• « Mais pourquoi ils veulent faire revenir les jeans taille basse ? » Sur les réseaux sociaux, les générations se taquinent... et tentent de mieux se comprendre
    https://www.lefigaro.fr/secteur/high-tech/mais-pourquoi-ils-veulent-faire-revenir-les-jeans-taille-basse-sur-les-rese

    Par Klara Durand

    Selon la plateforme de veille Visibrain, rien que ces trente derniers jours, les vidéos en lien avec les générations totalisent 37 millions de mentions « j’aime ». Capture d’écran le Figaro

    « GenZ », « millenials » et « boomers » se moquent par publications interposées des clichés accolées à leurs années de naissance. Une tendance qui permet aussi d’ouvrir la discussion entre familles, amis et collègues.

    « Je suis une millennial et hier, j’ai vu une vidéo qui décrivait les choses que la GenZ trouve dépassées dans ma génération….Comment vous dire que je me suis sentie vieille. » Auriane Lavaux, la trentaine, fait mine d’être désespérée en entamant sa vidéo de maquillage sur TikTok. Elle est donc considérée, à son grand désarroi, comme faisant partie de la génération Y, qui englobe les personnes nées entre 1980 et 1996. Depuis plusieurs mois, elles sont devenues un objet de moquerie pour la GenZ, la génération née juste après, entre 1997 et les années 2010.
    À découvrir

    PODCAST - Écoutez le dernier épisode de notre série Questions Tech
    PODCAST - Écoutez le dernier épisode de notre série Questions Tech

    Ces derniers imitent leurs aînés dans des vidéos TikTok virales où ils apparaissent vêtus de jean moulant et dansent sur le titre Turn Down for What, sorti en 2013. Lequel servaient le plus souvent lors des flashs mob, ces rassemblements diffusés sur Internet dans les années 2000 où les personnes se mettaient soudainement à faire une action inattendue en public.

    Auriane raconte, quant à elle, avoir découvert sur TikTok que les plus jeunes estiment « que les gifs et les mèmes sont dépassés. » Mais, pour la jeune femme, le coup de massue arrive avec une autre information. « Je ne comprends pas.... Ils veulent faire revenir les jeans taille basse alors que ça n’est pas confortable », s’indigne-t-elle en s’appliquant son mascara.

    @_aurianelavaux

    bref, je suis une jeune vieille #milenials #milenialsvsgenz
    son original - Auriane

    Auriane est loin d’être la seule à s’intéresser à ce que la GenZ pense d’elle et de sa tranche d’âge. De façon générale, le sujet des générations passionne sur le réseau social chinois. Ces trente derniers jours, les vidéos comportant les mots « GenZ », « millennials », « boomer » (les personnes nées entre 1947 et les années 60) et « GenX » (les personnes nées entre 1965 et 1981), totalisent 37 millions de mentions « j’aime », rapporte la plateforme de veille du web Visibrain.
    Communication par vidéos interposées

    « Sur TikTok, les personnes aiment bien raconter leurs anecdotes du quotidien », confirme la tiktokeuse Adeline du compte unamourdechef. La millennial, comme elle aime à se surnommer, a découvert grâce à ces contenus ce que pense la GenZ du monde du travail. « Moi comme d’autres, on avait la sensation d’être les aînés qui ont eu à respecter toutes les règles, devant les petits derniers qui, eux, racontent face caméra leurs besoins d’avoir une vie privée en dehors du travail ». La vidéaste décide toutefois d’aller plus loin et d’interroger ses jeunes abonnés sur ce qui leur déplaît chez certains codes du monde de l’entreprise.

    Des discussions qui donnent lieu à vidéos humoristiques, où la jeune femme ironise sur sa propre génération. « Je suis choquée, la GenZ quand elle est malade... Elle pose un arrêt maladie », entame-t-elle, l’air éberlué, dans une des publications les plus vues de son compte. Une vidéo qui lui permet d’ouvrir, dans la section commentaires, les discussions entre générations. « Des employeurs ont expliqué mieux comprendre la vision du travail des plus jeunes et, parmi ces mêmes jeunes, certains se sont défendus en disant ne pas se reconnaître dans ce qu’on dépeint de leur génération », reprend Adeline. « Ça permet de dépasser les clichés chez chacun finalement ». Toujours selon la plateforme de veille Visibrain, le seul hashtag GenZ a généré 1,4 million de publications depuis sa création.

    @unamourdechef

    Faut pas dire aVous vous rendez pas compte#rh #humour #tiktokacademie #apprendresurtiktok #tiktokcomedie #hr #corporatehumor #entretien
    Quirky - Oleg Kirilkov

    Au sein des familles, on se partage aussi ce type de vidéos entre parents et enfants, qu’ils soient encore à la maison... ou loin du nid. Les réseaux sociaux permettent en effet de maintenir une forme de lien. À l’instar de Véronique 63 ans et sa fille Alice*, 24 ans, qui lui a créé un compte sur TikTok il y a deux ans. « Souvent, on s’envoie des vidéos drôles qu’on découvre sur TikTok, comme des extraits de spectacles d’humoristes ou de courtes publications de chutes drôles », détaille Véronique. « Ça devient un moment le soir où on échange via des références communes et puis, pour moi, ça me permet de me vider la tête », confie-t-elle, amusée.
    Instagram, le réseau social intergénérationnel

    Cette façon de communiquer ne surprend pas la chercheuse Anne Cordier, professeure des universités en science de l’information et de la communication. « Il faut arrêter avec ce discours de la rupture générationnelle sur les réseaux sociaux. Les parents d’aujourd’hui ont 40 ans ou 50 ans, bien sûr qu’ils sont sur les mêmes espaces que leurs enfants », souligne-t-elle. « Au moment du confinement, les générations de parents et de grands-parents ont pris la mesure de l’épaisseur sociale des vidéos TikTok », poursuit la professeure. « De façon générale, ils ont compris l’outil que représentent les réseaux sociaux pour maintenir le lien social ».

    D’après Anne Cordier, c’est Instagram (détenu par le groupe Meta) qui serait le plus utilisé par l’ensemble de ces générations. Avec 2 milliards d’utilisateurs actifs mensuels, on y retrouve aussi bien la GenZ, « qui poste peu mais partage des publications éphémères avec la fonction story », constate Anne Cordier, mais aussi leurs parents et grands-parents. « Les familles suivent des comptes en commun et elles voient des vidéos similaires sur le nouveau fil ’’découvertes’’ d’Instagram », complète-t-elle. « Elles partagent ainsi un lieu commun sur le numérique. »
    Les parents tout aussi actifs que leurs enfants

    Antoine, 28 ans, en sait quelque chose. Instagram est devenu le point de départ des potins avec ses parents et, surtout, avec sa mère. « Si je poste une story, elle va forcément y répondre », décrit-il. Cette dernière s’est créé un compte peu avant le confinement. Elle est depuis devenue une fervente utilisatrice de ce réseau social. « Elle a carrément ajouté mes propres amis, qui ont trouvé ça drôle », témoigne le jeune homme. « Parfois, c’est même elle qui me dit au téléphone ce que tel ami est allé voir en concert récemment, ou dans quel pays il s’est rendu », s’amuse-t-il. « Et c’est ma mère qui publie le plus de photos, surtout de ses vacances avec mon père. Moi je ne publie presque jamais rien ».

    Un point qui interpelle Anne Cordier. « Dans ces nouvelles formes de communication, on pose souvent la question de ce que les enfants dévoilent à leurs parents sur les réseaux, mais très peu de ce que les parents donnent à voir à leurs enfants », souligne la spécialiste en communication. « Pourtant, cela vaudrait le coup de s’interroger sur ce qu’on leur laisse à voir sur les réseaux sociaux », conclut-elle, pensive.

    #Médias_sociaux #Genérations #Anne_Cordier

  • Reçu dans un mail ce matin :

    https://formation.pierreportevin.net/inscription-rencontre-avec-thierry-jobard

    Pouvoir illimité, loi de l’attraction, pensée positive, la clé de votre énergie (22 protocoles), les 5 blessures qui empêchent d’être soi-même, réfléchissez et devenez riche, le Secret, Les antisèches du bonheur... mais aussi l’Hygge danois, le Ho’oponopono hawaïen, les 4 accords Toltèques, l’Ikigai japonais... La mode du « développement personnel » ne se dément pas et j’y ai moi-même contribué avec deux essais "Mon meilleur ami... C’est moi" (Eyrolles) et "Osez... Ça change tout" (Souffle d’Or).

    Mais ces propositions à première vue positives ou inoffensives ne seraient-elles pas en train de soutenir, souvent à leur insu, une idéologie nuisible ? Ne contribueraient-elles pas à la culture de l’exploitation de soi par soi ou à une "libre soumission" ? Nous explorerons ces questions, et leurs implications pour la vie quotidienne et le management, lors de ma prochaine rencontre en ligne avec Thierry Jobard, dans la série « Renverser et élargir nos pensées, pour enrichir notre compréhension du monde et des enjeux auxquels nous sommes confrontés ».

    Rejoignez-nous mardi 27 février à 18h30 pour ce rendez-vous. Nous pourrons ensemble "penser contre soi", explorer ce "point de vue de l’adversaire" si cher à Marguerite Yourcenar et questionner certaines évidences peut-être pas aussi évidentes que ça.

    L’inscription à la diffusion en ligne en direct ou à sa rediffusion est gratuite et indispensable.

    J’avais déjà participé à une rencontre où intervenait Aude Vidal à propos d’Égologie. J’étais resté un peu sur ma faim car le format ne permet pas vraiment d’aller au fond des choses.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRo9Nl-U5mE

    #développement_personnel #self_care #corporate_culture

  • Soirées prestigieuses, promoteurs et champagne à volonté : « Dans le carré VIP, les filles sont du #bétail »
    https://www.lemonde.fr/m-perso/article/2023/12/23/soirees-prestigieuses-promoteurs-et-champagne-a-volonte-dans-le-carre-vip-le

    Mais que pensent ces jeunes filles de cette organisation où, pour la plupart, elles se savent utilisées comme produit d’appel ? Pour Olivia, toutes connaissent les règles du jeu et les acceptent. « C’est donnant-donnant, on sort gratuitement, mais on n’est forcées à rien. » Cette fille de diplomate insiste sur le fait qu’en étant à la table d’un promoteur elle se sent bien plus protégée que dans les espaces communs. « Quand on est en bas [dans la fosse], on est dix fois plus vulnérables. » De là-haut, les hommes ne peuvent qu’admirer les filles, tandis qu’elles profitent d’un sentiment d’exclusivité et de prestige.

    Nombre d’entre elles évoquent une impression de subversion lorsqu’elles relatent cette expérience au cours de laquelle elles sont ouvertement chosifiées. « On accepte d’être des bouts de viande pour profiter de notre soirée gratuitement, en son âme et conscience », assume Elise. D’une certaine manière, elles ont la sensation de tirer profit des faiblesses masculines pour s’amuser à moindre coût. Parfois, plus par jeu que par nécessité. Car ces jeunes filles sont loin d’être toutes issues des classes populaires. Selon Myrtille Picaud, sociologue chargée de recherches au CNRS, même « celles qui disposent d’un capital économique sont là aussi soumises aux attentes des hommes, au regard masculin, à la hiérarchisation des femmes entre elles, ce qui se traduit par le fait qu’on leur paie un verre ». A sa manière, le carré VIP fait perdurer une vision très archaïque des rapports femme-homme, où lui serait la source de prodigalité et le pourvoyeur de statut ; et elle l’objet.

    Pendant une soirée au Gotha, autre boîte cannoise, Elise se souvient d’un événement marquant. « Au carré VIP, les mecs pointaient des rayons laser sur les filles, dans la fosse, qu’ils trouvaient attirantes, pour qu’elles viennent les rejoindre en haut. Une fois, j’en ai vu un intimer à une fille de faire un tour sur elle-même, pour vérifier la marchandise. Puis le videur vient la chercher pour la faire monter. Etant donné qu’il a payé la table, c’est lui qui décide. Dans le carré VIP, les filles sont du bétail. » Comme si toutes les avancées sociales se dissolvaient une fois la lumière tamisée, « dans les espaces nocturnes, les femmes sont souvent renvoyées à leur rôle d’appât et de potentialité sexuelle », résume Myrtille Picaud.

    Version low cost, presque caricaturale

    Même si c’est là qu’il connaît sa forme la plus exacerbée, le carré VIP ne constitue pas un fantasme réservé aux seuls quartiers huppés de la capitale. Dans une version low cost, presque caricaturale, on le retrouve aussi bien dans les boîtes de campagne que dans les zones de fête à l’étranger, où on cultive un sentiment d’exclusivité à la petite semaine. Sur l’île de Malte, Donze, 21 ans, officie depuis quelques mois comme promotrice de soirées. La journée, elle vend des tickets à des groupes dans la rue, pour qu’ils aillent dans telle ou telle boîte le soir même, souvent dans des clubs grand public. « Nos soirées sont peu regardantes sur le dress code, n’importe qui entre en claquettes-chaussettes ! », lance-t-elle, rieuse.

    Quand elle vend une place, les hommes lui demandent toujours s’il y aura des représentantes du sexe opposé. Pour les faire venir, elle leur montre alors des vidéos promotionnelles sur son portable, où l’on voit des femmes twerkant en maillot de bain. « Les filles représentent notre produit d’appel. Mais nous aussi, en tant que promotrices, nous servons d’appât », confie cette jeune Auvergnate. En effet, son expérience atteste du mécanisme bien rodé du monde de la nuit, où le corps féminin fait office de monnaie d’échange. Même en étant promotrice, donc censément en position de force, Donze est tout aussi vulnérable : « J’ai déjà subi des attouchements, je me suis fait pincer les fesses, embrasser… Mais, pour l’instant, il ne m’est rien arrivé de plus grave. »

    https://archive.is/uISo6

    #femmes #corps_féminin #marchandise #patriarcat #boites_de_nuit #hommes #VSS

  • Durchhalteprosa vom 21. November 2023 von Götz Eisenberg
    https://durchhalteprosa.de/2023/11/21/86-antisemitismus-das-geruecht-ueber-die-juden
    J’apprends que le parti Die Linke dit byebye au drapeau rouge. Désormais il sera blanc.


    Cette Photo montre l’ancien logo au drapeau rouge.

    von Götz Eisenberg
    ...
    In der Süddeutschen Zeitung lese ich am selben Morgen, dass die Führungsriege der in letzter Zeit arg gebeutelten Linkspartei den Mitgliedern zur Beginn des am Wochenende in Augsburg stattfindenden Parteitags ein neues Logo präsentieren wird. Man hofft, damit das Zeichen für einen Neubeginn zu setzen. Der einzige Unterschied besteht darin, dass der kleine Keil über dem „I“, der bislang rot war und nach links wies, nun weiß ist und nach rechts oben zeigt.

    .
    Voilà le nouveau styleguide du parti

    Erscheinungsbild : DIE LINKE.
    https://www.die-linke.de/partei/ueber-uns/erscheinungsbild

    https://lissi.die-linke.de

    Ich bin Lissi, das Designsystem für Die Linke

    Bref, le noir a disparu, et n’est employé que pour le texte ; il n’y a plus que deux couleurs, par contre il y a un nouveau canon de couleurs à utiliser pour des thèmes prédéfinis.

    #Die_Linke #design #corporate_identity

    • Et la référence à Clara Zetkin a elle aussi disparu. Je me souviens que, au cours d’un voyage en RDA dans les années 80, cette dame était bien à l’honneur.

      Clara Zetkin , née Clara Eißner le 5 juillet 1857 à Wiederau, en royaume de Saxe, et morte à Arkhangelskoïe, près de Moscou, le 20 juin 1933, est une enseignante, journaliste et femme politique marxiste allemande, figure historique du féminisme, plus précisément du féminisme socialiste.
      Après avoir été membre jusqu’en 1917 de l’aile gauche du SPD, elle rejoint l’USPD (pacifistes) pour se retrouver dans le courant révolutionnaire que constitue la Ligue spartakiste. Ce courant donne naissance pendant la révolution allemande au Parti communiste d’Allemagne (KPD), dont Clara Zetkin est députée au Reichstag durant la république de Weimar, de 1920 à 1933. Elle est à l’origine de la journée internationale des droits des femmes.

      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Zetkin

      #révolutions_prolétariennes #communisme (éradication du)

    • On a purgé Berlin du souvenir de Clara Zetkin. Il faut se rendre à Birkenwerder pour retrouver ses traces.

      https://www.berlin.de/museum/brandenburg/4421799-3130530-museum-clara-zetkin-in-birkenwerder.html

      Im Obergeschoss des ehemaligen Wohnhauses von Clara Zetkin in Birkenwerder befindet sich das Clara-Zetkin-Museum, das persönliche Gegenstände der Politikerin zeigt.

      Das Clara-Zetkin-Museum im ehemaligen Wohnhaus der sozialdemokratischen Politikerin und Frauenrechtlerin widmet sich ihrem Leben und Werk. Zetkin lebte in dem Gebäude in Birkenwerder von 1929 bis 1932, bevor sie ein Jahr vor ihrem Tod in die Sowjetunion übersiedelte. Heute ist es eine Gedenkstätte, in der neben dem Museum auch die Gemeindebibliothek und ein Geschichtsstübchen im Keller untergebracht sind.
      Geschichte des Clara-Zetkin-Hauses

      Ursprünglich wurde das Gebäude, in dem Clara Zetkin lebte, 1912 für den Maler Karl Drabig erbaut. Zetkins jüngerer Sohn Konstantin erwarb es 1929 für seine Mutter, die schon seit längerem nach einer Unterkunft nahe der Hauptstadt suchte. Nachdem die Politikerin das Haus drei Jahre später wieder verließ, um in die Sowjetunion umzusiedeln, beschlagnahmte die Gestapo 1933 Bücher und Druckschriften, die sie zurückgelassen hatte. Das Gebäude ging in den Besitz des Staates Preußen über. 1949 übergab es die DDR zurück an den älteren Sohn Maxim Zetkin. Auf dessen Initiative hin wurde das Haus 1957 anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags von Clara Zetkin zur Gedenktstätte.

      Adresse
      Summter Straße 4
      416547 Birkenwerder
      Zum Stadtplan
      Internetadresse
      fv-clara-zetkin-gedenkstaette.de
      Öffnungszeiten
      Besuch nur auf Anfrage
      Eintritt
      Kostenlos

  • « POR PRIMERA VEZ LOS ZURDOS DE MIERDA ESTÁN PERDIENDO LA BATALLA » - Milei con Canosa 15/6/2021 - YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is1f657Zx70

    Javier Milei, sur un plateau bien à droite, il y a 2 ans…
    (sur son compte YouTube)

    Pourquoi dis-tu gauchistes de merde ?
    Parce qu’ils sont de la merde !… Les gauchistes de merde sont en train de perdre la bataille culturelle. Nous sommes supérieurs à eux, économiquement, culturellement, esthétiquement, MORALEMENT. C’est pour ça qu’ils nous haïssent.

    commentaires enthousiastes : Milei au congrès, Milei président (ça, c’est fait) ,…

    Et que je te cite, Locke, Milton Friedman, Hayek, …

    • «Soy provida y el papa es un imbécil» Javier Milei con Viviana Canosa- 10/11/20 - YouTube
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYQfxvscxrs

      pffff !
      cette fois-ci, le compte Milei presidente à partir de 16:00

      Trump a gagné, Giuliani a prouvé les énormes quantités de fraude. Face à Poutine, la vocation totalitaire de la Chine et la Corée du Nord, la chute de Trump signifie la défaite du monde occidental

      La justice sociale est fondée sur l’envie et l’envie est un péché capital. Il faut aller dire ça à l’imbécile qui est à Rome. Le Pape, je vais le dire en face, le Pape est le représentant du Malin sur Terre. Le Pape promeut le communisme et cela contre les écritures saintes : Ancien Testament, évangile de Saint Luc, dans la troisième tentation au désert, si tu t’agenouilles devant moi, je te donnerais le pouvoir sur tous les royaumes du monde , car ce pouvoir lui a été donné [au Diable], l’Etat est une invention du Malin … L’État va tout te piquer et te réduire en esclavage. Partout où il y a eu le socialisme c’est un désastre, la faim, la pauvreté, C’est pour ça que je n’ai aucun problème à dire ce que je dis de l’infréquentable qui est à Rome : il promeut la pauvreté, un régime de misère… Une des choses merveilleuses du libéralisme c’est qu’il le promeut le commerce et partout où il y a un marché libre, les mœurs sont douces. Et ce mec promeut un système qui est une saloperie, qui tue les gens, qui les affame

      Viviana (23:40, un peu estomaquée…] cette émission est vraiment intense tous les jours… j’en reste sans voix… Tu es pro life (pro vida …)
      Oui, je suis anti-avortement depuis un point de vue libéral
      c’est-à-dire ?
      Je m’appuie sur notre plus grand économiste, Alberto Benegas Lynch, dont j’ai l’honneur d’être l’ami, pour qui le libéralisme repose sur trois principes : le droit à la vie, le droit à la liberté et le droit de propriété […] la vie commence à la conception, l’avortement est un meurtre, aggravé par le fait qu’il est commis par un ascendant […] Je prends un exemple, je t’invite dans mon avion, en supposant que j’en aie un, je t’invite à Rome,…
      [musique de fin] rapidement !…
      OK, on est dans l’avion ; arrivé au milieu de l’Atlantique, j’exerce mon droit de propriété sur l’avion, je t’éjecte de l’avion, c’est ça l’avortement…
      Merci, Milei

    • Javier Milei président de l’Argentine : Trump « très fier », la gauche française cible un « monstre populiste »
      https://www.liberation.fr/politique/javier-milei-president-de-largentine-trump-tres-fier-la-gauche-francaise-

      https://lundi.am/L-ouragan-Milei

      Une élection présidentielle en #Argentine pourrait nous sembler fort exotique. Et de fait, à part sur lundimatin et d’autres excellents médias, personne ne s’était vraiment intéressé à ce qu’il se passait du côté de la « pampa. » Pourtant #Javier_Milei, qui, il y a quelques jours, s’était mis à entendre des voix en direct sur un plateau télé, est désormais élu président de l’Argentine. Avec lui, ce sont les paléo-libertariens qui viennent de s’emparer d’un État. Cet événement est si bizarre qu’il nous faudra du temps pour en cerner le sens historique. Nous publions aujourd’hui une traduction d’un texte de Pablo Stefanoni et Mariano Schuster, publié hier en espagnol, qui fait le point sur ce qu’il s’est passé et ce à quoi il faut désormais s’attendre.

    • Javier Milei: «Mis padres no existen para mí» - PH Podemos Hablar - YouTube (juin 2018)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ktmcJK0SXU

      - Avec quelle peronne de ton passé passerais-tu une soirée, partagerais-tu une bouteille de vin ?
      – Avec mes grands-parents, ma grand-mère maternelle et celui qui fut son mari. Elle est devenue veuve quand ma mère avait 14 ans. Une battante, une gladiatrice, … Elle était fille d’Italiens, … Un être humain avec une lumière unique, un être humain qui ne connaissait pas le mal. Elle s’est remariée avec un homme qui a été très important pour moi. Qui m’a soutenu quand j’étais à l’université… qui fut pour moi une période très compliquée à la maison. Je ne parle avec mes géniteurs, car je ne partage aucune de leurs valeurs morales […] Ce fut pour moi une grande expérience. Kissinger disait que les meilleurs moments sont les crises parce que les crétins s’en vont, les incompétents s’en vont, restent ceux qui savent et qui en ont [bolas …] Dans les pires circonstances, je m’en sors. Et pendant tout ce harcèlement …
      – Ça t’a renforcé …
      – Oui, ce qui ne te tue pas te rend plus fort.
      – Et ta mère ?
      – Et bien, les parents ont [entre eux] un contrat avant que tu sois là,…
      – Elle a couvert ?
      – Oui, elle a couvert, évidemment
      – …
      – C’était il y a environ 18 ans
      – Si tu les voyais, tu leur dirais quoi
      – Euh, pour moi, c’est comme s’ils n’existaient pas. J’ai interdit à ma sœur de m’en parler. Elle est d’ailleurs harcelée à cause de cela. Quoiqu’il arrive, … qu’il y ait un lien du sang, c’est un accident. Ma relation avec ma grand-mère était infiniment meilleure et a contribué beaucoup plus à ma formation de par le type de relations que nous avions
      – si tu voyais ton père et qu’il te demandait de le pardonner…
      – je n’ai rien à lui pardonner, je lui ai déjà pardonné. Je ne regarde pas derrière. Pour moi, les deux sont morts.
      – C’est violent ! [fuerte]. Merci

    • La propuesta de Javier Milei con los ministerios - YouTube
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlPtFzh5wjk

      Le gouvernement de Javier Milei (c’était il y a 3 mois).
      Il en existe une version courte où il arrache successivement toutes les étiquettes de ministères en disant dehors ! ¡Fuera !

      Il crée un grand ministère du Capital humain qui regroupe travail, emploi, famille, santé, sécurité sociale, éducation (à réorganiser sur le modèle suédois). Intérieur, Sécurité, Justice, Défense, Affaires étrangères restent. Science et technologie saute, la recherche doit intégralement passer dans le privé, pas un rond de l’État, idem l’environnement. La culture passe au cabinet du président.

      - Pour les aides sociales, il en restera mais je virerai tous les intermédiaires.
      – Ça va faire du monde [y compris tout ce qui est recherche…], ça va faire du grabuge,…
      – Qu’ils viennent me chercher ! (¡Que vengan et me saquen !_)
      Il reste Economie, Infrastructures, Capital humain (avec les précédents, il reste huit ministères)
      [14:34]
      – tu te rends compte que si tu fais tout ça, ça va être dur !
      – écoute, la question c’est : quand tu as un parasite, à qui donnes-tu la priorité au corps ou au parasite ?
      – au corps !
      – [il revient au tableau et rerature les différents ministères] dehors le parasite, dehors, dehors,…

    • En fait, la « radicalité » du programme de Milei, c’est de ne pas avoir de programme du tout et de laisser le chaos faire son œuvre : nouvelles hausses des prix juste après l’élection d’icelui ...

      « Les clients nous demandent de diviser les paquets d’un kilo de sucre ou d’acheter des œufs à l’unité. Ça fait mal, les gens sont dans le besoin et c’est comme si on enlevait leur dignité, mais les prix sont fous », se désole l’épicière de Moron, quartier ouvrier de la banlieue ouest.

      https://www.bfmtv.com/economie/international/des-jours-de-dingue-une-hausse-effrenee-des-prix-en-argentine-apres-la-victoi

      #stratégie_du_choc #corporate_fascism

  • UK signs contract with US startup to identify migrants in small-boat crossings

    The UK government has turned a US-based startup specialized in artificial intelligence as part of its pledge to stop small-boat crossings. Experts have already pointed out the legal and logistical challenges of the plan.

    In a new effort to address the high number of Channel crossings, the UK Home Office is working with the US defense startup #Anduril, specialized in the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

    A surveillance tower has already been installed at Dover, and other technologies might be rolled out with the onset of warmer temperatures and renewed attempts by migrants to reach the UK. Some experts already point out the risks and practical loopholes involved in using AI to identify migrants.

    “This is obviously the next step of the illegal migration bill,” said Olivier Cahn, a researcher specialized in penal law.

    “The goal is to retrieve images that were taken at sea and use AI to show they entered UK territory illegally even if people vanish into thin air upon arrival in the UK.”

    The “illegal migration bill” was passed by the UK last month barring anyone from entering the country irregularly from filing an asylum claim and imposing a “legal duty” to remove them to a third country.
    Who is behind Anduril?

    Founded in 2017 by its CEO #Palmer_Luckey, Anduril is backed by #Peter_Thiel, a Silicon Valley investor and supporter of Donald Trump. The company has supplied autonomous surveillance technology to the US Department of Defense (DOD) to detect and track migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border.

    In 2021, the UK Ministry of Defence awarded Anduril with a £3.8-million contract to trial an advanced base defence system. Anduril eventually opened a branch in London where it states its mission: “combining the latest in artificial intelligence with commercial-of-the-shelf sensor technology (EO, IR, Radar, Lidar, UGS, sUAS) to enhance national security through automated detection, identification and tracking of objects of interest.”

    According to Cahn, the advantage of Brexit is that the UK government is no longer required to submit to the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPDP), a component of data protection that also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

    “Even so, the UK has data protection laws of its own which the government cannot breach. Where will the servers with the incoming data be kept? What are the rights of appeal for UK citizens whose data is being processed by the servers?”, he asked.

    ’Smugglers will provide migrants with balaclavas for an extra 15 euros’

    Cahn also pointed out the technical difficulties of identifying migrants at sea. “The weather conditions are often not ideal, and many small-boat crossings happen at night. How will facial recognition technology operate in this context?”

    The ability of migrants and smugglers to adapt is yet another factor. “People are going to cover their faces, and anyone would think the smugglers will respond by providing migrants with balaclavas for an extra 15 euros.”

    If the UK has solicited the services of a US startup to detect and identify migrants, the reason may lie in AI’s principle of self-learning. “A machine accumulates data and recognizes what it has already seen. The US is a country with a significantly more racially and ethnically diverse population than the UK. Its artificial intelligence might contain data from populations which are more ethnically comparable to the populations that are crossing the Channel, like Somalia for example, thus facilitating the process of facial recognition.”

    For Cahn, it is not capturing the images which will be the most difficult but the legal challenges that will arise out of their usage. “People are going to be identified and there are going to be errors. If a file exists, there needs to be the possibility for individuals to appear before justice and have access to a judge.”

    A societal uproar

    In a research paper titled “Refugee protection in the artificial intelligence Era”, Chatham House notes “the most common ethical and legal challenges associated with the use of AI in asylum and related border and immigration systems involve issues of opacity and unpredictability, the potential for bias and unlawful discrimination, and how such factors affect the ability of individuals to obtain a remedy in the event of erroneous or unfair decisions.”

    For Cahn, the UK government’s usage of AI can only be used to justify and reinforce its hardline position against migrants. “For a government that doesn’t respect the Geneva Convention [whose core principle is non-refoulement, editor’s note] and which passed an illegal migration law, it is out of the question that migrants have entered the territory legally.”

    Identifying migrants crossing the Channel is not going to be the hardest part for the UK government. Cahn imagines a societal backlash with, “the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom being solicited, refugees seeking remedies to legal decisions through lawyers and associations attacking”.

    He added there would be due process concerning the storage of the data, with judges issuing disclosure orders. “There is going to be a whole series of questions which the government will have to elucidate. The rights of refugees are often used as a laboratory. If these technologies are ’successful’, they will soon be applied to the rest of the population."

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/48326/uk-signs-contract-with-us-startup-to-identify-migrants-in-smallboat-cr

    #UK #Angleterre #migrations #asile #réfugiés #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #start-up #complexe_militaro-industriel #IA #intelligence_artificielle #surveillance #technologie #channel #Manche

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur la Bibby Stockholm:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/1016683

    • Huge barge set to house 500 asylum seekers arrives in the UK

      The #Bibby_Stockholm is being refitted in #Falmouth to increase its capacity from 222 to 506 people.

      A barge set to house 500 asylum seekers has arrived in the UK as the government struggles with efforts to move migrants out of hotels.

      The Independent understands that people will not be transferred onto the Bibby Stockholm until July, following refurbishment to increase its capacity and safety checks.

      The barge has been towed from its former berth in Italy to the port of Falmouth, in Cornwall.

      It will remain there while works are carried out, before being moved onto its final destination in #Portland, Dorset.

      The private operators of the port struck an agreement to host the barge with the Home Office without formal public consultation, angering the local council and residents.

      Conservative MP Richard Drax previously told The Independent legal action was still being considered to stop the government’s plans for what he labelled a “quasi-prison”.

      He accused ministers and Home Office officials of being “unable to answer” practical questions on how the barge will operate, such as how asylum seekers will be able to come and go safely through the port, what activities they will be provided with and how sufficient healthcare will be ensured.

      “The question is how do we cope?” Mr Drax said. “Every organisation has its own raft of questions: ‘Where’s the money coming from? Who’s going to do what if this all happens?’ There are not sufficient answers, which is very worrying.”

      The Independent previously revealed that asylum seekers will have less living space than an average parking bay on the Bibby Stockholm, which saw at least one person die and reports of rape and abuse on board when it was used by the Dutch government to detain migrants in the 2000s.

      An official brochure released by owner Bibby Marine shows there are only 222 “single en-suite bedrooms” on board, meaning that at least two people must be crammed into every cabin for the government to achieve its aim of holding 500 people.

      Dorset Council has said it still had “serious reservations about the appropriateness of Portland Port in this scenario and remains opposed to the proposals”.

      The Conservative police and crime commissioner for Dorset is demanding extra government funding for the local force to “meet the extra policing needs that this project will entail”.

      A multi-agency forum including representatives from national, regional and local public sector agencies has been looking at plans for the provision of health services, the safety and security of both asylum seekers and local residents and charity involvement.

      Portland Port said it had been working with the Home Office and local agencies to ensure the safe arrival and operation of the Bibby Stockholm, and to minimise its impact locally.

      The barge is part of a wider government push to move migrants out of hotels, which are currently housing more than 47,000 asylum seekers at a cost of £6m a day.

      But the use of ships as accommodation was previously ruled out on cost grounds by the Treasury, when Rishi Sunak was chancellor, and the government has not confirmed how much it will be spending on the scheme.

      Ministers have also identified several former military and government sites, including two defunct airbases and an empty prison, that they want to transform into asylum accommodation.

      But a court battle with Braintree District Council over former RAF Wethersfield is ongoing, and legal action has also been threatened over similar plans for RAF Scampton in Lancashire.

      Last month, a barrister representing home secretary Suella Braverman told the High Court that 56,000 people were expected to arrive on small boats in 2023 and that some could be made homeless if hotel places are not found.

      A record backlog of asylum applications, driven by the increase in Channel crossings and a collapse in Home Office decision-making, mean the government is having to provide accommodation for longer while claims are considered.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/barge-falmouth-cornwall-migrants-bibby-b2333313.html
      #barge #bateau

    • ‘Performative cruelty’ : the hostile architecture of the UK government’s migrant barge

      The arrival of the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port, in Dorset, on July 18 2023, marks a new low in the UK government’s hostile immigration environment. The vessel is set to accommodate over 500 asylum seekers. This, the Home Office argues, will benefit British taxpayers and local residents.

      The barge, however, was immediately rejected by the local population and Dorset council. Several British charities and church groups have condemned the barge, and the illegal migration bill it accompanies, as “an affront to human dignity”.

      Anti-immigration groups have also protested against the barge, with some adopting offensive language, referring to the asylum seekers who will be hosted there as “bargies”. Conservative MP for South Dorset Richard Drax has claimed that hosting migrants at sea would exacerbate tenfold the issues that have arisen in hotels to date, namely sexual assaults, children disappearing and local residents protesting.

      My research shows that facilities built to house irregular migrants in Europe and beyond create a temporary infrastructure designed to be hostile. Governments thereby effectively make asylum seekers more displaceable while ignoring their everyday spatial and social needs.
      Precarious space

      The official brochure plans for the Bibby Stockholm show 222 single bedrooms over three stories, built around two small internal courtyards. It has now been retrofitted with bunk beds to host more than 500 single men – more than double the number it was designed to host.

      Journalists Lizzie Dearden and Martha McHardy have shown this means the asylum seekers housed there – for up to nine months – will have “less living space than an average parking bay”. This stands in contravention of international standards of a minimum 4.5m² of covered living space per person in cold climates, where more time is spent indoors.

      In an open letter, dated June 15 2023 and addressed to home secretary Suella Braverman, over 700 people and nearly 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) voiced concerns that this will only add to the trauma migrants have already experienced:

      Housing people on a sea barge – which we argue is equal to a floating prison – is morally indefensible, and threatens to retraumatise a group of already vulnerable people.

      Locals are concerned already overstretched services in Portland, including GP practices, will not be able to cope with further pressure. West Dorset MP Chris Lode has questioned whether the barge itself is safe “to cope with double the weight that it was designed to bear”. A caller to the LBC radio station, meanwhile, has voiced concerns over the vessel’s very narrow and low fire escape routes, saying: “What they [the government] are effectively doing here is creating a potential Grenfell on water, a floating coffin.”

      Such fears are not unfounded. There have been several cases of fires destroying migrant camps in Europe, from the Grand-Synthe camp near Dunkirk in France, in 2017, to the 2020 fire at the Moria camp in Greece. The difficulty of escaping a vessel at sea could turn it into a death trap.

      Performative hostility

      Research on migrant accommodation shows that being able to inhabit a place – even temporarily – and develop feelings of attachment and belonging, is crucial to a person’s wellbeing. Even amid ever tighter border controls, migrants in Europe, who can be described as “stuck on the move”, nonetheless still attempt to inhabit their temporary spaces and form such connections.

      However, designs can hamper such efforts when they concentrate asylum seekers in inhospitable, cut-off spaces. In 2015, Berlin officials began temporarily housing refugees in the former Tempelhof airport, a noisy, alienating industrial space, lacking in privacy and disconnected from the city. Many people ended up staying there for the better part of a year.

      French authorities, meanwhile, opened the Centre Humanitaire Paris-Nord in Paris in 2016, temporary migrant housing in a disused train depot. Nicknamed la Bulle (the bubble) for its bulbous inflatable covering, this facility was noisy and claustrophobic, lacking in basic comforts.

      Like the barge in Portland Port, these facilities, placed in industrial sites, sit uncomfortably between hospitality and hostility. The barge will be fenced off, since the port is a secured zone, and access will be heavily restricted and controlled. The Home Office insists that the barge is not a floating prison, yet it is an unmistakably hostile space.

      Infrastructure for water and electricity will physically link the barge to shore. However, Dorset council has no jurisdiction at sea.

      The commercial agreement on the barge was signed between the Home Office and Portland Port, not the council. Since the vessel is positioned below the mean low water mark, it did not require planning permission.

      This makes the barge an island of sorts, where other rules apply, much like those islands in the Aegean sea and in the Pacific, on which Greece and Australia have respectively housed migrants.

      I have shown how facilities are often designed in this way not to give displaced people any agency, but, on the contrary, to objectify them. They heighten the instability migrants face, keeping them detached from local communities and constantly on the move.

      The government has presented the barge as a cheaper solution than the £6.8 million it is currently spending, daily, on housing asylum seekers in hotels. A recent report by two NGOs, Reclaim the Seas and One Life to Live, concludes, however, that it will save less than £10 a person a day. It could even prove more expensive than the hotel model.

      Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK charity, has described the illegal migration bill as “performative cruelty”. Images of the barge which have flooded the news certainly meet that description too.

      However threatening these images might be, though, they will not stop desperate people from attempting to come to the UK to seek safety. Rather than deterring asylum seekers, the Bibby Stockholm is potentially creating another hazard to them and to their hosting communities.

      https://theconversation.com/performative-cruelty-the-hostile-architecture-of-the-uk-governments

      –---

      Point intéressant, lié à l’aménagement du territoire :

      “Since the vessel is positioned below the mean low water mark, it did not require planning permission”

      C’est un peu comme les #zones_frontalières qui ont été créées un peu partout en Europe (et pas que) pour que les Etats se débarassent des règles en vigueur (notamment le principe du non-refoulement). Voir cette métaliste, à laquelle j’ajoute aussi cet exemple :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/795053

      voir aussi :

      The circumstances at Portland Port are very different because where the barge is to be positioned is below the mean low water mark. This means that the barge is outside of our planning control and there is no requirement for planning permission from the council.

      https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2023/07/18/leaders-comments-on-the-home-office-barge

      #hostile_architecture #architecture_hostile #dignité #espace #Portland #hostilité #hostilité_performative #île #infrastructure #extraterritorialité #extra-territorialité #prix #coût

    • Sur l’#histoire (notamment liées au commerce d’ #esclaves) de la Bibby Stockholm :

      Bibby Line, shipowners

      Information
      From Guide to the Records of Merseyside Maritime Museum, volume 1: Bibby Line. In 1807 John Bibby and John Highfield, Liverpool shipbrokers, began taking shares in ships, mainly Parkgate Dublin packets. By 1821 (the end of the partnership) they had vessels sailing to the Mediterranean and South America. In 1850 they expanded their Mediterranean and Black Sea interests by buying two steamers and by 1865 their fleet had increased to twenty three. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 severely affected their business and Frederick Leyland, their general manager, failed to persuade the family partners to diversify onto the Atlantic. Eventually, he bought them out in 1873. In 1889 the Bibby family revived its shipowning interests with a successful passenger cargo service to Burma. From 1893 it also began to carry British troops to overseas postings which remained a Bibby staple until 1962. The Burma service ended in 1971 and the company moved to new areas of shipowning including bulkers, gas tankers and accommodation barges. It still has its head office in Liverpool where most management records are held. The museum holds models of the Staffordshire (1929) and Oxfordshire (1955). For further details see the attached catalogue or contact The Archives Centre for a copy of the catalogue.

      The earliest records within the collection, the ships’ logs at B/BIBBY/1/1/1 - 1/1/3 show company vessels travelling between Europe and South America carrying cargoes that would have been produced on plantations using the labour of enslaved peoples or used within plantation and slave based economies. For example the vessel Thomas (B/BIBBY/1/1/1) carries a cargo of iron hoops for barrels to Brazil in 1812. The Mary Bibby on a voyage in 1825-1826 loads a cargo of sugar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to carry to Rotterdam. The log (B/BIBBY/1/1/3) records the use of ’negroes’ to work with the ship’s carpenter while the vessel is in port.

      In September 1980 the latest Bibby vessel to hold the name Derbyshire was lost with all hands in the South China Sea. This collection does not include records relating to that vessel or its sinking, apart from a copy ’Motor vessel ’Derbyshire’, 1976-80: in memoriam’ at reference B/BIBBY/3/2/1 (a copy is also available in The Archives Centre library collection at 340.DER). Information about the sinking and subsequent campaigning by the victims’ family can be found on the NML website and in the Life On Board gallery. The Archives Centre holds papers of Captain David Ramwell who assisted the Derbyshire Family Association at D/RAM and other smaller collections of related documents within the DX collection.

      https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/artifact/bibby-line-shipowners

      –—
      An Open Letter to #Bibby_Marine

      Links between your parent company #Bibby_Line_Group (#BLG) and the slave trade have repeatedly been made. If true, we appeal to you to consider what actions you might take in recompense.

      Bibby Marine’s modern slavery statement says that one of the company’s values is to “do the right thing”, and that you “strongly support the eradication of slavery, as well as the eradication of servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking”. These are admirable words.

      Meanwhile, your parent company’s website says that it is “family owned with a rich history”. Please will you clarify whether this rich history includes slaving voyages where ships were owned, and cargoes transported, by BLG’s founder John Bibby, six generations ago. The BLG website says that in 1807 (which is when slavery was abolished in Britain), “John Bibby began trading as a shipowner in Liverpool with his partner John Highfield”. John Bibby is listed as co-owner of three slaving ships, of which John Highfield co-owned two:

      In 1805, the Harmonie (co-owned by #John_Bibby and three others, including John Highfield) left Liverpool for a voyage which carried 250 captives purchased in West Central Africa and St Helena, delivering them to Cumingsberg in 1806 (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 81732).
      In 1806, the Sally (co-owned by John Bibby and two others) left Liverpool for a voyage which transported 250 captives purchased in Bassa and delivered them to Barbados (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 83481).
      In 1806, the Eagle (co-owned by John Bibby and four others, including John Highfield) left Liverpool for a voyage which transported 237 captives purchased in Cameroon and delivered them to Kingston in 1807 (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 81106).

      The same and related claims were recently mentioned by Private Eye. They also appear in the story of Liverpool’s Calderstones Park [PDF] and on the website of National Museums Liverpool and in this blog post “Shenanigans in Shipping” (a detailed history of the BLG). They are also mentioned by Laurence Westgaph, a TV presenter specialising in Black British history and slavery and the author of Read The Signs: Street Names with a Connection to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Abolition in Liverpool [PDF], published with the support of English Heritage, The City of Liverpool, Northwest Regional Development Agency, National Museums Liverpool and Liverpool Vision.

      While of course your public pledges on slavery underline that there is no possibility of there being any link between the activities of John Bibby and John Highfield in the early 1800s and your activities in 2023, we do believe that it is in the public interest to raise this connection, and to ask for a public expression of your categorical renunciation of the reported slave trade activities of Mr Bibby and Mr Highfield.

      https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/an-open-letter-to-bibby-marine

      –-

      Très peu d’info sur John Bibby sur wikipedia :

      John Bibby (19 February 1775 – 17 July 1840) was the founder of the British Bibby Line shipping company. He was born in Eccleston, near Ormskirk, Lancashire. He was murdered on 17 July 1840 on his way home from dinner at a friend’s house in Kirkdale.[1]


      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bibby_(businessman)

    • ‘Floating Prisons’: The 200-year-old family #business behind the Bibby Stockholm

      #Bibby_Line_Group_Limited is a UK company offering financial, marine and construction services to clients in at least 16 countries around the world. It recently made headlines after the government announced one of the firm’s vessels, Bibby Stockholm, would be used to accommodate asylum seekers on the Dorset coast.

      In tandem with plans to house migrants at surplus military sites, the move was heralded by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman as a way of mitigating the £6m-a-day cost of hotel accommodation amid the massive ongoing backlog of asylum claims, as well as deterring refugees from making the dangerous channel crossing to the UK. Several protests have been organised against the project already, while over ninety migrants’ rights groups and hundreds of individual campaigners have signed an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for the plans to be scrapped, describing the barge as a “floating prison.”

      Corporate Watch has researched into the Bibby Line Group’s operations and financial interests. We found that:

      - The Bibby Stockholm vessel was previously used as a floating detention centre in the Netherlands, where undercover reporting revealed violence, sexual exploitation and poor sanitation.

      – Bibby Line Group is more than 90% owned by members of the Bibby family, primarily through trusts. Its pre-tax profits for 2021 stood at almost £31m, which they upped to £35.5m by claiming generous tax credits and deferring a fair amount to the following year.

      - Management aboard the vessel will be overseen by an Australian business travel services company, Corporate Travel Management, who have previously had aspersions cast over the financial health of their operations and the integrity of their business practices.

      - Another beneficiary of the initiative is Langham Industries, a maritime and engineering company whose owners, the Langham family, have longstanding ties to right wing parties.

      Key Issues

      According to the Home Office, the Bibby Stockholm barge will be operational for at least 18 months, housing approximately 500 single adult men while their claims are processed, with “24/7 security in place on board, to minimise the disruption to local communities.” These measures appear to have been to dissuade opposition from the local Conservative council, who pushed for background checks on detainees and were reportedly even weighing legal action out of concern for a perceived threat of physical attacks from those housed onboard, as well as potential attacks from the far right against migrants held there.

      Local campaigners have taken aim at the initiative, noting in the open letter:

      “For many people seeking asylum arriving in the UK, the sea represents a site of significant trauma as they have been forced to cross it on one or more occasions. Housing people on a sea barge – which we argue is equal to a floating prison – is morally indefensible, and threatens to re-traumatise a group of already vulnerable people.”

      Technically, migrants on the barge will be able to leave the site. However, in reality they will be under significant levels of surveillance and cordoned off behind fences in the high security port area.

      If they leave, there is an expectation they will return by 11pm, and departure will be controlled by the authorities. According to the Home Office:

      “In order to ensure that migrants come and go in an orderly manner with as little impact as possible, buses will be provided to take those accommodated on the vessel from the port to local drop off points”.

      These drop off points are to be determined by the government, while being sited off the coast of Dorset means they will be isolated from centres of support and solidarity.

      Meanwhile, the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill is designed to provide a legal justification for the automatic detention of refugees crossing the Channel. If it passes, there’s a chance this might set the stage for a change in regime on the Bibby Stockholm – from that of an “accommodation centre” to a full-blown migrant prison.

      An initial release from the Home Office suggested the local voluntary sector would be engaged “to organise activities that keep occupied those being accommodated, potentially involved in local volunteering activity,” though they seemed to have changed the wording after critics said this would mean detainees could be effectively exploited for unpaid labour. It’s also been reported the vessel required modifications in order to increase capacity to the needed level, raising further concerns over cramped living conditions and a lack of privacy.

      Bibby Line Group has prior form in border profiteering. From 1994 to 1998, the Bibby Stockholm was used to house the homeless, some of whom were asylum seekers, in Hamburg, Germany. In 2005, it was used to detain asylum seekers in the Netherlands, which proved a cause of controversy at the time. Undercover reporting revealed a number of cases abuse on board, such as beatings and sexual exploitation, as well suicide attempts, routine strip searches, scabies and the death of an Algerian man who failed to receive timely medical care for a deteriorating heart condition. As the undercover security guard wrote:

      “The longer I work on the Bibby Stockholm, the more I worry about safety on the boat. Between exclusion and containment I encounter so many defects and feel so much tension among the prisoners that it no longer seems to be a question of whether things will get completely out of hand here, but when.”

      He went on:

      “I couldn’t stand the way prisoners were treated […] The staff become like that, because the whole culture there is like that. Inhuman. They do not see the residents as people with a history, but as numbers.”

      Discussions were also held in August 2017 over the possibility of using the vessel as accommodation for some 400 students in Galway, Ireland, amid the country’s housing crisis. Though the idea was eventually dropped for lack of mooring space and planning permission requirements, local students had voiced safety concerns over the “bizarre” and “unconventional” solution to a lack of rental opportunities.
      Corporate Travel Management & Langham Industries

      Although leased from Bibby Line Group, management aboard the Bibby Stockholm itself will be handled by #Corporate_Travel_Management (#CTM), a global travel company specialising in business travel services. The Australian-headquartered company also recently received a £100m contract for the provision of accommodation, travel, venue and ancillary booking services for the housing of Ukrainian refugees at local hotels and aboard cruise ships M/S Victoria and M/S Ambition. The British Red Cross warned earlier in May against continuing to house refugees on ships with “isolated” and “windowless” cabins, and said the scheme had left many “living in limbo.”

      Founded by CEO #Jamie_Pherous, CTM was targeted in 2018 by #VGI_Partners, a group of short-sellers, who identified more than 20 red flags concerning the company’s business interests. Most strikingly, the short-sellers said they’d attended CTM’s offices in Glasgow, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Switzerland. Finding no signs of business activity there, they said it was possible the firm had significantly overstated the scale of its operations. VGI Partners also claimed CTM’s cash flows didn’t seem to add up when set against the company’s reported growth, and that CTM hadn’t fully disclosed revisions they’d made to their annual revenue figures.

      Two years later, the short-sellers released a follow-up report, questioning how CTM had managed to report a drop in rewards granted for high sales numbers to travel agencies, when in fact their transaction turnover had grown during the same period. They also accused CTM of dressing up their debt balance to make their accounts look healthier.

      CTM denied VGI Partners’ allegations. In their response, they paraphrased a report by auditors EY, supposedly confirming there were no question marks over their business practices, though the report itself was never actually made public. They further claim VGI Partners, as short-sellers, had only released the reports in the hope of benefitting from uncertainty over CTM’s operations.

      Despite these troubles, CTM’s market standing improved drastically earlier this year, when it was announced the firm had secured contracts for the provision of travel services to the UK Home Office worth in excess of $3bn AUD (£1.6bn). These have been accompanied by further tenders with, among others, the National Audit Office, HS2, Cafcass, Serious Fraud Office, Office of National Statistics, HM Revenue & Customs, National Health Service, Ministry of Justice, Department of Education, Foreign Office, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

      The Home Office has not released any figures on the cost of either leasing or management services aboard Bibby Stockholm, though press reports have put the estimated price tag at more than £20,000 a day for charter and berthing alone. If accurate, this would put the overall expenditure for the 18-month period in which the vessel will operate as a detention centre at almost £11m, exclusive of actual detention centre management costs such as security, food and healthcare.

