migrants from crossing borders, or to push them back when they do.
The often violent removal of migrants without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum is illegal under EU law, which obliges authorities to process asylum requests whether or not migrants possess identification documents or entered the country legally.
“Routes are getting harder and harder to navigate. Corridors [in the Balkans are] really intensively surveyed by these technologies,” says Simon Campbell, field coordinator for the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), a migrant rights group in the region.
The militarisation of Europe’s borders has been increasing steadily since 2015, when the influx of migrants reached its peak. A populist turn in politics and fear whipped up around the issue have fuelled the use of new technologies. The EU has invested in fortifying borders, earmarking €34.9bn (£30bn) in funding for border and migration management for the 2021-27 budget, while sidelining the creation of safe passages and fair asylum processes.
Osman, a Syrian refugee now living in Serbia, crossed several borders in the southern Balkans in 2014. “At the time, I didn’t see any type of technology,” he says, “but now there’s drones, thermal cameras and all sorts of other stuff.”
When the Hungarian police caught him trying to cross the Serbian border before the pandemic hit last year, they boasted about the equipment they used – including what Osman recalls as “a huge drone with a big camera”. He says they told him: “We are watching you everywhere.”
Upgrading of surveillance technology, as witnessed by Khaled and Osman, has coincided with increased funding for Frontex – the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency. Between 2005 and 2016, Frontex’s budget grew from €6.3m to €238.7m, and it now stands at €420.6m. Technology at the EU’s Balkan borders have been largely funded with EU money, with Frontex providing operational support.
Between 2014 and 2017, with EU funding, Croatia bought 13 thermal-imaging devices for €117,338 that can detect people more than a mile away and vehicles from two miles away.
In 2019, the Croatian interior ministry acquired four eRIS-III long-range drones for €2.3m. They identify people up to six miles away in daylight and just under two miles in darkness, they fly at 80mph and climb to an altitude of 3,500 metres (11,400ft), while transmitting real-time data. Croatia has infrared cameras that can detect people at up to six miles away and equipment that picks upheartbeats.
Romania now has heartbeat detection devices, alongside 117 thermo-vision cameras. Last spring, it added 24 vehicles with thermo-vision capabilities to its border security force at a cost of more than €13m.
Hungary’s investment in migration-management technology is shielded from public scrutiny by a 2017 legal amendment but its lack of transparency and practice of pushing migrants back have been criticised by other EU nations and the European court of justice, leading to Frontex suspending operations in Hungary in January.
It means migrants can no longer use the cover of darkness for their crossing attempts. Around the fire in Horgoš, Khaled and his fellow asylum-seekers decide to try crossing instead in the early morning, when they believe thermal cameras are less effective.
A 2021 report by BVMN claims that enhanced border control technologies have led to increased violence as police in the Balkans weaponise new equipment against people on the move. Technology used in pushing back migrants has “contributed to the ease with which racist and repressive procedures are carried out”, the report says.
BVMN highlighted the 2019 case of an 18-year-old Algerian who reported being beaten and strangled with his own shirt by police while attempting a night crossing from Bosnia to Croatia. “You cannot cross the border during the night because when the police catch you in the night, they beat you a lot. They break you,” says the teenager, who reported seeing surveillance drones.
Ali, 19, an Iranian asylum-seeker who lives in a migrant camp in Belgrade, says that the Croatian and Romanian police have been violent and ignored his appeals for asylum during his crossing attempts. “When they catch us, they don’t respect us, they insult us, they beat us,” says Ali. “We said ‘we want asylum’, but they weren’t listening.”
BVMN’s website archives hundreds of reports of violence. In February last year, eight Romanian border officers beat two Iraqi families with batons, administering electric shocks to two men, one of whom was holding his 11-month-old child. They stole their money and destroyed their phones, before taking them back to Serbia, blasting ice-cold air in the police van until they reached their destination.
“There’s been some very, very severe beatings lately,” says Campbell. “Since the spring of 2018, there has been excessive use of firearms, beatings with batons, Tasers and knives.”
Responding to questions via email, Frontex denies any link between its increased funding of new technologies and the violent pushbacks in the Balkans. It attributes the rise in reports to other factors, such as increased illegal migration and the proliferation of mobile phones making it easier to record incidents.
Petra Molnar, associate director of Refugee Law Lab, believes the over-emphasis on technologies can alienate and dehumanise migrants.
“There’s this alluring solution to really complex problems,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to sell a bunch of drones or a lot of automated technology, instead of dealing with the drivers that force people to migrate … or making the process more humane.”
Despite the increasingly sophisticated technologies that have been preventing them from crossing Europe’s borders, Khaled and his friends from the squat managed to cross into Hungary in late December. He is living in a camp in Germany and has begun the process of applying for asylum.
#Balkans #complexe_militaro-industriel #route_des_Balkans #technologie #asile #migrations #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #caméras_thermiques #militarisation_des_frontières #drones #détecteurs_de_battements_de_coeur #Horgos #Horgoš #Serbie #the_game #game #surveillance_frontalière #Hongrie #Frontex #Croatie #Roumanie #nuit #violence #refoulements #push-backs #déshumanisation
The Barceló Group is a leading Spanish travel and hotel company whose airline Evelop is an eager deportation profiteer. Evelop is currently the Spanish government’s main charter deportation partner, running all the country’s mass expulsion flights through a two-year contract, while carrying out deportations from several other European countries as well.
This profile has been written in response to requests from anti-deportation campaigners. We look at how:
- The Barceló Group’s airline Evelop has a €9.9m, 18-month deportation contract with the Spanish government. The contract is up for renewal and Barceló is bidding again.
- Primary beneficiaries of the contract alternate every few years between Evelop and Globalia’s Air Europa.
– Evelop also carried out deportations from the UK last year to Jamaica, Ghana and Nigeria.
– The Barceló Group is run and owned by the Barceló family. It is currently co-chaired by the Barceló cousins, Simón Barceló Tous and Simón Pedro Barceló Vadell. Former senator Simón Pedro Barceló Vadell, of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) party, takes the more public-facing role.
– The company is Spain’s second biggest hotel company, although the coronavirus pandemic appears to have significantly impacted this aspect of its work.
What’s the business?
The Barceló Group (‘#Barceló_Corporación_Empresarial, S.A.’) is made up of the #Barceló_Hotel_Group, Spain’s second largest hotel company, and a travel agency and tour operator division known as #Ávoris. Ávoris runs two airlines: the Portuguese brand #Orbest, which anti-deportation campaigners report have also carried out charter deportations, and the Spanish company, #Evelop, founded in 2013.
The Barceló Group is based in Palma, #Mallorca. It was founded by the Mallorca-based Barceló family in 1931 as #Autocares_Barceló, which specialised in the transportation of people and goods, and has been managed by the family for three generations. The Barceló Group has a stock of over 250 hotels in 22 countries and claims to employ over 33,000 people globally, though we don’t know if this figure has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused massive job losses in the tourism industry.
The Hotel division has four brands: #Royal_Hideaway_Luxury_Hotels & Resorts; #Barceló_Hotels & Resorts; #Occidental_Hotels & Resorts; and #Allegro_Hotels. The company owns, manages and rents hotels worldwide, mostly in Spain, Mexico and the US. It works in the United States through its subsidiary, Crestline Hotels & Resorts, which manages third-party hotels, including for big brands like Marriott and Hilton.
Ávoris, the travel division, runs twelve tour brands, all platforms promoting package holidays.
Their airlines are small, primarily focused on taking people to sun and sand-filled holidays. In total the Barceló Group airlines have a fleet of just nine aircraft, with one on order, according to the Planespotters website. However, three of these have been acquired in the past two years and a fourth is due to be delivered. Half are leased from Irish airplane lessor Avolon. Evelop serves only a few routes, mainly between the Caribbean and the Iberian peninsula, as well as the UK.
Major changes are afoot as Ávoris is due to merge with #Halcón_Viajes_and_Travelplan, both subsidiaries of fellow Mallorcan travel giant #Globalia. The combined entity will become the largest group of travel agencies in Spain, employing around 6,000 people. The Barceló Group is due to have the majority stake in the new business.
Barceló has also recently announced the merger of Evelop with its other airline Orbest, leading to a new airline called Iberojet (the name of a travel agency already operated by Ávoris).
The new airline is starting to sell scheduled flights in addition to charter operations. Evelop had already announced a reduction in its charter service, at a time when its scheduled airline competitors, such as #Air_Europa, have had to be bailed out to avoid pandemic-induced bankruptcy. Its first scheduled flights will be mainly to destinations in Central and South America, notably Cuba and the Domican Republic, though they are also offering flights to Tunisia, the Maldives and Mauritius.
Evelop currently holds the contract to carry out the Spanish government’s mass deportation flights, through an agreement made with the Spanish Interior Ministry in December 2019. Another company, Air Nostrum, which operates the Iberia Regional franchise, transports detainees within Spain, notably to Madrid, from where they are deported by Evelop. The total value of the contract for the two airlines is €9.9m, and lasts 18 months.
This is the latest in a long series of such contracts. Over the years, the beneficiaries have alternated between the Evelop- #Air_Nostrum partnership, and another partnership comprising Globalia’s #Air_Europa, and #Swiftair (with the former taking the equivalent role to that of Evelop). So far, the Evelop partnership has been awarded the job twice, while its Air Europa rival has won the bidding three times.
However, the current deal will end in spring 2021, and a new tender for a contract of the same value has been launched. The two bidders are: Evelop-Air Nostrum; and Air Europa in partnership with #Aeronova, another Globalia subsidiary. A third operator, #Canary_Fly, has been excluded from the bidding for failing to produce all the required documentation. So yet again, the contract will be awarded to companies either owned by the Barceló Group or Globalia.
On 10 November 2020, Evelop carried out the first charter deportations from Spain since the restrictions on travel brought about by the cCOVID-19 pandemic. On board were 22 migrants, mostly Senegalese, who had travelled by boat to the Canary Islands. Evelop and the Spanish government dumped them in Mauritania, under an agreement with the country to accept any migrants arriving on the shores of the Islands. According to El País newspaper, the number of actual Mauritanians deported to that country is a significant minority of all deportees. Anti-deportation campaigners state that since the easing up of travel restrictions, Evelop has also deported people to Georgia, Albania, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
Evelop is not only eager to cash in on deportations in Spain. Here in the UK, Evelop carried out at least two charter deportations last year: one to Ghana and Nigeria from Stansted on 30 January 2020; and one to Jamaica from Doncaster airport on 11 February in the same year. These deportations took place during a period of mobile network outages across Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres, which interfered with detainees’ ability to access legal advice to challenge their expulsion, or speak to loved ones.
According to campaigners, the company reportedly operates most of Austria and Germany’s deportations to Nigeria and Ghana, including a recent joint flight on 19 January. It also has operated deportations from Germany to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Evelop is not the only company profiting from Spain’s deportation machine. The Spanish government also regularly deports people on commercial flights operated by airlines such as Air Maroc, Air Senegal, and Iberia, as well as mass deportations by ferry to Morocco and Algeria through the companies #Transmediterránea, #Baleària and #Algérie_Ferries. #Ferry deportations are currently on hold due to the pandemic, but Air Maroc reportedly still carry out regular deportations on commercial flights to Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.
Where’s the money?
The financial outlook for the Barceló Group as a whole at the end of 2019 seemed strong, having made a net profit of €135 million.
Before the pandemic, the company president said that he had planned to prioritise its hotels division over its tour operator segment, which includes its airlines. Fast forward a couple of years and its hotels are struggling to attract custom, while one of its airlines has secured a multimillion-euro deportation contract.
Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the Barceló Group’s operations. The company had to close nearly all of its hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa during the first wave of the pandemic, with revenue down 99%. In the Caribbean, the hotel group saw a 95% drop in revenue in May, April and June. They fared slightly better in the US, which saw far fewer COVID-19 restrictions, yet revenue there still declined 89%. By early October, between 20-60% of their hotels in Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean had reopened across the regions, but with occupancy at only 20-60%.
The company has been negotiating payments with hotels and aircraft lessors in light of reduced demand. It claims that it has not however had to cut jobs, since the Spanish government’s COVID-19 temporary redundancy plans enable some workers to be furloughed and prevent employers from firing them in that time.
Despite these difficulties, the company may be saved, like other tourism multinationals, by a big bailout from the state. Barceló’s Ávoris division is set to share a €320 million bailout from the Spanish government as part of the merger with Globalia’s subsidiaries. Is not known if the Barceló Group’s hotel lines will benefit from state funds.
The eight members of the executive board are unsurprisingly, male, pale and frail; as are all ten members of the Ávoris management team.
The company is co-chaired by cousins with confusingly similar names: #Simón_Barceló_Tous and #Simón_Pedro_Barceló_Vadell. We’ll call them #Barceló_Tous and #Pedro_Barceló from here. The family are from Felanitx, Mallorca.
Barceló Tous is the much more low-key of the two, and there is little public information about him. Largely based in the Dominican Republic, he takes care of the Central & Latin American segment of the business.
His cousin, Pedro Barceló, runs the European and North American division. Son of Group co-founder #Gabriel_Barceló_Oliver, Pedro Barceló is a law graduate who has been described as ‘reserved’ and ‘elusive’. He is the company’s executive president. Yet despite his apparent shyness, he was once the youngest senator in Spanish history, entering the upper house at age 23 as a representative for the conservative party with links to the Francoist past, #Partido_Popular. For a period he was also a member of the board of directors of Globalia, Aena and #First_Choice_Holidays.
The CEO of Evelop is #Antonio_Mota_Sandoval, formerly the company’s technical and maintenance director. He’s very found of #drones and is CEO and founder of a company called #Aerosolutions. The latter describes itself as ‘Engineering, Consulting and Training Services for conventional and unmanned aviation.’ Mota appears to live in Alcalá de Henares, a town just outside Madrid. He is on Twitter and Facebook.
The Barceló Foundation
As is so often the case with large businesses engaging in unethical practises, the family set up a charitable arm, the #Barceló_Foundation. It manages a pot of €32 million, of which it spent €2m in 2019 on a broad range of charitable activities in Africa, South America and Mallorca. Headed by Antonio Monjo Tomás, it’s run from a prestigious building in Palma known as #Casa_del_Marqués_de_Reguer-Rullán, owned by the Barceló family. The foundation also runs the #Felanitx_Art & Culture Center, reportedly based at the Barceló’s family home. The foundation partners with many Catholic missions and sponsors the #Capella_Mallorquina, a local choir. The foundation is on Twitter and Facebook.
The Barceló Group’s vulnerabilities
Like other tourism businesses, the group is struggling with the industry-wide downturn due to COVID-19 travel measures. In this context, government contracts provide a rare reliable source of steady income — and the Barcelós will be loathe to give up deportation work. In Spain, perhaps even more than elsewhere, the tourism industry and its leading dynasties has very close ties with government and politicians. Airlines are getting heavy bailouts from the Spanish state, and their bosses will want to keep up good relations.
But the deportation business could become less attractive for the group if campaigners keep up the pressure — particularly outside Spain, where reputational damage may outweigh the profits from occasional flights. Having carried out a charter deportation to Jamaica from the UK earlier in the year, the company became a target of a social media campaign in December 2020 ahead of the Jamaica 50 flight, after which they reportedly said that they were not involved. A lesser-known Spanish airline, Privilege Style, did the job instead.
#Espagne #business #compagnies_aériennes #complexe_militaro-industriel #renvois #expulsions #migrations #réfugiés #asile #tourisme #charter #Maurtianie #îles_Canaries #Canaries #Géorgie #Albanie #Colombie #République_dominicaine #Ghana #Nigeria #Allemagne #Standsted #UK #Angleterre #Pakistan #Bangladesh #Air_Maroc #Air_Senegal #Iberia #Maroc #Algérie #ferrys #Sahara_occidental #covid-19 #pandémie #coronavirus #hôtels #fondation #philanthrocapitalisme
#Biden and the Border Security-Industrial Complex
Successive administrations have poured money into the business of militarizing immigration control—and lobbyists have returned the favors. Will this president stop the juggernaut?
There are many ways I wish I’d spent my last days of freedom before the coronavirus’s inexorable and deadly advance through the US began last year, but attending the 2020 Border Security Expo was not one of them. On March 9, 2020, President Trump told us the flu was more deadly than coronavirus and that nothing would be shut down. “Think about that!” he tweeted. On March 13, he declared the pandemic a national emergency. In the days between, I flew to San Antonio, Texas, to attend the Expo in an attempt to better understand the border security industry and its links to government. I soon found myself squeezing through dozens of suited men with buzz cuts clapping each other on the back and scarfing bagels at the catering table, with scant mention of the coming catastrophe.
Instead, the focus was on how best to spend the ever-increasing budgets of the Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which had discretionary spending allocations that totaled $27 billion. Together, that was up 20 percent on the previous year’s budgets; and for decades now, under Democrats and Republicans alike, the border security industry has generally received more and more money each year. For the first time in years, the agencies’ latest combined budget records a modest reduction, of $1.5 billion (though the expenditure on ICE continues to grow unchecked).
President Biden is working to undo some of the most violent anti-immigrant policies of his predecessor, including lifting the travel ban on thirteen nations, almost all in the Middle East or Africa, and working to end the Migrant Protection Protocols, which forced some 25,000 asylum seekers to stay in Mexico as they awaited their day in court. He has also created a task force to reunite families separated at the US–Mexico border and has already sent a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers. And he has halted construction of Donald Trump’s notorious border wall.
Does this all signify that he is ready to consider taming the vast militarized machine that is the border security industry? Or will he, like Democratic presidents before him, quietly continue to expand it?
#USA #complexe_militaro-industriel #Etats-Unis #migrations #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #business #réfugiés #migrations #militarisation_des_frontières #Joe_Biden #Customs_and_Border_Protection_agency (#CBP) #Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement (#ICE)
Biden’s Border. The industry, the Democrats and the 2020 elections
This briefing profiles the leading US border security contractors, their related financial campaign contributions during the 2020 elections, and how they have shaped a bipartisan approach in favor of border militarization for more than three decades. It suggests that a real change in border and immigration policies will require the Democrats to break with the industry that helps finance them.
– Early into his presidency, Joe Biden has already indicated through 10 executive orders that he wants to end the brutality associated with Trump’s border and immigration policies. However undoing all the harmful dimensions of the US border regime will require substantial structural change and an end to the close ties between the Democrats and the border industry.
- The border security and immigration detention industry has boomed in the last decades thanks to constant increases in government spending by both parties—Democrats and Republicans. Between 2008 and 2020, CBP and ICE issued 105,997 contracts worth $55.1 billion to private corporations.The industry is now deeply embedded in US government bodies and decision-making, with close financial ties to strategic politicians.
– 13 companies play a pivotal role in the US border industry: #CoreCivic, #Deloitte, #Elbit_Systems, #GEO_Group, #General_Atomics, #General_Dynamics, #G4S, #IBM, #Leidos, #Lockheed_Martin, #L3Harris, #Northrop_Grumman, and #Palantir. Some of the firms also provide other services and products to the US government, but border and detention contracts have been a consistently growing part of all of their portfolios.
- These top border contractors through individual donations and their #Political_Action_Committees (PACs) gave more than $40 million during the 2020 electoral cycle to the two parties ($40,333,427). Democrats overall received more contributions from the big border contractors than the Republicans (55 percent versus 45 percent). This is a swing back to the Democrats, as over the last 10 years contributions from 11 of the 13 companies have favored Republicans. It suggests an intention by the border industry to hedge their political bets and ensure that border security policies are not rolled back to the detriment of future profits.
– The 13 border security companies’ executives and top employees contributed three times more to Joe Biden ($5,364,994) than to Donald Trump ($1,730,435).
- A few border security companies show preferences towards one political party. Detention-related companies, in particular CoreCivic, G4S and GEO Group, strongly favor Republicans along with military contractors Elbit Systems and General Atomics, while auditing and IT companies Deloitte, IBM and Palantir overwhelmingly favor the Democrats.
– The 13 companies have contributed $10 million ($9,674,911) in the 2020 electoral cycle to members of strategic legislative committees that design and fund border security policies: the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the House Homeland Security Committee. The biggest contributors are Deloitte, General Dynamics, L3Harris, Leidos, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, and nearly all donate substantially to both parties, with a preference for Republican candidates. Democrat Senator Jack Reed ($426,413), Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger ($442,406) and Republican Senator Richard Shelby ($430,150) all received more than $400,000 in 2020.
– Biden is opposed to the wall-building of Trump, but has along with many Democrats voiced public support for a more hidden ‘virtual wall’ and ‘smart borders’, deploying surveillance technologies that will be both more lucrative for the industry and more hidden in terms of the abuses they perpetrate.
- Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas developed and implemented DACA under Obama’s administration, but also as a lawyer with the firm WilmerHale between 2018 and 2020 earned $3.3 million representing companies including border contractors Northrop Grumman and Leidos.
- Over the last 40 years, Biden has a mixed voting record on border policy, showing some support for immigrant rights on several occasions but also approving legislation (the 1996 Illegal Immigration and Immigration Reform Act) that enabled the mass deportations under Obama, and the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which extended the wall long before Trump’s election.
– The Democrat Party as a whole also has a mixed record. Under President Bill Clinton, the Democrats approved the 1994 Prevention through Deterrence national border strategy and implemented the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act that dramatically increased the pace of border militarization as well as deportations. Later Obama became the first president to deport nearly 3 million people during his eight-year term.
– Nearly 8,000 bodies have been recovered in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands between 1998 and 2019 as a result of policies by both parties. The organization No More Deaths has estimated that three to ten times as many people may have died or disappeared since today’s border-enforcement strategy was implemented. The border industrial complex’s profits are based on border and immmigration policies that have deadly consequences.
The big wall
An ActionAid investigation into how Italy tried to stop migration from Africa, using EU funds, and how much money it spent.
There are satellites, drones, ships, cooperation projects, police posts, repatriation flights, training centers. They are the bricks of an invisible but tangible and often violent wall. Erected starting in 2015 onwards, thanks to over one billion euros of public money. With one goal: to eliminate those movements by sea, from North Africa to Italy, which in 2015 caused an outcry over a “refugee crisis”. Here we tell you about the (fragile) foundations and the (dramatic) impacts of this project. Which must be changed, urgently.
Ready, Set, Go
Imagine a board game, Risk style. The board is a huge geographical map, which descends south from Italy, including the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa and almost reaching the equator, in Cameroon, South Sudan, Rwanda. Places we know little about and read rarely about.
Each player distributes activity cards and objects between countries and along borders. In Ethiopia there is a camera crew shooting TV series called ‘Miraj’ [mirage], which recounts the misadventures of naive youth who rely on shady characters to reach Europe. There is military equipment, distributed almost everywhere: off-road vehicles for the Tunisian border police, ambulances and tank trucks for the army in Niger, patrol boats for Libya, surveillance drones taking off from Sicily.
There is technology: satellite systems on ships in the Mediterranean, software for recording fingerprints in Egypt, laptops for the Nigerian police. And still: coming and going of flights between Libya and Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia. Maritime coordination centers, police posts in the middle of the Sahara, job orientation offices in Tunisia or Ethiopia, clinics in Uganda, facilities for minors in Eritrea, and refugee camps in Sudan.
