• Friends of the Traffickers Italy’s Anti-Mafia Directorate and the “Dirty Campaign” to Criminalize Migration

    Afana Dieudonne often says that he is not a superhero. That’s Dieudonne’s way of saying he’s done things he’s not proud of — just like anyone in his situation would, he says, in order to survive. From his home in Cameroon to Tunisia by air, then by car and foot into the desert, across the border into Libya, and onto a rubber boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Dieudonne has done a lot of surviving.

    In Libya, Dieudonne remembers when the smugglers managing the safe house would ask him for favors. Dieudonne spoke a little English and didn’t want trouble. He said the smugglers were often high and always armed. Sometimes, when asked, Dieudonne would distribute food and water among the other migrants. Other times, he would inform on those who didn’t follow orders. He remembers the traffickers forcing him to inflict violence on his peers. It was either them or him, he reasoned.

    On September 30, 2014, the smugglers pushed Dieudonne and 91 others out to sea aboard a rubber boat. Buzzing through the pitch-black night, the group watched lights on the Libyan coast fade into darkness. After a day at sea, the overcrowded dinghy began taking on water. Its passengers were rescued by an NGO vessel and transferred to an Italian coast guard ship, where officers picked Dieudonne out of a crowd and led him into a room for questioning.

    At first, Dieudonne remembers the questioning to be quick, almost routine. His name, his age, his nationality. And then the questions turned: The officers said they wanted to know how the trafficking worked in Libya so they could arrest the people involved. They wanted to know who had driven the rubber boat and who had held the navigation compass.

    “So I explained everything to them, and I also showed who the ‘captain’ was — captain in quotes, because there is no captain,” said Dieudonne. The real traffickers stay in Libya, he added. “Even those who find themselves to be captains, they don’t do it by choice.”

    For the smugglers, Dieudonne explained, “we are the customers, and we are the goods.”

    For years, efforts by the Italian government and the European Union to address migration in the central Mediterranean have focused on the people in Libya — interchangeably called facilitators, smugglers, traffickers, or militia members, depending on which agency you’re speaking to — whose livelihoods come from helping others cross irregularly into Europe. People pay them a fare to organize a journey so dangerous it has taken tens of thousands of lives.

    The European effort to dismantle these smuggling networks has been driven by an unlikely actor: the Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism directorate, a niche police office in Rome that gained respect in the 1990s and early 2000s for dismantling large parts of the Mafia in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy. According to previously unpublished internal documents, the office — called the Direzione nazionale antimafia e antiterrorismo, or DNAA, in Italian — took a front-and-center role in the management of Europe’s southern sea borders, in direct coordination with the EU border agency Frontex and European military missions operating off the Libyan coast.

    In 2013, under the leadership of a longtime anti-mafia prosecutor named Franco Roberti, the directorate pioneered a strategy that was unique — or at least new for the border officers involved. They would start handling irregular migration to Europe like they had handled the mob. The approach would allow Italian and European police, coast guard agencies, and navies, obliged by international law to rescue stranded refugees at sea, to at least get some arrests and convictions along the way.

    The idea was to arrest low-level operators and use coercion and plea deals to get them to flip on their superiors. That way, the reasoning went, police investigators could work their way up the food chain and eventually dismantle the smuggling rings in Libya. With every boat that disembarked in Italy, police would make a handful of arrests. Anybody found to have played an active role during the crossing, from piloting to holding a compass to distributing water or bailing out a leak, could be arrested under a new legal directive written by Roberti’s anti-mafia directorate. Charges ranged from simple smuggling to transnational criminal conspiracy and — if people asphyxiated below deck or drowned when a boat capsized — even murder. Judicial sources estimate the number of people arrested since 2013 to be in the thousands.

    For the police, prosecutors, and politicians involved, the arrests were an important domestic political win. At the time, public opinion in Italy was turning against migration, and the mugshots of alleged smugglers regularly held space on front pages throughout the country.

    But according to the minutes of closed-door conversations among some of the very same actors directing these cases, which were obtained by The Intercept under Italy’s freedom of information law, most anti-mafia prosecutions only focused on low-level boat drivers, often migrants who had themselves paid for the trip across. Few, if any, smuggling bosses were ever convicted. Documents of over a dozen trials reviewed by The Intercept show prosecutions built on hasty investigations and coercive interrogations.

    In the years that followed, the anti-mafia directorate went to great lengths to keep the arrests coming. According to the internal documents, the office coordinated a series of criminal investigations into the civilian rescue NGOs working to save lives in the Mediterranean, accusing them of hampering police work. It also oversaw efforts to create and train a new coast guard in Libya, with full knowledge that some coast guard officers were colluding with the same smuggling networks that Italian and European leaders were supposed to be fighting.

    Since its inception, the anti-mafia directorate has wielded unparalleled investigative tools and served as a bridge between politicians and the courts. The documents reveal in meticulous detail how the agency, alongside Italian and European officials, capitalized on those powers to crack down on alleged smugglers, most of whom they knew to be desperate people fleeing poverty and violence with limited resources to defend themselves in court.

    Tragedy and Opportunity

    The anti-mafia directorate was born in the early 1990s after a decade of escalating Mafia violence. By then, hundreds of prosecutors, politicians, journalists, and police officers had been shot, blown up, or kidnapped, and many more extorted by organized crime families operating in Italy and beyond.

    In Palermo, the Sicilian capital, prosecutor Giovanni Falcone was a rising star in the Italian judiciary. Falcone had won unprecedented success with an approach to organized crime based on tracking financial flows, seizing assets, and centralizing evidence gathered by prosecutor’s offices across the island.

    But as the Mafia expanded its reach into the rest of Europe, Falcone’s work proved insufficient.

    In September 1990, a Mafia commando drove from Germany to Sicily to gun down a 37-year-old judge. Weeks later, at a police checkpoint in Naples, the Sicilian driver of a truck loaded with weapons, explosives, and drugs was found to be a resident of Germany. A month after the arrests, Falcone traveled to Germany to establish an information-sharing mechanism with authorities there. He brought along a younger colleague from Naples, Franco Roberti.

    “We faced a stone wall,” recalled Roberti, still bitter three decades later. He spoke to us outside a cafe in a plum neighborhood in Naples. Seventy-three years old and speaking with the rasp of a lifelong smoker, Roberti described Italy’s Mafia problem in blunt language. He bemoaned a lack of international cooperation that, he said, continues to this day. “They claimed that there was no need to investigate there,” Roberti said, “that it was up to us to investigate Italians in Germany who were occasional mafiosi.”

    As the prosecutors traveled back to Italy empty-handed, Roberti remembers Falcone telling him that they needed “a centralized national organ able to speak directly to foreign judicial authorities and coordinate investigations in Italy.”

    “That is how the idea of the anti-mafia directorate was born,” Roberti said. The two began building what would become Italy’s first national anti-mafia force.

    At the time, there was tough resistance to the project. Critics argued that Falcone and Roberti were creating “super-prosecutors” who would wield outsize powers over the courts, while also being subject to political pressures from the government in Rome. It was, they argued, a marriage of police and the judiciary, political interests and supposedly apolitical courts — convenient for getting Mafia convictions but dangerous for Italian democracy.