      Another beneficiary of the project are Portland Port’s owners, #Langham_Industries, a maritime and engineering company owned by the #Langham family. The family has long-running ties to right-wing parties. Langham Industries donated over £70,000 to the UK Independence Party from 2003 up until the 2016 Brexit referendum. In 2014, Langham Industries donated money to support the re-election campaign of former Clacton MP for UKIP Douglas Carswell, shortly after his defection from the Conservatives. #Catherine_Langham, a Tory parish councillor for Hilton in Dorset, has described herself as a Langham Industries director (although she is not listed on Companies House). In 2016 she was actively involved in local efforts to support the campaign to leave the European Union. The family holds a large estate in Dorset which it uses for its other line of business, winemaking.

      At present, there is no publicly available information on who will be providing security services aboard the Bibby Stockholm.

      Business Basics

      Bibby Line Group describes itself as “one of the UK’s oldest family owned businesses,” operating in “multiple countries, employing around 1,300 colleagues, and managing over £1 billion of funds.” Its head office is registered in Liverpool, with other headquarters in Scotland, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Slovakia, Czechia, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Nigeria (see the appendix for more). The company’s primary sectors correspond to its three main UK subsidiaries:

      #Bibby_Financial_Services. A global provider of financial services. The firm provides loans to small- and medium-sized businesses engaged in business services, construction, manufacturing, transportation, export, recruitment and wholesale markets. This includes invoice financing, export and trade finance, and foreign exchanges. Overall, the subsidiary manages more than £6bn each year on behalf of some 9,000 clients across 300 different industry sectors, and in 2021 it brought in more than 50% of the group’s annual turnover.

      - #Bibby_Marine_Limited. Owner and operator of the Bibby WaveMaster fleet, a group of vessels specialising in the transport and accommodation of workers employed at remote locations, such as offshore oil and gas sites in the North Sea. Sometimes, as in the case of Chevron’s Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in Nigeria, the vessels are used as an alternative to hotels owing to a “a volatile project environment.” The fleet consists of 40 accommodation vessels similar in size to the Bibby Stockholm and a smaller number of service vessels, though the share of annual turnover pales compared to the group’s financial services operations, standing at just under 10% for 2021.

      - #Garic Ltd. Confined to construction, quarrying, airport, agriculture and transport sectors in the UK, the firm designs, manufactures and purchases plant equipment and machinery for sale or hire. Garic brought in around 14% of Bibby Line Group’s turnover in 2021.

      Prior to February 2021, Bibby Line Group also owned #Costcutter_Supermarkets_Group, before it was sold to #Bestway_Wholesale to maintain liquidity amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In their report for that year, the company’s directors also suggested grant funding from #MarRI-UK, an organisation facilitating innovation in maritime technologies and systems, had been important in preserving the firm’s position during the crisis.
      History

      The Bibby Line Group’s story begins in 1807, when Lancashire-born shipowner John Bibby began trading out of Liverpool with partner John Highfield. By the time of his death in 1840, murdered while returning home from dinner with a friend in Kirkdale, Bibby had struck out on his own and come to manage a fleet of more than 18 ships. The mysterious case of his death has never been solved, and the business was left to his sons John and James.

      Between 1891 and 1989, the company operated under the name #Bibby_Line_Limited. Its ships served as hospital and transport vessels during the First World War, as well as merchant cruisers, and the company’s entire fleet of 11 ships was requisitioned by the state in 1939.

      By 1970, the company had tripled its overseas earnings, branching into ‘factoring’, or invoice financing (converting unpaid invoices into cash for immediate use via short-term loans) in the early 1980s, before this aspect of the business was eventually spun off into Bibby Financial Services. The group acquired Garic Ltd in 2008, which currently operates four sites across the UK.

      People

      #Jonathan_Lewis has served as Bibby Line Group’s Managing and Executive Director since January 2021, prior to which he acted as the company’s Chief Financial and Strategy Officer since joining in 2019. Previously, Lewis worked as CFO for Imagination Technologies, a tech company specialising in semiconductors, and as head of supermarket Tesco’s mergers and acquisitions team. He was also a member of McKinsey’s European corporate finance practice, as well as an investment banker at Lazard. During his first year at the helm of Bibby’s operations, he was paid £748,000. Assuming his role at the head of the group’s operations, he replaced Paul Drescher, CBE, then a board member of the UK International Chamber of Commerce and a former president of the Confederation of British Industry.

      Bibby Line Group’s board also includes two immediate members of the Bibby family, Sir #Michael_James_Bibby, 3rd Bt. and his younger brother #Geoffrey_Bibby. Michael has acted as company chairman since 2020, before which he had occupied senior management roles in the company for 20 years. He also has external experience, including time at Unilever’s acquisitions, disposals and joint venture divisions, and now acts as president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, chairman of the Charities Trust, and chairman of the Institute of Family Business Research Foundation.

      Geoffrey has served as a non-executive director of the company since 2015, having previously worked as a managing director of Vast Visibility Ltd, a digital marketing and technology company. In 2021, the Bibby brothers received salaries of £125,000 and £56,000 respectively.

      The final member of the firm’s board is #David_Anderson, who has acted as non-executive director since 2012. A financier with 35 years experience in investment banking, he’s founder and CEO of EPL Advisory – which advises company boards on requirements and disclosure obligations of public markets – and chair of Creative Education Trust, a multi-academy trust comprising 17 schools. Anderson is also chairman at multinational ship broker Howe Robinson Partners, which recently auctioned off a superyacht seized from Dmitry Pumpyansky, after the sanctioned Russian businessman reneged on a €20.5m loan from JP Morgan. In 2021, Anderson’s salary stood at £55,000.

      Ownership

      Bibby Line Group’s annual report and accounts for 2021 state that more than 90% of the company is owned by members of the Bibby family, primarily through family trusts. These ownership structures, effectively entities allowing people to benefit from assets without being their registered legal owners, have long attracted staunch criticism from transparency advocates given the obscurity they afford means they often feature extensively in corruption, money laundering and tax abuse schemes.

      According to Companies House, the UK corporate registry, between 50% and 75% of Bibby Line Group’s shares and voting rights are owned by #Bibby_Family_Company_Limited, which also retains the right to appoint and remove members of the board. Directors of Bibby Family Company Limited include both the Bibby brothers, as well as a third sibling, #Peter_John_Bibby, who’s formally listed as the firm’s ‘ultimate beneficial owner’ (i.e. the person who ultimately profits from the company’s assets).

      Other people with comparable shares in Bibby Family Company Limited are #Mark_Rupert_Feeny, #Philip_Charles_Okell, and Lady #Christine_Maud_Bibby. Feeny’s occupation is listed as solicitor, with other interests in real estate management and a position on the board of the University of Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited. Okell meanwhile appears as director of Okell Money Management Limited, a wealth management firm, while Lady Bibby, Michael and Geoffrey’s mother, appears as “retired playground supervisor.”

      Key Relationships

      Bibby Line Group runs an internal ‘Donate a Day’ volunteer program, enabling employees to take paid leave in order to “help causes they care about.” Specific charities colleagues have volunteered with, listed in the company’s Annual Review for 2021 to 2022, include:

      - The Hive Youth Zone. An award-winning charity for young people with disabilities, based in the Wirral.

      – The Whitechapel Centre. A leading homeless and housing charity in the Liverpool region, working with people sleeping rough, living in hostels, or struggling with their accommodation.

      - Let’s Play Project. Another charity specialising in after-school and holiday activities for young people with additional needs in the Banbury area.

      - Whitdale House. A care home for the elderly, based in Whitburn, West Lothian and run by the local council.

      – DEBRA. An Irish charity set up in 1988 for individuals living with a rare, painful skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, as well as their families.

      – Reaching Out Homeless Outreach. A non-profit providing resources and support to the homeless in Ireland.

      Various senior executives and associated actors at Bibby Line Group and its subsidiaries also have current and former ties to the following organisations:

      - UK Chamber of Shipping

      - Charities Trust

      - Institute of Family Business Research Foundation

      - Indefatigable Old Boys Association

      - Howe Robinson Partners

      - hibu Ltd

      - EPL Advisory

      - Creative Education Trust

      - Capita Health and Wellbeing Limited

      - The Ambassador Theatre Group Limited

      – Pilkington Plc

      – UK International Chamber of Commerce

      – Confederation of British Industry

      – Arkley Finance Limited (Weatherby’s Banking Group)

      – FastMarkets Ltd, Multiple Sclerosis Society

      – Early Music as Education

      – Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited

      – Okell Money Management Limited

      Finances

      For the period ending 2021, Bibby Line Group’s total turnover stood at just under £260m, with a pre-tax profit of almost £31m – fairly healthy for a company providing maritime services during a global pandemic. Their post-tax profits in fact stood at £35.5m, an increase they would appear to have secured by claiming generous tax credits (£4.6m) and deferring a fair amount (£8.4m) to the following year.

      Judging by their last available statement on the firm’s profitability, Bibby’s directors seem fairly confident the company has adequate financing and resources to continue operations for the foreseeable future. They stress their February 2021 sale of Costcutter was an important step in securing this, given it provided additional liquidity during the pandemic, as well as the funding secured for R&D on fuel consumption by Bibby Marine’s fleet.
      Scandal Sheet

      Bibby Line Group and its subsidiaries have featured in a number of UK legal proceedings over the years, sometimes as defendants. One notable case is Godfrey v Bibby Line, a lawsuit brought against the company in 2019 after one of their former employees died as the result of an asbestos-related disease.

      In their claim, the executors of Alan Peter Godfrey’s estate maintained that between 1965 and 1972, he was repeatedly exposed to large amounts of asbestos while working on board various Bibby vessels. Although the link between the material and fatal lung conditions was established as early as 1930, they claimed that Bibby Line, among other things:

      “Failed to warn the deceased of the risk of contracting asbestos related disease or of the precautions to be taken in relation thereto;

      “Failed to heed or act upon the expert evidence available to them as to the best means of protecting their workers from danger from asbestos dust; [and]

      “Failed to take all reasonably practicable measures, either by securing adequate ventilation or by the provision and use of suitable respirators or otherwise, to prevent inhalation of dust.”

      The lawsuit, which claimed “unlimited damage”’ against the group, also stated that Mr Godfrey’s “condition deteriorated rapidly with worsening pain and debility,” and that he was “completely dependent upon others for his needs by the last weeks of his life.” There is no publicly available information on how the matter was concluded.

      In 2017, Bibby Line Limited also featured in a leak of more than 13.4 million financial records known as the Paradise Papers, specifically as a client of Appleby, which provided “offshore corporate services” such as legal and accountancy work. According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a global network of investigative media outlets, leaked Appleby documents revealed, among other things, “the ties between Russia and [Trump’s] billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.”

      This would not appear to be the Bibby group’s only link to the shady world of offshore finance. Michael Bibby pops up as a treasurer for two shell companies registered in Panama, Minimar Transport S.A. and Vista Equities Inc.
      Looking Forward

      Much about the Bibby Stockholm saga remains to be seen. The exact cost of the initiative and who will be providing security services on board, are open questions. What’s clear however is that activists will continue to oppose the plans, with efforts to prevent the vessel sailing from Falmouth to its final docking in Portland scheduled to take place on 30th June.

      Appendix: Company Addresses

      HQ and general inquiries: 3rd Floor Walker House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, United Kingdom, L2 3YL

      Tel: +44 (0) 151 708 8000

      Other offices, as of 2021:

      6, Shenton Way, #18-08A Oue Downtown 068809, Singapore

      1/1, The Exchange Building, 142 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5LA, United Kingdom

      4th Floor Heather House, Heather Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland

      Unit 2302, 23/F Jubilee Centre, 18 Fenwick Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong

      Unit 508, Fifth Floor, Metropolis Mall, MG Road, Gurugram, Haryana, 122002 India

      Suite 7E, Level 7, Menara Ansar, 65 Jalan Trus, 8000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

      160 Avenue Jean Jaures, CS 90404, 69364 Lyon Cedex, France

      Prievozská 4D, Block E, 13th Floor, Bratislava 821 09, Slovak Republic

      Hlinky 118, Brno, 603 00, Czech Republic

      Laan Van Diepenvoorde 5, 5582 LA, Waalre, Netherlands

      Hansaallee 249, 40549 Düsseldorf, Germany

      Poland Eurocentrum, Al. Jerozolimskie 134, 02-305 Warsaw, Poland

      1/2 Atarbekova str, 350062, Krasnodar, Krasnodar

      1 St Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 3AE, United Kingdom

      25 Adeyemo Alakija Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

      10 Anson Road, #09-17 International Plaza, 079903 Singapore

      https://corporatewatch.org/floating-prisons-the-200-year-old-family-business-behind-the-bibby-s

      signalé ici aussi par @rezo:
      https://seenthis.net/messages/1010504

    • The Langham family seem quite happy to support right-wing political parties that are against immigration, while at the same time profiting handsomely from the misery of refugees who are forced to claim sanctuary here.


      https://twitter.com/PositiveActionH/status/1687817910364884992

      –---

      Family firm ’profiteering from misery’ by providing migrant barges donated £70k to #UKIP

      The Langham family, owners of Langham Industries, is now set to profit from an 18-month contract with the Home Office to let the Bibby Stockholm berth at Portland, Dorset

      A family firm that donated more than £70,000 to UKIP is “profiteering from misery” by hosting the Government’s controversial migrant barge. Langham Industries owns Portland Port, where the Bibby Stockholm is docked in a deal reported to be worth some £2.5million.

      The Langham family owns luxurious properties and has links to high-profile politicians, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden. And we can reveal that their business made 19 donations to pro-Brexit party UKIP between 2003 and 2016.

      Late founder John Langham was described as an “avid supporter” of UKIP in an obituary in 2017. Now his children, John, Jill and Justin – all directors of the family firm – are set to profit from an 18-month contract with the Home Office to let the Bibby Stockholm berth at Portland, Dorset.

      While Portland Port refuses to reveal how much the Home Office is paying, its website cites berthing fees for a ship the size of the Bibby Stockholm at more than £4,000 a day. In 2011, Portland Port chairman John, 71, invested £3.7million in Grade II* listed country pile Steeple Manor at Wareham, Dorset. Dating to around 1600, it has a pond, tennis court and extensive gardens designed by the landscape architect Brenda Colvin.

      The arrangement to host the “prison-like” barge for housing migrants has led some locals to blast the Langhams, who have owned the port since 1997. Portland mayor Carralyn Parkes, 61, said: “I don’t know how John Langham will sleep at night in his luxurious home, with his tennis court and his fluffy bed, when asylum seekers are sleeping in tiny beds on the barge.

      “I went on the boat and measured the rooms with a tape measure. On average they are about 10ft by 12ft. The bunk bed mattresses are about 6ft long. If you’re taller than 6ft you’re stuffed. The Langham family need to have more humanity. They are only interested in making money. It’s shocking.”

      (#paywall)
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/family-firm-profiteering-misery-providing-30584405.amp

      #UK_Independence_Party

    • ‘This is a prison’: men tell of distressing conditions on Bibby Stockholm

      Asylum seekers share fears about Dorset barge becoming even more crowded, saying they already ‘despair and wish for death’

      Asylum seekers brought back to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, have said they are being treated in such a way that “we despair and wish for death”.

      The Guardian spoke to two men in their first interview since their return to the barge on 19 October after the vessel lay empty for more than two months. The presence of deadly legionella bacteria was confirmed on board on 7 August, the same day the first group of asylum seekers arrived. The barge was evacuated four days later.

      The new warning comes after it emerged that one asylum seeker attempted to kill himself and is in hospital after finding out he is due to be taken to the barge on Tuesday.

      A man currently on the barge told the Guardian: “Government decisions are turning healthy and normal refugees into mental patients whom they then hand over to society. Here, many people were healthy and coping with OK spirits, but as a result of the dysfunctional strategies of the government, they have suffered – and continue to suffer – from various forms of serious mental distress. We are treated in such a way that we despair and wish for death.”

      He said that although the asylum seekers were not detained on the barge and could leave to visit the nearby town, in practice, doing so was not easy.

      He added: “In the barge, we have exactly the feeling of being in prison. It is true that they say that this is not a prison and you can go outside at any time, but you can only go to specific stops at certain times by bus, and this does not give me a good feeling.

      “Even to use the fresh air, you have to go through the inspection every time and go to the small yard with high fences and go through the X-ray machine again. And this is not good for our health.

      “In short, this is a prison whose prisoners are not criminals, they are people who have fled their country just to save their lives and have taken shelter here to live.”

      The asylum seekers raised concerns about what conditions on the barge would be like if the Home Office did fill it with about 500 asylum seekers, as officials say is the plan. Those on board said it already felt quite full with about 70 people living there.

      The second asylum seeker said: “The space inside the barge is very small. It feels crowded in the dining hall and the small entertainment room. It is absolutely clear to me that there will be chaos here soon.

      “According to my estimate, as I look at the spaces around us, the capacity of this barge is maximum 120 people, including personnel and crew. The strategy of ​​transferring refugees from hotels to barges or ships or military installations is bound to fail.

      “The situation here on the barge is getting worse. Does the government have a plan for shipwrecked residents? Everyone here is going mad with anxiety. It is not just the barge that floats on the water, but the plans of the government that are radically adrift.”

      Maddie Harris of the NGO Humans For Rights Network, which supports asylum seekers in hotels, said: “Home Office policies directly contribute to the significant deterioration of the wellbeing and mental health of so many asylum seekers in their ‘care’, with a dehumanising environment, violent anti-migrant rhetoric and isolated accommodations away from community and lacking in support.”

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Bibby Stockholm is part of the government’s pledge to reduce the use of expensive hotels and bring forward alternative accommodation options which provide a more cost-effective, sustainable and manageable system for the UK taxpayer and local communities.

      “The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains the utmost priority. We work continually to ensure the needs and vulnerabilities of those residing in asylum accommodation are identified and considered, including those related to mental health and trauma.”

      Nadia Whittome and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MPs for Nottingham East and Brighton Kemptown respectively, will travel to Portland on Monday to meet asylum seekers accommodated on the Bibby Stockholm barge and local community members.

      The visit follows the home secretary, Suella Braverman, not approving a visit from the MPs to assess living conditions as they requested through parliamentary channels.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/oct/29/this-is-a-prison-men-tell-of-distressing-conditions-on-bibby-stockholm
      #prison #conditions_de_vie

  • #Home_Office planning to house asylum seekers on disused cruise ships

    Exclusive: Ministers facing growing anger from Tory backbenchers over use of hotels in their constituencies

    The Home Office is planning to use disused cruise ships to house asylum seekers amid growing anger from Conservative backbenchers over the use of hotels in their constituencies.

    Ministers are looking at possible vessels including a former cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in south-west England, the Guardian understands.

    During the Conservative leadership campaign last summer, Rishi Sunak proposed putting illegal immigrants on cruise ships moored around the country but was warned it could be illegal under the Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights.

    Downing Street confirmed he had dropped the idea to use the ships to house asylum seekers, which critics said would amount to arbitrary detention, once he became prime minister last October.

    Sources suggested, however, that the cruise ships could be registered as hotels rather than detention centres to get around possible legal challenges.

    The immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, is due to make an announcement on Wednesday regarding asylum accommodation amid speculation that it will include the use of boats and military barracks. It could also disclose plans to make use of a clause in the levelling up bill to force councils to accept large-scale accommodation for those seeking asylum.

    Multiple reports on Tuesday night suggested a plan to house asylum seekers on giant barges normally used for offshore construction projects could also be announced.

    The barges are built to house hundreds of people, although a government source told the Times that plans were at an “early stage” and had significant practical issues that needed to be addressed.

    The disclosure comes as the Home Office admitted nearly 400 hotels across the country were being used to accommodate more than 51,000 people at a reported cost of more than £6m a day.

    Sunak is under pressure to come up with alternatives as Conservative MPs, including members of his own cabinet, object to plans to move some people from hotels into former military bases.

    Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is expected to announce alternatives to hotel accommodation as soon as this week. They are expected to be used for new arrivals initially, rather than to rehouse people who are in hotels.

    The prime minister managed to face down a potentially big rebellion on Monday as up to 60 Tory MPs attempted to amend the new illegal migration bill by giving UK courts the power to ignore rulings by Strasbourg judges.

    Whitehall sources confirmed that the government had “in recent months” examined plans including using cruise ships from across the world, which could be brought to the UK and then used to house asylum seekers.

    The ships would be moored off the coast, emulating an approach by the Scottish government, which housed Ukrainian refugees in two 700-cabin ships. They were docked in Glasgow and Edinburgh and could hold 1,750 people each.

    Braverman said she would not rule out the use of former cruise ships when questioned in December by a House of Lords committee. “We will bring forward a range of alternative sites, they will include disused holiday parks, former student halls – I should say we are looking at those sites – I wouldn’t say anything is confirmed yet.

    “But we need to bring forward thousands of places, and when you talk about vessels all I can say is – because we are in discussion with a wide variety of providers – that everything is still on the table and nothing is excluded,” she said.

    It comes amid a Tory backlash over hotels in constituencies being used to house asylum seekers.

    Ministers had also drawn up plans to use two military bases that were identified to house asylum seekers earlier this year – RAF Scampton, the Dambusters’ base in Lincolnshire, and MDP Wethersfield in Braintree, Essex. But they are facing opposition from local Conservative politicians. Council leaders in Braintree are taking legal action to stop up to 5,000 people being moved to the site over the space of a year.

    James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, who is the local MP, wrote on his Facebook page that Wethersfield was inappropriate as an asylum camp because of “the remote nature of the site, limited transport infrastructure and narrow road network”.

    The local council in Scampton is seeking listed status for the Lincolnshire base, while historians and RAF veterans have written to the government asking for the plans to be halted.

    One government source, asked about the possible use of cruise ships, said ministers were working to end the use of hotels and bring forward a range of alternative sites for longer-term accommodation. But they would not discuss details of individual sites or proposals that could be used for bridging or asylum accommodation.

    A government spokesperson said: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country.

    “We continue to work across government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options. The government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/mar/28/home-office-planning-to-house-asylum-seekers-on-disused-cruise-ships
    #hébergement #asile #réfugiés #migrations #bateaux #bateaux_de_croisière #bateau_de_croisière #Angleterre #UK

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur la Bibby Stockholm :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/1016683

    ajouté à la métaliste #migrations et #tourisme :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/770799

    • Air force bases set to be used to house migrants as ministers hunt for cheaper alternatives to hotels

      The Government are reportedly also considering a former cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in south-west England, as a possible site

      Migrants will be housed at two air force bases in a bid to cut down on the use of hotels and deter people from crossing the Channel on small boats, the immigration minister is expected to announce on Wednesday.

      #RAF_Scampton in Lincolnshire, the former home of the Dambusters and Red Arrows, and #RAF_Wethersfield in Essex are expected to be among the accommodation sites for asylum seekers confirmed by Robert Jenrick, despite local opposition.

      The announcement is being made with the aim of ending the use of hotels for migrants – a pledge the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has made. More than 51,000 people are being housed in 395 hotels, according to the BBC, at an estimated cost of £5.6m a day. Holiday parks and student halls are not expected to be included on the initial list of new sites.

      The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, has found himself at odds with his own government over plans to house asylum seekers at RAF Wethersfield, which is in his constituency.

      Braintree District Council is taking legal action against the Home Office in an attempt to secure an injunction against plans to house 1,500 migrants at RAF #Wethersfield.

      Veteran Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh has meanwhile raised concerns that using RAF Scampton to house asylum seekers could put at risk a £300 million investment plan for the site.

      A plan to turn a former RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse, in the constituency of Mr Sunak’s close ally Kevin Hollinrake, into a processing centre for asylum seekers, was meanwhile ditched under Liz Truss.

      During the Tory leadership contest last summer, the Prime Minister pledged to use “cruise ships” as part of efforts to “end the farce of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent every day on housing illegal migrants in hotels”.

      Downing Street did not respond to a question on whether that meant the prospect of using cruise ships has now been shelved.

      The Guardian reports that the Government was considering a former cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in south-west England, as a possible site.

      According to The Sun, an announcement on nautical accommodation will be made in the coming days.

      There are reports ministers are said to be considering obtaining accommodation barges – typically used for offshore construction projects with only basic facilities – which could house hundreds of migrants who are currently in hotels.

      The plan is at an “early stage”, The Times reported, with ministers not yet decided on where the barge or barges will be stationed, though they are expected to be stationed at port, rather than at sea.

      A source told The Times the Government was aware of “significant practical issues” with these vessels, and it was not clear how safety would be dealt with, though a source told the newspaper: “It’s a row we’re prepared to have.”

      The Government is said to be keen on the idea as a way to discourage people from crossing the Channel and is pointing to countries like France housing refugees in floating vessels.

      Meanwhile, right-wing Tory rebel Jonathan Gullis said it would be “perfectly acceptable” to house asylum seekers in tents while they await for deportation, amid concerns about the cost of hotels.

      During a debate on the Illegal Migration Bill, ministers were also urged to give “serious assurances” they will not return to the “barbaric days” of detaining children in immigration centres.

      Conservative former minister Tim Loughton led calls for the Government to confirm it would not place migrant children in indefinite detention if they come to the UK by unauthorised means.

      Centrist Tories were joined by MPs from across the political spectrum who are worried that a coalition government-era policy not to detain children could be overturned.

      The announcement comes after months of pressure from Tory MPs over the use of hotels for asylum seekers, at a cost of £5.6m a day.

      But it will also be a test of the Government’s ability to override local opposition to build new asylum sites.

      Plans for alternative sites have however triggered a backlash from some Tory MPs over now-abandoned plans to house asylum seekers in Pontins holiday parks in Southport and Camber Sands.

      https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/rishi-sunak-plan-house-asylum-seekers-cruise-ships-shelved-for-now-2239548
      #bases_aériennes #Scampton

    • Au Royaume-Uni, des #barges pour parquer les réfugiés qui traversent la Manche

      Le gouvernement britannique multiplie les annonces censées dissuader les migrants de traverser. La dernière innovation prévoit d’installer les demandeurs d’asile sur d’anciennes embarcations, dans les ports, le temps de leur procédure. Le premier ministre se targue d’avoir déjà fait baisser le nombre de passages depuis la France.

      LeLe feuilleton au Royaume-Uni se poursuit. Les exilé·es, qui en sont les actrices et acteurs principaux, ne sont pour autant jamais consulté·es. On parle d’elles et d’eux comme des « indésirables » qu’il faudrait éloigner, tantôt en usant de machines capables de générer des vagues en mer, tantôt en les parquant sur des ferrys hors d’usage en mer.

      Il y a eu ensuite l’accord non officiel signé entre le Royaume-Uni et le Rwanda, visant à acter le projet de sous-traitance des demandes d’asile à un pays tiers. Un accord décrié et vivement critiqué par les membres de la société civile, mais aussi des chercheurs et chercheuses, qui soulignaient combien cette externalisation venait saboter le droit d’asile.

      Faute de pouvoir encore les envoyer au Rwanda – l’accord a fait l’objet d’un recours devant la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH), puis devant la justice britannique fin 2022 –, le gouvernement a décidé plus récemment d’installer une barge au sud-ouest du pays pour y parquer les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile qui parviendraient à rejoindre le Royaume-Uni de manière irrégulière.

      L’objectif ? Dissuader les personnes exilées de tenter la traversée de la Manche, alors que le nombre de traversées n’a jamais été aussi élevé en 2022, et qu’un terrible naufrage survenu le 24 novembre 2021 ayant coûté la vie à au moins 27 migrant·es est venu souligner les défaillances du secours en mer.

      Satisfait des résultats de son « plan », le premier ministre britannique, Rishi Sunak, a annoncé l’installation de deux nouvelles barges pour l’accueil de demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile, d’une capacité de 500 personnes chacune, d’ici cet été. Le gouvernement entend ainsi réduire de moitié la facture correspondant à l’hébergement des migrant·es dans les hôtels du pays, qui s’élèverait à 6 millions de livres (soit environ 7 millions d’euros) par jour.
      Un « plan » qui fonctionnerait déjà

      La toute première barge, baptisée Bibby Stockholm, a fait l’objet d’une rénovation à Falmouth et sera installée au port de Portland, une petite île située au sud-ouest de Londres. Elle devrait accueillir 500 personnes pour un total de 200 chambres, et sera surveillée en permanence dans l’objectif de préserver la population locale, avancent les autorités.

      La barge aurait coûté, selon le journal The Times, près de 20 000 livres (soit 23 000 euros), et le dispositif coûterait « nettement moins cher que les hôtels », a affirmé Rishi Sunak. La ministre de l’intérieur britannique, Suella Braverman, avait déjà affirmé le souhait de freiner l’hébergement des demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile dans les hôtels, compte tenu du coût que cela engendrait « pour le contribuable ».

      Le 5 juin, le premier ministre a tenu un discours particulièrement dur à leur endroit, renvoyant dos à dos les difficultés économiques rencontrées par les Britanniques dans un contexte d’inflation et le coût de l’accueil des migrant·es.

      « Notre plan commence à fonctionner. Avant que l’on ne le mette en place en décembre, le nombre de personnes ayant traversé illégalement la Manche avait quadruplé en deux ans. Mais en cinq mois, les traversées ont baissé de 20 % par rapport à l’an dernier », a-t-il rassuré. Ce serait la première fois, insiste Rishi Sunak, qu’une baisse des arrivées serait observée sur la période de janvier à mai.

      « Je ne me reposerai pas tant que les bateaux ne sont pas stoppés », a-t-il poursuivi, indiquant utiliser « tous les outils à disposition » ; à commencer par la diplomatie, puisque le partenariat avec la France aurait permis d’empêcher 33 000 traversées en 2022, soit une hausse de 40 % des interceptions.

      L’accord signé avec l’Albanie en décembre dernier, pour réduire les migrations depuis « un pays sûr, européen », aurait lui aussi porté ses fruits. Alors que les Albanais·es représentaient un tiers des arrivées en small boats (lire nos reportages ici et là), Rishi Sunak se vante d’avoir ainsi fait baisser ce chiffre de près de 90 %, et d’avoir expulsé 1 800 ressortissant·es albanais·es en l’espace de six mois.

      « C’est bien la preuve que notre stratégie de détermination peut fonctionner. Quand les gens savent qu’en venant ici illégalement, ils ne pourront pas rester, ils ne viennent plus. »

      Pour « sortir » les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile du schéma classique d’hébergement dans les hôtels, le gouvernement compte par ailleurs se servir de lieux « alternatifs », comme des bases militaires situées à Wethersfield et à Scampton, où des centaines de personnes devraient être transférées d’ici à cet été, et 3 000 d’ici à l’automne. Celles et ceux restant dans les hôtels pourront être amenés à partager une même chambre avec plusieurs personnes, « lorsque c’est approprié ».
      L’externalisation toujours d’actualité

      « Et je dis à ces migrants qui protestent : ceci est plus que juste. Si vous venez ici illégalement, en quête d’une protection après avoir fui la mort, la torture ou la persécution, alors vous devriez pouvoir partager une chambre d’hôtel, payée par le contribuable, dans le centre de Londres. »

      À l’avenir, le gouvernement britannique mise aussi sur la réforme de la loi sur l’immigration et espère, une fois tous les recours en justice « terminés », pouvoir mettre en pratique la nouvelle loi sur la migration, qui permettrait de placer en détention toute personne arrivée illégalement sur le territoire, avant de l’expulser, soit vers son pays d’origine, soit vers un pays tiers comme le Rwanda, avec lequel un accord a été signé en ce sens.

      « Nous voulons que les choses soient claires, a martelé Rishi Sunak lors de son discours empli de fermeté. Je sais que ce sont des mesures difficiles. Et je ne m’en excuserai pas. »

      Dans un rapport rendu public le 11 juin, le comité mixte des droits de l’homme du Parlement britannique a exhorté le gouvernement à « ne pas enfreindre ses obligations légales envers les réfugiés, les enfants et les victimes de l’esclavage moderne », et à « jouer son rôle dans le système international de protection des réfugiés ». Invitée à répondre aux questions des membres de ce comité, la ministre de l’intérieur n’a pas donné suite.

      Le rapport final, qui contient une liste de recommandations telles que le respect effectif du droit d’asile ou du droit européen (comme les mesures de la CEDH), le non-recours à la détention des migrant·es et la protection des mineur·es non accompagné·es et autres publics vulnérables, appelle le gouvernement à répondre dans les deux mois.

      Celui-ci n’y répondra sans doute pas, considérant que la lutte contre la « migration illégale » est une priorité urgente pour laquelle tous les moyens sont permis.
      La société civile ne cesse de dire son inquiétude

      « Nous sommes profondément inquiets de voir que le gouvernement prévoit d’héberger un nombre grandissant de demandeurs d’asile dans des lieux totalement inadaptés à leurs besoins », avait dénoncé dans un tweet le Refugee Council, une organisation venant en aide aux personnes migrantes et réfugiées en Angleterre, réagissant à l’annonce de l’installation de la première barge.

      Sans compter la portée symbolique associée au fait de loger des personnes ayant traversé la Manche – et potentiellement d’autres eaux – à bord d’une embarcation qui, bien qu’elle soit à quai, ne peut que raviver le souvenir d’un parcours migratoire souvent dangereux et des vies que la mer emporte régulièrement, quand elle ne renforce pas le sentiment d’insécurité lié à une potentielle expulsion.

      Le Royaume-Uni a finalement réinventé le concept de « zone d’attente », mais pour les demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile. Reste à savoir dans quelle mesure leur liberté de circulation sera respectée ou non.

      Si le gouvernement britannique assure que la portée dissuasive de son discours et de ses mesures « fonctionne », il serait bon de se pencher sur les résultats concrets d’une telle politique, qui pousse les personnes exilées à davantage de précarité : celles qui n’osent effectivement plus tenter la traversée n’ont que la perspective des camps et de la rue pour horizon, à l’heure où l’État maintient une politique « zéro point de fixation » pour éviter que la jungle de Calais ne se reforme et où l’accueil des migrant·es est toujours plus décousu.

      Celles qui tentent toutefois de rejoindre le Royaume-Uni en small boat prennent de plus en plus de risques, partant désormais de communes plus éloignées des côtes anglaises pour éviter les contrôles et patrouilles des forces de l’ordre, dont les effectifs sont particulièrement présents aux abords des plages servant de points de départ.

      L’association Utopia 56, très présente sur le littoral pour venir en aide aux exilé·es, n’a d’ailleurs pas tardé à réagir aux annonces de Rishi Sunak. « Pourtant, ces quatre derniers jours, 1 519 personnes ont traversé la Manche et nos équipes ont reçu douze appels d’embarcations en détresse. Rishi Sunak, Gérald Darmanin, malgré les effets d’annonce, vos politiques violentes ne mènent à rien, sinon à pousser les personnes à risquer leur vie », a tweeté l’organisation le 14 juin.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/160623/au-royaume-uni-des-barges-pour-parquer-les-refugies-qui-traversent-la-manc
      #Bibby_Stockholm

    • Government quietly awards travel firm £1.6bn contract for asylum barges and accommodation

      Fury over astonishing sum to operate barges and run services to house asylum seekers in Britain

      An Australian travel firm previously slammed for its handling of Covid quarantine hotels has been quietly handed a £1.6bn contract covering the UK’s new asylum accommodation ships, The Independent can reveal.

      #Corporate_Travel_Management (#CTM) was put in charge of the lucrative two-year arrangement in February, weeks before the government revealed it would use a barge as its first offshore accommodation for asylum seekers.

      The contract was awarded directly to CTM without competition, and a lawyer with knowledge of the system said the government had pushed a wider deal originally drawn up for official travel “beyond what it was intended to be used for”.

      Ministers have repeatedly refused to detail the projected cost of Rishi Sunak’s controversial asylum vessels, while insisting they will be cheaper than using hotels that are currently costing £6m a day.

      This week, Suella Braverman told parliament’s Home Affairs Committee she could not predict the cost of the new Illegal Migration Bill, because there are “many unknown factors”.

      Three vessels so far have been announced, with a barge named the “Bibby Stockholm” due to arrive in Portland, Dorset later this month and a further two ships set for undisclosed locations.

      Richard Drax, the Conservative MP for South Dorset, said the public “should know how much is being paid” on the barge set-up and said the spending he was aware of so far was “alarmingly high”.

      “The point is this is taxpayers’ money,” he told The Independent. “This contract might actually be separate to what the ports are being paid.

      “Then on top of that, the police want money, the health authority wants money, of course the council wants money, and yet the government continues to insist that this is cheaper than hotels. The overall figure will be alarmingly high.”

      Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said the Home Office has “serious questions to answer”.

      “The Tories are spending more and more taxpayers’ money on their total failure to fix the asylum backlog they have created,” she added.

      “This is an incredibly expensive contract with no clarity on whether proper procedures have been followed, and the barges come on top of costly hotels, not instead of them, because of the government failure to take asylum decisions or get any grip.”

      The CTM contract, published under the title “provision of bridging accommodation and travel services”, states that it has an estimated value of £1,593,535,200 over two years and could be extended beyond 2025.

      The Home Office refused to answer The Independent’s questions on what portion of the contract covers barges, and parts of official documents headed “pricing details” have been redacted in full because of “commercial interests”.

      John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This murky contract leaves taxpayers in the dark. The migrant crisis may require an urgent response, but bungled procurement has cost a fortune in recent years.

      “Ministers must ensure transparency and value for money when tendering services.”

      Answering a parliamentary question on the Bibby Stockholm in May, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said it would be managed “by a specialist and experienced provider, which has a strong track record of providing this kind of accommodation”. He added that the provider had “managed two vessels [housing Ukrainian refugees] in Scottish ports for the past year”.

      On its website, CTM describes itself as “a global provider of innovative and cost-effective travel solutions spanning corporate, events, leisure, loyalty and wholesale travel”.

      The firm says it was established in Brisbane in 1994 and has since grown from a “two-person start-up into one of the world’s most successful travel management companies”, operating across Australasia, Asia, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It has two UK offices in London and Manchester.

      The firm’s most recent financial report hailed record profits, having taken A$292m (£160m) in revenue over the last six months of 2022.

      A notice to its shareholders celebrated the new contract’s “significant impact” on financial growth, adding: “This work involves highly complex services and logistic support… CTM has both the experience and specialised knowledge to support this work.”

      The government placed the new barges under a pre-existing agreement with CTM for “travel and venue solutions”, which previously covered official bookings for conferences, flights, train tickets, hotels and vehicle hire for ministers and civil servants.

      A source familiar with the drawing up of the overarching framework accused the government of “pushing the scope beyond what it was intended to be used for”.

      “If products and services are outside scope there’s a procurement failure and the contract has been awarded without following the rules,” they told The Independent. “It doesn’t look like the right vehicle for this kind of contract and it looks like they’ve done it to minimise visibility.”

      The remit of CTM’s government work was widened during the pandemic and its general manager for northern England, Michael Healy, was made an OBE in the 2021 New Year honours list over the repatriation of British nationals stranded abroad during the Covid pandemic.

      A report by parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee found that the operation was “too slow and placed too much reliance on commercial providers”, but CTM was then handed a contract for operating quarantine hotels and mandatory testing.

      In a series of angry Google reviews that dragged the company’s rating down to 1.4 stars, one person called CTM “incompetent”, while another wrote: “Shame on the Tory government UK, on whoever decided to give them this contract.”

      Several MPs raised their constituents’ poor experiences in parliament, with one presenting a formal petition demanding compensation and saying the way the contract was awarded “avoided due process or competition”.

      CTM was later involved in operations to transport Afghans and Ukrainians to the UK, and operated two cruise ships used to temporarily house Ukrainian refugees in Scotland.

      That contract, which was also awarded without competition under the same framework as the new barges, covered two ships and hotels, and had an estimated value of £100m.

      CTM declined to comment and did not answer The Independent’s request for details of what the contract covered.

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options, which offer better value for money for taxpayers than hotels. It is right that we explore all available options.

      “CTM was awarded the contract to deliver accommodation for the Home Office after an extensive procurement process and has a strong track record of providing this kind of accommodation.

      “We are pleased that they will be providing management for Bibby Stockholm, the two additional vessels announced by the prime minister, as well as bridging accommodation and travel services.”

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/barge-australia-asylum-contract-travel-b2354578.html

    • Le “prigioni galleggianti”: il nuovo piano del Regno Unito per la prima accoglienza

      L’intervista a Tigs Louis-Puttick, fondatrice dell’ONG Reclaim The Sea, arrestata nei giorni scorsi durante una protesta

      Fanno discutere in UK, e non solo, le “prigioni galleggianti” volute fortemente dal primo ministro britannico Rishi Sunak e il ministro dell’Interno Suella Braverman. Una misura per risparmiare sul costo della prima accoglienza che ora prevede la sistemazione in albergo dei richiedenti asilo.

      “Bibby Stockholm” è il nome della chiatta marittima che per i prossimi 18 mesi sarà utilizzata dal governo britannico per “ospitare” fino a 506 richiedenti asilo uomini, tra i 18 e i 56 anni, in attesa che si concluda l’iter della domanda di accoglienza nel Paese.

      Abbiamo parlato del nuovo piano del governo britannico e della campagna “No floating prisons” in questa intervista a Tigs Louis-Puttick, fondatrice dell’ONG Reclaim The Sea. L’attivista il 18 luglio scorso è stata arrestata «per essermi fermata in strada davanti al Ministero degli Interni con un cartello che diceva ‘Refugees Welcome’ e ‘No all’Immigration Bill, No Floating Prisons‘», ha dichiarato Tigs Louis-Puttick 1.

      Nello stesso giorno la “Bibby Stockholm” attraccava nel porto di Portland.

      Il nuovo piano del governo britannico prevede la prima accoglienza di 500 persone richiedenti asilo in una gigantesca chiatta-alloggio ancorata in un porto nel Canale della Manica, violando la libertà di movimento e il diritto alla privacy.

      Il 5 aprile 2023 l’Ufficio degli Interni britannico (Home Office) ha annunciato l’avvio di un piano per “accogliere” le persone migranti su una gigantesca chiatta-alloggio (la Bibby Stockhom), che giacerà all’interno del porto dell’isola di Portland, nel Canale della Manica. Secondo quanto dichiarato, la decisione è stata presa per “(…) ridurre l’insostenibile pressione sul sistema d’asilo britannico e ridurre l’onere economico che pesa sui contribuenti, causato dall’aumento significativo degli attraversamenti del Canale della Manica” 2. Da quanto emerge dalle dichiarazioni ufficiali dell’Home Office, la Bibby Stockholm diventerà operativa da luglio per un periodo iniziale di 18 mesi, e ospiterà fino a 500 richiedenti asilo uomini, tra i 18 e i 65 anni. La chiatta giacerà in un’area cosiddetta “protetta” del porto, da dove sarà possibile uscire e accedere al centro abitato solamente tramite un servizio autobus dedicato. A bordo, sarà presente un servizio di lavanderia, un catering per i pasti e degli spazi comuni. Sebbene sarà permesso scendere e accedere terra ferma, al momento, per gli ospiti, non è prevista l’erogazione di alcun servizio relativo all’accoglienza al di fuori del porto 3.

      È più che evidente come, l’Home Office miri alla limitazione della libertà di movimento delle persone migranti, riducendola ai minimi termini. Secondo quanto stimato da The Independent lo spazio che ogni persona avrà a disposizione sulla chiatta sarà di appena 15 metri quadri, “la misura di un posto auto”.

      Richard Drax, esponente del partito Conservatore britannico, l’ha definita una “quasi-prigione”, dove le persone saranno lasciate “sedute a girarsi i pollici”. Secondo James Wilson, direttore dell’organizzazione Detention Action (che fornisce supporto all’interno dei centri di detenzione per l’immigrazione illegale), non è che “(…) una chiatta angusta e simile ad una prigione” 4. E, a ragion del vero, è lo stesso Home Office, in diverse dichiarazioni ufficiali, a dichiarare esplicitamente la propria intenzione di “minimizzare l’impatto sulle comunità locali”, come dichiarato nel comunicato stampa del 5 aprile 2023, e ribadito, a più riprese nella Scheda Informativa disponibile sul proprio sito ufficiale.

      Di fronte all’ennesimo scenario di un sistema d’accoglienza sempre più restrittivo e non curante dei diritti delle persone richiedenti asilo, c’è chi non è rimasto indifferente e, anzi, ha dato il via ad una vera e propria lotta per i diritti delle persone migranti. In un’intervista per Melting Pot, parla Tigs Louis-Puttick, fondatrice dell’ONG Reclaim The Sea, che, fornendo lezioni di nuoto e surf alle persone migranti, ha l’obiettivo di accrescere la loro qualità di vita, e aiutarle trasformare il mare da un evento traumatico a uno spazio di libertà e guarigione. A maggio, Reclaimthesea ha redatto una lettera aperta a Suella Braverman, Segretaria di Stato per gli Affari Interni, domandando l’abbandono del progetto, firmata da 706 individui e 91 organizzazioni e collettivi, tra cui Medici Senza Frontiere UK e Sea-Watch. Lo scorso 21 maggio, insieme all’ONG Europe Must Act, Reclaimthesea ha guidato una protesta di fronte all’Home Office, e dato il via alla campagna “No floating prisons” (No alle prigioni galleggianti), che comprende una serie attività ed eventi di protesta e sensibilizzazione.

      https://twitter.com/Reclaim_The_Sea/status/1657692409671630849

      «Abbiamo deciso di chiamare la campagna di protesta No floating prisons per l’approccio generale che ne rispecchia il carattere di questi luoghi. L’attuale processo di ristrutturazione della chiatta prevede l’aumento dei posti da 220 a 500, il che vorrà dire stipare le persone in pochissimo spazio, violando la loro privacy e il diritto allo spazio personale. Il piano è che, direttamente al loro arrivo, le persone saranno sistemate sulla chiatta, che pare non sarà nemmeno attraccata alla terraferma. Inoltre, Portland è un porto chiuso, recintato, non si può entrare ed uscire liberamente. Le autorità potrebbero arbitrariamente decidere di negare il permesso a lasciare il porto e, siccome è un porto privato, non abbiamo controllo sulle decisioni delle autorità, ne possiamo essere certi che daranno informazioni».

      Sui rischi delle prigioni galleggianti, Tigs dice: «La quasi totalità delle persone migranti presenti nel Regno Unito, hanno dovuto affrontare un attraversamento in mare, che sia dalla Libia all’Italia, dalla Turchia alla Grecia o il Canale della Manica. Molti di loro, hanno vissuto qualche tipo di trauma legato al mare. Per ciò, l’idea di farli stare ancora in una barca equivale letteralmente a relegarli nel reale, fisico luogo del trauma. Inoltre, solo il 25% degli uomini e il 18% delle donne provenienti dall’Africa Orientale (area di provenienza di molti dei richiedenti asilo nel Regno Unito) sa nuotare. Dunque, se per qualsiasi motivo qualcuno dovesse cadere in acqua dalla barca o dal molo, rischierebbe seriamente la morte, anche per via delle temperature gelide. Infine, molti hanno vissuto momenti di prigionia nei loro paesi d’origine o nei paesi transito. Arrivano qui e ciò che li aspetta è praticamente un’altra prigione».

      La preoccupazione delle prigioni galleggianti è anche legata all’accordo tra Regno Unito e Rwanda, che prevede la ricollocazione permanente dei richiedenti asilo arrivati irregolarmente nel Regno Unito al Rwanda, affinché la loro domanda d’asilo venga esaminata lì 5. «E’ sostanzialmente una sala d’attesa per chi sarà portato in Rwanda, che non è un paese sicuro, poiché ci sono già tantissimi rifugiati e poche risorse. Come si può pensare di portare qualcuno, che per esempio viene dall’Afghanistan, in Rwanda? Cosa faranno lì? Tutto ciò è solo un’esternalizzazione in stile coloniale delle responsabilità del Regno Unito verso il diritto all’ asilo. Ci preoccupa davvero il fatto che queste persone, possano essere spinte al suicidio, perché capiranno che stanno aspettando solo di essere deportate».

      Infine, secondo Tigs «ciò che sta facendo il Regno Unito fa parte di una tendenza più ampia che sta nascendo in Europa, copiata da Grecia e Italia, quando tenevano le persone in quarantena su una nave durante la pandemia. Nel 2021 ho preso parte ad una missione di soccorso con Sea Watch, siamo arrivati al porto di Trapani con 200 persone a bordo, dopo 12 giorni di navigazione, e un’enorme nave ci stava aspettando, per trasferire le persone dalla nostra imbarcazione. Le persone non volevano andare. Volevano scendere a terra. Avevano paura di cosa avrebbero trovato, di restare in acqua, di sentirsi male».

      In conclusione, sebbene sia la prima volta che il Regno Unito decida di adottare un sistema del genere, tenere le persone migranti il più possibile segregate rispetto alla popolazione locale, riducendo il loro spazio vitale al minimo, operare a risparmio sull’accoglienza ed esternalizzare le frontiere non rappresenta alcuna novità. Al contrario, è solo l’ennesimo triste passo verso una tendenza consolidata, dei democraticissimi stati europei, di lavarsi le mani dal dovere di salvare vite umane, accogliere, e rispettare il diritto all’asilo.

      E’ possibile seguire la campagna e donare per sostenere la campagna contro le prigioni galleggianti e avviare un’azione legale contro lo stato britannico a questo link: https://tr.ee/74EHZPD4rz .

      https://www.meltingpot.org/2023/07/le-prigioni-galleggianti-il-nuovo-piano-del-regno-unito-per-la-prima-acc

    • ‘Cabins slightly larger than a prison cell’: life aboard the UK’s barge for asylum seekers

      Home Office tour of asylum seeker Bibby Stockholm barge emphasises no-frills features including TVs that don’t work

      Each two-person cabin in the Bibby Stockholm barge, which is set to start accommodating asylum seekers imminently, has a small flat-screen television screwed to the wall opposite the bunk beds. Residents will not, however, be able to watch them because they have not been wired to anything.

      The timeline for the arrival of the first group of 50 asylum seekers has slipped from next week to “the coming weeks”, with the Home Office aiming to increase the number of occupants (or “service users”, as barge staff term them) to 500 by the autumn.

      Organising tours for journalists on Friday of the 222-cabin barge moored in Portland Port, Dorset, presented government officials with a PR conundrum.

      To underline that reliance on expensive hotel accommodation was being reduced, conditions needed to be shown to be less luxurious than hotels but not so austere that the barge could be classified as a floating prison.

      Officials have refused to provide any detail about the figures behind their assertion that the barge accommodation will be considerably cheaper than hotel rooms.

      When the facility finally opens, arrivals will make their way on to the barge via a gangplank, and through airport-style security. In line with the Home Office’s prevailing dislike of friendly murals and pictures, asylum seekers will be greeted by plain, undecorated walls, though a simple laminated A4 sheet stating “welcome” has been stuck on the wall of the reception room.

      Windowless corridors, narrow enough to trail your fingers along both walls as you walk through them, circle the perimeter of the barge, with about 50 rooms on the long edges. Empty of inhabitants, the very confined space feels clean and cool, with an atmosphere vaguely reminiscent of a faded cross-Channel ferry.

      Single-person cabins have been refitted with bunk beds to double the potential capacity of the vessel. Each cabin is slightly larger in size than a prison cell, a bit smaller than the most basic university accommodation, and is fitted with a shower and toilet, a cupboard, mirror, desk and (staff are keen to point this out as a positive feature) a window.

      There was a subtle difference in approach taken by the Home Office employees giving tours to journalists and the representatives of the firm subcontracted to manage the barge.

      Government officials were keen to emphasise the barge’s low-cost appeal, but staff working for the Miami-based Landry & Kling, which has been subcontracted by the Australian firm Corporate Travel Management (CTM) to run the vessel on behalf of the Home Office, wanted to highlight the “dignified” treatment that would be provided: a 24-hour snack bar, planned visits to local allotments, proposed walks and cycle trips for residents.

      Joyce Landry, the firm’s cofounder, valiantly described the Bibby Stockholm in an interview earlier this week with the Herald as “actually quite lovely”.

      In the centre of the barge there are two smallish outdoor areas where nets are soon to be installed to allow people to play volleyball or netball and possibly a very contracted form of football. There is a small gym with two running machines, and an education room with just eight seats.

      “The thing that puts this vessel above many others is that every room has a window. You won’t feel claustrophobic. The windows open, unlike in some hotels. There’s enough public space to have a sense of freedom and openness,” said a Landry & Kling staff member.

