• ‘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.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/mar/26/eu-borders-migrants-hitech-surveillance-asylum-seekers

    #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

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • #Evelop / #Barceló_Group : deportation planes from Spain

    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.

    Deportation dealers

    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.

    Key people

    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.

    https://corporatewatch.org/evelop-barcelo-group-deportation-planes-from-spain
    #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 #philanthropocapitalisme ##philanthropo-capitalisme

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • #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?

    (#paywall)

    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/03/02/biden-and-the-border-security-industrial-complex

    #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.

      Key findings:

      – 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.

      https://www.tni.org/en/bidensborder

      #rapport #TNI #murs #barrières_frontalières #démocrates #républicains #industrie_frontalière #smart_borders #murs_virtuels #technologie #morts #décès #mortalité

  • The big wall


    https://thebigwall.org/en

    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.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=HmR96ySikkY

    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/].

    https://thebigwall.org/en
    #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 :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749
    Et plus précisément :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message765328

    ping @isskein @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_

  • 1) #Marco_Minniti si dimette da parlamentare. Sarà presidente della fondazione Leonardo (#Finmeccanica)

    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...

    https://twitter.com/nelloscavo/status/1365621593171517442

    #Minniti #Fondazione_Leonardo #fondation

    #frontières #business #contrôles_frontaliers #asile #migrations #réfugiés #complexe_militaro-industriel

    –—
    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»

    https://seenthis.net/messages/604039

    –---

    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


    https://seenthis.net/messages/600874

    –—

    Le site de la Fondation Leonardo :
    https://www.fondazioneleonardo-cdm.com

  • The #Frontex_files

    #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

    https://frontexfiles.eu
    #mensonges #frontières #frontières_extérieures #Fabrice_Leggeri #Leggeri #droits_humains #push-backs #refoulements #droits_fondamentaux #complexe_militaro-industriel #lobby #ZDF #enquête #Frag_den_Staat #FragDenStaat

    –—


    https://fragdenstaat.de/dokumente/sammlung/49-fx-files
    #rencontres #liste

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • 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.
      Executive Summary

      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.

      https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe

      #surveillance #biométrie

      ping @etraces

    • 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.

      https://voxeurop.eu/en/the-lobbyists-behind-eu-response-to-migration

  • A Mayotte, la France recrute des navires privés pour stopper les migrants

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/290121/mayotte-la-france-recrute-des-navires-prives-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 »).

    @cdb_77

  • 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.
    Government bailouts

    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).
    Slashing jobs

    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%.
    Other shareholders

    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.

    https://corporatewatch.org/the-two-sides-of-tui-crisis-hit-holiday-giant-turned-deportation-spe

    #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

    ping @karine4 @isskein @reka

  • 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.

    https://onezero.medium.com/how-the-pandemic-turned-refugees-into-guinea-pigs-for-surveillance-t

    #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

    ping @isskein @karine4

    ping @etraces

  • 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.

    https://digit.site36.net/2021/01/15/artificial-intelligence-frontex-improves-its-maritime-surveillance
    #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

    ping @etraces

    • 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…

      http://www.migreurop.org/article3021.html

      Pour télécharger le rapport :
      www.migreurop.org/IMG/pdf/note_12_fr.pdf

      ping @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_ @i_s_

    • 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.

      #Roborder – des essaims de #drones_autonomes aux frontières

      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.

      #IborderCtrl – détection d’#émotions aux frontières

      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.

      Conclusion

      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 !

      https://technopolice.fr/blog/la-technopolice-aux-frontieres

    • 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).

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news/news-release/artificial-intelligence-based-capabilities-for-european-border-and-co

  • #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)

    https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/january/drones-for-border-control-a-symptom-of-the-security-mindset-says-new-rep

    #drones #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #militarisation_des_frontières #drones #déshumanisation #risques

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • 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.

      https://dronewars.net/2020/12/26/crossing-a-line-how-the-use-of-drones-to-secure-borders-threatens-everyon
      #rapport #drone_wars #complexe_militaro-industriel

      Pour télécharger le rapport:
      https://dronewars.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/DW-Crossing-a-Line-WEB.pdf

  • 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’.

    https://irr.org.uk/article/deadly-crossings

    Pour télécharger le rapport:
    https://irr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Deadly-Crossings-Final.pdf

    #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

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • 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 » [1]. « 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 [2].

      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 [3]. « 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 [4], font de même. Le Défenseur des Droits, à plusieurs reprises (notamment en 2012 [5], 2015 [6] et 2018 [7]), 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.

      https://www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6510

    • 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.

      (#paywall)

      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/army-sends-drones-to-france-to-catch-migrants-crossing-channel-n27nkcvkl

    • 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.”

      https://thecivilfleet.wordpress.com/2021/03/12/uk-government-spent-up-to-1bn-for-military-drones-to-monito
      #complexe_militaro-industriel

  • 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.

    https://www.tni.org/en/article/6-out-of-10-people-worldwide-live-in-a-country-that-has-built-border-walls

    #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

    #rapport #TNI

    ping @reka @karine4 @_kg_

  • 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.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/nov/11/un-warns-of-impact-of-smart-borders-on-refugees-data-collection-isnt-ap

    #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

    ping @karine4 @isskein @etraces @thomas_lacroix

  • 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.

    https://www.euractiv.fr/section/migrations/news/lue-achete-des-drones-a-airbus-pour-reperer-les-bateaux-transportant-des-mi
    #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #drones #contrôles_frontaliers #surveillance_des_frontières #Israël #EU #Union_européenne #UE

    ping @e-traces

  • I costi nascosti delle nuove “guerre remote” di Stati Uniti ed Europa

    Le forze occidentali sperimentano in Somalia e in Sahel un tipo di conflitto che non prevede l’invio di nutriti contingenti armati e utilizza al suo posto nuclei speciali, droni, contractors. Tra le controindicazioni un aumento delle vittime civili.

    Nel settembre 2019 membri di al-Shabaab, un gruppo terrorista con base in Somalia, hanno attaccato un convoglio italiano nella capitale Mogadiscio e la base militare statunitense di Baledogle. Due attacchi tanto imprevisti quanto sottovalutati. La ragione di questa analisi insufficiente dipende in gran parte dalla natura delle recenti azioni in teatri di guerra stranieri: Paesi come Stati Uniti e Italia dispiegano un numero limitato di forze per affrontare gruppi ribelli o terroristi, con l’obiettivo di contenere i costi per le proprie truppe. Gli attacchi, tuttavia, non andrebbero letti come un incidente isolato ma come sintomo di un problema più ampio. E dovrebbero spingere il governo statunitense e i vari governi europei coinvolti in conflitti esteri a rivalutare la presunta assenza di rischio, non solo per le proprie truppe ma anche per la stabilità dei Paesi oggetto di intervento a distanza.

    I due attacchi sono una perfetta illustrazione dei pericoli legati alla “guerra remota”, quella che si combatte quando l’intervento non avviene attraverso l’invio di grandi contingenti armati. La definizione è dell’Oxford Research Group (ORG), un istituto di ricerca con sede a Londra: secondo i ricercatori di ORG, guerra remota è “lo sforzo da parte di attori esterni di evitare il modello di contro-insorgenza (COIN) associato all’intervento statunitense in Afghanistan e Iraq e di focalizzarsi invece su altri modelli, quali l’invio di forze speciali, l’utilizzo di droni armati -l’arma simbolo di questo approccio-, il dispiegamento di contractors privati, l’assistenza attraverso il servizio di intelligence, l’invio di attrezzature e il training a milizie locali”.

    Paesi come Stati Uniti e Italia dispiegano un numero limitato di forze per affrontare gruppi ribelli o terroristi, con l’obiettivo di limitare i costi per le proprie truppe

    L’utilizzo di droni in particolare è legato all’interpretazione legale di “guerra globale al terrore”, applicata dagli Stati Uniti per giustificare uccisioni mirate in Pakistan, Siria, Yemen e Somalia. Non solo Usa, però: anche Israele, Turchia, Cina, Nigeria, Regno Unito, Francia e ora anche l’Italia fanno un uso globale di droni armati. Dan Gettinger del Center for the Study of the Drone a Washington riporta che la spesa per droni statunitense è salita del 21% nel 2018 rispetto al 2017. Phil Finnegan di Teal Group afferma che “la produzione globale di droni dovrebbe più che raddoppiare in un decennio, da 4,9 miliardi di dollari nel 2018 a 10,7 miliardi nel 2027, con un tasso di crescita annuo del nove per cento”. L’Unione europea intanto sta per lanciare il suo primo Fondo per la Difesa: se approvato dal Parlamento europeo, dovrebbe ammontare a circa 13 miliardi di euro in sette anni.

    Ma nessuna guerra può essere chirurgica, priva di costi ed efficace allo stesso tempo: portare avanti guerre remote può essere percepito come vantaggioso, ma ha delle ricadute che aggravano il bilancio dell’intervento. Sia in Sahel sia in Somalia, dove è in corso un peggioramento della situazione di sicurezza, esacerbato da altre dinamiche interne, è vitale per gli attori esterni che hanno scelto di intervenire farlo con una strategia coerente e che tenga conto soprattutto di quelli che sono i bisogni della popolazione locale.

    10,7 miliardi di dollari: il valore stimato del mercato dei droni nel 2027. Nel 2018 si è fermato a 4,9 miliardi

    Le forze italiane attaccate a fine settembre del 2019 facevano parte di EUTM Somalia, una “missione militare dell’Unione europea che ha il compito di contribuire all’addestramento delle forze armate nazionali somale (Somali National Armed Forces, o SNA)”. La Somalia è una delle aree d’intervento delle politiche di sicurezza e difesa (CSDP) dell’Unione Europea. Paul Williams del Wilson Center osserva che “per oltre un decennio, una dozzina di Stati e organizzazioni multilaterali hanno investito tempo, sforzi, attrezzature e centinaia di milioni di dollari per costruire un’efficace esercito nazionale somalo. Finora hanno fallito”. Lo SNA conta “circa 29mila unità sul suo libro paga” ma molti sono soldati fantasma e quando le forze della missione dell’Unione africana in Somalia (AMISOM) si ritirano dai territori “la sicurezza tende a deteriorarsi in modo significativo ed è al-Shabaab a colmare il vuoto”. Gravi problemi affliggono anche l’impegno del comando africano degli Stati Uniti (AFRICOM) nel Paese. Ella Knight di Amnesty International ha documentato almeno sei casi in cui si ritiene che gli attacchi aerei statunitensi in Somalia abbiano provocato vittime civili e tutto questo in un’area geografica limitata.

    Nessuna guerra può essere chirurgica, priva di costi ed efficace allo stesso tempo: portare avanti guerre remote ha ricadute che aggravano il bilancio delle operazioni

    Nel caso dell’intervento europeo e americano in Somalia le questioni aperte sono due: prima di tutto il training delle milizie governative locali ha portato a soprusi verso la popolazione, accrescendo paradossalmente la reputazione di al-Shabaab. Inoltre, la guerra remota attraverso droni ha fatto un numero ancora imprecisato di vittime civili, non riconosciute dagli Stati Uniti, contribuendo alla percezione negativa che la popolazione civile ha di questi interventi armati. In ultima istanza, anche le truppe (in questo caso italiane e statunitensi) sul territorio sono vittima di rappresaglie da parte di gruppi armati.

    Anche il Sahel è un teatro di conflitti, dove sempre più Paesi, non solo occidentali, stanno intervenendo con le tattiche della guerra remota. Ma anche qui il costo dell’intervento non è da sottovalutare. Il 25 novembre scorso in Mali due elicotteri delle forze armate francesi si sono scontrati, uccidendo tredici soldati. La presenza delle truppe francesi rimanda a quanto accaduto nel dicembre 2013: allora, truppe francesi sotto l’egida dell’Operazione Serval erano intervenute in Mali per fermare l’avanzata di milizie armate verso la capitale Bamako; l’operazione, conclusa con successo, aveva dato il via a un altro intervento francese nella regione. A partire dal 2014 l’Operazione Barkhane intende fornire supporto nel lungo termine all’intera regione.

    L’impegno internazionale sembra spesso esacerbare l’instabilità. L’abuso di Stato reale o percepito è un fattore alla base della decisione di unirsi a gruppi estremisti violenti

    La missione di stabilizzazione integrata multidimensionale delle Nazioni Unite in Mali (MINUSMA) è stata istituita nel 2013 anche al fine di addestrare le forze regionali della Joint Force G5 Sahel. L’Unione europea ha istituto tre missioni di sicurezza e difesa in Mali e Niger, e sta procedendo a una maggiore regionalizzazione della propria presenza attraverso le Cellule Regionali di Consiglio e Coordinazione (RACC).
    L’European Union Training Mission in Mali, in particolare, rientra nella definizione di assistenza a forze di sicurezza, in quanto fornisce addestramento militare a forze armate maliane. Tale contributo fa parte di uno sforzo più ampio per condurre operazioni a distanza nella regione: anche gli Stati Uniti hanno da poco costruito la base aerea 201 ad Agadez, un futuro hub per droni armati e altri velivoli. La presenza degli Stati Uniti nel Sahel è notevolmente aumentata negli ultimi anni, così come quella tedesca, britannica e italiana.

    In Niger la presenza militare straniera ha avuto impatti negativi sulla libertà di parola e molti leader dell’opposizione hanno lamentato la mancanza di controllo parlamentare

    L’impegno internazionale però sembra spesso esacerbare l’instabilità, come hanno affermato alcuni gruppi della società civile. International Alert riporta che tra giovani Fulani nelle regioni di Mopti (Mali), Sahel (Burkina Faso) e Tillabéri (Niger) “l’abuso di stato reale o percepito è il fattore numero uno alla base della decisione di unirsi a gruppi estremisti violenti. L’Unione europea sta attualmente addestrando truppe locali senza (però) esercitare pressioni sul governo di Bamako per introdurre riforme strutturali”. Proprio in Mali la questione è particolarmente problematica: secondo Abigail Watson dell’Oxford Research Group “forze armate e governo maliani sono accusati di favorire un gruppo etnico rispetto ad un altro”. Favorire un particolare gruppo all’interno di conflitti tra diverse etnie si è dimostrato essere estremamente dannoso per la sicurezza a lungo termine. Il governo nigerino ha accolto con favore la presenza di truppe statunitensi, purché contribuiscano allo sradicamento dell’attività terroristica nel Paese. La società civile in Niger però sembra diffidare di tale presenza. Un’inchiesta del Guardian nel 2018 segnalava che la presenza militare straniera ha avuto impatti negativi sulla libertà di parola e molti leader dell’opposizione hanno lamentato la mancanza di controllo parlamentare ogni volta che la presenza straniera è autorizzata. Gli Stati Uniti non hanno chiarito le loro intenzioni strategiche a lungo termine, mentre sia la Francia sia l’Ue lo hanno fatto: l’intenzione è quella di sostituire all’operazione Barkhane e alle missioni europee la G5 Sahel Joint Force. Non sembra tuttavia esserci un progetto strategico chiaro per il raggiungimento di tale obiettivo, il che porta inevitabilmente ad aspre critiche. Infine, come mostrano recenti ricerche, la “guerra dall’impronta leggera” ha comportato una serie di sfide che si riflettono su trasparenza e responsabilità pubblica. Come sottolineano Goldsmith e Waxman nel loro articolo “The Legal Legacy of Light- Footprint Warfare”, pubblicato da The Washington Quarterly nel 2016, “la guerra di impronta leggera non attira lo stesso livello di scrutinio congressuale e soprattutto pubblico rispetto a guerre più convenzionali”.