    Still, in January 1992, the project was approved in Parliament. But Falcone would never get to lead it: Months later, a bomb set by the Mafia killed him, his wife, and the three agents escorting them. The attack put to rest any remaining criticism of Falcone’s plan.

    The anti-mafia directorate went on to become one of Italy’s most important institutions, the national authority over all matters concerning organized crime and the agency responsible for partially freeing the country from its century-old crucible. In the decades after Falcone’s death, the directorate did what many in Italy thought impossible, dismantling large parts of the five main Italian crime families and almost halving the Mafia-related murder rate.

    And yet, by the time Roberti took control in 2013, it had been years since the last high-profile Mafia prosecution, and the organization’s influence was waning. At the same time, Italy was facing unprecedented numbers of migrants arriving by boat. Roberti had an idea: The anti-mafia directorate would start working on what he saw as a different kind of mafia. The organization set its sights on Libya.

    “We thought we had to do something more coordinated to combat this trafficking,” Roberti remembered, “so I put everyone around a table.”

    “The main objective was to save lives, seize ships, and capture smugglers,” Roberti said. “Which we did.”

    Our Sea

    Dieudonne made it to the Libyan port city of Zuwara in August 2014. One more step across the Mediterranean, and he’d be in Europe. The smugglers he paid to get him across the sea took all of his possessions and put him in an abandoned building that served as a safe house to wait for his turn.

    Dieudonne told his story from a small office in Bari, Italy, where he runs a cooperative that helps recent arrivals access local education. Dieudonne is fiery and charismatic. He is constantly moving: speaking, texting, calling, gesticulating. Every time he makes a point, he raps his knuckles on the table in a one-two pattern. Dieudonne insisted that we publish his real name. Others who made the journey more recently — still pending decisions on their residence permits or refugee status — were less willing to speak openly.

    Dieudonne remembers the safe house in Zuwara as a string of constant violence. The smugglers would come once a day to leave food. Every day, they would ask who hadn’t followed their orders. Those inside the abandoned building knew they were less likely to be discovered by police or rival smugglers, but at the same time, they were not free to leave.

    “They’ve put a guy in the refrigerator in front of all of us, to show how the next one who misbehaves will be treated,” Dieudonne remembered, indignant. He witnessed torture, shootings, rape. “The first time you see it, it hurts you. The second time it hurts you less. The third time,” he said with a shrug, “it becomes normal. Because that’s the only way to survive.”

    “That’s why arresting the person who pilots a boat and treating them like a trafficker makes me laugh,” Dieudonne said. Others who have made the journey to Italy report having been forced to drive at gunpoint. “You only do it to be sure you don’t die there,” he said.

    Two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s government, much of Libya’s northwest coast had become a staging ground for smugglers who organized sea crossings to Europe in large wooden fishing boats. When those ships — overcrowded, underpowered, and piloted by amateurs — inevitably capsized, the deaths were counted by the hundreds.

    In October 2013, two shipwrecks off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa took over 400 lives, sparking public outcry across Europe. In response, the Italian state mobilized two plans, one public and the other private.

    “There was a big shock when the Lampedusa tragedy happened,” remembered Italian Sen. Emma Bonino, then the country’s foreign minister. The prime minister “called an emergency meeting, and we decided to immediately launch this rescue program,” Bonino said. “Someone wanted to call the program ‘safe seas.’ I said no, not safe, because it’s sure we’ll have other tragedies. So let’s call it Mare Nostrum.”

    Mare Nostrum — “our sea” in Latin — was a rescue mission in international waters off the coast of Libya that ran for one year and rescued more than 150,000 people. The operation also brought Italian ships, airplanes, and submarines closer than ever to Libyan shores. Roberti, just two months into his job as head of the anti-mafia directorate, saw an opportunity to extend the country’s judicial reach and inflict a lethal blow to smuggling rings in Libya.

    Five days after the start of Mare Nostrum, Roberti launched the private plan: a series of coordination meetings among the highest echelons of the Italian police, navy, coast guard, and judiciary. Under Roberti, these meetings would run for four years and eventually involve representatives from Frontex, Europol, an EU military operation, and even Libya.

    The minutes of five of these meetings, which were presented by Roberti in a committee of the Italian Parliament and obtained by The Intercept, give an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the events on Europe’s southern borders since the Lampedusa shipwrecks.

    In the first meeting, held in October 2013, Roberti told participants that the anti-mafia offices in the Sicilian city of Catania had developed an innovative way to deal with migrant smuggling. By treating Libyan smugglers like they had treated the Italian Mafia, prosecutors could claim jurisdiction over international waters far beyond Italy’s borders. That, Roberti said, meant they could lawfully board and seize vessels on the high seas, conduct investigations there, and use the evidence in court.

    The Italian authorities have long recognized that, per international maritime law, they are obligated to rescue people fleeing Libya on overcrowded boats and transport them to a place of safety. As the number of people attempting the crossing increased, many Italian prosecutors and coast guard officials came to believe that smugglers were relying on these rescues to make their business model work; therefore, the anti-mafia reasoning went, anyone who acted as crew or made a distress call on a boat carrying migrants could be considered complicit in Libyan trafficking and subject to Italian jurisdiction. This new approach drew heavily from legal doctrines developed in the United States during the 1980s aimed at stopping drug smuggling.

    European leaders were scrambling to find a solution to what they saw as a looming migration crisis. Italian officials thought they had the answer and publicly justified their decisions as a way to prevent future drownings.

    But according to the minutes of the 2013 anti-mafia meeting, the new strategy predated the Lampedusa shipwrecks by at least a week. Sicilian prosecutors had already written the plan to crack down on migration across the Mediterranean but lacked both the tools and public will to put it into action. Following the Lampedusa tragedy and the creation of Mare Nostrum, they suddenly had both.

    State of Necessity

    In the international waters off the coast of Libya, Dieudonne and 91 others were rescued by a European NGO called Migrant Offshore Aid Station. They spent two days aboard MOAS’s ship before being transferred to an Italian coast guard ship, Nave Dattilo, to be taken to Europe.

    Aboard the Dattilo, coast guard officers asked Dieudonne why he had left his home in Cameroon. He remembers them showing him a photograph of the rubber boat taken from the air. “They asked me who was driving, the roles and everything,” he remembered. “Then they asked me if I could tell him how the trafficking in Libya works, and then, they said, they would give me residence documents.”

    Dieudonne said that he was reluctant to cooperate at first. He didn’t want to accuse any of his peers, but he was also concerned that he could become a suspect. After all, he had helped the driver at points throughout the voyage.

    “I thought that if I didn’t cooperate, they might hurt me,” Dieudonne said. “Not physically hurt, but they could consider me dishonest, like someone who was part of the trafficking.”

    To this day, Dieudonne says he can’t understand why Italy would punish people for fleeing poverty and political violence in West Africa. He rattled off a list of events from the last year alone: draught, famine, corruption, armed gunmen, attacks on schools. “And you try to convict someone for managing to escape that situation?”

    The coast guard ship disembarked in Vibo Valentia, a city in the Italian region of Calabria. During disembarkation, a local police officer explained to a journalist that they had arrested five people. The journalist asked how the police had identified the accused.

    “A lot has been done by the coast guard, who picked [the migrants] up two days ago and managed to spot [the alleged smugglers],” the officer explained. “Then we have witness statements and videos.”