      The windows offer views of high metal fencing and naval works units. Whether or not residents, single men aged 18-65, who will be held here for up to nine months, will agree that there is a sense of freedom and openness is a moot point. Security staff are being trained to manage conflict on board.

      In the street by the port’s entrance local protesters have been displaying their anger about the barge all week, with some furious at the arrival of large numbers of asylum seekers so close to the small tourist town, and others protesting that asylum seekers should not be held on barges at all.

      Landry has spent the past three nights sleeping on the barge to experience conditions. A windy night prompted staff to request extra tethering to fix the barge to the shore.

      Landry & Kling staff said the Home Office had requested that the TVs (previously used by construction workers recently accommodated on the barge) should not be wired up.

      The Home Office staff said they wanted “to promote socialisation” by forcing people out of their rooms to watch television together in the two communal TV rooms.

      But the presence of non-functioning TVs may also signal a determination by the Home Office to show that its latest solution for housing asylum seekers is merely “basic and functional” and will offer no frills to residents.

      Before it housed oil and construction workers, the Bibby Stockholm was used in the 2000s by the Netherlands to house asylum seekers. An Amnesty report from 2008 documented the psychological trauma experienced by residents.

      The rare Home Office tour of facilities was designed to showcase progress away from housing 51,000 asylum seekers in hotels at a cost of £6m a day to a cheaper alternative.

      However, plans have only been laid out for alternative accommodation for 3,000 people who they now hope will be moved to new, ex-military facilities and the barge by the autumn.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/jul/21/life-aboard-bibby-stockholm-asylum-seeker-barge-home-office-tour

    • ‘No timeframe’ on delayed opening of Bibby Stockholm asylum barge

      Transport minister says barge in Portland going through final checks amid row over safety concerns

      A UK government minister has said he “cannot put a timeframe” on when the Home Office will open a controversial giant barge meant to house asylum seekers, which has been further delayed for checks.

      The initial plan had been to move people on to the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset, from this week, with numbers due to rise over the coming months until the vessel held about 500 men.

      Asked on Sky News when the barge would be available, the transport minister Richard Holden said: “It’s going through its final checks at the moment. It’s right that … whatever accommodation we provide is safe and secure as well. I can’t put a timeframe on it.”

      Asked if safety concerns were delaying the opening, he said: “It’s going through final checks at the moment. With anything you would want them to be properly checked out.”

      The Guardian reported on Monday that the first asylum seekers were due to be moved onboard the vessel on Wednesday but that seems to have been delayed further with the minister now unwilling to put a timeframe on the move.

      Asked if it would be delayed as long as the Rwanda policy had taken to implement, Holden added: “I can’t comment on the ongoing process of checks and things that have to take place but it is my understanding (it is) in its final checks.”

      Fears had been expressed that the barge could become a “floating Grenfell” and endanger the lives of vulnerable people who have fled hardship and war as it has not received the relevant safety signoff.

      About 40 claimants staying in other Home Office accommodation had received transfer letters saying they would be moved to the 222-cabin vessel in Dorset, Whitehall sources said.

      More than 50 national organisations and campaigners, including the Refugee Council, Asylum Matters and Refugee Action, have called the government’s plan “cruel and inhumane”. They said the vessel was “entirely inappropriate” and would house traumatised migrants in “detention-like conditions”.

      People are meanwhile expected to be moved this week on to another site that has become a focus for protest, the disused RAF base in Wethersfield, Essex.

      Local people who attended an event convened by the Home Office in the village complained on Monday night of coming away even more frustrated because of what they said was a lack of answers.

      “It was actually embarrassing. They didn’t pass a microphone around and it seemed to be really badly organised so people just ended up shouting to be heard,” said Michelle Chapman, of the Fields Association, a residents group involved in a campaign against the centre.

      “It ended up being quite heated and people just came away feeling frustrated. If there was one answer it was a pledge that they would not bring in any more than 50 people in one go, but there is still confusion here and genuine anxiety.”

      The meeting, held in the village hall, was addressed by senior police officers as well as Home Office officials. Local council officials were also present at the meeting, where Chapman said there was standing room only.

      A Home Office spokesperson said that delivering accommodation on surplus military sites and vessels would provide cheaper and more suitable accommodation for those arriving in the UK in small boats.

      They added: “The first asylum seekers have now been accommodated at Wethersfield and we are working with stakeholders on a carefully structured plan to increase the number staying there in a phased approach.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/01/no-timeframe-on-delayed-opening-of-bibby-stockholm-asylum-barge

    • Transfer of asylum seekers to ‘floating coffin’ Bibby Stockholm postponed

      Nicola David of campaign group One Life to Live documents the reasons why Bibby Stockholm is being recognised as a potential death trap

      With the first asylum seekers due to step aboard Bibby Stockholm this week, the controversy surrounding the Home Office’s decision to contain people on the barge has further escalated. Serious safety questions are being raised about the barge’s setting, a berth at the Langham Industries-run Portland Port. As a direct consequence, the initial transfer of 40 vulnerable adults to Bibby Stockholm has been postponed. I calculate that delays to date have already cost the taxpayer over £3mn.

      This is the first time that asylum seekers are to be contained on a barge in the UK, and the scheme is already mired in misery. There were significant delays in dry dock, where rotten sections of the hull needed replacing. And my report found that keeping people on the barge won’t cost less than in hotels, which is the crux of the Home Office’s strategy.

      Now, I have found that the 47-year-old vessel has not yet passed fire safety checks, and there are grave concerns over serious and unresolved (and potentially unresolvable) safety and fire risks. There also appears to be confusion over which safety regulations will apply, given that the site straddles the sea and land and the engine-less vessel is effectively a hotel.

      Clear evidence is emerging that the decision to transfer vulnerable adults onto Bibby Stockholm was premature at best – and potentially negligent at worst. And politically, if safety concerns require the Home Office to significantly reduce the number of people on board, the cost per head would be a humiliating blow to the prime minister and home secretary, who are counting on large-scale containment sites such as this to put an end to the daily asylum seeker hotel bill.
      Bibby Stockholm: a disaster waiting to happen

      Bibby Stockholm was designed to hold 222 people in single cabins, but was recently reconfigured to hold 506 asylum seekers in multiple-occupancy rooms along with 40 resident staff. A further 20 staff will live off the barge; with some of these on duty, around 550 people could be on board at any time.

      This is 248% of the intended capacity – and more than the previous maximum of 472 asylum seekers held when the same vessel was used as an immigration detention centre in Rotterdam in 2005. I am also left wondering whether the barge’s insurers can have extended its cover to this permit this level of overcrowding, and whether they would refuse public liability claims for injury, death or damage from asylum seekers, staff or the port.

      Asylum seekers sharing small cabins will have “less living space than an average parking bay”, according to the Independent. The mayor of Portland, Carralyn Parkes, measured the cabins and found that those for two people averaged “about 10ft by 12ft”. This could lead to serious problems with exiting rooms, using corridors, and accessing fire exits – and it is not clear whether there are sufficient fire exits for the new, higher population.

      The width of the corridors on board is not publicly known, but following a tour of the barge the Guardian reported that they are “narrow enough to trail your fingers along both walls as you walk”. Given the excess numbers of people, this could result in deadly delays, bottlenecks, and trampling of fallen people.

      Bibby Stockholm has three floors and all of the corridors are configured in the same way. There are no external windows in the corridors, and in an emergency – particularly if smoke and/or dim lighting affect visibility – it is easy to imagine that people might become disoriented or be unable to locate the bow, stern, port or starboard sides. This could cause delays and increase panic.

      Factors that would impede escape

      Asylum seekers may have prior injuries relating to war, conflict or persecution, or may sustain injuries as direct result of an incident on the barge. In 2005, when a fire broke out at a Dutch detention centre in which 11 people died and 15 were injured, one man “suffered injuries to his neck, shoulders and chest when he fell from his bed … in panic after realising that the detention centre was on fire”. Either type of injury could impede escape in a major incident. Additionally, those suffering from the mental trauma of war, conflict or persecution may be less able to process evacuation and safety instructions.

      Local councillors who visited the barge on 27 July reported that there were also no lifejackets on the vessel. The windows on board can be opened, but it is understood that this is restricted and would not allow a person to escape in an emergency. Barge operator Landry & Kling also told journalists that there would be no fire drills on Bibby Stockholm.

      Any emergency would be further compounded by the presence of asylum seekers whose first language is not English, or who speak no English, and may struggle to understand verbal evacuation and safety instructions, especially in a state of panic.
      Access for emergency vehicles

      I am very concerned about the capacity of the small quayside compound, which could not possibly hold 550 people in an evacuation. To prevent asylum seekers leaving the site or walking around on the port, this compound is surrounded by a fence at least 15 feet high and is accessible only via two sets of locked gates. In a crush, people simply couldn’t get out. There is significant potential for a Hillsborough-like crush situation.

      The only way for emergency vehicles to access the vessel would be via this compound. Locked gates could be a problem; even with access, how would first-responders and ambulances get through large numbers of panicked people crowding into the enclosed area?

      Physical condition of Bibby Stockholm

      Bibby Stockholm was built in 1976. According to a recent FT article:

      “The hull was rotten … in places the steel hull had decayed to the point where it was dangerously thin, necessitating the replacement of entire sections … Bibby Stockholm was late out of Falmouth for good reasons, mostly age-related.”

      The repair work done at Falmouth may have fixed the localised problems, and the barge may (as the FT found) have passed its Lloyd’s inspections, but the rot and repairs may have undermined the overall structural integrity of the hull.

      This could leave the barge open to being adversely affected by extreme weather, including being knocked against the berth, or by the weight of the additional residents plus the commensurate additional furniture and stores.
      Complexity around safety

      The barge scheme straddles both water and land, rendering safety inspections and certification more complex and potentially confusing. At least five agencies are involved:

      Lloyd’s Register of Shipping
      The Maritime and Coastguard Agency
      Dorset Council, which regulates the safety of the barge
      The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which regulates the surrounding quayside
      Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

      Health and safety concerns

      In the week commencing 24 July, the HSE visited the berth at Portland Port. It found that “a lot” of work was still required to be done by both Bibby Marine and Landry & Kling, the US-based subcontractor for operations.

      Landry & Kling co-founder Joyce Landry has claimed in an interview in The Herald that “fears about the conditions on board have been caused by a lack of accurate information,” and that Bibby Stockholm is “actually quite lovely”.

      Mark Davies, head of communications and campaigns at the Refugee Council, expressed concern, saying:

      “Like most people in the UK, we believe people seeking asylum – the vast majority of whom are refugees fleeing unimaginable horrors – should be treated with decency, respect and humanity. These are values people in Britain hold dear.”

      A 27 July report in the Guardian, highlighting some of these safety concerns, includes a statement from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service which indicates that they are not yet satisfied with arrangements at the barge. They said they had “conducted visits to review fire safety arrangements on the Bibby Stockholm” and were continuing to liaise with other authorities “to ensure that appropriate fire safety measures under relevant legislation are in place”.
      Questions for the home secretary

      On 18 July it was reported that Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, has said:

      “For months, I have been asking for sight of the safety risk assessments that should have been done to allow the Bibby Stockholm to be used in Portland Harbour … But visibility or assurances that adequate safety risk assessments have been completed have not been received.”

      Loder has written to the home secretary Suella Braverman and transport minister Baroness Vere to ask that they either stop the scheme or provide the necessary safety risk assessments confirming that the vessel can cope with double the weight that it was designed to bear.

      In May 2023, a caller named Mark told David Lammy MP on LBC Radio: “What they are effectively doing here is they are creating a potential Grenfell on water, a floating coffin … If there is a fire, people will die. In this case, people won’t die from the smoke or the flames, they will die from the stampede.”
      A failure both of competence and humanity

      The Home Office announced its intention to create a series of asylum seeker containment sites last year, but failed at the first hurdle with the cancelled plans for Linton-on-Ouse. The RAF Scampton and RAF Wethersfield sites now have permission to push ahead with a judicial review. Regardless, Scampton has been delayed until October, since the Home Office has failed for five months to survey the accommodation buildings and to engage tradespeople.

      At Wethersfield (the only large-scale site to have received any asylum seekers so far) there are cases of tuberculosis, scurvy and scabies. Legal action on human rights grounds is certain to follow at all sites, involving misery for individuals and a burden for the public purse.

      The Home Office appears to be embarrassingly unable to set up and manage these sites, or to show any humanity towards deeply vulnerable people. It certainly cannot deliver value for money. It is time for the Home Office to hire more asylum caseworkers to process the shameful backlog, and to put an end to large-scale containment – before we start to see them shifting into concentration-like detention centres.

      https://yorkshirebylines.co.uk/news/home-affairs/transfer-of-asylum-seekers-to-floating-coffin-bibby-stockholm-po
      #sécurité

    • Bibby Stockholm: First asylum seekers to board UK’s controversial barge despite safety warnings

      Fire Bridges Union (FBU) have brand Bibby Stockholm a ’potential deathtrap,’ while leaked health document warns of a potential diphtheria outbreak.

      The first 50 asylum seekers will board the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge “imminently," the British government told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.

      The announcement comes just days after the Fire Bridges Union (FBU) raised concerns about overcrowding and fire exit access in a letter to the Home Secretary.

      The Bibby Stockholm, a 222-cabin barge moored off Portland port in Dorset, is anticipated to accommodate double its original capacity, with bunkbeds squeezed into single cabins.

      Narrow corridors, a lack of life jackets, and locked gates could create a “Hillsborough-type crush” and make it a “potential deathtrap,” the FBU warned.

      The evacuation point, a compound on the quayside, has been described by Dorset councillors as “completely inappropriate".

      “Firefighting operations on vessels such as the Bibby Stockholm provide significant challenges and require specialist training and safe systems of work. The diminished safety provisions only exacerbate our operational concerns,” Ben Selby, the assistant general Secretary of the FBU wrote.

      A leaked internal health document has also warned of the potential for “a significant outbreak” of diphtheria aboard the boat.

      It also highlighted the risk of the spread of a number of other infectious diseases including TB, Legionnaires’ disease, norovirus, salmonella, and scabies.

      The first group of asylum seekers was initially intended to arrive last Tuesday, but the date was pushed to this week amid health and safety concerns.

      The Home Office had already been forced to delay the first arrivals onto the vessel in order to carry out last-minute fire safety checks, after an intervention by health and safety officials.

      On Sunday, Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock said the opposition Labour Party would have “no choice” but to continue housing asylum seekers on barges if it forms the next government.

      The news comes amid a raft of new anti-migration measures including a huge increase in fines for landlords and employers who house or employ undocumented migrants, and the revival of plans to fly asylum seekers to Ascension Island.
      Floating prisons

      The move to house asylum seekers on the barge in “detention-like conditions” has been condemned by over 50 national organisations and campaigners for being “cruel and inhumane".

      “(This) floating prison is very quickly going to turn into an overcrowded camp like Manston,” a member of Action Against Detention and Deportations (ADD) told MEE, referring to the short-term facility in Kent that was dangerously overcrowded.

      “There’s also a concern about how this might affect deportation,” they said.

      “We know that the Home Office cuts a lot of different admin procedures where they can, any route they can go through to detain people easily, they will do so… having that number of people in unsafe conditions… is a big concern.”

      It is the first time a large floating structure has been used as long-term housing for asylum seekers in the UK. In 2008, Algerian national Rachid Abdelsalam died from heart failure aboard the Bibby Stockholm when it was deployed in the Netherlands.

      Reportedly, guards were warned of his deteriorating condition and treated his heart irregularities with cough syrup.

      In 2022, also in the Netherlands, a major typhoid outbreak aboard an ageing cruise liner infected 52 asylum seekers and saw 20 staff members hospitalised after raw sewage contaminated the drinking water.
      No basic protections

      In the same letter, the FBU also expressed concerns about the government’s plans to exempt asylum seeker accommodation from requirements for a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

      In May this year, the Guardian reported the government plans to exempt asylum seeker accommodation from basic protections that govern HMOs in order to empty hotels of thousands of asylum seekers and transfer them to the private rented sector.

      The proposed changes would lift restrictions on electrical safety and minimum room sizes, and exempt landlords renting to multiple asylum seekers from requiring an HMO license for two years.

      “To strip away the very basic protections currently in place is appalling, allowing rogue landlords to house vulnerable men, women, and children in dangerous accommodation," a Refugee Council spokesperson told MEE.

      Care4Calais CEO Steve Smith told MEE that the plans treated asylum seekers as “second-class citizens.”

      “HMO licences exist for a reason,” Smith said.

      “Without them, people’s lives would be placed in the hands of unscrupulous landlords who are driven by money rather than providing safe and secure housing for tenants.”

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/bibby-stockholm-uk-asylum-seekers-board-controversial-barge

    • First occupants of Bibby Stockholm barge taken onboard

      First asylum seekers to be housed on floating accommodation in Portland, Dorset, have arrived

      The first group of asylum seekers due to be housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, have been taken onboard.

      Buses were seen arriving at Portland on Monday morning as activists gathered at the entrance with “welcome” signs. About 50 asylum seekers are expected on Monday.

      The UK government wants to use barges and former military bases to accommodate some asylum seekers after the cost of housing them in hotels soared to £1.9bn pounds last year.

      Their arrival came amid confusion over the government’s immigration policies at the start of Rishi Sunak’s “small boats week”, during which the government is planning a series of eye-catching announcements.

      A Home Office minister indicated that up to 500 asylum seekers could be onboard by the end of the week. But No 10 appeared to suggest that the minister had misspoken. The same minister indicated that the Home Office was examining proposals to send asylum seekers to a UK territory in the south Atlantic. However, Whitehall sources said the proposal was not being pursued.

      The Bibby Stockholm was docked off the Dorset coast nearly three weeks ago and had been empty since due to health and safety concerns.

      The minister for safeguarding, Sarah Dines, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while only a small number of asylum seekers were expected to be housed on the barge at first, it could increase rapidly to its capacity of about 500.

      Pressed on whether all of them could be onboard by the end of the week, Dines said: “Yes, quite possibly it will be 500. We are hoping.”

      She said the increase in the number of people on the ship would be gradual, despite concerns from the Fire Brigades Union that the vessel “is a deathtrap”.

      Later, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “Numbers will increase over time as you would expect for any new asylum facility. My understanding is that the Bibby Stockholm has an upward capacity of 500. We are looking to [reach] that number over time – I don’t think we are aiming to do it by the weekend.”

      Dines also claimed that ministers were “looking at everything” when asked about headlines in national newspapers claiming the government was looking again at sending asylum seekers to Ascension Island.

      Whitehall sources have indicated the plans are not being pursued. The prime minister’s official spokesperson would not comment on “speculation”.

      Ministers have repeatedly said the barge will be better value for British taxpayers and more manageable for local communities – a claim challenged by refugee charities. There has been local opposition to the plan because of concerns about the asylum seekers’ welfare, as well as the potential impact on local services.

      The refugee charity Care4Calais said it had stopped 20 people from being forced to board the barge so far, with referrals coming in from hotels by the hour.

      “None of the asylum seekers we are supporting have gone to the Bibby Stockholm today as legal representatives have had their transfers cancelled,” Steve Smith, the charity’s CEO, said.

      “Among our clients are people who are disabled, who have survived torture and modern slavery and who have had traumatic experiences at sea. To house any human being in a ‘quasi floating prison’ like the Bibby Stockholm is inhumane. To try and do so to this group of people is unbelievably cruel.”

      More than 15,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel, official figures show.

      On Friday and Saturday 339 people made the journey after an eight-day hiatus amid poor weather conditions at sea, taking the provisional total for 2023 to date to 15,071.

      Amnesty International UK condemned using the barge to house asylum seekers. Steve Valdez-Symonds, the charity’s refugee and migrant rights director, said: “It seems there’s nothing this government won’t do to make people seeking asylum feel unwelcome and unsafe in this country.

      “Reminiscent of the prison hulks from the Victorian era, the Bibby Stockholm is an utterly shameful way to house people who’ve fled terror, conflict and persecution. Housing people on a floating barge is likely to be re-traumatising and there should be major concerns about confining each person to living quarters the typical size of a car parking space.”

      The government hopes the use of the barge and former military bases to house asylum seekers will reduce the cost of hotel bills.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/07/first-occupants-of-bibby-stockholm-barge-taken-onboard?CMP=share_btn_tw

    • Bibby Stockholm: Asylum seekers describe life on barge

      Some of the first group of men to board the Bibby Stockholm have described their first 24 hours on the barge.

      One asylum seeker told the BBC it was like a prison and felt there wasn’t enough room to accommodate up to 500 people onboard, as the government plans.

      The Home Office says the barge will provide better value for the taxpayer as pressure on the asylum system from small boats arrivals continues to grow.

      Moored in Portland Port, Dorset, it is the first barge secured under the government’s plans to reduce the cost of asylum accommodation.

      Monday saw the first 15 asylum seekers board the Bibby Stockholm after a series of delays over safety concerns. It will house men aged 18 to 65 while they await the outcome of their asylum applications.

      An Afghan asylum seeker, whom the BBC is not identifying, said: "The sound of locks and security checks gives me the feeling of entering Alcatraz prison.

      “My roommate panicked in the middle of the night and felt like he was drowning. There are people among us who have been given heavy drugs for depression by the doctor here.”

      He said he had been given a small room, and the dining hall had capacity for fewer than 150 people.

      “Like a prison, it [the barge] has entrance and exit gates, and at some specific hours, we have to take a bus, and after driving a long distance, we go to a place where we can walk. We feel very bad,” the man added.

      There is 24/7 security in place on board the Bibby Stockholm and asylum seekers are issued with ID swipe cards and have to pass through airport-style security scans to get on and off.

      Asylum seekers are expected to take a shuttle bus to the port exit for security reasons. There is no curfew, but if they aren’t back there will be a “welfare call”.

      The Home Office has said it would support their welfare by providing basic healthcare, organised activities and recreation.

      The first group of men arrived on Monday. The Care4Calais charity said it was providing legal support to a further 20 asylum seekers who refused to move to Portland and are challenging the decision.

      On Tuesday, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffiths, said that moving to the barge was “not a choice” and if people choose not to comply “they will be taken outside of the asylum support system”.

      “Many of us entered Britain nine to 11 months ago, by airplane. Some of us applied for asylum at the airport. We did not come by boat,” the Afghan man said.

      "It has been two weeks since we received a letter in which they threatened that if we do not agree to go, our aid and NHS will be cut off.

      “There are people among us who take medicine. We accepted. We waited for two weeks and didn’t even have time to bring clean clothes.”

      Another man who boarded the vessel on Monday told the BBC he had arrived in the UK on an aircraft, had a wife still in Iran and had been in Britain for six months.

      The man - whom the BBC is not identifying - said he had eaten a “good” breakfast which included “eggs, cheese, jam and butter”.

      The government says it is spending £6m per day housing more than 50,000 migrants in hotels.

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “This marks a further step forward in the government’s work to bring forward alternative accommodation options as part of its pledge to reduce the use of expensive hotels and move to a more orderly, sustainable system which is more manageable for local communities.”

      “This is a tried-and-tested approach that mirrors that taken by our European neighbours, the Scottish government and offers better value for the British taxpayer,” they added.

      The Home Office says that by the autumn, they aim to house about 3,000 asylum seekers in places that aren’t hotels - such as the barge, and former military sites Wethersfield, in Essex, and Scampton, in Lincolnshire.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-66444120

    • Moment Bibby Stockholm barge migrants are EVACUATED amid fears of Legionnaires’ disease - just DAYS after asylum seekers moved aboard in Dorset

      - All 39 asylum seekers onboard Bibby Stockholm barge were evacuated today
      - It comes after first 15 men boarded vessel in Portland, Dorset, just four days ago

      This the moment asylum seekers were driven away from the Bibby Stockholm after deadly legionella bacteria was found in the migrant barge’s water system.

      All 39 migrants onboard the controversial vessel were evacuated today - just four days after the first 15 men stepped onto it in Portland, Dorset - and are being moved to the same hotel, according to The Independent.

      A 40-seater coach, which had been shuttling migrants to and from Weymouth, was seen leaving today. Inside were two men sat in the middle who turned their faces away from onlookers at the port.

      Other footage of the Bibby Stockholm showed people arriving and leaving this afternoon - with ten people seen walking up a ramp and entering while others left.

      Routine tests of the barge’s water supply were reportedly carried out on July 25 but the results only came back when asylum seekers began boarding the barge on Monday, according to Sky News. The results showed levels of legionella bacteria ’which require further investigation’.

      Home Office sources say they were not made aware of the results until Wednesday, with further tests being carried out on Thursday.

      The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advised the Government on Thursday evening to remove all six people that arrived on the Bibby Stockholm that day, but the Home Office decided to evacuate all 39 as a precaution.

      The harmful bacteria can cause a serious lung infection called Legionnaires’ disease, which can happen when breathing in tiny droplets of water containing the bacteria.

      Although nobody onboard had shown symptoms of the disease, officials insisted that all migrants be disembarked while further assessments are carried out.

      A letter from the Home Office that was leaked to the Guardian has reportedly informed asylum seekers that they will be tested for Legionnaires diseases if they do begin to show symptoms.

      The migrants will be taken to hotels which are said to be far from Weymouth, where few rooms are available during the height of the school summer holidays.

      One Syrian migrant onboard the barge told MailOnline this afternoon that he had not been given any information and had not been told to leave. He said: ’The place is very empty but no one has said anything to us. We will have to wait and see, but it is worrying.’

      But the migrants were later told they would be evacuated. It comes after health officials ordered six new arrivals to be removed yesterday.

      Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is said to be holding meetings to discuss the barge, which the Government hoped would house up to 500 migrants. Local councillors have vowed not to see the boat back in use.

      With a capacity of up to 506, the Government is still hoping that use of the Bibby Stockholm, together with former military bases, will help reduce the £6million a day it is spending on hotel bills for asylum seekers.

      But opponents have claimed the barge is unsafe and a ’floating prison’, while lawyers of some migrants due to board this week have successfully argued to allow them to stay in hotels.

      It was only four days ago that the first 15 men were taken onboard the vessel.

      Support workers, who have spoken to some on board, claimed the asylum seekers were not being kept informed about what was happening.

      Heather Jones, of the Portland Friendship Group which is supporting the migrants, said: ’I have had texts and phone conversations from some of them and they are still on board, they haven’t been evacuated yet.

      ’Nobody has told them anything. They have had to ask me what the problem is. One of them was really concerned because he had just drunk a glass of water and he was asking me if he was going to be OK.

      ’I told him it is probably a precautionary measure but they shouldn’t be hearing it from me.

      ’They don’t know where they are being taken to. Hopefully it will be back to the hotels where they have come from.’

      There was a small group of campaigners from Stand Up To Racism at the port entrance holding placards saying ’Legionella death trap’ and ’human rights’.

      Lynne Hubbard, from the group, said: ’The Home Office have admitted they carried on admitting asylum seekers on the barge even though they found out about legionella on Monday.

      ’They would have been drinking the water and showering in it. That shows pretty clearly what the Government thinks of asylum seekers and how much they value their lives. They are heartless.

      ’An asylum seeker in there we are in contact with told us to get in touch with his family in case he dies of Legionella. That’s how frightened they are.’

      A local Portland councillor slammed the health crisis as a ’farce’ this afternoon.

      Paul Kimbdr, an independent councillor, said he thought the outbreak would mean the end of the barge being used to house asylum seekers.

      ’I just can’t see it being back in use. It’s all been a bit of a farce really,’ he told MailOnline.

      A Home Office spokesman told MailOnline today: ’The health and welfare of individuals on the vessel is our utmost priority.

      ’Environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm have shown levels of legionella bacteria which require further investigation.

      ’Following these results, the Home Office has been working closely with UKHSA (the UK Health Security Agency) and following its advice in line with long established public health processes, and ensuring all protocol from Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team and Dorset NHS is adhered to.

      ’As a precautionary measure, all 39 asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel this week are being disembarked while further assessments are undertaken.

      ’No individuals on board have presented with symptoms of Legionnaires’, and asylum seekers are being provided with appropriate advice and support.

      ’The samples taken relate only to the water system on the vessel itself and therefore carry no direct risk indication for the wider community of Portland nor do they relate to fresh water entering the vessel. Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person.’

      Mr Jenrick has previously described the barge as ’perfectly decent accommodation’, but asylum seekers who have spent four nights onboard have contrasting views.

      While one Afghan compared it to the former US maximum security prison Alcatraz, others have said it was ’cramped but comfortable’ with lots of facilities.

      MailOnline understands that the legionella bacteria is believed to have come from the pipes on the vessel – with tests of the water at point of entry coming back with no indication of legionella.

      Six asylum seekers arrived on the barge yesterday, and the UK Health Security Agency last night advised the Home Office to remove this group.

      Home Office sources have insisted that the removal of everyone was a ’further temporary precaution’ aimed to ’reduce the health risk as much as possible’.

      The Home Office is now awaiting the results of follow-up tests which have been carried out on the water system by Dorset Council environmental health officers.

      The UK Health Security Agency will then provide additional advice.

      Sources added that it was not unusual to identify legionella bacteria in warm water systems, which is why they are often subject to regular testing in buildings.

      A Dorset Council spokesman said: ’Dorset Council’s environmental health team and Public Health Dorset are advising the Home Office and its contractors, alongside the UK Health Security Agency and NHS Dorset, following notification of positive samples of Legionella bacteria in the water system on the Bibby Stockholm barge.

      ’No individuals have presented symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, and there is no health risk to the wider community of Portland.’

      It is understood that the Home Office is managing the search for alternative accommodation for the asylum seekers.

      Dr Laurence Buckman, former chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, told GB News today: ’If you’re unlucky and your immunity isn’t really tip-top, there is a risk that you will get legionella pneumonia and die from it.

      ’It’s potentially treatable but of course you have to diagnose it first. It lives in water supplies. It lives in sink traps, so a U-bend of a sink will be a problem, and it lives in air conditioning units.

      ’That’s why we have what are called ’scrubbers’ in air conditioning units to wipe out the legionella before the air gets blown onto other people, and why hospitals that get legionella in their sinks have a really big problem. At worst, they have to take the sinks out and replace them and the pipework that goes with them.’

      Steve Smith, chief executive of the charity Care4Calais, said: ’We have always known our concerns over the health and safety of the barge are justified, and this latest mismanagement proves our point.

      ’The Bibby Stockholm is a visual illustration of this Government’s hostile environment against refugees, but it has also fast become a symbol for the shambolic incompetence which has broken Britain’s asylum system.

      ’The Government should now realise warehousing refugees in this manner is completely untenable, and should focus on the real job at hand - processing the asylum claims swiftly, so refugees may become contributing members of our communities as they so strongly wish.’

      Meanwhile Fire Brigades Union general secretary Ben Selby said the outbreak suggested it was ’only a matter of time before either lives are lost or there is serious harm to a detainee.’

      He said: ’The Fire Brigades Union warned the Home Secretary that forcibly holding migrants on this barge was a huge health and safety risk.

      ’This outbreak of Legionella suggests that it’s only a matter of time before either lives are lost or there is serious harm to a detainee.’

      And Alex Bailey, a spokesman for the No To The Barge campaign group, told MailOnline: ’This has become Fawlty Towers at sea.

      ’This was inevitable because of the poor advance planning and preparation, the rush and people in power with little knowledge and pushing the experts to break the rules.

      ’This is just another example of the incompetent way our Government has approached this scheme from start to finish. Robert Jenrick promised the country Bibbly Stockholm was safe. That is not the case.’

      Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ’Across the country, most people want strong border security and a properly managed and controlled asylum system so the UK does its bit alongside other countries to help those who have fled persecution and conflict, while those who have no right to be here are swiftly returned.

      ’Under this Government, we have neither as gangs are undermining our border security and the asylum system is in chaos.’

      And Kolbassia Haoussou, director of survivor empowerment at Freedom from Torture, said: ’The presence of life-threatening bacteria onboard the Bibby Stockholm is just another shocking revelation that we’ve seen unfold over the past few weeks. This Government’s punitive policies and deliberate neglect of the asylum system is not just cruel, it’s dangerous.’

      Yesterday the Home Office denied the barge was a ’floating prison’ and insisted that those onboard would be ’free to come and go as they want’.

      Gardening in nearby allotments and hiking tours of the area are among the activities which could be offered to those onboard.

      Security measures include 18 guards trained to military standard who work around the clock.

      In total, about 60 staff including cooks and cleaners will be on board the barge run by Landry and Kling, a sub-contractor of Corporate Travel Management (CTM) which also managed vessels in Scotland housing Ukrainians.

      Spaghetti with meatballs, roast turkey, Irish stew and beef pie are on the sample menu to be served in the canteen by Dubai-headquartered offshore firm Connect Catering Services, alongside breakfast and a selection of snacks available 24 hours a day.

      The gym, equipped with treadmills and weights, is still awaiting delivery of rowing machines and exercise bikes. Volleyball, basketball, netball and football can all be played in one of two outside courtyards.

      Most of the 222 bedrooms have twin bunk beds, with cupboard space, a desk, en-suite bathroom, heating and windows which open. But there are also 20 larger rooms which would sleep four people, and two rooms housing six people.

      The bedrooms all have televisions which the operator was told to disconnect but were too costly to remove so can be used only as monitors.

      Instead, residents will be encouraged to socialise or watch programmes and films in one of four communal TV rooms, and can also learn English in a classroom and worship in a dedicated space. A small number of laptops are also available and there is Wi-Fi throughout the barge.

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12397201/All-migrants-housed-Bibby-Stockholm-barge-removed.html
      #maladie #légionellose #maladie_du_légionnaire #évacuation

    • Asylum seekers say Bibby Stockholm conditions caused suicide attempt

      Thirty-nine people who were briefly onboard write to Suella Braverman describing their fear and despair

      Thirty-nine asylum seekers who were briefly accommodated on the Home Office’s controversial Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset have said conditions onboard were so bad that one was driven to attempt suicide.

      A three-page letter sent to the home secretary, Suella Braverman, also sets out the asylum seekers’ fear and despair at being trapped on the barge and appeals to her to help them in their search for safety and freedom in the UK.

      They describe the barge as “an unsafe, frightening and isolated place” but said that as law-abiding people they were fearful of not obeying Home Office instructions. The asylum seekers described the barge as “a place of exile” and said the conditions were “small rooms and a terrifying residence”.

      Some of the asylum seekers have told the Guardian they are too traumatised to return to the barge in Portland.

      According to the letter some people fell ill on the barge.

      The letter says: “Also in a tragic incident one of the asylum seekers attempted suicide but we acted promptly and prevented this unfortunate event. Considering the ongoing difficulties it’s not unexpected that we might face a repeat of such situations in the future.

      “Some friends said they even wished they had courage to commit suicide. Our personal belief is that many of these individuals might resort to this foolishness to escape problems in the future.”

      They said they were the last people to be informed about the legionella bacteria found on the barge and announced by the Home Office on 11 August.

      They said their brief stay on the barge had led to a deterioration in their mental health. “Currently we are staying in an old and abandoned hotel. The sense of isolation and loneliness has taken over us and psychological and emotional pressures have increased significantly.”

      The letter to Braverman concludes with a plea to consider their situation as a priority. “We are individuals who are tired of the challenges that have arisen and no longer have the strength to face them.”

      An Iranian asylum seeker among the 39 has vowed never to return there. He said many of the other men who spent a few days onboard felt the same way.

      “If I had had to stay even one more day on the barge I would have had suicidal thoughts. When I got on to the barge the smell and the stench of seawater was overwhelming,” he said.

      “I developed stomach pains and felt dizzy but I was too scared to refuse to get on. Being on the barge made us feel like criminals and second-class citizens.”

      He added that nobody from the Home Office properly explained the legionella situation to them. “I had to search on Google to find out what it is. Everyone who was on the barge are now all together in one hotel. A few people are coughing and everybody is afraid. When I was having a shower on the barge the water was burning my eyes.

      “Being on that barge will always be a horrific memory in my brain. It’s a completely unfit place. We’re all feeling very upset but are even more upset that the Home Office want to return us to this horror show.

      “I want to ask a question of the people who made the decision to put us on the barge. ‘Would you put a member of your family there even for one day?’ We came to the UK to escape persecution but are facing more persecution here.”

      In response to the letter the Home Office said: “We are following all protocol and advice from Dorset council’s environmental health team, UK Health Security Agency and Dorset NHS, who we continue to work closely with.

      “Further tests are being conducted and we intend to re-embark asylum seekers only when there is confirmation that the water system meets relevant safety standards. The safety of those onboard remains the priority.”
      Bibby Stockholm timeline

      Monday 7 August: The first group of asylum seekers, all men, are taken to the barge by the Home Office. Some lawyers successfully challenged their clients being put onboard. New arrivals said they were shocked by the high walls of the barge, which felt like a ‘floating prison’ and the overwhelming stench of seawater onboard.

      Tuesday 8 August : The reality of life onboard the barge starts to be understood by the men. “My feeling about this ship is negative,” said one. “Right now my strongest feeling is of being humiliated and captured. The government takes revenge on every useful brain and heart. What I mean by revenge is that the British government intends to cover up its political and economic failures by using asylum seekers as an excuse.”

      Thursday 10 August: By this time all the agencies involved with the barge were aware that tests had confirmed legionella onboard the barge on Monday. Dorset council said its officials informed barge contractors the same day they received the test results and that a meeting was held on Tuesday with officials including one from the Home Office. The men continued to shower and use water taps onboard, oblivious to any potential risks to their health.

      Friday 11 August: At 1.54pm the men started seeing messages on social media “that there is a disease problem on the barge and we will need to evacuate”. At about 2pm a text was received that the asylum seekers believed to be from staff onboard the barge telling them not to use the showers for two hours as the shower heads needed to be replaced. At 5pm, a copied text was received from the Home Office describing the bacteria found on the barge and informing the men that they would be leaving the barge at 7pm by bus.

      Saturday 12 August: Relocation to a “disused” hotel. The men begin to process the despair their experience on the barge had left them with. Some said previously they had put their trust in the Home Office to provide them with safety after fleeing danger in their home countries but their time on the barge has destroyed that. “All our hopes are gone. We think now the Home Office is not there to help us. It abandons us to uncertain destiny. The barge has sabotaged hope, trust. Morale among us is at zero.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/25/asylum-seekers-bibby-stockholm-conditions-suicide-attempt

    • Home Office Faces Legal Challenge Against ‘Appalling’ Use of Bibby Stockholm Barge to House Refugees

      “Human beings do not belong in barges or camps. The correct way to house people is to house them in communities.”

      A Labour mayor has launched a legal challenge to Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s use of the Bibby Stockholm barge to accommodate around 500 male asylum-seekers at Portland Port in Dorset, without obtaining planning permission.

      Carralyn Parkes is a Portland Town Councillor and Mayor of Portland, bit is acting in a personal capacity as a local resident. Dorset Council and Portland Port Limited have backed the claim as “interested parties”, meaning that they will have the opportunity to make submissions, file evidence and participate in the case.

      It comes after a deadly legionella strain was found onboard the Bibby Stockholm. It was detected on the first day people boarded on 7 August, with officials evacuating all 39 people onboard that day, the Guardian reported.

      Parkes is asking the Court to declare that the Home Office’s use of the barge as asylum accommodation is capable of constituting ‘development’ under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and therefore that it may amount to a breach of planning control and possible enforcement action by Dorset Council.

      Her claim argues that the Home Office is attempting the ‘technical wheeze’ of using a boat as asylum accommodation in order to circumvent normal planning rules, which would apply if the barge was instead installed on land.

      As a result, local residents’ ability to raise objections to the barge and its use in Portland, via their local authority, is “severely hampered”, her legal team says. It also places the barge outside the reach of “important” legal protections such as limits on overcrowding.

      Carralyn Parkes told Byline Times: “In the 21st century, it’s appalling to think that we’ve even considered housing the most vulnerable people in the world on a barge. The accommodation is wholly unsuitable.

      “If the government had put this through a planning procedure, I’m convinced it would have been denied, as the port is a closed area.”

      She added that infrastructure in Portland is “stretched to breaking point” while the barge was originally produced for 220 people. “Now they’re talking about 500 people. It’s completely overcrowded and there’s no fire safety certificate,” Parkes said.

      “It’s just terrible to think that our country would do something like this to vulnerable people, and to ride roughshod over communities…Human beings do not belong in barges or camps. The correct way to house people is to house them in communities.”

      “Portland is not averse to housing asylum seekers. It’s the actual conditions of housing asylum seekers on the barge that is appalling.”

      Asked if she thought the legal challenge stood a strong chance, she said: “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it’s a chance of being successful. I’m a private individual taking this on board. It’s a huge and daunting task to take on the whole mechanism of the state, the Home Secretary and the Home Office.”

      While she is launching the legal challenge as a private individual rather than a Labour mayor, she added she had support from Labour colleagues locally.

      Parkes also argues that the Home Office has not complied with its environmental impact assessment duties. An appraisal branded “inadequate” by campaigners was only conducted after asylum seekers had been moved onto the barge, and several months after the Home Office had declared its intention of using the barge for that purpose.

      The claim also argues that the Home Office has not complied with its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010, which includes prohibition on discrimination on the basis of race, and a duty to foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic (such as race), and those who do not.

      Parkes and her team argue that the Equality Impact Assessment, conducted only days before the barge came into use, is “woefully inadequate” as it fails to consider the impact of the barge’s operation in radicalising far-right extremism, or the equality impact of segregating rather than integrating asylum seekers into communities.

      A spokesperson for Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors said: “Our client is taking a brave stand against the Home Office’s attempts to circumvent important planning rules and protections to use the Bibby Stockholm barge to accommodate vulnerable asylum seekers.

      “She is asking the Court to rule that proper procedures should be followed and that local people and authorities should be given the opportunity to have their say.”

      Carralyn Parkes is represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors. She is continuing to crowdfund to cover her legal costs and to cover the risk that costs are awarded against her. So far Parkes has raised more than £20,000.

      The next step is for the defendant, the Home Office, and the Interested Parties (Dorset Council and Portland Port Limited) to respond. If they wish to do so, the deadline is 4 October. After that the Court will make a decision on whether Parkes has permission for her judicial review.

      https://bylinetimes.com/2023/09/12/home-office-faces-legal-challenge-against-appalling-use-of-bibby-stockh

    • Bibby Stockholm gets ‘satisfactory’ test results for legionella

      Results revealed in FoI data follow other tests that found unsatisfactory levels of the bacteria on barge

      The Bibby Stockholm barge has had “satisfactory” test results for legionella, after tests initially found the presence of the potentially deadly bacteria, the Guardian has learned.

      The Home Office, which hopes to hold hundreds of people seeking asylum on the barge in Portland, received the most recent legionella results on 4 September and government sources said they were not planning to make the results public. The Guardian obtained the results in freedom of information data from Dorset council.

      In these most recent results, all the water samples tested for legionella were deemed “satisfactory”, although some of the bacteria were identified in two of the samples. In three previous sets of tests, at least some of the samples tested were found to be “unsatisfactory” for legionella.

      The worst results related to samples from 9 August, two days after asylum seekers were briefly put on the barge. They were removed after just four and a half days. In these results, eight of the 11 samples taken were unsatisfactory and three were borderline. Some of the bacteria found was the deadliest strain, legionella pneumophila serogroup 1.

      A second freedom of information request, to Cornwall council, revealed that the barge was not inspected for legionella while in Falmouth for checks and repairs before it was moved to Portland.

      A third freedom of information request revealed that the Home Office has used water safety risk assessments for the Bibby Stockholm that are more than six years out of date. The Home Office said a more up-to-date risk assessment had subsequently been signed off.

      Apart from the legionella bacteria found on the barge, concerns have been raised about planning, fire safety and plumbing breaches. Legal actions are under way relating to these issues.

      A spokesperson for the Home Office barge contractor CTM confirmed that repairs to the plumbing were under way after an inspection by Wessex Water found failings.

      In media interviews on Wednesday, the home secretary, Suella Braverman, said “various procedures” needed to be completed before people could return to the Bibby Stockholm but that government had done “really well” with its work on the barge.

      Beyond Borders Totnes & District, an organisation that is supporting some of the men taken off the barge, said none wanted to return there. “They found the barge intolerable and claustrophobic. It is utterly prison-like,” a spokesperson said.

      The Home Office said: “We are pleased to confirm that the latest tests have shown that there are no health risks from legionella on the Bibby Stockholm, with individuals set to return to the barge in due course.

      “The welfare of asylum seekers is of paramount importance. It is right we went above and beyond UK Health Security Agency advice and disembarked asylum seekers as a precautionary measure whilst the issue was investigated.”

      Home Office sources added that an agreed programme of work including a complete flush and chlorination of the water had been undertaken and that a water control plan was in place with regular water testing to continue.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/sep/22/bibby-stockholm-gets-satisfactory-test-results-for-legionella

  • Quand les présidences tournantes de l’Union européenne sont sponsorisées par des multinationales
    https://multinationales.org/Quand-les-presidences-tournantes-de-l-Union-europeenne-sont-sponsor

    Des réunions entre ministres européens avec des bouteilles de #Coca-Cola bien en évidence. Des sites web officiels où les symboles de l’Union européenne se mélangent avec les logos de #sponsors. Des diplomates baladés en #BMW ou en #Renault devant les caméras. Inconcevable, mais vrai : depuis quelques années, l’habitude s’est installée de faire sponsoriser la présidence tournante de l’Union européenne par des grandes entreprises. La France, qui s’apprête à prendre cette présidence pour 6 mois en janvier 2022, n’a pas exclu d’avoir recours elle aussi à des #mécènes privés. L’Observatoire des multinationales s’associe à une pétition lancée par #Foodwatch et #Corporate_Europe_Observatory pour exiger qu’elle y renonce.

    Le 1er janvier prochain, la France prendra pour six mois la Présidence tournante de l’Union européenne. La dernière présidence française remonte à 2008, et le président Emmanuel Macron ne cache pas sa volonté d’en faire une plateforme en vue de sa réelection, dans le cadre de la campagne électorale du printemps prochain.

    Entre-temps, une étrange pratique s’est installée : les États membres qui assurent tout à tour, tous les six mois, le leadership de l’Union européenne ont pris l’habitude faire sponsoriser leur présidence par des grandes entreprises.

    En 2017, la présidence de l’Estonie était sponsorisée par #Microsoft, #Mercedes et BMW, et celle de Malte par les mêmes BMW et Microsoft, plus la compagnie aérienne nationale #Air_Malta. En 2018, la présidence autrichienne de l’Union était sponsorisée par #Porsche, #Audi, Microsoft et quelques autres. En 2019, la Roumanie a fait appel à Coca-Cola, Renault et Mercedes, et la Finlande à BMW. En 2020, la Croatie a accepté les cadeaux de #Peugeot #Citroën et d’une compagnie pétrolière, INA. En 2021, le Portugal a fait sponsoriser sa présidence par plusieurs entreprises nationales, dont l’entreprise papetière The Navigator Companies. Seule exception : l’Allemagne, qui a renoncé en 2020, sous pression de la société civile, de recourir à ce type de sponsorship pour sa présidence.

    Les présidences de l’Union européenne doivent-elles être réduites au même triste sort que les grands événements sportifs ou culturels dans le monde d’aujourd’hui : celui de support pour les #logos de grandes #multinationales ? Au-delà de la publicité offerte à bon marché à leurs produits pas toujours très vertueux (boissons sucrées, voitures individuelles, pétrole), le #sponsoring privé des présidences de l’UE offre à des entreprises comme Renault ou Coca-Cola un accès privilégié aux décideurs, pour mieux faire passer leurs idées et leurs priorités et imposer leur agenda politique.

    La pratique du sponsoring des présidences est décriée de toutes parts : par la société civile, par la Médiatrice de l’Union européenne, et jusque dans les rangs des députés européens macronistes, qui ont demandé au gouvernement français de ne pas y avoir recours. Pourtant, l’option est clairement à l’étude. Au printemps dernier, le secrétaire d’État aux affaires européennes Clément Beaune déclarait à Mediapart : « Il n’y aura pas de financement privé de la présidence, pas de ’sponsorship’. Le seul débat que l’on ouvre, et qui sera mené de manière transparente, c’est de savoir si, sur des sujets ponctuels, il peut y avoir un soutien matériel. Je prends un exemple très concret : qu’un constructeur automobile français prête des voitures électriques pour un événement, parce que cela rentre par ailleurs dans nos priorités pour le climat. C’est le maximum que l’on s’autoriserait, en termes d’implication du monde de l’entreprise. »

    Cette distinction entre soutien financier et soutien en nature est parfaitement hypocrite : la plupart des sponsors passés des présidences tournantes de l’UE ont eux aussi apporté leur soutien en nature. C’est précisément ce qui les intéresse : pouvoir placer leurs produits.

    Toute forme de sponsoring privé des présidences de l’Union européenne est inacceptable. L’#Observatoire_des_multinationales s’associe à Foodwatch et à l’ONG bruxelloise Corporate Europe Observatory pour lancer une pétition en ligne demandant à la France d’être exemplaire et d’envoyer un message fort aux citoyen.nes et aux autres États membres en refusant ces accords douteux, qui n’ont pas leur place dans notre démocratie.

    -> Pour signer la pétition c’est ici : https://www.foodwatch.org/fr/sinformer/nos-campagnes/politique-et-lobbies/lobbies-et-multinationales/presidence-francaise-UE-non-aux-cadeaux-des-entreprises

    #ue #union_européenne #publicité

  • Migrations : l’agence européenne #Frontex mise en cause pour des #refoulements en mer

    Des investigations menées par plusieurs médias dénoncent les pratiques illégales des #gardes-frontières_grecs impliquant parfois l’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières.

    Une enquête de plusieurs médias, dont le magazine allemand Spiegel, affirme que Frontex, l’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières, est impliquée dans plusieurs incidents de refoulement en mer de bateaux de demandeurs d’asile traversant la mer Egée entre la Turquie et la Grèce.

    Les investigations menées « montrent pour la première fois que les responsables de Frontex sont conscients des pratiques illégales des gardes-frontières grecs – et sont en partie impliqués dans les refoulements eux-mêmes », écrit le Spiegel dans un article disponible en ligne samedi 24 octobre.
    Les journalistes assurent avoir documenté six cas survenus depuis avril en mer Egée dans lesquels des équipes de Frontex ont au minimum assisté sans réagir à des refoulements vers la Turquie de bateaux de réfugiés se trouvant dans les eaux grecques, une pratique illégale. Dans un cas, en juin, une vidéo montre un navire de Frontex bloquant un bateau de réfugiés, puis, dans une autre scène enregistrée, passant devant le bateau de réfugiés à grande vitesse avant de quitter les lieux.

    Des dizaines de vidéos, d’images satellites, de récits comparés

    Outre le Spiegel, les recherches ont été menées par un magazine de la chaîne allemande ARD, le collectif de journalistes Lighthouse Reports, la plate-forme d’investigations Bellingcat et la chaîne de télévision japonaise TV Asahi. Les auteurs expliquent avoir comparé des « dizaines » de vidéos, d’images satellites, de récits de témoins oculaires, dont des réfugiés et des employés de Frontex. L’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières a engagé plus de 600 agents en Grèce, une des portes d’entrée de l’Union européenne, ainsi que des bateaux, des drones et des avions, selon l’article.

    Frontex n’a pas commenté les cas précis soulevés par la recherche, explique le Spiegel, mais a déclaré que ses agents étaient liés par un code de conduite en matière de droits de l’homme et respectaient l’interdiction des refoulements. Sans mentionner l’article, Frontex a annoncé vendredi soir sur son compte Twitter avoir été « en contact avec les autorités grecques à propos d’incidents en mer ces derniers mois » et qu’Athènes avait ouvert une « enquête interne ». Frontex agit « dans le respect des droits fondamentaux et de la loi internationale », souligne l’agence sur Twitter.
    Le gouvernement conservateur grec a toujours rejeté les allégations de refoulements illégaux à ses frontières dont font régulièrement état plusieurs organisations non gouvernementales.

    https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/10/24/migrations-l-agence-europeenne-frontex-mise-en-cause-pour-des-refoulements-e
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #Mer_Egée #Grèce #Turquie

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Frontex at Fault : European Border Force Complicit in ‘Illegal’ Pushbacks

      Vessels from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, have been complicit in maritime “pushback” operations to drive away refugees and migrants attempting to enter the European Union via Greek waters, a joint investigation by Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi has found.