Hold your breath for a moment longer, because we still haven’t mentioned the training courses. And there are many: to produce yogurt in Ivory Coast, open a farm in Senegal or a beauty salon in Nigeria, to learn about the rights of refugees, or how to use a radar station.
Crazed pawns, overlapping cards and unclear rules. Except for one: from these African countries, more than 25 of them, not one person should make it to Italy. There is only one exception allowed: leaving with a visa. Embassy officials, however, have precise instructions: anyone who doesn’t have something to return to should not be accepted. Relationships, family, and friends don’t count, but only incomes, properties, businesses, and titles do.
For a young professional, a worker, a student, an activist, anyone looking for safety, future and adventure beyond the borders of the continent, for people like me writing and perhaps like you reading, the only allies become the facilitators, those who Europe calls traffickers and who, from friends, can turn into worst enemies.
We called it The Big Wall. It could be one of those strategy games that keeps going throughout the night, for fans of geopolitics, conflicts, finance. But this is real life, and it’s the result of years of investments, experiments, documents and meetings. At first disorderly, sporadic, then systematized and increased since 2015, when United Nations agencies, echoed by the international media, sounded an alarm: there is a migrant crisis happening and Europe must intervene. Immediately.
Italy was at the forefront, and all those agreements, projects, and programs from previous years suddenly converged and multiplied, becoming bricks of a wall that, from an increasingly militarized Mediterranean, moved south, to the travelers’ countries of origin.
The basic idea, which bounced around chancelleries and European institutions, was to use multiple tools: development cooperation, support for security forces, on-site protection of refugees, repatriation, information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration. This, in the language of Brussels, was a “comprehensive approach”.
We talked to some of the protagonists of this story — those who built the wall, who tried to jump it, and who would like to demolish it — and we looked through thousands of pages of reports, minutes, resolutions, decrees, calls for tenders, contracts, newspaper articles, research, to understand how much money Italy has spent, where, and what impacts it has had. Months of work to discover not only that this wall has dramatic consequences, but that the European – and Italian – approach to international migration stems from erroneous premises, from an emergency stance that has disastrous results for everyone, including European citizens.
Libya: the tip of the iceberg
It was the start of the 2017/2018 academic year and Omer Shatz, professor of international law, offered his Sciences Po students the opportunity to work alongside him on the preparation of a dossier. For the students of the faculty, this was nothing new. In the classrooms of the austere building on the Rive Gauche of Paris, which European and African heads of state have passed though, not least Emmanuel Macron, it’s normal to work on real life materials: peace agreements in Colombia, trials against dictators and foreign fighters. Those who walk on those marble floors already know that they will be able to speak with confidence in circles that matter, in politics as well as diplomacy.
Shatz, who as a criminal lawyer in Israel is familiar with abuses and rights violations, launched his students a new challenge: to bring Europe to the International Criminal Court for the first time. “Since it was created, the court has only condemned African citizens – dictators, militia leaders – but showing European responsibility was urgent,” he explains.
One year after first proposing the plan, Shatz sent an envelope to the Court’s headquarters, in the Dutch town of The Hague. With his colleague Juan Branco and eight of his students he recounted, in 245 pages, cases of “widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population”, linked to “crimes against humanity consciously committed by European actors, in the central Mediterranean and in Libya, in line with Italian and European Union policies”.
The civilian population to which they refer comprises migrants and refugees, swallowed by the waves or intercepted in the central Mediterranean and brought back to shore by Libyan assets, to be placed in a seemingly endless cycle of detention. Among them are the 13.000 dead recorded since 2015, in the stretch of sea between North Africa and Italy, out of 523.000 people who survived the crossing, but also the many African and Asian citizens, who are rarely counted, who were tortured in Libya and died in any of the dozens of detention centers for foreigners, often run by militias.
“At first we thought that the EU and Italy were outsourcing dirty work to Libya to block people, which in jargon is called ‘aiding and abetting’ in the commission of a crime, then we realized that the Europeans were actually the conductors of these operations, while the Libyans performed”, says Shatz, who, at the end of 2020, was preparing a second document for the International Criminal Court to include more names, those of the “anonymous officials of the European and Italian bureaucracy who participated in this criminal enterprise”, which was centered around the “reinvention of the Libyan Coast Guard, conceived by Italian actors”.
Identifying heads of department, office directors, and institution executives in democratic countries as alleged criminals might seem excessive. For Shatz, however, “this is the first time, after the Nuremberg trials, after Eichmann, that Europe has committed crimes of this magnitude, outside of an armed conflict”. The court, which routinely rejects at least 95 percent of the cases presented, did not do so with Shatz and his students’ case. “Encouraging news, but that does not mean that the start of proceedings is around the corner”, explains the lawyer.
At the basis of the alleged crimes, he continues, are “regulations, memoranda of understanding, maritime cooperation, detention centers, patrols and drones” created and financed by the European Union and Italy. Here Shatz is speaking about the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya to “reduce the flow of illegal migrants”, as the text of the document states. An objective to be achieved through training and support for the two maritime patrol forces of the very fragile Libyan national unity government, by “adapting” the existing detention centers, and supporting local development initiatives.
Signed in Rome on February 2, 2017 and in force until 2023, the text is grafted onto the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation signed by Silvio Berlusconi and Muammar Gaddafi in 2008, but is tied to a specific budget: that of the so-called Africa Fund, established in 2016 as the “Fund for extraordinary interventions to relaunch dialogue and cooperation with African countries of priority importance for migration routes” and extended in 2020 — as the Migration Fund — to non-African countries too.
310 million euros were allocated in total between the end of 2016 and November 2020, and 252 of those were disbursed, according to our reconstruction.
A multiplication of tools and funds that, explains Mario Giro, “was born after the summit between the European Union and African leaders in Malta, in November 2015”. According to the former undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from 2013, and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs between 2016 and 2018, that summit in Malta “sanctioned the triumph of a European obsession, that of reducing migration from Africa at all costs: in exchange of this containment, there was a willingness to spend, invest”. For Giro, the one in Malta was an “attempt to come together, but not a real partnership”.
Libya, where more than 90 percent of those attempting to cross the central Mediterranean departed from in those years, was the heart of a project in which Italian funds and interests support and integrate with programs by the European Union and other member states. It was an all-European dialogue, from which powerful Africans — political leaders but also policemen, militiamen, and the traffickers themselves — tried to obtain something: legitimacy, funds, equipment.
Fragmented and torn apart by a decade-long conflict, Libya was however not alone. In October 2015, just before the handshakes and the usual photographs at the Malta meeting, the European Commission established an Emergency Trust Fund to “address the root causes of migration in Africa”.
To do so, as Dutch researcher Thomas Spijkerboer will reconstruct years later, the EU executive declared a state of emergency in the 26 African countries that benefit from the Fund, thus justifying the choice to circumvent European competition rules in favor of direct award procedures. However “it’s implausible – Spijkerboeker will go on to argue – that there is a crisis in all 26 African countries where the Trust Fund operates through the duration of the Trust Fund”, now extended until the end of 2021.
However, the imperative, as an advisor to the Budget Commission of the European Parliament explains, was to act immediately: “not within a few weeks, but days, hours“.
Faced with a Libya still ineffective at stopping flows to the north, it was in fact necessary to intervene further south, traveling backwards along the routes that converge from dozens of African countries and go towards Tripolitania. And — like dominoes in reverse — raising borders and convincing, or forcing, potential travelers to stop in their countries of origin or in others along the way, before they arrived on the shores of the Mediterranean.
For the first time since decolonization, human mobility in Africa became the keystone of Italian policies on the continent, so much so that analysts began speaking of migration diplomacy. Factors such as the number of migrants leaving from a given country and the number of border posts or repatriations all became part of the political game, on the same level as profits from oil extraction, promises of investment, arms sales, or trade agreements.
Comprising projects, funds, and programs, this migration diplomacy comes at a cost. For the period between January 2015 and November 2020, we tracked down 317 funding lines managed by Italy with its own funds and partially co-financed by the European Union. A total of 1.337 billion euros, spent over five years and destined to eight different items of expenditure. Here Libya is in first place, but it is not alone.
A long story, in short
For simplicity’s sake, we can say that it all started in the hot summer of 2002, with an almost surrealist lightning war over a barren rock on the edge of the Mediterranean: the Isla de Persejil, the island of parsley. A little island in the Strait of Gibraltar, disputed for decades between Morocco and Spain, which had its ephemeral moment of glory when in July of that year the Moroccan monarchy sent six soldiers, some tents and a flag. Jose-Maria Aznar’s government quickly responded with a reconquista to the sound of fighter-bombers, frigates, and helicopters.
Peace was signed only a few weeks later and the island went back to being a land of shepherds and military patrols. Which from then on, however, were joint ones.
“There was talk of combating drug trafficking and illegal fishing, but the reality was different: these were the first anti-immigration operations co-managed by Spanish and Moroccan soldiers”, explains Sebastian Cobarrubias, professor of geography at the University of Zaragoza. The model, he says, was the one of Franco-Spanish counter-terrorism operations in the Basque Country, exported from the Pyrenees to the sea border.
A process of externalization of Spanish and European migration policy was born following those events in 2002, and culminating years later with the crisis de los cayucos, the pirogue crisis: the arrival of tens of thousands of people – 31,000 in 2006 alone – in the Canary Islands, following extremely dangerous crossings from Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco.
In close dialogue with the European Commission, which saw the Spanish border as the most porous one of the fragile Schengen area, the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero reacted quickly. “Within a few months, cooperation and repatriation agreements were signed with nine African countries,” says Cobarrubias, who fought for years, with little success, to obtain the texts of the agreements.
The events of the late 2000s look terribly similar to what Italy will try to implement a decade later with its Mediterranean neighbors, Libya first of all. So much so that in 2016 it was the Spanish Minister of the Interior himself, Jorge Fernández Díaz, who recalled that “the Spanish one is a European management model, reproducible in other contexts”. A vision confirmed by the European Commission officials with whom we spoke.
At the heart of the Spanish strategy, which over a few short years led to a drastic decrease of arrivals by sea, was the opening of new diplomatic offices in Africa, the launch of local development projects, and above all the support given to the security forces of partner countries.
Cobarrubias recounts at least four characteristic elements of the Madrid approach: the construction of new patrol forces “such as the Mauritanian Coast Guard, which did not exist and was created by Spain thanks to European funds, with the support of the newly created Frontex agency”; direct and indirect support for detention centers, such as the infamous ‘Guantanamito’, or little Guantanamo, denounced by civil society organizations in Mauritania; the real-time collection of border data and information, carried out by the SIVE satellite system, a prototype of Eurosur, an incredibly expensive intelligence center on the EU’s external borders launched in 2013, based on drones, satellites, airplanes, and sensors; and finally, the strategy of working backwards along migration routes, to seal borders, from the sea to the Sahara desert, and investing locally with development and governance programs, which Spain did during the two phases of the so-called Plan Africa, between 2006 and 2012.
Replace “Spain” with “Italy”, and “Mauritania” with “Libya”, and you’ll have an idea of what happened years later, in an attempt to seal another European border.
The main legacy of the Spanish model, according to the Italian sociologist Lorenzo Gabrielli, however, is the negative conditionality, which is the fact of conditioning the disbursement of these loans – for security forces, ministries, trade agreements – at the level of the African partners’ cooperation in the management of migration, constantly threatening to reduce investments if there are not enough repatriations being carried out, or if controls and pushbacks fail. An idea that is reminiscent both of the enlargement process of the European Union, with all the access restrictions placed on candidate countries, and of the Schengen Treaty, the attempt to break down internal European borders, which, as a consequence, created the need to protect a new common border, the external one.
La externalización europea del control migratorio: ¿La acción española como modelo? Read more
At the end of 2015, when almost 150,000 people had reached the Italian coast and over 850,000 had crossed Turkey and the Balkans to enter the European Union, the story of the maritime migration to Spain had almost faded from memory.
But something remained of it: a management model. Based, once again, on an idea of crisis.
“We tried to apply it to post-Gaddafi Libya – explains Stefano Manservisi, who over the past decade has chaired two key departments for migration policies in the EU Commission, Home Affairs and Development Cooperation – but in 2013 we soon realized that things had blown up, that that there was no government to talk to: the whole strategy had to be reformulated”.
Going backwards, through routes and processes
The six-month presidency of the European Council, in 2014, was the perfect opportunity for Italy.
In November of that year, Matteo Renzi’s government hosted a conference in Rome to launch the Khartoum Process, the brand new initiative for the migration route between the EU and the Horn of Africa, modeled on the Rabat Process, born in 2006, at the apex of the crisis de los cayucos, after pressure from Spain. It’s a regional cooperation platform between EU countries and nine African countries, based on the exchange of information and coordination between governments, to manage migration.
Il processo di Khartoum: l’Italia e l’Europa contro le migrazioni Read more
Warning: if you start to find terms such as ‘process’ and ‘coordination platform’ nebulous, don’t worry. The backbone of European policies is made of these structures: meetings, committees, negotiating tables with unattractive names, whose roles elude most of us. It’s a tendency towards the multiplication of dialogue and decision spaces, that the migration policies of recent years have, if possible, accentuated, in the name of flexibility, of being ready for any eventuality. Of continuous crisis.
Let’s go back to that inter-ministerial meeting in Rome that gave life to the Khartoum Process and in which Libya, where the civil war had resumed violently a few months earlier, was not present.
Italy thus began looking beyond Libya, to the so-called countries of origin and transit. Such as Ethiopia, a historic beneficiary of Italian development cooperation, and Sudan. Indeed, both nations host refugees from Eritrea and Somalia, two of the main countries of origin of those who cross the central Mediterranean between 2013 and 2015. Improving their living conditions was urgent, to prevent them from traveling again, from dreaming of Europe. In Niger, on the other hand, which is an access corridor to Libya for those traveling from countries such as Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, and Mali, Italy co-financed a study for a new law against migrant smuggling, then adopted in 2015, which became the cornerstone of a radical attempt to reduce movement across the Sahara desert, which you will read about later.
A year later, with the Malta summit and the birth of the EU Trust Fund for Africa, Italy was therefore ready to act. With a 123 million euro contribution, allocated from 2017 through the Africa Fund and the Migration Fund, Italy became the second donor country, and one of the most active in trying to manage those over 4 billion euros allocated for five years. [If you are curious about the financing mechanisms of the Trust Fund, read here: ▻https://thebigwall.org/en/trust-fund/].
Through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), born in 2014 as an operational branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy immediately made itself available to manage European Fund projects, and one idea seemed to be the driving one: using classic development programs, but implemented in record time, to offer on-site alternatives to young people eager to leave, while improving access to basic services.
Local development, therefore, became the intervention to address the so-called root causes of migration. For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the newborn AICS, it seemed a winning approach. Unsurprisingly, the first project approved through the Trust Fund for Africa was managed by the Italian agency in Ethiopia.
“Stemming irregular migration in Northern and Central Ethiopia” received 19.8 million euros in funding, a rare sum for local development interventions. The goal was to create job opportunities and open career guidance centers for young people in four Ethiopian regions. Or at least that’s how it seemed. In the first place, among the objectives listed in the project sheet, there is in fact another one: to reduce irregular migration.
In the logical matrix of the project, which insiders know is the presentation – through data, indicators and figures – of the expected results, there is no indicator that appears next to the “reduction of irregular migration” objective. There is no way, it’s implicitly admitted, to verify that that goal has been achieved. That the young person trained to start a micro-enterprise in the Wollo area, for example, is one less migrant.
Bizarre, not to mention wrong. But indicative of the problems of an approach of which, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains to us, “Italy had made itself the spokesperson in Europe”.
“The mantra was that more development would stop migration, and at a certain point that worked for everyone: for AICS, which justified its funds in the face of political landscape that was scared by the issue of landings, and for many NGOs, which immediately understood that migrations were the parsley to be sprinkled on the funding requests that were presented”, explains the official, who, like so many in this story, prefers to remain anonymous.
This idea of the root causes was reproduced, as in an echo chamber, “without programmatic documents, without guidelines, but on the wave of a vague idea of political consensus around the goal of containing migration”, he adds. This makes it almost impossible to talk about, so much so that a proposal for new guidelines on immigration and development, drawn up during 2020 by AICS, was set aside for months.
Indeed, if someone were to say, as evidenced by scholars such as Michael Clemens, that development can also increase migration, and that migration itself is a source of development, the whole ‘root causes’ idea would collapse and the already tight cooperation budgets would risk being cut, in the name of the same absolute imperative as always: reducing arrivals to Italy and Europe.
Maintaining a vague, costly and unverifiable approach is equally damaging.
Bram Frouws, director of the Mixed Migration Center, a think-tank that studies international mobility, points out, for example, how the ‘root cause’ approach arises from a vision of migration as a problem to be eradicated rather than managed, and that paradoxically, the definition of these deep causes always remains superficial. In fact, there is never talk of how international fishing agreements damage local communities, nor of land grabbing by speculators, major construction work, or corruption and arms sales. There is only talk of generic economic vulnerability, of a country’s lack of stability. An almost abstract phenomenon, in which European actors are exempt from any responsibility.
There is another problem: in the name of the fight against irregular migration, interventions have shifted from poorer and truly vulnerable countries and populations to regions with ‘high migratory rates’, a term repeated in dozens of project descriptions funded over the past few years, distorting one of the cardinal principles of development aid, codified in regulations and agreements: that of responding to the most urgent needs of a given population, and of not imposing external priorities, even more so if it is countries considered richer are the ones doing it.
The Nigerien experiment
While Ethiopia and Sudan absorb the most substantial share of funds destined to tackle the root causes of migration — respectively 47 and 32 million euros out of a total expenditure of 195 million euros — Niger, which for years has been contending for the podium of least developed country on the planet with Central African Republic according to the United Nations Human Development Index — benefits from just over 10 million euros.
Here in fact it’s more urgent, for Italy and the EU, to intervene on border control rather than root causes, to stop the flow of people that cross the country until they arrive in Agadez, to then disappear in the Sahara and emerge, days later — if all goes well — in southern Libya. In 2016, the International Organization for Migration counted nearly 300,000 people passing through a single checkpoint along the road to Libya. The figure bounced between the offices of the European Commission, and from there to the Farnesina, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: faced with an uncontrollable Libya, intervening in Niger became a priority.
Italy did it in great style, even before opening an embassy in the country, in February 2017: with a contribution to the state budget of Niger of 50 million euros, part of the Africa Fund, included as part of a maxi-program managed by the EU in the country and paid out in several installments.
While the project documents list a number of conditions for the continuation of the funding, including increased monitoring along the routes to Libya and the adoption of regulations and strategies for border control, some local and European officials with whom we have spoken think that the assessments were made with one eye closed: the important thing was in fact to provide those funds to be spent in a country that for Italy, until then, had been synonymous only with tourism in the Sahara dunes and development in rural areas.
Having become a priority in the New Partnership Framework on Migration, yet another EU operational program, launched in 2016, Niger seemed thus exempt from controls on the management of funds to which beneficiaries of European funds are normally subject to.
“Our control mechanisms, the Court of Auditors, the Parliament and the anti-corruption Authority, do not work, and yet the European partners have injected millions of euros into state coffers, without imposing transparency mechanisms”, reports then Ali Idrissa Nani , president of the Réseau des Organizations pour la Transparence et l’Analyse du Budget (ROTAB), a network of associations that seeks to monitor state spending in Niger.
“It leaves me embittered, but for some years we we’ve had the impression that civil liberties, human rights, and participation are no longer a European priority“, continues Nani, who —- at the end of 2020 — has just filed a complaint with the Court of Niamey, to ask the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the possible disappearance of at least 120 million euros in funds from the Ministry of Defense, a Pandora’s box uncovered by local and international journalists.
For Nani, who like other Nigerien activists spent most of 2018 in prison for encouraging demonstrations against high living costs, this explosion of European and Italian cooperation didn’t do the country any good, and in fact favoured authoritarian tendencies, and limited even more the independence of the judiciary.
For their part, the Nigerien rulers have more than others seized the opportunity offered by European donors to obtain legitimacy and support. Right after the Valletta summit, they were the first to present an action plan to reduce migration to Libya, which they abruptly implemented in mid-2016, applying the anti-trafficking law whose preliminary study was financed by Italy, with the aim of emptying the city of #Agadez of migrants from other countries.
The transport of people to the Libyan border, an activity that until that point happened in the light of day and was sanctioned at least informally by the local authorities, thus became illegal from one day to the next. Hundreds of drivers, intermediaries, and facilitators were arrested, and an entire economy crashed
But did the movement of people really decrease? Almost impossible to tell. The only data available are those of the International Organization for Migration, which continues to record the number of transits at certain police posts. But drivers and foreign travelers no longer pass through them, fearing they will be arrested or stopped. Routes and journeys, as always happens, are remodeled, only to reappear elsewhere. Over the border with Chad, or in Algeria, or in a risky zigzagging of small tracks, to avoid patrols.
For Hamidou Manou Nabara, a Nigerien sociologist and researcher, the problems with this type of cooperation are manifold.
On the one hand, it restricted the free movement guaranteed within the Economic Community of West African States, a sort of ‘Schengen area’ between 15 countries in the region, making half of Niger, from Agadez to the north, a no-go areas for foreign citizens, even though they still had the right to move throughout the national territory.
Finally, those traveling north were made even more vulnerable. “The control of borders and migratory movements was justified on humanitarian grounds, to contrast human trafficking, but in reality very few victims of trafficking were ever identified: the center of this cooperation is repression”, explains Nabara.
Increasing controls, through military and police operations, actually exposes travelers to greater violations of human rights, both by state agents and passeurs, making the Sahara crossings longer and riskier.
The fight against human trafficking, a slogan repeated by European and African leaders and a central expenditure item of the Italian intervention between Africa and the Mediterranean — 142 million euros in five years —- actually risks having the opposite effect. Because a trafiicker’s bread and butter, in addition to people’s desire to travel, is closed borders and denied visas.
A reinvented frontier
Galvanized by the activism of the European Commission after the launch of the Trust Fund but under pressure internally, faced with a discourse on migration that seemed to invade every public space — from the front pages of newspapers to television talk-shows — and unable to agree on how to manage migration within the Schengen area, European rulers thus found an agreement outside the continent: to add more bricks to that wall that must reduce movements through the Mediterranean.
Between 2015 and 2016, Italian, Dutch, German, French and European Union ministers, presidents and senior officials travel relentlessly between countries considered priorities for migration, and increasingly for security, and invite their colleagues to the European capitals. A coming and going of flights to Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tunisia, Senegal, Chad, Guinea, to make agreements, negotiate.
“Niamey had become a crossroads for European diplomats”, remembers Ali Idrissa Nani, “but few understood the reasons”.
However, unlike the border with Turkey, where the agreement signed with the EU at the beginning of 2016 in no time reduced the arrival of Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi citizens in Greece, the continent’s other ‘hot’ border, promises of speed and effectiveness by the Trust Fund for Africa did not seem to materialize. Departures from Libya, in particular, remained constant. And in the meantime, in the upcoming election in a divided Italy, the issue of migration seemed to be tipping the balance, capable of shifting votes and alliances.