    Cases like these, where arrests are made on the basis of photo or video evidence and statements by witnesses like Dieudonne, are common, said Gigi Modica, a judge in Sicily who has heard many immigration and asylum cases. “It’s usually the same story. They take three or four people, no more. They ask them two questions: who was driving the boat, and who was holding the compass,” Modica explained. “That’s it — they get the names and don’t care about the rest.”

    Modica was one of the first judges in Italy to acquit people charged for driving rubber boats — known as “scafisti,” or boat drivers, in Italian — on the grounds that they had been forced to do so. These “state of necessity” rulings have since become increasingly common. Modica rattled off a list of irregularities he’s seen in such cases: systemic racism, witness statements that migrants later say they didn’t make, interrogations with no translator or lawyer, and in some cases, people who report being encouraged by police to sign documents renouncing their right to apply for asylum.

    “So often these alleged smugglers — scafisti — are normal people who were compelled to pilot a boat by smugglers in Libya,” Modica said.

    Documents of over a dozen trials reviewed by The Intercept show prosecutions largely built on testimony from migrants who are promised a residence permit in exchange for their collaboration. At sea, witnesses are interviewed by the police hours after their rescue, often still in a state of shock after surviving a shipwreck.

    In many cases, identical statements, typos included, are attributed to several witnesses and copied and pasted across different police reports. Sometimes, these reports have been enough to secure decadeslong sentences. Other times, under cross-examination in court, witnesses have contradicted the statements recorded by police or denied giving any testimony at all.

    As early as 2015, attendees of the anti-mafia meetings were discussing problems with these prosecutions. In a meeting that February, Giovanni Salvi, then the prosecutor of Catania, acknowledged that smugglers often abandoned migrant boats in international waters. Still, Italian police were steaming ahead with the prosecutions of those left on board.

    These prosecutions were so important that in some cases, the Italian coast guard decided to delay rescue when boats were in distress in order to “allow for the arrival of institutional ships that can conduct arrests,” a coast guard commander explained at the meeting.

    When asked about the commander’s comments, the Italian coast guard said that “on no occasion” has the agency ever delayed a rescue operation. Delaying rescue for any reason goes against international and Italian law, and according to various human rights lawyers in Europe, could give rise to criminal liability.

    NGOs in the Crosshairs

    Italy canceled Mare Nostrum after one year, citing budget constraints and a lack of European collaboration. In its wake, the EU set up two new operations, one via Frontex and the other a military effort called Operation Sophia. These operations focused not on humanitarian rescue but on border security and people smuggling from Libya. Beginning in 2015, representatives from Frontex and Operation Sophia were included in the anti-mafia directorate meetings, where Italian prosecutors ensured that both abided by the new investigative strategy.

    Key to these investigations were photos from the rescues, like the aerial image that Dieudonne remembers the Italian coast guard showing him, which gave police another way to identify who piloted the boats and helped navigate.

    In the absence of government rescue ships, a fleet of civilian NGO vessels began taking on a large number of rescues in the international waters off the coast of Libya. These ships, while coordinated by the Italian coast guard rescue center in Rome, made evidence-gathering difficult for prosecutors and judicial police. According to the anti-mafia meeting minutes, some NGOs, including MOAS, routinely gave photos to Italian police and Frontex. Others refused, arguing that providing evidence for investigations into the people they saved would undermine their efficacy and neutrality.

    In the years following Mare Nostrum, the NGO fleet would come to account for more than one-third of all rescues in the central Mediterranean, according to estimates by Operation Sophia. A leaked status report from the operation noted that because NGOs did not collect information from rescued migrants for police, “information essential to enhance the understanding of the smuggling business model is not acquired.”

    In a subsequent anti-mafia meeting, six prosecutors echoed this concern. NGO rescues meant that police couldn’t interview migrants at sea, they said, and cases were getting thrown out for lack of evidence. A coast guard admiral explained the importance of conducting interviews just after a rescue, when “a moment of empathy has been established.”

    “It is not possible to carry out this task if the rescue intervention is carried out by ships of the NGOs,” the admiral told the group.

    The NGOs were causing problems for the DNAA strategy. At the meetings, Italian prosecutors and representatives from the coast guard, navy, and Interior Ministry discussed what they could do to rein in the humanitarian organizations. At the same time, various prosecutors were separately fixing their investigative sights on the NGOs themselves.

    In late 2016, an internal report from Frontex — later published in full by The Intercept — accused an NGO vessel of directly receiving migrants from Libyan smugglers, attributing the information to “Italian authorities.” The claim was contradicted by video evidence and the ship’s crew.

    Months later, Carmelo Zuccaro, the prosecutor of Catania, made public that he was investigating rescue NGOs. “Together with Frontex and the navy, we are trying to monitor all these NGOs that have shown that they have great financial resources,” Zuccaro told an Italian newspaper. The claim went viral in Italian and European media. “Friends of the traffickers” and “migrant taxi service” became common slurs used toward humanitarian NGOs by anti-immigration politicians and the Italian far right.

    Zuccaro would eventually walk back his claims, telling a parliamentary committee that he was working off a hypothesis at the time and had no evidence to back it up.

    In an interview with a German newspaper in February 2017, the director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, refrained from explicitly criticizing the work of rescue NGOs but did say they were hampering police investigations in the Mediterranean. As aid organizations assumed a larger percentage of rescues, Leggeri said, “it is becoming more difficult for the European security authorities to find out more about the smuggling networks through interviews with migrants.”

    “That smear campaign was very, very deep,” remembered Bonino, the former foreign minister. Referring to Marco Minniti, Italy’s interior minister at the time, she added, “I was trying to push Minniti not to be so obsessed with people coming, but to make a policy of integration in Italy. But he only focused on Libya and smuggling and criminalizing NGOs with the help of prosecutors.”

    Bonino explained that the action against NGOs was part of a larger plan to change European policy in the central Mediterranean. The first step was the shift away from humanitarian rescue and toward border security and smuggling. The second step “was blaming the NGOs or arresting them, a sort of dirty campaign against them,” she said. “The results of which after so many years have been no convictions, no penalties, no trials.”

    Finally, the third step was to build a new coast guard in Libya to do what the Europeans couldn’t, per international law: intercept people at sea and bring them back to Libya, the country from which they had just fled.

    At first, leaders at Frontex were cautious. “From Frontex’s point of view, we look at Libya with concern; there is no stable state there,” Leggeri said in the 2017 interview. “We are now helping to train 60 officers for a possible future Libyan coast guard. But this is at best a beginning.”

    Bonino saw this effort differently. “They started providing support for their so-called coast guard,” she said, “which were the same traffickers changing coats.”
    Rescued migrants disembarking from a Libyan coast guard ship in the town of Khoms, a town 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital on October 1, 2019.

    Same Uniforms, Same Ships

    Safe on land in Italy, Dieudonne was never called to testify in court. He hopes that none of his peers ended up in prison but said he would gladly testify against the traffickers if called. Aboard the coast guard ship, he remembers, “I gave the police contact information for the traffickers, I gave them names.”