      Open source data suggests Frontex assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea, were present at another and have been in the vicinity of four more since March.

      Although Frontex assets were not at the immediate scene of those latter four incidents, the signature of a pushback is distinctive, and would likely have been visible on radar, with visual tools common on such vessels or to the naked eye.

      The Greek Coast Guard (HCG) has long been accused of illegal pushbacks.

      These are described by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a legal and educational non-profit, as incidents where refugees and migrants are forced back over a border without consideration of individual circumstances and without any possibility to apply for asylum or to put forward arguments against the measures taken.

      In the Aegean Sea, pushbacks generally occur in two ways. The first type is the most common: Dinghies travelling from Turkey to Greece are blocked from landing on Greek soil by the HCG. This could mean either physically blocking the dinghy until it runs out of fuel, or disabling the engine. After the engine no longer works the dinghy can then either be pushed back into Turkish territorial water with waves, or towed if the wind is not favourable.

      The second type of pushback is employed when people have managed to land on Greek soil. In this case they are detained, placed in a liferaft with no means of propulsion, towed into the middle of the Aegean Sea and then abandoned.

      Pushbacks will often result in standoffs between the HCG and Turkish Coast Guard (TCG), both of which will standby, refusing to aid dinghies in distress and carrying out unsafe manoeuvres around them.

      The role of Frontex assets in such incidents, however, has never been recorded before.

      Dana Schmalz, an international law expert at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg said the incidents highlighted in this investigation were likely “illegal” and “violate the prohibition of refoulement and maritime law.” The prohibition of refoulement refers to rules banning the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers and is described by the UN Refugee Agency as a “rule of customary international law.”

      Schmalz added that if Frontex personnel stopped an overcrowded dinghy of the type seen in footage documented during this investigation, they would be obliged to rescue its occupants immediately. “If they don’t do that, even make waves [or] instead drive away and then let the Greeks do the dirty work – then they are involved in the illegal pushback.”

      Despite being presented with numerous examples of the practice, a spokesperson for the Greek Maritime Ministry Greek denied claims of pushbacks, describing allegations of illegal actions relating to the incidents documented in this article as “tendentious.” They added that HCG officers act in compliance with the country’s international obligations.

      Frontex said that the host states it works with have the final say in how operations on its territory or search and rescue zone are carried out. However, it added that Frontex had notified HCG which confirmed an internal inquiry had been launched into each of the reported incidents. Yet Frontex did not say when it notified HCG or when the inquiry had begun.

      On July 24, the director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, told the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) at the European Parliament that the agency had observed and recorded just a single incident which may have been a pushback in the Aegean.

      Our investigation — which looked at the presence of Frontex assets in the Aegean Sea and observed their movements over many months — appears to contradict that assertion.

      This was despite the difficulty in tracking many Frontex assets because their transponder information was either not registered, not turned on, or was out of range. As such, we were only able to view a snapshot of Frontex operations.

      Frontex, an agency of the European Union, is tasked with border control of the Schengen Area. Its activities in the Aegean are called Operation Poseidon.
      How we Recorded Pushbacks: Identification of Assets

      There were two main steps to establishing that Frontex had participated in pushback operations. The first was to identify what assets had been deployed in Operation Poseidon. The second was to establish whether these assets had participated in pushback operations.

      The first step was carried out using open sources. These included social media posts, vessel tracking sites and information published by Frontex itself. We were also able to establish the number of personnel and assets present in the operational area thanks to questions asked in the European Parliament.

      According to this response, Operation Poseidon has 185 personnel, one offshore patrol vessel (OPV), eight coastal patrol boats (CPB), one coastal patrol vessel (CPV), four thermal vision vehicles (TVV) and three patrol cars.

      There is also a “Rapid Border Intervention”, which contains additional assets on top of those dedicated to Operation Poseidon. This includes 74 personnel, two CPBs, two CPVs, one helicopter and three TVVs.

      In total we used open sources to identify 22 assets, including vessels, helicopters and planes, which operated in the Aegean during 2020. Although this is more than the total given in the answer to parliamentary questions above, some of these assets were rotating in or out of theater.
      Tracking Assets

      Some assets featured regularly on the open source record. For example, Romanian and Bulgarian vessels regularly transit through the Bosphorus strait, where there is an active ship-spotting community. As such it was possible to identify their operational rotations, including vessels heading to and returning from deployments roughly every three months. However, other assets were more difficult to track, and their presence on the open source record consisted of a single image or video.


      https://twitter.com/YorukIsik/status/1262417193083510784

      In order to track these assets and identify if they had participated in pushbacks, we required far more data than was available on social media. As such, we turned to AIS and transponder data, publicly available information about the location of particular ships or aircraft, available through sites such as Marine Traffic or Flight Radar 24.

      Many of the assets we identified either did not have their information publicly listed, or appeared to only turn on their transponders under certain circumstances, such as when in port. This made them extremely difficult to track. However, some assets did have their transponders on. We began to collect this data, buying additional, more granular data from ship and flight tracking companies on dates when pushbacks had been reported.

      We combined this tracking data with our own database of reported pushbacks, which we obtained through both public reports and information collected by NGOs such as Consolidated Rescue Group (CRG), Monitoring Rescue Cell (MRC) and Alarm Phone, who track these events. These included the coordinates of reported pushback events, frequently sent by the occupants of the dinghies. By overlaying these datasets we identified multiple pushback incidents in which Frontex assets were in the vicinity. Once we had identified these priority incidents we could then examine the specifics of what had happened.
      Incidents

      Using this data we identified six pushback incidents since March in which Frontex assets were either in the vicinity or participated directly. We have separated these into four “proximity incidents,” where Frontex assets were within five kilometers of the incident, and two “confirmed incidents,” where we can be certain that Frontex were present at the site of pushbacks themselves.
      Proximity Incidents

      April 28-29: In an incident we have previously reported, a group of refugees and migrants made landfall on Samos. They claim they were then detained, placed in a life-raft without any means of propulsion and towed into the middle of the Mycale Strait. A surveillance plane overflew the area twice while this pushback took place.

      June 4: Two dinghies were reported to have been pushed back from Northern Lesbos. Portuguese vessel Nortada appears to have been present around 15 kilometers from the first incident and just over one kilometer away from the second.

      June 5: A dinghy was reported to have been pushed back from Northern Lesbos. Portuguese vessel Nortada was approximately two to three kilometers away.

      August 19: A dinghy was reported to have been pushed back from Northern Lesbos. Portuguese vessel Molivos was five kilometers away and appears to have changed course and headed towards the pushback before its transponder either lost signal or was turned off.

      In these cases, Frontex assets were recorded as being within a certain range, rather than participating directly. Their exact knowledge of what was happening at these distances is difficult to confirm. Operation Poseidon’s mission includes a significant number of tasks requiring surveillance, and its assets are able to use both radar and visual tools, such as low-light or infrared cameras, to observe the environment around them.

      For example, we know that the Molivos is equipped with an FLIR camera similar to this one seen on another Portuguese Frontex vessel. This model is capable of x36 magnification, with low light and infrared cameras.

      The boats that migrants use to make this crossing are very basic, inflatable rubber dinghies several meters long with a single outboard motor. Due to their construction, it is unlikely that these boats would be visible on radar. However, pushbacks don’t just involve a single dinghy. By their definition they must involve at least one other vessel. From images and videos of pushbacks we have reviewed, it is clear that they often involve multiple ships from both the Greek and Turkish coast guards.

      As stated above, ships from both Greece and Turkey will frequently attempt to push the dinghies across the sea border using waves. These vessels manoeuvre in a circular pattern at a relatively high speed close to the dinghy. This manoeuvre is not only dangerous because of the risk of collision, the waves it generates also represent a threat to the overcrowded and often fragile dinghies.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8BdEHtBWp4&feature=emb_logo

      As such, although a dinghy itself may not show up on radar, the signature of a pushback would. Multiple large and small vessels from both TCG and HCG, some of which are carrying out unusual manoeuvres in order to create waves, would be very difficult to miss. Indeed you can even see this kind of event from space.

      There’s also the matter of visual range. The same factors that make a pushback visible on radar will also make it visible to the eye or other visual systems such as surveillance cameras. Even at a range of a few kilometers in calm seas and good conditions, a dinghy would likely be visible, although exact details such as the nature of its passengers might not be. The other aspects of pushbacks which we have already described would also certainly be visible.

      The case of the April 28-29 pushback is a good illustration of surveillance assets passing very close to the results of a pushback.
      April 28

      In an incident previously covered by Bellingcat, a group of 22 migrants who landed on Samos were detained by Greek law enforcement. They were then placed on a life raft without any means of propulsion, and towed into the middle of the Mycale Strait by the Greek coast guard. In response to our request for comment at the time, the Greek government denied these people had ever reached Greek territory, despite witness statements, images, and videos showing this had in fact happened.

      As the life raft was floating in the strait, a private sureveillance plane passed over the area twice at 5,000 feet, once at 02:41 AM and once at 03:18 AM. This plane, G-WKTH, belongs to DEA Aviation, which provides aerial surveillance services to Frontex. In a promotional video from Frontex, it is claimed these feeds are live-streamed back to the Frontex HQ in Warsaw

      The plane is reportedly equipped with an MX-15 camera, which has both low-light and infrared sensors. Considering this plane is specifically employed for aerial surveillance, it would be surprising if it did not identify the life raft full of people and, according to one member of this group, the presence of Greek and later Turkish vessels.

      Indeed, the Frontex executive director’s response to the LIBE committee of the European Parliament indicates this may have been the incident Frontex reported as having seen. In this reply a “Serious Incident Report (‘SIR’) was created based on a sighting of an incident by aerial surveillance where people were transferred on a rubber boat from a vessel and later on rescued by Turkish authorities.
      Active incidents

      In two cases on June 8 and August 15, it seems certain that Frontex was aware of pushbacks as they took place. Indeed, on June 8, it appears that a Frontex vessel participated in a pushback, physically blocking a dinghy from reaching Greek territory.

      We will first address the incident on August 15, where a Frontext vessel was present at the scene of a pushback, before examining the June 8, where a Frontex asset appears to have participated in a pushback.
      August 15

      On the morning of August 15 there were reports of a confrontation between the Greek and Turkish coast guards. As well as multiple photos posted to social media by locals, this was also reported as a pushback by CRG, MRC, Alarm Phone and Aegean Boat Report.

      CRG and MRC also posted videos from people on this dinghy, with CRG’s video showing an engine without a starter cord, claiming it had been taken by the Greek Coast Guard. In the videos, the dinghy is surrounded by vessels from both the Greek and Turkish coast guards. We have previously noted that disabling the motor of dinghies is a tactic that has reportedly been used by the Greek Coast Guard.

      Most of the images of this incident are taken from a distance, making identification of the vessels difficult. However, we were also sent an image of this confrontation that is very clear. In this image we can clearly see the presence of MAI1102, a Romanian border forces vessel which had just arrived in theater.

      The metadata of this image is consistent with the date and time of this incident. Indeed, the ships can be seen arrayed in almost exactly the same manner in a video filmed by the people on the boat.

      Although it is not possible to be certain of exactly how far away MAI1102 is from this pushback, we can see that it is certainly within visual range of the confrontation and the dinghy itself.
      June 8

      On the morning of June 8 a pushback was reported to have taken place, again off the north-east coast of Lesbos. The Turkish coast guard reported it rescued 47 migrants after a pushback by the Greek Coast Guard that day. Footage published by Anadolu Agency appeared to show the Romanian Frontex vessel MAI1103 blocking a dinghy.

      We investigated this incident further, obtaining other videos from the TCG, as well as tracking data of vessels that appeared to be in the vicinity at the time, such as the NATO ship, Berlin. Using these sources we were able to reconstruct what happened.

      After initially trying to cross under the cover of darkness, the dinghy was intercepted and physically blocked from proceeding by MAI1103 early in the morning.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoNJXY3pa_U&feature=emb_logo

      We can see the exact time and a set of coordinates in one of the videos we obtained.

      We plotted the coordinates visible on the screen as they changed. It became clear these were not the location of the vessel with the camera, but rather the location of the dinghy and MAI1103.

      We can visually confirm the general location by comparing a panoramic view that is visible in one of the videos against the appearance of the landscape from the coordinates which appear on the camera feed.

      We can now start to build a picture of what happened that morning.

      We can see that the dinghy was extremely close to MAI1103, and is being physically blocked by the ship. Indeed the two vessels are close enough that it appears that personnel on MAI1103 are communicating with people in the dinghy.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qD_I--2LPA&feature=emb_logo

      At one point MAI1103 makes a pass close to the dinghy at enough speed to generate waves, a maneuver that previously only HCG and TCG have been seen making. It is especially dangerous due to the overloaded and unseaworthy nature of the dinghies.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUm1_e2R6A&feature=emb_logo

      Eventually HCG vessels arrive and MAI1103 leaves, resulting in a standoff between the TCG and HCG. This lasted several hours and gradually moved to the north-west, observed by the NATO ship Berlin.

      During this period the dinghy was approached at least twice by a rigid-hulled inflatable boat 060 (RHIB) from the HCG.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WODSvxnmoc&feature=emb_logo

      In what appears to be the final segment of video taken at about 09:30 AM we see the TCG radar screen, which can be exactly matched with the Turkish coast. This radar screen matches perfectly with the location and heading of the Berlin at this time, as we can see by overlaying a plot of the Berlin’s course with the radar screen.

      As well as matching the movement of vessels to AIS data, we can further verify that these videos are from the same incident by examining the passengers in the dinghy. We can see that in the earliest videos, showing the MAI1103 with the dinghy, there is clearly a person wearing a white hood, alongside someone who appears to be wearing a reddish top. The presence of these passengers helps to verify that all these videos are indeed from the same incident on June 8.

      In the final stage of the pushback at 10:30 AM it is possible to see the Portuguese Frontex vessel Nortada within 5 km with both AIS data and on the TCG radar screen. The Nortada had been in that vicinity since at least 09:11 AM that morning. Although it may not have been able to pick up this dinghy on its radar, it would have certainly been within visual range of the larger ships surrounding it. After the pushback, the Nortada continued its patrol off North Lesbos.

      Conclusion

      Over the course of this investigation we collected a huge amount of information on Frontex activities in the Aegean Sea. Most of Frontex’s assets were impossible to track because their transponder information was either not registered, not turned on, or was out of range. As such, we were only able to view a snapshot of Frontex operations.

      Despite this limited view, we still managed to identify multiple instances in which Frontex was either present at pushbacks, or close enough to be able to understand what was taking place. In at least one incident it appears that a Frontex vessel actively participated in a pushback. It is possible that there are other incidents we have not been able to capture.

      In a statement provided in response to this investigation, Frontex stated that it applies “the highest standards of border control to its operations” and that its officers are bound by a code of conduct that looks to prevent refoulement and to uphold human rights.

      The statement continued that Frontex’s executive director had notified the HGC regarding all reported incidents and that Greek authorities confirmed that an internal inquiry had been launched.

      A spokesperson for the Greek Maritime Ministry said the actions of HCG officers were “carried out in full compliance with the country’s international obligations, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.”

      The spokesperson added that thousands of migrants had been rescued throughout the refugee crisis of recent years by the HCG, that allegations of illegality were “tendentious” and that the “operation practices of the Greek authorities have never included such [illegal] actions.”

      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2020/10/23/frontex-at-fault-european-border-force-complicit-in-illegal-pushbacks

      #forensic_architecture #architecture_forensique

    • EU Border Agency Frontex Complicit in Greek Refugee Pushback Campaign

      Greek border guards have been forcing large numbers of refugees back to sea in pushback operations that violate international law. #DER_SPIEGEL and its reporting partners have learned that the European Union is also complicit in the highly controversial practice.

      Jouma al-Badi thought he was safe when he first set foot on European soil on April 28. Together with 21 other refugees, he had been taken in a rubber dinghy from Turkey to the Greek island of Samos. The young Syrian planned to apply for political asylum. He documented his arrival in videos. Local residents also remember the refugees.

      Greek security forces captured the migrants. Under international law, it is their duty to give the new arrivals a hearing and field their applications for asylum. Instead, according to al-Badi, the officers dragged them back out to sea and released them on an inflatable rubber raft. Videos obtained by DER SPIEGEL also show him on the raft.

      For an entire night and a morning, Greek border guards kept pushing the men and women away as their raft floated around in circles. The Turkish coast guard filmed the maneuver.

      An aircraft used by the European border protection agency Frontex also passed over the refugees. The crew of the surveillance plane, with the registration identifier "G-WKTH,” were part of a European Union operation in Greece. The plane twice flew over the Strait of Mykali, where al-Badi and the other migrants were located. According to flight data that has been viewed by DER SPIEGEL, the first flight happened at 2:41 a.m. and the second at 3:18 a.m.

      The plane’s crew has a standard MX-15 camera on board with an infrared sensor and a sensor for poor lighting conditions. Even at night, the sensors are capable of detecting small objects on the water. According to a Frontex promotional video, the camera images are streamed live to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. But Frontex didn’t send any help.

      The waves struck the Syrian in the face. He eventually ran out of strength and thought he was going to die.

      The Greek government denies it conducted pushbacks of refugees to Turkey, even though DER SPIEGEL and other media have fully documented several of these operations, known as pushbacks. Greek border guards are growing increasingly ruthless. As in the case of al-Badi, they are now pushing even refugees who have reached the Greek isles back to sea in operations that are illegal under international law.

      Frontex officials have publicly claimed that they know nothing about pushbacks by Greek border guards. The agency has 600 employees deployed in Greece as well as ships, drones and aircraft.

      Together with Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat, "Report Mainz” — a program on ARD, the German public broadcaster — and Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi, DER SPIEGEL spent several months reporting in the Aegean Sea region. The reporters tracked the positions of Frontex units and compared them with position data from pushbacks recorded by NGOs and migrants. They interviewed witnesses, refugees and Frontex staff. They viewed internal documents and dozens of videos and satellite photos.

      Their research proves for the first time that Frontex officials know about the Greek border guards’ illegal practices – and that the agency itself is at times involved in the pushbacks. Breaking the law has become an everyday occurrence at Europe’s borders, and the EU is allowing it to happen.

      Samira Mohammad could already see Lesbos when the men with the masks arrived. The Syrian woman, who does not want to provide her real name, is 45 years old. That morning of August 15, she was sitting in a rubber dinghy with dozens of other people. She recalls how Greek border guards tried in vain to stop the arrivals and how they steered toward the boat repeatedly and pushed it back toward Turkey multiple times. She says the Turkish coast guard held them off. Locals even have a name for the cynical game: "Greek water polo.”

      Mohammad claims the Greek officials took their gasoline and destroyed the engine. And that masked Greek border guards then boarded the dinghy. Several refugees claim that they forced the migrants to tie the shaky rubber dinghy to a speedboat at gunpoint. The border guards then towed the boat toward Turkey. Videos corroborate the statements made by the refugees, and the destroyed engine is clearly visible.

      Mohammad said she was scared to death during those moments. Her entire family had been onboard, including her pregnant daughter-in-law, who was later hospitalized with severe bleeding.

      The maneuver off the coast of Lesbos lasted hours, and the Turkish Navy didn’t rescue the refugees until noon.

      A Romanian Frontex boat was also on site that morning. The MAI 1102 was located only a few hundred meters away from the refugee boat. The boat can be clearly identified in a photo. A German navy ship on a NATO mission that observed the incident reported it to the German government. It also stated that Frontex people had been present. This is documented in an internal paper that has been obtained by DER SPIEGEL. Nevertheless, this pushback has never been revealed publicly before now.

      On June 8, Frontex officials went one step further, with the MAI 1103, a ship also flying the Romanian flag. It directly blocked a refugee boat. The incident can be seen in several videos recorded by the Turkish coast guard and verified by DER SPIEGEL. It shows officials standing on the deck, where they are obviously communicating with the refugees floating in the water in front of them.

      Later, the MAI 1103 passes the refugees traveling at high speed, with waves beating against the boat. The Romanian officials then withdrew and the Greek coast guard took over the operation.

      "These pushbacks violate the ban on collective expulsions and international maritime law,” says Dana Schmalz, an expert on international law at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. She notes that if Frontex officials stopped a completely overcrowded inflatable boat, they would be required to rescue the people immediately. "If they don’t do that and even make waves instead, only to drive away and let the Greeks do the dirty work, then they are still involved in the illegal pushback,” she says.

      Reporting by DER SPIEGEL and its partners found that a Frontex surveillance plane or Portuguese or Romanian Frontex ships were near at least six pushbacks in the area since April. The number of undetected cases could actually be much higher.

      The vast majority of Frontex vessels patrol the Aegean Sea with their AIS transponders switched off or untraceable in order to prevent giving away their positions. Their presence can only be verified with difficulty through videos and photos.

      When contacted for comment by DER SPIEGEL, Frontex did not deny the individual incidents, instead stating that the officials protected the fundamental rights of migrants and respected their right to non-refoulement. It further stated that the incidents that had been reported were forwarded to the Greek coast guard, which opened an investigation into the matter. The Greek government gave a blanket denial to the allegations, saying that it complies with the law and does not carry out illegal deportations.

      Under Frontex’s statutes, police officers are required to file so-called Serious Incident Reports to document violations of the law. But people familiar with the situation say that fewer and fewer of these reports are getting filed. The sources said the Frontex border guards, who are sent to Greece from all over Europe, frown upon such reports because they cause trouble for the host country.

      https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-border-agency-frontex-complicit-in-greek-refugee-pushback-campaign-a-4b6c

      –---

      en allemand :
      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-frontex-in-griechenland-in-illegale-pushbacks-verwickelt-a-0000

    • Bruxelles veut des explications de Frontex, accusée de procéder à des refoulements illégaux de migrants

      La #Commission_européenne a sollicité une réunion extraordinaire urgente du conseil d’administration de Frontex, l’agence européenne pour la protection des frontières, mise en cause pour des refoulements illégaux de migrants en mer Égée. Un article d’Euroefe.

      « Après s’être coordonnés avec la présidente de la Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, mes services ont demandé, au nom de la Commission, la convocation d’une réunion extraordinaire du conseil d’administration de Frontex le 10 novembre pour discuter des incidents présumés de refoulement en Grèce et de la protection des droits fondamentaux », a écrit Ylva Johansson, la commissaire chargée des migrations, dans un tweet.

      D’après des enquêtes menées par différents médias, Frontex aurait procédé à des refoulements illégaux de migrants en mer Égée, à la frontière entre la Turquie et la Grèce. Et ce à au moins six reprises.

      L’hebdomadaire allemand Der Spiegel a révélé le 23 octobre qu’il avait enquêté sur ces incidents en collaboration avec les médias numériques néerlandais Lighthouse Reports et britannique Bellingcat, ainsi qu’avec deux chaînes de télévision, l’Allemande ARD et la Japonaise Asahi.

      Ces médias disposent de films montrant comment, depuis le mois d’avril, des agents de Frontex ont procédé à ce que l’on appelle des « pushbacks » (refoulements) de migrants pour les empêcher d’atteindre le sol européen, une pratique illégale.

      Une vidéo montre comment un bateau de l’agence européenne bloque le passage d’une embarcation occupée par des migrants, avant de les dépasser à grande vitesse, provoquant ainsi de grosses vagues. Par la suite, les garde-côtes grecs obligent la barque à faire demi-tour vers la Turquie.

      De son côté, Frontex a nié les accusations et assuré au Spiegel que ses agents protégeaient les droits fondamentaux des migrants et respectaient le droit au non-refoulement.

      Le gouvernement grec a également nié catégoriquement ces accusations.

      https://www.euractiv.fr/section/migrations/news/bruxelles-veut-des-explications-de-frontex-accusee-de-proceder-a-des-refoulements-illegaux-de-migrants/?_ga=2.223583131.1633915392.1603989521-379746837.1590938192

    • Greek coast guard performed huge pushback involving 197 people and 7 life rafts!

      A boat carrying 197 people tried to cross from Turkey to Italy on Tuesday, but got in to bad weather and sat course towards Crete. Close to the south shore of Crete they had engine problems and the Greek Coast Guard was alerted 09.00.
      The coast guard divided the people on two coast guard vessels, 121 men and boys on one vessel and 76 people, families on the other. Reports from the refugees clearly states that some of them where abuse while onboard the HCG vessel, footage and video testimony has been provided. Most of their phones was confiscated by the Greek coast guard, but a few managed to hide their phones, and was able to send out distress messages.
      The first group containing the 121 males was forced in to 3 life rafts before first light on Wednesday the 21th just north of Rhodes, and found and picked up by Turkish coast guard 08.50 south of Marmaris.
      The second group with the families, 76 people, was put in 4 life rafts around noon north west of Simi, drifting for hours and not picked up by Turkish coast guard before 17.30 south west of Datça.
      This shows that the Greek coast guard is determined to prevent anyone to reach Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution.
      This is by far the largest pushback Aegean Boat Report has been able to document, but I guess nothing is a surprise anymore. No measures have been taken by the EU to try to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even do they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.

      https://www.facebook.com/AegeanBoatReport/posts/951612422028529

    • Έστειλαν πίσω 200 πρόσφυγες γιατί ήταν… τζιχαντιστές

      Τεκμηριωμένη καταγγελία για τη μεγαλύτερη ώς τώρα καταγεγραμμένη επαναπροώθηση προσφύγων από το Λιμενικό προς την Τουρκία με μεγάλη και κρυφή επιχείρηση του Λιμενικού εν μέσω σφοδρής κακοκαιρίας νότια της Κρήτης ● Έντεχνη προσπάθεια οι 200 άνθρωποι, μεταξύ αυτών και γυναικόπαιδα, να εμφανιστούν ως… ισλαμιστές τρομοκράτες.

      Ακόμα μια καταγγελία για βίαιες επαναπροωθήσεις προσφύγων από το Λιμενικό έρχεται στο φως τις τελευταίες ημέρες, την ίδια στιγμή που η κυβέρνηση πανηγυρίζει για τη μείωση των προσφυγικών ροών προς τα νησιά, χωρίς όμως να εξηγεί πώς έχει επιτευχθεί η μείωση αυτή.

      Η υπόθεση αφορά πλοιάριο με περίπου 200 ανθρώπους που έφτασαν στα ανοιχτά της Κρήτης, προερχόμενοι από Τουρκία και με τελικό προορισμό την Ιταλία. Στη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση υπάρχει μια περίεργη αλληλουχία γεγονότων και « ειδήσεων » τόσο στα κρητικά όσο και τα κεντρικά ΜΜΕ. Το πρωί της Τρίτης 20 Οκτωβρίου σε όλα τα ηλεκτρονικά ΜΜΕ της Κρήτης μεταδίδεται η είδηση για « κινητοποίηση του Λιμενικού » για σκάφος με 200 μετανάστες στη θαλάσσια περιοχή νότια της νήσου Χρυσής (Γαϊδουρονήσι), στην Ιεράπετρα. Το προηγούμενο βράδυ η Κρήτη είχε χτυπηθεί σφοδρά από την κακοκαιρία και το πρωί τα βλέμματα όλων ήταν στις εκτεταμένες καταστροφές που προκάλεσε το χαλάζι σε καλλιέργειες και υποδομές, κυρίως στην ανατολική πλευρά του νησιού. Την ίδια κακοκαιρία προφανώς αντιμετώπισαν και οι 200 επιβαίνοντες στο σκάφος, μεταξύ των οποίων υπήρχαν γυναίκες και παιδιά.

      Στις πρώτες αναφορές και σε ερωτήσεις δημοσιογράφων προς το Λιμεναρχείο Ιεράπετρας γινόταν λόγος για « αδυναμία του Λιμενικού να εντοπίσει το πλοιάριο », ωστόσο δινόταν η πληροφορία πως τα σκάφη θα έμεναν στα ανοιχτά λόγω της κακοκαιρίας και για την περίπτωση που χρειαστεί, να παράσχουν βοήθεια αν εντοπίσουν τους πρόσφυγες. Λίγες ώρες αργότερα η είδηση εξαφανίστηκε από τα ΜΜΕ και δημιουργήθηκε η εντύπωση πως τα σκάφη του Λιμενικού δεν βρήκαν ποτέ το πλοιάριο με τους πρόσφυγες.
      Τους βρήκαν ;

      Ωστόσο τα πράγματα φαίνεται πως έγιναν διαφορετικά. Τέσσερις μέρες μετά, η οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report, η οποία και στο παρελθόν έχει αποκαλύψει παράνομες επιχειρήσεις επαναπροώθησης λέμβων με μετανάστες προς την Τουρκία από τις ελληνικές αρχές και τη Frontex, καταγγέλλει πως το Λιμενικό όχι μόνο βρήκε τους πρόσφυγες στα ανοιχτά της Κρήτης αλλά προχώρησε και με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες στην επαναπροώθησή τους στην Τουρκία. Η οργάνωση καταγγέλλει πως η ελληνική Ακτοφυλακή εντόπισε τους πρόσφυγες στις 9 το πρωί της Τρίτης (όπως δηλαδή μετέδιδαν αρχικά και τα κρητικά ΜΜΕ). Στη συνέχεια, πάντα σύμφωνα με την καταγγελία, οι άνδρες του Λιμενικού επιβίβασαν τους 197 πρόσφυγες σε δύο επιχειρησιακά σκάφη χωρίζοντάς τους σε δύο ομάδες. Στην πρώτη ομάδα μπήκαν 121 άνδρες και αγόρια, ενώ στη δεύτερη μπήκαν οικογένειες με γυναίκες και παιδιά, συνολικά 76 άτομα. Και οι δύο ομάδες, πάντα σύμφωνα με την καταγγελία, μεταφέρθηκαν στη θαλάσσια περιοχή βόρεια της Ρόδου, όπου και εξαναγκάστηκαν με τη βία να επιβιβαστούν σε συνολικά επτά θαλάσσιες σωστικές σχεδίες αφού προηγουμένως τους είχαν αφαιρεθεί όλα τα κινητά τηλέφωνα. Και οι επτά σχεδίες « σπρώχτηκαν » προς τις ακτές της Τουρκίας, εν μέσω κακοκαιρίας και κατά παράβαση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και του δίκαιου της θάλασσας.

      Στιγμιότυπα από την επαναπροώθηση των προσφύγων (Φωτογραφίες από την οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report).


      Οι τρεις πρώτες σχεδίες, με 121 άτομα, εξωθήθηκαν τα ξημερώματα της Τετάρτης 21/10 προς την περιοχή της Μαρμαρίδας, όπου και εντοπίστηκαν από το τουρκικό Λιμενικό που τους περισυνέλεξε. Το δεύτερο γκρουπ, όπου βρίσκονταν οι γυναίκες και τα παιδιά, εξαναγκάστηκε να επιβιβαστεί σε τέσσερις σωστικές σχεδίες και επαναπροωθήθηκε προς την Τουρκία από τη θαλάσσια περιοχή δυτικά της Σύμης, το μεσημέρι της Τετάρτης. Τους περισυνέλεξε το τουρκικό Λιμενικό το απόγευμα της ίδιας μέρας στην περιοχή νοτιοδυτικά της πόλης Ντάκτα. Οπως αναφέρουν μάλιστα κάποιοι από τους επιβαίνοντες, χτυπήθηκαν από τους Ελληνες λιμενικούς, ενώ υπάρχει και σχετικό φωτογραφικό υλικό που τραβήχτηκε μετά την περισυλλογή τους από τις τουρκικές αρχές. Σε μία από τις φωτογραφίες φαίνεται ένας άνθρωπος με μώλωπες στην κοιλιά και με γύψο σε σημεία και των δύο χεριών του.


      Πρωτοσέλιδο

      Την ίδια μέρα, πάντως, που έγινε η καταγγελία από την Aegean Boat Report (το Σάββατο) η εφημερίδα « ΤΑ ΝΕΑ » κυκλοφορούσε με τίτλο « Προετοιμαστείτε για Τζιχαντιστές », αναφερόμενη στο μήνυμα που, σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες της εφημερίδας, έστειλε σε Ελλάδα και Κύπρο ο Αιγύπτιος πρόεδρος Αλ Σίσι κατά την τριμερή συνάντηση που πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Λευκωσία. Το μήνυμα υποτίθεται πως αφορούσε τις πληροφορίες που έχει η Αίγυπτος για τις κινήσεις του Ερντογάν και το πώς χρησιμοποιεί τον ισλαμιστικό παράγοντα. Σε κάποια κρητικά ΜΜΕ οι δύο υποθέσεις δεν άργησαν να συνδεθούν με αναφορές για το… περίεργο σκάφος στο οποίο, σύμφωνα με τα δημοσιεύματα, επέβαιναν « άτομα εμφανιζόμενα ως μετανάστες » και το οποίο, σύμφωνα με τις διοχετευμένες πληροφορίες, έχει κινητοποιήσει όχι μόνο το Λιμενικό αλλά και τον Στρατό, την ΕΥΠ ακόμα και ξένες μυστικές υπηρεσίες !

      Όπως αποκαλύπτεται, πάντως, οι επικίνδυνοι « τζιχαντιστές », τόσο οι άνδρες όσο και τα γυναικόπαιδα, είχαν ήδη από την Τετάρτη επαναπροωθηθεί παράνομα στην Τουρκία. Η Οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report αναφέρει πως αυτή είναι η μεγαλύτερη περίπτωση « pushback » που καταφέρνει να καταγράψει και τονίζει πως η Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση δεν έχει επιβάλει ακόμα καμία κύρωση στην Ελλάδα για τις παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις, παρά τα ακλόνητα στοιχεία που έχουν τεθεί στη διάθεση των ευρωπαϊκών αρχών.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/efkriti/koinonia/265835_esteilan-piso-200-prosfyges-giati-itan-tzihantistes

    • Greece’s coast guard accused of mass migrant pushbacks

      An NGO, the #Aegean_Boat_Report (ABR), has accused the Greek coast guard of pushing back 197 migrants at sea last week.

      Greek coast guards have been accused by the NGO Aegean Boat Report (ABR) of performing illegal pushbacks involving 197 people and seven life rafts off the coast of the island of Crete in the Southern Aegean.

      A boat carrying 197 people was on its way trying to cross from Turkey to Italy on October 20 but ran into bad weather and changed course towards Crete, the NGO said.

      Close to the south shore of Crete, the vessel reported engine problems and, according to the Norwegian organization, the Greek coast guard was alerted at 9 am.

      ’’The Greek coast guard divided the people into two groups onto two coast guard vessels, 121 men and boys on one vessel, and 76 people, mostly families, on the other.

      Abuse on board

      Reports from the refugees clearly state that some of them were abused while onboard the Hellenic coast guard vessel, with footage and video testimony being provided,’’ said ABR via a media statement.

      According to ABR, the first group with the 121 men and boys were forced into three life rafts in the early hours of Wednesday, October 21 just north of Rhodes, before being found and picked up by the Turkish coast guard at 8:50 am south of Marmaris.

      The second group of 76 people, made up of families, were put into four life rafts at around noon north-west of the islands of Simi, drifting for hours and not picked up by Turkish coast guards before 5:30 pm south-west of Data.

      ’Largest pushback’ ABR has documented

      ’’This shows that the Greek coast guard is determined to prevent anyone from reaching Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution’’, added ABR.

      ’’This is by far the largest pushback Aegean Boat Report has been able to document, but I guess nothing is a surprise anymore. No measures have been taken by the EU to try to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even if they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.’’

      29 NGOs and humanitarian groups sent an open letter to Parliament Last week’s incidents were reported after an appeal was launched by several prominent NGOs and humanitarian groups earlier this month on the topic of illegal pushbacks.

      A total of 29 organizations sent an open letter to Parliament urging it to investigate reports of illegal pushbacks at the country’s land and sea borders with neighboring Turkey.

      The letter called on the Greek Parliament to ’’immediately conduct an effective, transparent and impartial investigation into allegations that personnel from the Coast Guard, the Greek Police and the Greek Army, sometimes in close cooperation with masked men in uniform, have engaged in such actions, which are not only illegal but also endanger the lives and safety of displaced people."

      Tensions on migration in Greece

      Tensions on the migrant issue in Greece continue to run high following September’s fires which destroyed the controversial Moria open camp on Lesbos, and widespread lockdowns at refugee camps across the country following outbreaks of coronavirus cases.

      The reports of pushbacks taking place have prompted action from humanitarian rights groups, with the joint-appeal calling for disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as deemed appropriate, “on anyone in uniform who are found to have participated in such illegal activities, but also for their superiors who are responsible for the administration of these bodies.”

      “The investigation should establish the identity and relationship of the masked men and other unidentified officers to law enforcement, and take steps to hold them to account.”

      State pushes ahead with migrant camps

      Meanwhile, in related developments, the government is pressing ahead with plans to create more secure and strictly controlled ’’closed’’ migrant reception centers on the Aegean islands.

      With the COVID-19 pandemic creating further challenges and complications for the operation of existing camps, most of which are under lockdown due to positive cases of the virus, the state is aiming to build new ’’permanent’’ structures, starting with one on Lesbos.

      The situation on Lesbos is the primary concern right now, as the current temporary facility which was hastily set up in the Kara Tepe area on the coast after Moria was burned down, has already flooded twice with the first rainfalls of the season.

      Lesbos Mayor Stratis Kytelis met with government officials in Athens last week to discuss the location of a new permanent facility on the island, although the plans are being met with resistance from local community groups.Greece’s health authorities, meanwhile, are also conducting regular COVID-19 tests at migrant camps on the Aegean islands to ensure that any outbreak is quickly contained.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/28139/greece-s-coast-guard-accused-of-mass-migrant-pushbacks

    • Frontex sous pression après des accusations de refoulement de migrants aux portes de la Grèce

      C’est une première : mardi 10 novembre, le conseil d’administration de l’Agence européenne des garde-frontières et de garde-côtes Frontex devra examiner des accusations de refoulements illégaux (ou « pushbacks ») de migrants en mer Egée. Elles ont été portées contre Frontex par un groupe de médias. En octobre, le site d’investigation Bellingcat et le magazine Der Spiegel notamment, avaient rapporté, images et témoignages à l’appui, six épisodes au cours desquels des embarcations avaient été bloquées, contrairement aux règles internationales sur le non-refoulement.

      Celles-ci stipulent que des personnes ne peuvent être renvoyées vers un pays, avant un examen de leur situation, si leur existence est en danger en raison de leur race, leur religion, leur nationalité ou leur appartenance à un groupe social ou politique.

      Il aura apparemment fallu une intervention ferme de la Commission européenne pour que la direction de Frontex, devenue le premier corps en uniforme et la plus importante agence de l’Union avec un budget de quelque 500 millions d’euros, accepte de convoquer un conseil extraordinaire. Dans un premier temps, elle s’était contentée d’affirmer, le 24 octobre, qu’elle respectait la loi internationale et était en contact avec la Grèce, qui devait ouvrir « une enquête interne ».
      Enquête interne

      « Si l’agence est impliquée dans de telles actions, c’est totalement inacceptable », déclarait pour sa part la commissaire à la migration, Ylva Johansson, le 26 octobre. Le lendemain, Frontex promettait une enquête interne et, même si elle n’exerce pas une tutelle directe sur l’agence, la Commission obtenait la convocation d’une réunion. A charge pour Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur français, de fournir des explications détaillées.

      « La Grèce ne participe pas à des refoulements, a affirmé de son côté le ministre grec des migrations, Notis Mitarachi. Nous gardons nos frontières en respectant le droit international et nous continuons à sauver des centaines de migrants tous les jours en Méditerranée », a-t-il précisé.

      Athènes fait face depuis des mois à de nombreuses accusations de refoulement en mer Egée et à la frontière terrestre avec la Turquie, dans l’Evros. Le 14 août déjà, le New York Times avait affirmé que les gardes-côtes grecs avaient abandonné en « pleine mer » des canots remplis de migrants. Interviewé par CNN, le premier ministre conservateur Kyriakos Mitsotakis avait démenti : « Cela n’est jamais arrivé. Nous sommes les victimes d’une vaste campagne de désinformation », suggérant que les journalistes avaient interrogé principalement des sources turques voulant décrédibiliser les autorités grecques.

      Depuis l’envoi par la Turquie de milliers de réfugiés à la frontière terrestre de l’Evros, en mars, Athènes a toujours assuré vouloir « protéger ses frontières » qui sont aussi celles de l’Europe et faire face à « une menace ». Le gouvernement a renforcé le contrôle des frontières en embauchant notamment du personnel supplémentaire. Entre avril et juillet, les arrivées à Lesbos ont diminué de 85 % par rapport à l’année dernière, selon le ministère des migrations.
      Des « abus sont trop nombreux pour être ignorés »

      Pour de nombreuses ONG présentes sur le terrain, cette diminution spectaculaire est le résultat de « pushbacks ». Selon Human Rights Watch, « les preuves et les rapports décrivant les abus sont trop nombreux pour être ignorés ». L’organisation dit avoir interrogé des victimes et des témoins qui décrivent comment les garde-côtes grecs, la police, et des hommes masqués et vêtus d’habits sombres ont effectué depuis les îles de Rhodes, de Samos et Simi, des refoulements illégaux de personnes sur de petits canots gonflables.

      A la fin août, le Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) de l’ONU se disait « inquiet de l’augmentation des publications depuis mars 2020 attestant de refoulements illégaux ». « Le HCR a reçu des rapports et des témoignages de personnes abandonnées en pleine mer pendant un long moment, souvent sur des rafiots surpeuplés », précisait le communiqué.

      L’Observatoire grec des accords d’Helsinki a déjà déposé une plainte auprès de la Cour suprême grecque pour le refoulement de plus de 1 300 personnes en s’appuyant sur les témoignages recueillis par plusieurs ONG. En septembre, 29 organisations de défense des droits de l’homme ont par ailleurs adressé une lettre au premier ministre et au parlement grecs pour réclamer une enquête. Leur courrier est encore sans réponse alors que 35 membres d’ONG font, eux, l’objet d’une investigation : ils sont suspectés d’avoir renseigné des migrants sur les positions des gardes-côtes ainsi que des passeurs sur des lieux d’accostage. Ces humanitaires travaillent pour des organisations qui ont dénoncé avec le plus de véhémence les refoulements vers la Turquie par les gardes-côtes grecs.

      Frontex, qui a engagé en Grèce quelque six cents agents dotés de divers moyens de surveillance, a déjà fait l’objet d’autres accusations mais affirme à chaque fois respecter un code de conduite qui prohibe strictement les refoulements. La communication très cadenassée de l’agence ne détaille toutefois pas comment les contrôles sont vraiment exercés. L’action du service interne chargé de contrôler le respect des droits fondamentaux reste également nébuleuse. Une situation déplorée par le HCR, membre du forum consultatif chargé de conseiller l’agence européenne dans son action.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/11/05/frontex-sous-pression-apres-des-accusations-de-refoulement-de-migrants-aux-p

    • EU: Probe Frontex Complicity in Border Abuses. Ensure Independent and Effective Investigation

      The top governing body of the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) should urgently establish an independent inquiry into allegations of its involvement in unlawful operations to stop migrants from reaching the European Union (EU), Human Rights Watch said today.

      The agency’s board will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 10, 2020. Frontex should also address serious and persistent violations by border and law enforcement officers of the countries where it operates.

      “The fact that Frontex may have become complicit in abuses at Greece’s borders is extremely serious,” said Eva Cossé, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Management Board of Frontex should quickly open an inquiry into Frontex involvement in – or actions to disregard or cover up – abuses against people seeking protection from conflicts and persecution.”

      On October 23, a group of media outlets published a detailed investigative report alleging Frontex involvement in pushback operations at the Greek-Turkish maritime border, in the Aegean Sea. The reports said that asylum seekers and migrants were prevented from reaching EU soil or were forced out of EU waters. Such pushbacks violate international law, Human Rights Watch said.

      EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on October 28 that she had asked, in coordination with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “to convene an urgent extraordinary Frontex Management Board meeting on 10 November, to discuss alleged push-back incidents in Greece and fundamental rights protection.”

      Frontex’s mandate obliges officers and the officers of member states deployed to respect fundamental rights, but the agency has been under heavy criticism for the shortcomings of its internal monitoring and accountability mechanisms. On October 27, Frontex announced an internal inquiry into the incidents reported by the media.

      In recent years, nongovernmental groups and media outlets have consistently reported the unlawful return, including through pushbacks, of groups and individuals from Greece to Turkey, by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men who appear to be working in tandem with border enforcement officials.

      Since Frontex deployed officers along the full length of the Turkey-Greece land border in March, Human Rights Watch has documented that Greek law enforcement officers routinely summarily returned asylum seekers and migrants through the land border with Turkey. Human Rights Watch found that officers in some cases used violence and often confiscated and destroyed migrants’ belongings.

      Greek authorities have said that police officers wearing dark blue uniforms work at police stations. Border patrol police officers wear military camouflage uniforms. Frontex guards wear their national uniforms, with a blue armband with the EU flag.

      In July, Human Rights Watch documented collective expulsions, through the Evros river land border, of asylum seekers rounded up from deep inside Greece.

      In a June 19 response to questions posed by Human Rights Watch, Frontex wrote that no abuses against migrants by Greek border guards or by police or border guards of other EU member states deployed under Frontex had been reported to Frontex. It said that Frontex does not have the authority to investigate allegations of abuse by EU member states’ police or border guards deployed in Greece. It said that such investigations are conducted by the competent national authorities.

      In June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it was deeply concerned about persistent reports of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, in some cases violent, at Greece’s border with Turkey. In August, the UN Refugee Agency flagged concerns over the increasing number of credible reports of pushbacks at Greece’s land and sea borders.

      In May 2019, Frontex told Human Rights Watch that it had not detected any human rights violations or pushbacks during its operational presence at Croatia’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite consistent evidence of brutal pushbacks, reports from international and regional organizations, and the confirmation by Croatian officials that such abuses were taking place.

      Under the Frontex mandate, its executive director has the authority to, and should, withdraw financing, and suspend or terminate its activities if there are serious violations of fundamental rights related to its activities. The executive director is also expected to take into account information provided by relevant international organizations.

      On July 6, during a debate at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on fundamental rights at the Greek border, Johansson said that pushbacks by Greek border guards should be investigated. In its new Pact on Migration and Asylum, presented on September 23, the European Commission recommended to member states to set up an independent monitoring mechanism, amid increased allegations of abuse at the EU’s external borders.

      Members of the Frontex Management Board should set up an independent, prompt, effective, transparent, and impartial investigation into allegations that officers deployed by Frontex were involved in unlawful operations of pushbacks of asylum seekers. Any officer found to have engaged in such illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers and officials who have command responsibility over such forces, should be subject to disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as applicable.

      The investigation should also identify whether Frontex failed to report or otherwise address allegations of serious fundamental rights violations committed by law enforcement or border officers of the member state hosting operations.

      “An EU agency with a clear mandate to act in compliance with fundamental rights has the responsibility to do everything possible to prevent such severe violations,” Cossé said. “If Frontex not only turned a blind eye to abuses committed under its sight, or worse, directly took part in them, it becomes every EU member state’s responsibility.”

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/11/09/eu-probe-frontex-complicity-border-abuses

    • Frontex calls for committee to consider questions related to sea surveillance

      Today, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has called for the creation of an evaluation committee to consider legal questions related to the Agency’s surveillance of external sea borders and accommodating the concerns raised by Member States about “hybrid threats” affecting their national security at external borders where the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will deploy its standing corps.

      Under the Frontex proposal, the committee would be coordinated by the European Commission with the participation of Member States on a volunteer basis. It would address various questions, in particular those related to Regulation 2014/656 in the light of the current operational situation.

      Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri also expressed the Agency’s continued commitment to highest standards of protection of fundamental rights.

      “Any allegation of misconduct or infringement of international treaties or fundamental rights in the framework of joint operations coordinated by Frontex is treated with grave concern and carefully investigated,” said Fabrice Leggeri.

      “I am committed to reinforce the office of the Fundamental Rights Officer and to gradually increase its budget,” he added.

      Leggeri also proposed that the Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer to play a bigger role in raising awareness of the operational officers on the legal requirements that they need to apply on everyday basis in the field.

      “This could apply not only to the Frontex-deployed staff, but also to the staff of the International Coordination Centres, who often play an essential part in deciding to react to complicated events,” Leggeri said.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-calls-for-committee-to-consider-questions-related-to-sea-surv

    • #Ombudsman opens inquiry to assess European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) ‘#Complaints_Mechanism’

      European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has opened an inquiry to look into how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) deals with alleged breaches of fundamental rights. In particular, the investigation will assess the effectiveness and transparency of Frontex’s Complaints Mechanism for those who believe their rights have been violated in the context of Frontex border operations, as well as the role and independence of Frontex’s ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’.

      In 2013, as part of a previous inquiry, the Ombudsman recommended that Frontex set up an individual complaints mechanism, and that its Fundamental Rights Officer be in charge of the mechanism. Since then, such a mechanism was put in place and further developed, with a view to providing safeguards for fundamental rights in the context of Frontex’s expanding mandate, as well as ensuring increased accountability and redress for those impacted by its actions.

      This inquiry focuses on whether the Complaints Mechanism and the Fundamental Rights Officer are truly empowered to deal with the issues faced by migrants and asylum seekers who feel their rights have been violated under Frontex operations.

      In opening the inquiry, the Ombudsman has sent a set of detailed questions to Frontex on the Complaints Mechanism and the Fundamental Rights Officer. She has also informed members of the European Network of Ombudsmen (ENO), with a view to their possible participation in the inquiry, as part of the ENO’s parallel work. This is important, given the role of national authorities in Frontex operations, and the fact that some national ombudsmen are responsible for following up on complaints related to this.

      Among other things, the questions set out by the Ombudsman look at: how and when Frontex will be updating the mechanism to reflect its expanded mandate; what happens to complainants who are faced with forced return while their complaint is still being processed; what appeal possibilities are open to complainants; how Frontex monitors complaints against national authorities; how those who have been affected by Frontex operations but are in non-EU countries can complain about alleged breaches of fundamental rights, including the issue of language; and the role of the Fundamental Rights Officer in this process.

      https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/news-document/en/134739

    • Frontex: Cover-Up and Diversion. Outcomes of and Responses to the Frontex Management Board meeting on 10th November

      An extraordinary meeting took place on Tuesday 10th November, between the EU Commission and Frontex, regarding alleged Frontex involvement in illegal pushbacks in Greece.

      Why did the meeting take place?

      This meeting was called due to an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting the involvement or complicity of Frontex in pushbacks. Reports by Spiegel, Report Mainz, Bellingcat and other international media, including Josoor and other members of the BVMN, had led to this meeting taking place. These investigations show Frontex involvement in at least six pushbacks through, for example, blocking boats and making waves to deter boats from getting any closer to the shore. According to Frontex insiders, mission reports were routinely altered into something more positive, excluding explicit mentions of pushbacks, before being sent to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, Poland.

      We, at the Border Violence Monitoring Network, took advantage of the opportunity presented by the meeting on 10th November by sending a letter of concern to the Executive Director of Frontex and the FRO. This letter included evidence from testimonies, collected by BVMN partners, including Josoor, from people-on-the-move who claim that Frontex personnel were involved or complicit in pushbacks operations at the borders between Greek and Turkey, and Albania and Greece. The letter questioned Frontex’s knowledge and understanding of these allegations, and demanded an investigation into these claims. The letter was also addressed to the EU commissioner of Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and her officer and we hoped this was presented as evidence at the management board meeting on 10th November

      What were the outcomes?

      Johansson remarked on twitter after the meeting:

      “Today’s @Frontex extraordinary management board was a good start to what I want to be a transparent process. The @EU_Commission has asked the Frontex Executive Director to reply to Qs ahead of the next scheduled board meeting (end November).”

      Leggeri, the Executive Director of Frontex, has been ordered by the EU Commission to answer questions concerning these accusations by the end of November. Frontex is yet to comment in detail on the allegations and reported incidents have been forwarded to the Greek coastguard, where also the Greek authorities have refused to comment and denied involvement. Both Frontex and the Greek authorities have launched internal investigations in response to these allegations. Unsurprisingly, after just 48 hours of their investigations, Frontex announced that they were innocent.