It is at that point that the Italian Ministry of the Interior, newly led by Marco Minniti, put its foot on the accelerator. The Viminale, the Italian Ministry of the Interior, became the orchestrator of a new intervention plan, refined between Rome and Brussels, with German support, which went back to focusing everything on Libya and on that stretch of sea that separates it from Italy.
“In those months the phones were hot, everyone was looking for Marco“, says an official of the Interior Ministry, who admits that “the Ministry of the Interior had snatched the Libyan dossier from Foreign Affairs, but only because up until then the Foreign Ministry hadn’t obtained anything” .
Minniti’s first move was the signing of the new Memorandum with Libya, which gave way to a tripartite plan.
At the top of the agenda was the creation of a maritime interception device for boats departing from the Libyan coast, through the reconstruction of the Coast Guard and the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS), the two patrol forces belonging to the Ministry of Defense and that of the Interior, and the establishment of a rescue coordination center, prerequisites for Libya to declare to the International Maritime Organization that it had a Search and Rescue Area, so that the Italian Coast Guard could ask Libyan colleagues to intervene if there were boats in trouble.
Accompanying this work in Libya is a jungle of Italian and EU missions, surveillance systems and military operations — from the European Frontex, Eunavfor Med and Eubam Libya, to the Italian military mission “Safe Waters” — equipped with drones, planes, patrol boats, whose task is to monitor the Libyan Sea, which is increasingly emptied by the European humanitarian ships that started operating in 2014 (whose maneuvering spaces are in the meantime reduced to the bone due to various strategies) to support Libyan interception operations.
The second point of the ‘Minniti agenda’ was to progressively empty Libya of migrants and refugees, so that an escape by sea would become increasingly difficult. Between 2017 and 2020, the Libyan assets, which are in large part composed of patrol boats donated by Italy, intercepted and returned to shore about 56,000 people according to data released by UN agencies. The Italian-European plan envisages two solutions: for economic migrants, the return to the country of origin; for refugees, the possibility of obtaining protection.
There is one part of this plan that worked better, at least in terms of European wishes: repatriation, presented as ‘assisted voluntary return’. This vision was propelled by images, released in October 2017 by CNN as part of a report on the abuse of foreigners in Libya, of what appears to be a slave auction. The images reopened the unhealed wounds of the slave trade through Atlantic and Sahara, and helped the creation of a Joint Initiative between the International Organization for Migration, the European Union, and the African Union, aimed at returning and reintegrating people in the countries of origin.
Part of the Italian funding for IOM was injected into this complex system of repatriation by air, from Tripoli to more than 20 countries, which has contributed to the repatriation of 87,000 people over three years. 33,000 from Libya, and 37,000 from Niger.
A similar program for refugees, which envisages transit through other African countries (Niger and Rwanda gave their availability) and from there resettlement to Europe or North America, recorded much lower numbers: 3,300 evacuations between the end of 2017 and the end of 2020. For the 47,000 people registered as refugees in Libya, leaving the country without returning to their home country, to the starting point, is almost impossible.
Finally, there is a third, lesser-known point of the Italian plan: even in Libya, Italy wants to intervene on the root causes of migration, or rather on the economies linked to the transit and smuggling of migrants. The scheme is simple: support basic services and local authorities in migrant transit areas, in exchange for this transit being controlled and reduced. The transit of people brings with it the circulation of currency, a more valuable asset than usual in a country at war, and this above all in the south of Libya, in the immense Saharan region of Fezzan, the gateway to the country, bordering Algeria, Niger, and Chad and almost inaccessible to international humanitarian agencies.
A game in which intelligence plays central role (as also revealed by the journalist Lorenzo D’Agostino on Foreign Policy), as indeed it did in another negotiation and exchange of money: those 5 million euros destined — according to various journalistic reconstructions — to a Sabratha militia, the Anas Al-Dabbashi Brigade, to stop departures from the coastal city.
A year later, its leader, Ahmed Al-Dabbashi, will be sanctioned by the UN Security Council, as leader for criminal activities related to human trafficking.
The one built in record time by the ministry led by Marco Minniti is therefore a complicated and expensive puzzle. To finance it, there are above all the Trust Fund for Africa of the EU, and the Italian Africa Fund, initially headed only by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and unpacked among several ministries for the occasion, but also the Internal Security Fund of the EU, which funds military equipment for all Italian security forces, as well as funds and activities from the Ministry of Defense.
A significant part of those 666 million euros dedicated to border control, but also of funds to support governance and fight traffickers, converges and enters this plan: a machine that was built too quickly, among whose wheels human rights and Libya’s peace process are sacrificed.
“We were looking for an immediate result and we lost sight of the big picture, sacrificing peace on the altar of the fight against migration, when Libya was in pieces, in the hands of militias who were holding us hostage”. This is how former Deputy Minister Mario Giro describes the troubled handling of the Libyan dossier.
For Marwa Mohamed, a Libyan activist, all these funds and interventions were “provided without any real clause of respect for human rights, and have fragmented the country even more, because they were intercepted by the militias, which are the same ones that manage both the smuggling of migrants that detention centers, such as that of Abd el-Rahman al-Milad, known as ‘al-Bija’ ”.
Projects aimed at Libyan municipalities, included in the interventions on the root causes of migration — such as the whole detention system, invigorated by the introduction of people intercepted at sea (and ‘improved’ through millions of euros of Italian funds) — offer legitimacy, when they do not finance it directly, to the ramified and violent system of local powers that the German political scientist Wolfram Lacher defines as the ‘Tripoli militia cartel‘. [for more details on the many Italian funds in Libya, read here].
Fondi italiani in Libia Read more
“Bringing migrants back to shore, perpetuating a detention system, does not only mean subjecting people to new abuses, but also enriching the militias, fueling the conflict”, continues Mohamed, who is now based in London, where she is a spokesman of the Libyan Lawyers for Justice organization.
The last few years of Italian cooperation, she argues, have been “a sequence of lost opportunities”. And to those who tell you — Italian and European officials especially — that reforming justice, putting an end to that absolute impunity that strengthens the militias, is too difficult, Mohamed replies without hesitation: “to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, the authorities contacted the militias close to the Tripoli government one by one and in the meantime built a non-existent structure from scratch, the Libyan Coast Guard: and you’re telling me that you can’t put the judicial system back on its feet and protect refugees? ”
The only thing that mattered, however, in that summer of 2017, were the numbers. Which, for the first time since 2013, were falling again, and quickly. In the month of August there were 80 percent fewer landings than the year before. And so it would be for the following months and years.
“Since then, we have continued to allocate, renewing programs and projects, without asking for any guarantee in exchange for the treatment of migrants”, explains Matteo De Bellis, researcher at Amnesty International, remembering that the Italian promise to modify the Memorandum of Understanding, introducing clauses of protection, has been on stop since the controversial renewal of the document, in February 2020.
Repatriations, evacuations, promises
We are 1500 kilometers of road, and sand, south of Tripoli. Here Salah* spends his days escaping a merciless sun. The last three years of the life of the thirty-year-old Sudanese have not offered much else and now, like many fellow sufferers, he does not hide his fatigue.
We are in a camp 15 kilometers from Agadez, in Niger, in the middle of the Sahara desert, where Salah lives with a thousand people, mostly Sudanese from the Darfur region, the epicenter of one of the most dramatic and lethal conflicts of recent decades.
Like almost all the inhabitants of this temporary Saharan settlement, managed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and — at the end of 2020 — undergoing rehabilitation also thanks to Italian funds, he passed through Libya and since 2017, after three years of interceptions at sea and detention, he’s been desperately searching for a way out, for a future.
Salah fled Darfur in 2016, after receiving threats from pro-government armed militias, and reached Tripoli after a series of vicissitudes and violence. In late spring 2017, he sailed from nearby Zawiya with 115 other people. They were intercepted, brought back to shore and imprisoned in a detention center, formally headed by the government but in fact controlled by the Al-Nasr militia, linked to the trafficker Al-Bija.
“They beat us everywhere, for days, raped some women in front of us, and asked everyone to call families to get money sent,” Salah recalls. Months later, after paying some money and escaping, he crossed the Sahara again, up to Agadez. UNHCR had just opened a facility and from there, as rumour had it, you could ask to be resettled to Europe.
Faced with sealed maritime borders, and after experiencing torture and abuse, that faint hope set in motion almost two thousand people, who, hoping to reach Italy, found themselves on the edges of the Sahara, along what many, by virtue of investments and negotiations, had started to call the ‘new European frontier’.
Three years later, a little over a thousand people remain of that initial group. Only a few dozen of them had access to resettlement, while many returned to Libya, and to all of its abuses.
Something similar is also happening in Tunisia, where since 2017, the number of migrants and refugees entering the country has increased. They are fleeing by land and sometimes by sea from Libya, going to crowd UN structures. Then, faced with a lack of real prospects, they return to Libya.
For Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesman for the Tunisian Federation for Economic and Social Rights, “in Tunisia European partners have financed a non-reception: overcrowded centers in unworthy conditions, which have become recruitment areas for traffickers, because in fact there are two options offered there: go home or try to get back to the sea “.
In short, even the interventions for the protection of migrants and refugees must be read in a broader context, of a contraction of mobility and human rights. “The refugee management itself has submitted to the goal of containment, which is the true original sin of the Italian and European strategy,” admits a UNHCR official.
This dogma of containment, at any cost, affects everyone — people who travel, humanitarian actors, civil society, local governments — by distorting priorities, diverting funds, and undermining future relationships and prospects. The same ones that European officials call partnerships and which in the case of Africa, as reiterated in 2020 by President Ursula Von Der Leyen, should be “between equals”.
Let’s take another example: the Egypt of President Abdel Fetah Al-Sisi. Since 2016, it has been increasingly isolated on the international level, also due to violent internal repression, which Italy knows something about. Among the thousands of people who have been disappeared or killed in recent years, is researcher Giulio Regeni, whose body was thrown on the side of a road north of Cairo in February 2016.
Around the time of the murder, in which the complicity and cover-ups by the Egyptian security forces were immediately evident, the Italian Ministry of the Interior restarted its dialogue with the country. “It’s absurd, but Italy started to support Egypt in negotiations with the European Union,” explains lawyer Muhammed Al-Kashef, a member of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Right and now a refugee in Germany.
By inserting itself on an already existing cooperation project that saw italy, for example, finance the use of fingerprint-recording software used by the Egyptian police, the Italian Ministry of the Interior was able to create a police academy in Cairo, inaugurated in 2018 with European funds, to train the border guards of over 20 African countries. Italy also backed Egyptian requests within the Khartoum Process and, on a different front, sells weapons and conducts joint naval exercises.
“Rome could have played a role in Egypt, supporting the democratic process after the 2011 revolution, but it preferred to fall into the migration trap, fearing a wave of migration that would never happen,” says Al-Kashef.
With one result: “they have helped transform Egypt into a country that kills dreams, and often dreamers too, and from which all young people today want to escape”. Much more so than in 2015 or that hopeful 2011.
Cracks in the wall, and how to widen them
If you have read this far, following personal stories and routes of people and funds, you will have understood one thing, above all: that the beating heart of this strategy, set up by Italy with the participation of the European Union and vice versa, is the reduction of migrations across the Mediterranean. The wall, in fact.
Now try to add other European countries to this picture. Since 2015 many have fully adopted — or returned to — this process of ‘externalization’ of migration policies. Spain, where the Canary Islands route reopened in 2019, demonstrating the fragility of the model you read about above; France, with its strategic network in the former colonies, the so-called Françafrique. And then Germany, Belgium, Holland, United Kingdom, Austria.
Complicated, isn’t it? This great wall’s bricks and builders keep multiplying. Even more strategies, meetings, committees, funds and documents. And often, the same lack of transparency, which makes reconstructing these loans – understanding which cement, sand, and lime mixture was used, i.e. who really benefited from the expense, what equipment was provided, how the results were monitored – a long process, when it’s not impossible.
The Pact on Migration and Asylum of the European Union, presented in September 2020, seems to confirm this: cooperation with third countries and relaunching repatriations are at its core.
Even the European Union budget for the seven-year period 2021-2027, approved in December 2020, continues to focus on this expenditure, for example by earmarking for migration projects 10 percent of the new Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, equipped with 70 billion euros, but also diverting a large part of the Immigration and Asylum Fund (8.7 billion) towards support for repatriation, and foreseeing 12.1 billion euros for border control.
While now, with the new US presidency, some have called into question the future of the wall on the border with Mexico, perhaps the most famous of the anti-migrant barriers in the world, the wall built in the Mediterranean and further south, up to the equator, has seemingly never been so strong.
But economists, sociologists, human rights defenders, analysts and travelers all demonstrate the problems with this model. “It’s a completely flawed approach, and there are no quick fixes to change it,” says David Kipp, a researcher at the German Institute for International Affairs, a government-funded think-tank.
For Kipp, however, we must begin to deflate this migration bubble, and go back to addressing migration as a human phenomenon, to be understood and managed. “I dream of the moment when this issue will be normalized, and will become something boring,” he admits timidly.
To do this, cracks must be opened in the wall and in a model that seems solid but really isn’t, that has undesirable effects, violates human rights, and isolates Europe and Italy.
Anna Knoll, researcher at the European Center for Development Policy Management, explains for example that European policies have tried to limit movements even within Africa, while the future of the continent is the freedom of movement of goods and people, and “for Europe, it is an excellent time to support this, also given the pressure from other international players, China first of all”.
For Sabelo Mbokazi, who heads the Labor and Migration department of the Social Affairs Commission of the African Union (AU), there is one issue on which the two continental blocs have divergent positions: legal entry channels. “For the EU, they are something residual, we have a much broader vision,” he explains. And this will be one of the themes of the next EU-AU summit, which was postponed several times in 2020.
It’s a completely flawed approach, and there are no quick fixes to change it
David Kipp - researcher at the German Institute for International Affairs
Indeed, the issue of legal access channels to the Italian and European territory is one of the most important, and so far almost imperceptible, cracks in this Big Wall. In the last five years, Italy has spent just 15 million euros on it, 1.1 percent of the total expenditure dedicated to external dimensions of migration.
The European Union hasn’t done any better. “Legal migration, which was one of the pillars of the strategy born in Valletta in 2015, has remained a dead letter, but if we limit ourselves to closing the borders, we will not go far”, says Stefano Manservisi, who as a senior official of the EU Commission worked on all the migration dossiers during those years.
Yet we all know that a trafficker’s worst enemy are passport stamps, visas, and airline tickets.
Helen Dempster, who’s an economist at the Center for Global Development, spends her days studying how to do this: how to open legal channels of entry, and how to get states to think about it. And there is an effective example: we must not end up like Japan.
“For decades, Japan has had very restrictive migration policies, it hasn’t allowed anyone in”, explains Dempster, “but in recent years it has realized that, with its aging population, it soon won’t have enough people to do basic jobs, pay taxes, and finance pensions”. And so, in April 2019, the Asian country began accepting work visa applications, hoping to attract 500,000 foreign workers.
In Europe, however, “the hysteria surrounding migration in 2015 and 2016 stopped all debate“. Slowly, things are starting to move again. On the other hand, several European states, Italy and Germany especially, have one thing in common with Japan: an increasingly aging population.
“All European labor ministries know that they must act quickly, but there are two preconceptions: that it is difficult to develop adequate projects, and that public opinion is against it.” For Dempster, who helped design an access program to the Belgian IT sector for Moroccan workers, these are false problems. “If we want to look at it from the point of view of the security of the receiving countries, bringing a person with a passport allows us to have a lot more information about who they are, which we do not have if we force them to arrive by sea”, she explains.
Let’s look at some figures to make it easier: in 2007, Italy made 340,000 entry visas available, half of them seasonal, for non-EU workers, as part of the Flows Decree, Italy’s main legal entry channel adopted annually by the government. Few people cried “invasion” back then. Ten years later, in 2017, those 119,000 people who reached Italy through the Mediterranean seemed a disproportionate number. In the same year, the quotas of the Flow decree were just 30,000.
Perhaps these numbers aren’t comparable, and building legal entry programs is certainly long, expensive, and apparently impractical, if we think of the economic and social effects of the coronavirus pandemic in which we are immersed. For Dempster, however, “it is important to be ready, to launch pilot programs, to create infrastructures and relationships”. So that we don’t end up like Japan, “which has urgently launched an access program for workers, without really knowing how to manage them”.
The Spanish case, as already mentioned, shows how a model born twenty years ago, and then adopted along all the borders between Europe and Africa, does not really work.
As international mobility declined, aided by the pandemic, at least 41,000 people landed in Spain in 2020, almost all of them in the Canary Islands. Numbers that take us back to 2006 and remind us how, after all, this ‘outsourcing’ offers costly and ineffective solutions.
It’s reminiscent of so-called planned obsolescence, the production model for which a technological object isn’t built to last, inducing the consumer to replace it after a few years. But continually renewing and re-financing these walls can be convenient for multinational security companies, shipyards, political speculators, authoritarian regimes, and international traffickers. Certainly not for citizens, who — from the Italian and European institutions — would expect better products. May they think of what the world will be like in 10, 30, 50 years, and avoid trampling human rights and canceling democratic processes in the name of a goal that — history seems to teach — is short-lived. The ideas are not lacking. [At this link you’ll find the recommendations developed by ActionAid: ▻https://thebigwall.org/en/recommendations/].
#Italie #externalisation #complexe_militaro-industriel #migrations #frontières #business #Afrique #budget #Afrique_du_Nord #Libye #chiffres #Niger #Soudan #Ethiopie #Sénégal #root_causes #causes_profondes #contrôles_frontaliers #EU_Trust_Fund_for_Africa #Trust_Fund #propagande #campagne #dissuasion
Ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation :
Et plus précisément :
Tous chasseurs cueilleurs !
On a tous en tête des souvenirs d’école sur les débuts de l’Histoire avec un grand H. Quelque part entre le Tigre et l’Euphrate il y a 10 000 ans, des chasseurs-cueilleurs se sont peu à peu sédentarisés en domestiquant les plantes et les animaux, inventant dans la foulée l’#agriculture, l’écriture et les premiers Etats. C’était l’aube de la #civilisation et le début de la marche forcée vers le #progrès.
Cette histoire, #JamesScott, anthropologue anarchiste et professeur de sciences politiques, l’a enseignée pendant des années à ses élèves de l’Université de Yale. Mais les découvertes archéologiques dans l’actuel Irak des dernières années l’ont amené à réviser complètement ce « storytelling » du commencement des sociétés humaines, et par là même remettre en question notre rapport au monde dans son dernier livre : Homo Domesticus, une histoire profonde des premiers Etats (Ed. La Découverte).
Alors même que climat et biodiversité sont aujourd’hui plus que jamais menacés par les activités humaines, James C. Scott propose de réévaluer l’intérêt des sociétés d’avant l’Etat et l’agriculture. Car ces chasseurs-cueilleurs semi-nomades ont longtemps résisté face aux civilisations agraires, basées sur les céréales et qui, en domestiquant le monde, se sont domestiqués eux-mêmes, en appauvrissant leur connaissance du monde.
Un reportage de Giv Anquetil.
James C. Scott : « Le monde des chasseurs-cueilleurs était un monde enchanté » (Le grand entretien) par Jean-Christophe Cavallin, Diakritik
Plutôt couler en beauté que flotter sans grâce, Réflexions sur l’effondrement, Corinne Morel Darleux, Editions Libertalia
"Amador Rojas invite Karime Amaya" Chapiteau du Cirque Romanès - Paris 16, Paris. Prochaine séance le vendredi 14 juin à 20h.
Homo Domesticus, une histoire profonde des premiers Etats, James C. Scott (Editions La Découverte)
Eloge des chasseurs-cueilleurs, revue Books (mai 2019).
HOMO DOMESTICUS - JAMES C. SCOTT Une Histoire profonde des premiers États [Fiche de lecture], Lundi matin
Bibliographie de l’association Deep Green Resistance
"Cholera" - El Rego et ses commandos
Homo Domesticus. Une histoire profonde des premiers États
Aucun ouvrage n’avait jusqu’à présent réussi à restituer toute la profondeur et l’extension universelle des dynamiques indissociablement écologiques et anthropologiques qui se sont déployées au cours des dix millénaires ayant précédé notre ère, de l’émergence de l’agriculture à la formation des premiers centres urbains, puis des premiers États.
C’est ce tour de force que réalise avec un brio extraordinaire #Homo_domesticus. Servi par une érudition étourdissante, une plume agile et un sens aigu de la formule, ce livre démonte implacablement le grand récit de la naissance de l’#État antique comme étape cruciale de la « #civilisation » humaine.
Ce faisant, il nous offre une véritable #écologie_politique des formes primitives d’#aménagement_du_territoire, de l’« #autodomestication » paradoxale de l’animal humain, des dynamiques démographiques et épidémiologiques de la #sédentarisation et des logiques de la #servitude et de la #guerre dans le monde antique.
Cette fresque omnivore et iconoclaste révolutionne nos connaissances sur l’évolution de l’humanité et sur ce que Rousseau appelait « l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes ».
Fiche de lecture: Homo Domesticus - James C. Scott
Un fidèle lecteur de lundimatin nous a transmis cette fiche de lecture du dernier ouvrage de James C. Scott, (on peut la retrouver sur le blog de la bibliothèque fahrenheit) qui peut s’avérer utile au moment l’institution étatique semble si forte et fragile à la fois.
« L’État est à l’origine un racket de protection mis en œuvre par une bande de voleurs qui l’a emporté sur les autres »
À la recherche de l’origine des États antiques, James C. Scott, professeur de science politique et d’anthropologie, bouleverse les grands #récits_civilisationnels. Contrairement à bien des idées reçues, la #domestication des plantes et des animaux n’a pas entraîné la fin du #nomadisme ni engendré l’#agriculture_sédentaire. Et jusqu’il y a environ quatre siècles un tiers du globe était occupé par des #chasseurs-cueilleurs tandis que la majorité de la population mondiale vivait « hors d’atteinte des entités étatiques et de leur appareil fiscal ».
Dans la continuité de #Pierre_Clastres et de #David_Graeber, James C. Scott contribue à mettre à mal les récits civilisationnels dominants. Avec cette étude, il démontre que l’apparition de l’État est une anomalie et une contrainte, présentant plus d’inconvénients que d’avantages, raison pour laquelle ses sujets le fuyait. Comprendre la véritable origine de l’État c’est découvrir qu’une toute autre voie était possible et sans doute encore aujourd’hui.