    The smuggling operations in Libya happened out in the open, but Italian police could only go as far as international waters. Leaked documents from Operation Sophia describe years of efforts by European officials to get Libyan police to arrest smugglers. Behind closed doors, top Italian and EU officials admitted that these same smugglers were intertwined with the new Libyan coast guard that Europe was creating and that working with them would likely go against international law.

    As early as 2015, multiple officials at the anti-mafia meetings noted that some smugglers were uncomfortably close to members of the Libyan government. “Militias use the same uniforms and the same ships as the Libyan coast guard that the Italian navy itself is training,” Rear Adm. Enrico Credendino, then in charge of Operation Sophia, said in 2017. The head of the Libyan coast guard and the Libyan minister of defense, both allies of the Italian government, Credendino added, “have close relationships with some militia bosses.”

    One of the Libyan coast guard officers playing both sides was Abd al-Rahman Milad, also known as Bija. In 2019, the Italian newspaper Avvenire revealed that Bija participated in a May 2017 meeting in Sicily, alongside Italian border police and intelligence officials, that was aimed at stemming migration from Libya. A month later, he was condemned by the U.N. Security Council for his role as a top member of a powerful trafficking militia in the coastal town of Zawiya, and for, as the U.N. put it, “sinking migrant boats using firearms.”

    According to leaked documents from Operation Sophia, coast guard officers under Bija’s command were trained by the EU between 2016 and 2018.

    While the Italian government was prosecuting supposed smugglers in Italy, they were also working with people they knew to be smugglers in Libya. Minniti, Italy’s then-interior minister, justified the deals his government was making in Libya by saying that the prospect of mass migration from Africa made him “fear for the well-being of Italian democracy.”

    In one of the 2017 anti-mafia meetings, a representative of the Interior Ministry, Vittorio Pisani, outlined in clear terms a plan that provided for the direct coordination of the new Libyan coast guard. They would create “an operation room in Libya for the exchange of information with the Interior Ministry,” Pisani explained, “mainly on the position of NGO ships and their rescue operations, in order to employ the Libyan coast guard in its national waters.”

    And with that, the third step of the plan was set in motion. At the end of the meeting, Roberti suggested that the group invite representatives from the Libyan police to their next meeting. In an interview with The Intercept, Roberti confirmed that Libyan representatives attended at least two anti-mafia meetings and that he himself met Bija at a meeting in Libya, one month after the U.N. Security Council report was published. The following year, the Security Council committee on Libya sanctioned Bija, freezing his assets and banning him from international travel.

    “We needed to have the participation of Libyan institutions. But they did nothing, because they were taking money from the traffickers,” Roberti told us from the cafe in Naples. “They themselves were the traffickers.”
    A Place of Safety

    Roberti retired from the anti-mafia directorate in 2017. He said that under his leadership, the organization was able to create a basis for handling migration throughout Europe. Still, Roberti admits that his expansion of the DNAA into migration issues has had mixed results. Like his trip to Germany in the ’90s with Giovanni Falcone, Roberti said the anti-mafia strategy faltered because of a lack of collaboration: with the NGOs, with other European governments, and with Libya.

    “On a European level, the cooperation does not work,” Roberti said. Regarding Libya, he added, “We tried — I believe it was right, the agreements [the government] made. But it turned out to be a failure in the end.”

    The DNAA has since expanded its operations. Between 2017 and 2019, the Italian government passed two bills that put the anti-mafia directorate in charge of virtually all illegal immigration matters. Since 2017, five Sicilian prosecutors, all of whom attended at least one anti-mafia coordination meeting, have initiated 15 separate legal proceedings against humanitarian NGO workers. So far there have been no convictions: Three cases have been thrown out in court, and the rest are ongoing.

    Earlier this month, news broke that Sicilian prosecutors had wiretapped journalists and human rights lawyers as part of one of these investigations, listening in on legally protected conversations with sources and clients. The Italian justice ministry has opened an investigation into the incident, which could amount to criminal behavior, according to Italian legal experts. The prosecutor who approved the wiretaps attended at least one DNAA coordination meeting, where investigations against NGOs were discussed at length.

    As the DNAA has extended its reach, key actors from the anti-mafia coordination meetings have risen through the ranks of Italian and European institutions. One prosecutor, Federico Cafiero de Raho, now runs the anti-mafia directorate. Salvi, the former prosecutor of Catania, is the equivalent of Italy’s attorney general. Pisani, the former Interior Ministry representative, is deputy head of the Italian intelligence services. And Roberti is a member of the European Parliament.

    Cafiero de Raho stands by the investigations and arrests that the anti-mafia directorate has made over the years. He said the coordination meetings were an essential tool for prosecutors and police during difficult times.

    When asked about his specific comments during the meetings — particularly statements that humanitarian NGOs needed to be regulated and multiple admissions that members of the new Libyan coast guard were involved in smuggling activities — Cafiero de Raho said that his remarks should be placed in context, a time when Italy and the EU were working to build a coast guard in a part of Libya that was largely ruled by local militias. He said his ultimate goal was what, in the DNAA coordination meetings, he called the “extrajudicial solution”: attempts to prove the existence of crimes against humanity in Libya so that “the United Nation sends troops to Libya to dismantle migrants camps set up by traffickers … and retake control of that territory.”

    A spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy arm, which ran Operation Sophia, refused to directly address evidence that leaders of the European military operation knew that parts of the new Libyan coast guard were also involved in smuggling activities, only noting that Bija himself wasn’t trained by the EU. A Frontex spokesperson stated that the agency “was not involved in the selection of officers to be trained.”

    In 2019, the European migration strategy changed again. Now, the vast majority of departures are intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and brought back to Libya. In March of that year, Operation Sophia removed all of its ships from the rescue area and has since focused on using aerial patrols to direct and coordinate the Libyan coast guard. Human rights lawyers in Europe have filed six legal actions against Italy and the EU as a result, calling the practice refoulement by proxy: facilitating the return of migrants to dangerous circumstances in violation of international law.

    Indeed, throughout four years of coordination meetings, Italy and the EU were admitting privately that returning people to Libya would be illegal. “Fundamental human rights violations in Libya make it impossible to push migrants back to the Libyan coast,” Pisani explained in 2015. Two years later, he outlined the beginnings of a plan that would do exactly that.

    The Result of Mere Chance

    Dieudonne knows he was lucky. The line that separates suspect and victim can be entirely up to police officers’ first impressions in the minutes or hours following a rescue. According to police reports used in prosecutions, physical attributes like having “a clearer skin tone” or behavior aboard the ship, including scrutinizing police movements “with strange interest,” were enough to rouse suspicion.

    In a 2019 ruling that acquitted seven alleged smugglers after three years of pretrial detention, judges wrote that “the selection of the suspects on one side, and the witnesses on the other, with the only exception of the driver, has almost been the result of mere chance.”

    Carrying out work for their Libyan captors has cost other migrants in Italy lengthy prison sentences. In September 2019, a 22-year-old Guinean nicknamed Suarez was arrested upon his arrival to Italy. Four witnesses told police he had collaborated with prison guards in Zawiya, at the immigrant detention center managed by the infamous Bija.

    “Suarez was also a prisoner, who then took on a job,” one of the witnesses told the court. Handing out meals or taking care of security is what those who can’t afford to pay their ransom often do in order to get out, explained another. “Unfortunately, you would have to be there to understand the situation,” the first witness said. Suarez was sentenced to 20 years in prison, recently reduced to 12 years on appeal.