      The meeting also included a discussion on whether Frontex should withdraw from missions, such as the one in the Aegean Sea in the event of serious and persistent human rights violations. Such a directive can be found already in Frontex’s regulations. Officials of a few member states vetoed the application of this rule, and Greek representatives in particular were concerned that this could expose the Greek government.

      In the end, a compromise was met. A Frontex statement outlined that a ‘Commission of Inquiry’ will now be made to deal with legal questions concerning operations at sea borders. This will be coordinated by the EU Commission.

      “Any allegation of misconduct or violation of international agreements or fundamental rights within joint operations coordinated by Frontex will be treated with grave concern and investigated closely,” Leggeri said.

      Also, Frontex seeks to strengthen the role of the Fundamental Rights Officer, but experts agree that the internal mechanisms at Frontex are insufficient and therefore see this move as insufficient. As of yesterday, Frontex is advertising for the vacancy of the FRO.

      Members of EU Parliament reactions:

      Tineke Strik (from Netherlands, Green) commented, according to Spiegel, “The announcement did not mention the human rights violations at the border. A committee does not replace a truly independent and transparent investigation. Strik stated “Citizens need to know what has happened and how human rights violations are to be prevented in the future”

      Dietmar Köster (from Germany, SPD) stated, quoted from Tagesschau, "It is a unique cover-up attempt to divert attention from one’s own responsibility and failure to observe human rights”. Köster further stated that Leggeri’s statements showed the arrogance and ignorance of Frontex. “Basic and human rights apply to all. The European Border Management Agency is not exempt from their observance, it is not above the law.”

      An successful outcome: an independent inquiry:

      On the morning of Thursday 12th November, the European Ombudsman tweeted that they would open an inquiry into Frontex, assessing the effectiveness and transparency of their ‘Complaints Mechanism’ and the role and independence of the ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’ (FRO). The latter is especially important as the current ad interim FRO, Annegret Kohler, appointed in 2018, and re-appointed in September 2020, was selected from the Executive Director’s former cabinet, where she was an advisor to the Executive Director. This raises questions about independence and objectivity of the FRO and the FRO’s team to carry out their duties and avoid potential conflicts of interest. Josoor welcomes this investigation.

      https://www.josoor.net/post/frontex-cover-up-and-diversion

    • EU erhöht Druck auf Frontex-Chef

      Die EU-Grenzschutzagentur gerät durch Recherchen des ARD-Magazins Report Mainz und weiterer Medien in Bedrängnis. Heute musste die Frontex-Führung der EU-Kommission zum Thema illegale Pushbacks Rede und Antwort stehen.

      Die Europäische Kommission erwartet Antworten vom Frontex-Chef. Bis Ende November muss sich Fabrice Leggeri zur Verwicklung seiner Grenzschutzagentur in illegale Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen äußern. Das ist das Ergebnis einer Dringlichkeitssitzung des Frontex Management Boards. Das Treffen sei ein guter Anfang gewesen, sie wolle den Prozess transparent gestalten, twitterte die zuständige EU-Kommissarin Ylva Johansson. Leggeri solle bis zur nächsten Zusammenkunft des Management Boards auf die Fragen der Kommission antworten.
      Recherchen bringen Frontex in Bedrängnis

      Johansson hatte das Treffen einberufen, um über eine gemeinsame Recherche des ARD-Magazins Report Mainz, des „Spiegel“ und der Medienorganisationen Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports und tv Asahi zu diskutieren. Die Medien hatten aufgedeckt, dass Frontex-Einheiten in der Ägäis in illegale Zurückweisungen von Flüchtlingen verwickelt sind.

      Seit April waren Frontex-Beamte nachweislich bei mindestens sechs sogenannten Pushbacks in der Nähe. Auf einem Video ist zu sehen, wie ein Frontex-Schiff ein überladenes Flüchtlingsboot zunächst blockiert, die Insassen aber nicht rettet. Stattdessen fahren die Frontex-Beamten mit hohem Tempo an dem Flüchtlingsboot vorbei und verlassen dann den Ort des Geschehens. Vertrauliche Gespräche mit Frontex-Beamten legten zudem nahe, dass diese ihre Berichte schönen, bevor sie an die Zentrale in Warschau geschickt werden.

      Keine Äußerung von Frontex und Griechenland

      Frontex ist auf die Vorwürfe bis heute nicht im Detail eingegangen. Alle gemeldeten Vorfälle seien an die griechische Küstenwache weitergeleitet worden, diese habe eine interne Untersuchung eingeleitet, teilte die Genzschutzagentur in einem Statement mit. Nach der Antwort der griechischen Behörden seien seine Zweifel ausgeräumt, sagte Leggeri zudem in einem Interview.

      Auch die griechischen Behörden hatten sich zu den Pushbacks nicht im Detail äußern wollen. Sie bestreiten die Vorwürfe pauschal, obwohl die ARD, der „Spiegel“ und andere Medien die Pushbacks mehrfach dokumentiert haben. Nach Angaben von Teilnehmern im „Spiegel“ sahen sich vor allem die griechischen Mitglieder des Management Boards bei dem Treffen Fragen ausgesetzt. Diskutiert wurde unter anderem ein Statement, welches betonen sollte, dass Frontex sich bei schwerwiegenden und anhaltenden Menschenrechtsverletzungen von Missionen wie der in der Ägäis zurückziehen muss.

      Griechen haben Angst vor Bloßstellung

      Ein solche Vorschrift findet sich schon jetzt in den Frontex-Regularien. Beamte einiger weniger Mitgliedsstaaten legten ihr Veto dagegen ein, dass die Anwendung dieser Regel nun in den Raum gestellt werden soll. Besonders die griechischen Teilnehmer fürchteten, dass das Statement die griechische Regierung bloßstellen könnte.

      Am Ende einigte man sich auf einen Kompromiss. Es soll ein Komitee geschaffen werden, das sich mit rechtlichen Fragen zu Einsätzen an der Seegrenzen beschäftigt, heißt es in einem Frontex-Statement. Die Kommission solle dem Vorschlag zufolge die Arbeit des Komitees koordinieren, Mitgliedsstaaten könnten sich auf freiwilliger Basis beteiligen. Im Komitee sollen auch die Sorgen einige Mitgliedsstaaten vor „hybriden Bedrohungen“ eine Rolle spielen. Vor allem Griechenland hatte immer wieder davor gewarnt, dass türkische Geheimdienste sich unter die Migranten auf den Inseln mischen könnten.

      Außerdem will Frontex nach eigener Aussage den sogenannten Fundamental Rights Officer stärken. Der Beamte ist bei Frontex dafür zuständig, dass die Grenzschützer die Grundrechte von Schutzsuchenden achten. Allerdings halten Beobachter alle bestehenden internen Überwachungsmechanismen bei Frontex für unzureichend.
      Kritik aus Europaparlament

      Nach den Enthüllungen der ARD und ihrer Recherchepartner hatten mehrere Europaparlamentarier von Leggeri eine vollständige Untersuchung der Vorwürfe gefordert. Die Grünen-EU-Abgeordnete Tineke Strik kritisierte das Frontex-Statement. Die Ankündigung erwähne die Menschenrechtsverletzungen an der Grenze nicht, sagte sie. Ein Komitee ersetze keine wirklich unabhängige und transparente Untersuchung. „Die Bürger müssen erfahren, was geschehen ist und wie Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Zukunft verhindert werden sollen“, so Strik.

      „Das Ganze ist eine große Nebelkerze“, sagte Europaparlamentarier Dietmar Köster von der SPD. „Es ist ein einzigartiger Vertuschungsversuch, von der eigenen Verantwortung und dem Versagen bei der Einhaltung von Menschenrechten abzulenken“,

      https://www.tagesschau.de/investigativ/report-mainz/frontex-pushbacks-103.html

    • EU-Grenzpolizei Frontex: Keine Untersuchung zu Verstößen gegen Menschenrechte

      Im März war die EU-Grenzpolizei Frontex in einen versuchten Verstoß gegen Menschenrechte verwickelt. Wie von uns veröffentlichte Akten zeigen, untersuchte Frontex den Vorfall aber nicht, sondern kehrte ihn unter den Teppich.

      Als ARD, Spiegel und Bellingcat vor drei Wochen aufdeckten, dass die Europäische Grenzpolizei Frontex an illegalen Pushbacks an EU-Grenzen beteiligt ist, versprach der Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri schnell Aufklärung. Die EU-Agentur werde die Vorwürfe untersuchen, nach denen Frontex Geflüchtete völkerrechtswidrig aus der EU abgeschoben hatte.

      „Jeder Vorwurf des Fehlverhaltens oder der Verletzung internationaler Verträge oder Grundrechte im Rahmen gemeinsamer Operationen, die von Frontex koordiniert werden, wird mit großer Besorgnis behandelt und sorgfältig untersucht.“

      Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri (Übersetzung von FragDenStaat)

      Ein interner E-Mail-Verlauf von Frontex, den wir per Informationsfreiheitsanfrage erhalten haben, zeigt jetzt jedoch, dass die EU-Agentur in vergleichbaren Fällen offenbar kein Interesse daran hat, Verstöße gegen Menschenrechte zu untersuchen. EU Observer hatte zunächst darüber berichtet.
      Dänemark widersetzt sich Frontex-Befehlen

      Bereits am 2. März diesen Jahres hatte Frontex in der Nähe der griechischen Insel Kos versucht, ein Boot mit 33 geflüchteten Menschen, die griechische Gewässer erreicht hatten, in die Türkei abzuschieben. Das griechische Frontex-Kommando befahl einem Schiff der Dänischen Marine mit dem Namen „Stela Polaris“, die Geflüchteten nicht an Land zu bringen, sondern wieder in ein Gummiboot zu setzen und aufs offene Meer Richtung Türkei zu schleppen. Der dänische Befehlshaber des Schiffes widersetzte sich dem rechtswidrigen Befehl jedoch und erreichte durch seine dänischen Vorgesetzten, dass er aufgehoben wurde.

      Frontex hatte den Vorgang bisher nie öffentlich zugegeben. Der dazugehörige E-Mail-Verkehr aus der Frontex-Zentrale in Warschau, den wir veröffentlichen, zeigt, dass Pushbacks die Entscheidungsträger um Direktor Fabrice Leggeri kaum interessierten. Erst aus der Presse erfuhr das Hauptquartier überhaupt davon, dass Frontex in einen versuchten Verstoß gegen die Menschenrechte verwickelt war.

      Einen Bericht – intern Serious Incident Report genannt – gab es trotz der Schwere des Vorfalls nicht. Die Frontex-Pressesprecherin forderte deswegen in Erwartung von Presseanfragen am Morgen des 6. März, vier Tage nach dem Vorfall, bei ihren Kolleg:innen einen Bericht zu den Vorfällen an. Am Nachmittag wurde sie informiert, dass es in der Tat einen versuchten Pushback gegeben hatte.

      Menschenrechte geprüft in vier Stunden

      Bemerkenswert ist, wie die Frontex-Zentrale anschließend mit den Informationen umging: Es schloss die Akten. Bereits vier Stunden nach der Meldung über Vorfall kamen die Frontex-Mitarbeiter:innen zu der Einschätzung, der versuchte Pushback sei ein „Einzelfall“. Er wurde noch nicht einmal beim täglichen Treffen der Befehlshabenden in der Frontex-Mission besprochen.

      Weitere Informationen zu dem Vorfall finden sich in den Akten laut Frontex nicht. Die Frontex-Mitarbeiter:innen überprüften nicht die Kommando-Strukturen und prüften nicht, warum es keinen internen Bericht zu dem rechtswidrigen Befehl gab. Sie unternahmen auch sonst keine Versuche, um sicherzustellen, dass Pushbacks durch das Frontex-Kommando nicht mehr vorkommen würden. Im Sommer schließlich gab Frontex-Direktor gegenüber dem Europäischen Parlament zu Protokoll, der versuchte Pushback sei ein „Missverständnis“ gewesen.

      Einige Monate später fanden Journalist:innen Beweise dafür, dass es sich offenbar nicht um einen Einzelfall handelt und Frontex mindestens im Juni an weiteren Pushbacks beteiligt war. Die EU-Agentur hatte offenbar kein Interesse daran, Verstöße gegen Menschenrechte zu unterbinden.

      https://fragdenstaat.de/blog/2020/11/18/frontex-pushbacks-denmark

    • Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee calls on Greece to reform its immigration detention system and stop pushbacks

      In a report published today on a rapid reaction ad hoc visit to Greece in March 2020, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) once again urges the Greek authorities to change their approach towards immigration detention and to ensure that migrants deprived of their liberty are treated both with dignity and humanity.

      The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Greece, which took place from 13 to 17 March 2020, together with the response of the Greek authorities.

      In the report, the CPT acknowledges the significant challenges faced by the Greek authorities in dealing with large numbers of migrants entering the country and that it requires a coordinated European approach. However, this cannot absolve the the Hellenic Republic from their human rights obligations and the duty of care owed to all migrants that the Greek authorities detain.

      The CPT found that the conditions of detention in which migrants were held in certain facilities in the Evros region and on the island of Samos could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment. The report again underlines the structural deficiencies in Greece’s immigration detention policy. Migrants continue to be held in detention centres composed of large barred cells crammed with beds, with poor lighting and ventilation, dilapidated and broken toilets and washrooms, insufficient personal hygiene products and cleaning materials, inadequate food and no access to outdoor daily exercise. Extreme overcrowding in several of the facilities further aggravated the situation. In addition, migrants were not provided with clear information about their situation.

      The CPT once again found that families with children, unaccompanied and separated children and other vulnerable persons (with a physical or mental health illness, or pregnant women) were being detained in such appalling conditions with no appropriate support. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to end the detention of unaccompanied children and of children with their parents in police establishments. Instead, they should be transferred to suitable reception facilities catering to their specific needs.

      The report also highlights that the CPT again received consistent and credible allegations of migrants being pushed back across the Evros River border to Turkey. The Greek authorities should act to prevent such pushbacks. The CPT furthermore raises concerns over acts by the Greek Coast Guard to prevent boats carrying migrants from reaching any Greek island and it questions the role and engagement of FRONTEX in such operations.

      The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to take vigorous steps to stamp out ill-treatment of detained migrants by the police. The report refers to a number of allegations by migrants that they had been ill treated by members of the Hellenic Police and/or Coast Guard either upon apprehension or after being brought to a place of detention. The ill treatment alleged consisted primarily of slaps to the head and kicks and truncheon blows to the body.

      In their response, the Hellenic Police provide information on the steps being taken to improve the conditions of detention for detained migrants. They also state that the alleged practice of pushbacks to the border is unsubstantiated and completely wrong. As regards unaccompanied minors, reference is made to a new strategy to end their detention and to their transfer from reception centres on the islands to safe accommodation facilities on the mainland.

      https://search.coe.int/directorate_of_communications/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680a06bcf

    • Annex to the reply of Fabrice Leggeri to the LIBE Committee

      https://www.tinekestrik.eu/sites/default/files/2020-11/Answers%20to%20the%20questions%20from%20the%20LIBE%20Commitee.pdf

      –---

      Thread sur twitter:

      It looks like Frontex are NOT denying that they may be involved in #pushbacks after all. FL partly evades (’...always committed...’) and partly seems to blame the ’uniqueness’ of operational areas & ’complex geography’ of the Greek and Turkish border for FX being involved in pushbacks.

      –---

      The earlier letter sent to the EP President might offer some clues. I’m not a legal expert, but FL seems to suggest that Art. 6 of Reg. 656/2014 (on interception at sea) needs to be clarified so as to define what constitutes a #pushback. Interesting.
      https://www.tinekestrik.eu/sites/default/files/2020-11/Letter%20to%20EP_Frontex%20maritime%20operations%20at%20EU%20external%20

      –—

      Yet not all pushbacks happen at sea. While the request for interpretation above might mean that FX is looking for a way out re: #pushbacks at the Aegean, what about those at the
      Greek-Turkish land border? I think there’s less concern with #pushbacks at #Evros, though. No videos...

      –---

      Back to the Annex: We know SIRs weren’t submitted as they should. The real question is why. It might be down to officers on the ground lacking in training (they shouldn’t, but...) or not wanting to get their colleagues in trouble (the spirit of camaraderie...).

      –---

      BUT: Today’s Spiegel article refers to a ’Frontex official in charge’ advising a Swedish officer not to submit a SIR. FX management were aware few SIRs being submitted for years. Is it a practice dictated from the top? To avoid having evidence of violations?

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/pushbacks-in-der-aegaeis-wie-frontex-menschenrechtsverletzungen-vertuscht-a-

      –—

      Suspension/non-launch of operations has never happened. The ED didn’t take into account reports by NGOs or human rights bodies when considering the 2016 recommendation to suspend operations in Hungary. He relied on the very low number of SIRs to reject it.
      https://respondmigration.com/wp-blog/fundamental-rights-accountability-transparency-european-governance

      –—

      Same with the 2019 & 2020 recommendations of the FRO to consider suspension of operations in #Evros. As for taking into account media reports ... well, I’d say the reply to the LIBE committee reads like the media accounts are being dismissed.

      https://twitter.com/lk2015r/status/1331662031095787521

    • E.U. Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

      Frontex is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc’s external borders.

      Mounting evidence indicates that the European Union’s border agency has been complicit in Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants to Turkey, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with officials.

      In at least one case, Frontex, as the E.U. border agency is known, is accused of having helped cover up the violations, when a crew said it was discouraged by agency officials from reporting that they had seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.

      The case is currently being investigated by Frontex. But it has fueled suspicions that the agency, newly boosted in its role as upholder of the rule of law at E.U. borders, is not just sporadically aware of such abuses, but that it plays a role in concealing them.

      “We are seeing an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful,” said Gerald Knaus, a migration expert. “This is deeply worrying because it is eroding the refugee convention on the continent on which it was created.”

      Throughout this year, The New York Times and others have reported on growing operations by the Greek Coast Guard to repel migrants from Greek waters back to Turkey, reports the Greek authorities deny amount to breaches of international laws.

      But revelations that Frontex has witnessed pushbacks have thrown the agency into a governance crisis that threatens to further blight the European Union’s liberal values, once again calling into question the bloc’s commitment to upholding its own laws on refugees.

      The cases have also highlighted a conundrum at the core of E.U. ambitions to tighten external borders by pooling resources and involving the bloc in the sensitive, zealously shielded work of sovereign border guards.

      Frontex is the European Union’s best-funded agency, with a budget of over $500 million, and will soon deploy the first uniformed officers in the bloc’s history. It has been built up specifically to help in migrant-rescue operations as the burden of policing Europe’s borders has fallen most heavily on its peripheral states, like Greece.

      It was also intended as a deterrent to the kind of mass arrival of refugees that sowed political crises across Europe after 2015, and fanned nationalist and populist movements.

      Yet Frontex is not empowered to stop national border guards from committing violations, and it is not clear how it can play a role as standard-bearer of E.U. laws when informing on national forces risks the working relationships on which its operations depend.

      Refugee arrivals to the European Union peaked five years ago and have dropped drastically since, but thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, still attempt the crossing. Unlike in the past, Greeks and their government have turned hostile to the new arrivals, exhausted by years in which asylum seekers have been bottled up in overrun camps on Greek islands.

      There is also a growing belief in the Greek and several other European governments that aggression at the borders and poor conditions at migrant camps will make the attempt to reach Europe less attractive for asylum seekers.

      Earlier this year, an analysis by The Times showed that the Greek government had secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, often by sailing them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and abandoning them in flimsy inflatable life rafts in violation of international laws.

      The Greek Coast Guard has rescued thousands of asylum seekers over the years but has become much more aggressive this year, especially as Turkey used migrants to provoke Greece by encouraging them to cross the border.

      The Greek government has denied it is doing anything illegal in repelling migrant boats from its national waters, characterizing the operations as robust border guarding. But Mr. Knaus said “the denials are not serious,” and the practices are effectively happening in the open — under the eyes of E.U. border patrols.

      The documents obtained by The Times describe, in Coast Guard vernacular littered with acronyms, codes, time-stamps and coordinates, a seemingly incessant Ping-Pong of migrant dinghies between Greek and Turkish waters, with Frontex crews on vessels or aircraft in observer status.

      Four officials with direct knowledge of Frontex operations said that agency officials have been discouraging crews from filing reports on pushback incidents, and, in some cases, have stopped initial alerts of violations from being filed as “serious incident reports,” at times after consulting with the Greek authorities.

      They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about losing their jobs, or were not authorized to brief the press.

      The Frontex spokesman, Chris Borowski, said the agency took the reporting of violations very seriously. “Pushbacks are illegal under international law,” Mr. Borowski said.

      In the latest case to come to light, a Swedish Coast Guard crew on deployment under Frontex witnessed a pushback to Turkish waters of a boat full of migrants by the Greek authorities on Oct. 30 off the Greek island of Chios.

      The Swedish crew was later advised by a Frontex officer to not report it, documents reviewed by The Times show. The Swedish representative to the management board of Frontex described the incident, and the suppression of the attempt to report it, at a meeting on Nov. 10 — the first known case of an E.U. member state reporting active interference by Frontex officials.

      The Swedish government did not comment. A spokesman for Frontex said the agency wouldn’t comment because of an “ongoing procedure.”

      Frontex has been working in Greece for more than a decade, providing sea, land and aerial surveillance and rescue capabilities and deploying crews from other member states under its command.

      The details now emerging push the agency deeper into a governance crisis which began in October when a consortium of news organizations, including the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, reported a number of occasions when Frontex crews witnessed pushbacks in Greece.

      The European Commission, which is part of the Frontex oversight system but does not control the agency, pushed for a special inquiry into these allegations and, at an emergency agency board meeting on Nov. 10, asked its leadership to answer detailed questions in writing.

      The answers arrived with a four-day delay, just 15 hours before the start of another meeting to discuss the problems on Wednesday. Yet another emergency meeting has been called in December, mounting pressure on the agency.

      Frontex has promised internal investigations but also quickly dismissed allegations, saying for example, in a letter seen by The Times, that it would look into the Swedish case, but that it had so far found no evidence that it happened.

      How these investigations shake out will matter a great deal for the future of Frontex, which was once little more than a back-office operation in Warsaw but now finds itself on the front lines of the nettlesome issue of migration that has the potency to make or break governments.

      Apart from helping member states with asylum-seeker arrivals, Frontex’s role as an E.U. agency by law is to respect fundamental rights, and bring up human-rights standards across national E.U. border agencies, which often don’t have a strong culture of upholding them.

      But claims that Frontex does not take fundamental rights seriously enough are growing. This year, only one million euros in its budget of 460 million euros — about $548 million — was allocated to rights monitoring.

      The agency was supposed to hire 40 fundamental-rights officers by Dec. 5 but the jobs have not yet been advertised. The agency is currently hiring for their boss, after years of staffing issues around that position. A Frontex spokesman said the delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.

      Documents seen by The Times laid out how in one episode the Greek authorities were consulted before a report was made, and were able to suppress it. On Aug. 10, a German crew deployed by Frontex reported that a Greek Coast Guard vessel “took up border control measures prohibiting the landing to Samos.”

      The expression refers to maneuvering and making waves around a dinghy to repel it. The event was not recorded as a “serious incident,” because, the document said, the Greek Coast Guard argued the activities “do not provide any ground” to initiate such a report.

      Another incident, which a Frontex aerial crew observed and reported in detail to its headquarters, took place on the evening of April 18 to 19 off the coast of Lesbos, and lasted more than five hours.

      A dinghy was detected by the Greek authorities and approximately 20 migrants were rescued and put on board a Greek Coast Guard vessel shortly after midnight, their empty dinghy towed by the Coast Guard toward the island.

      But instead of being taken to shore, at 2:45 a.m., the migrants were put back on their dinghy and tugged to Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, the Frontex aerial crew reported.

      As events unfolded, the Greek command center twice asked the Frontex aircraft to change its flight path, directing it away from the incident.

      “At 03:21 Frontex Surveillance Aircraft communicates that the rubber boat has no engine and it is adrift. Greek assets are departing the area leaving the rubber boat adrift,” the document said.

      The internal Frontex report detailing this incident and categorizing it as a fundamental-rights violation was “dismissed,” the document shows.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/world/europe/frontex-migrants-pushback-greece.html

    • La Grèce fortement soupçonnée de refouler les migrants

      L’agence européenne Frontex, potentiellement impliquée dans les refoulements, mène une enquête interne et doit fournir des explications à la Commission européenne fin novembre. Une plainte a été déposée le 17 novembre auprès du comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU.

      L’étau se resserre autour de la Grèce, de plus en plus fréquemment accusée de refouler les migrants vers la Turquie, aussi bien en mer qu’à terre. Le soupçon n’est pas nouveau, comme l’atteste le terrible récit de Fadi Faj. Ce jeune Syrien de 25 ans est arrivé en 2015 avec l’immense vague de demandeurs d’asile en Allemagne. Berlin lui octroie alors le statut de réfugié et un permis de séjour avec lequel il se rend en Grèce en novembre 2016, à la recherche de son jeune frère de 11 ans dont il a perdu la trace lors de sa traversée de la frontière greco-turque à Evros.

      Fadi Faj est alors arrêté par la police grecque qui lui confisque ses papiers et l’expulse vers la Turquie avec une cinquantaine d’autres demandeurs d’asile. Devenu un sans-papier, il sera à treize reprises repoussé de part et d’autre de la frontière par les forces grecques ou turques. Ayant enfin mis un pied à terre en Grèce en décembre 2017, il y vivra encore deux ans dans le dénuement avant d’obtenir un visa pour regagner l’Allemagne qui lui délivrera un nouveau permis de séjour en mai 2020.

      Une plainte auprès du Comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU

      Ce récit glaçant fait l’objet d’une plainte à l’encontre de la Grèce déposée le 17 novembre auprès du Comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU, par le Global Legal Action Network (Réseau mondial d’action juridique) basé en Irlande et l’ONG grecque HumanRights 360.

      Entre-temps, les cas du même type se sont multipliés. Surtout depuis le printemps dernier, après que le président turc Erdogan a menacé d’ouvrir les frontières et incité les migrants à se diriger vers la Grèce. « J’ai vu de mes yeux vu deux refoulements en mer depuis ma maison sur la côte nord de Lesbos », dénonce ainsi Christina Chatzidaki, une habitante de l’île qui jouxte les côtes turques, et y dirige l’association Siniparxi (Coexistence).

      Alarm phone qui reçoit les appels de détresse des embarcations en mer se déclarait en mai dernier « très préoccupé par la récente augmentation des rapports d’attaques sur les bateaux de migrants ». L’ONG avait alors engrangé les témoignages de survivants de 18 bateaux. « Ils ont fait état d’actions dangereuses, telles que le fait de tourner autour de leurs bateaux et de provoquer des vagues, des menaces avec des armes à feu, le vol de leur essence, la destruction de moteurs et, également, le remorquage de bateaux vers les eaux turques où ils ont été laissés à la dérive », précise l’ONG.
      Intimer la Commission d’agir

      Les dénonciations de pratiques qui violent les droits humains, et contreviennent au droit de la mer et au droit européen n’ont pas cessé par la suite. Le porte-parole du Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) déclarait le 12 juin dernier : « le HCR a continuellement fait état de ses préoccupations auprès du gouvernement grec et a demandé des enquêtes urgentes sur une série d’incidents présumés ». Il soulignait alors la corrélation entre la forte baisse du nombre d’arrivées de migrants en Grèce et l’augmentation du nombre de refoulements signalés. En 2019, 60 000 personnes avaient débarqué en Grèce par la mer et 15 000 par la terre. En 2020, jusqu’au 22 novembre, ils ne sont plus, respectivement, que 9 400 et 5 400.

      Jusqu’à présent la Grèce a nié ces allégations. « Nous protégeons nos frontières en accord avec les lois internationales et européennes » a encore affirmé le ministre grec de l’immigration Notis Mitarakis le 13 novembre dernier au site Infomigrants. Deux mois auparavant, le 22 septembre, les ONG Oxfam et WeMove adressaient une plainte auprès de la Commission européenne pour l’intimer de mener « une enquête sur les violations systématiques du droit européen concernant le traitement des demandeurs d’asile en Grèce ».
      La possible implication de Frontex

      Enfin, le site d’investigation Bellingcat et le magazine allemand Der Spiegel apportèrent en octobre un coup de grâce supplémentaire, en dénonçant, images à l’appui, le laisser-faire, voire l’implication, de l’agence européenne de surveillance aux frontières Frontex - qui a déployé plus de 600 agents en Grèce - dans six cas documentés de pratique illégale de refoulement.

      Un soupçon repris par le comité contre la torture du Conseil de l’Europe. Dans son rapport publié le 19 novembre, le comité a indiqué « avoir de nouveau reçu des allégations cohérentes et crédibles de migrants repoussés vers la Turquie ».

      Il s’est déclaré « inquiet des actes commis par les garde-côtes grecs pour empêcher les bateaux transportant des migrants d’atteindre les îles grecques » et « s’interroge sur le rôle et l’implication de Frontex dans de telles opérations ».

      Face à une telle avalanche, l’Union européenne pouvait difficilement continuer à se voiler la face. La suédoise Ylva Johansson, commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures a réclamé des explications pour fin novembre à l’agence Frontex, laquelle a indiqué avoir ouvert une enquête interne.

      https://www.la-croix.com/Monde/Grece-fortement-soupconnee-refouler-migrants-2020-11-24-1201126401

    • Refoulements de demandeurs d’asile : le directeur de Frontex interrogé par les députés

      La supposée implication d’agents de Frontex dans les refoulements de demandeurs d’asile à la frontière grecque sera au cœur du débat en commission des libertés civiles mardi.

      Les députés seront en attente de réponses de la part du directeur exécutif de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, Fabrice Leggeri, concernant les incidents révélés récemment par les médias au cours desquels des garde-côtes grecs (avec la connaissance présumée et même l’implication d’agents de Frontex) ont arrêté des migrants qui tentaient d’atteindre les côtes de l’UE et les ont renvoyés dans les eaux turques. Les députés devraient s’enquérir des résultats de l’enquête interne menée par l’Agence européenne de gestion des frontières et de la réunion du conseil d’administration convoquée à la demande de la Commission européenne.

      En octobre dernier, avant les révélations des médias, le forum consultatif de Frontex (qui réunit notamment des représentants du Bureau européen d’appui en matière d’asile (EASO), de l’Agence des droits fondamentaux de l’UE (FRA), du HCR, du Conseil de l’Europe et de l’OIM) avait exprimé son inquiétude dans son rapport annuel. Le forum pointait du doigt l’absence de véritable système de contrôle permettant de prévenir et de traiter les violations potentielles des droits fondamentaux dans les activités de l’Agence.

      Le 6 juillet, au cours d’une précédente réunion de la commission des libertés civiles, Fabrice Leggeri avait assuré aux eurodéputés que Frontex n’était pas impliquée dans les refoulements et avait qualifié l’incident avec l’équipe danoise à bord de l’un des navires de l’Agence de ‘‘malentendu’’.

      DATE : mardi 1er décembre de 13h50 à 14h45

      LIEU : Parlement européen à Bruxelles, bâtiment Antall, salle 4Q2 et à distance

      https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/fr/press-room/20201126IPR92509

    • EU border chief urged to quit over migrant pushback claims

      European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.

      The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”

      The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.

      “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”

      Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.

      Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.

      “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. “We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”

      Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly’s political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.

      Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe’s external borders to be clarified.

      “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks,” he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”

      Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.

      He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.

      The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.

      Part of the EU’s migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.

      EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.

      During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report “concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”

      Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/259789/article/ekathimerini/news/eu-border-chief-urged-to-quit-over-migrant-pushback-claims

    • Frontex is taking us to court

      The EU border police Frontex is under fire for its involvement in human rights violations at the EU’s borders. Now, they want to silence those exposing their wrongdoing.

      For many years, we have been fighting to make Frontex, the EU’s border police, more transparent and accountable. We have made public over a thousand of their documents, including those that show the agency has been complicit in human rights violations and violence against migrants at the EU’s borders.

      Frontex is currently under fire for its involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean and for having concealed evidence about these illegal acts. Confronted with such serious accusations, the EU border agency has now chosen to go after those who investigate them: they are taking us to court.

      Frontex has filed a case against us before the General Court of the European Union in order to force us to pay them a large amount of money. Last year, we lost our lawsuit for information about Frontex and now, the agency is demanding from us excessive legal fees. The message is clear: they want to make sure that we never take them to court again.
      Details must remain secret

      For the time being, we will not be able to disclose further details related to the case due to the court’s rules on keeping all information secret while proceedings are ongoing. Back in January, the agency justified their excessive legal fees on their decision to hire expensive private lawyers.

      Frontex, which has a billion-euro budget, making it the best resourced EU agency, employs a well-staffed internal legal department. Both the decision to hire private lawyers and to then claim these costs from civil society are highly unusual in court cases against the EU authorities.
      What happens if Frontex wins?

      If Frontex succeeds, in the future only corporations and the rich will be able to afford legal action against EU authorities. Activists, journalists, NGOs and individuals will not be able to defend human rights before the EU court. Frontex bringing a case like this directly against civil society, let alone winning, discourages others from holding them accountable in the future. It’s this chilling effect that we believe they’re hoping for.

      In the spring, more than 87,000 people petitioned Frontex to withdraw their legal bill. 44 civil society organizations also called on Frontex to retract its demand. Frontex has nonetheless chosen to ignore their voices.

      In recent years, Frontex has experienced an enormous increase of power and resources. Not only is it about to receive € 11 billion under the next EU budget, but it can also now hire its own border guards and buy its own equipment, including aircrafts, ships, drones and weapons.

      Investigating Frontex and holding it accountable is now more important than ever. As recent publications have revealed, the EU border force has been involved in numerous human rights violations at the EU borders.
      What you can do

      Our freedom of information work is financed by individual donations. We will fight in court for a judgement that gives Frontex as little money as possible. If you want to support us in this, we would be very happy to receive a donation. We will use every extra euro for new investigations and legal action against Frontex.

      https://fragdenstaat.de/en/blog/2020/12/02/frontex-costs-court-transparency

    • S&Ds call for Frontex Director to resign

      The S&D Group in the European Parliament today called for the Executive Director of Frontex to resign following months of allegations on the agency’s involvement in illegal practices and violations of fundamental rights.

      In today’s hearing of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE), Director Fabrice Leggeri failed to answer questions relating to the agency’s involvement in pushbacks at the EU’s external borders aimed at preventing asylum-seekers from entering the EU.

      Following the hearing, S&D MEPs concluded Mr Leggeri’s position at the head of Frontex is not sustainable, especially in light of the important role for Frontex in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      Kati Piri, S&D vice-president for migration and LIBE member taking part in the hearing, said

      “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign. After months of the S&D Group calling for explanations, Director Leggeri had the chance to set the record straight. But there are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.

      “Pushbacks are a violation of international law and every single incident must be fully investigated. Do we have the confidence in Frontex to ensure alleged incidents are properly investigated? After today, the answer is no.

      “As long as allegations hang over Frontex, its reputation remains severely damaged and in desperate need of repair. In our view, Director Leggeri is not the right person to fix the damage.”

      Birgit Sippel, S&D LIBE coordinator, added:

      “We have to ask ourselves how we got to the point where we have to rely on journalists and whistle-blowers in Frontex to inform us of instances of fundamental and human rights violations at our borders. This is unacceptable and deeply disturbing, in particular when considering the potentially increased role of Frontex as part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      “The series of alleged pushbacks and cover-ups from Frontex show that we need a strong and independent border monitoring mechanism to investigate any and all alleged violations of fundamental and human rights and international laws at European borders.

      “Under the 2019 Frontex mandate, the Agency was obliged to have recruited at least 40 Fundamental Rights Monitors by 5 December 2020. It is now clear that Frontex will not even have come close to fulfilling this task, and therefore will not comply with the new mandate. Blaming bureaucratic hurdles for the delay of such an important task is insufficient, while the Commission’s role in this delay requires further examination as well. Mr Leggeri has failed in many of his responsibilities and must bear the consequences of his actions.”

      https://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/newsroom/sds-call-frontex-director-resign

    • E.U. Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

      Frontex is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc’s external borders.

      Mounting evidence indicates that the European Union’s border agency has been complicit in Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants to Turkey, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with officials.

      In at least one case, Frontex, as the E.U. border agency is known, is accused of having helped cover up the violations, when a crew said it was discouraged by agency officials from reporting that they had seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.

      The case is currently being investigated by Frontex. But it has fueled suspicions that the agency, newly boosted in its role as upholder of the rule of law at E.U. borders, is not just sporadically aware of such abuses, but that it plays a role in concealing them.

      “We are seeing an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful,” said Gerald Knaus, a migration expert. “This is deeply worrying because it is eroding the refugee convention on the continent on which it was created.”

      Throughout this year, The New York Times and others have reported on growing operations by the Greek Coast Guard to repel migrants from Greek waters back to Turkey, reports the Greek authorities deny amount to breaches of international laws.

      But revelations that Frontex has witnessed pushbacks have thrown the agency into a governance crisis that threatens to further blight the European Union’s liberal values, once again calling into question the bloc’s commitment to upholding its own laws on refugees.

      The cases have also highlighted a conundrum at the core of E.U. ambitions to tighten external borders by pooling resources and involving the bloc in the sensitive, zealously shielded work of sovereign border guards.

      Frontex is the European Union’s best-funded agency, with a budget of over $500 million, and will soon deploy the first uniformed officers in the bloc’s history. It has been built up specifically to help in migrant-rescue operations as the burden of policing Europe’s borders has fallen most heavily on its peripheral states, like Greece.

      It was also intended as a deterrent to the kind of mass arrival of refugees that sowed political crises across Europe after 2015, and fanned nationalist and populist movements.

      Yet Frontex is not empowered to stop national border guards from committing violations, and it is not clear how it can play a role as standard-bearer of E.U. laws when informing on national forces risks the working relationships on which its operations depend.

      Refugee arrivals to the European Union peaked five years ago and have dropped drastically since, but thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, still attempt the crossing. Unlike in the past, Greeks and their government have turned hostile to the new arrivals, exhausted by years in which asylum seekers have been bottled up in overrun camps on Greek islands.

      There is also a growing belief in the Greek and several other European governments that aggression at the borders and poor conditions at migrant camps will make the attempt to reach Europe less attractive for asylum seekers.

      Earlier this year, an analysis by The Times showed that the Greek government had secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, often by sailing them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and abandoning them in flimsy inflatable life rafts in violation of international laws.

      The Greek Coast Guard has rescued thousands of asylum seekers over the years but has become much more aggressive this year, especially as Turkey used migrants to provoke Greece by encouraging them to cross the border.

      The Greek government has denied it is doing anything illegal in repelling migrant boats from its national waters, characterizing the operations as robust border guarding. But Mr. Knaus said “the denials are not serious,” and the practices are effectively happening in the open — under the eyes of E.U. border patrols.

      The documents obtained by The Times describe, in Coast Guard vernacular littered with acronyms, codes, time-stamps and coordinates, a seemingly incessant Ping-Pong of migrant dinghies between Greek and Turkish waters, with Frontex crews on vessels or aircraft in observer status.

      Four officials with direct knowledge of Frontex operations said that agency officials have been discouraging crews from filing reports on pushback incidents, and, in some cases, have stopped initial alerts of violations from being filed as “serious incident reports,” at times after consulting with the Greek authorities.

      They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about losing their jobs, or were not authorized to brief the press.

      The Frontex spokesman, Chris Borowski, said the agency took the reporting of violations very seriously. “Pushbacks are illegal under international law,” Mr. Borowski said.

      In the latest case to come to light, a Swedish Coast Guard crew on deployment under Frontex witnessed a pushback to Turkish waters of a boat full of migrants by the Greek authorities on Oct. 30 off the Greek island of Chios.

      The Swedish crew was later advised by a Frontex officer to not report it, documents reviewed by The Times show. The Swedish representative to the management board of Frontex described the incident, and the suppression of the attempt to report it, at a meeting on Nov. 10 — the first known case of an E.U. member state reporting active interference by Frontex officials.

      The Swedish government did not comment. A spokesman for Frontex said the agency wouldn’t comment because of an “ongoing procedure.”

      Frontex has been working in Greece for more than a decade, providing sea, land and aerial surveillance and rescue capabilities and deploying crews from other member states under its command.

      The details now emerging push the agency deeper into a governance crisis which began in October when a consortium of news organizations, including the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, reported a number of occasions when Frontex crews witnessed pushbacks in Greece.

      The European Commission, which is part of the Frontex oversight system but does not control the agency, pushed for a special inquiry into these allegations and, at an emergency agency board meeting on Nov. 10, asked its leadership to answer detailed questions in writing.

      The answers arrived with a four-day delay, just 15 hours before the start of another meeting to discuss the problems on Wednesday. Yet another emergency meeting has been called in December, mounting pressure on the agency.

      Frontex has promised internal investigations but also quickly dismissed allegations, saying for example, in a letter seen by The Times, that it would look into the Swedish case, but that it had so far found no evidence that it happened.

      How these investigations shake out will matter a great deal for the future of Frontex, which was once little more than a back-office operation in Warsaw but now finds itself on the front lines of the nettlesome issue of migration that has the potency to make or break governments.

      Apart from helping member states with asylum-seeker arrivals, Frontex’s role as an E.U. agency by law is to respect fundamental rights, and bring up human-rights standards across national E.U. border agencies, which often don’t have a strong culture of upholding them.

      But claims that Frontex does not take fundamental rights seriously enough are growing. This year, only one million euros in its budget of 460 million euros — about $548 million — was allocated to rights monitoring.

      The agency was supposed to hire 40 fundamental-rights officers by Dec. 5 but the jobs have not yet been advertised. The agency is currently hiring for their boss, after years of staffing issues around that position. A Frontex spokesman said the delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.

      Documents seen by The Times laid out how in one episode the Greek authorities were consulted before a report was made, and were able to suppress it. On Aug. 10, a German crew deployed by Frontex reported that a Greek Coast Guard vessel “took up border control measures prohibiting the landing to Samos.”

      The expression refers to maneuvering and making waves around a dinghy to repel it. The event was not recorded as a “serious incident,” because, the document said, the Greek Coast Guard argued the activities “do not provide any ground” to initiate such a report.

      Another incident, which a Frontex aerial crew observed and reported in detail to its headquarters, took place on the evening of April 18 to 19 off the coast of Lesbos, and lasted more than five hours.

      A dinghy was detected by the Greek authorities and approximately 20 migrants were rescued and put on board a Greek Coast Guard vessel shortly after midnight, their empty dinghy towed by the Coast Guard toward the island.

      But instead of being taken to shore, at 2:45 a.m., the migrants were put back on their dinghy and tugged to Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, the Frontex aerial crew reported.

      As events unfolded, the Greek command center twice asked the Frontex aircraft to change its flight path, directing it away from the incident.

      “At 03:21 Frontex Surveillance Aircraft communicates that the rubber boat has no engine and it is adrift. Greek assets are departing the area leaving the rubber boat adrift,” the document said.

      The internal Frontex report detailing this incident and categorizing it as a fundamental-rights violation was “dismissed,” the document shows.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/world/europe/frontex-migrants-pushback-greece.html?smid=tw-share

    • #Seehofer deckte offenbar griechische Verbrechen

      Griechische Grenzschützer setzen Flüchtlinge systematisch auf dem Meer aus. Ein internes Dokument legt nun nahe, dass Innenminister #Horst_Seehofer einen Rechtsbruch kaschierte. SPD-Vize Kühnert stellt ihm ein Ultimatum.

      Die Sprecherin von Bundesinnenminister Horst Seehofer war sichtlich nervös, als sie sich Ende November den Fragen der Journalisten stellen musste. Zwei Tage zuvor hatten der SPIEGEL und das ARD-Magazin »Report Mainz« berichtet, dass die Bundespolizei in der Ägäis in eine illegale Zurückweisung von Flüchtlingen verwickelt war. Wiederholt fragten die Journalisten nach. »Ich weiß nicht, wie Sie zu der Einschätzung kommen, dass es sich hierbei um einen illegalen Pushback gehandelt hat«, sagte die Sprecherin schließlich.

      Dabei lagen dem Bundesinnenministerium zu diesem Zeitpunkt längst Informationen vor, die genau darauf hindeuten.

      Im Auftrag der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex patrouillierten die deutschen Einsatzkräfte am 10. August in der Ägäis, nur wenige Hundert Meter von der griechischen Insel Samos entfernt. Dabei entdeckten sie ein Schlauchboot mit 40 Flüchtlingen an Bord. Auftragsgemäß hielten sie es an, allerdings nahmen sie die Menschen auf dem völlig überfüllten Boot nicht an Bord. Stattdessen warteten sie mehr als eine halbe Stunde, bis die griechische Küstenwache das Schlauchboot übernahm.

      Wenig später fanden sich die Flüchtlinge plötzlich in türkischen Gewässern wieder. So beschreiben es interne Dokumente der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex, die dem SPIEGEL vorliegen. Die türkische Küstenwache musste die 40 Migranten später retten. Fotos zeigen Männer, Frauen und kleine Kinder auf dem überfüllten Schlauchboot. Offensichtlich wurden die Menschen von den griechischen Grenzschützern illegal zurückgedrängt.

      Als die griechischen Beamten in den Hafen zurückkehrten, wunderten sich die deutschen Polizisten. Die Küstenwache hatte keine Migranten an Bord und auch kein Schlauchboot im Schlepptau. Die Deutschen meldeten im Anschluss zwar die Details des Einsatzes – aber keine mögliche Menschenrechtsverletzung.
      Was genau haben die Deutschen von diesem illegalen Pushback mitbekommen?

      Bis heute haben die Bundespolizei und das Innenministerium nicht auf die Fragen des SPIEGEL geantwortet. Dabei finden sich die Antworten auf diese Fragen seit Wochen im Intranet der Bundespolizei, also in einem nur für Mitarbeiter zugänglichen Netzwerk. Anhand der elf SPIEGEL-Fragen legte die Bundespolizei-Führung ihre Sicht der Dinge ausführlich dar – noch am Tag der Veröffentlichung des Berichts. Die Fragen waren also längst beantwortet, nur abgeschickt wurden sie nie. Das Innenministerium erklärt das inzwischen auf Anfrage mit einem »Büroversehen«.

      Die Ausführungen im Intranet der Bundespolizei sind politisch heikel. Auf den ersten Blick entlasten sie die deutschen Einsatzkräfte. Wörtlich heißt es, die Bundespolizisten hätten beobachtet, »dass durch die (…) griechischen Einsatzkräfte Migranten physisch an Bord genommen wurden.« Die deutschen Frontex-Beamten konnten also davon ausgehen, dass die Flüchtlinge zunächst in Sicherheit waren. Schließlich wurden sie vor ihren Augen auf ein Schiff der griechischen Küstenwache geholt und trieben nicht mehr in ihrem überfüllten Schlauchboot.

      Warum hat das Innenministerium dieses Detail trotzdem bis heute verschwiegen? Will man im Ministerium die Griechen nicht als Lügner entlarven? Das Flüchtlingsboot, so hatten die griechischen Behörden erklärt, sei beim Anblick der Küstenwache umgekehrt und zurück in türkische Gewässer gefahren.
      Beobachtungen der Deutschen entlarven die Ausrede der Griechen

      Die Beobachtungen der Bundespolizisten widersprechen dieser Darstellung, die Bundespolizei stellt das in ihrem Bericht selbst fest. Wenn die Geflüchteten bereits an Bord des Schiffes der griechischen Küstenwache waren, können sie unmöglich freiwillig auf ihrem Schlauchboot umgekehrt sein. Sollten die Aussagen der Deutschen zutreffen, und davon ist auszugehen, bleibt keine andere vernünftige Erklärung als ein illegaler Pushback der griechischen Küstenwache.

      Horst Seehofer muss sich deshalb die Frage gefallen lassen, warum sein Haus die Verbrechen der griechischen Behörden deckt. Statt aufzuklären, führt er die Öffentlichkeit offenbar in die Irre. So fügt Seehofer sich in das System des Schweigens.

      Seit Juni hat SPIEGEL in gemeinsamen Recherchen mit der Medienorganisation Lighthouse Reports und »Report Mainz« genau dokumentiert, wie die griechischen Pushbacks ablaufen: Die Küstenwache fängt die Migrantinnen und Migranten meist noch auf dem Wasser ab. Manchmal zerstört sie den Außenbordmotor der Schlauchboote, um diese manövrierunfähig zu machen. Dann werden die Schutzsuchenden mit gefährlichen Manövern Richtung Türkei zurückgedrängt. Die Menschen werden auf den Booten oder auf aufblasbaren Rettungsflößen mit Seilen aufs offene Meer gezogen, vom SPIEGEL ausgewertete Videos belegen das.

      Griechische Grenzschützer bedrohen die Geflüchteten mit Waffen, nicht selten fallen Schüsse. Bisweilen schleppen die Beamten sogar Menschen aufs Meer, die es schon auf die griechischen Inseln geschafft haben.

      Auch Frontex-Einheiten stoppen immer wieder Flüchtlingsboote und übergeben sie anschließend an die griechische Küstenwache. Seit Anfang März wird das so gehandhabt. Die Frontex-Einheiten, darunter deutsche Bundespolizisten, unterstehen in der Ägäis der griechischen Küstenwache. Sie werden so zu Gehilfen der Griechen, die bei ihren illegalen Praktiken nicht mal besonders verdeckt vorgehen.

      »Das Innenministerium scheint sich zum Komplizen der Griechen zu machen«, sagt der menschenrechtspolitische Sprecher der Sozialdemokraten, Frank Schwabe. »Dazu müssen sowohl Frontex als auch Innenminister Seehofer dem Bundestag Rede und Antwort stehen.«

      Das Innenministerium teilte auf Anfrage mit, dass eine abschließende Bewertung des Sachverhaltes aufgrund der vorliegenden Informationen nicht möglich sei. Die Bundespolizei habe sich jedenfalls nicht an illegalen Pushbacks beteiligt. Eine vollständige Aufklärung bleibe abzuwarten und Berichte von griechischen Behörden würden nicht kommentiert.

      Die griechischen Behörden bleiben bei ihrer Version der Ereignisse. Das für die Küstenwache zuständige Ministerium teilte mit, der Fahrer der Schlauchbootes sei in Richtung Türkei zurückgefahren, nachdem er die griechische Küstenwache erblickt habe.
      »Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass Seehofer die Regelverstöße der griechischen Küstenwache deckt, weil sie ihm politisch in den Kram passen«

      SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert

      Doch in der Opposition und auch beim eigenen Koalitionspartner ist der Unmut groß. Selbst SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert schaltet sich nun in die Debatte ein. Durch die schriftlich festgehaltenen Erkenntnisse der eigenen Beamten festige sich der Eindruck, dass es in der Ägäis in der Tat zu Pushbacks komme, sagt er. Deshalb müsse Seehofer nun politisch reagieren. »Frontex muss die mutmaßliche griechische Pushback-Praxis endlich effektiv verhindern und die Zugänge zum Asylverfahren sicherstellen«, so Kühnert. »Sollte dies durch die Bundesregierung kurzfristig nicht durchsetzbar sein, muss das deutsche Kontingent unverzüglich aus der Mission abgezogen werden.«

      Kühnert möchte nun von Seehofer »noch in diesem Jahr dargelegt bekommen, wie und bis wann er auf Frontex einwirken wolle, um die Zusammenarbeit mit der griechischen Küstenwache wieder auf eine rechtskonforme Grundlage zu stellen.« Mit seiner Salamitaktik bei der Preisgabe von Informationen werde der Innenminister auch der Fürsorgepflicht gegenüber seinen eigenen Beamten nicht gerecht, mahnt Kühnert. »Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass Seehofer die Regelverstöße der griechischen Küstenwache deckt, weil sie ihm politisch in den Kram passen. Alles daran wäre inakzeptabel.«

      Neben Seehofer gerät auch Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri durch die Beobachtungen der deutschen Polizisten in Erklärungsnot. Bis heute beteuert Leggeri, dass sich seine Grenzschützer nicht an Pushbacks beteiligen oder von ihnen wissen. Daran zweifelt aber inzwischen selbst die EU-Kommission.