    Tra le considerazioni che i Paesi europei e l’Unione stessa dovrebbero fare è necessario inserire un dialogo costante con la società civile del Paese in cui si sta intervenendo, ma soprattutto una chiara definizione della strategia e un’analisi del tipo di guerra che si vuole condurre, tenendo conto dei rischi che questo comporta.

    https://altreconomia.it/guerra-remota
    #guerre #drones #Somalie #Sahel #expérimentation #drones #contractors #complexe_militaro-industriel #armes #guerre_à_distance #drones_armés #contractors #intelligence #milices

    ping @albertocampiphoto @wizo @etraces

  • #Guerre et #paix... et #écologie. Les risques de #militarisation durable

    La militarisation du monde est la cause principale de la détérioration de nos environnements, sur terre, en mer et dans l’espace. Notre planète, qui mérite des soins intensifs, est de plus en plus abîmée par ceux-là mêmes qui s’en font les défenseurs auto-proclamés : les #forces_armées. Limiter les dégâts des #armes de tout calibre. Contrer la démesure, dans la répartition internationale de la menace de mort du #complexe_militaro-industriel, un complexe qui détourne nos ressources vitales, accapare nos territoires et militarise nos esprits. Intégrer le mot d’ordre de « #Halte_à_la_Croissance » dans le domaine de l’armement, à une époque où les écosystèmes sont victimes de reconfigurations stratégiques sur fond de dérèglement et manipulation climatiques. Concevoir la #sécurité_écologique en neutralisant la nocivité des préparatifs de guerre en temps de paix. Tout cela dépendra de la façon dont agiront en tandem écologistes et pacifistes, sans chercher à savoir qui est le mieux placé ou le mieux armé pour « sauver » la planète

    https://www.souffledor.fr/ecologie/1268-guerre-et-paix-et-ecologie-9782364290556.html
    #livre #Ben_Cramer #pacifisme

    ping @karine4

  • Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry

    This explosive new volume brings together a lively cast of academics, activists, journalists, artists, and people directly impacted by asylum regimes to explain how current practices of asylum align with the neoliberal moment and to present their transformative visions for alternative systems and processes.

    Through essays, artworks, photographs, infographics, and illustrations, Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry regards the global asylum regime as an industry characterized by profit-making activity: brokers who demand extortionate fees to facilitate border crossings; contractors and firms that erect walls, fences, and watchtowers while lobbying governments for bigger “security” budgets; corporations running private detention centers and “managing” deportations; private lawyers charging exorbitant fees; “expert” witnesses building their reputations in courthouses; and NGO staff establishing careers while placing asylum seekers into new regimes of monitored vulnerability.

    Asylum for Sale challenges readers to move beyond questions of legal, moral, and humanitarian obligations that dominate popular debates regarding asylum seekers. Digging deeper, the authors focus on processes and actors often overlooked in mainstream analyses and on the trends increasingly rendering asylum available only to people with financial and cultural capital. Probing every aspect of the asylum process from crossings to aftermaths, the book provides an in-depth exploration of complex, international networks, policies, and norms that impact people seeking asylum around the world. In highlighting protest as well as profit, Asylum for Sale presents both critical analyses and proposed solutions for resisting and reshaping current and emerging immigration norms.

    https://www.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1097

    #livre #migrations #profit #business #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #complexe_militaro-industriel #Australie #détention_administrative #rétention #Nauru #UK #Angleterre #Irlande #humanitarisme #militarisation_des_frontières #Canada #autonomie #esclavage_moderne

    ping @rhoumour @isskein @reka @karine4

    • EU: Frontex splashes out: millions of euros for new technology and equipment (19.06.2020)

      The approval of the new #Frontex_Regulation in November 2019 implied an increase of competences, budget and capabilities for the EU’s border agency, which is now equipping itself with increased means to monitor events and developments at the borders and beyond, as well as renewing its IT systems to improve the management of the reams of data to which it will have access.

      In 2020 Frontex’s #budget grew to €420.6 million, an increase of over 34% compared to 2019. The European Commission has proposed that in the next EU budget (formally known as the Multiannual Financial Framework or MFF, covering 2021-27) €11 billion will be made available to the agency, although legal negotiations are ongoing and have hit significant stumbling blocks due to Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and political disagreements.

      Nevertheless, the increase for this year has clearly provided a number of opportunities for Frontex. For instance, it has already agreed contracts worth €28 million for the acquisition of dozens of vehicles equipped with thermal and day cameras, surveillance radar and sensors.

      According to the contract for the provision of Mobile Surveillance Systems, these new tools will be used “for detection, identification and recognising of objects of interest e.g. human beings and/or groups of people, vehicles moving across the border (land and sea), as well as vessels sailing within the coastal areas, and other objects identified as objects of interest”. [1]

      Frontex has also published a call for tenders for Maritime Analysis Tools, worth a total of up to €2.6 million. With this, Frontex seeks to improve access to “big data” for maritime analysis. [2] The objective of deploying these tools is to enhance Frontex’s operational support to EU border, coast guard and law enforcement authorities in “suppressing and preventing, among others, illegal migration and cross-border crime in the maritime domain”.

      Moreover, the system should be capable of delivering analysis and identification of high-risk threats following the collection and storage of “big data”. It is not clear how much human input and monitoring there will be of the identification of risks. The call for tenders says the winning bidder should have been announced in May, but there is no public information on the chosen company so far.

      As part of a 12-month pilot project to examine how maritime analysis tools could “support multipurpose operational response,” Frontex previously engaged the services of the Tel Aviv-based company Windward Ltd, which claims to fuse “maritime data and artificial intelligence… to provide the right insights, with the right context, at the right time.” [3] Windward, whose current chairman is John Browne, the former CEO of the multinational oil company BP, received €783,000 for its work. [4]

      As the agency’s gathering and processing of data increases, it also aims to improve and develop its own internal IT systems, through a two-year project worth €34 million. This will establish a set of “framework contracts”. Through these, each time the agency seeks a new IT service or system, companies selected to participate in the framework contracts will submit bids for the work. [5]

      The agency is also seeking a ’Software Solution for EBCG [European Border and Coast Guard] Team Members to Access to Schengen Information System’, through a contract worth up to €5 million. [6] The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the EU’s largest database, enabling cooperation between authorities working in the fields of police, border control and customs of all the Schengen states (26 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and its legal bases were recently reformed to include new types of alert and categories of data. [7]

      This software will give Frontex officials direct access to certain data within the SIS. Currently, they have to request access via national border guards in the country in which they are operating. This would give complete autonomy to Frontex officials to consult the SIS whilst undertaking operations, shortening the length of the procedure. [8]

      With the legal basis for increasing Frontex’s powers in place, the process to build up its personnel, material and surveillance capacities continues, with significant financial implications.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/june/eu-frontex-splashes-out-millions-of-euros-for-new-technology-and-equipme

      #technologie #équipement #Multiannual_Financial_Framework #MFF #surveillance #Mobile_Surveillance_Systems #Maritime_Analysis_Tools #données #big_data #mer #Windward_Ltd #Israël #John_Browne #BP #complexe_militaro-industriel #Software_Solution_for_EBCG_Team_Members_to_Access_to_Schengen_Information_System #SIS #Schengen_Information_System

    • EU : Guns, guards and guidelines : reinforcement of Frontex runs into problems (26.05.2020)

      An internal report circulated by Frontex to EU government delegations highlights a series of issues in implementing the agency’s new legislation. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency is urging swift action to implement the mandate and is pressing ahead with the recruitment of its new ‘standing corps’. However, there are legal problems with the acquisition, registration, storage and transport of weapons. The agency is also calling for derogations from EU rules on staff disciplinary measures in relation to the use of force; and wants an extended set of privileges and immunities. Furthermore, it is assisting with “voluntary return” despite this activity appearing to fall outside of its legal mandate.

      State-of-play report

      At the end of April 2020, Frontex circulated a report to EU government delegations in the Council outlining the state of play of the implementation of its new Regulation (“EBCG 2.0 Regulation”, in the agency and Commission’s words), especially relating to “current challenges”.[1] Presumably, this refers to the outbreak of a pandemic, though the report also acknowledges challenges created by the legal ambiguities contained in the Regulation itself, in particular with regard to the acquisition of weapons, supervisory and disciplinary mechanisms, legal privileges and immunities and involvement in “voluntary return” operations.

      The path set out in the report is that the “operational autonomy of the agency will gradually increase towards 2027” until it is a “fully-fledged and reliable partner” to EU and Schengen states. It acknowledges the impacts of unforeseen world events on the EU’s forthcoming budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework, MFF) for 2021-27, and hints at the impact this will have on Frontex’s own budget and objectives. Nevertheless, the agency is still determined to “continue increasing the capabilities” of the agency, including its acquisition of new equipment and employment of new staff for its standing corps.

      The main issues covered by the report are: Frontex’s new standing corps of staff, executive powers and the use of force, fundamental rights and data protection, and the integration into Frontex of EUROSUR, the European Border Surveillance System.

      The new standing corps

      Recruitment

      A new standing corps of 10,000 Frontex staff by 2024 is to be, in the words of the agency, its “biggest game changer”.[2] The report notes that the establishment of the standing corps has been heavily affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. According to the report, 7,238 individuals had applied to join the standing corps before the outbreak of the pandemic. 5,482 of these – over 75% – were assessed by the agency as eligible, with a final 304 passing the entire selection process to be on the “reserve lists”.[3]

      Despite interruptions to the recruitment procedure following worldwide lockdown measures, interviews for Category 1 staff – permanent Frontex staff members to be deployed on operations – were resumed via video by the end of April. 80 candidates were shortlisted for the first week, and Frontex aims to interview 1,000 people in total. Despite this adaptation, successful candidates will have to wait for Frontex’s contractor to re-open in order to carry out medical tests, an obligatory requirement for the standing corps.[4]

      In 2020, Frontex joined the European Defence Agency’s Satellite Communications (SatCom) and Communications and Information System (CIS) services in order to ensure ICT support for the standing corps in operation as of 2021.[5] The EDA describes SatCom and CIS as “fundamental for Communication, Command and Control in military operations… [enabling] EU Commanders to connect forces in remote areas with HQs and capitals and to manage the forces missions and tasks”.[6]

      Training

      The basic training programme, endorsed by the management board in October 2019, is designed for Category 1 staff. It includes specific training in interoperability and “harmonisation with member states”. The actual syllabus, content and materials for this basic training were developed by March 2020; Statewatch has made a request for access to these documents, which is currently pending with the Frontex Transparency Office. This process has also been affected by the novel coronavirus, though the report insists that “no delay is foreseen in the availability of the specialised profile related training of the standing corps”.

      Use of force

      The state-of-play-report acknowledges a number of legal ambiguities surrounding some of the more controversial powers outlined in Frontex’s 2019 Regulation, highlighting perhaps that political ambition, rather than serious consideration and assessment, propelled the legislation, overtaking adequate procedure and oversight. The incentive to enact the legislation within a short timeframe is cited as a reason that no impact assessment was carried out on the proposed recast to the agency’s mandate. This draft was rushed through negotiations and approved in an unprecedented six-month period, and the details lost in its wake are now coming to light.

      Article 82 of the 2019 Regulation refers to the use of force and carriage of weapons by Frontex staff, while a supervisory mechanism for the use of force by statutory staff is established by Article 55. This says:

      “On the basis of a proposal from the executive director, the management board shall: (a) establish an appropriate supervisory mechanism to monitor the application of the provisions on use of force by statutory staff, including rules on reporting and specific measures, such as those of a disciplinary nature, with regard to the use of force during deployments”[7]

      The agency’s management board is expected to make a decision about this supervisory mechanism, including specific measures and reporting, by the end of June 2020.

      The state-of-play report posits that the legal terms of Article 55 are inconsistent with the standard rules on administrative enquiries and disciplinary measures concerning EU staff.[8] These outline, inter alia, that a dedicated disciplinary board will be established in each institution including at least one member from outside the institution, that this board must be independent and its proceedings secret. Frontex insists that its staff will be a special case as the “first uniformed service of the EU”, and will therefore require “special arrangements or derogations to the Staff Regulations” to comply with the “totally different nature of tasks and risks associated with their deployments”.[9]

      What is particularly astounding about Frontex demanding special treatment for oversight, particularly on use of force and weapons is that, as the report acknowledges, the agency cannot yet legally store or transport any weapons it acquires.

      Regarding service weapons and “non-lethal equipment”,[10] legal analysis by “external experts and a regulatory law firm” concluded that the 2019 Regulation does not provide a legal basis for acquiring, registering, storing or transporting weapons in Poland, where the agency’s headquarters is located. Frontex has applied to the Commission for clarity on how to proceed, says the report. Frontex declined to comment on the status of this consultation and any indications of the next steps the agency will take. A Commission spokesperson stated only that it had recently received the agency’s enquiry and “is analysing the request and the applicable legal framework in the view of replying to the EBCGA”, without expanding further.

      Until Frontex has the legal basis to do so, it cannot launch a tender for firearms and “non-lethal equipment” (which includes batons, pepper spray and handcuffs). However, the report implies the agency is ready to do so as soon as it receives the green light. Technical specifications are currently being finalised for “non-lethal equipment” and Frontex still plans to complete acquisition by the end of the year.

      Privileges and immunities

      The agency is also seeking special treatment with regard to the legal privileges and immunities it and its officials enjoy. Article 96 of the 2019 Regulation outlines the privileges and immunities of Frontex officers, stating:

      “Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union annexed to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to the TFEU shall apply to the Agency and its statutory staff.” [11]

      However, Frontex notes that the Protocol does not apply to non-EU states, nor does it “offer a full protection, or take into account a need for the inviolability of assets owned by Frontex (service vehicles, vessels, aircraft)”.[12] Frontex is increasingly involved in operations taking place on non-EU territory. For instance, the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states, primarily in the Western Balkans, concerning Frontex activities in those countries. To launch operations under these agreements, Frontex will (or, in the case of Albania, already has) agree on operational plans with each state, under which Frontex staff can use executive powers.[13] The agency therefore seeks an “EU-level status of forces agreement… to account for the partial absence of rules”.

      Law enforcement

      To implement its enhanced functions regarding cross-border crime, Frontex will continue to participate in Europol’s four-year policy cycle addressing “serious international and organised crime”.[14] The agency is also developing a pilot project, “Investigation Support Activities- Cross Border Crime” (ISA-CBC), addressing drug trafficking and terrorism.

      Fundamental rights and data protection

      The ‘EBCG 2.0 Regulation’ requires several changes to fundamental rights measures by the agency, which, aside from some vague “legal analyses” seem to be undergoing development with only internal oversight.

      Firstly, to facilitate adequate independence of the Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), special rules have to be established. The FRO was introduced under Frontex’s 2016 Regulation, but has since then been understaffed and underfunded by the agency.[15] The 2019 Regulation obliges the agency to ensure “sufficient and adequate human and financial resources” for the office, as well as 40 fundamental rights monitors.[16] These standing corps staff members will be responsible for monitoring compliance with fundamental rights standards, providing advice and assistance on the agency’s plans and activities, and will visit and evaluate operations, including acting as forced return monitors.[17]

      During negotiations over the proposed Regulation 2.0, MEPs introduced extended powers for the Fundamental Rights Officer themselves. The FRO was previously responsible for contributing to Frontex’s fundamental rights strategy and monitoring its compliance with and promotion of fundamental rights. Now, they will be able to monitor compliance by conducting investigations; offering advice where deemed necessary or upon request of the agency; providing opinions on operational plans, pilot projects and technical assistance; and carrying out on-the-spot visits. The executive director is now obliged to respond “as to how concerns regarding possible violations of fundamental rights… have been addressed,” and the management board “shall ensure that action is taken with regard to recommendations of the fundamental rights officer.” [18] The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation.

      The state-of-play report says that “legal analyses and exchanges” are ongoing, and will inform an eventual management board decision, but no timeline for this is offered. [19] The agency will also need to adapt its much criticised individual complaints mechanism to fit the requirements of the 2019 Regulation; executive director Fabrice Leggeri’s first-draft decision on this process is currently undergoing internal consultations. Even the explicit requirement set out in the 2019 Regulation for an “independent and effective” complaints mechanism,[20] does not meet minimum standards to qualify as an effective remedy, which include institutional independence, accessibility in practice, and capacity to carry out thorough and prompt investigations.[21]

      Frontex has entered into a service level agreement (SLA) with the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) for support in establishing and training the team of fundamental rights monitors introduced by the 2019 Regulation. These monitors are to be statutory staff of the agency and will assess fundamental rights compliance of operational activities, advising, assisting and contributing to “the promotion of fundamental rights”.[22] The scope and objectives for this team were finalised at the end of March this year, and the agency will establish the team by the end of the year. Statewatch has requested clarification as to what is to be included in the team’s scope and objectives, pending with the Frontex Transparency Office.