    Dieudonne remembered his journey at sea vividly, but with surprising cool. When the boat began taking on water, he tried to help. “One must give help where it is needed.” At his office in Bari, Dieudonne bent over and moved his arms in a low scooping motion, like he was bailing water out of a boat.

    “Should they condemn me too?” he asked. He finds it ironic that it was the Libyans who eventually arrested Bija on human trafficking charges this past October. The Italians and Europeans, he said with a laugh, were too busy working with the corrupt coast guard commander. (In April, Bija was released from prison after a Libyan court absolved him of all charges. He was promoted within the coast guard and put back on the job.)

    Dieudonne thinks often about the people he identified aboard the coast guard ship in the middle of the sea. “I told the police the truth. But if that collaboration ends with the conviction of an innocent person, it’s not good,” he said. “Because I know that person did nothing. On the contrary, he saved our lives by driving that raft.”

    https://theintercept.com/2021/04/30/italy-anti-mafia-migrant-rescue-smuggling

    #Méditerranée #Italie #Libye #ONG #criminalisation_de_la_solidarité #solidarité #secours #mer_Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #violence #passeurs #Méditerranée_centrale #anti-mafia #anti-terrorisme #Direzione_nazionale_antimafia_e_antiterrorismo #DNAA #Frontex #Franco_Roberti #justice #politique #Zuwara #torture #viol #Mare_Nostrum #Europol #eaux_internationales #droit_de_la_mer #droit_maritime #juridiction_italienne #arrestations #Gigi_Modica #scafista #scafisti #état_de_nécessité #Giovanni_Salvi #NGO #Operation_Sophia #MOAS #DNA #Carmelo_Zuccaro #Zuccaro #Fabrice_Leggeri #Leggeri #Marco_Minniti #Minniti #campagne #gardes-côtes_libyens #milices #Enrico_Credendino #Abd_al-Rahman_Milad #Bija ##Abdurhaman_al-Milad #Al_Bija #Zawiya #Vittorio_Pisani #Federico_Cafiero_de_Raho #solution_extrajudiciaire #pull-back #refoulement_by_proxy #refoulement #push-back #Suarez

    ping @karine4 @isskein @rhoumour

  • #Front-Lex. Traduire l’#UE en #justice

    La #politique_migratoire de l’UE vise à endiguer à tout prix les flux migratoires en provenance d’Afrique. Avec une baisse de 90% des arrivées sur le sol de l’UE, on considère que cette politique est un succès.

    C’est aussi un #génocide. Les coûts en vies humaines et en termes de droits de l’homme sont sans précédent : 20 000 mort-es en Méditerranée et 50 000 survivant-es parqué-es dans les camps de concentration au cours des 5 dernières années. Et ce n’est pas fini.

    La politique migratoire de l’UE constitue une violation flagrante de tous les cadres juridiques internationaux et européens régissant les migrations et les frontières : #droit_des_réfugiés, #droits_de_l’homme, #droit_maritime et #droit_pénal.

    Pour la première fois depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale, les institutions, les gouvernements et les responsables européens commettent d’innombrables #crimes_contre_l’humanité.

    Ces crimes atroces visent la population la plus vulnérable au monde : les civils qui ont besoin d’une #protection_internationale.

    Front-Lex rétablit la #loi_aux_frontières de l’Europe en demandant des comptes à l’UE, ses États membres et leurs fonctionnaires.

    https://www.front-lex.eu/fran%C3%A7ais
    https://www.front-lex.eu

    #frontex #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #responsabilité

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • The Legal Centre Lesvos and Front-Lex call upon FRONTEX to immediately suspend or terminate its activities in the Aegean Sea region / Legal Center Lesvos et Front-Lex demandent à FRONTEX de suspendre ou de mettre fin immédiatement à ses activités dans la mer Égée.

      This morning, Legal Centre Lesvos and Front-Lex sent a formal request to suspend or terminate Frontex operations in the Aegean Sea to Fabrice Leggeri, the Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), pursuant to Article 265 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

      The request is based on an accumulation of evidence showing Frontex and its Executive Director have failed to act, in infringement of European Treaties, in relation to fundamental rights and international protection obligations in the Aegean Sea region, including:

      • Failure to decide against launching Frontex’s Rapid Border Intervention Aegean in March 2020. Frontex decided to launch a “rapid border intervention” providing further material assistance to the existing Frontex operation in the Aegean sea region, in response to Greece’s request on 1 March 2020. This Frontex activity was approved a day later, on 2 March, despite the fact that the Greek state had by that time already implemented a set of violent anti-migrant measures, including:

      Unilateral suspension of the right to asylum in flagrant violation of EU asylum law and international law on 1st March;
      Systematically pressing criminal charges against asylum seekers for unlawful entry in violation of Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention;
      Summarily and arbitrarily detaining migrants across the Aegean islands in ports, buses, ships, beaches, where they were denied access to asylum procedures, adequate shelter, sanitation facilities, and medical attention in violation of fundamental rights;
      Increased violence at sea, with at least one instance in which the Greek authorities fired at a rubber dingy.

      As such, it was clear there were “serious reasons at the beginning of the activity to suspend or terminate it because it could lead to violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations of a serious nature”, per Article 46 (5) of EU Regulation 2019/1896 on the European Border and Coast Guard Regulations.

      • Failure to suspend or terminate ongoing Frontex operations in the Aegean (Joint Operation Poseidon) despite well-documented, systematic, collective expulsions. There is insurmountable evidence of Greek authorities systematically conducting collective expulsions, which from March 2020 until the present have been perpetrated pursuant to a consistent modus operandi. This practice has been repeatedly documented and denounced by numerous media outlets, migrant solidarity collectives and human rights organisations, including the Legal Centre Lesvos. As set out in our most recent report at section 3, the constituent elements of the operational pattern of pushbacks on the part of the Greek authorities in the Aegean violate numerous fundamental rights and international protection obligations, and amount to crimes against humanity. The involvement of Frontex vessels in persistent pushbacks in the Aegean sea has been documented by independent investigations. Pursuant to Article 46(4) of EU Regulation 2019/1896, Leggeri in his capacity as Executive Director of Frontex, after consultation with the Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer, is required to suspend or terminate the activity of Frontex in a context where violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations related to the Frontex activities are of a serious nature and are likely to persist.

      • Failure to give a transparent, truthful and accurate account of the circumstances and number of pushback incidents recorded in the Aegean sea in which Frontex has been implicated, notably during hearings before the European Parliament.

      • Ongoing and inherent failure of Frontex’s internal reporting and monitoring mechanisms in relation to fundamental rights violations. The internal investigation launched following the Frontex extraordinary Management Board meeting on 10 November 2020 and the creation of a specific Working Group to review evidence of Frontex’s involvement in fundamental rights violations, highlights the longstanding and ongoing deficiencies of the European agency. It demonstrates its inability to operate with transparency, efficient and effective reporting and monitoring mechanisms for fundamental rights violations. In addition to this internal investigation, there are two ongoing investigations into Frontex by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the European Ombudsman.