      Auf deren Drängen schilderte Leggeri schriftlich die Details des Vorfalls vom 10. August. In seinen Antworten verschwieg aber auch Leggeri, dass die griechische Küstenwache laut den Deutschen die Flüchtlinge bereits an Bord geholt hatten – obwohl er wohl davon hätte wissen müssen. Die Bundespolizei jedenfalls hat auch dieses Detail des Einsatzes nach eigener Aussage an Frontex gemeldet.

      Frontex teilte auf Anfrage mit, wegen der laufenden Untersuchung keine Angaben zum Vorfall machen zu können.

      Für Leggeri ist die Angelegenheit besonders misslich, weil sich in seinen Aussagen ein Muster erkennen lässt: Der Frontex-Direktor täuscht die Öffentlichkeit, um die Pushbacks zu vertuschen. Vor den EU-Parlamentariern verteidigte er sich unlängst mit einer Falschaussage, indem er behauptete, dass der SPIEGEL und seine Recherchepartner sich bei ihren Recherchen zu einem Pushback im April geirrt hätten. Am fraglichen Tag habe es gar keinen Frontex-Aufklärungsflug gegeben, sagte Leggeri. Keine zwei Tage später musste er einräumen, dass das nicht stimmte. Weitere Vorfälle, die Experten als klare Pushbacks werten, erwähnte Leggeri entweder gar nicht oder nur auf Nachfrage in internen Schreiben.
      EU-Kommission rechnet mit Leggeri ab

      Inzwischen wirft auch die EU-Kommission Leggeri »irreführende« Aussagen vor. Das geht aus einem Brief der Kommission an ihn hervor. In dem Streit geht es um die Einstellung von Grundrechtsbeobachtern. Eigentlich hätte Frontex bis zum 5. Dezember 40 Mitarbeiter einstellen müssen, die darauf achten soll, dass die Rechte von Migranten an Europas Grenzen gewahrt werden. Bis heute hat Leggeri allerdings nicht einen solchen Mitarbeiter eingestellt.

      Der Frontex-Direktor macht die Kommission für die Verzögerung verantwortlich, die wiederum gibt Leggeri die Schuld. Leggeris Äußerungen zu dem Thema würden die Kommission »bestürzen« und »beunruhigen« heißt es in dem Brief. Das Schreiben liegt dem SPIEGEL vor, es liest sich wie eine Kampfansage.

      Die Verzögerungen bei den Grundrechtsbeobachtern seien skandalös, sagt die Grünenbundestagsabgeordnete Luise Amtsberg. Die Sache zeige, dass die Grenzschutzagentur den Menschenrechtsschutz schlicht nicht ernst genug nehme. »Die Bundesregierung muss endlich klare Konsequenzen aus den völkerrechtswidrigen Handlungen im Rahmen von Frontex-Missionen ziehen.«

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/frontex-skandal-horst-seehofer-deckte-offenbar-griechische-verbrechen-a-bd06

    • Push backs and violations of human rights at sea: a #timeline

      The following timeline provides a non-exhaustive compilation of main reports of push backs and other violations of human rights at the Greek-Turkish sea borders since March 2020, following Greece’s decision to impose a one-month suspension of its asylum procedure in response to declarations by Turkey that it would not prevent refugees from crossing its western borders. On 2 March, the Hellenic Armed Forces began live-fire military exercises along the Aegean, from Samothrace to Kastellorizo.

      Timeline dates refer to the date of publication of reports, separately indicating the date of alleged incidents, where available.

      This timeline solely purports to reproduce material made publicly available by media and civil society organisations and does not amount to an assessment by RSA or PRO ASYL of the allegations contained therein.

      https://rsaegean.org/en/push-backs-and-violations-of-human-rights-at-sea-a-timeline
      #chronologie

    • EU: Frontex director accused of misleading parliament over fundamental rights obligations

      Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri has been accused by a senior European Commission official of making statements “in a misleading manner” at a parliamentary hearing in December, when MEPs questioned him over the agency’s alleged role in pushbacks and the new fundamental rights monitoring framework included in 2019 legislation.

      Bang to rights

      In a letter obtained by Statewatch, Monique Pariat (the Director-General of the Commission’s migration and home affairs department), expresses “dismay” at Leggeri’s appearance before the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) on 1 December and rebukes, in no uncertain terms, the account he provided of the agency’s attempts to implement its new fundamental rights obligations.

      Those obligations include a fully functioning and independent fundamental rights office, an accessible complaints mechanism, and a credible serious incident reporting mechanism – the aim of which is to prevent, or at least ensure the reporting and investigation of, human rights abuses witnessed or committed by officials deployed on Frontex operations.

      A key role is foreseen in all this for the fundamental rights officer (FRO), who is supposed to head a team of at least 40 fundamental rights monitors – all of whom the agency was legally obliged to have recruited by 5 December 2020. However, it failed to do so.

      Blame game

      Leggeri told MEPs that although he personally prioritised the swift recruitment of fundamental rights staff, vacancy notices published by the agency in November 2019 were withdrawn on the request of the Commission, and subsequent delays in agreeing the seniority of the posts meant that vacancy notices were only published again in November 2020.

      Pariat does not dispute these points, but underlines that the Commission was obliged to request the withdrawal of the notices, because the Management Board had not approved them, as required by the 2019 Frontex Regulation. Without that approval, the letter says that “the publication of these vacancies was plain and simply unlawful” (emphasis in original).

      She adds that the Frontex Regulation requires the involvement of the FRO in the appointment of their deputy, but there was no such involvement prior to the 2019 vacancy notice publication. The Commission had to intervene to request removal of the vacancy notices, says Pariat, “to prevent serious irregularities which could jeopardise the well-functioning and the reputation of the Agency.”

      Bad reputation

      The agency’s reputation has nevertheless taken a battering in recent months. Frontex has faced numerous accusations that it either knew of or has been involved in pushbacks at Greece’s sea border with Turkey, leading the Socialists & Democrats – the second-largest group in the European Parliament – to call for Leggeri’s resignation. There are numerous other reports of similar violent incidents in the Balkans involving officials deployed on Frontex missions.

      The EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, has also launched an investigation into the border agency, although the exact reasons for this remain unclear. OLAF’s remit allows it to carry out “administrative investigations for the purpose of fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the Union.”

      Leggeri has said that the agency will be undertaking a thorough investigation into the allegations of pushbacks, although the working group set up to investigate the affair is made up representatives from the agency’s Management Board and does not include the Fundamental Rights Officer or the agency’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights.

      “Active resistance”

      A document cited by Greek newspaper Kathimerini suggests that fundamental rights are not one of Leggeri’s main interests. The document, provided to the paper by someone described as having “knowledge of the inner workings of Frontex,” says Leggeri told agency staff that “reporting pushbacks involving Frontex personnel is not a route to popularity or promotion,” and that the serous incident reporting (SIR) mechanism is “intentionally centralized to be slow, cumbersome and very discreet”.

      According to the paper, the document also says that Leggeri “actively resisted” hiring the 40 fundamental rights officers required by the Frontex Regulation, and told staff at the agency in early 2020 that “it is not a priority.”

      Pariat’s letter suggests that Leggeri himself delayed the procedure for recruiting new fundamental rights staff by five months, because of his “insistence on an arrangement which would not have been compatible with the EBCG [Frontex] Regulation”.

      There was a “surprising reluctance” from the agency to follow the Commission’s advice on implementing the new fundamental rights framework, says Pariat. She argues that “if the Agency had followed the Commission’s timely guidance and suggestions, the main milestones… could have been completed on time.”

      Even though the recruitment procedure is now going ahead, concerns remain. At the LIBE hearing in December, several MEPs questioned whether the staff grade applicable to the 40 posts will confer adequate authority and independence to the fundamental rights officers.

      At the time of publication, Frontex had not responded to a request for comment.

      Documentation

      - European Commission letter to Mr Leggeri, 18 December: Subject: Your letter of 4 December 2020 (ref: CAB/KARO/10563/2020) (pdf): https://www.statewatch.org/media/1708/eu-com-letter-to-frontex-18-12-20.pdf
      – Fabrice Leggeri, Answers to written questions following the LIBE Committee meeting 1 December (pdf) - annex to this letter (pdf): https://www.statewatch.org/media/1709/eu-frontex-written-questions-answers-libe-hearing-1-12-20.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/january/eu-frontex-director-accused-of-misleading-parliament-over-fundamental-ri

    • Refoulements et gestion contestée : la pression s’intensifie sur le patron de Frontex

      Fabrice Leggeri, directeur exécutif de l’agence européenne de protection des frontières, est sous la pression de la Commission et du Parlement.

      Ce n’est pas un appel à la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, directeur exécutif de Frontex, mais cela y ressemble fort. Rencontrant, lundi 18 janvier, plusieurs médias européens, dont Le Monde, Ylva Johansson, commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures et à la migration, a été interrogée sur un éventuel départ du patron français de ce qui est désormais l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes. « Je ne fais pas de commentaire là-dessus. Des procédures ont été lancées, elles ne sont pas terminées. Mais je pense qu’elles doivent l’être », indiquait la commissaire socialiste suédoise.

      Des propos prudents mais qui cachent mal le fait qu’entre la Commission et Frontex le torchon brûle. Pour preuve, une lettre envoyée au siège de l’agence en décembre 2020 par #Monique_Pariat, chef de la direction générale de la migration et des affaires intérieures à Bruxelles. Un long réquisitoire reprochant à M. Leggeri des retards, des carences dans la gestion et des « hésitations incompréhensibles » à suivre les instructions. Voire un #mensonge au sujet du recrutement des personnels qui devaient être chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux au sein de l’Agence.

      Les « procédures » visant M. Leggeri et évoquées par Mme Johansson sont multiples. Et elles visent essentiellement la possible implication de Frontex dans des « pushbacks », des refoulements illégaux de migrants aux frontières de l’Union, avant qu’ils aient pu introduire d’éventuelles demandes d’asile. En octobre 2020, plusieurs médias évoquaient, témoignages et images à l’appui, six cas de refoulements en mer Egée. Avec, notamment, les manœuvres dangereuses d’un navire de Frontex, qui aurait pu entraîner le #naufrage d’une embarcation. La direction de l’Agence démentait à l’époque toute infraction.

      Constitution d’un groupe de travail

      L’Office de lutte antifraude de l’Union a lancé une enquête et, le 7 décembre 2020, les bureaux de M. Leggeri et de son directeur de cabinet ont été perquisitionnés. L’investigation porterait, aussi, sur des faits de #harcèlement et des erreurs de gestion.

      Plusieurs groupes politiques du Parlement européen ont, eux, transmis une longue liste de questions au directeur exécutif après qu’il a été entendu, le 1er décembre 2020, par l’Assemblée. M. Leggeri avait indiqué qu’une #enquête_interne n’avait pas prouvé l’implication de membres de Frontex dans des refoulements illégaux. Peu convaincus, les eurodéputés du groupe socialiste ont exigé sa #démission, d’autres groupes ont réclamé des explications complémentaires.

      Au sein de Frontex même, un #groupe_de_travail avait été constitué en novembre, sur insistance de la Commission. Son rapport devrait être examiné lors d’une réunion du conseil d’administration, mercredi 20 et jeudi 21 janvier. Ce conseil est composé de représentants des pays membres de l’Union et de deux membres de la Commission.

      L’un des principaux reproches adressés à M. Leggeri est qu’il aurait tergiversé pour embaucher la quarantaine de personnes qui, en théorie, auraient dû être à pied d’œuvre dès décembre 2020 pour veiller au respect des droits des migrants et demandeurs d’asile. Dans la lettre de Mme Pariat qu’il a reçue en décembre, le directeur se voit reprocher d’avoir agi « de manière trompeuse » en ne livrant pas les explications correctes aux parlementaires quant à l’absence de ces employés. Mme Johansson pense également que certains des propos qu’il avait tenus n’étaient « pas vrais ».

      Action « illégale »

      La commissaire suédoise n’a, jusqu’ici, pas officiellement retiré sa confiance au directeur. Elle endosse cependant les critiques qui lui sont adressées par sa direction générale, qui évoque encore une action « illégale » de M. Leggeri en 2019, avec la publication de deux vacances de postes dirigeants qui n’avaient pas été approuvées par le conseil d’administration.

      Au Parlement, où la plénière débattait, mardi, du pacte migratoire proposé récemment par la Commission, la tension monte également. Mme Johansson a insisté sur la nécessité pour les pays de l’Union, les candidats à l’adhésion et « les agences européennes aussi » d’adhérer pleinement au respect des #droits_fondamentaux. Et plusieurs députés ont à nouveau mis en cause Frontex, l’élue socialiste bulgare #Elena_Yoncheva jugeant qu’en matière de « pushbacks » l’agence fait désormais « partie du problème, pas de la solution ».

      Une situation embarrassante pour toute l’Union : dotée maintenant d’uniformes, d’armes et d’un budget passé au total à 5,6 milliards d’euros pour la période 2021-2027, l’agence des garde-frontières peut difficilement voir la #légitimité de son principal dirigeant remise en question au plus haut niveau. A ce stade, celui-ci n’a pas réagi officiellement aux accusations qui le visent. Il pourrait le faire prochainement, selon un membre de son entourage.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/01/20/refoulements-et-gestion-contestee-la-pression-s-intensifie-sur-le-patron-de-

    • Le garde-frontière Frontex en pleine tourmente

      Les refoulements aux frontières européennes fragilisent la position du directeur de Frontex, l’agence européenne de garde-frontières. La Commission reproche à Fabrice Leggeri d’avoir ralenti l’embauche d’officiers de contrôle des droits fondamentaux. Son agence est soumise à plusieurs #enquêtes, dont une de l’#office_européen_anti-fraude. Des députés demandent sa #démission.

      Bruxelles (Belgique).– Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur de Frontex, est cerné de toutes parts. Sa position, à la tête de l’agence européenne de garde-côtes et de garde-frontières, est fragilisée suite à de récents scandales concernant des refoulements de demandeurs d’asile vers la Turquie, auxquels aurait participé Frontex. Des députés appellent à sa démission. La médiatrice européenne, #Emily_O’Reilly, a ouvert une #enquête le 11 novembre dernier pour évaluer le fonctionnement du mécanisme de #plainte_interne à Frontex. Même l’office européen de lutte anti-fraude investigue et scrute la gestion de l’agence.

      Le dernier coup de boutoir vient de la #Commission_européenne. Dans une lettre du 18 décembre, la directrice générale chargée des migrations et des affaires intérieures, Monique Pariat, adressait des mots durs à Fabrice Leggeri au sujet d’irrégularités et de retards dans les procédures de recrutement d’un officier des droits fondamentaux, de son adjoint et de 40 contrôleurs des droits fondamentaux, qui devaient faire partie de l’agence le 5 décembre 2020 au plus tard et qui ne sont toujours pas embauchés : « C’est la responsabilité de la Commission […] d’intervenir pour empêcher que des irrégularités sérieuses viennent compromettre le bon fonctionnement et la réputation de l’agence. »

      La réputation de Frontex a pourtant déjà été écornée à de multiples reprises dans le passé, sans que l’exécutif bruxellois s’en émeuve. « Pendant longtemps la Commission a protégé Fabrice Leggeri, commente #Birgit_Sippel, eurodéputée allemande du groupe des socialistes et démocrates. Il semble que le vent tourne, notamment sous la pression du #Parlement_européen. »

      C’est le 23 octobre 2020 que le vent a tourné. Une série de médias européens, dont Der Spiegel et Bellingcat, publiaient alors une enquête fouillée suggérant que l’agence européenne avait, entre mars et août 2020, soit assisté à des refoulements de demandeurs d’asile en mer Égée par des garde-côtes grecs, sans les avoir rapportés, soit participé activement au renvoi de canots vers les côtes turques, alors que les refoulements sont strictement prohibés par le droit international. Le 8 juin, un navire de l’opération « #Poséidon » de Frontex, battant pavillon roumain, aurait même bloqué un canot de migrants avant de contribuer à le repousser.

      Fabrice Leggeri est venu s’expliquer devant le Parlement européen le 1er décembre. Selon lui, l’enquête interne menée par ses services concluait à « l’absence de preuves » de refoulement dans les cas mentionnés par la presse. Il insistait sur le fait que les activités de contrôle aux frontières avaient toujours lieu « à la demande et sous le commandement des autorités nationales », Frontex intervenant en coordination des opérations maritimes, en mobilisant des avions, des navires et des garde-frontières originaires des 27 États membres.

      Ces déclarations élusives ont hérissé de nombreux députés européens. « La façon dont il a répondu à nos questions montre que Fabrice Leggeri ne prend pas vraiment au sérieux ces allégations. Frontex a besoin de changements structurels, et je pense qu’il n’est pas la bonne personne pour les mener », avance Tineke Strik, eurodéputée néerlandaise des Verts.

      De la #gauche_unitaire_européenne (#GUE) au groupe centriste de #Renew, les critiques pleuvent à l’encontre de Fabrice Leggeri, mais l’attitude à adopter crée des divisions. La centriste néerlandaise, #Sophie_In’t_Veld, du groupe Renew, milite pour qu’une commission d’enquête parlementaire soit mise sur pied, « car on parle d’actes criminels ». Avant de réclamer la démission du directeur – qui ne peut être décidée que par le conseil d’administration de Frontex composé des États membres et de la Commission – la députée pense « qu’il faut d’abord faire toute la lumière sur les faits ».

      Au sein du groupe des socialistes et démocrates, des députés veulent aller plus vite. « Pourquoi perdre un an avec une #commission_d’enquête ?, s’interroge #Birgit_Sippel. Les rapports décrivant les violations des droits humains aux frontières sont là. Pour l’instant, Fabrice Leggeri se cache et échappe à ses responsabilités. » Des députés de la GUE comme des #Verts réclament à la fois une commission d’enquête et la #démission du directeur. Quant à la droite, le Parti populaire européen n’a pas encore de position sur ces thèmes, mais voit d’un mauvais œil cette idée de commission d’enquête.

      Le mastodonte sans contrôle

      Pour Yves Pascouau, directeur du programme Europe à l’association Res-Publica, par ailleurs spécialiste des questions migratoires européenne (et élu de la majorité nantaise), « l’augmentation des moyens et des pouvoirs de Frontex ne peut pas se faire sans une augmentation de ses responsabilités ».

      Frontex, au fil des ans, est devenu un mastodonte. En 2012, son budget était de 89,5 millions d’euros. Il est en 2020 de 460 millions. 5,6 milliards d’euros ont été dégagés pour la période 2021-2027. Il s’agit de la plus grosse agence de l’UE qui sera dotée, d’ici 2027, de 10 000 garde-côtes véritablement européens, avec leurs propres uniformes. « Cela permettra d’augmenter la transparence et la responsabilité de Frontex », veut croire une source européenne.

      Aujourd’hui, Frontex se déploie sous commandement des autorités nationales. Mais les agents qui agissent en son nom ne sont pas exempts de responsabilités. Ils ont l’obligation d’envoyer un rapport aux dirigeants de Frontex à chaque incident sérieux auquel ils assistent, y compris lorsque des violations des droits humains sont observées.

      Le Forum consultatif de Frontex, qui réunit des institutions européennes, des organisations internationales et ONG, s’interroge inlassablement sur « l’effectivité » de ce système. En 2018, seuls 3 incidents sérieux relatifs à des violations de droits humains furent comptabilisés par l’agence, et 9 en 2019, sans que l’on sache quel a été le suivi de ces dossiers.

      Quant à l’embauche des milliers de garde-frontières, elle doit être contrebalancée par davantage de contrôles des activités de Frontex. L’officier des droits fondamentaux, son adjoint et sa petite équipe d’au minimum 40 contrôleurs sont considérés comme la clef de voûte de ce système de surveillance du respect des #droits_humains.

      Dans la lettre adressée à Fabrice Leggeri, Monique Pariat regrette qu’au 18 décembre, aucun de ces recrutements n’ait été effectué. Elle pointe la « réticence surprenante de Frontex » à suivre les lignes directrices de la Commission, « ce qui a encore davantage entravé et retardé cet important processus ». La directrice générale dénonce encore la démarche « illégale » du directeur général qui avait publié, en 2019, une première annonce pour le poste d’officier des droits fondamentaux, sans l’accord du conseil d’administration de Frontex qui sera pourtant le supérieur hiérarchique direct de ce futur employé.

      Elle l’accuse encore d’avoir présenté les faits aux eurodéputés « de manière trompeuse ». L’attaque est frontale. Au-delà de l’enjeu institutionnel, Giorgos Kosmopoulos, du bureau européen d’Amnesty International, estime que « l’embauche de contrôleurs des droits fondamentaux n’est pas une mauvaise chose à condition qu’ils aient véritablement les moyens de mener des enquêtes, d’aller sur le terrain ». Et sur le terrain, justement, les refoulements aux frontières de l’Europe sont documentés et très nombreux. En #Grèce, en #Croatie, en #Hongrie.

      En mars 2020, le comité européen pour la prévention de la torture rapportait des allégations « crédibles et consistantes » de refoulements et détentions arbitraires, souvent accompagnées de violences, à la frontière gréco-turque. « On ne parle pas de cas isolés, ajoute Giorgos Kosmopoulos. La pratique est si répandue et généralisée qu’il est impossible que Frontex ne soit pas au courant, vu son implication sur le terrain. »

      Le directeur de Frontex, s’il estime qu’il existe « des violations graves […] des droits fondamentaux » doit mettre un terme à l’activité litigieuse à laquelle participe son agence. « Le directeur doit vérifier la situation sur le terrain et le cas échéant il doit retirer ses équipes pour qu’elles ne soient pas liées à des violations de droits humains, mais ce n’est jamais arrivé », conclut Giorgos Kosmopoulos.

      Dans ce contexte, Tineke Strik pense qu’une démission de Fabrice Leggeri, certes bienvenue, « ne résoudra pas tout. Les problèmes sont structurels. Il faudra lancer une enquête approfondie sur le fonctionnement de Frontex ».

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/210121/le-garde-frontiere-frontex-en-pleine-tourmente?onglet=full

    • Validating Border Violence on the Aegean: Frontex’s Internal Records

      The Aegean Sea, separating Turkey from Greece’s ‘hotspot’ islands, is a site of longstanding and increasingly visible border violence: the systematic use of inflatable life rafts by the Hellenic Coast Guard to push people back to Turkey has been widely documented since March last year. This maritime borderzone also stages the operational theatre of Frontex Joint Operation Poseidon, under which patrol boats, helicopters and surveillance planes have been deployed to patrol the extensive breadth of water.

      Frontex repeatedly denied any involvement in these pushbacks (see here and here), stressing its commitment to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of fundamental rights. This ‘modus operandi’ in which fundamental rights become a rhetorical defence could no longer hold after investigative reporters showed visual evidence of Frontex’s complicit role in pushbacks, prompting further media scrutiny and pressure by the European Parliament and Commission.

      In November, Efsyn, a Greek media outlet, published an eighteen-page long Frontex internal document addressed to the agency’s Management Board. The document aimed at answering questions by Member States and the Commission about the on-going pushbacks in the Aegean. The document, which fuelled Frontex’s recent internal inquiry, lists a series of so-called ‘incidents’ and, at times, offers detailed accounts of the previously denied pushbacks. However, these were not recorded as such.

      A closer look at the document reveals numerous ‘#JORA_incidents’ classified as ‘prevention of departure’, as this transcript from August 19, 2020, illustrates:

      frontex

      The #Joint_Operations_Reporting_Application (#JORA) is the main information system that collects and stores all ‘border related incidents’ from Frontex joint operations. Such incidents range from Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, interceptions, Serious Incident Reports to, as the one above, so-called preventions of departure. The leaked document contains twenty of the latter, all following a similar pattern: Firstly, the location of the rubber boat is recorded in Turkish territorial waters; second, Frontex assets are “excused from the scene” after detection; and, finally, a rehearsed ending: the boat “altered course on her own initiative/will and headed towards the Turkish coasts” or, alternately, the Turkish Coast Guard “took over responsibility”.

      Importantly, these JORA incidents coexist with the regular documenting of border violence. Descriptions of boats of asylum-seekers returning to Turkey of their own volition jar with regular testimonies describing the coercive methods employed to push them back. Alarm Phone, Aegean Boat Report and Border Violence Monitoring Network document human rights violations occurring at the same border, on the same dates and, often, at the same time as the JORA incidents.

      On the same day as the JORA incident above:

      Logging the border

      JORA incidents, together with information collected via Eurosur, form the backbone of Europe’s external borders and migration situational picture, Frontex’s narrative of the border. Yet, what is and is not accounted for in JORA and how, has not received much attention. Contrary to the few Serious Incident Reports related to violations of fundamental rights, which are dealt with by the Fundamental Rights Officer and presented to the Management Board, other incidents recorded in JORA don’t reach the public domain. Once inserted and validated, they become a dot on a map at the Frontex Situation Centre in Warsaw. They are devised to feed into risk analyses, maps and weekly analytical overviews.

      This ‘business-as-usual’ mode of reporting is mostly done by a few officers from the host Member State— in Greece, by the Hellenic Coast Guard and Police—who insert incidents into a standardised template through a set of rigid, mandatory fields. Reporting is not done by the officers on the patrol boats but mostly those who sit at coordination centres. Once inserted in the system, incidents are sent to the International Coordination Centre and the Frontex Situation Centre where they are cross-checked with reports from both Hellenic Coast Guard and Frontex deployed officers for validation. This validation process does not statically move in one direction; incidents can go back and forth in the validation chain. The final validation is done by a “specialized team of experts” at Frontex headquarters as the leaked document explains. Yet, incidents can be re-initiated and modified even after finalisation (see work by Pollozek).

      The design of the system allows for the rehearsed recording of formulaic bordering practices that, if closely examined, resemble its coexistent violent forms. Shading into the routine, the JORA records circulate regularly from the islands to Piraeus and Warsaw. While the full JORA archive is inaccessible to the public, the reviewed incidents give us insight into how a particular doctrine of border enforcement is being sustained by the agency and to what effects.

      Normalising violence, eroding rights

      The effects of these records arguably extend beyond the tactical level of border policing. Through their production, a narrative arc is formed by the recorded incidents, generating a specific mode of understanding. Data must be made intelligible to the JORA system and officials along the chain before it can be validated. As a result, even acts of violence such as pushbacks can get translated into mundane logs and thus, brought within the remit of everyday border enforcement and legality.

      The leaked document asserts that the “the notion of ‘prevention of departure”, according to which these ‘incidents’ are classified, should be interpreted “in conjunction with the provisions of Regulation 656/2014, in particular Articles 6 and 7”. While the precise legal meaning of this category in this context remains unclear, its ramifications for the right to leave a country are concerning.

      Regulation 656/2014 indeed provides legal basis (in certain factual circumstances) for the interception of boats carrying asylum-seekers. Yet, it clearly stipulates that the actions that official entities may lawfully take to enforce the border must be compliant with their obligations under EU and international law, including, inter alia, international human rights and refugee law. Moreover, it states: “This Regulation should not affect the responsibilities of search and rescue authorities, including for ensuring that coordination and cooperation is conducted in such a way that the persons rescued can be delivered to a place of safety.”

      The records, however, present an account of border enforcement that exists in isolation from human rights and humanitarian commitments. The dangerous conditions in which border enforcement takes place and the vulnerability of asylum seekers to these conditions are rendered irrelevant and thereby, banalised. Rubber boats carrying illegalized migrants are generally considered seaworthy, not recognised as in distress, regardless of how many people they carry or the fluctuating weather conditions in the Aegean. In none of the incidents contained in the leaked document was a SAR triggered by the Hellenic Coast Guard or Frontex. In this sense, JORA acts as a mediator that transforms, translates, distorts and modifies the meaning of these ‘incidents’. Through the designation of bureaucratic categories (e.g. prevention of departure), JORA codifies and transforms situations that should trigger humanitarian and human rights obligations into legitimate practices of border control. In the process, the duty to render assistance at sea is distorted, and the obligation to facilitate access to asylum is obscured.

      In the context of on-going internal discussions about the legality of interceptions at sea, Frontex’s internal records reveal the practices deemed acceptable by the agency and their interpretation of international legal obligations. The records provide insight into a vision of border enforcement, crystallised at the boundaries of the global north, that perpetuates the violent securitisation of borders to the detriment of human mobility, dignity and safety. They carve out a space where border control activities are shielded from scrutiny, erasing human rights from the operational script.

      Any comments about this post? Get in touch with us! Send us an email, or post a comment here or on Facebook. You can also tweet us.

      https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2021/01/validating-border

    • Five migrant pushback claims under scrutiny

      The board of directors of the European border agency Frontex, which met on Wednesday and Thursday, has decided to further investigate five of 13 reported cases of illegal migrants pushbacks last year, with the alleged help of Frontex guards, from Greece into Turkish territorial waters in the eastern Aegean.

      The board deemed that Frontex did not provide the necessary information and clarifications for the five cases under investigation.

      In view of this, the team investigating the claims has been given additional time to complete its work and present its final conclusions to a new extraordinary board meeting scheduled for February 26.

      With regard to the other eight cases, the board said that there is no evidence to confirm any violations. It also accepted that some of these incidents unfolded in Turkish territorial waters, and in others the migrant boats turned back on their own accord.

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/261560/article/ekathimerini/news/five-migrant-pushback-claims-under-scrutiny

    • L’agence européenne Frontex fragilisée par les accusations d’expulsions illégales

      L’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, qui a annoncé qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie, est accusée d’avoir participé au « pushback », qui consiste à repousser les migrants sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile.
      Accusations d’implication dans des « pushbacks » – des refoulements illégaux de migrants et demandeurs d’asile aux frontières –, enquêtes de l’Office de lutte antifraude de l’Union européenne (UE) et de la Commission de Bruxelles, mise en cause de son directeur, Fabrice Leggeri : l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, Frontex, chargée de surveiller les frontières extérieures de l’UE, traverse de grosses turbulences. Mercredi 27 janvier, elle a même été contrainte d’annoncer qu’elle allait arrêter ses opérations en Hongrie, une première dans l’histoire de cette institution, fondée en 2004.
      « Nos efforts communs pour protéger les frontières extérieures ne peuvent réussir que si nous veillons à ce que notre coopération et nos activités soient pleinement conformes aux lois de l’UE », a expliqué un porte-parole, en critiquant implicitement les pratiques illégales de la police hongroise, auxquelles l’agence européenne participait pourtant depuis la crise des réfugiés de 2015.
      En cause, la pratique du « pushback », systématisée par le premier ministre ultranationaliste, Viktor Orban, et développée ailleurs dans l’Union. Le fait de repousser les migrants arrivés sur le sol européen sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile n’a pas été partout aussi clairement assumé qu’en Hongrie, mais la Grèce, la Croatie, l’Italie ou la Slovénie, notamment, ont été mises an cause pour s’être livrées, elles aussi, à cette pratique illégale. Un « Livre noir », épais de 1 500 pages et présenté récemment par un réseau d’ONG, a recensé pas moins de 900 cas de ce type, concernant près de 13 000 personnes.
      Expulsions inhumaines
      Depuis une loi adoptée en 2016, la Hongrie considère, elle, que tous les migrants arrivant sur son sol peuvent être immédiatement renvoyés vers la Serbie voisine. Lorsqu’ils sont arrêtés, après avoir réussi à franchir la clôture que M. Orban a fait construire tout le long de la frontière, ou même à Budapest, les migrants se voient systématiquement refuser de déposer une demande d’asile et sont expulsés sans autre forme de procès, dans des conditions parfois inhumaines.
      Présents à la frontière hongroise depuis 2015, les agents de Frontex ont participé à cette politique, malgré les critiques des organisations non gouvernementales. « La Hongrie est le seul pays à avoir légalisé les “pushbacks” et à les pratiquer aussi ouvertement. La police hongroise publie même des chiffres tous les jours sur le nombre de personnes renvoyées en Serbie », dénonce Andras Lederer, du Comité Helsinki hongrois, une ONG spécialisée dans l’aide aux migrants. Il estime que la Hongrie a pratiqué 50 000 refoulements depuis 2016. A l’issue d’une longue bataille juridique, la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne a estimé, le 17 décembre 2020, que les pratiques hongroises enfreignent les directives régissant le droit d’asile.
      Malgré cet arrêt, le gouvernement de Budapest a refusé de modifier sa législation et a continué ces pratiques. « La Hongrie ne va pas céder devant la pression des forces pro-immigration », affirmait encore le porte-parole du gouvernement, Zoltan Kovacs, jeudi 28 janvier. « Bruxelles veut nous prendre le peu d’aide qu’on avait », a-t-il ajouté en réaction au retrait de Frontex, devenu inéluctable après l’arrêt de la Cour de Luxembourg. Pour M. Lederer, ce retrait est en revanche « bienvenu » : « La Hongrie ne pourra plus se cacher derrière la présence de Frontex pour continuer cette pratique. »
      Violences aux frontières de l’Union
      Avec un contingent censé atteindre 10 000 hommes, un budget pluriannuel passé à 5,6 milliards d’euros et son rôle de gardienne stricte des frontières, en association avec les forces nationales, l’agence dirigée par M. Leggeri est l’une des pièces essentielles de la politique migratoire de l’UE et du « pacte » proposé en 2020 pour la Commission. Sa mise en cause, alors même qu’elle est loin de tourner à plein régime, est de mauvais augure.
      Jeudi 28 janvier, alors que les vingt-sept ministres de l’intérieur, réunis en visioconférence, évoquaient – en présence du directeur de Frontex – le dossier de la migration, l’Agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés évoquait un droit d’asile « menacé » en Europe et disait recevoir « de nombreux rapports » sur les violences exercées aux frontières de l’Union.
      D’où l’attention toute particulière que porte la commissaire aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, au dossier des « pushbacks ». La responsable suédoise se satisfait-elle des explications de la direction de Frontex, dont le conseil d’administration affirmait, le 21 janvier, qu’il n’avait pas trouvé de preuves de violation des droits de l’homme dans les cas qu’il a examinés ? « Sur la base des informations fournies », il n’aurait « pu établir de preuves ». Il a toutefois précisé que ses conclusions ne concernaient que certains incidents en Grèce et que des clarifications étaient nécessaires. Cinq cas problématiques de possibles refoulements impliquant Frontex sont encore examinés.
      Jeudi, devant les ministres, Mme Johansson a réclamé « toutes les analyses nécessaires » pour, dit-elle, rétablir la confiance dans l’agence. Elle a aussi évoqué un projet de réforme, incluant la nomination de trois sous-directeurs et la mise en place – enfin – d’un système de surveillance des droits humains.
      Le débat « recule »
      Au-delà du sort de Frontex, la question est de savoir si une définition d’une véritable politique migratoire européenne, avec une refonte des règles de l’asile et une solidarité accrue entre les pays, a une chance de se réaliser. Confirmant que le débat sur le « pacte » élaboré par la Commission « n’a pas beaucoup avancé », le secrétaire d’Etat belge à la migration, Sammy Mahdi, déclarait, jeudi, au quotidien La Libre Belgique qu’il fallait le rendre « rationnel ». Pour sortir les discussions de l’ornière, pour vérifier que la proposition de la Commission est opérationnelle et, enfin, pour que chacun annonce vraiment ses intentions, M. Mahdi propose « une simulation » : sur la base des chiffres de l’année 2019, chaque pays préciserait ce qu’il pourrait accomplir concernant l’accueil, la solidarité, le financement des infrastructures d’accueil aux frontières, etc.
      Un communiqué du secrétaire d’Etat évoquait une possible évolution de la Hongrie et de ses partenaires du groupe de Visegrad, à condition que soit satisfaite leur revendication (très floue) d’une solidarité « flexible ». Un participant à la réunion de jeudi faisait preuve de moins de conviction : « Faire avancer le débat ? Mais il recule ! » Vétéran des conseils européens sur la migration, le ministre luxembourgeois Jean Asselborn n’est pas loin de confirmer : « Nous sommes sans doute tous d’accord sur les contrôles aux frontières extérieures ou sur les retours. Mais pas sur la manière de respecter les droits humains des demandeurs d’asile, sur les relocalisations obligatoires ou sur l’impératif de solidarité » entre les pays européens. Les Etats prêts à respecter ces principes se compteraient, en effet, désormais sur les doigts d’une main.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/01/29/l-agence-europeenne-frontex-fragilisee-par-les-accusations-d-expulsions-ille

    • Refoulement de migrants : « Frontex se retranche toujours derrière ses États hôtes » (Migreurop)

      L’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, a annoncé qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie après une décision de la Cour de justice européenne critiquant le système d’asile de ce pays. L’Office européen de lutte antifraude enquête de son côté sur la gouvernance de l’agence par son directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri dont plusieurs eurodéputés demandent la démission. Frontex a-t-elle participé à des opérations de « pushback », initiées par la Hongrie, qui consistent à repousser des migrants arrivés sur le sol européen sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile ? Le décryptage de Brijitte Espuche, co-coordinatrice du réseau Migreurop.

      https://www.rfi.fr/fr/podcasts/invit%C3%A9-international/20210129-refoulement-de-migrants-frontex-se-retranche-toujours-derri%C3%A8re-ses

    • Frontex: Management Board pushes back against secrecy proposals in preliminary report

      Statewatch is publishing the preliminary report of the working group set up by the agency’s Management Board following allegations of involvement in pushbacks from Turkey to Greece. Amongst other things, the report indicates that Frontex has proposed labelling Serious Incident Reports as EU Classified Information, which would reduce transparency and, in turn, accountability.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim

    • Scandals Plunge Europe’s Border Agency into Turmoil

      Accusations of workplace harassment, mismanagement and financial irregularities have led to chaos at Europe’s border agency. The allegations weigh heavily on Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri.

      The men and women who are part of Europe’s new elite border force meet every morning at 9 a.m. for a video conference that is viewed on screens in countries like Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Albania. The Frontex officials usually discuss migration movements and human trafficking, But since the beginning of January, the internal meetings have focused primarily on low morale within the team.

      "Do something at last, or soon no one will work here anymore,” one border guard warned in one of the calls. The policemen and women who regularly complain about their woes are the European Union’s first dedicated border guards. They’re part of Frontex’s standing corps.

      For months now, Frontex, the EU’s border protection agency, and its head Fabrice Leggeri, have been embroiled in a series of scandals. Frontex has been accused of being involved in illegal repatriations of refugees at Europe’s external borders, workplace harassment and a possible case of fraud linked to the agency. Now the crisis has also reached the standing corps, the border management agency’s prestige project.

      Frontex plans to deploy up to 10,000 border guards to the EU’s external borders in the coming years. The civil servants were promised brand new equipment and EU jobs with lavish salaries and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen personally pushed for the creation of the standing corps. The stars of the EU flag sparkle on the sleeves of the new dark blue uniforms worn by the reserves.

      The job may sound glamorous on paper, but it is anything but in the countries where the reserve guards have been deployed, like Greece, Croatia and Albania. Several officers have told DER SPIEGEL of a shortage of agency vehicles, such that expensive SUVs must be rented instead — with officers allegedly even having to pay for gas themselves in some cases. They claim that expenses weren’t reimbursed for bureaucratic reasons, and that parts of the new uniforms were missing and had to be bought by the border guards themselves.

      The officers should be out hunting down criminals and catching smugglers, but Category 1 officers, who are directly employed by Frontex, so far haven’t been allowed to carry weapons because the agency failed to provide the legal basis for doing so in time. The result is that the border guards, supposedly members of an elite European force, have to be escorted on every one of their patrols by national security forces.

      When contacted by DER SPIEGEL, Frontex also said that the pandemic has created additional challenges for deploying the force, but things are back on track again. Yet the agency’s own officers don’t see it that way. It’s a "Potemkin reserve,” scoffs one. "It’s not worth it,” says another officer, who is thinking about quitting.

      The establishment of the standing corps is one of the EU’s most important migration policy projects. The purpose is to control irregular immigration. But now the European Commission and the member states must stand by and watch as it becomes the focus of ridicule.

      The fiasco over the standing corps has become emblematic of an agency that has been falling short of public expectations for years, and of an agency head who is accumulating more and more power but doesn’t seem to know how to use it correctly.

      Under Leggeri, Frontex has stumbled from one scandal to the next. Last autumn, DER SPIEGEL, together with international media partners, first reported that Frontex forces in the Aegean Sea were involved in illegal repatriations of refugees, which are called pushbacks. The Frontex Management Board is investigating the allegations and the EU Ombudsman has opened an inquiry. Leggeri himself is apparently obstructing the investigations.

      In January, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced it had launched an investigation into Frontex. Leggeri claims that the investigators are looking into the pushback reports and that he cannot provide any further comment. But DER SPIEGEL has found in its reporting that the accusations go much further. The investigation involves a possible case of fraud involving a service provider, allegations of workplace harassment and whether information was withheld from the agency’s fundamental rights officer, whose job is to monitor Frontex’s adherence to basic human rights laid out in EU charters, conventions and international law. Internal documents suggest that Leggeri’s entire leadership style is under scrutiny.

      What happened? How could the authority charged with protecting the EU’s external borders descend into such chaos? And what does it all mean for the EU’s migration policy?

      DER SPIEGEL, the media organization Lighthouse Reports and the French newspaper Libération interviewed nearly a dozen current and former Frontex officials in the reporting of this story. Most insisted that their names not be mentioned in the story for fear that they could lose their jobs. Leggeri, for his part, rejected an interview request.

      When combined with internal documents that DER SPIEGEL and its partners were able to view, the insiders’ reports paint a picture of an agency in turmoil.

      France Télécom: How Leggeri seized power at Frontex

      The headquarters of Frontex are located in an office complex in Warsaw’s Wola district, not far from the city center. For years, only a few officials worked here compiling reports on migration routes. Actual border guards were borrowed from national police forces.

      But the agency has grown from a budget of just over 6 million euros in 2005 to 460 million euros in 2020. By 2027, Europe’s taxpayers will have provided 5.6 billion euros in funding to the agency.

      Frontex now has its own border guards, called the standing corps, in addition to aircraft and drones that will soon be complemented by unmanned airships that will provide surveillance as they circle over the Aegean Sea. Frontex’s rise has had a lot to do with Leggeri, the man who has done more than anyone else to shape the agency.

      Leggeri, 52, was born in Mulhouse, in France’s Alsace region, and speaks fluent German. He studied at the École Nationale d’Administration in Strasbourg, a university that has long produced the French elite. Starting in 2013, he worked at the Interior Ministry in Paris in the department for irregular immigration. At the time, the government advocated for Frontex’s expansion, and two years later, Leggeri was named head of the agency.

      Colleagues describe Leggeri as a technocrat. At a Christmas party once, the team gathered around and he began talking with great pathos about the achievements of the "Frontex family.” But Leggeri was reading from his notepad. "It seemed like the whole things was out of his league,” recalled one audience member.

      During the course of Frontex’s expansion, Leggeri tailored the agency to precisely fit his needs. He expanded his cabinet, filling many important posts with fellow French compatriots.

      Frontex workers say Leggeri is on rarely seen in the hallways, and that all important decisions are made by a small inner circle. They describe him as being a control freak, with some former staffers even going so far as to call him a "dictator.” Leggeri "runs the agency like it’s a sub-prefecture,” says someone who has worked with him for a long time. "You may be able to run a French ministry that way, but not an international organization.”

      Frontex staffers have taken to calling Leggeri’s cabinet "France Télécom” when the bosses aren’t around. It’s a reference to the scandal at the French telecommunications authority, which involved systematic bullying and harassment so bad that it drove a number of employees to commit suicide.

      The resentment felt by many Frontex staffers is largely directed at one of Leggeri’s closest confidants: Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin. The Frenchman comes from an aristocratic family from southern France. He once worked for Bernard Carayon, a member of the French parliament, who used to be part of a far-right student union. De La Haye Jousselin is a reserve officer in the French army and has a thing for the military and uniforms. “De La Haye Jousselin is clearly on the right politically,” says someone who has known him for years. Now, he serves Leggeri as the head of his cabinet.

      Insiders say that de La Haye Jousselin leads with an iron fist, and that he is quick to lose his temper. Employees claim he insults people and engages in disrespectful behavior. The agency stated that Frontex has not received any official complaints about de La Haye Jousselin and also claimed that no cabinet member has been hired solely on the basis of their nationality. De La Haye Jousselin dismissed the accusations as "false and baseless.”

      But the behavior of Leggeri and his cabinet chief has consequences. Dissent seems to be frowned upon. And this is likely one of the reasons internal control mechanisms at the agency are becoming less effective.

      Inmaculada Arnáez has more than 20 years of experience in human rights issues. The Spanish lawyer has worked for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and she has been with Frontex since 2012. As the fundamental rights officer, she is supposed to operate independently of the executive director in her job as the agency’s internal watchdog. But when Leggeri took the helm in 2015, she quickly became aware of how little concern the new leader apparently had for human rights.

      Former Frontex employees report that Arnáez was left out in the cold. "We felt like Leggeri just bypassed her.” They claim that human rights had never been his priority.

      The final break between Leggeri and Arnáez came when the European Parliament granted the fundamental rights commissioner more powers in 2019. Arnáez was to be assisted by 40 human rights observers, which would have enabled her office to conduct its own investigations at Europe’s external borders. Apparently that was unthinkable for Leggeri.

      On Nov. 19, 2019, just as Arnáez was returning from an extended illness, the Frontex chief publicly advertised her position. In doing so, Leggeri had also bypassed the Frontex Management Board, since such a job posting requires the board’s approval. He had informed Arnáez only a short time before. In a written assessment obtained by DER SPIEGEL, the European Commission states that Leggeri’s move had been "plain and simply unlawful” and "could be considered as an attempt to discredit or weaken” Arnáez.

      The Commission forced Leggeri to withdraw the job posting. But the Frontex chief didn’t give up. He claimed Arnáez had to be replaced because she doesn’t have enough management experience to lead 40 employees.

      It seems likely, though, that the Frontex chief was mainly bothered by Arnáez because of her advocacy for human rights. Arnáez has repeatedly warned Leggeri against breaking the law. Colleagues say that she believed in the power of her reports. She regularly informed Leggeri about human rights violations in the Aegean Sea and recommended that he abandon the mission in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán legalized pushbacks in 2016.

      Leggeri ignored the fundamental rights officer’s reports and continued the operation in the Aegean Sea. He only withdrew his officers from Hungary a few weeks ago after a ruling by the European Court of Justice forced him to do so. When contacted for comment, Leggeri stated that he had always valued working together with Arnáez. He added that management experience is needed in the post because of the sharp increase in the budget.

      Leggeri still hasn’t hired the 40 human rights monitors to this day. When grilled by the European Parliament, Leggeri blamed the European Commission for the delays. European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who is responsible for the portfolio that includes Frontex, then accused him of having misled parliament.

      Arnáez has been on medical leave again since last March. The Frontex Management Board replaced her on an interim basis with Annegret Kohler, a German national who had previously worked in Leggeri’s cabinet. "It’s a clear conflict of interest,” says a Frontex official.
      The Pushback Affair: How Frontex Covered Up Human Rights Violations

      The walls of the Frontex Situation Centre are covered in monitors, with surveillance planes and satellites transmitting real-time images from border regions. From their desks, Frontex officers can closely monitor events taking place on the edges of Europe. “You can see how many people are sitting in a refugee boat,” says someone who knows the room well.

      A collection of images that appeared on screens here on the night of April 18-19, 2020, continue to occupy members of European Parliament until today. They come from a Frontex surveillance plane flying over the Aegean, according to several internal Frontex reports that DER SPIEGEL has obtained.

      Shortly before midnight, Greek border patrol officers intercepted a rubber dinghy just north of the island of Lesbos and transferred the 20 to 30 refugees onboard their ship. According to prevailing law, they should have then brought the asylum-seekers to Lesbos, where they could apply for asylum. Instead, though, they put the refugees back into the dinghy and then towed them back toward Turkey.

      Greek officials in the coordination center in Piraeus ordered the Frontex pilots to change course away from the dinghy. The Frontex team leader asked if there was a particular reason for the change in course. “Negative,” came the response from the Greeks.

      At 3:15 a.m., the Frontex plane began running low on fuel. The pilot took one last image, which showed the refugees alone at sea, a few hundred meters from the Turkish coast. No Turkish units were in the area, the pilot reported. The dinghy, he reported, had no motor and the Greek Coast Guard had sailed off. The refugees, including four children, were only rescued the next morning at 6:52 a.m. by the Turkish Navy.

      The Greek Coast Guard has been systematically conducting pushbacks for several months. They stop refugee boats in Greek territorial waters and sometimes destroy their motors before then towing them back toward Turkey. “Aggressive surveillance,” is the official term the government in Athens has come up with to describe the practice. In fact, it is illegal.

      Frontex regulations require Leggeri to suspend missions when he learns of rights violations of a serious nature or that are likely to persist. His forces, after all, are supposed to protect human rights. But Leggeri insists that he has no reliable information about pushbacks in his possession – despite the fact that DER SPIEGEL and its reporting partners have exhaustively documented how Frontex units were nearby during at least seven illegal pushback operations.

      During their operations, Frontex personnel are under the command of Greek border officials. Already last March, a Greek liaison officer ordered a Danish Frontex unit to abandon a group of intercepted refugees at sea, according to internal emails that DER SPIEGEL has reviewed. Nevertheless, Frontex decided nothing was wrong and closed the matter within a day. Later, in testimony he delivered before the European Parliament, Leggeri claimed the incident had merely been a misunderstanding.

      The pushback that took place off Lesbos in the night of April 18-19 was exhaustively documented by Frontex officers themselves. There is a strong belief “that presented facts support an allegation of possible violation of Fundamental Rights or international protection obligations such as the principle of non-refoulement,” reads an internal Frontex report that DER SPIEGEL has obtained.

      The case was apparently so sensitive that Leggeri took personal control over the investigation and did not, as was standard procedure, delegate it to his Fundamental Rights Officer. On May 8, he wrote to Ioannis Plakiotakis, the Greek minister of maritime affairs, a letter that DER SPIEGEL has obtained. In it, Leggeri voiced his concern and requested an internal investigation. The observance of human rights, particularly the principle of non-refoulement, is an “ultimate requirement” of the Frontex mission, he wrote.

      The answer from the Greek government is a smorgasbord of attempts to explain it away. Migration flows in the Aegean represent a “hybrid nature threat,” the response reads. Because of the corona crisis, it continues, it is more important than ever to prevent illegal border crossings and none of the migrants had requested asylum. According to an initial assessment by Greek officials, the letter claims, none of those on board were in particular need of protection.

      Legal experts see the Greek response as worthless. “The Greek Coast Guard without a doubt committed a human rights violation in the case,” says Dana Schmalz, an international law expert with the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. From her perspective, it is a clear case of an illegal pushback. It is impossible, she says, to determine if someone needs protection or if they are faced with danger back in Turkey on board a rickety dinghy. Individual proceedings conducted on land are necessary to make such a determination, she says. Furthermore, she continues, the Greek Coast Guard put the migrants’ lives in danger by abandoning them at sea in a dinghy without a motor.

      But Leggeri was satisfied with the report. The verdict: There was no pushback, there were no human rights violations. The head of Frontex silently buried the incident. “There have been several occasions when Leggeri has not provided us with adequate information,” says Tineke Strik, a member of European Parliament from the Netherlands.

      When reached for comment, Frontex said the Greek government had not ascertained any human rights violations. The agency has to rely on national authorities to investigate such incidents, Frontex insisted, since it is not authorized to undertake such investigations itself.

      Frontex officials are actually required to report incidents where they suspect that human rights violations may have occurred, so-called “Serious Incident Reports.” But such reports are hardly ever written. For years, Frontex officials have followed the example of their boss Leggeri: When in doubt, keep quiet.

      Insiders describe the rules as a kind of omertà, a code of silence. Hardly anyone is willing to risk their career or cause problems for their host country. In one case, an official even tried to prevent a Swedish colleague from submitting a Serious Incident Report, the head of Swedish border control told the Frontex Management Board.