      Regarding data protection, the agency plans a package of implementing rules (covering issues ranging from the position of data protection officer to the restriction of rights for returnees and restrictions under administrative data processing) to be implemented throughout 2020.[23] The management board will review a first draft of the implementing rules on the data protection officer in the second quarter of 2020.

      Returns

      The European Return and Reintegration Network (ERRIN) – a network of 15 European states and the Commission facilitating cooperation over return operations “as part of the EU efforts to manage migration” – is to be handed over to Frontex. [24] A handover plan is currently under the final stage of review; it reportedly outlines the scoping of activities and details of “which groups of returnees will be eligible for Frontex assistance in the future”.[25] A request from Statewatch to Frontex for comment on what assistance will be provided by the agency to such returnees was unanswered at the time of publication.

      Since the entry into force of its new mandate, Frontex has also been providing technical assistance for so-called voluntary returns, with the first two such operations carried out on scheduled flights (as opposed to charter flights) in February 2020. A total of 28 people were returned by mid-April, despite the fact that there is no legal clarity over what the definition “voluntary return” actually refers to, as the state-of-play report also explains:

      “The terminology of voluntary return was introduced in the Regulation without providing any definition thereof. This terminology (voluntary departure vs voluntary return) is moreover not in line with the terminology used in the Return Directive (EBCG 2.0 refers to the definition of returns provided for in the Return Directive. The Return Directive, however, does not cover voluntary returns; a voluntary return is not a return within the meaning of the Return Directive). Further elaboration is needed.”[26]

      On top of requiring “further clarification”, if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate. Statewatch has launched an investigation into the agency’s activities relating to voluntary returns, to outline the number of such operations to date, their country of return and country of destination.

      Frontex is currently developing a module dedicated to voluntary returns by charter flight for its FAR (Frontex Application for Returns) platform (part of its return case management system). On top of the technical support delivered by the agency, Frontex also foresees the provision of on-the-ground support from Frontex representatives or a “return counsellor”, who will form part of the dedicated return teams planned for the standing corps from 2021.[27]

      Frontex has updated its return case management system (RECAMAS), an online platform for member state authorities and Frontex to communicate and plan return operations, to manage an increased scope. The state-of-play report implies that this includes detail on post-return activities in a new “post-return module”, indicating that Frontex is acting on commitments to expand its activity in this area. According to the agency’s roadmap on implementing the 2019 Regulation, an action plan on how the agency will provide post-return support to people (Article 48(1), 2019 Regulation) will be written by the third quarter of 2020.[28]

      In its closing paragraph, related to the budgetary impact of COVID-19 regarding return operations, the agency notes that although activities will resume once aerial transportation restrictions are eased, “the agency will not be able to provide what has been initially intended, undermining the concept of the EBCG as a whole”.[29]

      EUROSUR

      The Commission is leading progress on adopting the implementing act for the integration of EUROSUR into Frontex, which will define the implementation of new aerial surveillance,[30] expected by the end of the year.[31] Frontex is discussing new working arrangements with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). The development by Frontex of the surveillance project’s communications network will require significant budgetary investment, as the agency plans to maintain the current system ahead of its planned replacement in 2025.[32] This investment is projected despite the agency’s recognition of the economic impact of Covid-19 on member states, and the consequent adjustments to the MFF 2021-27.

      Summary

      Drafted and published as the world responds to an unprecedented pandemic, the “current challenges” referred to in the report appear, on first read, to refer to the budgetary and staffing implications of global shut down. However, the report maintains throughout that the agency’s determination to expand, in terms of powers as well as staffing, will not be stalled despite delays and budgeting adjustments. Indeed, it is implied more than once that the “current challenges” necessitate more than ever that these powers be assumed. The true challenges, from the agency’s point of view, stem from the fact that its current mandate was rushed through negotiations in six months, leading to legal ambiguities that leave it unable to acquire or transport weapons and in a tricky relationship with the EU protocol on privileges and immunities when operating in third countries. Given the violence that so frequently accompanies border control operations in the EU, it will come as a relief to many that Frontex is having difficulties acquiring its own weaponry. However, it is far from reassuring that the introduction of new measures on fundamental rights and accountability are being carried out internally and remain unavailable for public scrutiny.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Note: this article was updated on 26 May 2020 to include the European Commission’s response to Statewatch’s enquiries.

      It was updated on 1 July with some minor corrections:

      “the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states... under which” replaces “the agency has entered into working agreements with Balkan states, under which”
      “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in any detail in the Regulation beyond monitoring the agency’s ’compliance with fundamental rights, including by conducting investigations’” replaces “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation”
      “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it further exposes the haste with which legislation written to deny entry into the EU and facilitate expulsions was drafted” replaces “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate”

      Endnotes

      [1] Frontex, ‘State of play of the implementation of the EBCG 2.0 Regulation in view of current challenges’, 27 April 2020, contained in Council document 7607/20, LIMITE, 20 April 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/may/eu-council-frontex-ECBG-state-of-play-7607-20.pdf

      [2] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [3] Section 1.1, state of play report

      [4] Jane Kilpatrick, ‘Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards’, Statewatch Analysis, March 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-355-frontex-recruitment-standing-corps.pdf

      [5] Section 7.1, state of play report

      [6] EDA, ‘EU SatCom Market’, https://www.eda.europa.eu/what-we-do/activities/activities-search/eu-satcom-market

      [7] Article 55(5)(a), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex 2019 Regulation), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [8] Pursuant to Annex IX of the EU Staff Regulations, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:01962R0031-20140501

      [9] Chapter III, state of play report

      [10] Section 2.5, state of play report

      [11] Protocol (No 7), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2016.202.01.0001.01.ENG#d1e3363-201-1

      [12] Chapter III, state of play report

      [13] ‘Border externalisation: Agreements on Frontex operations in Serbia and Montenegro heading for parliamentary approval’, Statewatch News, 11 March 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/frontex-status-agreements.htm

      [14] Europol, ‘EU policy cycle – EMPACT’, https://www.europol.europa.eu/empact

      [15] ‘NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex’s respect for fundamental rights’, Statewatch News, 5 March 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/fx-consultative-forum-rep.htm; ‘Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations’, Statewatch News, 21 May 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/may/eu-frontex-fr-rep.htm

      [16] Article 110(6), Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [17] Article 110, 2019 Regulation

      [18] Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [19] Section 8, state of play report

      [20] Article 111(1), 2019 Regulation

      [21] Sergio Carrera and Marco Stefan, ‘Complaint Mechanisms in Border Management and Expulsion Operations in Europe: Effective Remedies for Victims of Human Rights Violations?’, CEPS, 2018, https://www.ceps.eu/system/files/Complaint%20Mechanisms_A4.pdf

      [22] Article 110(1), 2019 Regulation

      [23] Section 9, state of play report

      [24] ERRIN, https://returnnetwork.eu

      [25] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [26] Chapter III, state of play report

      [27] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [28] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [29] State of play report, p. 19

      [30] Matthias Monroy, ‘Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders’, Statewatch Analysis, February 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-354-frontex-drones.pdf

      [31] Section 4, state of play report

      [32] Section 7.2, state of play report
      Next article >

      Mediterranean: As the fiction of a Libyan search and rescue zone begins to crumble, EU states use the coronavirus pandemic to declare themselves unsafe

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/eu-guns-guards-and-guidelines-reinforcement-of-frontex-runs-into-problem

      #EBCG_2.0_Regulation #European_Defence_Agency’s_Satellite_Communications (#SatCom) #Communications_and_Information_System (#CIS) #immunité #droits_fondamentaux #droits_humains #Fundamental_Rights_Officer (#FRO) #European_Return_and_Reintegration_Network (#ERRIN) #renvois #expulsions #réintégration #Directive_Retour #FAR (#Frontex_Application_for_Returns) #RECAMAS #EUROSUR #European_Aviation_Safety_Agency (#EASA) #European_Organisation_for_the_Safety_of_Air_Navigation (#EUROCONTROL)

    • Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards

      On 4 January 2020 the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) adopted a decision on the profiles of the staff required for the new “standing corps”, which is ultimately supposed to be staffed by 10,000 officials. [1] The decision ushers in a new wave of recruitment for the agency. Applicants will be put through six months of training before deployment, after rigorous medical testing.

      What is the standing corps?

      The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps is the new, and according to Frontex, first ever, EU uniformed service, available “at any time…to support Member States facing challenges at their external borders”.[2] Frontex’s Programming Document for the 2018-2020 period describes the standing corps as the agency’s “biggest game changer”, requiring “an unprecedented scale of staff recruitment”.[3]

      The standing corps will be made up of four categories of Frontex operational staff:

      Frontex statutory staff deployed in operational areas and staff responsible for the functioning of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) Central Unit[4];
      Long-term staff seconded from member states;
      Staff from member states who can be immediately deployed on short-term secondment to Frontex; and

      A reserve of staff from member states for rapid border interventions.

      These border guards will be “trained by the best and equipped with the latest technology has to offer”.[5] As well as wearing EU uniforms, they will be authorised to carry weapons and will have executive powers: they will be able to verify individuals’ identity and nationality and permit or refuse entry into the EU.

      The decision made this January is limited to the definition of profiles and requirements for the operational staff that are to be recruited. The Management Board (MB) will have to adopt a new decision by March this year to set out the numbers of staff needed per profile, the requirements for individuals holding those positions, and the number of staff needed for the following year based on expected operational needs. This process will be repeated annually.[6] The MB can then further specify how many staff each member state should contribute to these profiles, and establish multi-annual plans for member state contributions and recruitment for Frontex statutory staff. Projections for these contributions are made in Annexes II – IV of the 2019 Regulation, though a September Mission Statement by new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urges the recruitment of 10,000 border guards by 2024, indicating that member states might be meeting their contribution commitments much sooner than 2027.[7]

      The standing corps of Frontex staff will have an array of executive powers and responsibilities. As well as being able to verify identity and nationality and refuse or permit entry into the EU, they will be able to consult various EU databases to fulfil operational aims, and may also be authorised by host states to consult national databases. According to the MB Decision, “all members of the Standing Corps are to be able to identify persons in need of international protection and persons in a vulnerable situation, including unaccompanied minors, and refer them to the competent authorities”. Training on international and EU law on fundamental rights and international protection, as well as guidelines on the identification and referral of persons in need of international protection, will be mandatory for all standing corps staff members.

      The size of the standing corps

      The following table, taken from the 2019 Regulation, outlines the ambitions for growth of Frontex’s standing corps. However, as noted, the political ambition is to reach the 10,000 total by 2024.

      –-> voir le tableau sur le site de statewatch!

      Category 2 staff – those on long term secondment from member states – will join Frontex from 2021, according to the 2019 Regulation.[8] It is foreseen that Germany will contribute the most staff, with 61 expected in 2021, increasing year-by-year to 225 by 2027. Other high contributors are France and Italy (170 and 125 by 2027, respectively).

      The lowest contributors will be Iceland (expected to contribute between one and two people a year from 2021 to 2027), Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Liechtenstein is not contributing personnel but will contribute “through proportional financial support”.

      For short-term secondments from member states, projections follow a very similar pattern. Germany will contribute 540 staff in 2021, increasing to 827 in 2027; Italy’s contribution will increase from 300 in 2021 to 458 in 2027; and France’s from 408 in 2021 to 624 in 2027. Most states will be making less than 100 staff available for short-term secondment in 2021.

      What are the profiles?

      The MB Decision outlines 12 profiles to be made available to Frontex, ranging from Border Guard Officer and Crew Member, to Cross Border Crime Detection Officer and Return Specialist. A full list is contained in the Decision.[9] All profiles will be fulfilled by an official of the competent authority of a member state (MS) or Schengen Associated Country (SAC), or by a member of Frontex’s own statutory staff.

      Tasks to be carried out by these officials include:

      border checks and surveillance;
      interviewing, debriefing* and screening arrivals and registering fingerprints;
      supporting the collection, assessment, analysis and distribution of information with EU member and non-member states;
      verifying travel documents;
      escorting individuals being deported on Frontex return operations;
      operating data systems and platforms; and
      offering cultural mediation

      *Debriefing consists of informal interviews with migrants to collect information for risk analyses on irregular migration and other cross-border crime and the profiling of irregular migrants to identify “modus operandi and migration trends used by irregular migrants and facilitators/criminal networks”. Guidelines written by Frontex in 2012 instructed border guards to target vulnerable individuals for “debriefing”, not in order to streamline safeguarding or protection measures, but for intelligence-gathering - “such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences,” said an internal document.[10] It is unknown whether those instructions are still in place.

      Recruitment for the profiles

      Certain profiles are expected to “apply self-safety and security practice”, and to have “the capacity to work under pressure and face emotional events with composure”. Relevant profiles (e.g. crew member) are required to be able to perform search and rescue activities in distress situations at sea borders.

      Frontex published a call for tender on 27 December for the provision of medical services for pre-recruitment examinations, in line with the plan to start recruiting operational staff in early 2020. The documents accompanying the tender reveal additional criteria for officials that will be granted executive powers (Frontex category “A2”) compared to those staff stationed primarily at the agency’s Warsaw headquarters (“A1”). Those criteria come in the form of more stringent medical testing.

      The differences in medical screening for category A1 and A2 staff lie primarily in additional toxicology screening and psychiatric and psychological consultations. [11] The additional psychiatric attention allotted for operational staff “is performed to check the predisposition for people to work in arduous, hazardous conditions, exposed to stress, conflict situations, changing rapidly environment, coping with people being in dramatic, injure or death exposed situations”.[12]

      Both A1 and A2 category provisional recruits will be asked to disclose if they have ever suffered from a sexually transmitted disease or “genital organ disease”, as well as depression, nervous or mental disorders, among a long list of other ailments. As well as disclosing any medication they take, recruits must also state if they are taking oral contraceptives (though there is no question about hormonal contraceptives that are not taken orally). Women are also asked to give the date of their last period on the pre-appointment questionnaire.

      “Never touch yourself with gloves”

      Frontex training materials on forced return operations obtained by Statewatch in 2019 acknowledge the likelihood of psychological stress among staff, among other health risks. (One recommendation contained in the documents is to “never touch yourself with gloves”). Citing “dissonance within the team, long hours with no rest, group dynamic, improvisation and different languages” among factors behind psychological stress, the training materials on medical precautionary measures for deportation escort officers also refer to post-traumatic stress disorder, the lack of an area to retreat to and body clock disruption as exacerbating risks. The document suggests a high likelihood that Frontex return escorts will witness poverty, “agony”, “chaos”, violence, boredom, and will have to deal with vulnerable persons.[13]

      For fundamental rights monitors (officials deployed to monitor fundamental rights compliance during deportations, who can be either Frontex staff or national officials), the training materials obtained by Statewatch focus on the self-control of emotions, rather than emotional care. Strategies recommended include talking to somebody, seeking professional help, and “informing yourself of any other option offered”. The documents suggest that it is an individual’s responsibility to prevent emotional responses to stressful situations having an impact on operations, and to organise their own supervision and professional help. There is no obvious focus on how traumatic responses of Frontex staff could affect those coming into contact with them at an external border or during a deportation. [14]

      The materials obtained by Statewatch also give some indication of the fundamental rights training imparted to those acting as deportation ‘escorts’ and fundamental rights monitors. The intended outcomes for a training session in Athens that took place in March 2019 included “adapt FR [fundamental rights] in a readmission operation (explain it with examples)” and “should be able to describe Non Refoulement principle” (in the document, ‘Session Fundamental rights’ is followed by ‘Session Velcro handcuffs’).[15] The content of the fundamental rights training that will be offered to Frontex’s new recruits is currently unknown.