      In light of the above failures and the evidence of its direct and indirect involvement in pushbacks, Frontex is complicit in documented state violence against migrants in the Aegean sea region in particular and in Greece more broadly.

      As a European Agency systematically failing to act in accordance with European law, with its governing regulations and internal monitoring mechanisms, Frontex must immediately suspend or terminate its operations in the Aegean sea region.

      These failures are inherent to the functioning of Frontex, its direction and management. Frontex operates with impunity in contexts of flagrant fundamental rights and international protection obligations violations, across Europe’s borders. In the absence of independent and efficient transparency and accountability mechanisms, justice for survivors of collective expulsions in the Aegean must include defunding, demilitarising and dismantling Europe’s violent Border and Coast Guard Agency.
      *******************************************************

      Hier, Legal Centre Lesbos et Front-Lex ont adressé une demande officielle de suspension ou de fin des opérations de Frontex en mer Égée à Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes (Frontex), conformément à l’article 265 du Traité sur le fonctionnement de l’Union européenne.

      La demande est fondée sur une accumulation de preuves démontrant que Frontex et son directeur exécutif n’ont pas agi, en violation des traités européens, concernant les droits fondamentaux et les obligations de protection internationale dans la région de la mer Égée, et notamment:

      • Le défaut de renoncer au lancement de l’intervention rapide aux frontières de Frontex dans la mer Égée en mars 2020. Frontex a décidé de lancer une « intervention rapide aux frontières » fournissant une assistance matérielle supplémentaire à l’opération Frontex déjà existante dans la région de la mer Égée, en réponse à la demande de la Grèce le 1er mars 2020. Cette activité de Frontex a été approuvée un jour plus tard, soit le 2 mars, malgré le fait que l’État grec mettait déjà en œuvre un ensemble de violentes mesures anti-migrants, comptant notamment:

      La suspension unilatérale du droit de demander l’asile le 1er mars, en violation flagrante du droit d’asile de l’Union Européenne et du droit international;
      L’initiation systématique de poursuites pénales à l’encontre de tout demandeur d’asile pour entrée illégale dans le pays en violation de l’article 31 de la Convention de 1951 relative au statut des réfugiés;
      La détention sommaire et arbitraire de migrants sur les îles de la mer Égée, dans des ports, des bus, des bateaux, sur des plages, où ils se sont vu refuser l’accès aux procédures d’asile, à un abri convenable, à des installations sanitaires et à des soins médicaux en violation de tous droits fondamentaux;
      L’augmentation de la violence à la frontière maritime, incluant au moins un cas dans lequel les autorités grecques ont tiré sur un canot pneumatique de migrants.

      Ainsi, il était clair qu’il “exist[ait] déjà, dès le commencement de l’activité, des raisons sérieuses de la suspendre ou d’y mettre un terme parce que cette activité pourrait conduire à des violations graves des droits fondamentaux ou des obligations en matière de protection internationale”, conformément à l’article 46 §5 du Règlement (UE) 2019/1896 relatif au corps européen de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes.

      • Le défaut de suspendre ou mettre fin aux opérations de Frontex en cours dans la mer Égée (“opération Poséidon”) malgré des expulsions collectives systématiques et bien documentées. Il existe des preuves indéniables que les autorités grecques ont systématiquement procédé à des expulsions collectives, qui, de mars 2020 à aujourd’hui, ont été perpétrées selon un mode opératoire cohérent. Cette pratique a été à plusieurs reprises documentée et dénoncée par de nombreux médias, collectifs en solidarité avec les migrants et organisations de défense des droits de l’Homme, y compris le Legal Centre Lesbos. Comme indiqué dans notre rapport le plus récent, les éléments constitutifs du mode opératoire des “pushbacks” par les autorités grecques dans la mer Égée constituent une violation de nombreux droits fondamentaux et obligations de protection internationale et constituent des crimes contre l’humanité. L’implication des navires de Frontex dans les “pushbacks” persistants en mer Égée a été documentée par des enquêtes indépendantes. En vertu de l’article 46 § 4 du Règlement de l’UE 2019/1896, Fabrice Leggeri, en sa qualité de directeur exécutif de Frontex est tenu, après consultation avec l’officier aux droits fondamentaux de Frontex, de suspendre ou de mettre fin à l’activité de Frontex dans un contexte où les violations des droits ou obligations de protection internationale liés aux activités de Frontex sont de nature sérieuse et susceptibles de perdurer.

      • Le défaut de compte-rendu transparent, véridique et précis sur les circonstances et le nombre d’incidents de pushbacks enregistrés en mer Égée dans lesquels Frontex a été impliqué, notamment lors d’auditions devant le Parlement européen.

      • Le défaut continu et intrinsèque de mécanismes internes de signalement et de contrôle de Frontex, propres à empêcher les violations des droits fondamentaux. L’enquête interne lancée à la suite de la réunion extraordinaire du conseil d’administration de Frontex le 10 novembre 2020, et la création d’un groupe de travail dédié à l’examen des preuves de l’implication de Frontex dans des violations des droits fondamentaux, met à nouveau en évidence les carences de longue date et persistantes de l’agence européenne. Cela démontre son incapacité à fonctionner avec des mécanismes de signalement et de contrôle transparents et efficaces des violations des droits fondamentaux. Outre cette enquête interne, Frontex fait l’objet de deux enquêtes en cours devant l’Office européen de lutte antifraude (OLAF) et le Médiateur européen.

      Au regard des carences mentionnées ci-dessus et des preuves de son implication directe et indirecte dans les pushbacks, Frontex est complice des violences étatiques documentées contre les migrants dans la région de la mer Égée et plus largement en Grèce.

      En tant qu’agence européenne agissant en violation systématique du droit européen, de ses propres règlements et de ses mécanismes de contrôle interne, Frontex doit immédiatement suspendre ou mettre fin à ses opérations dans la région de la mer Égée.

      Ces défauts sont inhérents au fonctionnement de Frontex, à sa direction et à sa gestion. Frontex opère en toute impunité dans des contextes de violations flagrantes des droits fondamentaux et des obligations de protection internationale, à travers les frontières de l’Europe. En l’absence de mécanismes de responsabilité et de transparence indépendants et efficaces, la justice pour les survivants d’expulsions collectives dans la mer Égée doit inclure l’arrêt du financement, la démilitarisation et le démantèlement de la violente agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes.

      https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2021/02/15/the-legal-centre-lesvos-and-front-lex-call-upon-frontex-to-immediately-suspend-or-terminate-its-activities-in-the-aegean-sea-region/#create-a-page-jumpa

    • Une plainte contre Frontex pourrait faire son chemin jusqu’aux tribunaux européens

      Trois avocats et deux ONG ont introduit ce lundi un recours, que s’est procuré « Libération », pour demander le départ de l’agence de Grèce et la suspension de ces activités en mer Egée. Pour eux, Frontex est complice de « crime contre l’humanité ».