      A German federal police officer is one of the few willing to dissent, though he has asked that we not publish his real name. On Nov. 28, 2020, his first day on a Frontex mission on the Greek island of Samos, an article from DER SPIEGEL popped up on his mobile phone. The story was about the Uckermark, the ship on which he was scheduled to serve that very evening. The article reported that the Germans had stopped a refugee boat on August 10 and handed it over to the Greek Coast Guard, which then proceeded to abandon the refugees at sea.

      The federal policeman went to his commanding officer and said he couldn’t participate in such operations and essentially said he didn’t want to be an accessory to any legal transgressions. Later, he sent an explanation around to his comrades via WhatsApp: “I have decided for me personally that I cannot tolerate the measures taken by the Greeks and certainly cannot support them.”

      His commanding officer responded a few minutes later: “The fact is that our actions are legal! Covered by the Frontex mandate.” He apparently was referring to the requirement to obey orders from the Greek Coast Guard.

      The German Federal Police does not contradict the man’s account, but when contacted, the force denied having taken part in any legal violations. The policeman himself, however, had a different view of the situation. He refused to take part in the mission, preferring instead to stay on land. He says he will never again volunteer to take part in a Frontex mission.

      Dodgy Business: How Leggeri Landed in the Sights of the European Anti-Fraud Office

      The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) always gets involved when there are suspicions that EU financial interests have been violated. And recently, OLAF opened an investigation into Frontex. On Dec. 7, OLAF officials searched Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, including the offices belonging to Leggeri and to Head of Cabinet Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin.

      Leggeri has yet to comment publicly on the investigation. According to members of the German parliament, the Bundestag, Leggeri testified before the Committee on Internal Affairs in January in Berlin and said that the inquiry had to do with the pushback accusations and that he couldn’t say any more. That, though, is at best only half true.

      DER SPIEGEL has learned that the investigation has a much broader scope than that. For weeks, OLAF officials have been summoning witnesses and interrogating Frontex staff members.

      One focus of the investigation is apparently a possible case of fraud. A Polish IT company sold the agency a business software solution that cost hundreds of thousands of euros, in part for the training of border guards. Frontex employees complained to their superiors, however, that the software didn’t work well. But the agency nevertheless paid most of the negotiated purchase price. According to documentation DER SPEIGEL has seen, employees informed management in 2018 that the inconsistencies in the case could amount to fraud.

      Leggeri, too, learned of the allegations, and an internal investigation was undertaken. “But according to EU regulations, the Frontex director is required to immediately report potential cases of fraud to OLAF,” says Valentina Azarova of the Manchester International Law Centre. Frontex declined to comment on the OLAF investigation. The Polish software company in question insisted that it has thus far correctly fulfilled all of its contractual obligations to Frontex. And the company is still getting contracts from the European border agency, some of them worth millions.

      The OLAF investigators are also apparently interested in suspicions of workplace harassment at Frontex. They hope to find out if Leggeri or his head of cabinet have yelled at or otherwise harassed agency employees. They are also investigating whether staff members were ordered to withhold information from Fundamental Rights Officer Arnáez and her successor – and if so, by whom.

      OLAF emphasizes that the presumption of innocence still applies, despite the inquiry, explaining that the existence of the investigation offers no proof that anything untoward took place. But there are apparently serious indications of personal misconduct on the part of Leggeri. The collection of questions being asked by investigators indicate significant doubts about his leadership style.

      In Brussels, some refer to Leggeri as “Fabrice Teflon,” with the Frontex boss having thus far survived despite accusations of mismanagement and allegations that his agency was involved in pushbacks. Now, though, the pressure has been cranked up.

      European Commissioner Johansson has more or less made it clear that she no longer considers Leggeri to be tenable in his position. “It has been difficult to keep track of the missteps,” says a high-ranking Commission official. “The priority must be on the long-term reputation of the agency. But it has been hard to reconcile recent actions with that aim.”

      It is not, however, up to the European Commission to decide Leggeri’s fate. That is a decision that must be made by the Frontex Management Board. The board is essentially made up of representatives from those countries that are part of the Schengen Area, with the Commission having just two deputies on the board. EU member states have always thrown their support behind Leggeri in the past. And many of them are likely pleased by the occasionally ruthless methods employed by Frontex to prevent asylum-seekers from crossing into the EU, believes Giulia Laganà, a migration expert with the Open Society European Policy Institute.

      The question is whether the Management Board will continue to back Leggeri once the accusations of workplace harassment and even potential fraud are made public. The European Parliament has already announced its intention to conduct a four-month inquiry into the agency, with the investigation’s mandate having been kept intentionally broad. Leggeri’s leadership style and the workplace atmosphere at Frontex are to be included in the inquiry.

      Even Leggeri’s own staff members in Warsaw have begun wondering how long their boss will continue to cling to his post. “OLAF is onto us, morale is down,” says one official. “I wonder why he doesn’t just leave.”

      https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/missteps-and-mismanagement-at-frontex-scandals-plunge-europe-s-border-agency

    • Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières, à nouveau mise en cause pour ses liens avec des lobbyistes

      Premier corps armé en uniforme de l’Union européenne, l’organisme n’aurait pas déclaré ses liens avec des lobbyistes de l’industrie de la surveillance et de l’armement.

      De nouvelles accusations contre Frontex ont été lancées, vendredi 5 février, par la chaîne publique allemande ZDF, laquelle a, avec la collaboration de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), mené une enquête sur les liens entre l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et l’industrie de la surveillance et de l’armement.

      Des dizaines de documents, auxquels Le Monde a également eu accès, démontrent des infractions aux règles des institutions européennes sur le lobbying, un défaut de transparence et une absence quasi complète de préoccupation pour le respect des droits humains. Ce dernier point était déjà au cœur d’un débat récent sur le rôle du corps européen dans des « pushbacks », des refoulements illégaux de migrants, en Grèce et en Hongrie notamment.

      Dotée d’un budget en forte hausse (6 millions d’euros lors de sa création en 2005, 460 millions en 2020, 5,6 milliards prévus pour 2021-2027) et d’un effectif qui devrait atteindre 10 000 personnes à terme, Frontex, premier corps armé en uniforme de l’Union européenne (UE), effectue actuellement des missions de sauvetage et de surveillance, en appui des forces nationales. Elle lutte aussi contre divers trafics et participe aux expulsions des migrants irréguliers.

      Mais l’agence est, en réalité, en train de devenir un véritable corps de police appelé à se doter de nombreux équipements : armes, radars, drones, systèmes de vérification des documents et de reconnaissance faciale, véhicules, avions, etc.
      Profiter des opportunités

      Devient-elle, du même coup, une sorte d’acteur du secteur de la sécurité et de l’armement ? Et échappe-t-elle au contrôle démocratique, celui du Parlement européen notamment, qui, en 2019, exigeait de l’institution dirigée par le Français Fabrice Leggeri la mise au point d’un « registre transparence », conforme aux pratiques des autres institutions de l’UE ? Ce sont les questions posées par les investigateurs de la ZDF et de CEO, qui ont examiné les dernières années de fonctionnement de l’institution installée à Varsovie.

      Le registre, qui était réclamé par les eurodéputés, devait notamment recenser l’ensemble des réunions tenues avec des représentants des entreprises. Il est « en préparation », dit-on chez Frontex. Et il ne devrait pas satisfaire les attentes : en 2018 et 2019, indiquent des documents de CEO, 91 des 125 lobbyistes reçus par Frontex (soit 72 %) n’étaient pas inscrits au registre européen de la transparence, comme le veulent pourtant les règles fixées pour les institutions de l’UE.

      Idem pour 58 % des entreprises consultées. Sur une application créée pour centraliser les demandes de contacts, aucune demande ne leur est d’ailleurs formulée quant à leur inscription dans ce registre. Etonnamment, le service de presse de Frontex affirme de son côté que l’agence « ne rencontre pas de lobbyistes ».

      Il semble évident, pourtant, que le secteur de la défense entend profiter des opportunités offertes par le développement des missions et des moyens de l’agence. Le programme Horizon 2020 avait déjà affecté 118 millions d’euros au développement de la recherche en lien avec le projet de « Sécurité aux frontières extérieures » de l’UE. Un fonds avait, lui, été doté de 2,8 milliards d’euros pour la période 2018-2020. Et la nécessité d’équiper Frontex a évidemment aiguisé un peu plus les appétits des acteurs du marché mondial du « border control », qui enfle de 8 % chaque année et frôle désormais les 20 milliards d’euros.
      « Surveillance agressive »

      L’agence dirigée par M. Leggeri est-elle sortie de son rôle en s’arrogeant un statut d’intermédiaire de fait entre l’industrie et des institutions européennes soucieuses de conjurer à tout prix le risque de nouveaux flux migratoires ? Serait-elle, même, devenue un acteur qui entend stimuler cette industrie, voire lui confier les rênes d’une politique à vocation essentiellement sécuritaire ?

      Avec son objectif de « faciliter la coopération entre les autorités de contrôle aux frontières, la recherche et l’industrie », Frontex a, en tout cas, multiplié les congrès, les rencontres et les « ateliers » où grands patrons, hauts fonctionnaires, mais aussi délégués des Etats membres échangent beaucoup. Sur des questions de technologie, de sécurité, de « surveillance agressive », mais rarement de droits humains.

      Déjà mise en cause pour avoir tardé à mettre en place un service interne chargé de la surveillance du respect des droits fondamentaux des migrants, l’agence n’aurait, en effet, presque jamais consulté le « Forum des droits fondamentaux » constitué à cette fin. Une organisation qui était membre du forum indique d’ailleurs n’avoir aucun souvenir d’un quelconque échange sur la question des droits et des libertés dans le cadre du lancement d’appels d’offres.

      « La protection des droits humains est un sujet trop important pour le sacrifier à la défense des intérêts de l’industrie », notent les responsables de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory

      Parmi les participants à des réunions, on a noté, en revanche, la présence de représentants de pays très critiqués pour leur politique à l’égard des migrants, comme la Bosnie-Herzégovine ou l’Australie. Des responsables du département américain de la Homeland Security ont été également conviés.

      « Les conclusions de tout cela sont extrêmement préoccupantes », notent les responsables de CEO. Ils déplorent une politique migratoire qui risque de reposer seulement sur une force de police armée et des techniques comme la surveillance biométrique. « La protection des droits humains est un sujet trop important pour le sacrifier à la défense des intérêts de l’industrie », relèvent-ils.

      « Nous vivons une métamorphose du rôle de Frontex. Il faut en prendre la mesure et s’y habituer », affirmait, vendredi, M. Leggeri, interrogé par Europe 1. On ne sait pas si Ylva Johansson, la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, qui demande que la confiance en Frontex soit « entièrement rétablie », approuvera totalement ce propos.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/02/05/nouvelles-accusations-contre-frontex-l-agence-europeenne-des-gardes-frontier

    • PUSHBACK REPORT 2020

      VIOLENCE IS INCREASING – IN #2020 MARE LIBERUM COUNTED AT LEAST 9,000 PEOPLE ILLEGALLY PUSHED BACK

      #Mare_Liberum monitors the current human rights situation in the Aegean Sea using its own ships. As independent observers, we conduct research in order to document and publicise circumstances at the European border. Since March 2020, Mare Liberum has witnessed a dramatic increase in human rights violations in the Aegean, both at sea and on land. Illegal pushbacks, in which those fleeing and migrating people are pushed back across a national border, play an especially crucial role. Over the past year in particular, pushbacks have become an inhumane everyday reality for people on the move. Pushbacks happen almost daily at the Greek-Turkish border and in 2020 alone, we counted 321 pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, with some 9,798 people pushed back.

      Although pushbacks have demonstrably been carried out at the EU’s external border for years, media attention has now increased notably, especially in recent months. News magazines such as Der Spiegel and the research collective Bellingcat have been able to publicly demonstrate how the Hellenic Coast Guard forcibly pushes those seeking protection back to Turkey, thereby violating international, European and national law. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, as has become all too clear, not only turns a blind eye to illegal repatriation operations, but rather actively and systematically participates.

      Within the framework of the annual report, we seek to adopt a perspective on pushbacks that looks at the long-term development of these practices at the EU’s external border. The comprehensive documentation of pushbacks forms the basis of the report and is an essential part of our monitoring work in the Aegean. Beyond the mere counting of pushbacks, our work also includes the collection of relevant information on the persons affected by pushbacks, practices by the responsible actors and related geographical data. We have gained deeper insights into these issues by conducting interviews with people who have themselves been pushed back at the Greek-Turkish border.

      https://mare-liberum.org/en/pushback-report

    • NEW REPORT ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN THE AEGEAN

      Since March 2020, collective expulsions in the Aegean Sea have been perpetrated with impunity.

      Legal Centre Lesvos’ new report contributes to the growing body of evidence, media coverage, civil society reports and other investigations which have documented how Greek authorities are deliberately and systematically abandoning hundreds of migrants in the middle of the Aegean sea, without means to call for rescue, on unseaworthy, motorless dinghies and liferafts. It is intended to serve as a resource for survivors of collective expulsions and solidarity actors.

      Following the Legal Centre Lesvos’ first report, the present report is based on evidence shared by over fifty survivors of collective expulsions, and underscores the widespread, systematic and violent nature of this attack against migrants. Beyond being egregious violations of international, European and national human rights law, this report argues that the constituent elements of the modus operandi of collective expulsions in the Aegean amount to crimes against humanity within the definition of Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      Despite overwhelming evidence of collective expulsions in the Aegean, the national and European response has been to turn a blind eye: failing to even attempt to hold the responsible Greek authorities to account, let alone other public and private actors directly or indirectly involved. On the contrary, the European Commission has praised the violent “border and migration management” practices implemented in Greece and underwritten its support with substantial financial and material assistance. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented Greece carrying out “official” deportations to Turkey, collective expulsions have conveniently served as an unofficial implementation of the “EU-Turkey Deal” and other bilateral “readmission” agreements with Turkey, which form part of fortress Europe’s border externalisation drive.

      There are only so many times legal and civil society actors can list and table such human rights violations and be met with deafening silence and inaction before this itself becomes evidence of Greek and European liability for collective expulsions as an egregious attack on migrants’ lives. Such inaction also reveals how migrants’ lives are increasingly treated as disposable, in a manner that has historically accompanied the commission of atrocity crimes.

      While the systematic violence of pushbacks in the Aegean is scandalous, it is also the logical endpoint of a dehumanising and punitive European border regime that has systematically obstructed access to territory and the right to asylum by prioritising and funding the ‘hotspot’ containment system, accelerated procedures, detention, deportations, border militarisation and externalisation through deals of questionable legality with third countries; as well as by prosecuting migrants and solidarity actors in a manner that successfully obscures Europe’s own violent, imperialist role in many of the reasons people migrate.

      The absence of serious investigations, let alone practical steps to redress violations are a clear sign that collective expulsions form part of a Greek and European migration policy: instrumentalising human suffering in acts of spectacular state violence for the purpose of deterring migration, at any cost.

      In this context, it is important to ask what justice might look like for survivors of crimes against humanity in the Aegean, many of whom experience ongoing psychological trauma and distress as a result of these crimes. Survivors who have been in contact with the Legal Centre Lesvos have spoken about justice in terms of being able to safely reach Europe. Justice for collective expulsions as crimes against humanity must therefore include safe and legal routes to Europe, as well as defunding, demilitarising and dismantling Europe’s violent border regime.

      https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2021/02/01/crimesagainstumanityintheaegean

      #crimes_contre_l'humanité

      pour télécharger le rapport :
      legalcentrelesvos.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Collective-Expulsions-in-the-Aegean-LCL-01.02.2021-1.pdf

    • UE : Frontex accusée d’incarner l’« Europe forteresse »

      Soupçons de refoulements illégaux de migrants et de bafouement des droits fondamentaux, l’agence Frontex est dans la tourmente. Au point de diviser la Commission européenne.

      C’est potentiellement ce que les Anglo-Saxons appellent la « tempête parfaite », la « poly polémique » qui couve chez Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes.

      Entre les accusations de fermer les yeux ou de participer à des refoulements illégaux de migrants, l’enquête de l’Office anti-fraude sur des allégations de harcèlement et d’inconduite ayant poussé des responsables à quitter l’agence ou l’absence, à ce jour, de recrutement des quarante agents chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux, Frontex accumule les tuiles.

      Après l’enquête de la médiatrice européenne, qui s’est aussi penchée sur son cas, c’est le Parlement européen qui s’en mêle. Outre la mise en place d’un « groupe d’enquête permanent », les eurodéputés ont aussi refusé, fin de la semaine dernière, d’octroyer « la décharge budgétaire » à l’agence, nous explique l’élue belge Saskia Bricmont (Ecolo). « Chaque année, le Parlement a un pouvoir de contrôle budgétaire. Donner la décharge, cela signifie qu’on considère que Frontex a accompli ses missions, a respecté le cadre légal et a donc droit au budget suivant », explique-t-elle. En commission des libertés civiles, de la justice et des affaires intérieures, les eurodéputés ont donc décidé de reporter de six mois cette décharge, une décision qui doit être validée en plénière mais que « tous les groupes politiques » soutiennent, ajoute l’élue. D’ici là, il est principalement attendu de Frontex qu’elle recrute les agents chargés de défendre en interne les droits fondamentaux.
      Mandat et budget élargis

      Depuis cinq ans, le mandat de l’agence a été élargi considérablement. Ses effectifs multipliés. En 2016, Frontex se félicitait du fait qu’elle emploierait 1500 agents à l’horizon 2020. Elle devrait être à 10.000 d’ici 2027, pour un budget de plus de cinq milliards sur sept ans, contre une enveloppe annuelle de 19 millions il y a quinze ans.

      Newsletter Repensons notre quotidien

      Infos positives, bons plans, solutions... Chaque dimanche, place aux initiatives qui peuvent changer votre quotidien.

      Car pour Fabrice Leggeri, le patron de Frontex, les critiques trouvent bien leur source dans ce renforcement des pouvoirs de l’agence. « Pour la première fois, une agence cesse d’être un objet simplement administratif européen, mais a du personnel sur le terrain. C’est une responsabilité d’autant plus grande que nous avons l’usage de la force, sous l’autorité et le contrôle des Etats, et qu’il y a bien sûr des contrepoids, les droits fondamentaux. C’est tout à fait normal que cela suscite des réactions, parce que c’est inhabituel », a-t-il expliqué la semaine dernière lors d’un événement organisé par la Fondation Robert Schuman. « Il peut y avoir des retards de mise en œuvre de certaines choses, tout ne sera certainement pas parfait. Il faut utiliser cette période où il y a beaucoup de questionnements sur l’agence pour expliquer, faire de la pédagogie », a-t-il ajouté.

      A ses côtés, le vice-président de la commission en charge de la Promotion du mode de vie européen, Margaritis Schinas, a évoqué la tentative de « quelques milieux » de bâtir « un narratif qui affaiblit Frontex au moment où nous avons le plus besoin de l’agence. Ça, je ne l’accepterai jamais ». Un ton qui contraste avec celui de sa collègue aux Affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, qui a démenti fin janvier les explications données par Leggeri pour justifier le retard de l’embauche des 40 agents pour les droits fondamentaux.

      Selon le quotidien français Le Monde, François Xavier-Bellamy, chef de la délégation Les Républicains au sein du groupe du Parti populaire européen (PPE, conservateurs) du Parlement européen, a écrit à Ylva Johansson en évoquant de sa part une tentative de déstabilisation voire de procès politique envers Fabrice Leggeri.
      Pas en ligne sur le lobbying

      S’ajoutent à tout cela les accusations de relations troubles avec l’industrie de l’armement et de la biométrie (par exemple, la reconnaissance faciale), étudiées de long en large par l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) le mois dernier. Cette dernière estime que l’élargissement des compétences de Frontex et son besoin d’équipement neuf (y compris en matière de défense) ont été une aubaine pour ces industries.

      Entre 2017 et 2019, Frontex a rencontré pas moins de 108 entreprises pour discuter d’armes à feu et de munitions, d’équipements de surveillance etc. Contre dix think tanks, 15 universités et seulement une ONG. Dans les procès-verbaux de ces réunions obtenus par CEO grâce à des demandes d’accès aux documents, elle a pu constater que les droits fondamentaux figuraient rarement à l’agenda. « Sans surprise, il y a des chevauchements significatifs entre les entreprises qui font du lobbying à Frontex et celles qui bénéficient le plus des marchés publics » de l’agence, explique l’ONG.

      En outre, l’agence ne publie pas toutes ses rencontres et voit majoritairement (72 %) des représentants du privé qui ne sont pas enregistrés dans le registre de transparence de l’UE. Frontex s’en est défendu en répondant qu’elle ne faisait pas l’objet de lobbying, compte tenu du fait qu’elle n’est pas impliquée dans le processus législatif européen. Alors, acharnement ou véritable scandale ? L’enquête des eurodéputés devrait permettre d’y voir clair. C’est aussi l’avis/l’espoir de Fabrice Leggeri, qui a jusqu’ici résisté aux appels à la démission.

      https://plus.lesoir.be/358143/article/2021-03-01/ue-frontex-accusee-dincarner-leurope-forteresse

    • La droite française au secours de Fabrice Leggeri, patron de Frontex

      Le groupe #LR au Parlement européen critique la « tentative de déstabilisation » à laquelle se livrerait la commissaire Ylva Johansson à l’égard du directeur de l’agence.

      Le torchon brûle entre la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures et à la migration, #Ylva_Johansson, et la droite française. Dans une lettre au ton cinglant adressée vendredi 26 février à l’ancienne ministre sociale-démocrate suédoise et lue par Le Monde, #François_Xavier-Bellamy, chef de la délégation #Les_Républicains (LR) au sein du groupe du #Parti_populaire_européen (#PPE, conservateurs) interroge la commissaire. Et il parle de « tentative de déstabilisation », de « divergence de fond », voire de « procès politique » que la commissaire instruirait contre Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’agence des gardes-frontières et gardes-côtes Frontex.

      Ce responsable français est sur la sellette depuis des mois. Pour des refoulements illégaux de migrants (pushbacks) qu’aurait favorisés l’agence. Pour des retards dans le recrutement d’une quarantaine d’officiers chargés précisément de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux par les agents de Frontex. Pour d’apparentes réticences à se conformer à des règles administratives en matière budgétaire. Ou encore pour ne pas avoir souscrit à des obligations de transparence en ce qui concerne des réunions avec des lobbys et des responsables de l’industrie de la défense et de la surveillance.

      Le groupe socialiste du Parlement a demandé la démission du numéro un de Frontex

      Ce dernier point n’est pas mentionné dans la lettre de M. Bellamy et l’entourage de Mme Johansson semble, par ailleurs, considérer qu’il n’y a pas de quoi mettre en cause M. Leggeri pour ces contacts, dénoncés notamment par l’ONG #Corporate_Europe_Observatory. Sur les autres questions, en revanche, la commissaire a demandé des explications. Et le groupe socialiste du Parlement a demandé la démission du numéro un de Frontex. En décembre, la responsable de la direction générale des affaires intérieures de la Commission adressait, elle, une longue lettre à M. Leggeri, avec, à la clé, de nombreux griefs.

      Demande de preuves

      Les élus LR volent, eux, au secours du directeur et demandent très fermement des explications à la commissaire. Quelles preuves a-t-elle, interrogent-ils, quand elle accuse M. Leggeri de ne pas se conformer aux directives budgétaires, comme elle l’a fait le 22 février dans la commission de contrôle du Parlement ? Sans éléments incontestables, cela pourrait s’apparenter à une volonté de déstabiliser le patron de l’agence, estiment-ils.

      A propos des refoulements illégaux de migrants, les eurodéputés français endossent les explications livrées jusqu’ici par Frontex : sur treize épisodes douteux, huit ont été jugés conformes par un groupe de travail constitué par la Commission. Cinq autres cas sont encore à l’examen, sur lesquels Mme Johansson a exigé « toutes les explications nécessaires ».

      La Turquie est soupçonnée d’être à l’origine d’informations sur les refoulements illégaux de migrants

      M. Bellamy lui demande à son tour si elle a répondu à un courrier qui lui a été adressé en novembre par M. Leggeri, et dans lequel il réclamait des instructions claires quant à l’attitude à adopter à l’égard de la Turquie. Celle-ci, qui a orienté massivement des migrants vers la Grèce et la Bulgarie en mars 2020, est aussi soupçonnée par certaines sources d’être à l’origine d’informations sur les refoulements illégaux de migrants.
      « Reproches infondés »

      Le groupe LR, qui bénéficie du soutien tacite d’autres élus du PPE, exige, dès lors, de disposer de tous les échanges entre Frontex et la Commission. La lettre se termine par des questions sur l’éventuel désaccord entre la commissaire Johansson et Frontex au sujet des missions mêmes de l’agence.

      Relayant l’idée que la commissaire serait partisane des « frontières ouvertes » – ce qu’elle conteste – les eurodéputés lui demandent s’il y a, de sa part, « un désaccord de fond » sur la stratégie actuelle de la Commission von der Leyen, qui vise à garantir le « mode de vie européen » ? A savoir la maîtrise des frontières, la lutte contre l’immigration clandestine et la contribution à « la sécurité intérieure ».

      « En instruisant un procès politique au moyen de reproches infondés, vous prendriez le risque de violer les principes fondamentaux de l’Etat de droit, de salir des fonctionnaires intègres et loyaux, de fragiliser la cohérence de l’action européenne », conclut la lettre. Contacté dimanche, le cabinet de Mme Johansson a déclaré avoir reçu la lettre mais ne pas souhaiter réagir immédiatement.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/03/01/la-droite-francaise-au-secours-de-fabrice-leggeri-patron-de-frontex_6071549_

    • Un rapport d’enquête interne peu concluant sur le rôle de Frontex dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants

      Le document présenté lundi s’abstient d’impliquer des membres de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes dans des incidents en mer Egée.

      Un long rapport, lu par Le Monde et présenté, le 1er mars, par un groupe de travail désigné par le conseil d’administration de Frontex, confirme qu’il ne sera décidément pas simple, voire pas possible, de démontrer que des membres de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes ont été impliqués dans des « pushbacks » en mer Egée, des refoulements illégaux de migrants.

      Ce document final, pourtant très attendu, n’apporte aucune conclusion déterminante. D’autant que, sur quatre des cinq incidents encore jugés litigieux (huit ont été classés en janvier), l’enquête se poursuit.

      Sur la base des informations qui lui ont été livrées, le groupe de travail, composé de représentants de diverses institutions européennes et d’Etats membres, formule quelques recommandations qui peuvent être lues comme des critiques implicites du fonctionnement actuel de Frontex. Il prône ainsi une amélioration des rapports et de la surveillance des missions, une utilisation systématique de la vidéo, la recension de toute possible violation des droits humains et la suspension de l’aide apportée aux pays qui ne les respecteraient pas.
      Situations douteuses

      Pour le reste, la liste des « incidents » qui se seraient déroulés entre le 18 avril et le 21 octobre 2020 ne mentionne que les soupçons, parfois lourds mais jugés insuffisants, qui pèsent plutôt, en réalité, sur les gardes-côtes grecs et la marine turque, qui agissent aux limites des eaux territoriales des deux pays. Embarcations chassées, menacées, remorquées : dans certains cas, un navire suédois ou un avion danois mis à la disposition de l’agence ont recensé des situations douteuses, mais le groupe de travail conclut qu’il semble « impossible de les élucider entièrement ». D’autant que ce sont les autorités nationales qui assurent le commandement des opérations.

      Le rapport tient à souligner cependant l’importance de la mission de Frontex, présentée comme la « principale garantie de frontières solides et protégées ». Il y est rappelé aussi que, grâce aux interventions de Frontex, 28 000 personnes ont été sauvées en 2019 et près de 3 000 en 2020, tandis que 10 433 illégaux et 84 trafiquants étaient arrêtés. A propos des incidents considérés comme des « pushbacks » par des journalistes et des ONG, le document invite à considérer qu’aucun décès, aucune disparition et aucune blessure n’y seraient liés.

      Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’agence, qui doit être entendu jeudi 4 mars par un comité spécial du Parlement européen, pourra se prévaloir de ces conclusions face aux diverses accusations dont il faitl’objet. L’Office de lutte antifraude (OLAF) et la médiatrice de l’Union européenne enquêtent aussi sur la gestion de l’agence, basée à Varsovie, tandis que la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, a réclamé toutes les explications sur l’action en mer Egée.
      Action de la Turquie

      M. Leggeri soulignera sans doute, jeudi, qu’il espère obtenir de la Commission qu’elle lui indique les lignes directrices précises qu’il doit suivre en ce qui concerne, notamment, l’action de la Turquie. Dans les considérations qu’il a formulées à destination du groupe de travail de son conseil d’administration, il rappelle d’ailleurs que les autorités d’Ankara entendent utiliser la migration comme un « levier politique » et il souligne que la Grèce se dit soumise aux « menaces hybrides » du régime turc.

      Soutenu entre autres par la droite française au Parlement, le directeur de Frontex transforme ainsi le débat sur le rôle humanitaire de son agence en une question géostratégique, et il incite la Commission à se positionner par rapport à l’encombrant partenaire avec lequel elle a signé, en 2016, un accord visant à réduire les flux migratoires vers l’Europe.

      Pendant ce temps, la Ligue hellénique des droits de l’homme, l’ONG Legal Centre Lesvos et l’organisation juridique Front-Lex demandent à Frontex « de suspendre immédiatement ou de cesser » ses activités en mer Egée, sous peine d’une action devant la justice européenne. Legal Centre Lesvos aurait documenté, depuis mars 2020, 17 refoulements de plus de 50 migrants entre la Grèce et la Turquie. L’ONG estime aussi que l’agence a enfreint le droit européen et violé la convention de Genève de 1951 relative aux droits des réfugiés.

      Frontex est aussi taxée de complicité dans la « détention sommaire de migrants sur les îles de la mer Egée dans des ports, des bus, des navires, des plages où l’accès aux procédures d’asile leur a été refusé ». Le 12 février, l’ONG allemande Mare Liberum faisait état, pour sa part, d’une « escalade inédite » des refoulements de migrants en mer Egée impliquant Frontex en 2020.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/03/03/un-rapport-d-enquete-interne-peu-concluant-sur-le-role-de-frontex-dans-des-r

    • Le patron de Frontex se défend devant les eurodéputés, Bruxelles maintient la pression

      Le patron de Frontex a souligné jeudi devant des eurodéputés qu’aucune « preuve » d’une implication de l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants n’avait été établie par une enquête, mais Bruxelles a réitéré ses critiques.

      Le patron de Frontex a souligné jeudi devant des eurodéputés qu’aucune « preuve » d’une implication de l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants n’avait été établie par une enquête, mais Bruxelles a réitéré ses critiques.

      Ce rapport interne, qui doit être examiné vendredi par le conseil d’administration de Frontex et consulté mercredi par l’AFP, n’a pas permis de « clarifier complètement » les circonstances de plusieurs incidents au cours desquels des refoulements de migrants auraient eu lieu. Il préconise d’ailleurs d’améliorer le système de signalement et de surveillance des missions de l’agence.

      « Il n’y a pas eu de faits étayés ou prouvés pour aboutir à la conclusion que Frontex aurait participé ou se serait livrée à des violations des droits fondamentaux », a déclaré son directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri, devant un groupe d’eurodéputés qui a ouvert sa propre enquête sur ces incidents.

      L’agence est montrée du doigt depuis la publication en octobre 2020 d’une enquête de plusieurs médias l’accusant d’être impliquée avec les garde-côtes grecs dans des incidents de refoulement de bateaux de migrants à la frontière entre la Grèce et la Turquie.

      Ces accusations ont également entraîné une enquête du gendarme européen antifraude, l’Olaf, ainsi que de la médiatrice de l’UE.

      La Commission européenne, membre du conseil d’administration de Frontex aux côtés des 27 Etats membres, s’est montrée critique sur la gestion de l’agence, fustigeant notamment la lenteur du recrutement des officiers chargés de surveiller le respect des droits fondamentaux et des agents devant constituer le nouveau contingent permanent.

      Créée en 2004, Frontex a vu son mandat renforcé en 2019. Elle doit se doter d’agents en uniforme et armés, employés directement par l’agence, et non plus mis à disposition provisoirement par les Etats membres.

      Le directeur exécutif a notamment dit qu’un officier et 40 « moniteurs » chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux étaient en cours de recrutement et que 300 officiers du contingent permanent étaient déployés sur le terrain ou allaient l’être la semaine prochaine.

      La commissaire européenne aux Affaires intérieures Ylva Johansson a toutefois souligné que 700 officiers auraient dû être déployés en janvier.

      Elle a aussi estimé que les « clarifications » sur les accusations de refoulements n’avaient que « trop tardé », et que ce délai n’était « pas bon pour la réputation et la confiance » dans Frontex.

      « Une agence de première classe a besoin d’une gouvernance de première classe », a-t-elle poursuivi, se réjouissant toutefois d’« entendre que beaucoup de choses sont en train d’être réglées ».

      Si des eurodéputés à gauche ont demandé la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, la droite française au Parlement européen a quant à elle pris la défense du patron de Frontex.

      Dans une lettre adressée le 26 février à la responsable suédoise, le président de la délégation française du groupe PPE (droite) François-Xavier Bellamy lui a demandé des « justifications solides et vérifiées » à ses « accusations », dénonçant une « tentative de déstabilisation » du chef de Frontex et « un procès politique ».

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/fil-dactualites/040321/le-patron-de-frontex-se-defend-devant-les-eurodeputes-bruxelles-maintient-

    • Greece accused of ‘shocking’ illegal pushback against refugees at sea

      Lawsuit filed at European court of human rights says group were abandoned in life rafts after some were beaten.

      A lawsuit filed against the Greek state at the European court of human rights accuses Athens of a shocking level of violence in sophisticated inter-agency operations that form part of an illegal pushback strategy to stop the arrival of refugees and migrants.

      The suit, filed by the NGO Legal Centre Lesvos, centres on an incident in October last year in which a fishing boat set off from Marmaris in Turkey for Italy carrying about 200 people, including 40 children and a pregnant woman. The boat ran into difficulty in a storm off the south coast of Crete, leading the captain to radio for assistance.

      The legal case claims that in an operation of unprecedented size and sophistication, instead of helping the stranded people onboard, a Greek search and rescue vessel and two small patrol boats stalled the smuggler’s boat for five hours until speedboats carrying masked commandos arrived. Several passengers claim they were beaten in the ensuing incident.

      Those onboard were separated into two groups and taken to two large coastguard boats, where armed crews of between 10 and 15 men, most wearing balaclavas, searched them and confiscated belongings including phones, passports and money.

      The passengers were then reportedly forced on to several small life rafts, towed back to Turkish waters and abandoned at sea without food, water, life jackets or any means to call for help. By the time they were picked up by the Turkish coastguard, their ordeal had lasted more than 24 hours.

      “It was like watching a movie. The men from the speedboats jumped onboard screaming and shouting, they all had guns and knives and were wearing black and masks,” said Mahmoud, a witness from Syria whose name has been changed.

      “They began beating people with batons, looking for the captain. They punched me in the face and broke my glasses … I understand they don’t want us, but you could send us back to Turkey without the need for violence. When they cut us loose on the rafts we all thought we were going to die,” he said.

      The lawsuit claims the practice of “pushbacks” has become standard for the Greek coastguard since March 2020, when Turkey, in an effort to pressure the EU, told its 4 million registered refugees that it would no longer stop them trying to reach Europe as per a 2016 deal between Ankara and Brussels.

      Athens reacted by temporarily halting all new asylum applications and allegedly employing increasingly brutal tactics to dissuade people in Turkey from making the journey.

      Exact figures are difficult to verify, but rights groups and journalists have recorded hundreds of alleged pushback incidents over the last 12 months. In most cases, people trying to cross the Aegean have been intercepted and towed back to Turkish waters. They are then cut loose either in their own boats, after the Greek coastguard has disabled their engines, or on overcrowded life rafts.

      On several occasions people claim to have been pushed back after landing on Greek soil, and passengers have been abandoned on an uninhabited Turkish islet at least twice, according to reporting by Der Spiegel, Lighthouse Reports and the New York Times.

      In at least one case, the EU border agency, Frontex, is accused of covering up evidence of a Greek pushback operation.

      These collective expulsions, as they are known, are illegal under international law but not under Greek national law. The Guardian’s requests for comment from Greek officials went unanswered. Greece has denied illegality in the past.

      The incident in October stands out because of the reported level of violence involved and the size and scope of the operation, which would have taken hours to coordinate and involved eight Greek vessels and two dozen crew from different agencies.

      “‘Pushback’ isn’t even really the right term. It’s a decision by the authorities to deliberately abandon people at sea putting their lives at risk, with no means to call for rescue and no chance at all to claim asylum,” said Natasha Ntailiani, a Legal Centre Lesvos lawyer representing some of the survivors before the ECHR.

      “It’s a new and disturbing trend characterised by planned and systematic violence, which has increased over the last year in the Aegean region. Even search and rescue vessels and materials are now being used against migrants, which is a remarkable insight into the lengths the Greek authorities are now willing to go to.”

      Testimony from 11 complainants and dozens of pages of collaborating evidence – including geo-located pictures and video, GPS coordinates, and phone and message logs from the ship’s radio, passengers, the Alarm Phone hotline and the Greek and Turkish coastguards – painted a complete and damning picture of the new tactics, the centre said.

      The suit is the fifth LCL has filed at the ECHR in recent years to allege violations of migrant and refugee rights in Greece. Progress is slow, but the applicants hope the latest case will persuade the court that pushbacks, despite the fact they are now reportedly a systemic and regular feature of Greek border policing, are illegal.

      A decision at the court last year that Spain did not breach the rights of two men it expelled from the Melilla enclave on the basis they had tried to enter illegally “as part of a large group” sets a worrying precedent.

      In light of the judgment, Frontex has since asked the European commission if it can refuse to process individual asylum claims if people are travelling in groups, as is often the case in the Aegean.

      “I didn’t even want to go to Greece. We knew that they were harming refugees when they arrive, but it was shocking to experience the reality, which is that Europe doesn’t care at all about human rights and dignity,” said Yara from Damascus, whose name has also been changed. She said she had been traumatised by her experiences on the day the storm hit the fishing boat.

      “Despite all of that, I will still try again. I can’t build a life in Syria or Turkey,” she said.

      Mahmoud echoed Yara’s thoughts. “I got kicked out of Qatar because of the pandemic. I would rather have stayed there,” he said. “If there was a legal way to get to Europe I would take it, but there isn’t. I don’t want to make that journey again, but I will, because I have to.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea

    • Grèce : refoulements illégaux en Mer Egée

      En Grèce, les « pushbacks » ou refoulements illégaux de potentiels demandeurs d’asile par les garde-côtes grecs vers les eaux turques, se sont systématisés depuis un an.

      Le gouvernement grec se félicite d’avoir réussi à tenir une de ses promesses électorales : réduire le flux de migrants.

      La pratique est en infraction avec le droit maritime et l’obligation de porter assistance aux personnes en détresse en mer, mais aussi au regard du droit européen et international dont l’article 3 de la Convention des Droits de l’Homme stipule l’interdiction du refoulement des réfugiés.

      Informés, le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés de l’ONU et des commissaires européens se disent “alarmés” mais semblent jusqu’à présent bien impuissants à faire respecter le droit d’asile par Athènes. Documentés et dénoncés par des avocats et des ONG internationales, ces refoulements illégaux révèlent des pratiques cruelles et cyniques. Mais rares sont les voix en Grèce à s’élever la voix contre ces renvois aux frontières de l’Europe.

      https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/102791-000-A/grece-refoulements-illegaux-en-mer-egee
      #Samos

    • Message de Claire Rodier via la mailing-list Migreurop :

      Dans une interview au Guardian, Gil Arias Fernández, ancien directeur adjoint de Frontex a déclaré qu’il était profondément inquiet de l’atteinte à la réputation de l’agence, de sa décision d’armer les agents et de son incapacité à empêcher l’extrême droite d’infiltrer ses rangs, dans un contexte de mouvements anti-migrants en Europe.

      –—

      Frontex turning ‘blind eye’ to human rights violations, says former deputy

      The former deputy head of Europe’s border and coastguard agency has said the state of the beleaguered force “pains” him and that it is vulnerable to the “alarming” rise of populism across the continent.

      In his first interview since leaving office, #Gil_Arias_Fernández, former deputy director at Frontex and once tipped for the top post, said he was deeply worried about the agency’s damaged reputation, its decision to arm officers, and its inability to stop the far-right infiltrating its ranks, amid anti-migrant movements across Europe.

      “Weapons are not needed for Frontex operations,” he said. “They are more of a problem than a help.”

      Frontex is experiencing the most acute crisis in its 16-year history. The agency is being investigated by the European parliament over allegations of illegal pushbacks of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and its head, Fabrice Leggeri, is facing calls to quit over allegations he misled the EU commission. Leggeri has strongly rejected allegations about the agency’s operations.

      Arias Fernández, 65, now retired, lost out on the top role to Leggeri in 2015. He admits he did not get on with Leggeri when they worked together for a year.

      “From the first moment I saw that he had a perhaps excessive eagerness to change things. Maybe it was to put his personal stamp on things,” said Arias Fernández.

      He said decisions made by one of the EU’s most powerful agencies had led to complicity in human rights violations.

      “Frontex pains me,” he said. “Especially for the staff, because they don’t deserve what they are going through. We saw the agency as an instrument to help the member states and the migrants. These events put a dent in all that effort.

      “I do not believe that the agency has proactively violated the rights of migrants, but there are reasons to believe that it has turned a blind eye.”
      Gil Arias Fernández. ‘Frontex pains me,’ he said. Photograph: Jose Bautista/Courtesy of Fundation for Causa

      In January 2015, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, several European politicians suggested the presence of refugees among the terrorists.

      When the media asked Frontex about any link between refugees and the Paris attack, Arias Fernández, a former police commissioner in Spain, told them there was no evidence.

      Arias Fernández believes this cost him the director’s job.

      The political pressure made the job a tough one, Arias Fernández said. “There is a lot of pressure on the part of certain states to put their people in positions of responsibility. Whether the agency is headed by a Frenchman or a Finn may determine whether there is more or less sensitivity to migration problems. The agency is independent, but ‘independent’ should be put in quotation marks because without a fluid relationship with the [European] commission, you have a hard time.

      “Operations have always been conducted unarmed and there have never been any problems. In operations where Libyan tribal clans smuggling migrants shot in the air to frighten the patrols, even there it was not considered appropriate to carry weapons. In this case, weapons are more a problem than a help. The proposal of carrying weapons came from the European Commission, which I do not know to what extent is influenced by lobbyists in Brussels.

      “There is no filter in the recruitment system. You cannot prevent people with extremist ideas from entering, unless they clearly express their position in favour of hate crimes, xenophobia and racism.”

      Arias Fernández pointed to the dearth of human rights training for Frontex officers. “But lack of information should not be used to justify certain things,” he said. “The incidents under investigation were carried out by Greek units following the instructions of their commanders.

      “When there are irregularities like this in operations, it is usually because there are instructions from the authorities responsible for coordinating the operation. The decision to turn back a boat with migrants is not taken by an officer but is an order from above.”
      A rescue boat escorts a dinghy with migrants from Afghanistan as a Frontex ship patrols off Lesbos in Greece. Photograph: Costas Baltas/Reuters

      He said he appreciated borders needed a certain level of security to know who was entering but added that immigration was vitally important for the survival of all European states.

      “I come to this conclusion because there are studies that show that if we do not resort to immigration and other incentives, the EU will have serious problems and the welfare state will be a chimera. We should learn these lessons. In the first half of the pandemic, migrants saved our bacon.

      “In Europe, movements that use populism are growing at an alarming rate, and the fight against immigrants is one of those arguments. States are excessively prudent in not touching this issue. The commission presented the new pact on migration and asylum, which contains no proposals for channelling migration through legal channels. They tried to satisfy all the blocs, Visegrád [Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia], southern states, northern states, and I fear that in the end it satisfies no one.”

      Arias Fernández said the lack of migrants being allowed into Europe would have a severe economic impact amid an ageing workforce: “Who will pay the pensions of the growing number of pensioners?”

      A Frontex spokesman denied the agency ignored migrants’ rights. “The executive director of Frontex has written several letters to the Greek authorities to address incidents that raised his concerns. Two inquiries, including one that was conducted by representatives of national authorities and the European Commission, have found no evidence of violations of human rights in Frontex operations in Greece.”

      The spokesman also denied that officers had always conducted operations while unarmed, saying: “Before this year, Frontex relied exclusively on officers provided by national authorities, who brought their own weapons to the agency’s operational activities. Today, Frontex has its own operational arm, the standing corps, whose core is made up of officers directly employed by the agency who require weapons for self-defence and to protect others.

      “Since Mr Arias left more than half-a-decade ago, Frontex has undergone a massive transformation that included a much bigger focus on cross-border crime, which means a greater chance that our officers may encounter life-threatening situations while patrolling the borders or performing other duties.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jun/11/frontex-turning-blind-eye-to-human-rights-violations-says-former-deputy

      #extrême_droite

    • Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads

      It is not a ‘one-off’. It did not take place six, twelve or eighteen months ago, and now things are better.

      It was just one of 491 incidents since March 2020, in which 14,720 men, women and children have been denied their fundamental human rights by a coastguard armed with assault rifles and behaving like a sea-militia ‘defending’ Greece against innocent, unarmed, and peaceful men, women and children attempting to find safe places to live.

      In the morning of 10 June, a boat carrying 31 people travelled towards Kos. Closing in on Ag. Fokas, on the south east side of the island, the boat was approached by several vessels from the Hellenic coast guard, and forced back towards Turkey.

      If anyone is wondering what a pushback at sea looks like, this is how it’s being carried out. And it is illegal.

      https://videopress.com/v/vPX3Vme3

      This shocking, immoral and illegal practice has become ‘normal’ in the Aegean Sea. Greece carries it out without let or hindrance, while the EU seems unable or unwilling to act.

      Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads.

      According to the Greek government and Frontex, this isn’t a pushback, but a ‘prevention of entry’.

      There are two major problems with this assessment. First, under international law, no country is allowed to ‘prevent the entry’ of men, women and children not suspected of any crime (as these people are not) and who intend to apply for asylum. Even if the people in this boat had not entered Greek waters, the Greek coastguard would have broken international law, by forcibly preventing people who wish to apply for asylum, from entering Greece.

      But in fact, secondly, these people had in fact already entered Greek water. It cannot be a ‘prevention of entry’ if people have already ‘entered’: it is a pushback. And it is absolutely illegal.

      In the video we can hear one of the officers on the Hellenic coast guard vessel ΛΣ150, say “everyone abide by the rules, because he’s filming”. It’s disturbing that this even needed to be said. First, because what would have happened had this person not had the presence of mind, and technology, to film? What would have happened then? How would the heavily-armed coastguard have responded to these innocent, unarmed people trying to exercise their fundamental human rights? Why did this coastguard, who noticed a person filming, need to advise his colleagues to abide by the law? What did he fear they would do?

      Secondly, the disturbing images we can see in this video are in fact not ‘abiding by the rules’. It appears the coastguard does not understand – or perhaps accept – the rules. This is a video of the Greek coastguard breaking the law, even as one member of the coastguard warns his colleagues not to do something even worse.

      Nor is this an isolated incident.

      It’s how the Hellenic coastguard – and in some cases also Frontex – have been operating for the last 15 months.

      We must demand that Notis Mitarachis, and Fabrice Leggeri, are held to account for their continued, immoral, unacceptable, and illegal activity in the Aegean Sea. We must demand that the EU – or if, as increasingly seems to be the case, the EU is unwilling – the wider international community takes legal action, now, to prevent the Greek coastguard, the Greek government, Frontex and the EU, breaking international law, and shaming the whole of Europe in the process.

      None of this is acceptable. None of it is even beneficial to either Greece or the EU.

      The time to stop this is now. The time to act is now. The EU can and must act. If it refuses, it is time for the international court to prosecute Mitarachis, Nea Dimokratia, Leggeri, Frontex, and the European Commission. Anything else is to further damage, and indeed make a laughing stock of international law, and all our human rights.

      https://aegeanboatreport.com/2021/06/28/human-rights-in-europe-are-at-a-crossroads

    • Communiqué de presse : Frontex a besoin d’une #réorganisation radicale

      Les députés du groupe de travail sur le contrôle de Frontex, sous l’égide de l’eurodéputée écologiste Tineke Strik, ont présenté aujourd’hui en commission des libertés civiles (LIBE) du Parlement européen, le rapport sur le rôle de Frontex dans le #refoulement illégal des réfugiés. Un des principaux enseignements est la nécessité d’ une réorganisation radicale de l’agence pour qu’elle respecte les droits humains.

      L’enquête menée par les eurodéputés confirme que Frontex a manqué à ses responsabilités en matière de protection des droits humains aux frontières de l’UE. L’agence avait connaissance de violations des droits fondamentaux commises dans des pays de l’UE avec lesquels elle coopère, et n’a pas réagi face à ces allégations. La direction de Frontex a sciemment ignoré les rapports des journalistes d’investigation et d’ONG, les avertissements internes du personnel et même les séquences vidéo dans lesquelles ces violations étaient visibles.

      Saskia Bricmont, députée européenne Vert/ALE, membre de la commission LIBE et responsable du rapport sur la décharge budgétaire Frontex, déclare :

      “En ne faisant pas respecter les droits fondamentaux aux frontières de l’UE, Frontex a failli à son devoir. L’agence a besoin d’une réorganisation radicale. Je salue le travail d’enquête mené par mes collègues : il est essentiel d’identifier les lacunes et les fautes afin d’y remédier au plus vite.”

      “Le rapport dévoile que Frontex était non seulement conscient des violations des droits fondamentaux, mais n’a de surcroît pas réagi de manière appropriée face à son obligation de prévenir les violations des droits humains. En dépit des différents signaux d’alerte provenant d’acteurs internes et externes, l’agence a fait preuve d’inactivité manifeste, voire de réticence à agir. Nous sommes particulièrement préoccupés par le respect des normes en matière de droits humains dans les opérations menées en Grèce et en Hongrie. Nous demandons au directeur exécutif de suspendre immédiatement les opérations en Hongrie et d’évaluer les opérations en Grèce.”

      “Il existe des signes clairs de mauvaise gestion : les rapports internes faisant état de violations des droits fondamentaux ont été ignorés, le recrutement des agents spécialisés dans les droits fondamentaux a été retardé et reste incomplet. Nous ne croyons pas en la capacité de l’actuel directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri, à résoudre les problèmes que nous avons exposés. M. Leggeri a induit le Parlement européen en erreur à plusieurs reprises et a encouragé une culture d’impunité, tout en continuant à nier l’existence des refoulements illégaux.”

      “Notre rapport exhorte le Conseil d’administration de Frontex à reconsidérer la position de M. Leggeri et de l’ensemble de la direction générale. Dans un tel contexte, la décharge budgétaire ne doit pas être octroyée à l’agence. Par ailleurs, il est temps que les États membres assument leur responsabilité commune dans la défense des valeurs européennes en matière de gestion des frontières et le respect des droits fondamentaux.”

      https://twitter.com/saskiabricmont/status/1415611092894724097

      Recommandations du #rapport :

      – Frontex ne doit effectuer des opérations conjointes qu’avec des pays qui agissent dans le plein respect des droits fondamentaux. Pour remplir cette obligation, Frontex devrait surveiller l’ensemble de la zone opérationnelle et enquêter sur tous les incidents ou autres indications de non-conformité.

      – Si un refoulement est signalé à Frontex, l’agence ne devrait pas seulement enquêter en s’appuyant sur les réponses des autorités gouvernementales, mais également vérifier les informations fournies.

      – La Commission européenne devrait conditionner le financement européen de la gestion des frontières au respect des droits fondamentaux par l’État membre concerné.

      https://saskiabricmont.eu/frontex-besoin-reorganisation-radicale
      #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés

      –—

      Réaction de Frontex :

      Frontex welcomes report by the Scrutiny Working Group

      Frontex welcomes the report by the Scrutiny Working Group and its conclusions which reaffirmed that there is no evidence of the Agency’s involvement in any violation of human rights.