      Fit for service?

      The agency anticipates that most staff will be recruited from March to June 2020, involving the medical examination of up to 700 applicants in this period. According to Frontex’s website, the agency has already received over 7,000 applications for the 700 new European Border Guard Officer positions.[16] Successful candidates will undergo six months of training before deployment in 2021. Apparently then, the posts are a popular career option, despite the seemingly invasive medical tests (especially for sexually active women). Why, for instance, is it important to Frontex to know about oral hormonal contraception, or about sexually transmitted infections?

      When asked by Statewatch if Frontex provides in-house psychological and emotional support, an agency press officer stated: “When it comes to psychological and emotional support, Frontex is increasing awareness and personal resilience of the officers taking part in our operations through education and training activities.” A ‘Frontex Mental Health Strategy’ from 2018 proposed the establishment of “a network of experts-psychologists” to act as an advisory body, as well as creating “online self-care tools”, a “psychological hot-line”, and a space for peer support with participation of psychologists (according to risk assessment) during operations.[17]

      One year later, Frontex, EASO and Europol jointly produced a brochure for staff deployed on operations, entitled ‘Occupational Health and Safety – Deployment Information’, which offers a series of recommendations to staff, placing the responsibility to “come to the deployment in good mental shape” and “learn how to manage stress and how to deal with anger” more firmly on the individual than the agency.[18] According to this document, officers who need additional support must disclose this by requesting it from their supervisor, while “a helpline or psychologist on-site may be available, depending on location”.

      Frontex anticipates this recruitment drive to be “game changing”. Indeed, the Commission is relying upon it to reach its ambitions for the agency’s independence and efficiency. The inclusion of mandatory training in fundamental rights in the six-month introductory education is obviously a welcome step. Whether lessons learned in a classroom will be the first thing that comes to the minds of officials deployed on border control or deportation operations remains to be seen.

      Unmanaged responses to emotional stress can include burnout, compassion-fatigue and indirect trauma, which can in turn decrease a person’s ability to cope with adverse circumstance, and increase the risk of violence.[19] Therefore, aside from the agency’s responsibility as an employer to safeguard the health of its staff, its approach to internal psychological care will affect not only the border guards themselves, but the people that they routinely come into contact with at borders and during return operations, many of whom themselves will have experienced trauma.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Endnotes

      [1] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [2] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [3] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [4] The ETIAS Central Unit will be responsible for processing the majority of applications for ‘travel authorisations’ received when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System comes into use, in theory in late 2022. Citizens who do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for authorisation to travel to the Schengen area.

      [5] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [6] Article 54(4), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [7] ‘European Commission 2020 Work Programme: An ambitious roadmap for a Union that strives for more’, 29 January 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_124; “Mission letter” from Ursula von der Leyen to Ylva Johnsson, 10 September 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/mission-letter-ylva-johansson_en.pdf

      [8] Annex II, 2019 Regulation

      [9] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [10] ‘Press release: EU border agency targeted “isolated or mistreated” individuals for questioning’, Statewatch News, 16 February 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/feb/eu-frontex-op-hera-debriefing-pr.htm

      [11] ‘Provision of Medical Services – Pre-Recruitment Examination’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-documents.html?cftId=5841

      [12] ‘Provision of medical services – pre-recruitment examination, Terms of Reference - Annex II to invitation to tender no Frontex/OP/1491/2019/KM’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-document.html?docId=65398

      [13] Frontex training presentation, ‘Medical precautionary measures for escort officers’, undated, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-presentation-medical-precautionary-measures-deportation-escor

      [14] Ibid.

      [15] Frontex, document listing course learning outcomes from deportation escorts’ training, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-deportation-escorts-training-course-learning-outcomes.pdf

      [16] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [17] Frontex, ‘Frontex mental health strategy’, 20 February 2018, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/89c168fe-e14b-11e7-9749-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

      [18] EASO, Europol and Frontex, ‘Occupational health and safety’, 12 August 2019, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/17cc07e0-bd88-11e9-9d01-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-103142015

      [19] Trauma Treatment International, ‘A different approach for victims of trauma’, https://www.tt-intl.org/#our-work-section

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/frontex-launches-game-changing-recruitment-drive-for-standing-corps-of-b
      #gardes_frontières #staff #corps_des_gardes-frontières

    • Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders (27.02.2020)

      Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

      It is not easy to obtain majorities for legislation in the European Union in the area of migration - unless it is a matter of upgrading the EU’s external borders. While the reform of a common EU asylum system has been on hold for years, the European Commission, Parliament and Council agreed to reshape the border agency Frontex with unusual haste shortly before last year’s parliamentary elections. A new Regulation has been in force since December 2019,[1] under which Frontex intends to build up a “standing corps” of 10,000 uniformed officials by 2027. They can be deployed not just at the EU’s external borders, but in ‘third countries’ as well.

      In this way, Frontex will become a “European border police force” with powers that were previously reserved for the member states alone. The core of the new Regulation includes the procurement of the agency’s own equipment. The Multiannual Financial Framework, in which the EU determines the distribution of its financial resources from 2021 until 2027, has not yet been decided. According to current plans, however, at least €6 billion are reserved for Frontex in the seven-year budget. The intention is for Frontex to spend a large part of the money, over €2 billion, on aircraft, ships and vehicles.[2]

      Frontex seeks company for drone flights

      The upgrade plans include the stationing of large drones in the central and eastern Mediterranean. For this purpose, Frontex is looking for a private partner to operate flights off Malta, Italy or Greece. A corresponding tender ended in December[3] and the selection process is currently underway. The unmanned missions could then begin already in spring. Frontex estimates the total cost of these missions at €50 million. The contract has a term of two years and can be extended twice for one year at a time.

      Frontex wants drones of the so-called MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class. Their flight duration should be at least 20 hours. The requirements include the ability to fly in all weather conditions and at day and night. It is also planned to operate in airspace where civil aircraft are in service. For surveillance missions, the drones should carry electro-optical cameras, thermal imaging cameras and so-called “daylight spotter” systems that independently detect moving targets and keep them in focus. Other equipment includes systems for locating mobile and satellite telephones. The drones will also be able to receive signals from emergency call transmitters sewn into modern life jackets.

      However, the Frontex drones will not be used primarily for sea rescue operations, but to improve capacities against unwanted migration. This assumption is also confirmed by the German non-governmental organisation Sea-Watch, which has been providing assistance in the central Mediterranean with various ships since 2015. “Frontex is not concerned with saving lives,” says Ruben Neugebauer of Sea-Watch. “While air surveillance is being expanded with aircraft and drones, ships urgently needed for rescue operations have been withdrawn”. Sea-Watch demands that situation pictures of EU drones are also made available to private organisations for sea rescue.

      Aircraft from arms companies

      Frontex has very specific ideas for its own drones, which is why there are only a few suppliers worldwide that can be called into question. The Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1, which Frontex tested for several months on the Greek island of Crete[4] and which is also flown by the German Bundeswehr, is one of them. As set out by Frontex in its invitation to tender, the Heron 1, with a payload of around 250 kilograms, can carry all the surveillance equipment that the agency intends to deploy over the Mediterranean. Also amongst those likely to be interested in the Frontex contract is the US company General Atomics, which has been building drones of the Predator series for 20 years. Recently, it presented a new Predator model in Greece under the name SeaGuardian, for maritime observation.[5] It is equipped with a maritime surveillance radar and a system for receiving position data from larger ships, thus fulfilling one of Frontex’s essential requirements.

      General Atomics may have a competitive advantage, as its Predator drones have several years’ operational experience in the Mediterranean. In addition to Frontex, the European Union has been active in the central Mediterranean with EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. In March 2019, Italy’s then-interior minister Matteo Salvini pushed through the decision to operate the EU mission from the air alone. Since then, two unarmed Predator drones operated by the Italian military have been flying for EUNAVFOR MED for 60 hours per month. Officially, the drones are to observe from the air whether the training of the Libyan coast guard has been successful and whether these navy personnel use their knowledge accordingly. Presumably, however, the Predators are primarily pursuing the mission’s goal to “combat human smuggling” by spying on the Libyan coast. It is likely that the new Operation EU Active Surveillance, which will use military assets from EU member states to try to enforce the UN arms embargo placed on Libya,[6] will continue to patrol with Italian drones off the coast in North Africa.

      Three EU maritime surveillance agencies

      In addition to Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) are also investing in maritime surveillance using drones. Together, the three agencies coordinate some 300 civil and military authorities in EU member states.[7] Their tasks include border, fisheries and customs control, law enforcement and environmental protection.

      In 2017, Frontex and EMSA signed an agreement to benefit from joint reconnaissance capabilities, with EFCA also involved.[8] At the time, EMSA conducted tests with drones of various sizes, but now the drones’ flights are part of its regular services. The offer is not only open to EU Member States, as Iceland was the first to take advantage of it. Since summer 2019, a long-range Hermes 900 drone built by the Israeli company Elbit Systems has been flying from Iceland’s Egilsstaðir airport. The flights are intended to cover more than half of the island state’s exclusive economic zone and to detect “suspicious activities and potential hazards”.[9]

      The Hermes 900 was also developed for the military; the Israeli army first deployed it in the Gaza Strip in 2014. The Times of Israel puts the cost of the operating contract with EMSA at €59 million,[10] with a term of two years, which can be extended for another two years. The agency did not conclude the contract directly with the Israeli arms company, but through the Portuguese firm CeiiA. The contract covers the stationing, control and mission control of the drones.

      New interested parties for drone flights

      At the request of the German MEP Özlem Demirel (from the party Die Linke), the European Commission has published a list of countries that also want to use EMSA drones.[11] According to this list, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and also Greece have requested unmanned flights for pollution monitoring this year, while Bulgaria and Spain want to use them for general maritime surveillance. Until Frontex has its own drones, EMSA is flying its drones for the border agency on Crete. As in Iceland, this is the long-range drone Hermes 900, but according to Greek media reports it crashed on 8 January during take-off.[12] Possible causes are a malfunction of the propulsion system or human error. The aircraft is said to have been considerably damaged.

      Authorities from France and Great Britain have also ordered unmanned maritime surveillance from EMSA. Nothing is yet known about the exact intended location, but it is presumably the English Channel. There, the British coast guard is already observing border traffic with larger drones built by the Tekever arms company from Portugal.[13] The government in London wants to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel. The drones take off from the airport in the small town of Lydd and monitor the approximately 50-kilometre-long and 30-kilometre-wide Strait of Dover. Great Britain has also delivered several quadcopters to France to try to detect potential migrants in French territorial waters. According to the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais, eight gendarmes have been trained to control the small drones[14].

      Information to non-EU countries

      The images taken by EMSA drones are evaluated by the competent national coastguards. A livestream also sends them to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw.[15] There they are fed into the EUROSUR border surveillance system. This is operated by Frontex and networks the surveillance installations of all EU member states that have an external border. The data from EUROSUR and the national border control centres form the ‘Common Pre-frontier Intelligence Picture’,[16] referring to the area of interest of Frontex, which extends far into the African continent. Surveillance data is used to detect and prevent migration movements at an early stage.

      Once the providing company has been selected, the new Frontex drones are also to fly for EUROSUR. According to the invitation to tender, they are to operate in the eastern and central Mediterranean within a radius of up to 250 nautical miles (463 kilometres). This would enable them to carry out reconnaissance in the “pre-frontier” area off Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Within the framework of EUROSUR, Frontex shares the recorded data with other European users via a ‘Remote Information Portal’, as the call for tender explains. The border agency has long been able to cooperate with third countries and the information collected can therefore also be made available to authorities in North Africa. However, in order to share general information on surveillance of the Mediterranean Sea with a non-EU state, Frontex must first conclude a working agreement with the corresponding government.[17]

      It is already possible, however, to provide countries such as Libya with the coordinates of refugee boats. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that the nearest Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) must be informed of actual or suspected emergencies. With EU funding, Italy has been building such a centre in Tripoli for the last two years.[18] It is operated by the military coast guard, but so far has no significant equipment of its own.

      The EU military mission “EUNAVFOR MED” was cooperating more extensively with the Libyan coast guard. For communication with European naval authorities, Libya is the first third country to be connected to European surveillance systems via the “Seahorse Mediterranean” network[19]. Information handed over to the Libyan authorities might also include information that was collected with the Italian military ‘Predator’ drones.

      Reconnaissance generated with unmanned aerial surveillance is also given to the MRCC in Turkey. This was seen in a pilot project last summer, when the border agency tested an unmanned aerostat with the Greek coast guard off the island of Samos.[20] Attached to a 1,000 metre-long cable, the airship was used in the Frontex operation ‘Poseidon’ in the eastern Mediterranean. The 35-meter-long zeppelin comes from the French manufacturer A-NSE.[21] The company specializes in civil and military aerial observation. According to the Greek Marine Ministry, the equipment included a radar, a thermal imaging camera and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the tracking of larger ships. The recorded videos were received and evaluated by a situation centre supplied by the Portuguese National Guard. If a detected refugee boat was still in Turkish territorial waters, the Greek coast guard informed the Turkish authorities. This pilot project in the Aegean Sea was the first use of an airship by Frontex. The participants deployed comparatively large numbers of personnel for the short mission. Pictures taken by the Greek coastguard show more than 40 people.

      Drones enable ‘pull-backs’

      Human rights organisations accuse EUNAVFOR MED and Frontex of passing on information to neighbouring countries leading to rejections (so-called ‘push-backs’) in violation of international law. People must not be returned to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. Frontex does not itself return refugees in distress who were discovered at sea via aerial surveillance, but leaves the task to the Libyan or Turkish authorities. Regarding Libya, the Agency since 2017 provided notice of at least 42 vessels in distress to Libyan authorities.[22]

      Private rescue organisations therefore speak of so-called ‘pull-backs’, but these are also prohibited, as the Israeli human rights lawyer Omer Shatz argues: “Communicating the location of civilians fleeing war to a consortium of militias and instructing them to intercept and forcibly transfer them back to the place they fled from, trigger both state responsibility of all EU members and individual criminal liability of hundreds involved.” Together with his colleague Juan Branco, Shatz is suing those responsible for the European Union and its agencies before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Soon they intend to publish individual cases and the names of the people accused.

      Matthias Monroy

      An earlier version of this article first appeared in the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique: ‘Drohnen für Frontex Statt sich auf die Rettung von Bootsflüchtlingen im Mittelmeer zu konzentrieren, baut die EU die Luftüberwachung’.

      Note: this article was corrected on 6 March to clarify a point regarding cooperation between Frontex and non-EU states.