      Le ciel s’assombrit encore un peu plus pour la direction de Frontex. Après les accusations sur son management brutal, sur ses frais de bouche, l’ouverture d’une enquête de l’Office européen de lutte antifraude (OLAF), c’est désormais devant les tribunaux qu’elle devra peut-être répondre de ses agissements dans les prochains mois. D’après des informations de Libération et du journal allemand Der Spiegel, deux avocats spécialistes de droit international, Omer Shatz et Iftach Cohen, fondateur de l’ONG Front-LEX, et une association grecque, le Legal Centre Lesvos, par l’entremise de son avocate Anastasia Ntailiani, ont mis en demeure ce lundi la super agence de garde-côtes et de garde frontières européens. Leur but ? Obtenir le retrait immédiat des effectifs de Frontex de la mer Egée, un peu à la manière de ce qui s’est déroulé en Hongrie, où l’agence a été contrainte de plier bagage après la condamnation de l’Etat hongrois pour violation des droits de l’homme.

      Dans ce bras de mer, ONG et journalistes dénoncent en effet, depuis des mois, les agissements des garde-côtes hellènes qui, pour empêcher les migrants de rallier la Grèce, les abandonnent en mer, dans de petits canots de sauvetage, le tout sous l’œil de la super agence. « Frontex est complice. Cette pratique systématique d’expulsions collectives équivaut à un crime contre l’humanité », n’hésite pas à affirmer Omer Shatz. La procédure pourrait aboutir au dépôt d’une plainte devant la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (CJUE) mi-avril.

      Dans leur mémoire, un réquisitoire de 34 pages très critique à l’égard des activités de l’agence, que Libération a pu consulter, l’argument des avocats est le suivant. Primo, Frontex a l’obligation de respecter et de faire respecter les droits de l’homme partout où elle intervient. Cette obligation est d’ailleurs prévue par l’article 46 de sa régulation, le règlement qui encadre ses activités, dont la dernière version a été publiée le 13 novembre 2019. Ce cadre s’applique évidemment en mer Egée où Frontex codirige depuis 2015, aux côtés des garde-côtes grecs, l’opération Poséidon, une mission dont le but est « de gérer l’afflux massif de migrants en Méditerranée orientale ». Une présence renforcée en mars 2020 par la création d’une « brigade d’intervention rapide » que Frontex coordonne. Secundo, estime le plaidoyer, en ne suivant pas cette obligation, et en se rendant complice des violations des droits de l’homme « répétées au cours des dix dernières années », l’agence se serait rendue coupable d’un défaut de fonctionnement, un délit prévu par l’article 265 du traité sur le fonctionnement de l’Union européenne (TFUE). N’importe quel tiers est ainsi en droit d’introduire un « recours en carence », indique le texte de loi, pour souligner ce défaut et demander sa résolution.

      A réception du mémoire des avocats, Frontex a ainsi deux mois pour réagir, stipule le TFUE. Faute de quoi, la plainte pourrait faire son chemin jusqu’à la Cour de justice de l’Union Européenne (CJUE). Ce sera alors à elle de décider de son sort et de celui de ses dirigeants.

      Ils n’en oublient pas Fabrice Leggeri

      Omer Shatz n’est pas à son coup d’essai. On retrouve l’avocat israélien derrière une plainte déposée en juin 2019 devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI). Cette dernière accusait les Etats européens de s’être rendus coupables de meurtres, tortures, traitements inhumains et déplacements forcés, commis à l’encontre de migrants tentant de fuir la Libye. Dans cette procédure, encore en cours, l’homme était accompagné d’un autre avocat médiatique, le français Juan Branco. Avec son ONG, Front-LEX, fondée il y a un peu plus d’un an, il dit se faire un devoir de s’attaquer aux politiques migratoires européennes : « Nous voulons demander des comptes aux responsables et fournir des recours aux innombrables victimes des politiques migratoires de l’UE. »

      La plainte contre Frontex est l’aboutissement de plusieurs mois de travail. Les avocats ont planché pour trouver le moyen de poursuivre l’institution dans son ensemble et pas uniquement ses dirigeants. « C’est très compliqué d’engager la responsabilité de Frontex, poursuit l’avocat, l’agence se cache souvent soit derrière l’état qu’elle aide, dans ce cas précis la Grèce. » Mais les avocats n’en oublient pas pour autant de pointer du doigt Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de Frontex, déjà sur la sellette. « L’échec à suspendre cette opération avec les Grecs porte son nom », indique Omer Shatz. La procédure pourrait aboutir à sa destitution, dit l’avocat. Rendez-vous dans deux mois. Contacté par Libération, Frontex n’a pour le moment pas donné suite à nos sollicitations.

      https://www.liberation.fr/international/europe/une-plainte-contre-frontex-pourrait-faire-son-chemin-jusquaux-tribunaux-e

    • For the First Time in the History of the Agency, Legal Action Against FRONTEX Has Been Submitted to the Court of Justice of the EU for Human Rights Violations.

      FRONTEX failed to terminate its operations in GREECE despite serious, systematic, and widespread violations of fundamental rights under EU Law.

      An unprecedented legal action against FRONTEX was submitted to the EU Court of Justice today by Adv. Omer Shatz and Adv. Iftach Cohen from front-LEX, Adv. Loica Lambert and Adv. Mieke Van den Broeck from Progress Lawyers Network, empowered by Mr. Panayote Dimitras and Ms. Leonie Scheffenbichler from Greek Helsinki Monitor, and Gabriel Green from front-LEX. The case was filed on behalf of two asylum seekers – an unaccompanied minor and a woman – who, while seeking asylum on EU soil (Lesbos), were violently rounded up, assaulted, robbed, abducted, detained, forcibly transferred back to sea, collectively expelled, and ultimately abandoned on rafts with no means of navigation, food or water. The Applicants were also victims of other ‘push-back’ operations during their attempts to seek protection in the EU.

      Despite undisputed and overwhelming evidence for serious and persisting violations of fundamental rights, FRONTEX and its Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri, have failed to terminate the Agency’s activities in the Aegean Sea, in flagrant infringement of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and Frontex Regulation. Frontex and Greece’s policy aims to stem ‘migration’ at all costs. This systematic and widespread attack against asylum seekers breaches the right to asylum, the prohibitions on refoulement and collective expulsions, and amount to crimes against humanity of, inter alia, deportation. This is the first time that FRONTEX is being taken to Court over human rights violations in its 17 years of operation. We will hold the EU to account. We will reinstate the Rule of Law over EU borders.

      Omer Shatz and Iftach Cohen from Front-LEX: “We watched videos showing the worst crimes that humanity has imagined and outlawed. We watched the Director of Frontex, Leggeri, telling the EU Parliament and Commission that what we see in these videos is actually not happening. But 10,000 victims attest: these crimes are being committed, on a daily basis, on EU territory, by an EU agency. The EU Court is responsible for protecting EU fundamental rights law. To date, the Court has never reviewed the conduct of Frontex nor provided remedy for its countless victims. We trust the Court to hear the victims, to see what everyone sees, to hold EU border agency to account, and to restore the Rule of Law over EU lands and seas.

      Omer Shatz, Adv., front-LEX (English, French): +33650784880, omer.shatz@front-lex.eu

      Iftach Cohen, Adv., front-LEX (English, Italian): iftach.cohen@front-lex.eu

      Adv. Loica Lambert and Adv. Mieke Van den Broeck from Progress Lawyers Network: “In the EU and at its borders, migrants and people who help them are being unjustly criminalized. At the same time and on the same borders, Frontex has been committing gross violations of international and European law for years, while avoiding prosecution. It is time Frontex is held accountable for the crimes it is committing against people who are seeking protection, and who are forced to risk their lives at sea due to the lack of safe and legal channels for migration.