      The agency has been working with the Parliament’s scrutiny group in an open and transparent manner, sharing information and receiving the MEPs during an online visit to Frontex. The agency remains committed to cooperating with the European Parliament.

      “I acknowledge the conclusion of Parliament’s fact-finding scrutiny and its recommendations. Frontex is a bigger, more complex organisation than a couple of years ago, so a system that was designed in the past needs to undergo further transformation. The report underlined the challenges of the Agency’s transformation in a more and more complex security environment,” said Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri.

      “We are determined to uphold the highest standards of border control within our operations. We will look into the recommendations and see how we can implement them to further strengthen the respect of fundamental rights in all our activities,” he added.

      Frontex has completed two stages of the inquiry into last autumn’s media allegations. Both an internal inquiry and the report by a special working group appointed by the Management Board (with Commission and Member states representatives) have found no evidence of any Frontex involvement in violation of human rights.

      The agency has already taken on board many of the recommendations issued by the working group, upgraded its reporting mechanism and reinforced its operational coordination centres to improve information exchange. It will continue working towards an effective and transparent management of EU external borders in full respect of fundamental rights.

      Recent events at the European Union’s external borders have shown that Frontex is an essential assistance for Member States and the whole EU in situations of increased migratory pressure. Our security environment is increasingly volatile and complex.

      Today, Frontex has officially launched its rapid border intervention at Lithuania’s border with Belarus and deployed standing corps officers and equipment to help secure EU’s common external border.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news/news-release/frontex-welcomes-report-by-the-scrutiny-working-group-0AQJWY
      https://twitter.com/Frontex/status/1415654854412877824

    • EU border agency ‘has failed to protect asylum seekers’ rights’

      Author of European parliament report says Frontex agency’s director should resign or be sacked

      The EU border agency has failed to protect the human rights of asylum seekers, according to a damning European parliament report on the organisation.

      After a four-month investigation by MEPs the report’s author, Tineke Strik, told the Guardian, that Frontex “did not fulfil its human rights obligations and therefore did not address and therefore did not prevent future violations”.

      Strik, a Dutch Green MEP, wants the agency’s director, Fabrice Leggeri, to resign or be fired, but the special cross-party group of eight MEPs, spanning rightwing nationalists to the radical left, that was convened to investigate Frontex has not made that call.

      Speaking before the report was released on Thursday, Strik continued: “We should consider in the end, can we have confidence in this executive director to really implement those recommendations [in her report] and really change it into a human rights sensitive agency? My group [Green MEPs], we don’t have confidence in him any more. We think it would be sound if the management board would draw the same conclusion and start the search for a new executive director.”

      Once an obscure EU agency, Frontex has become a central pillar of EU border management. After more than a 1.2 million people sought asylum in the EU in 2015, European leaders agreed to give the Warsaw-based organisation more staff and money, a point of consensus in the often fraught EU debate on how to manage migration. By 2027, Frontex will have 10,000 border and coastguards, while its budget has already increased more than 19-fold since its creation in 2006.

      But the agency has come under growing scrutiny over its role in alleged pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, with dozens of human rights organisations calling for it to be abolished.

      Last year Frontex was accused of complicity in forcing back asylum seekers in breach of international law, after video footage emerged of one of its ships creating waves that drove back a dingy in the Aegean Sea crammed with people. That footage came through a joint investigation by Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said it had found six incidents where the agency was directly involved in a pushback in the Aegean or in close proximity to one.

      The committee said they had not found “conclusive evidence” that the agency was involved in pushbacks but concluded Frontex had failed to investigate such reports promptly. “As a result, Frontex did not prevent these violations, nor reduced the risk of future fundamental rights violations,” said the report.

      Strik said it was “pretty clear that [Frontex] were at least aware of what was going on” in the Aegean Sea. The agency’s investigations were “very superficial”, she said. “They asked for a response from the [Greek] government and when the government denied [pushbacks] the case was closed.”

      She said Frontex’s modus operandi was to rely on the word of the EU member state it was working with. “They end up asking the government, the host member state, and they almost always accept this response. Our conclusion is that Frontex did not fulfil its human rights obligations and therefore did not address and therefore did not prevent future violations.”

      The agency had repeatedly failed to respond to reports of rights violations from inside the organisation and external organisations, the MEPs said.

      The blame is placed largely on Leggeri, a former senior official in France’s interior ministry in charge of illegal migration, who has been the agency’s executive director since 2015. He has been singled out for criticism for shoring up his own power base within the agency, while failing to recruit all 40 fundamental rights monitors as required by EU law.

      MEPs found that Leggeri had appointed 63 staff to his private office, a number that far exceeds the average. By contrast, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has 30 staff in her private office. “We contrast that in the way he acts with the monitors, only delaying and undermining, yet he provides for an amazing number of staff measures for his own cabinet,” Strik said.

      The MEPs concluded that Leggeri had delayed the recruitment of three executive directors required under EU law that might have checked his power.

      “That results in a complete lack of checks and balances within the organisation and of course we blame the executive director for that, but also the management board because the management board is overall responsible for good governance in the organisation,” Strik said.

      EU member states, she said, needed to make sure their representatives on the Frontex management board had the required expertise in fundamental rights and a direct line to ministers.

      “One of the problems,” she said, was that Frontex was conceived as a security rather than a rights organisation. EU member states found the agency reassuring: “[They] talk about threats at the border. They always call for Frontex. Maybe as reassurance for their own population, ‘we have secured your borders and we have made you safe’.”

      She said there was a perception inside and outside the agency that upholding human rights was in conflict with border control. “Some of the actors still perceive that when you start acting on fundamental rights, then you become less effective on border control … [Frontex] needs to do both and it’s possible to do both at the same time, so it’s a non-discussion actually.”

      The Guardian has contacted Frontex for a response to the European parliament’s report. The agency has always denied any involvement or knowledge of illegal pushbacks.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/15/eu-border-agency-has-failed-to-protect-asylum-seekers-rights

    • Frontex wusste von Menschenrechtsverletzungen – und tat nichts

      Monatelang haben EU-Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier SPIEGEL-Enthüllungen zu illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen in der Ägäis untersucht. Der Bericht ist eine Abrechnung mit Frontex-Direktor Leggeri – er soll belastendes Material vernichtet haben.

      Monatelang haben EU-Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier SPIEGEL-Enthüllungen zu illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen in der Ägäis untersucht. Der Bericht ist eine Abrechnung mit Frontex-Direktor Leggeri – er soll belastendes Material vernichtet haben.

      Der europäischen Grenzschutzagentur Frontex lagen Beweise für mutmaßlich illegale Pushbacks durch griechische Grenzschützer vor, die Agentur hat es jedoch »versäumt, die Grundrechtsverletzungen anzusprechen und zu verhindern«. Das ist das Ergebnis einer monatelangen Untersuchung des Europaparlaments.

      Eine Prüfgruppe unter Beteiligung aller Fraktionen hat untersucht, was Frontex von den illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingsbooten in der Ägäis wusste – und ob Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri angemessen auf die Rechtsbrüche reagiert hat. Der Bericht der Arbeitsgruppe, den der SPIEGEL vorab einsehen konnte, liest sich wie eine Abrechnung mit Leggeri. Er zeichnet das Bild eines Direktors, der sich für die Einhaltung von Menschenrechten an den EU-Außengrenzen kaum interessiert und alles tut, um Verstöße zu vertuschen. Auf 17 Seiten listen die Abgeordneten seine Verfehlungen auf.

      Leggeri ignorierte sämtliche Hinweise

      Frontex habe öffentliche Berichte über Menschenrechtsverletzungen an den EU-Grenzen generell abgetan, heißt es im Report. Auch auf interne Informationen über mutmaßliche Rechtsbrüche habe die Agentur nicht angemessen reagiert. Leggeri ignoriere die Stellungnahmen und Anfragen seiner Grundrechtsbeauftragten und des sogenannten Konsultativforums. Diese sollen eigentlich dafür sorgen, dass die Agentur die Rechte von Asylsuchenden achtet.

      Trotz zahlreicher Berichte über mutmaßliche Rechtsbrüche in der Ägäis habe Leggeri nie umfassend erwogen, den Frontex-Einsatz zu beenden, oder überlegt, wie er die Menschenrechtsverletzungen verhindern könne. »Im Gegenteil, der Exekutivdirektor behauptet weiterhin, dass ihm keine Informationen über Grundrechtsverletzungen bekannt sind«, schreiben die Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier.

      Darüber hinaus habe Leggeri das Parlament lange Zeit nicht angemessen informiert. Bei seinen Auftritten im Ausschuss habe der Frontex-Direktor Informationen über einzelne Pushbacks verschwiegen. In mehreren Fällen seien Grenzbeamte davon abgebracht worden, Rechtsbrüche mittels eines sogenannten »Serious Incident Reports« an die Frontex-Führung zu melden. Selbst die Einstellung von 40 Grundrechtsbeobachtern, die die Grenzbeamten kontrollieren sollen, habe Leggeri erheblich verzögert. Sie seien noch immer nicht vollständig rekrutiert.

      Frontex machte sich bei Menschenrechtsverletzungen zum Komplizen

      Die Untersuchung des Europaparlaments ist eine Reaktion auf Enthüllungen des SPIEGEL. Gemeinsame Recherchen mit den Medienorganisationen Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat und dem ARD-Magazin »Report Mainz« zeigten, dass Frontex in der Ägäis in illegale Pushbacks verwickelt ist und sich bei griechischen Menschenrechtsverletzungen zum Komplizen gemacht hatte.

      Frontex-Beamte, darunter auch deutsche Bundespolizisten, stoppen in der Ägäis Flüchtlingsboote, bevor sie die griechischen Inseln erreichen, und übergeben sie an die griechische Küstenwache. Die Grenzschützer setzen die Geflüchteten anschließend systematisch auf dem Meer aus – entweder auf aufblasbaren Rettungsflößen oder auf Schlauchbooten, in denen sie den Motor entfernt haben. So stellen sie sicher, dass die Flüchtlinge nicht erneut griechische Gewässer erreichen können. Oft wenden die griechischen Beamten bei den Aktionen Gewalt an, stechen auf die Schlauchboote ein oder schießen ins Wasser. Bei mindestens sieben Fällen waren Frontex-Einheiten bei solchen Pushbacks in der Nähe oder in sie verstrickt.

      Pushbacks im Mittelmeer: Wie Frontex in Verbrechen verstrickt ist

      Griechische Grenzschützer schleppen Flüchtlinge systematisch aufs offene Meer zurück. Recherchen des SPIEGEL und seiner Partner zeigen, wie Frontex in die illegalen Operationen verwickelt ist. Sehen Sie hier den Film.

      In der Nacht vom 18. auf den 19. April zeichnete Frontex aus der Luft auf, wie die griechische Küstenwache Flüchtlinge auf ein Boot ohne Motor setzte und wegfuhr – ein klarer Rechtsverstoß, der die Menschen in Lebensgefahr brachte. Die Aufarbeitung des Pushbacks vom 18. April übernahm Leggeri persönlich. Dem Parlament verschwieg er den Pushback zunächst. Stattdessen stufte er den Vorfall nachträglich so ein, dass die Grundrechtsbeauftragte der Agentur fortan nicht mehr beteiligt war.

      Leggeri ließ offenbar belastendes Material vernichten

      Einer der brisantesten Vorwürfe im Bericht des Europaparlaments bezieht sich auf den Pushback in jener Nacht. Demnach wies Leggeri die Grundrechtsbeauftragte persönlich an, alle Informationen zu löschen, die sie zu dem Vorfall gesammelt hatte. Nach SPIEGEL-Informationen soll dies aus internen E-Mails hervorgehen, die die Abgeordneten einsehen konnten.

      https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/gefluechtete-in-griechenland-frontex-wusste-von-menschenrechtsverletzungen-u

  • UK Deportations 2020: how BA, #Easyjet and other airlines collaborate with the border regime

    The Home Office’s deportation machine has slowed during the corona crisis, with hundreds of people released from detention. But a recent charter flight to Poland shows the motor is still ticking over. Will things just go “back to normal” as the lockdown lifts, or can anti-deportation campaigners push for a more radical shift? This report gives an updated overview of the UK deportation system and focuses in on the role of scheduled flights run by major airlines including: #BA, Easyjet, #Kenya_Airways, #Qatar_Airways, #Turkish_Airlines, #Ethiopian_Airlines, #Air_France, #Royal_Jordanian, and #Virgin.

    On 30 April, with UK airports largely deserted during the Covid-19 lockdown, a Titan Airways charter plane took off from Stansted airport deporting 35 people to Poland. This was just a few days after reports of charter flights in the other direction, as UK farmers hired planes to bring in Eastern European fruit-pickers.

    The Home Office’s deportation machine has slowed during the corona crisis. Hundreds of people have been released from detention centres, with detainee numbers dropping by 900 over the first four months of 2020. But the Poland flight signals that the Home Office motor is still ticking over. As in other areas, perhaps the big question now is whether things will simply go “back to normal” as the lockdown lifts. Or can anti-deportation campaigners use this window to push for a more radical shift?
    An overview of the UK’s deportation machine

    Last year, the UK Home Office deported over seven thousand people. While the numbers of people “removed” have been falling for several years, deportation remains at the heart of the government’s strategy (if that is the term) for “tackling illegal immigration”. It is the ultimate threat behind workplace and dawn raids, rough-sleeper round-ups, “right to rent” checks, reporting centre queues, and other repressive architecture of the UK Border Regime.

    This report gives an overview of the current state of UK deportations, focusing on scheduled flights run by major airlines. Our previous reports on UK deportations have mainly looked at charter flights: where the Home Office aims to fill up chartered planes to particular destinations, under heavy guard and typically at night from undisclosed locations. These have been a key focus for anti-deportation campaigners for a number of reasons including their obvious brutality, and their use as a weapon to stifle legal and direct resistance. However, the majority of deportations are on scheduled flights. Deportees are sitting – at the back handcuffed to private security “escorts” – amongst business or holiday travellers.

    These deportations cannot take place without extensive collaboration from businesses. The security guards are provided by outsourcing company Mitie. The tickets are booked by business travel multinational Carlson Wagonlit. The airlines themselves are household names, from British Airways to Easyjet. This report explains how the Home Office and its private sector collaborators work together as a “deportation machine” held together by a range of contractual relationships.

    Some acknowledgements

    Many individuals and campaign groups helped with information used in this report. In particular, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants shared their valuable research and legal advice, discussed below.

    We have produced this report in collaboration with the Air Deportation Project led by William Walters at the University of Carleton in Canada, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Corporate Watch received funding from this project as a contribution for our work on this report.

    Names, numbers

    First a quick snapshot of deportation numbers, types and destinations. We also need to clear up some terminology.

    We will use the term “deportations” to refer to all cases where the Home Office moves someone out of the country under direct force (for scheduled flights, this usually means handcuffed to a security “escort”). In the Home Office’s own jargon, these are called “enforced returns”, and the word “deportation” is reserved for people ejected on “public policy” rather than “immigration” grounds – mostly Foreign National Offenders who have been convicted by criminal courts. The Home Office refers to deportations carried out under immigration law euphemistically, calling them “removals” or “returns”.i

    As well as “enforced returns”, there are also so-called “voluntary returns”. This means that there is no direct use of force – no guard, no leg or arm restraints. But the term “voluntary” is stretched. Many of these take place under threat of force: e.g., people are pressured to sign “voluntary return” agreements to avoid being forcibly deported, or as the only chance of being released from detention. In other cases, people may agree to “voluntary return” as the only escape route from a limbo of reporting controls, lack of rights to work or rent legally, or destitution threatened by “no recourse to public funds”.

    In 2019, the Home Office reported a total of 18,782 returns: 7,361 “enforced” and 11,421 “voluntary”.ii
    These figures include 5,110 “Foreign National Offenders” (27%). (The Home Office says the majority of these were enforced returns, although no precise figure is provided.)
    There is a notable trend of declining removals, both enforced and “voluntary”. For example, in 2015 there were 41,789 returns altogether, 13,690 enforced and 28,189 “voluntary”. Both enforced and voluntary figures have decreased every year since then.
    Another notable trend concerns the nationalities of deportees. Europeans make up an increasing proportion of enforced deportations. 3,498, or 48%, of all enforced returns in 2019 were EU citizens – and this does not include other heavily targeted non-EU European nationalities such as Albanians. In 2015, there were 3,848 EU enforced returns – a higher absolute figure, but only 28% of a much higher overall total. In contrast, EU nationals still make up a very small percentage of “voluntary” returns – there were only 107 EU “voluntary returns” in 2019.
    The top nationalities for enforced returns in 2019 were: Romania (18%), Albania (12%), Poland (9%), Brazil (8%) and Lithuania (6%). For voluntary returns they were: India (16%), China (9%), Pakistan (9%).

    We won’t present any analysis of these figures and trends here. The latest figures show continuing evidence of patterns we looked at in our book The UK Border Regime.iii One key point we made there was that, as the resources and physical force of the detention and deportation system are further diminished, the Border Regime is more than ever just a “spectacle” of immigration enforcement – a pose for media and key voter audiences, rather than a realistic attempt to control migration flows. We also looked at how the scapegoat groups targeted by this spectacle have shifted over recent decades – including, most recently, a new focus on European migration accompanying, or in fact anticipating, the Brexit debate.

    Deportation destinations

    Home Office Immigration Statistics also provide more detailed dataiv on the destinations people are “returned” to, which will be important when we come to look at routes and airline involvement. Note that, while there is a big overlap between destinations and nationalities, they are of course not the same thing. For example, many of those deported to France and other western European countries are “third country” removals of refugees under the Dublin agreement – in which governments can deport an asylum seeker where they have already been identified in another EU country.

    Here are the top 20 destinations for deportations in 2019 – by which, to repeat, we mean all enforced returns:

    It is worth comparing these figures with a similar table of top 20 deportation destinations in the last 10 years – between 2010 and 2019. This comparison shows very strongly the recent shift to targeting Europeans.

    The Home Office: who is targeted and how

    As we will see, the actual physical business of deporting people is outsourced to private companies. The state’s role remains giving the orders about who is targeted for arrest and detention, who is then released, and who is forced onto a plane. Here we’ll just take a very quick look at the decision-making structures at work on the government side. This is based on the much more detailed account in The UK Border Regime.

    The main state body responsible for immigration control in the UK is the Home Office, the equivalent of other countries’ Interior Ministries. In its current set-up, the Home Office has three divisions: Homeland Security, which runs security and intelligence services; Public Safety, which oversees the police and some other institutions; and Borders, Immigration and Citizenship. The last of these is further divided into three “directorates”: UK Visas and Immigration, which determines visa and asylum applications; Border Force, responsible for control at the frontiers; Immigration Enforcement, responsible for control within the national territory – including detention and deportations. Immigration Enforcement itself has an array of further departments and units. Regular restructuring and reshuffling of all these structures is known to bewilder immigration officers themselves, contributing to the Home Office’s notoriously low morale.v

    At the top of the tree is the Home Secretary (interior minister), supported by a more junior Immigration Minister. Along with the most senior civil servants and advisors, these ministers will be directly involved in setting top-level policies on deportations.

    For example, an enquiry led by then prisons and probation ombudsman Stephen Shaw into the Yarl’s Wood detention centre revolt in 2002 has given us some valuable insight into the development of modern Home Office deportation policy under the last Labour government. Then Home Secretary Jack Straw, working with civil servants including the Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Omand, introduced the first deportation targets we are aware of, in 2000. They agreed a plan to deport 12,000 people in 2000-1, rising to 30,000 people the next year, and eventually reaching 57,000 in 2003-4.vi

    Nearly two decades later, Home Secretary Amber Rudd was pushed to resign after a leak confirmed that the Home Office continued to operate a deportation targets policy, something of which she had denied knowledge.vii The 2017-18 target, revealed in a leaked letter to Rudd from Immigration Enforcement’s director general Hugh Ind, was for 12,800 enforced returns.viii

    As the figures discussed above show, recent austerity era Conservative governments are more modest than the last Labour government in their overall deportation targets, and have moved to target different groups. Jack Straw’s deportation programme was almost entirely focused on asylum seekers whose claims had been refused. This policy derived from what the Blair government saw as an urgent need to respond to media campaigns demonising asylum seekers. Twenty years on, asylum seekers now make up a minority of deportees, and have been overtaken by new media bogeymen including European migrants.

    In addition, recent Home Office policy has put more effort into promoting “voluntary” returns – largely for cost reasons, as security guards and detention are expensive. This was the official rationale behind Theresa May’s infamous “racist van” initiative, where advertising vans drove round migrant neighbourhoods parading “Go Home” slogans and a voluntary return hotline number.

    How do Home Office political targets translate into operations on the ground? We don’t know all the links, but can trace some main mechanisms. Enforced returns begin with arrests. One of the easiest ways to find potential deportees is to grab people as they walk in to sign at an Immigration Reporting Centre. 80,000 migrants in the UK are “subject to reporting requirements”, and all Reporting Centres include short-term holding cells.ix Other deportees are picked up during immigration raids – such as daytime and evening raids on workplaces, or dawn raids to catch “immigration offenders” in their beds.x

    Both reporting centre caseworkers and Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) raid squads are issued with targets and incentives to gather deportees. An Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) report from 2017 explains how reporting centre staff work specifically to deportation targets. The inspector also tells us how:

    Staff at the London Reporting Centres worked on the basis that to meet their removal targets they needed to detain twice the number of individuals, as around half of those detained would later raise a barrier to removal and be released from detention.

    ICE raid teams are set monthly priorities by national and regional commanders, which may include targeting specific nationalities for deportation. For example, the Home Office has repeatedly denied that it sets nationality targets in order to fill up charter flights to particular destinations – but this practice was explicitly confirmed by an internal document from 2014 (an audit report from the director of Harmondsworth detention centre) obtained by Corporate Watch following a Freedom of Information legal battle.xi

    Day-to-day deportation and detention decisions are overseen by a central unit called the National Removals Command (NRC). For example, after ICE raid officers make arrests they must call NRC to authorise individuals’ detention. This decision is made on the basis of any specific current targets, and otherwise on general “removability”.

    “Removability” means the chance of successfully getting their “subject” onto a plane without being blocked by lack of travel documents, legal challenges and appeals, or other obstacles. For example, nationals of countries with whom the UK has a formal deportation agreement are, all other things being equal, highly removable. This includes the countries with which the UK has set up regular charter flight routes – including Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana, and more recently Jamaica and a number of EU countries. On the other extreme, some nationalities such as Iranians present a problem as their governments refuse to accept deportees.

    The Home Office: “arranging removal” procedure

    A Home Office document called “Arranging Removal” sets out the steps Immigration Enforcement caseworkers need to take to steer their “subject” from arrest to flight.xii

    On the one hand, they are under pressure from penny-pinching bosses keen to get the job done as quick and cheap as possible. On the other, they have to be careful not to make any mistakes deportees’ lawyers could use to get flights cancelled. Immigration Officers have the legal power to order deportations without the need for any court decision – however, many deportations are blocked on appeal to courts.

    Here are some of the main steps involved:

    Removability assessment. The caseworker needs to assess that: there are no “casework barriers” – e.g., an ongoing asylum claim or appeal that would lead to the deportation being stopped by a court; the detainee is medically “fit to fly”; any family separation is authorised correctly; the detainee has a valid travel document.
    Travel Document. If there is no valid travel document, the caseworker can try to obtain an “emergency travel document” through various routes.
    Executive approval. If all these criteria are met, the caseworker gets authorisation from a senior office to issue Removal Directions (RD) paperwork.
    Risk Assessment. Once the deportation is agreed, the caseworker needs to assess risks that might present themselves on the day of the flight – such as medical conditions, the likelihood of detainee resistance and of public protest. At this point escorts and/or medics are requested. A version of this risk assessment is sent to the airline – but without case details or medical history.xiii
    Flight booking. The caseworker must first contact the Airline Ticketing Team who grant access to an online portal called the Electronic Removal Form (ERF). This portal is run by the Home Office’s flight booking contractor Carlson Wagonlit (see below). Tickets are booked for escorts and any medics as well as the deportee. There are different options including “lowest cost” non-refundable fares, or “fully refundable” – the caseworker here should assess how likely the deportation is to be cancelled. One of the options allows the caseworker to choose a specific airline.
    Notice of removal. Finally, the deportee must be served with a Removal Directions (RD) document that includes notification of the deportation destination and date. This usually also includes the flight number. The deportee must be given sufficient notice: for people already in detention this is standardly 72 hours, including two working days, although longer periods apply in some situations.

    In 2015 the Home Office brought in a new policy of issuing only “removal window” notification in many cases – this didn’t specify the date but only a wide timeframe. The window policy was successfully challenged in the courts in March 2019 and is currently suspended.

    #Carlson_Wagonlit

    The electronic booking system is run by a private company, #Carlson_Wagonlit_Travel (#CWT). CWT is also in charge of contracting charter flights.

    Carlson Wagonlit has been the Home Office’s deportation travel agent since 2004, with the contract renewed twice since then. Its current seven year contract, worth £5.7 million, began in November 2017 and will last until October 2024 (assuming the two year extension period is taken up after an initial five years). The Home Office estimated in the contract announcement that it will spend £200 million on deportation tickets and charters over that seven year period.xiv

    Carlson is a global #business travel services company, i.e., a large scale travel agent and booker for companies and government agencies. Its official head office is in France, but it is 100% owned by US conglomerate #Carlson_Companies Inc. It claims to be active in more than 150 countries.

    A report on “outsourced contracts” by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration gives us some information on CWT’s previous (2010-17) contract.xv This is unlikely to be substantially changed in the new version, although deportation numbers have reduced since then. The contract involved:

    management of charter flights and ticketing provision for scheduled flights for migrants subject to enforced removal and escorts, where required, and the management of relationships with carriers to maintain and expand available routes. […] Annually, CWT processed approximately 21,000 booking requests from Home Office caseworkers for tickets for enforced removals. Some booking requests were for multiple travellers and/or more than one flight and might involve several transactions. CWT also managed flight rescheduling, cancellations and refunds. The volume of transactions processed varied from 5,000 to 8,000 per month.

    The inspection report notes the value of CWT’s service to the Home Office through using its worldwide contacts to facilitate deportations:

    Both Home Office and CWT managers noted that CWT’s position as a major travel operator had enabled it to negotiate favourable deals with airlines and, over the life of the contract to increase the range of routes available for enforced removals. (Para 5.10).

    The airlines: regular deportation collaborators

    We saw above that Home Office caseworkers book flight tickets through an online portal set up and managed by Carlson Wagonlit Travel. We also saw how CWT is praised by Home Office managers for its strong relationships with airlines, and ability to negotiate favourable deals.

    For charter flight deportations, we know that CWT has developed a particular relationship with one charter company called Titan Airways. We have looked at Titan in our previous reports on charter flight deportations.

    Does the Home Office also have specific preferred airline partners for scheduled flights? Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy question to answer. Under government procurement rules, the Home Office is required to provide information on contracts it signs – thus, for example, we have at least a redacted version of the contract with CWT. But as all its airline bookings go through the intermediary of CWT, there are no such contracts available. Claiming “commercial confidentiality”, the Home Office has repeatedly information requests on its airline deals. (We will look in a bit more depth at this issue in the annex.)

    As a result, we have no centrally-gathered aggregate data on airline involvement. Our information comes from individual witnesses: deportees themselves; their lawyers and supporters; fellow passengers, and plane crew. Lawyers and support groups involved in deportation casework are a particularly helpful reference, as they may know about multiple deportation cases.

    For this report, we spoke to more than a dozen immigration lawyers and caseworkers to ask which airlines their clients had been booked on. We also spoke to anti-deportation campaign groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, who have run recent campaigns calling on airlines to refuse to fly deportees; and to the trade union Unite, who represent flight crew workers. We also looked at media reports of deportation flights that identify airlines.

    These sources name a large number of airlines, and some names come up repeatedly. British Airways is top of the list. We list a few more prominent collaborators below: Easyjet, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian. Virgin Airlines is the only company to have publicly announced it has stopped carrying deportees from the UK – although there have been some questions over whether it is keeping this promise.

    However, the information we have does not allow us to determine the exact nature of the relationship with these airlines. How many airlines appear in the CWT booking system – what determines which ones are included? Does CWT have a preferential arrangement with BA or other frequent deportation airlines? Does the Home Office itself have any direct interaction with these airlines’ management? How many airlines are not included in the CWT booking system because they have refused to carry deportees?

    For now, we have to leave these as open questions.

    British Airways

    We have numerous reports of British Airways flying deportees to destinations worldwide – including African and Caribbean destinations, amongst others. Cabin crew representatives in Unite the Union identify British Airways as the main airline they say is involved in deportation flights.

    The airline has long been a key Home Office collaborator. Back in 2003, at the height of the Labour government’s push to escalate deportations, the “escort” security contractor was a company called Loss Prevention International. In evidence to a report by the House of Commons home affairs committee, its chief executive Tom Davies complained that many airlines at this point were refusing to fly deportees. But he singled out BA as the notable exception, saying: “if it were not for […] the support we get from British Airways, the number of scheduled flight removals that we would achieve out of this country would be virtually nil”.xvi

    In 2010, British Airways’ role was highlighted when Jimmy Mubenga was killed by G4S “escorts” on BA flight 77 from Heathrow to Angola.

    Since 2018, there has been an active calling on BA to stop its collaboration. The profile of this issue was raised after BA sponsored Brighton Pride in May 2018 – whilst being involved in deportations of lesbian and gay migrants to African countries where their lives were in danger. After winning a promise from Virgin Airways to cease involvement in deportations (see below), the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) have made BA the main target for their anti-deportation campaigning.

    The campaign has also now been supported by BA cabin crew organised in the union Unite. In December 2019 Unite cabin crew branches passed a motion against airline scheduled flight deportations.xvii

    Kenya Airways

    We have numerous reports from caseworkers and campaigners of Kenya Airways flying deportees to destinations in Africa.

    The typical route is a flight from Heathrow to Nairobi, followed by a second onward flight. People deported using this route have included refugees from Sudan and Somalia.

    Easyjet

    We have numerous reports of Easyjet flying deportees to European destinations. Easyjet appears to be a favoured airline for deportations to Eastern European countries, and also for “third country” returns to countries including Italy and Germany. While most UK scheduled deportations are carried out from Heathrow and Gatwick, we have also seen accounts of Easyjet deportations from Luton.

    Qatar Airways

    We have numerous reports of Qatar Airways carrying deportees to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Qatar Airways has carried deportees to Iraq, according to the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), and also to Sudan. (In March 2019 the airline suspended its Sudan route, but this appears to have been restarted – the company website currently advertises flights to Khartoum in April 2020.xviii) Other destinations include Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, the Philippines, and Uganda. The typical route is from Heathrow via Doha.

    Turkish Airlines

    We have numerous reports of Turkish Airlines carrying deportees. The typical route is Heathrow or Gatwick to Istanbul, then an onward flight to further destinations including Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), Turkish Airlines has been one of the main companies involved in deportations to Iraq. A media report from June 2019 also mentions Turkish Airlines carrying someone being deported to Somalia via Istanbul.xix In August 2017, a Turkish Airlines pilot notably refused to fly an Afghani refugee from Heathrow to Istanbul, en route to Kabul, after being approached by campaigners – but this does not reflect general company policy.xx

    Ethiopian Airlines

    We have reports of this airline deporting people to Ethiopia and other African countries, including Sudan. Flights are from Heathrow to Addis Ababa. In April 2018, high-profile Yarl’s Wood hunger striker Opelo Kgari was booked on an Ethiopian flight to Addis Ababa en route to Botswana.

    Air France

    Air France are well-known for carrying deportees from France, and have been a major target for campaigning by anti-deportation activists there. We also have several reports of them carrying deportees from the UK, on flights from Heathrow via Paris.

    Royal Jordanian

    According to IFIR, Royal Jordanian has been involved in deportations to Iraq.

    Virgin Airlines

    In June 2018, Virgin announced that it had ceased taking bookings for deportation flights. Virgin had previously been a regular carrier for deportations to Jamaica and to Nigeria. (NB: Nigeria is often used as a deportation transit hub from where people are subsequently removed to other African countries.) The announcement came after the Windrush scandal led to the Home Office apparently suspending deportations to the Caribbean, and following campaigning by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) – although Virgin claimed it had made the decision before being contacted by the campaign. A Virgin statement said:

    we made the decision to end all involuntary deportations on our network, and have already informed the Home Office. We believe this decision is in the best interest of our customers and people, and is in keeping with our values as a company.xxi

    But there are doubts over just how much Virgin’s promise is worth. According to a report by The Independent:

    The airline had agreed to deport a man to Nigeria […] a day after announcing the decision. The only reason he wasn’t removed was because the Home Office agreed to consider new representations following legal intervention.xxii

    Do airlines have a choice?

    In response to its critics, British Airways has consistently given the same reply: it has no choice but to cooperate with the Home Office. According to an August 2018 article in The Guardian, BA says that it has “a legal duty under the Immigration Act 1971 to remove individuals when asked to do so by the Home Office.” A company spokesperson is quoted saying:

    Not fulfilling this obligation amounts to breaking the law. We are not given any personal information about the individual being deported, including their sexuality or why they are being deported. The process we follow is a full risk assessment with the Home Office, which considers the safety of the individual, our customers and crew on the flight.xxiii

    The last parts of this answer fit the process we looked at above. When booking the flight, the Home Office caseworker sends the airline a form called an Airline Risk Report (ARA) which alerts it to risk issues, and specifies why escorts or medics are needed – including an assessment of the likelihood of resistance. But no information should be shared on the deportee’s medical issues or immigration case and reasons for deportation.

    But is it true that an airline would be breaking the law if it refused a booking? Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants have shared with us a legal opinion they received from law firm Duncan Lewis on this issue. We summarise the main points here.

    The law in question is the Immigration Act 1971, Section 27(1)(b)(iii). This states that, when issued the correct legal order by the Home Office, the “owner or agent of a ship or aircraft” must “make arrangements for or in connection with the removal of a person from the United Kingdom when required to do so [by appropriate Removal Directions]”. It is an offence to fail to do so “without reasonable excuse”.

    The offence is punishable by a fine, and potentially a prison sentence of up to six months. As a minor “summary only” offence, any case would be heard by a magistrates’ court rather than a jury.

    In fact many airline captains have refused to carry deportees – as we will see in the next section. But there are no recorded cases of anyone ever being prosecuted for refusing. As with many areas of UK immigration law, there is simply no “case law” on this question.

    If a case ever does come to court, it might turn on that clause about a “reasonable excuse”. The legal opinion explains that the airline might argue they refused to carry a deportee because doing so would present a risk to the aircraft or passengers, for example if there is resistance or protest. A court might well conclude this was “reasonable”.

    On the other hand, the “reasonable excuse” defence could be harder to apply for an airline that took a principled stand to refuse all deportations as a general rule, whether or not there is disruption.

    Again, though, all this is hypothetical as the Home Office has never actually prosecuted anyone. Virgin Airlines, the first company to have publicly stated that it will not fly deportees from the UK, so far has not faced any legal comeback. As reported in the press, a Virgin spokesperson explained the company’s position like this:

    We’ve made the decision to end all involuntary deportations on our network, and have informed the Home Office. We always comply with the law and would continue to comply with legislation; however, we have ended our contractual agreement to carry involuntary deportees.xxiv

    Due to our lack of information on Home Office agreements with airlines, it’s hard to assess exactly what this means. Possibly, Virgin previously had an outstanding deal with the Home Office and Carlson Wagonlit where their tickets came up on the CWT booking portal and were available for caseworkers, and this has now ended. If the Home Office insisted on contacting them and booking a ticket regardless, they might then be pushed to “comply with the law”.

    Above we saw that, according to evidence referred to in a report of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, in 2003 the majority of airlines actually refused to carry deportees, leaving the Home Office to depend almost exclusively on British Airways. Even in this context there were no prosecutions of airlines.

    This is not an uncommon situation across UK immigration law: much of it has never come to court. For example, as we have discussed in reports on immigration raids, there have been no legal cases testing many of the powers of ICE raid squads. To give another example, on numerous occasions campaigners have obstructed buses taking detainees to charter flights without any prosecution – the Stansted 15 trial of protestors blocking a plane inside the airport was the first high-profile legal case following an anti-deportation action.

    Even if the government has a legal case for prosecuting airlines, this could be a highly controversial move politically. The Home Office generally prefers not to expose the violence of its immigration enforcement activities to the challenge of a public legal hearing.

    Resistance

    We want to conclude this report on an upbeat note. Deportations, and scheduled airline flights in particular, are a major site of struggle. Resistance is not just possible but widespread and often victorious. Thousands of people have managed to successfully stop their “removals” through various means, including the following:

    Legal challenges: a large number of flights are stopped because of court appeals and injunctions.
    Public campaigning: there is a strong tradition of anti-deportation campaigning in the UK, usually supporting individuals with media-focused and political activity. Common tactics include: media articles highlighting the individual’s case; enlisting MPs and appealing to ministers; petitions, letters of support; mass phone calls, emails, etc., to airlines; demos or leafletting at the airport targeting air crew and passengers.
    Solidarity action by passengers: in some high-profile cases, passengers have refused to take their seats until deportees are removed. This creates a safety situation for the airline which may often lead to the pilot ordering escorts to remove their prisoner.
    Direct action by detainees: many detainees have been able to get off flights by putting up a struggle. This may involve, for example: physically resisting escorts; taking off clothes; shouting and appealing to passengers and air crew for help. Unless the deportee is extremely strong physically, the balance of force is with the escorts – and sometimes this can be lethal, as in the case of Jimmy Mubenga. However, pilots may often order deportees off their plane in the case of disruption.

    There are many reports of successful resistance using one or more of these tactics. And we can also get some glimpses of their overall power from a few pieces of aggregate information.

    In a 2016 report, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration revealed one telling figure. Looking at the figures for six months over 2014-15, he found that “on average 2.5 tickets were issued for each individual successfully removed.”xxv Some of this can be put down to the notorious inefficiency of Home Office systems: the Inspection report looks at several kinds of coordination failures between Home Office caseworkers, the escort contractor (at that point a subsidiary of Capita), and Carlson Wagonlit.

    But this is not the biggest factor. In fact, the same report breaks down the reasons for cancellation for a sample of 136 tickets. 51% of the sampled cancellations were the result of legal challenges. 18% were because of “disruptive or non-compliant behaviour”. 2% (i.e., three cases) were ascribed to “airline refusal to carry”.

    Where there is resistance, there is also reaction. As we have discussed in previous reports, one of the main reasons prompting the development of charter flights was to counter resistance by isolating deportees from passengers and supporters. This was very clearly put in 2009 by David Wood, then strategic director of the UK Border Agency (Home Office), who explained that the charter flight programme is:

    “a response to the fact that some of those being deported realised that if they made a big enough fuss at the airport – if they took off their clothes, for instance, or started biting and spitting – they could delay the process. We found that pilots would then refuse to take the person on the grounds that other passengers would object.”xxvi

    For both deportees and supporters, charter flights are much harder to resist. But they are also very expensive; require specific diplomatic agreements with destination countries; and in some cases (Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka) have been blocked by legal and political means.xxvii The Home Office cannot avoid the use of scheduled flights for the majority of deportations, and it will continue to face resistance.

    –—
    Annex: issues with accessing airline information

    We will expand a bit here on the issues around obtaining information on the Home Office’s relationships with airlines.

    Under UK and EU public sector procurement rules, central government departments are obliged to publish announcements of all contracts valued over £10,000, including on the contractsfinder website. However, there is no publicly available information on any contracts between the Home Office and specific airlines. This is legally justifiable if the Home Office has no direct contractual agreements with airlines. It has a signed contract with Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), which is published in a redacted form; and CWT then makes arrangements with airlines on a per-ticket basis.

    The Home Office certainly has knowledge of all the tickets booked on its behalf by CWT – indeed, they are booked by its own employees through the CWT maintained portal. And so it certainly knows all the airlines working for it. But it has refused all requests for this information, using the excuse of “commercial confidentiality”.

    There have been numerous attempts to request information on deportation airlines using the Freedom of Information Act.xxviii All have been refused on similar grounds. To give one standard example, in December 2018 A. Liberadzki requested statistics for numbers of removals carried out by British Airways and other scheduled airlines. The response confirmed “that the Home Office holds the information that you have requested.” However, it argued that:

    “we have decided that the information is exempt from disclosure under sections 31(1)e and 43(2) of the FOIA. These provide that information can be withheld if its disclosure would have a detrimental effect on the Home Office and its ability to operate effective immigration controls by carrying out removals or would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any persons (including the public authority holding it).”

    In April 2019 Kate Osamor MP put similar questions to the Home Secretary in parliament.xxix She received the same reply to all her questions:

    “The Home Office does not disclose the details or values of its commercial contracts. Doing so could discourage companies from dealing with the Home Office.”

    Of course this answer is blatantly false – as we just saw, the Home Office is legally obliged to disclose values of commercial contracts over £10,000.

    https://corporatewatch.org/uk-deportations-2020-how-ba-easyjet-and-other-airlines-collaborate-w

    #rapport #corporate_watch #compagnies_aériennes #British_Airways #avions #renvois #expulsions #asile #migrations #déboutés #sans-papiers #UK #Home_Office #résistance #Jimmy_Mubenga

    ping @isskein @karine4 @reka

  • Black bloc contre blackrock Rue affre 2 - 19 Décembre 2019 - tgb
    https://rueaffre2.com

    Toute l’histoire du #macronisme et de son monde, pourrait pourri, tenir dans cet odieux personnage ordinaire. Laurent Pietraszewski. https://www.frustrationlarevue.fr/laurent-pietraszewski-ex-drh-dauchan-est-reste-fidele-a-son-ancie

    Non, rien de personnel, juste l’incarnation parfaite de la start up nation, le maître étalon du valet de pisse #corporate, trimbalant la banalité de son inhumanité au service du pognon.

    Une véritable métonymie. La partie pour le tout. Le petit contremaître s’élevant sur les faibles pour mieux nourrir la barbarie policée de l’entre soi collabo et du 1%.

    Vendu, acheté, du conflit d’intérêt plein les fouilles, du vote de loi accommodante sur commande et du remerciement à 71 872 € la gamelle.

    C’est donc un de ces DRH radical, exalté, amicalement nommé « le #nettoyeur » par ses anciens collègues de la cfdt (c’est dire) qui l’ont côtoyé dans le Nord-Pas-de-Calais, de ce genre de psychopathe lambda qui fit se défenestrer par dizaine les « inutiles » les « riens » ces épuisés de l’âme et du corps de chez France Telecom, de cet #intégriste du financier qui aime à s’engraisser opportunément sur les #licenciements à dividendes, à jouer de la variable d’ajustement humain, et qui toujours zélé, fusille pour l’exemple un de ces délégués syndical tout juste bon à la fraternité, quel ringard, pour une erreur de caisse de 80 centimes et un croissant offert.

    Toute la normalité « moderne » du salopard, du cadre sup de « l’entreprise France », de la supérette discount, sous larbin du larbin chef, PDG de que dalle mais liquidateur de tout, au profit du profit et qui au jour de l’hypothétique procès du Nuremberg entrepreneurial dira innocemment qu’il n’a fait qu’obéir aux ordres.

    A l’ordre. Au nouvel ordre mondial. Ce #chaos. Ce désordre ordonné.

    Ainsi vont les ministres de chez #Auchan, de chez #Danone, les premiers ministres de chez #Areva, les secrétaires d’état de chez #Véolia, tout à spéculer sur la fin des mondes et les morts de faim, ainsi vont les candidats à la mairie de Paris de chez Unibail-Rodamco… https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Le voici tout ce petit monde playmobil de la réforme régressive, du progrès en arrière, de l’intérêt perso à se gaver sur l’usure des autres, dans ce monde sans pitié qu’ils arborent en médaille, tout à dépecer le bien général, à imposer leur sous-culture dans la suffisance de soi et la culpabilisation de l’autre.

    Oui un de ces petits #kapo grossièrement notable et structurellement dégénéré https://twitter.com/OuestFrance/status/1207617189236412417
    qui offre « du matériel humain bon marché », https://blogs.mediapart.fr/jean-marc-b/blog/190917/lordon-vivre-et-penser-comme-des-drh
    à tâter du biceps d’esclave sur cv. Le type même du sale type, vrp de cette bourgeoisie vip, dans son obscurantisme normal, s’adonnant au mépris sans complexe ; https://www.huffingtonpost.fr/entry/darmanin-conseille-a-macron-de-sentourer-de-gens-qui-mangent-avec-les

    ce mépris si longtemps refoulé, qui enfin peut exprimer dans sa légitime #vulgarité, sa #novlangue en son vide et sa réduction des coûts : sociaux, écologiques, vitaux.

    Ces marchands de mort.
    Rien à espérer, rien à voter, rien à négocier, rien à discuter, rien à attendre du manageur à démanager à coups de marteau. Dans le remplacement du pire, trouvera t’on toujours pire, du pire commun, du pire motivé, du pire formaté, du pire fusible et jetable, pour un futur du pire, de pire en pire, au service de l’empire et du monstre tout économisé.

    Encore trop à perdre avant qu’ils aient tout. Jusqu’à payer le prix dérisoire des chemises déchirées et de l’adjuration publique à s’en excuser.

    Mais viendra, et il rôde, le plus rien à perdre du tout qui ne se contentera pas de régler le pressing mais y foutra le feu avec le beau linge dedans et ses calcifs douteux.
    Non pas de « win win », comme ils disent, entre deux #benchmarking de la gestion des troupes d’#open_space sur tableaux excel. On ne sera jamais deux à faire de bonnes affaires. Le caporal chef #Lallement en son ample casquette à pointe, à amplement raison : nous ne sommes pas du même camp.

    La barricade n’ayant que deux côtés ; black bloc contre blackrock https://www.cafedelabourse.com/blackrock-monstre-finance-geant-gestion-actifs
    Alors viendra vraiment l’esprit de #noël et ses guirlandes clignotantes de pantins effroyables accrochés aux branches des sapins.
    La peur est très bonne conseillère.

    tgb

    #Laurent_Pietraszewski

    • C’est tellement ça. Actuellement sur une refonte qui devait durer 3 mois maximum tel que planifié dans le contrat. Le client n’a rien fait pour son site depuis 8 mois malgré indications et conseils pour le soutenir dans sa réécriture. Son mail reçu hier pour demander ce qu’il doit faire en priorité me laisse bouche bée.
      #exploitation #travail_du_web

  • An engineer’s approach to growth hacking a corporate social network
    https://hackernoon.com/an-engineers-approach-to-growth-hacking-a-corporate-social-network-67273

    Why grow your Instagram followers when you have plenty of co-workers?Imagine you’re at a company with tens of thousands of employees. How do you reach out to all of them? BCC them on a mass email? Work with communications to send a newsletter?Nope; you become the influencer-equivalent of your corporate social network. ?Several years ago, the company I worked for brought a new social network tool called Jive into the company. While Jive is oriented more towards being a community platform rather than a documentation platform — unlike tools like MediaWiki or Confluence — it was able to do both.I spent a good amount of time over several years internally writing documents about cloud platforms, live blogging technology forums, posting videos and summaries of technical presentations, creating (...)

    #corporate-social-network #growth-hacking #corporate-culture #networking #social-media

  • 3 Ways to Save the #internet From Itself
    https://hackernoon.com/3-ways-to-save-the-internet-from-itself-e415ee3e76d?source=rss----3a8144

    The internet doesn’t have to be a corporate playground. That’s just the path we’ve chosen.As the U.S. (slowly) waves goodbye to net neutrality and Europe ushers in a new privacy age, now is the perfect time to check in on the health of our mutual best friend and everyday companion: the Internet. It was once Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars reference! Call me, Disney), meant to bring balance to the Force and be the great equaliser, voice for the voiceless, harbinger of democracy and the dissemination of ideas. It delivered on many of these promises, but is now seemingly having a period of teenage rebellion (or a Darth Vader moment): Facebook is spying on us, Democracy has lost its shine, and Jeff Bezos keeps trying to get inside my house. Is this the Internet’s future? Or could it get even (...)

    #corporate-playground #internet-from-itself #savetheinternet #net-neutrality

  • We’re On Our Way to a Future of #decentralized Organizations
    https://hackernoon.com/were-on-our-way-to-a-future-of-decentralized-organizations-46230576bc4b?

    image source: Marketing91The concept of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, more commonly known as a ‘DAO’ has been around since just after Bitcoin was released back in 2009.DAOs involve implementing specific, pre-programmed rules that describe what can happen in a system and enforce the rules specified through smart contracts.What Was The DAO?In 2016 an official attempt at creating a #dao was made. This organization was known simply as “The DAO”.The DAO officially launched on the 30th April 2016. By the 15th May 2016, it had already raised over $100m. By the end of the funding period, it had raised over $150m from a combined total of over 11,000 members. This was a far greater sum than its creators had anticipated.It worked by allowing participants to purchase DAO tokens, which they (...)

    #ethereum #corporate-structures #decentralized-org

  • Corporate Man’s Search for Meaning
    https://hackernoon.com/corporate-mans-search-for-meaning-b7e48f4e01ec?source=rss----3a8144eabfe

    Our hero awakes to the sound of tyrannical electronic bleeps and the crushing certainty of another day of wasted potential and squandered dreams. It’s a cruel sting of consciousness that can be soothed only by the escape of a fifteen-minute snooze.Getting out of bed is somehow an act of both great bravery and extreme cowardice. He is a dutiful slave, a good little boy with just enough mental strength to suppress his rage, numb his emotions and sustain this ‘normal’ existence.Another night of digital submersion had slipped by, our hero flooding his dopamine receptors until the early hours as he waded in shallow pixelated waters. The bleeps had awoken him two, perhaps three, hours earlier than is healthy from a deep slumber, his only respite from the misery of being. This was not a noble (...)

    #life-lessons #corporate-culture #corporate-man #work #search-for-meaning

  • Quand la BCE fait tourner sa planche à billets pour les multinationales et les énergies fossiles
    http://multinationales.org/Quand-la-BCE-fait-tourner-sa-planche-a-billets-pour-les-multination

    La liste des bénéficiaires du programme de rachat d’obligations d’entreprises initié en juin 2016 par la Banque centrale européenne est largement dominée par l’industrie pétrolière, suivie de près par les industries de l’automobile et des autoroutes, mais aussi du luxe, de l’armement et des casinos. C’est une nouvelle illustration de la manière dont les réponses apportées depuis 2008 par les pouvoirs publics à la crise économique et financière ont profité en priorité aux grands acteurs économiques et à la (...)

    Actualités

    / Corporate #Europe Observatory (CEO), Europe, #union_européenne, #financiarisation, #institutions_financières_internationales, #Énergies_fossiles, #Aides_publiques_et_subventions, #aides_publiques_et_subventions, #énergie, #changement_climatique, impact sur (...)

    #Corporate_Europe_Observatory_CEO_ #impact_sur_l'environnement
    « https://corporateeurope.org/economy-finance/2016/12/ecb-quantitative-easing-funds-multinationals-and-climate-change »
    « https://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/corporate_bonds_cspp_list.pdf »
    « https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/09/ecbs-quantitative-easing-programme-investing-billions-in-fossil-fuels »

  • The grapes of wrath
    http://africasacountry.com/2016/12/the-grapes-of-wrath

    “For me personally, it seems as if modern day slavery is practiced on many farms, and the farmworker is almost viewed as ‘the property’ of the employer.” These words are not mine, but those of a prominent member of the #Wine industry, and they represent the culmination of a long and arduous research into the […]

    #CULTURE #Corporate_Social_Responsibility #documentary #Film #labor #Labor_Pracitces #Media #South_Africa

  • #Corporate_Tax is a feminist matter
    http://africasacountry.com/2016/09/corporate-tax-is-a-feminist-matter

    CitiGroup, Coca Cola, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Verizon, Wal-Mart, Pfizer, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Microsoft; of all the things these multinational corporations (MNCs) agree on, two things stand out: a proclaimed devotion to the feminist agenda and a penchant for tax dodging. On the former, all MNC’s claim to dedicate some […]

    #IT'S_THE_ECONOMY #activism #development #economics #feminism #human_rights #NGOs #Tax_havens

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