      Endnotes

      [1] Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard, https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-33-2019-INIT/en/pdf

      [2] European Commission, ‘A strengthened and fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard’, 12 September 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-factsheet-coast-guard_en.pdf

      [3] ‘Poland-Warsaw: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for Medium Altitude Long Endurance Maritime Aerial Surveillance’, https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:490010-2019:TEXT:EN:HTML&tabId=1

      [4] IAI, ‘IAI AND AIRBUS MARITIME HERON UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEM (UAS) SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED 200 FLIGHT HOURS IN CIVILIAN EUROPEAN AIRSPACE FOR FRONTEX’, 24 October 2018, https://www.iai.co.il/iai-and-airbus-maritime-heron-unmanned-aerial-system-uas-successfully-complet

      [5] ‘ European Maritime Flight Demonstrations’, General Atomics, http://www.ga-asi.com/european-maritime-demo

      [6] ‘EU agrees to deploy warships to enforce Libya arms embargo’, The Guardian, 17 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/17/eu-agrees-deploy-warships-enforce-libya-arms-embargo

      [7] EMSA, ‘Heads of EMSA and Frontex meet to discuss cooperation on European coast guard functions’, 3 April 2019, http://www.emsa.europa.eu/news-a-press-centre/external-news/item/3499-heads-of-emsa-and-frontex-meet-to-discuss-cooperation-on-european-c

      [8] Frontex, ‘Frontex, EMSA and EFCA strengthen cooperation on coast guard functions’, 23 March 2017, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-emsa-and-efca-strengthen-cooperation-on-coast-guard-functions

      [9] Elbit Systems, ‘Elbit Systems Commenced the Operation of the Maritime UAS Patrol Service to European Union Countries’, 18 June 2019, https://elbitsystems.com/pr-new/elbit-systems-commenced-the-operation-of-the-maritime-uas-patrol-servi

      [10] ‘Elbit wins drone contract for up to $68m to help monitor Europe coast’, The Times of Israel, 1 November 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/elbit-wins-drone-contract-for-up-to-68m-to-help-monitor-europe-coast

      [11] ‘Answer given by Ms Bulc on behalf of the European Commission’, https://netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2019/12/E-2946_191_Finalised_reply_Annex1_EN_V1.pdf

      [12] ‘Το drone της FRONTEX έπεσε, οι μετανάστες έρχονται’, Proto Thema, 27 January 2020, https://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/968869/to-drone-tis-frontex-epese-oi-metanastes-erhodai

      [13] Morgan Meaker, ‘Here’s proof the UK is using drones to patrol the English Channel’, Wired, 10 January 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-drones-migrants-english-channel

      [14] ‘Littoral: Les drones pour lutter contre les traversées de migrants sont opérationnels’, La Voix du Nord, 26 March 2019, https://www.lavoixdunord.fr/557951/article/2019-03-26/les-drones-pour-lutter-contre-les-traversees-de-migrants-sont-operation

      [15] ‘Frontex report on the functioning of Eurosur – Part I’, Council document 6215/18, 15 February 2018, http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6215-2018-INIT/en/pdf

      [16] European Commission, ‘Eurosur’, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/eurosur_en

      [17] Legal reforms have also given Frontex the power to operate on the territory of non-EU states, subject to the conclusion of a status agreement between the EU and the country in question. The 2016 Frontex Regulation allowed such cooperation with states that share a border with the EU; the 2019 Frontex Regulation extends this to any non-EU state.

      [18] ‘Helping the Libyan Coast Guard to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre’, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-000547_EN.html

      [19] Matthias Monroy, ‘EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean’, 7 July 2018, https://digit.site36.net/2018/07/03/eu-funds-the-sacking-of-rescue-ships-in-the-mediterranean

      [20] Frontex, ‘Frontex begins testing use of aerostat for border surveillance’, 31 July 2019, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-begins-testing-use-of-aerostat-for-border-surveillance-ur33N8

      [21] ‘Answer given by Ms Johansson on behalf of the European Commission’, 7 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002529-ASW_EN.html

      [22] ‘Answer given by Vice-President Borrell on behalf of the European Commission’, 8 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002654-ASW_EN.html

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/drones-for-frontex-unmanned-migration-control-at-europe-s-borders

      #drones

    • Monitoring “secondary movements” and “hotspots”: Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency (16.12.2019)

      The EU’s border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on “secondary movements” and the “hotspots” within the EU. The intention is to ensure “situational awareness” and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

      The establishment of a new ’standing corps’ of 10,000 border guards to be commanded by EU border agency Frontex has generated significant public and press attention in recent months. However, the new rules governing Frontex[1] include a number of other significant developments - including a mandate for the surveillance of migratory movements and migration “hotspots” within the EU.

      Previously, the agency’s surveillance role has been restricted to the external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or “selected third-country ports.”[2] New legal provisions mean it will now be able to gather data on the movement of people within the EU. While this is only supposed to deal with “trends, volumes and routes,” rather than personal data, it is intended to inform operational activity within the EU.

      This may mean an increase in operations against ‘unauthorised’ migrants, bringing with it risks for fundamental rights such as the possibility of racial profiling, detention, violence and the denial of access to asylum procedures. At the same time, in a context where internal borders have been reintroduced by numerous Schengen states over the last five years due to increased migration, it may be that he agency’s new role contributes to a further prolongation of internal border controls.

      From external to internal surveillance

      Frontex was initially established with the primary goals of assisting in the surveillance and control of the external borders of the EU. Over the years it has obtained increasing powers to conduct surveillance of those borders in order to identify potential ’threats’.

      The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) has a key role in this task, taking data from a variety of sources, including satellites, sensors, drones, ships, vehicles and other means operated both by national authorities and the agency itself. EUROSUR was formally established by legislation approved in 2013, although the system was developed and in use long before it was subject to a legal framework.[3]

      The new Frontex Regulation incorporates and updates the provisions of the 2013 EUROSUR Regulation. It maintains existing requirements for the agency to establish a “situational picture” of the EU’s external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or the ports of non-EU states – which is then distributed to the EU’s member states in order to inform operational activities.[4]

      The new rules also provide a mandate for reporting on “unauthorised secondary movements” and goings-on in the “hotspots”. The Commission’s proposal for the new Frontex Regulation was not accompanied by an impact assessment, which would have set out the reasoning and justifications for these new powers. The proposal merely pointed out that the new rules would “evolve” the scope of EUROSUR, to make it possible to “prevent secondary movements”.[5] As the European Data Protection Supervisor remarked, the lack of an impact assessment made it impossible: “to fully assess and verify its attended benefits and impact, notably on fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy and to the protection of personal data.”[6]

      The term “secondary movements” is not defined in the Regulation, but is generally used to refer to journeys between EU member states undertaken without permission, in particular by undocumented migrants and applicants for internal protection. Regarding the “hotspots” – established and operated by EU and national authorities in Italy and Greece – the Regulation provides a definition,[7] but little clarity on precisely what information will be gathered.

      Legal provisions

      A quick glance at Section 3 of the new Regulation, dealing with EUROSUR, gives little indication that the system will now be used for internal surveillance. The formal scope of EUROSUR is concerned with the external borders and border crossing points:

      “EUROSUR shall be used for border checks at authorised border crossing points and for external land, sea and air border surveillance, including the monitoring, detection, identification, tracking, prevention and interception of unauthorised border crossings for the purpose of detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime and contributing to ensuring the protection and saving the lives of migrants.”

      However, the subsequent section of the Regulation (on ‘situational awareness’) makes clear the agency’s new internal role. Article 24 sets out the components of the “situational pictures” that will be visible in EUROSUR. There are three types – national situational pictures, the European situational picture and specific situational pictures. All of these should consist of an events layer, an operational layer and an analysis layer. The first of these layers should contain (emphasis added in all quotes):

      “…events and incidents related to unauthorised border crossings and cross-border crime and, where available, information on unauthorised secondary movements, for the purpose of understanding migratory trends, volume and routes.”

      Article 26, dealing with the European situational picture, states:

      “The Agency shall establish and maintain a European situational picture in order to provide the national coordination centres and the Commission with effective, accurate and timely information and analysis, covering the external borders, the pre-frontier area and unauthorised secondary movements.”

      The events layer of that picture should include “information relating to… incidents in the operational area of a joint operation or rapid intervention coordinated by the Agency, or in a hotspot.”[8] In a similar vein:

      “The operational layer of the European situational picture shall contain information on the joint operations and rapid interventions coordinated by the Agency and on hotspots, and shall include the mission statements, locations, status, duration, information on the Member States and other actors involved, daily and weekly situational reports, statistical data and information packages for the media.”[9]

      Article 28, dealing with ‘EUROSUR Fusion Services’, says that Frontex will provide national authorities with information on the external borders and pre-frontier area that may be derived from, amongst other things, the monitoring of “migratory flows towards and within the Union in terms of trends, volume and routes.”

      Sources of data

      The “situational pictures” compiled by Frontex and distributed via EUROSUR are made up of data gathered from a host of different sources. For the national situational picture, these are:

      national border surveillance systems;
      stationary and mobile sensors operated by national border agencies;
      border surveillance patrols and “other monitoring missions”;
      local, regional and other coordination centres;
      other national authorities and systems, such as immigration liaison officers, operational centres and contact points;
      border checks;
      Frontex;
      other member states’ national coordination centres;
      third countries’ authorities;
      ship reporting systems;
      other relevant European and international organisations; and
      other sources.[10]

      For the European situational picture, the sources of data are:

      national coordination centres;
      national situational pictures;
      immigration liaison officers;
      Frontex, including reports form its liaison officers;
      Union delegations and EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions;
      other relevant Union bodies, offices and agencies and international organisations; and
      third countries’ authorities.[11]

      The EUROSUR handbook – which will presumably be redrafted to take into account the new legislation – provides more detail about what each of these categories may include.[12]

      Exactly how this melange of different data will be used to report on secondary movements is currently unknown. However, in accordance with Article 24 of the new Regulation:

      “The Commission shall adopt an implementing act laying down the details of the information layers of the situational pictures and the rules for the establishment of specific situational pictures. The implementing act shall specify the type of information to be provided, the entities responsible for collecting, processing, archiving and transmitting specific information, the maximum time limits for reporting, the data security and data protection rules and related quality control mechanisms.” [13]

      This implementing act will specify precisely how EUROSUR will report on “secondary movements”.[14] According to a ‘roadmap’ setting out plans for the implementation of the new Regulation, this implementing act should have been drawn up in the last quarter of 2020 by a newly-established European Border and Coast Guard Committee sitting within the Commission. However, that Committee does not yet appear to have held any meetings.[15]

      Operational activities at the internal borders

      Boosting Frontex’s operational role is one of the major purposes of the new Regulation, although it makes clear that the internal surveillance role “should not lead to operational activities of the Agency at the internal borders of the Member States.” Rather, internal surveillance should “contribute to the monitoring by the Agency of migratory flows towards and within the Union for the purpose of risk analysis and situational awareness.” The purpose is to inform operational activity by national authorities.

      In recent years Schengen member states have reintroduced border controls for significant periods in the name of ensuring internal security and combating irregular migration. An article in Deutsche Welle recently highlighted:

      “When increasing numbers of refugees started arriving in the European Union in 2015, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Hungary quickly reintroduced controls, citing a “continuous big influx of persons seeking international protection.” This was the first time that migration had been mentioned as a reason for reintroducing border controls.

      Soon after, six Schengen members reintroduced controls for extended periods. Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway cited migration as a reason. France, as the sixth country, first introduced border checks after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, citing terrorist threats. Now, four years later, all six countries still have controls in place. On November 12, they are scheduled to extend them for another six months.”[16]

      These long-term extensions of internal border controls are illegal (the upper limit is supposed to be two years; discussions on changes to the rules governing the reintroduction of internal border controls in the Schengen area are ongoing).[17] A European Parliament resolution from May 2018 stated that “many of the prolongations are not in line with the existing rules as to their extensions, necessity or proportionality and are therefore unlawful.”[18] Yves Pascou, a researcher for the European Policy Centre, told Deutsche Welle that: “"We are in an entirely political situation now, not a legal one, and not one grounded in facts.”

      A European Parliament study published in 2016 highlighted that:

      “there has been a noticeable lack of detail and evidence given by the concerned EU Member States [those which reintroduced internal border controls]. For example, there have been no statistics on the numbers of people crossing borders and seeking asylum, or assessment of the extent to which reintroducing border checks complies with the principles of proportionality and necessity.”[19]

      One purpose of Frontex’s new internal surveillance powers is to provide such evidence (albeit in the ideologically-skewed form of ‘risk analysis’) on the situation within the EU. Whether the information provided will be of interest to national authorities is another question. Nevertheless, it would be a significant irony if the provision of that information were to contribute to the further maintenance of internal borders in the Schengen area.

      At the same time, there is a more pressing concern related to these new powers. Many discussions on the reintroduction of internal borders revolve around the fact that it is contrary to the idea, spirit (and in these cases, the law) of the Schengen area. What appears to have been totally overlooked is the effect the reintroduction of internal borders may have on non-EU nationals or ethnic minority citizens of the EU. One does not have to cross an internal Schengen frontier too many times to notice patterns in the appearance of the people who are hauled off trains and buses by border guards, but personal anecdotes are not the same thing as empirical investigation. If Frontex’s new powers are intended to inform operational activity by the member states at the internal borders of the EU, then the potential effects on fundamental rights must be taken into consideration and should be the subject of investigation by journalists, officials, politicians and researchers.

      Chris Jones

      Endnotes

      [1] The new Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU in mid-November: Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [2] Article 12, ‘Common application of surveillance tools’, Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013R1052

      [3] According to Frontex, the Eurosur Network first came into use in December 2011 and in March 2012 was first used to “exchange operational information”. The Regulation governing the system came into force in October 2013 (see footnote 2). See: Charles Heller and Chris Jones, ‘Eurosur: saving lives or reinforcing deadly borders?’, Statewatch Journal, vol. 23 no. 3/4, February 2014, http://database.statewatch.org/article.asp?aid=33156

      [4] Recital 34, 2019 Regulation: “EUROSUR should provide an exhaustive situational picture not only at the external borders but also within the Schengen area and in the pre-frontier area. It should cover land, sea and air border surveillance and border checks.”

      [5] European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Council Joint Action no 98/700/JHA, Regulation (EU) no 1052/2013 and Regulation (EU) no 2016/1624’, COM(2018) 631 final, 12 September 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/sep/eu-com-frontex-proposal-regulation-com-18-631.pdf

      [6] EDPS, ‘Formal comments on the Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard’, 30 November 2018, p. p.2, https://edps.europa.eu/sites/edp/files/publication/18-11-30_comments_proposal_regulation_european_border_coast_guard_en.pdf

      [7] Article 2(23): “‘hotspot area’ means an area created at the request of the host Member State in which the host Member State, the Commission, relevant Union agencies and participating Member States cooperate, with the aim of managing an existing or potential disproportionate migratory challenge characterised by a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving at the external borders”

      [8] Article 26(3)(c), 2019 Regulation

      [9] Article 26(4), 2019 Regulation

      [10] Article 25, 2019 Regulation

      [11] Article 26, 2019 Regulation

      [12] European Commission, ‘Commission Recommendation adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)’, C(2015) 9206 final, 15 December 2015, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/securing-eu-borders/legal-documents/docs/eurosur_handbook_annex_en.pdf

      [13] Article 24(3), 2019 Regulation

      [14] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [15] Documents related to meetings of committees operating under the auspices of the European Commission can be found in the Comitology Register: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regcomitology/index.cfm?do=Search.Search&NewSearch=1

      [16] Kira Schacht, ‘Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement’, DW, 12 November 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/border-checks-in-eu-countries-challenge-schengen-agreement/a-51033603

      [17] European Parliament, ‘Temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders’, https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2017/0245(COD)&l=en

      [18] ‘Report on the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area’, 3 May 2018, para.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2018-0160_EN.html

      [19] Elpseth Guild et al, ‘Internal border controls in the Schengen area: is Schengen crisis-proof?’, European Parliament, June 2016, p.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571356/IPOL_STU(2016)571356_EN.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2019/monitoring-secondary-movements-and-hotspots-frontex-is-now-an-internal-s

      #mouvements_secondaires #hotspot #hotspots

  • EU pays for surveillance in Gulf of Tunis

    A new monitoring system for Tunisian coasts should counter irregular migration across the Mediterranean. The German Ministry of the Interior is also active in the country. A similar project in Libya has now been completed. Human rights organisations see it as an aid to „#pull_backs“ contrary to international law.

    In order to control and prevent migration, the European Union is supporting North African states in border surveillance. The central Mediterranean Sea off Malta and Italy, through which asylum seekers from Libya and Tunisia want to reach Europe, plays a special role. The EU conducts various operations in and off these countries, including the military mission „#Irini“ and the #Frontex mission „#Themis“. It is becoming increasingly rare for shipwrecked refugees to be rescued by EU Member States. Instead, they assist the coast guards in Libya and Tunisia to bring the people back. Human rights groups, rescue organisations and lawyers consider this assistance for „pull backs“ to be in violation of international law.

    With several measures, the EU and its member states want to improve the surveillance off North Africa. Together with Switzerland, the EU Commission has financed a two-part „#Integrated_Border_Management Project“ in Tunisia. It is part of the reform of the security sector which was begun a few years after the fall of former head of state Ben Ali in 2011. With one pillar of this this programme, the EU wants to „prevent criminal networks from operating“ and enable the authorities in the Gulf of Tunis to „save lives at sea“.