La première domestication, celle du #feu, est responsable de la première #concentration_de_population. La construction de niche de #biodiversité par le biais d’une #horticulture assistée par le feu a permis de relocaliser la faune et la flore désirable à l’intérieur d’un cercle restreint autour des #campements. La #cuisson des aliments a externalisé une partie du processus de #digestion. Entre 8000 et 6000 avant notre ère, Homo sapiens a commencé à planter toute la gamme des #céréales et des #légumineuses, à domestiquer des #chèvres, des #moutons, des #porcs, des #bovins, c’est-à-dire bien avant l’émergence de sociétés étatiques de type agraire. Les premiers grands établissements sédentaires sont apparus en #zones_humides et non en milieu aride comme l’affirment les récits traditionnels, dans des plaines alluviales à la lisière de plusieurs écosystèmes (#Mésopotamie, #vallée_du_Nil, #fleuve_Indus, #baie_de_Hangzhou, #lac_Titicata, site de #Teotihuacan) reposant sur des modes de subsistance hautement diversifiés (sauvages, semi-apprivoisés et entièrement domestiqués) défiant toute forme de comptabilité centralisée. Des sous-groupes pouvaient se consacrer plus spécifiquement à une stratégie au sein d’un économie unifiée et des variations climatiques entraînaient mobilité et adaptation « technologique ». La #sécurité_alimentaire était donc incompatible avec une #spécialisation étroite sur une seule forme de #culture ou d’#élevage, requérant qui plus est un travail intensif. L’#agriculture_de_décrue fut la première à apparaître, n’impliquant que peu d’efforts humains.
Les #plantes complètement domestiquées sont des « anomalies hyperspécialisées » puisque le cultivateur doit contre-sélectionner les traits sélectionnés à l’état sauvage (petite taille des graines, nombreux appendices, etc). De même les #animaux_domestiqués échappent à de nombreuses pressions sélectives (prédation, rivalité alimentaire ou sexuelle) tout en étant soumis à de nouvelles contraintes, par exemple leur moins grande réactivité aux stimuli externes va entraîner une évolution comportementale et provoquer la #sélection des plus dociles. On peut dire que l’espèce humaine elle-même a été domestiquée, enchaînée à un ensemble de routines. Les chasseurs-cueilleurs maîtrisaient une immense variété de techniques, basées sur une connaissance encyclopédique conservée dans la mémoire collective et transmise par #tradition_orale. « Une fois qu’#Homo_sapiens a franchi le Rubicon de l’agriculture, notre espèce s’est retrouvée prisonnière d’une austère discipline monacale rythmée essentiellement par le tic-tac contraignant de l’horloge génétique d’une poignée d’espèces cultivées. » James C. Scott considère la #révolution_néolithique récente comme « un cas de #déqualification massive », suscitant un #appauvrissement du #régime_alimentaire, une contraction de l’espace vital.
Les humains se sont abstenus le plus longtemps possible de faire de l’agriculture et de l’élevage les pratiques de subsistance dominantes en raison des efforts qu’elles exigeaient. Ils ont peut-être été contraints d’essayer d’extraire plus de #ressources de leur environnement, au prix d’efforts plus intenses, à cause d’une pénurie de #gros_gibier.
La population mondiale en 10 000 avant notre ère était sans doute de quatre millions de personnes. En 5 000, elle avait augmenté de cinq millions. Au cours des cinq mille ans qui suivront, elle sera multipliée par vingt pour atteindre cent millions. La stagnation démographique du #néolithique, contrastant avec le progrès apparent des #techniques_de_subsistance, permet de supposer que cette période fut la plus meurtrière de l’histoire de l’humanité sur le plan épidémiologique. La sédentarisation créa des conditions de #concentration_démographique agissant comme de véritables « parcs d’engraissement » d’#agents_pathogènes affectant aussi bien les animaux, les plantes que les humains. Nombre de #maladies_infectieuses constituent un « #effet_civilisationnel » et un premier franchissement massif de la barrière des espèces par un groupe pathogènes.
Le #régime_alimentaire_céréalier, déficient en #acides_gras essentiels, inhibe l’assimilation du #fer et affecte en premier lieu les #femmes. Malgré une #santé fragile, une #mortalité infantile et maternelle élevée par rapport aux chasseurs-cueilleurs, les agriculteurs sédentaires connaissaient des #taux_de_reproduction sans précédent, du fait de la combinaison d’une activité physique intense avec un régime riche en #glucides, provoquant une #puberté plus précoce, une #ovulation plus régulière et une #ménopause plus tardive.
Les populations sédentaires cultivant des #céréales domestiquées, pratiquant le commerce par voie fluviale ou maritime, organisées en « #complexe_proto-urbain », étaient en place au néolithique, deux millénaires avant l’apparition des premiers États. Cette « plateforme » pouvait alors être « capturée », « parasitée » pour constituer une solide base de #pouvoir et de #privilèges politiques. Un #impôt sur les céréales, sans doute pas inférieur au cinquième de la récolte, fournissait une rente aux élites. « L’État archaïque était comme les aléas climatiques : une menace supplémentaire plus qu’un bienfaiteur. » Seules les céréales peuvent servir de base à l’impôt, de part leur visibilité, leur divisibilité, leur « évaluabilité », leur « stockabilité », leur transportabilité et leur « rationabilité ». Au détour d’un note James C. Scott réfute l’hypothèse selon laquelle des élites bienveillantes ont créé l’État essentiellement pour défendre les #stocks_de_céréales et affirme au contraire que « l’État est à l’origine un racket de protection mis en œuvre par une bande de voleurs qui l’a emporté sur les autres ». La majeure partie du monde et de sa population a longtemps existé en dehors du périmètre des premiers États céréaliers qui n’occupaient que des niches écologiques étroites favorisant l’#agriculture_intensive, les #plaines_alluviales. Les populations non-céréalières n’étaient pas isolées et autarciques mais s’adonnaient à l’#échange et au #commerce entre elles.
Nombre de #villes de #Basse_Mésopotamie du milieu du troisième millénaire avant notre ère, étaient entourées de murailles, indicateurs infaillibles de la présence d’une agriculture sédentaire et de stocks d’aliments. De même que les grandes #murailles en Chine, ces #murs d’enceinte étaient érigés autant dans un but défensif que dans le but de confiner les paysans contribuables et de les empêcher de se soustraire.
L’apparition des premiers systèmes scripturaux coïncide avec l’émergence des premiers États. Comme l’expliquait #Proudhon, « être gouverné, c’est être, à chaque opération, à chaque transaction, à chaque mouvement, noté, enregistré, recensé, tarifé, timbré, toisé, coté, cotisé, patenté, licencié, autorisé, apostillé, admonesté, empêché, réformé, redressé, corrigé ». L’#administration_étatique s’occupait de l’#inventaire des ressources disponibles, de #statistiques et de l’#uniformisation des #monnaies et des #unités_de_poids, de distance et de volume. En Mésopotamie l’#écriture a été utilisée à des fins de #comptabilité pendant cinq siècle avant de commencer à refléter les gloires civilisationnelles. Ces efforts de façonnage radical de la société ont entraîné la perte des États les plus ambitieux : la Troisième Dynastie d’#Ur (vers 2100 avant J.-C.) ne dura qu’à peine un siècle et la fameuse dynastie #Qin (221-206 avant J.-C.) seulement quinze ans. Les populations de la périphérie auraient rejeté l’usage de l’écriture, associée à l’État et à l’#impôt.
La #paysannerie ne produisait pas automatiquement un excédent susceptible d’être approprié par les élites non productrices et devait être contrainte par le biais de #travail_forcé (#corvées, réquisitions de céréales, #servitude pour dettes, #servage, #asservissement_collectif ou paiement d’un tribu, #esclavage). L’État devait respecter un équilibre entre maximisation de l’excédent et risque de provoquer un exode massif. Les premiers codes juridiques témoignent des efforts en vue de décourager et punir l’#immigration même si l’État archaïque n’avait pas les moyens d’empêcher un certain degré de déperdition démographique. Comme pour la sédentarité et la domestication des céréales, il n’a cependant fait que développer et consolider l’esclavage, pratiqué antérieurement par les peuples sans État. Égypte, Mésopotamie, Grèce, Sparte, Rome impériale, Chine, « sans esclavage, pas d’État. » L’asservissement des #prisonniers_de_guerre constituait un prélèvement sauvage de main d’œuvre immédiatement productive et compétente. Disposer d’un #prolétariat corvéable épargnait aux sujets les travaux les plus dégradants et prévenait les tensions insurrectionnelles tout en satisfaisant les ambitions militaires et monumentales.
La disparition périodique de la plupart de ces entités politiques était « surdéterminée » en raison de leur dépendance à une seule récolte annuelle d’une ou deux céréales de base, de la concentration démographique qui rendait la population et le bétail vulnérables aux maladies infectieuses. La vaste expansion de la sphère commerciale eut pour effet d’étendre le domaine des maladies transmissibles. L’appétit dévorant de #bois des États archaïques pour le #chauffage, la cuisson et la #construction, est responsable de la #déforestation et de la #salinisation_des_sols. Des #conflits incessants et la rivalité autour du contrôle de la #main-d’œuvre locale ont également contribué à la fragilité des premiers États. Ce que l’histoire interprète comme un « effondrement » pouvait aussi être provoqué par une fuite des sujets de la région centrale et vécu comme une #émancipation. James C. Scott conteste le #préjugé selon lequel « la concentration de la population au cœur des centres étatiques constituerait une grande conquête de la civilisation, tandis que la décentralisation à travers des unités politiques de taille inférieure traduirait une rupture ou un échec de l’ordre politique ». De même, les « âges sombres » qui suivaient, peuvent être interprétés comme des moments de résistance, de retours à des #économies_mixtes, plus à même de composer avec son environnement, préservé des effets négatifs de la concentration et des fardeaux imposés par l’État.
Jusqu’en 1600 de notre ère, en dehors de quelques centres étatiques, la population mondiale occupait en majorité des territoires non gouvernés, constituant soit des « #barbares », c’est-à-dire des « populations pastorales hostiles qui constituaient une menace militaire » pour l’État, soit des « #sauvages », impropres à servir de matière première à la #civilisation. La menace des barbares limitait la croissance des États et ceux-ci constituaient des cibles de pillages et de prélèvement de tribut. James C. Scott considère la période qui s’étend entre l’émergence initiale de l’État jusqu’à sa conquête de l’hégémonie sur les peuples sans État, comme une sorte d’ « âge d’or des barbares ». Les notions de #tribu ou de peuple sont des « #fictions_administratives » inventées en tant qu’instrument de #domination, pour désigner des #réfugiés politiques ou économiques ayant fuit vers la périphérie. « Avec le recul, on peut percevoir les relations entre les barbares et l’État comme une compétition pour le droit de s’approprier l’excédent du module sédentaire « céréales/main-d’œuvre ». » Si les chasseurs-cueilleurs itinérants grappillaient quelques miettes de la richesse étatique, de grandes confédérations politiques, notamment les peuples équestres, véritables « proto-États » ou « Empires fantômes » comme l’État itinérant de #Gengis_Kahn ou l’#Empire_Comanche, constituaient des concurrents redoutables. Les milices barbares, en reconstituant les réserves de main d’œuvre de l’État et en mettant leur savoir faire militaire au service de sa protection et de son expansion, ont creusé leur propre tombe.
Dans la continuité de Pierre Clastres et de David Graeber, James C. Scott contribue à mettre à mal les récits civilisationnels dominants. Avec cette étude, il démontre que l’apparition de l’État est une #anomalie et une #contrainte, présentant plus d’inconvénients que d’avantages, raison pour laquelle ses sujets le fuyait. Comprendre la véritable origine de l’État c’est découvrir qu’une toute autre voie était possible et sans doute encore aujourd’hui.
2) Chissà a che punto è quel progetto per il controllo delle frontiere libiche il cui valore è passato da 300 a 900 milioni. Era il 2017...
Pour rappel, c’est Minniti qui avait déclaré que « la frontière Sud de la Libye est la frontière sud de l’Europe » :
Il ministro dell’interno italiano, Minniti, dichiara al Corriere che:
«Il confine sud della Libia è il confine sud dell’Europa»
voir aussi ce long fil de discussion (2017) à partir de cet article :
Migranti, vertice al Viminale dei ministri dell’Interno di Italia, Ciad, Libia e Niger
#Glock, #Airbus, #Heckler_&_Koch. Die Teilnehmerliste der 16 Lobby-Treffen der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex in den Jahren 2017 bis 2019 liest sich wie das Who-is-Who der Rüstungsindustrie. Kataloge mit Handfeuerwaffen wurden herumgereicht und in bunten PowerPoint-Präsentationen die Vorzüge von Überwachungsdrohnen erklärt.
Externe Beobachter*innen gab es bei den Treffen nicht. Und Frontex hat die Inhalte dieser Treffen nicht öffentlich zugänglich gemacht. Ein Lobby-Transparenzregister, wie es EU-Parlamentarier*innen vor zwei Jahren gefordert haben, hat Frontex bis heute nicht veröffentlicht. Auf Anfrage des ZDF Magazin Royale schrieb die EU-Agentur Ende Januar:
»Frontex trifft sich nicht mit Lobbyisten.«
Weil Frontex seiner Verantwortung als EU-Agentur nicht gerecht wird, hat das ZDF Magazin Royale diese Aufgabe übernommen. Hiermit veröffentlichen wir die FRONTEX FILES. Das erste Lobby-Transparenzregister der Grenzschutzagentur Frontex.
Was haben wir gemacht?
Gemeinsam mit den Rechercheurinnen Luisa Izuzquiza, Margarida Silva and Myriam Douo sowie der NGO „Frag den Staat“ hat das ZDF Magazin Royale 142 Dokumente von 16 Industry-Meetings, die Frontex zwischen 2017 und 2019 veranstaltet hat, ausgewertet. Darunter Programme, Teilnehmer*innenlisten, Powerpoint-Präsentationen und Werbekataloge.
Wie sind wir an die Dokumente gekommen?
Die Dokumente haben wir durch Anfragen nach dem Informationsfreiheitsgesetz der Europäischen Union erhalten.
Was ist besonders und neu daran?
Frontex hat die Einladungen zu den Treffen bisher nur teilweise auf der Webseite veröffentlicht. Wer dazu eingeladen war und was dort präsentiert wurde, jedoch nicht.
Was sagt Frontex und was stimmt?
Auf die Frage eines EU-Parlamentsabgeordneten im Jahr 2018 antwortete Frontex:
»Frontex trifft sich nur mit Lobbyisten, die im Transparenzregister der EU registriert sind und veröffentlicht jährlich einen Überblick der Treffen auf der Website. 2017 gab es keine solcher Treffen.«
Das stimmt nicht. Allein 2017 hat Frontex vier Meetings mit Lobby-Vertreter*innen abgehalten. 58 Prozent der Teilnehmenden waren nicht im EU-Transparenzregister gelistet. In den Treffen 2018 und 2019 waren 72 Prozent (91 von 125) der Lobbyist*innen nicht registriert.
Auf Anfrage des ZDF Magazin Royale schreibt Frontex:
»Frontex trifft sich nicht mit Lobbyisten. Es lädt Firmenvertreter ein, um an den Industrie-Tagen der Agentur teilzunehmen, die Grenzschutz-Offiziellen helfen sollen, über neue Technologien und Innovationen in Bezug auf Grenzkontrolle zu lernen.«
Auch das ist falsch: Die Auswertung der Präsentationen und Kataloge zeigen, dass Unternehmen versucht haben, Einfluss auf die Politik der Agentur zu nehmen. Teilweise wurden Vorschläge bereits umgesetzt.
Wer war bei den Frontex-Lobbytreffen?
An den Treffen haben 138 Vertreter*innen privater Einrichtungen teilgenommen: 108 Vertreter*innen von Unternehmen, 10 Think Tanks, 15 Universitäten, eine Nichtregierungsorganisation.
Keine einzige Menschenrechtsorganisation war bei diesen Treffen dabei.
Neben Vertreter*innen von EU-Grenzschutzbehörden hat Frontex zu den Treffen auch Internationale Organisationen wie Interpol, Europol oder die OSZE eingeladen und Vertreter*innen aus Staaten, die für ihre brutale Grenzschutzpolitik bekannt sind: die australische Regierung, das Homeland Security Department der USA, das angolanische Innenministerium, Vertreter des General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate oder die belarussische Grenzschutzbehörde.
Welche Produkte wurden präsentiert?
In den teils themenspezifischen Treffen wurden unterschiedliche Gerätschaften präsentiert, die zur Verteidigung der EU-Außengrenzen dienen sollen. Dazu gehören Handfeuerwaffen, Munition und Überwachungsgeräte wie Sensoren, Drohnen, Kameras und Server für die Speicherung von biometrischen Daten. Die Produkte wurden in Powerpoint-Präsentationen vorgestellt.
Welche Produkte wurden präsentiert?
In den teils themenspezifischen Treffen wurden unterschiedliche Gerätschaften präsentiert, die zur Verteidigung der EU-Außengrenzen dienen sollen. Dazu gehören Handfeuerwaffen, Munition und Überwachungsgeräte wie Sensoren, Drohnen, Kameras und Server für die Speicherung von biometrischen Daten. Die Produkte wurden in Powerpoint-Präsentationen vorgestellt.
Wo kann ich mich weiter über das Thema informieren?
Die Rechercheurinnen Luisa Izuzquiza, Margarida Silva and Myriam Douo haben zu den Dokumenten einen ausführlichen Bericht geschrieben und bei Corporate Europe Observatory veröffentlicht. Hier geht es zu dem Bericht: ►https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe
#mensonges #frontières #frontières_extérieures #Fabrice_Leggeri #Leggeri #droits_humains #push-backs #refoulements #droits_fondamentaux #complexe_militaro-industriel #lobby #ZDF #enquête #Frag_den_Staat #FragDenStaat
Lobbying Fortress Europe. The making of a border-industrial complex
The massive expansion of the budget, personnel, and powers of the EU’s border agency Frontex has also seen increasingly privileged access for industry. This perpetuates a vision of border control based on more and more firearms and biometric surveillance that has major human rights implications.
The massive expansion of EU border agency Frontex in recent years has not been matched by a corresponding increase in transparency, accountability, nor scrutiny.
Access to document requests reveal a disturbing trend by which arms, surveillance, and biometrics companies are being given an outsized role – unmatched by other voices – in shaping EU’s border control regime.
This report gives the first comprehensive overview of this phenomenon, finding that:
- Frontex holds special events for security industry lobbyists where they work hand in hand to promote ’solutions’ based on techno-fixes, from biometric surveillance to firepower.
- These corporate interests are not neutral parties but de facto seek to shape Frontex’s approach to border control in their interests, and benefit from procurement contracts.
- Meanwhile the agency has no real transparency or lobbying accountability mechanisms in place, and indeed denies that it is a target for lobbyists at all.
– At the same time as the agency has open doors for corporate lobbyists selling defence and surveillance solutions which have major human rights implications, groups working to defend human rights are left on the sidelines.
The European Union’s response to travellers, migrants, and refugees should be guided by the protection of human rights. This is too important an issue to be shaped by the interests of defence companies instrumentalising migration for profit.
Die geheimen Dates von Frontex und der Rüstungsindustrie
avec sous-titres en anglais:
The lobbyists behind Europe’s response to migration
Last year wasn’t a happy one for Frontex, in the news for illegal pushbacks and abuses against migrants and refugees (see below). Now it is under investigation by the EU anti-fraud watchdog OLAF.
“But the scandal of Frontex’s cozy relationship with the weapons and surveillance industry, brewing behind closed doors over the past few years, has received less attention,” Myriam Douo, Luisa Izuzquiza and Margarida Silva wrote in a recent Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) report (►https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe).
They obtained over 130 documents (►https://fragdenstaat.de/dokumente/sammlung/49-fx-files) through freedom of information requests and the review opened “a window onto at least 17 industry meetings convened by Frontex from 2017 to 2019”. It all started with a lot of money.
In fact, in 2020 Frontex was granted a €5.6 billion budget – the largest among all EU agencies – for the 2021-2027 timeframe. Then 10,000 border guards came along, together with an extension of its mandate and the ability to acquire and lease its own equipment like vessels, drones and radars.
“This is a dream come true not just for Frontex, but for the security industry. Spying the opportunity for a new and major customer, it has been advocating since 2010 for an EU-level border force with precisely those capabilities.”
In previous years, the agency had met with 138 private bodies: 108 companies, 10 research centres or think tanks, 15 universities and just one NGO (ID4Africa). European defence companies Airbus and Leonardo were awarded the most access, followed by tech companies (Japanese NEC, Atos, IDEMIA, Jenetric, secunet, and Vision-Box).
Even the consultative forum on human rights, established by Frontex itself, has never been heard. It was the security industry lobbyists who eventually shaped the agency’s approach.
They mostly discussed weapons, biometrics, maritime and aerial surveillance, heartbeat detectors and document inspection systems. Besides, migration was “portrayed as a threat, often linked to terrorism and crime”.
Yet, transparency remains very little. When CEO asked Frontex to explain how it was handling lobbying, a press office told them that “Frontex does not meet with lobbyists” and that it “does not attract the interest of lobbyists.” When they asked again, Frontex denied meeting with lobbyists except on “Industry Days”.
Migrants are the real elephant in the room. “A noticeable omission from almost every one of these discussions is the potential impact on human rights of these technologies and products, including undermining people’s fundamental right to privacy, presumption of innocence and liberty.”
Human rights organisations had almost no access to the agency, which is particularly worrying in the context of the future EU border and migration policy. “Considering the growing power and budget”, CEO predicts that Frontex’ relationship with industry will intensify. “Scrutiny over it should, too,” they add.
MEPs to probe Frontex over unlawful pushbacks
The European Parliament has set up a probe over harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations run by Frontex and aimed at stopping migrants from reaching EU shores via Greek waters.
On 24 February, MEPs have formed a new working group (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20210222IPR98303/frontex-meps-to-investigate-alleged-violations-of-fundamental-rights), chaided by Roberta Metsola (EPP, Malta) officially called #Frontex_Scrutiny_Working_Group (#FSWG) (https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/news/new-frontex-scrutiny-working-group-quote-from-tineke-strik-mep), to “monitor all aspects of the functioning of the border agency, including its compliance with fundamental rights.” The legislators will personally conduct a fact-finding investigation over the next four months in order to collect evidence to determine if the violations took place and if the agency was involved in them.
’This is literally an industry’: drone images give rare look at for-profit #Ice detention centers
Art project combines interviews with ex-detainees on their trauma during Covid-19, and imagery of the growth of private-run detention in the US
“Imagine how it feels there, locked up, the whole day without catching the air, without … seeing the light, because that is a cave there, in there you go crazy; without being able to see my family, just being able to listen to them on a phone and be able to say, ‘OK, bye,’ because the calls are expensive.”
That’s how Alejandro, an asylum seeker from Cuba, described his time in an #Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement (Ice) detention center.
His account is one of dozens captured in a collection of audio recordings as part of a project aiming to show how the US immigration detention system, the world’s largest, has commodified people as part of a for-profit industry.
“We’ve commodified human displacement,” said artist David Taylor, who has used drones to take aerial photography and video of 28 privately run Ice detention centers near the US southern border, in California, #Arizona and #Texas.
While accounts of abuse and exploitation from inside facilities appear in the news media, the detention centers are usually in isolated, underpopulated areas with access to photographers or film crews tightly controlled.
This new image collection, taken from near the perimeters of the facilities, gives a rare look at just how many of these centers occupy the landscape. “What I want to show through the accumulation of imagery is that this is literally an industry,” Taylor said, “that it’s expansive, that it occupies a significant amount of territory in our national landscape – and I’m only showing a fraction of it.
“That, to me, is an important realization. The scale is shocking; how it is changing the United States,” said Taylor, a professor of art at the University of Arizona.
The imagery will ultimately be shown in an exhibition incorporating the stories of some of the people captured inside this system. These audio recordings come from a collaboration with Taylor and a group which provides free legal service to detained migrants in Arizona, the Florence Project, and writer Francisco Cantú.
When the project is eventually presented in a gallery, it will also include data on the costs, profits and revenue of corporations involved. Late in the the Obama era, the Department of Justice (DoJ) discontinued all use of private prison corporations to house detainees, but the DoJ during the Trump administration reversed this policy.
Between 2015 and 2018, as the administration began to ramp up its crackdown on immigrants, the targeted average daily population of detained immigrants grew 50%. Corporations won contracts from Ice worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Taylor said the project was fraught because he was taking artistic photos and video of sites where traumas have occurred, but hopes the final work will help people understand how those inside are being used to support an industry. The detainees’ vulnerability during the Covid-19 pandemic added to an urgency to spotlight the facilities, he said.
Excerpts from some of the interviews follow. Each of the interviewees was given a pseudonym because their asylum cases are pending. Alejandro and Alonzo’s interviews were translated from Spanish.
All three were held at facilities operated by CoreCivic, which disputes allegations about conditions and said it was committed to health and safety.
‘They are not interested in our lives’
Alonzo – La Palma correctional center in Eloy, Arizona
When Covid first struck the detention center, Alonzo said he helped organize strikes to protest the conditions inside which were exposing everyone, including the guards, to the illness.
The 34-year-old said he was refused access to a Covid test even though he was feeling unwell. A month later, he said he was taken to the hospital because he was having such trouble breathing and his skin was turning black. “The truth is that you need to be dying there so that they can take care of you, what they do with you there is lousy, lousy, lousy. They are not interested in our lives in the least.”
In a hospital emergency room, a doctor told Alonzo he had blood clots and probably had cancer because they found tumors in his lungs and kidneys.
“When they give me this news, they tell me that they have to return me to La Palma correctional center and put me in a cell. I spent a day and a half locked up without being able to get out at all. On that day they gave me half an hour to bathe, let my family know what was happening to me, and locked me up again.
“During this time that I was there, there were many people. We stood up to be treated, there were colleagues who collapsed inside the tank, people who convulsed. We prayed because the nurses who treated us, the nurses came and told us, ‘You have nothing, it’s a simple flu,’ and nothing happens.”
Alonzo described witnessing many suicide attempts. He said he found strength in his wish to see his daughters again and his belief in God. “I always had something in my mind and in my heart, that God did not save me from Mexico to come to die in a forgotten cell. I knew within myself that I was not going to die there.”
He said the strikes came about as conditions worsened. “One day we all got organized and got together to talk. ‘You know what, brother? There is no Cuban here, there is no Mexican here, there is no Indian here, there is no Venezuelan here, there is no Nicaraguan here, there is nothing. Here we are all here. Because we are all infected, because we are all dying. This is fighting for our existence, it is no longer fighting for a residence, it is no longer fighting for a parole, it is no longer fighting for bail, it is all fighting to get out of here alive.’”
‘They told me I had Covid-19. They never gave me treatment’
Alejandro – Central Arizona Florence correctional center
Alejandro approached a border checkpoint to seek asylum after three months of waiting in Mexico, seeking refuge from political persecution in his native Cuba. At the border, his pregnant wife was allowed to stay with a relative in the US, while Alejandro, 19, was detained.
During his three months in detention, he was told he tested positive for Covid-19, which he was skeptical of because he didn’t have symptoms and was asthmatic. He said he was put in solitary confinement because of the test result, then transferred to a civil jail, where he said conditions were worse.
The most painful part of all, however, was missing the birth of his son after his wife underwent a difficult pregnancy.
Joe Biden reverses anti-immigrant Trump policies hours after swearing-in
“Imagine, it broke my heart, I could hardly speak. Every time I spoke to my wife, or listened to the child, a lump would form in my throat that I could not swallow. It was a thing that does not let you swallow, that makes your chest constrict from so much suffering, from so much pain … If you are a parent, you know what I am telling you … The words did not come out from so much suffering … I spoke a few words and cried. She could hardly speak. Sometimes it was better not to call, because if I called I would feel worse than not calling.”
Alejandro said he cried every day in detention and was treated by a psychologist in a five-minute “speed date” appointment. “She asked me, ‘Hi, I understand you have a boy, how are you feeling?’ I told her I felt bad, how else was I going to feel? She said, ‘you need to read, to relax,’ just that. Nonsense, something quick. They told me I had Covid-19 and they never gave me any treatment, just water. They told me, ‘Drink water, lots of water.’”
Responses from #CoreCivic and Ice
A CoreCivic company spokesman, Ryan Gustin, denied the allegations Alejandro and Alonzo made about conditions in their facilities. “We have responded to this unprecedented situation appropriately, thoroughly and with care for the safety and wellbeing of those entrusted to us and our communities,” Gustin said. “We don’t cut corners on care, staff or training, which meets, and in many cases exceeds, our government partners’ standards.”
CoreCivic said all detainees were supplied with face masks and denied any allegations that detainees were refused Covid tests. “Initially, detainees were asked to sign an acknowledgment form related to the use of the masks.” The spokesman said detainees were not placed in solitary confinement because of a positive test; he said there were “cohorting procedures … which are intended to prevent the spread of infection” which involve no loss of privileges or activities. CoreCivic denied claims of multiple suicide attempts saying “any such incident would be reported to our government partner”.
Ice, which oversees the facilities, said the agency was “firmly dedicated to the health and safety of all individuals in our custody”.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Ice has taken extensive steps to safeguard all detainees, staff and contractors, including: reducing the number of detainees in custody by placing individuals on alternatives to detention programs, suspending social visitation, incorporating social distancing practices with staggered meals and recreation times, and through the use of testing, cohorting and medical isolation.”
‘Let me go back home and face my death’
Mary – in Central Arizona Florence correctional complex one night, then Eloy detention center
Mary was first detained in Mexico, where she arrived after traveling from her home in Uganda. She was eventually released, sought asylum in the US at a border checkpoint and was detained for five and a half months.
Detention conditions were similar in the two countries, she said, except Mexican guards occasionally held days where people could socialize with family or friends who were also detained.
The isolation Mary experienced in the US was intense. She didn’t speak to her young children in Africa the whole time because she couldn’t afford the costs of the calls and relied on a volunteer to relay messages between the mother and her children.
Also, because she doesn’t speak Spanish, it was more difficult for her to make relationships with immigrants inside from mostly Spanish-speaking countries, and the schedules in the prison made it difficult to develop relationships with others.
“The Cameroonians were there, but again, everybody used to feel sad, everybody used not to talk. It was like that, since you were sad all the time, you could not communicate, you could not joke.”
She, like many others, described how many people just wanted to be deported instead of waiting out their time in detention.
“One day I thought that if the judge denies me, I’ll just tell her or him, ‘Let me go back home and face my death, because I never wanted to stay in detention more. I was thinking about that, but I could not again decide since I was afraid of getting back home.
#privatisation #complexe-militaro-industriel #business #asile #migrations #réfugiés #centres #centres_de_détention #détention_administrative #rétention #industrie #photographie #USA #Etats-Unis #enfermement #Californie
A Mayotte, la France recrute des navires privés pour stopper les migrants
Mediapart révèle que la préfecture [de Mayotte] s’est lancée, au prétexte de la pandémie, dans une collaboration avec des sociétés nautiques privées pour surveiller les frontières maritimes de l’île. Du jamais vu. Du « temporaire », promet la sous-préfète.
De l’approche des dauphins à la protection des frontières : c’est à une réunion de réorientation professionnelle inédite que les entreprises du monde nautique ont été conviées par la préfecture de Mayotte, mercredi 20 janvier. Par SMS et par mail, tous les clubs de plongée, tour-opérateurs ou croisiéristes de ce département d’outre-mer ont reçu, de la part de « Madame Gimonet, Sous-Préfète en charge de la Lutte contre l’Immigration Clandestine », une invitation pour « une réunion d’information sur la protection des frontières ». Au menu : un appel à volontaires pour surveiller les eaux françaises face aux embarcations de migrants venus des îles voisines des Comores (surnommées « kwassas-kwassas »).
#Mayotte #privatisation #contrôles_frontaliers #France #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #sociétés_nautiques #industrie_nautique #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #Gimonet #protection_des_frontières #surveillance #Comores #kwassas-kwassas #Nathalie_Gimonet #délation #volontaires
The two sides of TUI : crisis-hit holiday giant turned deportation specialist
2020 was a rough year for the tourism industry, with businesses worldwide cancelling holidays and laying off staff. Yet one company has been weathering the storm with particular ruthlessness: the Anglo-German giant TUI.
TUI (Touristik Union International) has been called the world’s biggest holiday company. While its core business is selling full-package holidays to British and German families, 2020 saw it taking on a new sideline: running deportation charter flights for the UK Home Office. In this report we look at how:
- TUI has become the main airline carrying out charter deportation flights for the UK Home Office. In November 2020 alone it conducted nine mass deportations to 19 destinations as part of Operation Sillath, and its deportation flights continue in 2021.
- TUI lost over €3 billion last year. But the money was made up in bailouts from the German government, totalling over €4 billion.
– TUI’s top owner is oligarch Alexey Mordashov, Russia’s fourth richest billionaire who made his fortune in the “Katastroika” of post-Soviet asset sell-offs. His family holding company made over €100 million in dividends from TUI in 2019.
– In 2020, TUI cut 23,000 jobs, or 32% of its global workforce. But it carried on paying out fat salaries to its bosses – the executive board waived just 5% of their basic pay, with CEO Fritz Joussen pocketing €1.7 million.
– Other cost-cutting measures included delaying payments of over €50m owed to hotels in Greece and Spain.
- TUI is accused of using its tourist industry muscle to pressure the Greek government into dropping COVID quarantine requirements last Summer, just before the tourist influx contributed to a “second wave” of infections.
– It is also accused of pressuring hotels in the Canary Islands to stop hosting migrants arriving on wooden boats, fearing it would damage the islands’ image in the eyes of TUI customers.
TUI: from heavy industry to holiday giant
Calling itself the ‘world’s leading tourism group’, TUI has 277 direct and indirect subsidiaries. The parent company is TUI AG, listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in Hannover and Berlin.
TUI describes itself as a ‘vertically-integrated’ tourism business. That means it covers all aspects of a holiday: it can take care of bookings, provide the planes to get there, accommodate guests in hotels and cruises, and connect them with ‘experiences’ such as museum vists, performances and excursions. Recent company strategy buzz highlights the use of digitalisation – ‘driving customers’ into buying more services via its apps and online platforms. Where it can’t do everything in-house, TUI also uses other airlines and works extensively with independent hotels.
TUI’s major assets are:
- Hotels. By September 2020 the company ran over 400 hotels, the most profitable of which is the RIU chain, a company jointly owned by the Mallorca-based RIU family.
- Cruises. TUI owns three cruise companies – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Marella Cruises – which between them operate 17 vessels.
- Airlines. TUI has five airlines with a total fleet of 137 aircraft. 56 of these are operated by its biggest airline, the British company TUI Airways. Collectively, the airlines under the group are the seventh largest in Europe.
TUI also runs the TUI Care Foundation, its vehicle for green PR, based in the Hague.
The company has a long history dating back to 1923 – though it is barely recognisable from its earlier embodiment as the energy, mining and metalworking group Preussag, originally set up by the German state of Prussia. Described by some as the “heavy industrial arm” of the Nazi economy, Preussag was just one of many German industrial firms which benefited from forced labour under the Third Reich. It transformed itself into a tourism business only in 1997, and completed a long string of acquisitions to become the behemoth it is today – including acquiring leading British travel agents Thomson in 2000 and First Choice Holidays in 2007.
TUI holidaymakers are mostly families from the UK and Germany, with an average ticket for a family of four costing €3,500 . The top five destinations as of Easter 2019 were, in order: Spain, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Cape Verde.
The UK branch – including TUI Airways, which is responsible for the deportations – is run out of Wigmore House, next to Luton Airport in Bedfordshire. The UK managing director is Andrew “Andy” Flintham. Flintham has been with TUI for over 15 years, and previously worked for British Airways and Ford.
Dawn Wilson is the managing director of TUI Airways. and head of airline operations on the TUI aviation board, overseeing all five of TUI’s airlines. Wilson is also a director of TUI UK. Originally from Cleethorpes, Wilson’s career in the industry began as cabin crew in the 80s, before rising up the ranks of Britannia Airways. Britannia’s parent company Thomson was acquired by TUI in 2000.
TUI’s crisis measures: mass job losses, deportations, and more
Before the pandemic TUI was a success story, drawing 23 million people a year to sun, sea, snow or sights. In 2019, TUI was riding high following the collapse of its key UK competitor, Thomas Cook. It branched out by adding 21 more aircraft to its fleet and picking up a number of its rival’s former contracts, notably in Turkey. TUI’s extensive work in Turkey has recently made it a target of the Boycott Turkey campaign in solidarity with the Kurdish people. The one bum note had been the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX airliners, after two crashes involving the aircraft forced the worldwide withdrawal of these planes. Despite that, the company made close to €19 billion in revenues in 2019, and a profit of over €500 million. Most of that profit was handed straight to shareholders, with over €400 million in dividends. (See: Annual Report 2019). And the future looked good, with record bookings for 2020.
Then came COVID-19. By the end of the 2020 financial year, travel closures had resulted in losses of €3 billion for TUI, and a net debt of €4.2bn. To stay afloat, the company has managed to pull in handouts from the German state, as well as backing from its largest shareholder, the Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov. It has also turned to a number of controversial business practices: from mass job losses to becoming Brexit Britain’s main deportation profiteer.
Here we look at some of what TUI got up to in the last year.
Had it been left to the free market, TUI might well have gone bust. Fortunately for TUI’s investors, the German government rode to the rescue. In total, the state – working together with some banks and private investors – has provided TUI with €4.8bn in bailout funds to see it through COVID-19.
The vast bulk of this money, €4.3 billion to date, has come from German taxpayers. TUI received a €1.8 rescue loan from state development bank KsF in April 2020, followed by another €1.2 billion package in August. The third bailout, agreed in December 2020, totalled €1.8 billion. €1.3 billion of this was more government money – from the German Economic Support Fund (WSF) as well as KsF.
While some was a straight loan, portions came as a “silent participation” convertible into shares in the company – that is, the state has the option to become a major TUI shareholder. The deal also involved the government having two seats on TUI’s supervisory board. The German state is now intimately involved in TUI’s business.
The other €500m was raised by issuing new shares to private investors. TUI’s largest owner, Alexey Mordashov, agreed to take any of these not bought by others – potentially increasing his stake in the company from 25% to as much as 36% (see below).
Alongside bail-outs, another key part of TUI’s response to the COVID crisis has been to hit the staff. Back in May 2020 there was widespread media coverage when TUI announced it would make 8,000 job cuts globally. Then in July 2020, the company announced it would close 166 of its 516 travel agencies in the UK and Ireland at a cost of 900 jobs.
But these announcements turned out to be just the beginning. In the 2020 Annual Report, published in December 2020, TUI quietly announced that it had in fact cut 23,143 jobs – that is 32% of its total staff.
Particularly hard hit were hotel staff, whose numbers fell by over 13,000, 46% of the total. The workforce of TUI’s excursions and activities division, TUI Musement, was cut in half with almost 5,000 job losses (Annual Report, p88). And these figures do not include staff for TUI Cruises (JV), a joint venture company whose employees are mainly hired through agencies on temporary contracts.
Home Office deportation airline of choice
TUI is not known to have been previously involved in deportations from the UK, Germany or any other country. But since August 2020, its UK subsidiary TUI Airways has suddenly become the UK’s top deportation airline. It carried out the vast majority of mass deportation charter flights from the UK between August and December 2020, and continues to do so in January 2021.
This included many of the rush of pre-Brexit “Operation Sillath” deportations to European countries before the New Year – where the Home Office pushed to expel as many refugees as possible under the Dublin Regulation before it crashed out of this EU agreement. But it also works further afield: TUI carried out all charter deportations from the UK in November, including one to Ghana and Nigeria.
Because of this, TUI looked a likely candidate to be operating the so-called ‘Jamaica 50’ flight on 2 December, and was one of a number of possible airlines targeted by a social media campaign. However, the company eventually clarified it would not be doing the flight – Privilege Style, whom Corporate Watch recently reported on, turned out to be the operator. It is unclear whether or not TUI had originally been booked and pulled out after succumbing to public pressure.
No hospitality in the Canary Islands
The company’s disregard for the lives of refugees is not limited to deportation deals. In the Canary Islands, a local mayor revealed that TUI (along with British airline Jet2) had warned hotels not to provide emergency shelter to migrants, threatening it would not ‘send tourists’ if they did.
Record numbers of African migrants arrived on wooden boats to the islands in 2020, and some have been accomodated in the hotels at the state’s expense. Nearly 2,170 migrants died trying to reach Spain that year, the majority en-route to the Canaries. The islands had seen a dramatic fall in holidaymakers due to the pandemic, and many hotel rooms would have sat empty, making TUI’s threats all the more callous.
Pushing back against Greek COVID-19 measures
TUI has been pressing destination countries to reopen to tourists following the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has become a particular issue in Greece, now the company‘s number one destination where TUI has been accused of exerting pressure on the government to relax anti-COVID measures last Summer.
According to a report in German newspaper BILD (see also report in English here), TUI threatened to cancel all its trips to the country unless the government dropped quarantine regulations for tourists. The threat was reportedly made in negotiations with the Greek tourism minister, who then rushed to call the Prime Minister, who backed down and rewrote the Government’s COVID-19 plans.
Greece had been viewed as a rare success story of the pandemic, with the virus having largely been contained for months – until early August, a few weeks after it welcomed back tourists. Some have blamed the country’s “second wave” of COVID-19 infections on the government’s “gamble of opening up to tourists”.
Leaving hotels in the lurch
Despite having pushed destination countries to increase their COVID-19 exposure risks by encouraging tourism, the company then refused to pay hoteliers in Greece and Spain millions of euros owed to them for the summer season. Contractual changes introduced by TUI forced hotels to wait until March 2021 for three-quarters of the money owed. In Greece, where the company works with over 2,000 hotels, the sum owed is said to be around €50m, with individual hotels reportedly owed hundreds of thousands of euros. This money is essential to many businesses’ survival through the low season.
TUI’s actions are perhaps all the more galling in light of the enormous government bailouts the company received. In the company’s 2020 Annual Report, amid sweeping redundancies and failure to pay hoteliers, CEO Fritz Joussen had the arrogance to claim that “TUI plays a stabilising role in Southern Europe, and in Northern Africa too, with investment, infrastructure and jobs.”
Rolling in it: who gains
The supposed rationale for government COVID bail-outs, in Germany as elsewhere, is to keep the economy turning and secure jobs. But that can’t mean much to the third of its work force TUI has sacked. If not the workers, who does benefit from Germany funneling cash into the holiday giant?
TUI’s bailout deals with the German government forbade it from paying a dividend to shareholders in 2020. Although in previous years the company operated a very high dividend policy indeed: in 2018 it handed over €381 million, or 47% of its total profit, to its shareholders. They did even better in 2019, pocketing €423 million – or no less than 80% of company profits. They will no doubt be hoping that the money will roll in again once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.
Meanwhile, it appears that the crisis barely touched TUI’s executives and directors. According to the 2020 Annual Report (page 130), the company’s executives agreed to a “voluntary waiver of 30% of their fixed remuneration for the months of April and May 2020”. That is: just a portion of their salary, for just two months. This added up to a drop of just 5% in executive salaries over the year compared with 2019.
Again: this was during a year where 32% of TUI staff were laid off, and the company lost over €3 billion.
In a further great show of sacrifice, the Annual Report explains that “none of the members of the Executive Board has made use of their right to reimbursement of holiday trips which they are entitled to according to their service agreements.” TUI is infamous for granting its executives paid holidays “without any limitation as to type of holiday, category or price” as an executive perk (page 126).
After his 5% pay cut, CEO Fritz Joussen still made €1,709,600 last year: a basic salary of €1.08 million, plus another €628,000 in “pension contributions and service costs” including a chauffeur driven car allowance.
The next highest paid was none other than “labour director” Dr Elke Eller with €1.04 million. The other four members of the executive board all received over €800,000.
The top dogs
Who are these handsomely paid titans of the holiday industry? TUI’s CEO is Friedrich “Fritz” Joussen, based in Germany. Originally hired by TUI as a consultant, Joussen has a background in the German mobile phone industry and was head of Vodafone Germany. The slick CEO can regularly be found giving presentations about the TUI ‘ecosystem’ and the importance of digitisation. Besides his salary, Joussen also benefits from a considerable shareholding accrued through annual bonuses.
Overseeing Joussen’s executive team is the Supervisory Board, chaired by the Walrus-moustachioed Dr. Dieter Zetsche, or ‘Dr. Z’, who made his fortune in the management of Daimler AG (the car giant that also owns Mercedes–Benz, and formerly, Chrysler ). Since leaving that company in 2019, Zetsche has reportedly been enjoying a Daimler pension package of at least €4,250 a day. TUI topped him up with a small fee of €389,500 for his board duties in 2020 (Annual Report p140).
With his notable moustache, Dr. Z is a stand-out character in the mostly drab world of German corporate executives, known for fronting one of Daimler’s US ad campaigns in a “buffoon tycoon” character. At the height of the Refugee Summer of 2015, Dr. Dieter Zetsche abruptly interrupted his Frankfurt Motor Show speech on the future of the car industry to discuss the desperate situation facing Syrian refugees.
He said at the time: “Anybody who knows the past isn’t allowed to turn refugees away. Anybody who sees the present can’t turn them away. Anybody who thinks about the future will not turn them away.” Five years later, with TUI the UK’s top deportation profiteer, this sentiment seems to have been forgotten.
Another key figure on the Supervisory Board is Deputy Chair Peter Long. Long is a veteran of the travel industry, having been CEO of First Choice, which subsequently merged with TUI. He is credited with pioneering Turkey as an industry destination.
Long is a controversial figure who has previously been accused of ‘overboarding’, i.e. sitting on the directors’ boards of too many companies. Described as a “serial part timer”, he was executive chairman of Countrywide PLC, the UK’s largest estate agency group, but stepped down in late November 2020 after apparently ruffling shareholders’ feathers over a move that would have given control of the company to a private equity firm. In 2018, Countrywide was forced to abandon attempts to give bosses – including himself – shares worth more than £20m. Long also previously stepped down as chairman of Royal Mail after similarly losing shareholder support over enormous executive pay packages. In his former role as as head of TUI Travel, he was among the UK’s top five highest earning CEOs, with a salary of £13.3 million for the year 2014 -15.
The man with the money: Alexey Mordashov
But all the above are paupers compared to TUI’s most powerful board member and top shareholder: Alexey Mordashov, a Russian oligarch who is reportedly the country’s fourth richest billionaire, with a fortune of over $23 billion. His family holding company is TUI’s main owner with up to 36% of company shares.