    System for military and border police

    The new installation is entitled „#Integrated_System_for_Maritime_Surveillance“ (#ISMariS) and, according to the Commission (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2020-000891-ASW_EN.html), is intended to bring together as much information as possible from all authorities involved in maritime and coastal security tasks. These include the Ministry of Defence with the Navy, the Coast Guard under the Ministry of the Interior, the National Guard, and IT management and telecommunications authorities. The money comes from the #EU_Emergency_Trust_Fund_for_Africa, which was established at the Valletta Migration Summit in 2015. „ISMariS“ is implemented by the Italian Ministry of the Interior and follows on from an earlier Italian initiative. The EU is financing similar projects with „#EU4BorderSecurity“ not only in Tunisia but also for other Mediterranean countries.

    An institute based in Vienna is responsible for border control projects in Tunisia. Although this #International_Centre_for_Migration_Policy_Development (ICMPD) was founded in 1993 by Austria and Switzerland, it is not a governmental organisation. The German Foreign Office has also supported projects in Tunisia within the framework of the #ICMPD, including the establishment of border stations and the training of border guards. Last month German finally joined the Institute itself (https://www.andrej-hunko.de/start/download/dokumente/1493-deutscher-beitritt-zum-international-centre-for-migration-policy-development/file). For an annual contribution of 210,000 euro, the Ministry of the Interior not only obtains decision-making privileges for organizing ICMPD projects, but also gives German police authorities the right to evaluate any of the Institute’s analyses for their own purposes.

    It is possible that in the future bilateral German projects for monitoring Tunisian maritime borders will also be carried out via the ICMPD. Last year, the German government supplied the local coast guard with equipment for a boat workshop. In the fourth quarter of 2019 alone (http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/19/194/1919467.pdf), the Federal Police carried out 14 trainings for the national guard, border police and coast guard, including instruction in operating „control boats“. Tunisia previously received patrol boats from Italy and the USA (https://migration-control.info/en/wiki/tunisia).

    Vessel tracking and coastal surveillance

    It is unclear which company produced and installed the „ISMariS“ surveillance system for Tunisia on behalf of the ICPMD. Similar facilities for tracking and displaying ship movements (#Vessel_Tracking_System) are marketed by all major European defence companies, including #Airbus, #Leonardo in Italy, #Thales in France and #Indra in Spain. However, Italian project management will probably prefer local companies such as Leonardo. The company and its spin-off #e-GEOS have a broad portfolio of maritime surveillance systems (https://www.leonardocompany.com/en/sea/maritime-domain-awareness/coastal-surveillance-systems).

    It is also possible to integrate satellite reconnaissance, but for this the governments must conclude further contracts with the companies. However, „ISMariS“ will not only be installed as a Vessel Tracking System, it should also enable monitoring of the entire coast. Manufacturers promote such #Coastal_Surveillance_Systems as a technology against irregular migration, piracy, terrorism and smuggling. The government in Tunisia has defined „priority coastal areas“ for this purpose, which will be integrated into the maritime surveillance framework.

    Maritime „#Big_Data

    „ISMariS“ is intended to be compatible with the components already in place at the Tunisian authorities, including coastguard command and control systems, #radar, position transponders and receivers, night vision equipment and thermal and optical sensors. Part of the project is a three-year maintenance contract with the company installing the „ISMariS“.

    Perhaps the most important component of „ISMariS“ for the EU is a communication system, which is also included. It is designed to improve „operational cooperation“ between the Tunisian Coast Guard and Navy with Italy and other EU Member States. The project description mentions Frontex and EUROSUR, the pan-European surveillance system of the EU Border Agency, as possible participants. Frontex already monitors the coastal regions off Libya and Tunisia (https://insitu.copernicus.eu/FactSheets/CSS_Border_Surveillance) using #satellites (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-003212-ASW_EN.html) and an aerial service (https://digit.site36.net/2020/06/26/frontex-air-service-reconnaissance-for-the-so-called-libyan-coast-guar).

    #EUROSUR is now also being upgraded, Frontex is spending 2.6 million Euro (https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:109760-2020:TEXT:EN:HTML) on a new application based on artificial intelligence. It is to process so-called „Big Data“, including not only ship movements but also data from ship and port registers, information on ship owners and shipping companies, a multi-year record of previous routes of large ships and other maritime information from public sources on the Internet. The contract is initially concluded for one year and can be extended up to three times.

    Cooperation with Libya

    To connect North African coastguards to EU systems, the EU Commission had started the „#Seahorse_Mediterranean“ project two years after the fall of North African despots. To combat irregular migration, from 2013 onwards Spain, Italy and Malta have trained a total of 141 members of the Libyan coast guard for sea rescue. In this way, „Seahorse Mediterranean“ has complemented similar training measures that Frontex is conducting for the Coastal Police within the framework of the EU mission #EUBAM_Libya and the military mission #EUNAVFOR_MED for the Coast Guard of the Tripolis government.

    The budget for „#Seahorse_Mediterranean“ is indicated by the Commission as 5.5 million Euro (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2020-000892-ASW_EN.html), the project was completed in January 2019. According to the German Foreign Office (http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/19/196/1919625.pdf), Libya has signed a partnership declaration for participation in a future common communication platform for surveillance of the Mediterranean. Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt are also to be persuaded to participate. So far, however, the governments have preferred unilateral EU support for equipping and training their coastguards and navies, without having to make commitments in projects like „Seahorse“, such as stopping migration and smuggling on the high seas.

    https://digit.site36.net/2020/06/28/eu-pays-for-surveillance-in-gulf-of-tunis

    #Golfe_de_Tunis #surveillance #Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #militarisation_des_frontières #surveillance_des_frontières #Tunisie #externalisation #complexe_militaro-industriel #Algérie #Egypte #Suisse #EU #UE #Union_européenne #Trust_Fund #Emergency_Trust_Fund_for_Africa #Allemagne #Italie #gardes-côtes #gardes-côtes_tunisiens #intelligence_artificielle #IA #données #Espagne #Malte #business

    ping @reka @isskein @_kg_ @rhoumour @karine4

    –—

    Ajouté à cette métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message765330

    Et celle-ci sur le lien entre développement et contrôles frontaliers :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/733358#message768701

  • Appel à l’annulation d’un contrat entre l’#UE et des entreprises israéliennes pour la surveillance des migrants par drones

    Les contrats de l’UE de 59 millions d’euros avec des entreprises militaires israélienne pour s’équiper en drones de guerre afin de surveiller les demandeurs d’asile en mer sont immoraux et d’une légalité douteuse.
    L’achat de #drones_israéliens par l’UE encourage les violations des droits de l’homme en Palestine occupée, tandis que l’utilisation abusive de tout drone pour intercepter les migrants et les demandeurs d’asile entraînerait de graves violations en Méditerranée, a déclaré aujourd’hui Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor dans un communiqué.
    L’UE devrait immédiatement résilier ces #contrats et s’abstenir d’utiliser des drones contre les demandeurs d’asile, en particulier la pratique consistant à renvoyer ces personnes en #Libye, entravant ainsi leur quête de sécurité.

    L’année dernière, l’Agence européenne des garde-frontières et des garde-côtes basée à Varsovie, #Frontex, et l’Agence européenne de sécurité maritime basée à Lisbonne, #EMSA, ont investi plus de 100 millions d’euros dans trois contrats pour des drones sans pilote. De plus, environ 59 millions d’euros des récents contrats de drones de l’UE auraient été accordés à deux sociétés militaires israéliennes : #Elbit_Systems et #Israel_Aerospace_Industries, #IAI.

    L’un des drones que Frontex a obtenu sous contrat est le #Hermes_900 d’Elbit, qui a été expérimenté sur la population mise en cage dans la #bande_de_Gaza assiégée lors de l’#opération_Bordure_protectrice de 2014. Cela montre l’#investissement de l’UE dans des équipements israéliens dont la valeur a été démontrée par son utilisation dans le cadre de l’oppression du peuple palestinien et de l’occupation de son territoire. Ces achats de drones seront perçus comme soutenant et encourageant une telle utilisation expérimentale de la #technologie_militaire par le régime répressif israélien.

    « Il est scandaleux pour l’UE d’acheter des drones à des fabricants de drones israéliens compte tenu des moyens répressifs et illégaux utilisés pour opprimer les Palestiniens vivant sous occupation depuis plus de cinquante ans », a déclaré le professeur Richard Falk, président du conseil d’administration d’Euromed-Monitor.

    Il est également inacceptable et inhumain pour l’UE d’utiliser des drones, quelle que soit la manière dont ils ont été obtenus pour violer les droits fondamentaux des migrants risquant leur vie en mer pour demander l’asile en Europe.

    Les contrats de drones de l’UE soulèvent une autre préoccupation sérieuse car l’opération Sophia ayant pris fin le 31 mars 2020, la prochaine #opération_Irini a l’intention d’utiliser ces drones militaires pour surveiller et fournir des renseignements sur les déplacements des demandeurs d’asile en #mer_Méditerranée, et cela sans fournir de protocoles de sauvetage aux personnes exposées à des dangers mortels en mer. Surtout si l’on considère qu’en 2019 le #taux_de_mortalité des demandeurs d’asile essayant de traverser la Méditerranée a augmenté de façon spectaculaire, passant de 2% en moyenne à 14%.

    L’opération Sophia utilise des navires pour patrouiller en Méditerranée, conformément au droit international, et pour aider les navires en détresse. Par exemple, la Convention des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer (CNUDM) stipule que tous les navires sont tenus de signaler une rencontre avec un navire en détresse et, en outre, de proposer une assistance, y compris un sauvetage. Étant donné que les drones ne transportent pas d’équipement de sauvetage et ne sont pas régis par la CNUDM, il est nécessaire de s’appuyer sur les orientations du droit international des droits de l’homme et du droit international coutumier pour guider le comportement des gouvernements.

    Euro-Med Monitor craint que le passage imminent de l’UE à l’utilisation de drones plutôt que de navires en mer Méditerranée soit une tentative de contourner le #droit_international et de ne pas respecter les directives de l’UE visant à sauver la vie des personnes isolées en mer en situation critique. Le déploiement de drones, comme proposé, montre la détermination de l’UE à dissuader les demandeurs d’asile de chercher un abri sûr en Europe en facilitant leur capture en mer par les #gardes-côtes_libyens. Cette pratique reviendrait à aider et à encourager la persécution des demandeurs d’asile dans les fameux camps de détention libyens, où les pratiques de torture, d’esclavage et d’abus sexuels sont très répandues.

    En novembre 2019, l’#Italie a confirmé qu’un drone militaire appartenant à son armée s’était écrasé en Libye alors qu’il était en mission pour freiner les passages maritimes des migrants. Cela soulève de sérieuses questions quant à savoir si des opérations de drones similaires sont menées discrètement sous les auspices de l’UE.

    L’UE devrait décourager les violations des droits de l’homme contre les Palestiniens en s’abstenant d’acheter du matériel militaire israélien utilisé dans les territoires palestiniens occupés. Elle devrait plus généralement s’abstenir d’utiliser des drones militaires contre les demandeurs d’asile civils et, au lieu de cela, respecter ses obligations en vertu du droit international en offrant un refuge sûr aux réfugiés.

    Euro-Med Monitor souligne que même en cas d’utilisation de drones, les opérateurs de drones de l’UE sont tenus, en vertu du droit international, de respecter les #droits_fondamentaux à la vie, à la liberté et à la sécurité de tout bateau de migrants en danger qu’ils rencontrent. Les opérateurs sont tenus de signaler immédiatement tout incident aux autorités compétentes et de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour garantir que les opérations de recherche et de sauvetage soient menées au profit des migrants en danger.

    L’UE devrait en outre imposer des mesures de #transparence et de #responsabilité plus strictes sur les pratiques de Frontex, notamment en créant un comité de contrôle indépendant pour enquêter sur toute violation commise et prévenir de futures transgressions. Enfin, l’UE devrait empêcher l’extradition ou l’expulsion des demandeurs d’asile vers la Libye – où leur vie serait gravement menacée – et mettre fin à la pratique des garde-côtes libyens qui consiste à arrêter et capturer des migrants en mer.

    http://www.france-palestine.org/Appel-a-l-annulation-d-un-contrat-entre-l-UE-et-des-entreprises-is
    #Europe #EU #drones #Israël #surveillance #drones #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Méditerranée #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #armée #droits_humains #sauvetage

    ping @etraces @reka @nepthys @isskein @karine4

  • Monitoring being pitched to fight Covid-19 was tested on refugees

    The pandemic has given a boost to controversial data-driven initiatives to track population movements

    In Italy, social media monitoring companies have been scouring Instagram to see who’s breaking the nationwide lockdown. In Israel, the government has made plans to “sift through geolocation data” collected by the Shin Bet intelligence agency and text people who have been in contact with an infected person. And in the UK, the government has asked mobile operators to share phone users’ aggregate location data to “help to predict broadly how the virus might move”.

    These efforts are just the most visible tip of a rapidly evolving industry combining the exploitation of data from the internet and mobile phones and the increasing number of sensors embedded on Earth and in space. Data scientists are intrigued by the new possibilities for behavioural prediction that such data offers. But they are also coming to terms with the complexity of actually using these data sets, and the ethical and practical problems that lurk within them.

    In the wake of the refugee crisis of 2015, tech companies and research consortiums pushed to develop projects using new data sources to predict movements of migrants into Europe. These ranged from broad efforts to extract intelligence from public social media profiles by hand, to more complex automated manipulation of big data sets through image recognition and machine learning. Two recent efforts have just been shut down, however, and others are yet to produce operational results.

    While IT companies and some areas of the humanitarian sector have applauded new possibilities, critics cite human rights concerns, or point to limitations in what such technological solutions can actually achieve.

    In September last year Frontex, the European border security agency, published a tender for “social media analysis services concerning irregular migration trends and forecasts”. The agency was offering the winning bidder up to €400,000 for “improved risk analysis regarding future irregular migratory movements” and support of Frontex’s anti-immigration operations.

    Frontex “wants to embrace” opportunities arising from the rapid growth of social media platforms, a contracting document outlined. The border agency believes that social media interactions drastically change the way people plan their routes, and thus examining would-be migrants’ online behaviour could help it get ahead of the curve, since these interactions typically occur “well before persons reach the external borders of the EU”.

    Frontex asked bidders to develop lists of key words that could be mined from platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The winning company would produce a monthly report containing “predictive intelligence ... of irregular flows”.

    Early this year, however, Frontex cancelled the opportunity. It followed swiftly on from another shutdown; Frontex’s sister agency, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), had fallen foul of the European data protection watchdog, the EDPS, for searching social media content from would-be migrants.

    The EASO had been using the data to flag “shifts in asylum and migration routes, smuggling offers and the discourse among social media community users on key issues – flights, human trafficking and asylum systems/processes”. The search covered a broad range of languages, including Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Urdu, Tigrinya, Amharic, Edo, Pidgin English, Russian, Kurmanji Kurdish, Hausa and French.

    Although the EASO’s mission, as its name suggests, is centred around support for the asylum system, its reports were widely circulated, including to organisations that attempt to limit illegal immigration – Europol, Interpol, member states and Frontex itself.

    In shutting down the EASO’s social media monitoring project, the watchdog cited numerous concerns about process, the impact on fundamental rights and the lack of a legal basis for the work.

    “This processing operation concerns a vast number of social media users,” the EDPS pointed out. Because EASO’s reports are read by border security forces, there was a significant risk that data shared by asylum seekers to help others travel safely to Europe could instead be unfairly used against them without their knowledge.

    Social media monitoring “poses high risks to individuals’ rights and freedoms,” the regulator concluded in an assessment it delivered last November. “It involves the use of personal data in a way that goes beyond their initial purpose, their initial context of publication and in ways that individuals could not reasonably anticipate. This may have a chilling effect on people’s ability and willingness to express themselves and form relationships freely.”