Mordashov’s stake in TUI is held through a Cyprus-registered holding company called Unifirm.
In 2019, Mordashov transferred 65% of his shares in Unifirm to KN-Holding, a Russian company owned jointly by his two sons, Kirill and Nikita, then aged 18 and 19. However, Russian media report that after the younger son Nikita was kicked out of university in 2020, he was sent to the army, and his shares transferred to Kirill.
It may not be massive money to Mordashov, but his family company have certainly done well out of TUI. In 2019 TUI paid out €423 million in dividends to its shareholders, no less than 80% of total profits. At the time Unifirm owned one quarter (24.95%) of TUI. That means the Mordashovs will have received over €100 million on their investment in TUI just in that one year.
“Steel king” Alexey Mordashov’s rise to the height of the global mega-rich began with a typical post-Soviet privatisation story. Born in 1965, the son of steel workers, he studied economics and accountancy and by 1992 was finance director of a steel plant in his hometown of Cherepovets. In the early and mid-1990s, the great Russian “Katastroika” sell-off of state assets saw steel mill and other workers handed shares in the former collective enterprises. In the midst of an economic collapse, workers sold on their shares to pay food and heating bills, while the likes of Mordashov built up massive asset portfolios quick and cheap. In the next privatisation phase, the budding oligarchs were handed whole industries through rigged auctions.
Mordashov turned his steel plant holdings into a company called Severstal, now among the world’s largest steel firms. He then expanded Severstal into Severgroup, a conglomerate with holdings in everything from airports to goldmines (Nordgold) to supermarkets (Lenta), to mobile phone networks (Tele2 Russia), as well as the local hockey team Severstal Cherepovets. Vladimir Lukin, Mordashov’s legal adviser at Severgroup, is also a member of the TUI Supervisory Board.
Business media paint Mordashov as less flamboyant than your average oligarch. His new megayacht Nord, built in Germany and registered in the Cayman Islands, is only 142 metres long – 20 metres shorter than Roman Abramovitch’s Eclipse.
In December 2020, TUI declared that Unifirm owned 25% of its shares. But the number will have increased in TUI’s third bail-out deal in January: as well as more money from the German government and its banks, Unifirm agreed to inject more cash into the company in return for boosting its ownership, buying up new shares to a maximum of 36%. The exact current holding has not yet been announced.
TUI’s increasing control by Mordashov was approved by the German financial regulator Bafin, which stepped in to exempt him from a rule that would have required Unifirm to bid for a full majority of the shares once it held more than 30%.
Unifirm is the only shareholder with over 10% of TUI shares. Some way behind, Egyptian hotel-owning businessman called Hamed El Chiaty has a stake of just over 5%, via the Cyprus-based DH Deutsche Holdings. But most of TUI’s shares are owned in smaller chunks by the usual suspects: the global investment funds and banks that own the majority of the world’s assets.
In December 2020 these funds each had over 1%: UK investor Standard Life Aberdeen; giant US-based fund Vanguard; Canada’s state pension system; and Norges Bank, which manages the oil-rich national wealth fund of Norway. Two other major investment funds, Pioneer and BlackRock, had around 0.5% each. (NB: these numbers may have changed after the new January share sale.)
TUI can’t take its reputation for granted
A company of TUI’s size backed by the German government and a Russian billionaire may seem impervious to criticism. On the other hand, unlike more specialist charter airlines, it is very much a public facing business, relying above all on the custom of North European families. The endless stream of negative reviews left by disgruntled customers following cancelled TUI holidays in 2020 have already tarnished its image.
In a sign of just how worried the company may be about its reputation, it put out a tender in the autumn for a new PR agency to take care of “relaunching the brand into the post-Covid world”. This was ultimately awarded to the US firm Leo Burnett. If outrage at the UK’s deportation push keeps up, TUI might well need to pay attention to online campaigns or demonstrations at its travel agents.
Another vulnerability the company has itself identified is political instability in destination countries, as evidenced by TUI’s nervousness over migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands. Here too, its image is being harmed by actions such as exerting pressure on the Greek government to relax COVID measures, and its treatment of independent hotels. TUI cannot take public support for granted in top destinations such as Greece and Spain, where campaigning at its resorts could play a role in shifting company policy.
#renvois #expulsions #tourisme #TUI #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Allemagne #privatisation #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #UK #Angleterre #Touristik_Union_International #compagnie_aérienne #avions #Operation_Sillath #Alexey_Mordashov #Fritz_Joussen #Canaries #îles_Canaries #Preussag #Wigmore_House #Flintham #Andrew_Flintham #Andy_Flintham #Dawn_Wilson #pandémie #coronavirus #covid-19 #KsF #German_Economic_Support_Fund (#WSF) #chômage #licenciements #TUI_Musement #charter #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #Ghana #Nigeria #Jamaica_50 #Jet2 #hôtels #Elke_Eller #Dieter_Zetsche #Peter_Long #Severstal #Severgroup #Nordgold #Lenta #Tele2_Russia #Unifirm #Hamed_El_Chiaty #DH_Deutsche_Holdings #multinationales #Standard_Life_Aberdeen #Vanguard #Norges_Bank #Pioneer #BlackRock #Leo_Burnett
How the Pandemic Turned Refugees Into ‘Guinea Pigs’ for Surveillance Tech
An interview with Dr. Petra Molnar, who spent 2020 investigating the use of drones, facial recognition, and lidar on refugees
The coronavirus pandemic unleashed a new era in surveillance technology, and arguably no group has felt this more acutely than refugees. Even before the pandemic, refugees were subjected to contact tracing, drone and LIDAR tracking, and facial recognition en masse. Since the pandemic, it’s only gotten worse. For a microcosm of how bad the pandemic has been for refugees — both in terms of civil liberties and suffering under the virus — look no further than Greece.
Greek refugee camps are among the largest in Europe, and they are overpopulated, with scarce access to water, food, and basic necessities, and under constant surveillance. Researchers say that many of the surveillance techniques and technologies — especially experimental, rudimentary, and low-cost ones — used to corral refugees around the world were often tested in these camps first.
“Certain communities already marginalized, disenfranchised are being used as guinea pigs, but the concern is that all of these technologies will be rolled out against the broader population and normalized,” says Petra Molnar, Associate Director of the Refugee Law Lab, York University.
Molnar traveled to the Greek refugee camps on Lesbos in 2020 as part of a fact-finding project with the advocacy group European Digital Rights (EDRi). She arrived right after the Moria camp — the largest in Europe at the time — burned down and forced the relocation of thousands of refugees. Since her visit, she has been concerned about the rise of authoritarian technology and how it might be used against the powerless.
With the pandemic still raging and states more desperate than ever to contain it, it seemed a good time to discuss the uses and implications of surveillance in the refugee camps. Molnar, who is still in Greece and plans to continue visiting the camps once the nation’s second lockdown lifts, spoke to OneZero about the kinds of surveillance technology she saw deployed there, and what the future holds — particularly with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Molnar says, adding “that they’ve been using Greece as a testing ground for all sorts of aerial surveillance technology.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
OneZero: What kinds of surveillance practices and technologies did you see in the camps?
Petra Molnar: I went to Lesbos in September, right after the Moria camp burned down and thousands of people were displaced and sent to a new camp. We were essentially witnessing the birth of the Kara Tepes camp, a new containment center, and talked to the people about surveillance, and also how this particular tragedy was being used as a new excuse to bring more technology, more surveillance. The [Greek] government is… basically weaponizing Covid to use it as an excuse to lock the camps down and make it impossible to do any research.
When you are in Lesbos, it is very clear that it is a testing ground, in the sense that the use of tech is quite rudimentary — we are not talking about thermal cameras, iris scans, anything like that, but there’s an increase in the appetite of the Greek government to explore the use of it, particularly when they try to control large groups of people and also large groups coming from the Aegean. It’s very early days for a lot of these technologies, but everything points to the fact that Greece is Europe’s testing ground.
They are talking about bringing biometric control to the camps, but we know for example that the Hellenic Coast Guard has a drone that they have been using for self-promotion, propaganda, and they’ve now been using it to follow specific people as they are leaving and entering the camp. I’m not sure if the use of drones was restricted to following refugees once they left the camps, but with the lockdown, it was impossible to verify. [OneZero had access to a local source who confirmed that drones are also being used inside the camps to monitor refugees during lockdown.]
Also, people can come and go to buy things at stores, but they have to sign in and out at the gate, and we don’t know how they are going to use such data and for what purposes.
Surveillance has been used on refugees long before the pandemic — in what ways have refugees been treated as guinea pigs for the policies and technologies we’re seeing deployed more widely now? And what are some of the worst examples of authoritarian technologies being deployed against refugees in Europe?
The most egregious examples that we’ve been seeing are that ill-fated pilot projects — A.I. lie detectors and risk scorings which were essentially trying to use facial recognition and facial expressions’ micro-targeting to determine whether a person was more likely than others to lie at the border. Luckily, that technology was debunked and also generated a lot of debate around the ethics and human rights implications of using something like that.
Technologies such as voice printing have been used in Germany to try to track a person’s country of origin or their ethnicity, facial recognition made its way into the new Migration’s Pact, and Greece is thinking about automating the triage of refugees, so there’s an appetite at the EU level and globally to use this tech. I think 2021 will be very interesting as more resources are being diverted to these types of tech.
We saw, right when the pandemic started, that migration data used for population modeling became kind of co-opted and used to try and model flows of Covid. And this is very problematic because they are assuming that the mobile population, people on the move, and refugees are more likely to be bringing in Covid and diseases — but the numbers don’t bear out. We are also seeing the gathering of vast amounts of data for all these databases that Europe is using or will be using for a variety of border enforcement and policing in general.
The concern is that fear’s being weaponized around the pandemic and technologies such as mobile tracking and data collection are being used as ways to control people. It is also broader, it deals with a kind of discourse around migration, on limiting people’s rights to move. Our concern is that it’ll open the door to further, broader rollout of this kind of tech against the general population.
What are some of the most invasive technologies you’ve seen? And are you worried these authoritarian technologies will continue to expand, and not just in refugee camps?
In Greece, the most invasive technologies being used now would probably be drones and unpiloted surveillance technologies, because it’s a really easy way to dehumanize that kind of area where people are crossing, coming from Turkey, trying to claim asylum. There’s also the appetite to try facial recognition technology.
It shows just how dangerous these technologies can be both because they facilitate pushbacks, border enforcement, and throwing people away, and it really plays into this kind of idea of instead of humane responses you’d hope to happen when you see a boat in distress in the Aegean or the Mediterranean, now entities are turning towards drones and the whole kind of surveillance apparatus. It highlights how the humanity in this process has been lost.
And the normalization of it all. Now it is so normal to use drones — everything is about policing Europe’s shore, Greece being a shield, to normalize the use of invasive surveillance tech. A lot of us are worried with talks of expanding the scope of action, mandate, and powers of Frontex [the European Border and Coast Guard Agency] and its utter lack of accountability — it is crystal clear that entities like Frontex are going to do Europe’s dirty work.
There’s a particular framing applied when governments and companies talk about migrants and refugees, often linking them to ISIS and using careless terms and phrases to discuss serious issues. Our concern is that this kind of use of technology is going to become more advanced and more efficient.
What is happening with regard to contact tracing apps — have there been cases where the technology was forced on refugees?
I’ve heard about the possibility of refugees being tracked through their phones, but I couldn’t confirm. I prefer not to interact with the state through my phone, but that’s a privilege I have, a choice I can make. If you’re living in a refugee camp your options are much more constrained. Often people in the camps feel they are compelled to give access to their phones, to give their phone numbers, etc. And then there are concerns that tracking is being done. It’s really hard to track the tracking; it is not clear what’s being done.
Aside from contact tracing, there’s the concern with the Wi-Fi connection provided in the camps. There’s often just one connection or one specific place where Wi-Fi works and people need to be connected to their families, spouses, friends, or get access to information through their phones, sometimes their only lifeline. It’s a difficult situation because, on the one hand, people are worried about privacy and surveillance, but on the other, you want to call your family, your spouse, and you can only do that through Wi-Fi and people feel they need to be connected. They have to rely on what’s available, but there’s a concern that because it’s provided by the authorities, no one knows exactly what’s being collected and how they are being watched and surveilled.
How do we fight this surveillance creep?
That’s the hard question. I think one of the ways that we can fight some of this is knowledge. Knowing what is happening, sharing resources among different communities, having a broader understanding of the systemic way this is playing out, and using such knowledge generated by the community itself to push for regulation and governance when it comes to these particular uses of technologies.
We call for a moratorium or abolition of all high-risk technology in and around the border because right now we don’t have a governance mechanism in place or integrated regional or international way to regulate these uses of tech.
Meanwhile, we have in the EU a General Data Protection Law, a very strong tool to protect data and data sharing, but it doesn’t really touch on surveillance, automation, A.I., so the law is really far behind.
One of the ways to fight A.I. is to make policymakers understand the real harm that these technologies have. We are talking about ways that discrimination and inequality are reinforced by this kind of tech, and how damaging they are to people.
We are trying to highlight this systemic approach to see it as an interconnected system in which all of these technologies play a part in this increasingly draconian way that migration management is being done.
#réfugiés #cobaye #surveillance #technologie #pandémie #covid-19 #coroanvirus #LIDAR #drones #reconnaissance_faciale #Grèce #camps_de_réfugiés #Lesbos #Moria #European_Digital_Rights (#EDRi) #surveillance_aérienne #complexe_militaro-industriel #Kara_Tepes #weaponization #biométrie #IA #intelligence_artificielle #détecteurs_de_mensonges #empreinte_vocale #tri #catégorisation #donneés #base_de_données #contrôle #technologies_autoritaires #déshumanisation #normalisation #Frontex #wifi #internet #smartphone #frontières
Artificial intelligence : #Frontex improves its maritime surveillance
Frontex wants to use a new platform to automatically detect and assess „risks“ on the seas of the European Union. Suspected irregular activities are to be displayed in a constantly updated „threat map“ with the help of self-learning software.
The EU border agency has renewed a contract with Israeli company Windward for a „maritime analytics“ platform. It will put the application into regular operation. Frontex had initially procured a licence for around 800,000 Euros. For now 2.6 million Euros, the agency will receive access for four workstations. The contract can be extended three times for one year at a time.
Windward specialises in the digital aggregation and assessment of vessel tracking and maritime surveillance data. Investors in the company, which was founded in 2011, include former US CIA director David Petraeus and former CEO’s of Thomson Reuters and British Petroleum. The former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gabi Ashkenazi, is considered one of the advisors.
Signature for each observed ship
The platform is based on artificial intelligence techniques. For analysis, it uses maritime reporting systems, including position data from the AIS transponders of larger ships and weather data. These are enriched with information about the ship owners and shipping companies as well as the history of previous ship movements. For this purpose, the software queries openly accessible information from the internet.
In this way, a „fingerprint“ is created for each observed ship, which can be used to identify suspicious activities. If the captain switches off the transponder, for example, the analysis platform can recognise this as a suspicuous event and take over further tracking based on the recorded patterns. It is also possible to integrate satellite images.
Windward uses the register of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as its database, which lists about 70,000 ships. Allegedly, however, it also processes data on a total of 400,000 watercraft, including smaller fishing boats. One of the clients is therefore the UN Security Council, which uses the technology to monitor sanctions.
Against „bad guys“ at sea
The company advertises its applications with the slogan „Catch the bad guys at sea“. At Frontex, the application is used to combat and prevent unwanted migration and cross-border crime as well as terrorism. Subsequently, „policy makers“ and law enforcement agencies are to be informed about results. For this purpose, the „risks“ found are visualised in a „threat map“.
Windward put such a „threat map“ online two years ago. At the time, the software rated the Black Sea as significantly more risky than the Mediterranean. Commercial shipping activity off the Crimea was interpreted as „probable sanction evasions“. Ship owners from the British Guernsey Islands as well as Romania recorded the highest proportion of ships exhibiting „risky“ behaviour. 42 vessels were classified as suspicious for drug smuggling based on their patterns.
Frontex „early warning“ units
The information from maritime surveillance is likely to be processed first by the „Risk Analysis Unit“ (RAU) at Frontex. It is supposed to support strategic decisions taken by the headquarters in Warsaw on issues of border control, return, prevention of cross-border crime as well as threats of a „hybrid nature“. Frontex calls the applications used there „intelligence products“ and „integrated data services“. Their results flow together in the „Common Integrated Risk Analysis Model“ (CIRAM).
For the operational monitoring of the situation at the EU’s external borders, the agency also maintains the „Frontex Situation Centre“ (FSC). The department is supposed to provide a constantly updated picture of migration movements, if possible in real time. From these reports, Frontex produces „early warnings“ and situation reports to the border authorities of the member states as well as to the Commission and the Council in Brussels.
More surveillance capacity in Warsaw
According to its own information, Windward’s clients include the Italian Guardia di Finanza, which is responsible for controlling Italian territorial waters. The Ministry of the Interior in Rome is also responsible for numerous EU projects aimed at improving surveillance of the central Mediterranean. For the training and equipment of the Libyan coast guard, Italy receives around 67 million euros from EU funds in three different projects. Italian coast guard authorities are also installing a surveillance system for Tunisia’s external maritime borders.
Frontex now wants to improve its own surveillance capacities with further tenders. Together with the fisheries agency, The agency is awarding further contracts for manned maritime surveillance. It has been operating such a „Frontex Aerial Surveillance Service“ (FASS) in the central Mediterranean since 2017 and in the Adriatic Sea since 2018. Frontex also wants to station large drones in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, it is testing Aerostats in the eastern Mediterranean for a second time. These are zeppelins attached to a 1,000-metre long line.
#intelligence_artificielle #surveillance #surveillance_maritime #mer #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #AI #Windward #Israël #complexe_militaro-industriel #militarisation_des_frontières #David_Petraeus #Thomson_Reuters #British_Petroleum #armée_israélienne #Gabi_Ashkenazi #International_Maritime_Organisation (#IMO) #thread_map #Risk_Analysis_Unit (#RAU) #Common_Integrated_Risk_Analysis_Model (#CIRAM) #Frontex_Situation_Centre (#FSC) #Frontex_Aerial_Surveillance_Service (#FASS) #zeppelins
Data et nouvelles technologies, la face cachée du contrôle des mobilités
Dans un rapport de juillet 2020, l’Agence européenne pour la gestion opérationnelle des systèmes d’information à grande échelle (#EU-Lisa) présente l’intelligence artificielle (IA) comme l’une des « technologies prioritaires » à développer. Le rapport souligne les avantages de l’IA en matière migratoire et aux frontières, grâce, entre autres, à la technologie de #reconnaissance_faciale.
L’intelligence artificielle est de plus en plus privilégiée par les acteurs publics, les institutions de l’UE et les acteurs privés, mais aussi par le #HCR et l’#OIM. Les agences de l’UE, comme Frontex ou EU-Lisa, ont été particulièrement actives dans l’#expérimentation des nouvelles technologies, brouillant parfois la distinction entre essais et mise en oeuvre. En plus des outils traditionnels de surveillance, une panoplie de technologies est désormais déployée aux frontières de l’Europe et au-delà, qu’il s’agisse de l’ajout de nouvelles #bases_de_données, de technologies financières innovantes, ou plus simplement de la récupération par les #GAFAM des données laissées volontairement ou pas par les migrant·e·s et réfugié∙e∙s durant le parcours migratoire.
La pandémie #Covid-19 est arrivée à point nommé pour dynamiser les orientations déjà prises, en permettant de tester ou de généraliser des technologies utilisées pour le contrôle des mobilités sans que l’ensemble des droits des exilé·e·s ne soit pris en considération. L’OIM, par exemple, a mis à disposition des Etats sa #Matrice_de_suivi_des_déplacements (#DTM) durant cette période afin de contrôler les « flux migratoires ». De nouvelles technologies au service de vieilles obsessions…
Pour télécharger le rapport :
La #technopolice aux frontières
Comment le #business de la #sécurité et de la #surveillance au sein de l’#Union_européenne, en plus de bafouer des #droits_fondamentaux, utilise les personnes exilées comme #laboratoire de recherche, et ce sur des #fonds_publics européens.
On a beaucoup parlé ici ces derniers mois de surveillance des manifestations ou de surveillance de l’espace public dans nos villes, mais la technopolice est avant tout déployée aux #frontières – et notamment chez nous, aux frontières de la « forteresse Europe ». Ces #dispositifs_technopoliciers sont financés, soutenus et expérimentés par l’Union européenne pour les frontières de l’UE d’abord, et ensuite vendus. Cette surveillance des frontières représente un #marché colossal et profite grandement de l’échelle communautaire et de ses programmes de #recherche_et_développement (#R&D) comme #Horizon_2020.
C’est le cas du projet Roborder – un « jeu de mots » entre robot et border, frontière en anglais. Débuté en 2017, il prévoit de surveiller les frontières par des essaims de #drones autonomes, fonctionnant et patrouillant ensemble. L’#intelligence_artificielle de ces drones leur permettrait de reconnaître les humains et de distinguer si ces derniers commettent des infractions (comme celui de passer une frontière ?) et leur dangerosité pour ensuite prévenir la #police_aux_frontières. Ces drones peuvent se mouvoir dans les airs, sous l’eau, sur l’eau et dans des engins au sol. Dotés de multiples capteurs, en plus de la détection d’activités criminelles, ces drones seraient destinés à repérer des “#radio-fréquences non fiables”, c’est-à-dire à écouter les #communications et également à mesurer la #pollution_marine.
Pour l’instant, ces essaims de drones autonomes ne seraient pas pourvus d’armes. Roborder est actuellement expérimenté en #Grèce, au #Portugal et en #Hongrie.
Un #financement européen pour des usages « civils »
Ce projet est financé à hauteur de 8 millions d’euros par le programme Horizon 2020 (subventionné lui-même par la #Cordis, organe de R&D de la Commission européenne). Horizon 2020 représente 50% du financement public total pour la recherche en sécurité de l’UE. Roborder est coordonné par le centre de recherches et technologie de #Hellas (le #CERTH), en Grèce et comme le montre l’association #Homo_Digitalis le nombre de projets Horizon 2020 ne fait qu’augmenter en Grèce. En plus du CERTH grec s’ajoutent environ 25 participants venus de tous les pays de l’UE (où on retrouve les services de police d’#Irlande_du_Nord, le ministère de la défense grecque, ou encore des entreprises de drones allemandes, etc.).
L’une des conditions pour le financement de projets de ce genre par Horizon 2020 est que les technologies développées restent dans l’utilisation civile, et ne puissent pas servir à des fins militaires. Cette affirmation pourrait ressembler à un garde-fou, mais en réalité la distinction entre usage civil et militaire est loin d’être clairement établie. Comme le montre Stephen Graham, très souvent les #technologies, à la base militaires, sont réinjectées dans la sécurité, particulièrement aux frontières où la migration est criminalisée. Et cette porosité entre la sécurité et le #militaire est induite par la nécessité de trouver des débouchés pour rentabiliser la #recherche_militaire. C’est ce qu’on peut observer avec les drones ou bien le gaz lacrymogène. Ici, il est plutôt question d’une logique inverse : potentiellement le passage d’un usage dit “civil” de la #sécurité_intérieure à une application militaire, à travers des ventes futures de ces dispositifs. Mais on peut aussi considérer la surveillance, la détection de personnes et la #répression_aux_frontières comme une matérialisation de la #militarisation de l’Europe à ses frontières. Dans ce cas-là, Roborder serait un projet à fins militaires.
De plus, dans les faits, comme le montre The Intercept (https://theintercept.com/2019/05/11/drones-artificial-intelligence-europe-roborder), une fois le projet terminé celui-ci est vendu. Sans qu’on sache trop à qui. Et, toujours selon le journal, beaucoup sont déjà intéressés par Roborder.
Si les essaims de drones sont impressionnants, il existe d’autres projets dans la même veine. On peut citer notamment le projet qui a pour nom IborderCtrl, testé en Grèce, Hongrie et #Lettonie.
Il consiste notamment en de l’#analyse_d’émotions (à côté d’autres projets de #reconnaissances_biométriques) : les personnes désirant passer une frontière doivent se soumettre à des questions et voient leur #visage passer au crible d’un #algorithme qui déterminera si elles mentent ou non. Le projet prétend « accélérer le #contrôle_aux_frontières » : si le #détecteur_de_mensonges estime qu’une personne dit la vérité, un code lui est donné pour passer le contrôle facilement ; si l’algorithme considère qu’une personne ment, elle est envoyée dans une seconde file, vers des gardes-frontières qui lui feront passer un #interrogatoire. L’analyse d’émotions prétend reposer sur un examen de « 38 #micro-mouvements du visage » comme l’angle de la tête ou le mouvement des yeux. Un spectacle de gadgets pseudoscientifiques qui permet surtout de donner l’apparence de la #neutralité_technologique à des politiques d’#exclusion et de #déshumanisation.
Ce projet a également été financé par Horizon 2020 à hauteur de 4,5 millions d’euros. S’il semble aujourd’hui avoir été arrêté, l’eurodéputé allemand Patrick Breyer a saisi la Cour de justice de l’Union Européenne pour obtenir plus d’informations sur ce projet, ce qui lui a été refusé pour… atteinte au #secret_commercial. Ici encore, on voit que le champ “civil” et non “militaire” du projet est loin de représenter un garde-fou.
Ainsi, l’Union européenne participe activement au puissant marché de la surveillance et de la répression. Ici, les frontières et les personnes exilées sont utilisées comme des ressources de laboratoire. Dans une optique de militarisation toujours plus forte des frontières de la forteresse Europe et d’une recherche de profit et de développement des entreprises et centres de recherche européens. Les frontières constituent un nouveau marché et une nouvelle manne financière de la technopolice.
Les chiffres montrent par ailleurs l’explosion du budget de l’agence européenne #Frontex (de 137 millions d’euros en 2015 à 322 millions d’euros en 2020, chiffres de la Cour des comptes européenne) et une automatisation toujours plus grande de la surveillance des frontières. Et parallèlement, le ratio entre le nombre de personnes qui tentent de franchir la Méditerranée et le nombre de celles qui y laissent la vie ne fait qu’augmenter. Cette automatisation de la surveillance aux frontières n’est donc qu’une nouvelle façon pour les autorités européennes d’accentuer le drame qui continue de se jouer en Méditerranée, pour une “efficacité” qui finalement ne profite qu’aux industries de la surveillance.
Dans nos rues comme à nos frontières nous devons refuser la Technopolice et la combattre pied à pied !
Artificial Intelligence - based capabilities for European Border and Coast Guard
In 2019, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, commissioned #RAND Europe to carry out an Artificial intelligence (AI) research study.
The purpose of the study was to provide an overview of the main opportunities, challenges and requirements for the adoption of AI-based capabilities in border managament. Frontex’s intent was also to find synergies with ongoing AI studies and initiatives in the EU and contribute to a Europe-wide AI landscape by adding the border security dimension.
Some of the analysed technologies included automated border control, object recognition to detect suspicious vehicles or cargo and the use of geospatial data analytics for operational awareness and threat detection.
As part of the study, RAND provided Frontex in 2020 with a comprehensive report and an executive summary with conclusions and recommendations.
The findings will support Frontex in shaping the future landscape of AI-based capabilities for Integrated Border Management, including AI-related research and innovation projects which could be initiated by Frontex (e.g. under #EU_Innovation_Hub) or recommended to be conducted under the EU Research and Innovation Programme (#Horizon_Europe).
Pour les réfugiés, la #biométrie tout au long du chemin
Par-delà les murs qui poussent aux frontières du monde depuis les années 1990, les réfugiés, migrants et demandeurs d’asile sont de plus en plus confrontés à l’extension des bases de #données_biométriques. Un « #mur_virtuel » s’étend ainsi à l’extérieur, aux frontières et à l’intérieur de l’espace Schengen, construit autour de programmes et de #bases_de_données.
Des réfugiés qui paient avec leurs #iris, des migrants identifiés par leurs #empreintes_digitales, des capteurs de #reconnaissance_faciale, mais aussi d’#émotions… Réunis sous la bannière de la « #frontière_intelligente », ces #dispositifs_technologiques, reposant sur l’#anticipation, l’#identification et l’#automatisation du franchissement de la #frontière grâce aux bases de données biométriques, ont pour but de trier les voyageurs, facilitant le parcours des uns et bloquant celui des autres.
L’Union européenne dispose ainsi d’une batterie de bases de données qui viennent compléter les contrôles aux frontières. Depuis 2011, une agence dédiée, l’#Agence_européenne_pour_la_gestion_opérationnelle_des_systèmes_d’information_à_grande_échelle, l’#EU-Lisa, a pour but d’élaborer et de développer, en lien avec des entreprises privées, le suivi des demandeurs d’asile.
Elle gère ainsi plusieurs bases compilant des #données_biométriques. L’une d’elles, le « #Entry_and_Exit_System » (#EES), sera déployée en 2022, pour un coût évalué à 480 millions d’euros. L’EES a pour mission de collecter jusqu’à 400 millions de données sur les personnes non européennes franchissant les frontières de l’espace Schengen, afin de contrôler en temps réel les dépassements de durée légale de #visa. En cas de séjour prolongé devenu illégal, l’alerte sera donnée à l’ensemble des polices européennes.
Se brûler les doigts pour ne pas être enregistré
L’EU-Lisa gère également le fichier #Eurodac, qui consigne les empreintes digitales de chacun des demandeurs d’asile de l’Union européenne. Utilisé pour appliquer le #règlement_Dublin III, selon lequel la demande d’asile est déposée et traitée dans le pays européen où le migrant a été enregistré la première fois, il entraîne des stratégies de #résistance.
« On a vu des migrants refuser de donner leurs empreintes à leur arrivée en Grèce, ou même se brûler les doigts pour ne pas être enregistrés dans Eurodac, rappelle Damien Simonneau, chercheur à l’Institut Convergences Migrations du Collège de France. Ils savent que s’ils ont, par exemple, de la famille en Allemagne, mais qu’ils ont été enregistrés en Grèce, ils seront renvoyés en Grèce pour que leur demande y soit traitée, ce qui a des conséquences énormes sur leur vie. » La procédure d’instruction dure en effet de 12 à 18 mois en moyenne.
La collecte de données biométriques jalonne ainsi les parcours migratoires, des pays de départs jusqu’aux déplacements au sein de l’Union européenne, dans un but de limitation et de #contrôle. Pour lutter contre « la criminalité transfrontalière » et « l’immigration clandestine », le système de surveillance des zones frontières #Eurosur permet, via un partage d’informations en temps réel, d’intercepter avant leur arrivée les personnes tentant d’atteindre l’Union européenne.
Des contrôles dans les pays de départ
Pour le Transnational Institute, auteur avec le think tank Stop Wapenhandel et le Centre Delàs de plusieurs études sur les frontières, l’utilisation de ces bases de données témoigne d’une stratégie claire de la part de l’Union européenne. « Un des objectifs de l’expansion des #frontières_virtuelles, écrivent-ils ainsi dans le rapport Building Walls (https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/building_walls_-_full_report_-_english.pdf), paru en 2018, est d’intercepter les réfugiés et les migrants avant même qu’ils n’atteignent les frontières européennes, pour ne pas avoir à traiter avec eux. »
Si ces techniques permettent de pré-trier les demandes pour fluidifier le passage des frontières, en accélérant les déplacements autorisés, elles peuvent également, selon Damien Simonneau, avoir des effets pervers. « L’utilisation de ces mécanismes repose sur l’idée que la #technologie est un facilitateur, et il est vrai que l’#autonomisation de certaines démarches peut faciliter les déplacements de personnes autorisées à franchir les frontières, expose-t-il. Mais les technologies sont faillibles, et peuvent produire des #discriminations. »
Ces #techniques_virtuelles, aux conséquences bien réelles, bouleversent ainsi le rapport à la frontière et les parcours migratoires. « Le migrant est confronté à de multiples points "frontière", disséminés un peu partout, analyse Damien Simonneau. Cela crée des #obstacles supplémentaires aux parcours migratoires : le contrôle n’est quasiment plus lié au franchissement d’une frontière nationale, il est déterritorialisé et peut se produire n’importe où, en amont comme en aval de la frontière de l’État. »
Ainsi, la « politique d’#externalisation de l’Union européenne » permet au contrôle migratoire de s’exercer dans les pays de départ. Le programme européen « #SIV » collecte par exemple dès leur formulation dans les #consulats les données biométriques liées aux #demandes_de_visas.
Plus encore, l’Union européenne délègue une partie de la gestion de ses frontières à d’autres pays : « Dans certains États du Sahel, explique Damien Simonneau, l’aide humanitaire et de développement est conditionnée à l’amélioration des contrôles aux frontières. »
Un programme de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), le programme #MIDAS, financé par l’Union européenne, est ainsi employé par 23 pays, majoritairement en Afrique, mais aussi en Asie et en Amérique. Son but est de « collecter, traiter, stocker et analyser les informations [biométriques et biographiques] des voyageurs en temps réel » pour aider les polices locales à contrôler leurs frontières. Mais selon le réseau Migreurop, ces données peuvent également être transmises aux agences policières européennes. L’UE exerce ainsi un droit de regard, via Frontex, sur le système d’information et d’analyse de données sur la migration, installé à Makalondi au Niger.
Des réfugiés qui paient avec leurs yeux
Un mélange des genres, entre organisations humanitaires et États, entre protection, logistique et surveillance, qui se retrouve également dans les #camps_de_réfugiés. Dans les camps jordaniens de #Zaatari et d’#Azarq, par exemple, près de la frontière syrienne, les réfugiés paient depuis 2016 leurs aliments avec leurs iris.
L’#aide_humanitaire_alimentaire distribuée par le Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM) leur est en effet versée sur un compte relié à leurs données biométriques. Il leur suffit de passer leurs yeux dans un scanner pour régler leurs achats. Une pratique qui facilite grandement la gestion #logistique du camp par le #HCR et le PAM, en permettant la #traçabilité des échanges et en évitant les fraudes et les vols.
Mais selon Léa Macias, anthropologue à l’EHESS, cela a aussi des inconvénients. « Si ce paiement avec les yeux peut rassurer certains réfugiés, dans la mesure où cela les protège contre les vols, développe-t-elle, le procédé est également perçu comme une #violence. Les réfugiés ont bien conscience que personne d’autre au monde, dans une situation normale, ne paie ainsi avec son #corps. »
Le danger de la fuite de données
La chercheuse s’inquiète également du devenir des données ainsi collectées, et se pose la question de l’intérêt des réfugiés dans ce processus. « Les humanitaires sont poussés à utiliser ces nouvelles technologies, expose-t-elle, qui sont vues comme un gage de fiabilité par les bailleurs de fonds. Mais la #technologisation n’est pas toujours dans l’intérêt des réfugiés. En cas de fuite ou de hackage des bases de données, cela les expose même à des dangers. »
Un rapport de Human Rights Watch (HRW) (https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/06/15/un-shared-rohingya-data-without-informed-consent), publié mardi 15 juin, alerte ainsi sur des #transferts_de_données biométriques appartenant à des #Rohingyas réfugiés au Bangladesh. Ces données, collectées par le Haut-commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) de l’ONU, ont été transmises par le gouvernement du Bangladesh à l’État birman. Si le HCR a réagi (https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/press/2021/6/60c85a7b4/news-comment-statement-refugee-registration-data-collection-bangladesh.html) en affirmant que les personnes concernées avaient donné leur accord à ce #transfert_de_données pour préparer un éventuel retour en Birmanie, rien ne permet cependant de garantir qu’ils seront bien reçus si leur nom « bipe » au moment de passer la frontière.
Sur les doigts brûlés pour ne pas se faire identifier par les empreintes digitales, voir la scène du film Qu’ils reposent en paix de Sylvain George, dont j’ai fait une brève recension :
Instant tragique : ce qu’un migrant appelle la « prière ». Ce moment collectif où les migrants tentent de faire disparaître leurs empreintes digitales. Étape symbolique où ils se défont de leur propre identité.
#Drones for border control: a symptom of the security mindset, says new report
The increasing use of drones for border control purposes “is a symptom of viewing borders predominantly in terms of ‘security’ and perceiving people crossing borders as a security threat,” says a new report from Drone Wars UK. In this security paradigm, “border control operations are heavily influenced by the military and driven by ‘national security’ considerations rather than human needs,” warn the authors.
The report highlights five “particular risks resulting from the use of drones in border areas”:
The risk that drones will increasingly be used for surveillance of the wider population – not just those involved in criminal activities at borders – at ‘upstream’ internal border locations, and not just the geographically-defined border itself.
The risk that the use of drones, as a primarily military technology, in border control will contribute to the dehumanisation of those attempting to cross borders and increase the potential for human rights abuses.
The risk that states will use drones, as opposed to crewed aircraft and assets, to evade their humanitarian responsibilities to those in distress.
The risk that information from unrelated surveillance activities (for example shipping control or traffic monitoring) is passed on to border control and other law enforcement agencies for inclusion into a broader ‘intelligence picture’.
The risk that, if drones are deployed in a zone where there are border tensions between two nations, there will be a blurring between military and policing roles and a temptation to use drones in spying or intrusion missions which may escalate tensions.
Full report and summary available here: Crossing a Line: How the use of drones to secure borders threatens everyone’s rights (Drone Wars UK, link: ►https://dronewars.net/2020/12/26/crossing-a-line-how-the-use-of-drones-to-secure-borders-threatens-everyon)
Crossing a Line: How the use of drones to secure borders threatens everyone’s rights
A new report published today by Drone Wars UK investigates the increasing use of military-style drones by governments to patrol state borders. The study, which examines the use of drones at the borders of the UK, EU, US, Russia, China, Australia and elsewhere, concludes that drones are contributing to the militarisation of everyday borders as part of an integrated set of security technologies – including satellites, sensors and smart walls – which pose significant challenges to personal privacy and civil liberties.
‘Crossing A Line: The Use of Drones to Control Borders‘ also explores the ethical questions and risks that the use of drones for border and wider public surveillance raises. The United Kingdom is now at the beginning of a journey that would see drones used regularly across the country for surveillance of the general public, and not just above the English Channel.
The report also argues that the highly publicised operation to use Watchkeeper military drones to watch for refugees crossing the Channel has little practical value but serves to help familiarise the public with the use of drones in the domestic context. Despite an intense media campaign by the government trumpeting ‘Operation Devran’ (the use of military aircraft to monitor irregular migration over the Channel) our study shows that the drone had little impact and played a minimal role in support to the UK Border Force. The drones flew on average only once every other day in their first month of operation, with their use dropping to a total flight time of less than twenty-four hours in the second month. Due to safety issues, they were only permitted to fly in certain areas covered by temporary airspace restrictions, and could only fly in suitable weather conditions.
As academics Rey Koslowski and Marcus Schulzke point out, “it is often important to politicians to demonstrate to voters that they are doing something to control immigration,” and such actions to stop border crossings “are highly visible and make for wonderful ‘symbolic politics’.” This approach has long shaped border control policy, and the use of Watchkeeper over the Channel is a classic case, while at the same time providing a pretext to commence drone surveillance on the home front.
A critical point raised by that study is how ‘border’ security has now come to mean much more than security around the actual border. Government agencies have sweeping powers to enforce ‘border’ security across the whole nation in terms of tackling border crime, identifying irregular migrants, and imposing security requirements upon travellers and goods crossing borders. Drones are enabling ‘upstream’ surveillance which allows a state to monitor and intervene in developments both inside and outside the country, far from its immediate border, for example by assessing migration patterns, observing events in neighbouring nations, or asserting control over remote seas. In the US, Predator drones operated by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Agency have been used to spy on Black Lives Matter demonstrations many miles from the border itself.
That the ways in which governments are using drones at national borders are a challenge to human rights should come as no surprise. Illiberal right wing and nationalist politicians around the world have made border security and immigration central to their campaigns and policy agendas. According to their narrative national borders must be vigorously defended to prevent the entry of undeserving outsiders who will claim advantages to which they should not be entitled. Drones, as an intrinsically oppressive technology developed by the military to control and intimidate populations, are a perfect tool for enforcing such views.
‘Crossing A Line’ highlights the following as particular risks resulting from the use of drones in border areas:
Drones will increasingly be used for surveillance of the wider population – not just those involved in criminal activities at borders – at ‘upstream’ internal border locations, and not just the geographically-defined border itself.
The use of drones, as a primarily military technology, in border control will contribute to the dehumanisation of those attempting to cross borders and increase the potential for human rights abuses.
States will use drones, as opposed to crewed aircraft and assets, to evade their humanitarian responsibilities to those in distress. The study shows how drones are playing a key role in the European Union’s attempts to ‘push back’ irregular migrants aiming to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
Information from unrelated surveillance activities (for example shipping control or traffic monitoring) will be passed on to border control and other law enforcement agencies for inclusion into a broader ‘intelligence picture’ of activities in a particular area.
If drones are deployed in a zone where there are border tensions between two nations, there will be a blurring between military and policing roles and a temptation to use drones in spying or intrusion missions which may escalate tensions.
The report concludes that the use of drones for border control is a symptom of viewing borders predominantly in terms of ‘security’ and perceiving people crossing borders as a security threat, with negative implications for the rights of individuals. The use of drones and advanced combat-derived technology for border control operations is part of a security paradigm where border control operations are heavily influenced by the military and driven by ‘national security’ considerations rather than human needs.
Drone technology is no longer just being used for surveillance and control overseas. Having evolved in battles and military occupations in the Middle East, the UK’s drones are now finding their way back to the home front. They are being deployed first against minorities such as refugees fleeing conflict and oppression but unless we act now, will eventually be used to spy on us all.
Pour télécharger le rapport:
Le mouvement de défense des animaux, mouvement planétaire et désormais vieux de 150 ans, serait en nombre le premier mouvement de femmes, avant les mouvements féministes eux-mêmes ; en effet, 68 à 80 % des militants pour les animaux sont des femmes. Pourquoi les femmes ont-elles été les premières à prendre conscience de l’exploitation des animaux par les humains, que ce soit dans l’élevage, les cirques, la vivisection, à la chasse comme à la corrida ?
« Le spécisme se fonde sur une appropriation directe, physique des autres animaux et tente de se légitimer par l’idée d’un ordre du monde naturellement hiérarchisé. Ce schéma présente de nombreux points communs avec d’autres systèmes d’oppression, notamment ceux du racisme, du capacitisme et du sexisme. En raison de cette matrice commune, l’antispécisme apporte des points de vue nouveaux aux autres luttes progressistes et à la pensée éthique et politique en général. »
Deux critiques de livres sur mon blog :
A proximité d’algues vertes aux odeurs nauséabondes, de graves incidents ont été constatés sur les côtes bretonnes : un cheval, des chiens, des sangliers, un homme allant travailler sont retrouvés morts. Des associations se mobilisent progressivement pour mener un combat difficile face aux autorités qui tentent d’étouffer l’affaire.
L’agriculture intensive et notamment l’élevage de porcs semblent très largement suspectés dans l’origine de ces décès. Dans les années 1960, alors que le plan Marshall est mis en œuvre, les terres agricoles sont « remembrées » et modernisées sur le modèle américain.
#Elevage #Complexe_Agro_Industriel #Alguesvertes
" Depuis des années, Inès Léraud enquête sur les horreurs de l’agroalimentaire en Bretagne. Pas facile. Ce beau monde est très malin pour s’entourer de silences et de connivences. Il faut de l’entêtement et du temps.
Pour être têtue, elle est têtue, Inès. On la connaît, c’est une ancienne modeste et géniale de Là-bas. Et pour avoir le temps, elle s’est installée pendant quatre ans dans un village au cœur de la Bretagne. Pas évident au début, mais la confiance est venue, et elle a commencé à diffuser des reportages qui ont dévoilé les méthodes de l’agroalimentaire et ses dégâts, autant sur la santé du petit personnel que sur la verdoyante nature bretonne. Verdoyante, c’est surtout les algues qui l’ont intéressée au point d’en faire un album de BD qui lui vaut un gros succès et aussi de gros ennuis .
La voilà qui subit des pressions, elle et son éditeur, la voilà poursuivie en justice par un gros patron ombrageux. Le procès aura lieu les 20 et 21 janvier au TGI à Paris. Mais du coup, c’est toute une élite locale de patrons, d’élus et de notables qui apparaît dans une lumière pas vraiment à leur avantage. Et c’est aussi toute une mobilisation pour défendre la liberté d’informer sur le secteur agroalimentaire. Et c’est aussi des journalistes en Bretagne qui refusent la docilité à laquelle la précarité les contraint, et qui s’organisent au sein d’un collectif, Kelaouiñ, qui veut dire « informer » en breton. Tout ça à cause d’UNE journaliste. Il y a 35 000 cartes de presse en France, vous imaginez, même 10 %, mettons 3 500 journalistes, aussi têtus dans le pays ? Les méchants ne dormiraient plus jamais. Mais heureusement que tous les journalistes ne font pas comme Inès Léraud." Là-bas si j’y suis :
#elevage #complexe_agro_industriel #viande #Bretagne #Lobby
Deadly Crossings and the militarisation of Britain’s borders
Military-style solutions won’t solve humanitarian problems, argues our new report that details the nearly 300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999. Deadly Crossings and the Militarisation of Britain’s Borders reveals the human tragedies caused by inhumane border enforcement at a time when the UK Home Office is seeking to make Channel crossings ‘unviable’.
Pour télécharger le rapport:
#Manche #UK #Angleterre #mer #France #mourir_en_mer #décès #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #militarisation_des_frontières #rapport #chiffres #statistiques #IRR #Gisti #Le_Gisti #chronologie #morts #décès #timeline #time-line #frise_chronologique
À Calais, la frontière tue. Contre l’oubli et l’impunité, nommer et compter les victimes
Jeudi 19 novembre, près de Calais, un homme est mort.
« Coquelles : un migrant décède à l’hôpital après avoir été percuté sur l’autoroute A16 » a titré La Voix du Nord dans un article classé dans les « Faits divers » . « L’accident s’est produit peu après 16h30 au niveau de l’échangeur 42 sur l’autoroute A16 » a précisé France 3 Hauts-de-France .