    EASO told the Bureau that the ban had “negative consequences” on “the ability of EU member states to adapt the preparedness, and increase the effectiveness, of their asylum systems” and also noted a “potential harmful impact on the safety of migrants and asylum seekers”.

    Frontex said that its social media analysis tender was cancelled after new European border regulations came into force, but added that it was considering modifying the tender in response to these rules.
    Coronavirus

    Drug shortages put worst-hit Covid-19 patients at risk
    European doctors running low on drugs needed to treat Covid-19 patients
    Big Tobacco criticised for ’coronavirus publicity stunt’ after donating ventilators

    The two shutdowns represented a stumbling block for efforts to track population movements via new technologies and sources of data. But the public health crisis precipitated by the Covid-19 virus has brought such efforts abruptly to wider attention. In doing so it has cast a spotlight on a complex knot of issues. What information is personal, and legally protected? How does that protection work? What do concepts like anonymisation, privacy and consent mean in an age of big data?
    The shape of things to come

    International humanitarian organisations have long been interested in whether they can use nontraditional data sources to help plan disaster responses. As they often operate in inaccessible regions with little available or accurate official data about population sizes and movements, they can benefit from using new big data sources to estimate how many people are moving where. In particular, as well as using social media, recent efforts have sought to combine insights from mobile phones – a vital possession for a refugee or disaster survivor – with images generated by “Earth observation” satellites.

    “Mobiles, satellites and social media are the holy trinity of movement prediction,” said Linnet Taylor, professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society in the Netherlands, who has been studying the privacy implications of such new data sources. “It’s the shape of things to come.”

    As the devastating impact of the Syrian civil war worsened in 2015, Europe saw itself in crisis. Refugee movements dominated the headlines and while some countries, notably Germany, opened up to more arrivals than usual, others shut down. European agencies and tech companies started to team up with a new offering: a migration hotspot predictor.

    Controversially, they were importing a concept drawn from distant catastrophe zones into decision-making on what should happen within the borders of the EU.

    “Here’s the heart of the matter,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who focuses on the security implications of information communication technologies for vulnerable populations. “In ungoverned frontier cases [European data protection law] doesn’t apply. Use of these technologies might be ethically safer there, and in any case it’s the only thing that is available. When you enter governed space, data volume and ease of manipulation go up. Putting this technology to work in the EU is a total inversion.”
    “Mobiles, satellites and social media are the holy trinity of movement prediction”

    Justin Ginnetti, head of data and analysis at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Switzerland, made a similar point. His organisation monitors movements to help humanitarian groups provide food, shelter and aid to those forced from their homes, but he casts a skeptical eye on governments using the same technology in the context of migration.

    “Many governments – within the EU and elsewhere – are very interested in these technologies, for reasons that are not the same as ours,” he told the Bureau. He called such technologies “a nuclear fly swatter,” adding: “The key question is: What problem are you really trying to solve with it? For many governments, it’s not preparing to ‘better respond to inflow of people’ – it’s raising red flags, to identify those en route and prevent them from arriving.”
    Eye in the sky

    A key player in marketing this concept was the European Space Agency (ESA) – an organisation based in Paris, with a major spaceport in French Guiana. The ESA’s pitch was to combine its space assets with other people’s data. “Could you be leveraging space technology and data for the benefit of life on Earth?” a recent presentation from the organisation on “disruptive smart technologies” asked. “We’ll work together to make your idea commercially viable.”

    By 2016, technologists at the ESA had spotted an opportunity. “Europe is being confronted with the most significant influxes of migrants and refugees in its history,” a presentation for their Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems Programme stated. “One burning issue is the lack of timely information on migration trends, flows and rates. Big data applications have been recognised as a potentially powerful tool.” It decided to assess how it could harness such data.

    The ESA reached out to various European agencies, including EASO and Frontex, to offer a stake in what it called “big data applications to boost preparedness and response to migration”. The space agency would fund initial feasibility stages, but wanted any operational work to be jointly funded.

    One such feasibility study was carried out by GMV, a privately owned tech group covering banking, defence, health, telecommunications and satellites. GMV announced in a press release in August 2017 that the study would “assess the added value of big data solutions in the migration sector, namely the reduction of safety risks for migrants, the enhancement of border controls, as well as prevention and response to security issues related with unexpected migration movements”. It would do this by integrating “multiple space assets” with other sources including mobile phones and social media.

    When contacted by the Bureau, a spokeswoman from GMV said that, contrary to the press release, “nothing in the feasibility study related to the enhancement of border controls”.

    In the same year, the technology multinational CGI teamed up with the Dutch Statistics Office to explore similar questions. They started by looking at data around asylum flows from Syria and at how satellite images and social media could indicate changes in migration patterns in Niger, a key route into Europe. Following this experiment, they approached EASO in October 2017. CGI’s presentation of the work noted that at the time EASO was looking for a social media analysis tool that could monitor Facebook groups, predict arrivals of migrants at EU borders, and determine the number of “hotspots” and migrant shelters. CGI pitched a combined project, co-funded by the ESA, to start in 2019 and expand to serve more organisations in 2020.
    The proposal was to identify “hotspot activities”, using phone data to group individuals “according to where they spend the night”

    The idea was called Migration Radar 2.0. The ESA wrote that “analysing social media data allows for better understanding of the behaviour and sentiments of crowds at a particular geographic location and a specific moment in time, which can be indicators of possible migration movements in the immediate future”. Combined with continuous monitoring from space, the result would be an “early warning system” that offered potential future movements and routes, “as well as information about the composition of people in terms of origin, age, gender”.

    Internal notes released by EASO to the Bureau show the sheer range of companies trying to get a slice of the action. The agency had considered offers of services not only from the ESA, GMV, the Dutch Statistics Office and CGI, but also from BIP, a consulting firm, the aerospace group Thales Alenia, the geoinformation specialist EGEOS and Vodafone.

    Some of the pitches were better received than others. An EASO analyst who took notes on the various proposals remarked that “most oversell a bit”. They went on: “Some claimed they could trace GSM [ie mobile networks] but then clarified they could do it for Venezuelans only, and maybe one or two countries in Africa.” Financial implications were not always clearly provided. On the other hand, the official noted, the ESA and its consortium would pay 80% of costs and “we can get collaboration on something we plan to do anyway”.

    The features on offer included automatic alerts, a social media timeline, sentiment analysis, “animated bubbles with asylum applications from countries of origin over time”, the detection and monitoring of smuggling sites, hotspot maps, change detection and border monitoring.

    The document notes a group of services available from Vodafone, for example, in the context of a proposed project to monitor asylum centres in Italy. The proposal was to identify “hotspot activities”, using phone data to group individuals either by nationality or “according to where they spend the night”, and also to test if their movements into the country from abroad could be back-tracked. A tentative estimate for the cost of a pilot project, spread over four municipalities, came to €250,000 – of which an unspecified amount was for “regulatory (privacy) issues”.

    Stumbling blocks

    Elsewhere, efforts to harness social media data for similar purposes were proving problematic. A September 2017 UN study tried to establish whether analysing social media posts, specifically on Twitter, “could provide insights into ... altered routes, or the conversations PoC [“persons of concern”] are having with service providers, including smugglers”. The hypothesis was that this could “better inform the orientation of resource allocations, and advocacy efforts” - but the study was unable to conclude either way, after failing to identify enough relevant data on Twitter.

    The ESA pressed ahead, with four feasibility studies concluding in 2018 and 2019. The Migration Radar project produced a dashboard that showcased the use of satellite imagery for automatically detecting changes in temporary settlement, as well as tools to analyse sentiment on social media. The prototype received positive reviews, its backers wrote, encouraging them to keep developing the product.

    CGI was effusive about the predictive power of its technology, which could automatically detect “groups of people, traces of trucks at unexpected places, tent camps, waste heaps and boats” while offering insight into “the sentiments of migrants at certain moments” and “information that is shared about routes and motives for taking certain routes”. Armed with this data, the company argued that it could create a service which could predict the possible outcomes of migration movements before they happened.

    The ESA’s other “big data applications” study had identified a demand among EU agencies and other potential customers for predictive analyses to ensure “preparedness” and alert systems for migration events. A package of services was proposed, using data drawn from social media and satellites.

    Both projects were slated to evolve into a second, operational phase. But this seems to have never become reality. CGI told the Bureau that “since the completion of the [Migration Radar] project, we have not carried out any extra activities in this domain”.

    The ESA told the Bureau that its studies had “confirmed the usefulness” of combining space technology and big data for monitoring migration movements. The agency added that its corporate partners were working on follow-on projects despite “internal delays”.

    EASO itself told the Bureau that it “took a decision not to get involved” in the various proposals it had received.

    Specialists found a “striking absence” of agreed upon core principles when using the new technologies

    But even as these efforts slowed, others have been pursuing similar goals. The European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography has proposed a “Big Data for Migration Alliance” to address data access, security and ethics concerns. A new partnership between the ESA and GMV – “Bigmig" – aims to support “migration management and prevention” through a combination of satellite observation and machine-learning techniques (the company emphasised to the Bureau that its focus was humanitarian). And a consortium of universities and private sector partners – GMV among them – has just launched a €3 million EU-funded project, named Hummingbird, to improve predictions of migration patterns, including through analysing phone call records, satellite imagery and social media.

    At a conference in Berlin in October 2019, dozens of specialists from academia, government and the humanitarian sector debated the use of these new technologies for “forecasting human mobility in contexts of crises”. Their conclusions raised numerous red flags. They found a “striking absence” of agreed upon core principles. It was hard to balance the potential good with ethical concerns, because the most useful data tended to be more specific, leading to greater risks of misuse and even, in the worst case scenario, weaponisation of the data. Partnerships with corporations introduced transparency complications. Communication of predictive findings to decision makers, and particularly the “miscommunication of the scope and limitations associated with such findings”, was identified as a particular problem.

    The full consequences of relying on artificial intelligence and “employing large scale, automated, and combined analysis of datasets of different sources” to predict movements in a crisis could not be foreseen, the workshop report concluded. “Humanitarian and political actors who base their decisions on such analytics must therefore carefully reflect on the potential risks.”

    A fresh crisis

    Until recently, discussion of such risks remained mostly confined to scientific papers and NGO workshops. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought it crashing into the mainstream.

    Some see critical advantages to using call data records to trace movements and map the spread of the virus. “Using our mobile technology, we have the potential to build models that help to predict broadly how the virus might move,” an O2 spokesperson said in March. But others believe that it is too late for this to be useful. The UK’s chief scientific officer, Patrick Vallance, told a press conference in March that using this type of data “would have been a good idea in January”.

    Like the 2015 refugee crisis, the global emergency offers an opportunity for industry to get ahead of the curve with innovative uses of big data. At a summit in Downing Street on 11 March, Dominic Cummings asked tech firms “what [they] could bring to the table” to help the fight against Covid-19.

    Human rights advocates worry about the longer term effects of such efforts, however. “Right now, we’re seeing states around the world roll out powerful new surveillance measures and strike up hasty partnerships with tech companies,” Anna Bacciarelli, a technology researcher at Amnesty International, told the Bureau. “While states must act to protect people in this pandemic, it is vital that we ensure that invasive surveillance measures do not become normalised and permanent, beyond their emergency status.”

    More creative methods of surveillance and prediction are not necessarily answering the right question, others warn.

    “The single largest determinant of Covid-19 mortality is healthcare system capacity,” said Sean McDonald, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, who studied the use of phone data in the west African Ebola outbreak of 2014-5. “But governments are focusing on the pandemic as a problem of people management rather than a problem of building response capacity. More broadly, there is nowhere near enough proof that the science or math underlying the technologies being deployed meaningfully contribute to controlling the virus at all.”

    Legally, this type of data processing raises complicated questions. While European data protection law - the GDPR - generally prohibits processing of “special categories of personal data”, including ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation, biometrics and health, it allows such processing in a number of instances (among them public health emergencies). In the case of refugee movement prediction, there are signs that the law is cracking at the seams.
    “There is nowhere near enough proof that the science or math underlying the technologies being deployed meaningfully contribute to controlling the virus at all.”

    Under GDPR, researchers are supposed to make “impact assessments” of how their data processing can affect fundamental rights. If they find potential for concern they should consult their national information commissioner. There is no simple way to know whether such assessments have been produced, however, or whether they were thoroughly carried out.

    Researchers engaged with crunching mobile phone data point to anonymisation and aggregation as effective tools for ensuring privacy is maintained. But the solution is not straightforward, either technically or legally.

    “If telcos are using individual call records or location data to provide intel on the whereabouts, movements or activities of migrants and refugees, they still need a legal basis to use that data for that purpose in the first place – even if the final intelligence report itself does not contain any personal data,” said Ben Hayes, director of AWO, a data rights law firm and consultancy. “The more likely it is that the people concerned may be identified or affected, the more serious this matter becomes.”

    More broadly, experts worry that, faced with the potential of big data technology to illuminate movements of groups of people, the law’s provisions on privacy begin to seem outdated.

    “We’re paying more attention now to privacy under its traditional definition,” Nathaniel Raymond said. “But privacy is not the same as group legibility.” Simply put, while issues around the sensitivity of personal data can be obvious, the combinations of seemingly unrelated data that offer insights about what small groups of people are doing can be hard to foresee, and hard to mitigate. Raymond argues that the concept of privacy as enshrined in the newly minted data protection law is anachronistic. As he puts it, “GDPR is already dead, stuffed and mounted. We’re increasing vulnerability under the colour of law.”

    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2020-04-28/monitoring-being-pitched-to-fight-covid-19-was-first-tested-o
    #cobaye #surveillance #réfugiés #covid-19 #coronavirus #test #smartphone #téléphones_portables #Frontex #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Shin_Bet #internet #big_data #droits_humains #réseaux_sociaux #intelligence_prédictive #European_Asylum_Support_Office (#EASO) #EDPS #protection_des_données #humanitaire #images_satellites #technologie #European_Space_Agency (#ESA) #GMV #CGI #Niger #Facebook #Migration_Radar_2.0 #early_warning_system #BIP #Thales_Alenia #EGEOS #complexe_militaro-industriel #Vodafone #GSM #Italie #twitter #détection #routes_migratoires #systèmes_d'alerte #satellites #Knowledge_Centre_on_Migration_and_Demography #Big_Data for_Migration_Alliance #Bigmig #machine-learning #Hummingbird #weaponisation_of_the_data #IA #intelligence_artificielle #données_personnelles

    ping @etraces @isskein @karine4 @reka

    signalé ici par @sinehebdo :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/849167

  • Non aux drones tueurs israéliens pour contrôler les #frontières_européennes

    A l’occasion de la journée de la Terre et des 2 ans du début de la Grande Marche du Retour à Gaza, une large coalition européenne d’ONG, syndicats, associations de migrants etc. lancent ce lundi 30 mars une pétition pour dire STOP aux #drones_israéliens pour surveiller les frontières de l’Union européenne et contrôler l’entrée de migrants sur son territoire.

    Israël utilise la pandémie comme un écran de fumée pour accélérer l’annexion de facto en Cisjordanie et accroître la répression. Le COVID19 se répand dans la bande de Gaza assiégée, avec seulement 200 kits de dépistage et 40 lits de soins intensifs pour 2 millions de personnes. Toute réponse effective est impossible. Pendant ce temps, l’UE continue de fermer les frontières et emprisonne littéralement les migrants dans des camps surpeuplés.

    Mobilisons-nous où que nous soyons, en ligne : Nous avons besoin de solidarité, pas de militarisation ni de drones tueurs israéliens !

    Depuis novembre 2018, l’Agence européenne pour la sécurité maritime (#EMSA) a loué, par l’intermédiaire de la compagnie portugaise #CeiiA, deux drones #Hermes_900, appelés encore « #drones_tueurs » et fabriqués par la plus grande entreprise militaire d’Israël, #Elbit_Systems. Selon le contrat de #location pour deux ans, pour un montant de 59 millions d’euros, les drones sont utilisés principalement pour mettre en place les politiques répressives anti-immigration de l’Union européenne. Les experts condamnent ce changement vers la surveillance aérienne en tant qu’il constitue une abrogation de la responsabilité de sauver des vies. Pire encore, les drones tueurs d’Elbit assistent #Frontex et les autorités nationales en #Grèce, où migrants et réfugiés ont été ciblés en mer à balles réelles.