Fatalité. Un « migrant » qui « décède après avoir été percuté sur l’autoroute A16 », c’est forcément un « accident » à ranger dans les « faits divers ».
Pourtant, à Calais et dans la région, des « migrants qui décèdent », il y en a eu des dizaines, des centaines même. Des hommes, des femmes, des enfants et même parfois des nourrissons. Avec un nom, une identité, une histoire. Depuis 1999, ce sont au moins 297 personnes en exil qui sont mortes dans cette zone transfrontalière.
Mortes en tentant de franchir la frontière qui sépare le Royaume-Uni de la France : écrasées par la cargaison d’un camion ou broyées par l’essieu, électrocutées par les caténaires de l’Eurotunnel, percutées par un véhicule sur l’autoroute A16 ou noyées en essayant de franchir le Channel en bateau, en kayak ou tout simplement à la nage avec des bouteilles en plastique comme seules bouées de fortune. Mortes également du fait des conditions de vie inhumaines que leur réservent les gouvernements français successifs depuis plus de 25 ans.
« Les CRS font de nos vies un enfer » écrivaient des exilé·es érythréen·nes dans une lettre adressée au préfet du Pas-de-Calais le 16 novembre dernier . « Les CRS sont venus et ont gazé nos affaires et nous ont frappés comme si on était des animaux. Le lendemain matin ils nous attendaient et nous ont encore frappés. Même quand nous marchons ils ouvrent leur voiture et ils nous gazent, juste pour s’amuser » détaillent ils et elles un peu plus loin dans le courrier.
Violences policières, harcèlement continu, humiliations, contrôles d’identité répétés, destructions de tentes, privation de duvets ou confiscation d’effets personnels, gazage de bidons de stockage d’eau sont le quotidien des personnes exilées présentes dans le Calaisis. Et cette réalité n’est pas nouvelle. Depuis des années, les exilé·es et leurs soutiens locaux dénoncent ce régime de violences généralisées. Des organisations internationales, telles que Human Rights Watch , font de même. Le Défenseur des Droits, à plusieurs reprises (notamment en 2012 , 2015  et 2018 ), a dénoncé les politiques qui font de cet espace transfrontalier un « enfer » pour les exilé·es fuyant la guerre en Afghanistan ou en Syrie, la dictature en Érythrée ou les violences d’états autoritaires au Soudan ou en Éthiopie.
Mais rien ne change. La réponse des gouvernements, quelle que soit leur étiquette politique, qui se succèdent reste inchangé et le message officiel adressé aux exilé·es errant dans le Calaisis est toujours le même : « Disparaissez ! ». Et si les coups de matraques et les gazages ne suffisent pas, les personnes migrantes comprendront d’elles mêmes qu’à Calais et dans la région, on risque sa peau.
Aucune de ces vies volées n’est un accident. C’est pourquoi il importe de compter et nommer les exilé·es mort·es à la frontière franco-britannique, et de refuser de réduire ces décès à des événements isolés et anonymes, pour les ranger ensuite dans la case des « faits divers ». Au contraire, recenser les étranger·es décédé·es dans cette zone frontalière montre que ces morts sont le résultat des politiques menées par des sous-préfets, des préfets et des ministres successifs, qui ont délibérément décidé de faire de cette frontière un « enfer ».
En 2016, le Gisti publiait un numéro de sa revue Plein Droit intitulé « Homicides aux frontières » dans lequel paraissait l’article « Voir Calais et mourir ». L’auteur, un ancien salarié de la Plateforme des Soutiens aux Migrant·e·s (PSM) basée à Calais, y décrivait ce travail d’enquête sur les mort·es à la frontière franco-britannique (qui permettait de dresser une liste des victimes et une cartographie) et montrait comment « l’addition d’accords européens et de traités bilatéraux, destinés à empêcher les indésirables d’accéder au territoire britannique a fait de cette région un mur meurtrier ».
Des liens récents entre militant·es français·es et activistes britanniques ont permis de travailler à la publication de cette enquête sur les personnes exilées mortes à la frontière franco-britannique pour un public anglophone. Fruit d’une collaboration entre l’Institute of Race Relations (IRR), le Tribunal Permanent des Peuples (TPP) de Londres et le Gisti, le rapport « Deadly Crossings and the Militarisation of Britain’s Borders » a pour but de donner à voir, une fois encore, les conséquences des politiques migratoires menées par les gouvernements français et britanniques dans cet espace frontalier et d’outiller activistes et associations anglophones dans leur contestation sans relâche du régime meurtrier des frontières.
Army sends drones to France to catch migrants crossing Channel
The armed forces have supplied France with a range of military-grade kit amid fears that plans to overhaul British asylum laws will trigger a sharp rise in Channel crossings this summer.
Drones, thermal imaging gear, advanced binoculars and radar technology used by the army are being deployed to detect small boats entering the sea at the French coast.
A fleet of motorbikes was also supplied as part of a £28 million deal struck with Paris in November to bolster efforts on the French side of the Channel.
UK government spent up to £1bn for military drones to monitor migrants in the Channel despite no-one evading the coastguard
#Surveillance drones’ sole purpose appears to be to help the state prosecute those seen driving the boats
THE UK government paid up to £1 billion (€1.1bn) to a drone manufacturing company last year to monitor migrant crossings of the English Channel despite the fact that no-one made it past the coastguards, The Civil Fleet can reveal.
HM Coastguard told The Civil Fleet in response to a freedom of information (FOI) request that a total of 8,319 people attempted to cross the Channel in 2020.
With the Channel being one of the busiest and most closely watched shipping lanes in the world, nobody evaded the coastguards, went missing or drowned in English waters last year, service figures show — though four people did die and a 15-month-old boy went missing in French jurisdiction last October.
Despite the increase from 1,844 people in 2019 to over 8,000 in 2020, the number of irregular arrivals into Britain is less than a tenth of the 99,583 people that the International Organisation for Migration estimates made it into Fortress Europe.
July, August and September saw the most crossings last year — with 1,128; 1,473, and 1,892 respectfully.
In response to the right-wing media backlash to the crossings last summer, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the number of “illegal” crossings was “appalling and unacceptably high” and vowed to make this route into Britain “unviable.”
In August the RAF launched several surveillance flights across the Channel and, according to an FT report that month, the Home Office toyed with the idea of naval blockades and the use of wave machines to push the boats back to France.
On several occasions that month, The Civil Fleet spotted a drone (with tail number G-TEKV) patrolling the waters in the Straight of Dover on the free flight scanning website Flight Radar.
The Civil Fleet sent an FOI request to the Home Office in August asking the following:
• how many drones has the UK Border Force been using or chartering in the English Channel since December 2019 to August 2020,
• which companies have supplied the drones,
• when did contracts with these companies begin, and
• how much has been paid to these companies for these contracts since January 2019?
It took until November for the Home Office to reply.
“We neither confirm nor deny whether we hold the information that you have requested about numbers of drones,” the Home Office said in its response.
Its justification for withholding the information was due to the supposed potential for the disclosure to result in crime. The Home Office did not specify what these crimes could — nor who the victims would — be.
Asylum seekers crossing borders, “illegally” or not, is not a crime, as Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention makes clear.
The government’s contract finder service shows that drones were supplied by Portuguese firm Tekever Ltd from November 21, 2019 to March 31, 2020 – the contract valued from “£0 to 1bn.”
The Home Office told The Civil Fleet it could not reveal exactly how much public money was spent on the contract because “release of the withheld information would provide [Tekever’s] competitors with information, not available to them by any other means, about current service providers.
“This would create an unfair advantage resulting in a prejudice to the commercial interests of the company concerned.”
It claimed disclosure would also prejudice the Home Office’s commercial interests by “damaging commercial relationships with contractors and service providers” and concluded “that the balance of the public interest lies in maintaining the exemption and withholding the contract value information.”
The Home Office doubled down on March 5, 2021 after The Civil Fleet put in a request for an independent review into its decision not to provide the value of the contract.
However, the reviewer did accept that the “disclosure of this information would help the public to assess whether or not the Home Office is getting best value for money in terms of its contracts with private providers and partner agencies.”
In July 2020 the government announced that it had awarded a £990,000 contract in February 2020 to Israeli defence company Elbit Systems UK to develop drones for coastal surveillance operations.
The EU has been more forthcoming about its work with Tekever in the past, costing a two-year AR5 drone maritime surveillance contract with the European Maritime Safety Agency at €77 million (£66m) in 2018.
A video posted to the Home Office’s twitter feed last September suggests the true purpose of Tekever’s drones is to gather footage of those driving the boats in order to prosecute them.
Over footage of what appears to be one of the company’s AR5 drones — which also bears tail number G-TEKV, registered to Tekever — the government’s newly created Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney says: “The aerial surveillance that we can see here today at Lydd [airport] reflects the whole government response that we’re delivering.
“So the message I want to deliver today is that every single one of these small boats has to be driven by somebody and if that person is you, you can expect to be arrested on your arrival in the UK and locked up in prison for a sizeable jail term.”
On March 1, the Home Office boasted that “this year nine people have now been jailed for steering small boats across the Channel.”
Drone Wars’ Peter Burt, author of Crossing A Line: The Use of Drones to Control Borders, warned of the negative human rights implications that come from using military technology at the border and of viewing the people crossing them as a threat.
“What is increasingly clear is that such technology is no longer just being used for surveillance and control overseas,” Mr Burt told The Civil Fleet.
“Britain’s military drones are now being deployed on the home front where they are first being deployed against minorities such as refugees fleeing conflict and oppression. But unless we act now, they will eventually be used to spy on us all.”
Jacob Berkson, an activist from the refugee distress hotline network Alarm Phone, told The Civil Fleet: “It’s difficult to know where to start with such disgusting behaviour.
“It’s an expenditure of more than £100,000 per person being handed to the same ‘private’ enterprises who profit from the manufacture of the weapons that cause people to flee.
“It neatly illustrates how the trade in border securitisation goes hand in glove with the trade in weapons and is no more than a trade in death.
“It’s naked corruption, distorting UK society for the profit of the very few, but more importantly generating those profits at the expense of people’s lives.
“These unimaginable sums of money should be spent on facilitating people’s right to move and right to stay by repairing the damage caused by centuries of slavery and decades of wars.”
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “The people we work with in Calais are not a military enemy. They are farmers, families and students who are simply asking for our help.
“They are running from the most dangerous regimes in the world.
“Flying expensive drones over the Channel will not stop them coming because they feel they have no choice. There is no way for them to claim UK asylum other than risking their lives in a flimsy boat.
“The government is wasting taxpayers money while failing to protect some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.”
6 out of 10 people worldwide live in a country that has built border walls
Days after the drawn-out U.S. elections, a new report reveals that the wall sold by Trump as a supposed achievement of his administration is just one of more than 63 new border walls built along borders or in occupied territories worldwide.
Today, 31 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we find ourselves in a world with more walls than ever. 4.679 billion people in the world (60.98%) live in a country that has built one of these walls on its borders, concludes the report “Walled world: towards Global Apartheid” co published by the Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau, Transnational Institute, Stop Wapenhandel and Stop the Wal Campaign.
Beyond the surge in physical walls, many more countries have militarized their frontiers through the deployment of troops, ships, aircraft, drones, and digital surveillance, patrolling land, sea and air. If we counted these ‘walls’, they would number hundreds. As a result, it is now more dangerous and deadly than ever to cross borders for people fleeing poverty and violence.
In addition, the research highlights that, as in the United States, immigration and terrorism are the main reasons given by states for the construction of walls, both justifications together represent 50%, half of the world’s walls.
Israel tops the list of countries that have built the most walls, with a total of 6. It is followed by Morocco, Iran and India with 3 walls each. Countries with 2 border walls are South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Hungary and Lithuania.
“The global trend in border management policies is to build a world in which segregation and inequality are reinforced. In this walled world, commerce and capital are not restricted, yet it increasingly excludes people based on their class and origin”, states Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, co-author of the report and researcher at the Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau.
The report focuses on a few specific walls in different regions, highlighting the following:
Four of the five countries bordering Syria have built walls: Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
India has built 6,540 km of barriers against its neighboring countries, covering 43% of its borders.
Morocco built an occupation wall with Western Sahara considered “the greatest functional military barrier in the world”, 2,720 km long.
In addition to physical walls, the militarization of border areas continues to increase, in which walls are just one means of stopping people crossing territories.. The report highlights two cases:
Mexico has notably militarized its border with Guatemala with equipment and financing through the US funded Frontera Sur program.
Australia has turned the sea into a barrier with the deployment of its armed forces and the Maritime Border Command of the Australian Border Force, in addition to an offshore detention system that violates human rights.
The business of building walls
Finally, the report analyzes the industry that profits from this surge in wall-building and the criminalization of people fleeing poverty and violence. The report concludes that the border security industry is diverse, as shown by the number of companies involved in the construction of Israel’s walls, with more than 30 companies from the military, security, technology and construction sectors.
“Many walls and fences are built by local construction companies or by state entities, such as the military. However, the walls are invariably accompanied by a range of technological systems, such as monitoring, detection and identification equipment, vehicles, aircraft and arms, which military and security firms provide”, explains Mark Akkerman, co-author of the report and researcher at Stop Wapenhandel. Companies such as Airbus, Thales, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and L3 Technologies are the main beneficiaries of border contracts - in particular providing the technology that accompanies the walls in both the US and in EU member states. In the specific cases studied in the report, companies such as Elbit, Indra, Dat-Con, CSRA, Leidos and Raytheon also stand out as key contractors.
“Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is extremely sad that the wall has become the symbol of our time. Not only is it a betrayal of people’s hopes in 1989, but it also locks us into a fortress with no way out in which we lose our very humanity. All the research tells us that we can expect more migration in the coming decades. Therefore, it is of profound importance to seek other dignified and humane ways to respond to the needs of people who are forced to flee their homes for reasons of poverty, violence and climate change”, warns Nick Buxton, co-editor of the report and researcher at TNI.
#murs #barrières_frontalières #cartographie #visualisation #frontières #business #complexe_militaro-industriel #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Airbus #Thales #Leonardo #Lockheed_Martin #General_Dynamics #Northrop_Grumman #L3_Technologies #Elbit #Indra #Dat-Con #CSRA #Leidos #Raytheon #chiffres #statistiques #militarisation_des_frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #terrorisme #anti-terrorisme #Israël #Maroc #Inde #Iran #ségrégation #monde_ségrégué #monde_muré #technologie
UN warns of impact of smart borders on refugees: ‘Data collection isn’t apolitical’
Special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia believes there is a misconception that biosurveillance technology is without bias
Robotic lie detector tests at European airports, eye scans for refugees and voice-imprinting software for use in asylum applications are among new technologies flagged as “troubling” in a UN report.
The UN’s special rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Prof Tendayi Achiume, said digital technologies can be unfair and regularly breach human rights. In her new report, she has called for a moratorium on the use of certain surveillance technologies.
Achiume, who is from Zambia, told the Guardian she was concerned about the rights of displaced people being compromised. She said there was a misconception that such technologies, often considered “a humane” option in border enforcement, are without bias.
“One of the key messages of the report is that we have to be paying very close attention to the disparate impact of this technology and not just assuming that because it’s technology, it’s going to be fair or be neutral or objective in some way.”
She cited the example of pushback against Donald Trump’s effort to build a wall between the US and Mexico. “You see that there isn’t a similar sense of outrage when digital technologies are deployed to serve the same function … if you actually look at some of the statistics, and if you look at some of the research, which I cite in my report, it turns out that border deaths have increased in places where smart borders have been implemented.”
She also raised concerns about the ways in which humanitarian agencies are engaging with surveillance. The report notes that in Afghanistan, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) requires returning refugees to undergo iris registration as a prerequisite for receiving assistance.
While the UNHCR has justified the use of this technology as a way to prevent fraud, “the impact of processing such sensitive data can be grave when systems are flawed or abused”, the report said.
Last year the UN’s World Food Programme partnered with Palantir Technologies, a data mining company, on a $45m (£34m) contract, sharing the data of 92 million aid recipients.
“Data collection is not an apolitical exercise,” notes Achiume’s report, “especially when powerful global north actors collect information on vulnerable populations with no regulated methods of oversights and accountability.”
Covid-19 has also accelerated “biosurveillance” – focused on tracking people’s movements and health. Biosurveillance has everyday uses, such as the “track and trace” app in the UK, but there are concerns about the regulation of large-scale data harvested from populations.
One example is the “Covi-Pass”, a health passport developed by Mastercard and Gavi, a private-public health alliance, that is reportedly due to be rolled out across west Africa. The UN report highlighted the implications of such passports for freedom of movement, “especially for refugees”.
Petra Molnar from the Refugee Law Lab in Toronto said it was clear that the pandemic was increasing digital rights violations. “State responses to the pandemic are exacerbating the turn towards biosurveillance, with refugees and people on the move acting as communities on which to test various interventions and fast-track tech development,” she said.
Molnar, who contributed to the UN rapporteur’s report, has noted the dehumanising impact of some technologies on displaced people in her own research. One asylum seeker she spoke to in Belgium said the amount of personal data he’d given up made him feel, “like a piece of meat without a life, just fingerprints and eye scans”.
“Our conversations with refugees and people crossing borders show how little attention is being paid to the lived experiences of people who are at the sharp edges of these high-risk technological experiments,” said Molnar.
The intersection of technology and human rights violations were highlighted in a recent investigation into the European border agency Frontex, which allegedly witnessed pushbacks of migrants in the Aegean Sea via some of its assets, including drones.
Konstantinos Kakavoulis from Homo Digitalis, a Greek organisation focused on digital rights, said technologies often outpaced the legal framework.
“There is no clear regulation for the use of drones or body-worn cameras by the Greek police,” he said. “The police have signed a contract for the provision of a facial recognition software with Intracom Telecom, a Greek company, without receiving the opinion of the Greek data protection authority.”
He added: “Apart from the insufficiency of legal safeguards, we also lack transparency; and this is not only remarkable, but highly problematic.”
Achiume said that until the impact of surveillance technologies on human rights could be understood, use of such technologies should be halted. “Until we can understand and mitigate those harms, there should just be a moratorium on them.”
#frontières #smart_borders #frontières_intelligentes #réfugiés #asile #migrations #technologie #politique #biopolitique #technologies_digitales #droits_fondamentau #droits_humains #surveillance #contrôles_frontaliers #neutralité #Palantir_Technologies #données #biosurveillance #Covi-Pass #Mastercard #Gavi #complexe_militaro-industriel #covid-19 #coronavirus #reconnaissance_faciale #Intracom_Telecom
Racial and xenophobic discrimination, emerging digital technologies in border and immigration enforcement
This report to the 75th session of the General Assembly focuses on border and immigration enforcement. It addresses the discriminatory impact of emerging digital technologies on migrants, stateless persons, refugees and other non-citizens. View report A/75/590: ▻https://www.ohchr.org/EN/newyork/Documents/A-75-590-AUV.docx
Je fais partie de celles et ceux qui ont adoré le vent de fraîcheur intelligente apportée par #Siné_Madame. Malheureusement, il y a un an, l’aventure se terminait avec ce numéro 6.
Excellent numéro, il comportait un dossier intitulé « 500 millions de complexes, et moi et moi et moi », qui listait des #complexes ressentis par des #femmes, la douleur qu’ils entraînent, mais aussi la responsabilité de celles et ceux (surtout ceux) qui les déclenchent...
Du coup, j’ai scanné ces quatre pages (4 à 7), et les voici :
ELO#420 - Complexées
Dror, Entre Les Oreilles, le 4 novembre 2020
L’UE achète des drones à #Airbus pour repérer les bateaux transportant des migrants
Airbus et deux sociétés d’armement israéliennes ont reçu 100 millions d’euros pour faire voler des drones au-dessus de la #Méditerranée. Le but : identifier les bateaux chargés de migrants qui tentent d’atteindre l’#Europe, selon le Guardian. Un article d’Euractiv Italie.
Dans le cadre des « services de #surveillance_aérienne_maritime » qu’elle assure, l’#UE a décidé de recourir à des #appareils_téléguidés volant à moyenne altitude à longue endurance, connus du grand public sous le nom de drones. C’est Airbus qui a été mandaté par Bruxelles pour fournir les engins. Le conglomérat européen spécialisé dans l’aéronautique et la défense travaillera avec la société publique #Israel_Aerospace_Industries (#IAI). Un deuxième contrat a été signé avec #Elbit_Systems, une société d’#armement israélienne privée. Les deux contrats s’élèvent à 50 millions d’euros chacun, selon une information du journal britannique The Guardian.
Les opérations seront menées en #Grèce et/ou en #Italie et/ou à #Malte selon le contrat-cadre signé entre #Frontex et les fournisseurs, dans le cadre des mesures de contrôle des frontières du sud de l’Europe.
Le #budget de l’agence européenne de garde-frontières et de gardes-côtes (Frontex), est passé de 6 millions d’euros en 2005 à 460 millions d’euros cette année, ce qui reflète l’importance croissante donnée au contrôle des frontières extérieures en raison de l’immigration. Le service de surveillance aérienne comprendra la mise à disposition d’un flux de #données fiable en temps réel et la capacité de partager ces données en temps réel.
L’IAI affirme que son drone #Heron, employé couramment par les forces armées israéliennes et allemandes, est en mesure de voler pendant plus de 24 heures et peut parcourir jusqu’à 1 000 miles à partir de sa base à des altitudes supérieures à 35 000 pieds.
Elbit Systems soutient pour sa part que ses drones #Hermes peuvent voler jusqu’à 36 heures à 30 000 pieds. Le mois dernier, Elbit a annoncé que des drones Hermes avaient été testés avec l’Agence maritime et des garde-côtes britannique au large de la côte ouest du Pays de Galles pour des opérations de recherche et de sauvetage.
Les drones israéliens sont le résultat d’une technologie de surveillance qu’Israël a développée et testée lors d’une série d’attaques sur Gaza, comme le détaille un rapport de Human Rights Watch. Airbus a fait savoir que son modèle n’était pas en mesure de transporter des armes, et qu’il serait peint en blanc avec le label « Frontex ». Les premiers tests seront effectués en Grèce sur l’île de #Crète.
Dans le cadre du programme Frontex, le drone italien #Falco_Evo de l’entreprise #Leonardo avait déjà été testé pour des activités de surveillance maritime aérienne dans l’espace aérien civil italien et maltais.
En juin 2919, le drone avait permis de mettre au jour une pratique fréquemment utilisée par les passeurs : le transbordement de dizaines de personnes d’un « vaisseau -mère » vers une embarcation qui est ensuite laissée à la dérive. La Guardia di Finanza, la police dounière italienne, alertée par les images du drone, avait alors intercepté et saisi un bateau de pêche.
Reste que l’utilisation de ce type de technologie suscite de nombreuses craintes. Les détracteurs les plus acharnés de la surveillance aérienne par des drones affirment que l’obligation légale d’aider un navire en danger et de sauver des naufragés ne s’applique pas à un engin aérien sans pilote, quel qu’il soit.
#complexe_militaro-industriel #business #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #drones #contrôles_frontaliers #surveillance_des_frontières #Israël #EU #Union_européenne #UE