    Elbit Systems développe ses drones avec la collaboration de l’#armée_israélienne et promeut sa technologie en tant que « testée sur le terrain » — sur les Palestiniens. L’entreprise fournit 85% des drones utilisés par Israël dans ses assauts militaires répétés et son inhumain siège permanent de Gaza. Les drones Hermes ont tué les quatre enfants jouant sur la plage pendant l’attaque d’Israël sur Gaza en 2014.

    Ces drones peuvent tuer mais ne peuvent sauver des vies.

    https://plateforme-palestine.org/Non-aux-drones-tueurs-israeliens-pour-controler-les-frontieres
    #Israël #drones #contrôles_frontaliers #EU #UE #Europe #surveillance #complexe_militaro-industriel #pétition #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #militarisation_des_frontières

    ping @etraces @isskein @karine4 @fil @mobileborders

  • Coronavirus : « La deuxième réponse sera technologique », même « s’il ne s’agit pas d’imposer un contrôle numérique intensif des déplacements »
    https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/04/01/coronavirus-la-deuxieme-reponse-sera-technologique-meme-s-il-ne-s-agit-pas-d

    Partout dans les médias de masse, on voit fleurir des discours technophiles qui vantent les bienfaits de la surveillance généralisée pour répondre à la crise sanitaire. Ne soyons pas dupes, ces technologies ne serviront en rien les malades atteints du coronavirus. Tout juste serviront-elles les fantasmes des malades atteint d’ordo-capitalisme aigu.

    Nous ne voulons pas de géolocalisation de données, de drones ou de caméras infra-rouges ou d’autres technologies issues tout droit de 1984. Nous, on veut juste des soignants, des lits, et des masques !

    • Je ne sais pas s’il faut rejeter ça en bloc.

      Si, en cas de test positif, on a la possibilité de prévenir immédiatement les personnes qui ont été en contact avec la personne dépistée, pour qu’elles se confinent et se testent elles-mêmes, il me semble qu’on a là un élément important de prévention. Le « suivi des contacts » est un élément qui pourrait permettre d’éviter un renouvellement (l’an prochain) de l’explosion qu’on vient de connaître, et pour ma part je n’y vois pas d’objection de principe, au contraire.

      Sur cette prémisse (on est d’accord ou pas), il est possible, semble-t-il, de le faire sans violer tous les principes de protection de la #vie_privée : c’est en tout cas ce que prétend le projet PEPP-PT (https://seenthis.net/messages/837253), qui mérite attention.

      Mais c’est clair que la plupart des industriels qui se placent sur les rangs de ce nouveaux et juteux marché sont issus du #complexe_militaro-industriel (notamment Palantir). Et ça fout franchement les jetons en termes de #stratégie_du_choc.

      #contact_tracing #virusphone

    • C’est vrai que c’est un outils et qu’il est potentiellement possible de pas bafouer tous les principes de la vie privée mais il sera réglementé par des marcheurs blancs tel que Castaner et Laetitia Avia et autres qui ont deja montré que leur but n’est pas la réduction de la pandémie mais la réduction des libertés, des droits et l’augmentation du taux de contaminé·es, d’éborgné·es, de mutilé·es, de suicidé·es, de burn-outé·es. Avec Blanquer ou Adrien Taquet on peu voire qu’illes n’hésitent meme pas à s’attaquer aux gosses.

    • Je ne pars pas du principe que les macronistes resteront encore bien longtemps au pouvoir. C’est mon côté optimiste au petit matin (ça ne va pas durer).

    • C’est pas l’optimisme qui m’étouffe mais c’est vrai qu’illes nous chauffent tellement qu’on va peut etre faire des reconstitution historique de 1789. Pour les applis de tracking il suffira de laisser les mouchards à la maison car on est pas obligé de porter nos portables.

    • Lu il y a quelques temps, un roman d’anticipation de Philippe Pujol Marseille 2040, le jour où notre système de santé craquera (Flammarion 2018) raconte l’organisation de la société et de la médecine après le « Grand Flash » (Pandémie de grippe qu’il situe dans son livre en 2028).

      Février 2018 :
      https://www.nouvelobs.com/societe/20180214.OBS2198/quand-notre-systeme-de-sante-sera-gouverne-par-l-intelligence-artificiell

      Ces dernières années, j’ai été amené, comme aidant, à beaucoup fréquenter les hôpitaux. J’ai vu monter le malaise des soignants, croître les tensions entre patients et médecins. Et j’ai rencontré de nombreux spécialistes qui redoutent, d’ici à 2023-2024, une grave crise sanitaire liée à l’état de notre système de santé – ce scénario-catastrophe n’est donc pas une pure création de mon esprit.

      Pour l’aspect militaro-industriel de la surveillance globale @fil il n’y a aucun doute, les #spéculateurs technobéats vont s’y engouffrer. Ils savent surfer sur l’acceptation que leurs stratégies de persuasion mettent en place. CF le cynique livre bleu du Gixel qui préconisait de faire accepter d’abord la surveillance aux enfants.
      #mal_barré

    • @fil s’il y avait un petit ange et un petit démon de chaque côté de ma tête, tu serais le petit ange qui me dis qu’après la crise, on pourra espérer mieux. Côté démon, le @mdiplo a bravé les checkpoints postaux pour se glisser ce matin dans ma boîte aux lettres, et l’édito d’Halimi estompe ton optimisme :

      Dès maintenant !, par Serge Halimi (Le Monde diplomatique, avril 2020)
      https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2020/04/HALIMI/61619

      Depuis trente ans, chaque crise a nourri l’espérance déraisonnable d’un retour à la raison, d’une prise de conscience, d’un coup d’arrêt. On a cru au confinement puis à l’inversion d’une dynamique sociopolitique dont chacun aurait enfin mesuré les impasses et les menaces [...] Ce ne fut pas le cas.

      La fin de confinement ne sera pas un dîner de gala.

      Et puis il y a ces signaux rouges qui montrent que la #stratégie_du_choc fonctionne à plein régime, par exemple, les préconisations de la caisse des dépôts sur la libéralisation à venir de l’hôpital public révélés hier par Mediapart, ou l’incapacité de la plupart des gauches marxistes à faire le distingo entre nationalisation et étatisation des quelques industries capables de produire des réponses à la crise.

      Donc, je me dis qu’à ce rythme-là, Macron ou l’homologue qui le remplacera ont encore de beaux jours devant eux. (mais c’est mon côté blasé de fin d’après-midi ;-) )

    • l’appli que Barbier a déjà du télécharger plusieurs fois. Histoire d’être sûr de son déconfinement ne lui sera d’aucun secours pour son immunité contre la connerie. Confinons Brice Laculture, Jean quatremerde et cravate rouge à ne s’exprimer que sur #twittoland.

    • Oui je sais (j’ai été au CA d’une grosse asso antinuc, je connais un peu la carte des pays producteurs, merci) mais ce ne sont pas tout à fait les mêmes techniques. Une fois adopté le nucléaire civil, il faut encore des investissements (pas forcément utiles si on a les bonnes alliances militaires) pour avoir des bombes atomiques.

  • The #Climate-Migration-Industrial_Complex

    Thirty years ago there were fifteen border walls around the world. Now there are seventy walls and over one billion national and international migrants. International migrants alone may even double in the next forty years due to global warming. It is not surprising that over the past two decades, we have also seen the rise of an increasingly powerful global climate-security market designed to profit from (and help sustain) these crises. The construction of walls and fences to block rising sea levels and incoming people has become one of the world’s fastest growing industries, alongside the detention and deportation of migrants, and is projected to reach $742 billion by 2023. I believe we are witnessing the emergence of what we might call a “climate-migration-industrial complex.”

    This complex is composed of private companies who profit by securitizing nation-states from the effects of climate-related events, including migration. This includes private detention centers, border construction companies, surveillance technology consultants and developers, deportation and transportation contractors, and a growing army of other subcontractors profiting from insecurity more broadly. Every feature of this crisis complex is an opportunity for profit. For example, even when security measures “fail” and migrants cross borders illegally, or remain beyond their visas to live without status as “criminals,” there is an entire wing of private companies paid to hunt them down, detain them, and deport them just across the border, where they can return and begin the market cycle all over again. Each step in the “crimmigration” process now has its own cottage industry and dedicated army of lobbyists to perpetuate the laws that support it.

    Here is the incredible double paradox that forms the backbone of the climate-migration-industrial complex: right-wing nationalists and their politicians claim they want to deport all undocumented migrants, but if they did, they would destroy their own economy. Capitalists, on the other hand, want to grow the economy with migrant labor (any honest economist will tell you that immigration almost always leads to growth in GDP), but if that labor is too expensive, then it’s not nearly as profitable.

    Trump is the Janus-faced embodiment of this anti-immigrant, pro-economy dilemma and the solution to it — not that he necessarily knows it. With one hand, migrant labor is strategically criminalized and devalorized by a xenophobic state, and with the other, it is securitized and hyper-exploited by the economy. It is a win-win situation for right-wing capitalists but a crucial element is still missing: what will continue to compel migrants to leave their homes and work as exploited criminals in an increasingly xenophobic country?

    This is where the figure of the climate migrant comes in. What we call “climate migrants” or “climate refugees” are not the victims of merely “natural disasters,” because climate change is not a strictly natural process — it is also highly political. The causes of climate-related migration are disproportionately produced by rich Western countries and the effects are disproportionately suffered by poorer countries. The circumstances that determine who is forced to migrate are also influenced by the history of colonialism, global inequality, and the same conditions that have propelled economic migration for decades. In short, the fact that climate change benefits the perpetrators of climate destruction by producing an increasing supply of desperate, criminalized, physically and economically displaced laborers is no coincidence. In fact, it is the key to the Trump “solution.”

    Another key is the use of climate change to acquire new land. When people are forced to migrate out of a territory, or when frozen territories thaw, new lands, waters, and forests become open to extractive industries like mining, drilling, fishing, and logging. Trump’s recent (and ridiculous) bid to buy the thawing territory of Greenland for its oil and gas reserves is one example of this. Climate-stricken urban areas open up new real estate markets, as the gentrification of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina illustrated. In other words, climate change might not mean the end of capitalism, but rather could actually signal its resurgence from current falling rates of ecological profit. During colonialism, everything and everyone that could be easily appropriated (oil, slaves, old-growth forests, etc.), was gobbled up. The workers who are left today under post-colonialism demand more money and more rights. The minerals left are more expensive to extract. This is why capitalists have increasingly retreated to financial speculation, and now to monetizing their own crises.

    If only there were new ways, the capitalist dreams, to kick start the economy and cheaply dislodge huge numbers of people from their land, devalorize their labor, and then appropriate that labor extremely cheaply. In other words, if climate change did not exist, capitalism would have to create it. Luckily for the capitalists, it does exist, because they did create it. Climate migrants now form what we might call a “disposable climate labor army,” conscripted out of a standing reserve of global poverty from wherever the next climate-related disaster strikes, and deployed wherever capitalism demands precarious, securitized, and criminalized labor to be exploited.

    We need to rethink the whole framing of the climate migration “crisis.” Among other things, we need a more movement-oriented political theory to grapple better with the highly mobile events of our time — what I call a “kinopolitics.” The advent of the Capitalocene/Kinocene makes possible today the insight that nature, humans, and society have always been in motion. Humans are and have always been fundamentally migratory, just as the climate and the earth are. These twin insights might sound obvious today, but if taken seriously, they offer a complete inversion of the dominant interpretive paradigms of the climate and migration crises.

    Humans and Earth have always been in motion, but not all patterns of motion are the same. There is no natural, normal, or default state of the earth or of human society. Therefore, we have to study the patterns of circulation that make possible these metastable states and not take them as given. This is what I have tried to work out in The Figure of the Migrant (2015) and Theory of the Border (2016). Unfortunately, the dominant framework for thinking about the climate and migrant crises is currently upside down. It starts from the perspective of a triple stasis: 1) that the earth and human society are in some sense separable and static, or at least stable, structures; 2) that the future should continue to be stable as well; and 3) that if there is not stability, then there is a “crisis.” Mobility, then, is a crisis only if we assume that there was or should be stasis in the first place. For example, migrants are said to destabilize society, and climate change is said to destabilize the earth.

    From a kinopolitical perspective, we can see that the opposite is, in fact, true: Humans were first migratory, and only later settled into more metastable patterns of social-circulation (made historically possible by the social expulsion and dispossession of others). Migrants are not outside society but have played a productive and reproductive role throughout history. Migrant movements are constitutive and even transformative elements of society, rather than exceptional or marginal phenomena. The real question is how we ever came to act and think as if societies were not processes of social circulation that relied on migration as their conditions of reproduction. The earth, too, was first migratory, and only later did it settle into metastable patterns of geological and atmospheric circulation (e.g. the Holocene). Why did we ever think of the earth as a stable surface, immune from human activity in the first place?

    The problem with the prevailing interpretation of climate change and migration is that the flawed paradigm that has defined the “crisis,” the notion of stasis, is also proposed as the solution “Let’s just get things back to normal stability again.” In short, I think a new paradigm is needed that does not use the same tools that generated the “crisis” to solve it — i.e. capitalism, colonialism, and the nation-state.

    Today’s migrant “crisis” is a product of the paradox at the heart of the capitalist, territorial nation-state form, just as the climate crisis is an expression of the paradox at the heart of anthropocentrism. The solutions, therefore, will not come from the forms in crisis but only from the birth of new forms-in-motion that begin with the theoretical primacy of the very characteristic that is dissolving the old forms: the inherent mobility of the migrant climate and the climate migrant.

    https://publicseminar.org/essays/the-climate-migration-industrial-complex

    #complexe_militaro-industriel #réfugiés_environnementaux #réfugiés_climatiques #murs #barrières_frontalières #business #climat #changement_climatique #sécurité #rétention #détention_administrative #privatisation #contrôles_frontaliers #kinopolitics #kinopolitique #kinocène #mobilité #circulation #crise #stabilité #philosophie #ressources_pédagogiques #Etat-nation

    –—

    #catastrophes_naturelles :

    What we call “climate migrants” or “climate refugees” are not the victims of merely “natural disasters,” because climate change is not a strictly natural process — it is also highly political. The causes of climate-related migration are disproportionately produced by rich Western countries and the effects are disproportionately suffered by poorer countries. The circumstances that determine who is forced to migrate are also influenced by the history of colonialism, global inequality, and the same conditions that have propelled economic migration for decades. In short, the fact that climate change benefits the perpetrators of climate destruction by producing an increasing supply of desperate, criminalized, physically and economically displaced laborers is no coincidence.

    –-> @karine4

    #terres #accaparement_des_terres :

    Another key is the use of climate change to acquire new land. When people are forced to migrate out of a territory, or when frozen territories thaw, new lands, waters, and forests become open to extractive industries like mining, drilling, fishing, and logging.

    –-> @odilon
    #extractivisme #colonialisme

    –---------

    @sinehebdo, un nouveau mot :
    –-> #crimmigration
    #mots #terminologie #vocabulaire

    Et aussi... la #kinocène

    –---

    Lien avec le #capitalisme :

    If only there were new ways, the capitalist dreams, to kick start the economy and cheaply dislodge huge numbers of people from their land, devalorize their labor, and then appropriate that labor extremely cheaply. In other words, if climate change did not exist, capitalism would have to create it. Luckily for the capitalists, it does exist, because they did create it. Climate migrants now form what we might call a “disposable climate labor army,” conscripted out of a standing reserve of global poverty from wherever the next climate-related disaster strikes, and deployed wherever capitalism demands precarious, securitized, and criminalized labor to be exploited.

    #expoitation #travail #disposable_climate_labor_army #pauvreté

    signalé par @isskein

    ping @fil @reka