      Mieke Vandenbroeck Adv., Progress Lawyers Network (Flemish, French and English) mieke.vandenbroeck@progresslaw.net, +32498395724

      Panayote Dimitras and Leonie Scheffenbichler from GHM: “The two applicants have landed successfully on Lesbos more than once, even met a local academic, have pictures of well-known roads of the island. Yet, Greek forces brutally expelled them from the island with Frontex supervision, as Greece claims. They will not get justice in Greece, where there is no rule of law. They deserve justice in Europe, if it wants to claim that it abides by the rule of law.”
      Mr. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor (Greek, French, English): panayotedimitras@gmail.com +30-2103472259;

      Ms. Leonie Scheffenbichler (French, German, English): leonie.scheffenbichler@sciencespo.fr

      Communiqué de presse reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 26.05.2021

  • *La Marine teste l’utilisation de NETS pour piéger les migrants dans la Manche alors que des nombres record traversent illégalement*

    - Des navires militaires ont travaillé avec la UK Border Force pour essayer des tactiques en mai et juin
    - Priti Patel a révélé le stratagème en accusant Paris de la crise actuelle
    – Plus de 2 750 personnes auraient atteint le Royaume-Uni outre-Manche cette année

    La #Royal_Navy a testé l’utilisation de filets pour arrêter les migrants dans la Manche, a révélé hier #Priti_Patel.

    Des navires militaires ont travaillé avec la #UK_Border_Force en mai et juin, essayant des #tactiques pour se déployer contre de petits bateaux traversant la France.

    La ministre de l’Intérieur a fait la divulgation alors qu’elle reprochait à Paris de ne pas avoir maîtrisé la crise des migrants.

    Plus de 2 750 clandestins auraient atteint le Royaume-Uni de l’autre côté de la Manche cette année, dont 90 non encore confirmés qui ont atterri à Douvres hier.

    Ce chiffre se compare à seulement 1 850 au cours de l’année dernière. Dimanche, il y a eu un record de 180, entassés à bord de 15 dériveurs.

    Plus de 2 750 clandestins auraient atteint le Royaume-Uni de l’autre côté de la Manche cette année, dont 90 non encore confirmés qui ont atterri à #Douvres hier

    Les #chiffres montent en flèche malgré la promesse de Miss Patel, faite en octobre, qu’elle aurait pratiquement éliminé les passages de la Manche maintenant.

    Hier, elle a déclaré qu’elle s’efforçait de persuader les Français de « montrer leur volonté » et de permettre le retour des arrivées.

    Mlle Patel a affirmé que les #lois_maritimes_internationales autorisaient le Royaume-Uni à empêcher les bateaux de migrants d’atteindre le sol britannique, mais que Paris interprétait les règles différemment.

    « Je pense qu’il pourrait y avoir des mesures d’application plus strictes du côté français », a déclaré hier Mme Patel aux députés.

    « Je cherche à apporter des changements. Nous avons un problème majeur, majeur avec ces petits bateaux. Nous cherchons fondamentalement à changer les modes de travail en France.

    « J’ai eu des discussions très, très – je pense qu’il est juste de dire – difficiles avec mon homologue français, même en ce qui concerne les #interceptions en mer, car actuellement les autorités françaises n’interceptent pas les bateaux.

    « Et j’entends par là même des bateaux qui ne sont qu’à 250 mètres environ des côtes françaises.

    « Une grande partie de cela est régie par le #droit_maritime et les interprétations des autorités françaises de ce qu’elles peuvent et ne peuvent pas faire. »

    Elle a confirmé que les #navires_de_patrouille français n’interviendront pour arrêter les bateaux de migrants que s’ils sont en train de couler – et non pour empêcher les traversées illégales.

    Au sujet de la participation de la Marine, Mlle Patel a déclaré à la commission des affaires intérieures de la Chambre des communes : « Nous avons mené une série d’#exercices_dans_l’eau en mer impliquant une gamme d’#actifs_maritimes, y compris militaires.

    La ministre de l’Intérieur, photographiée hier, a fait la divulgation alors qu’elle reprochait à Paris de ne pas avoir maîtrisé la crise des migrants

    « Nous pouvons renforcer #Border_Force et montrer comment nous pouvons prendre des bateaux en toute sécurité et les renvoyer en France.

    « C’est effectivement le dialogue que nous entamons actuellement avec les Français pour savoir comment ils peuvent travailler avec nous et montrer leur volonté. Parce que cela ne sert à rien de leur pays.

    Tim Loughton, un député conservateur du comité, a demandé au ministre de l’Intérieur : « Pouvez-vous confirmer que vous pensez que les Français ont le pouvoir – qu’ils prétendent ne pas avoir – d’intercepter des bateaux en mer ? »

    Elle a répondu : ‘Absolument raison. Et c’est ce que nous nous efforçons de réaliser jusqu’au partage des #conseils_juridiques en matière de droit maritime. À travers la pandémie où le temps a été favorable, nous avons vu une augmentation des chiffres et nous devons mettre un terme à cette route.

    « Nous voulons rompre cette route, nous voulons rendre cela #non_viable. La seule façon d’y parvenir est d’intercepter et de renvoyer les bateaux en France. »

    Le ministre français de l’Intérieur, Gerald Darmanin, qui a été nommé il y a seulement dix jours, se rendra à Douvres le mois prochain pour voir l’impact des bateaux de migrants sur la communauté locale.

    « Le ministre de l’Intérieur est de plus en plus frustré par la partie française, mais nous avons de nouveaux espoirs que le nouveau ministre de l’Intérieur voudra régler ce problème », a déclaré une source de Whitehall.

    Hier, neuf passagers clandestins érythréens ont été découverts à l’arrière d’un camion lors d’un service Welcome Break sur la M40. La police a été appelée après que des témoins ont vu des mouvements à l’arrière du camion stationné dans l’Oxfordshire.

    https://www.fr24news.com/fr/a/2020/07/la-marine-teste-lutilisation-de-nets-pour-pieger-les-migrants-dans-la-manc
    #frontières #militarisation_des_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #armée #NETS #Manche #La_Manche #France #UK #Angleterre #pull-back #pull-backs

    #via @FilippoFurri

  • South China Sea: Malaysia, Indonesia, And Vietnam Beat China At Its Own Game
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2020/01/10/south-china-sea-malaysia-indonesia-and-vietnam-beat-china-at-its-own-game

    This isn’t the first time Malaysia appealed to the UN to protect its territories. Back in 2009, it joined Vietnam to submit for an extension of CLCS beyond 200 nautical miles (nm) in 2009, a year after, had submitted its petition for an extension of CLCS beyond 200 nm in the northwest area of Sumatra Island on June 16, 2008.

    “This move is a departure from earlier protests notes issued by Malaysia on China’s activities including the presence of its coast guards near Malaysian territorial waters,” adds Goswami. “Protests notes were never made public though. Therefore, to submit to the UN on its continental shelf claim is strategic escalation, and beating China on its own game; the use of lawfare to settle disputes.”

    For years, China has made a reputation for using UN lawfare to advance its South China Sea agenda. Now Malaysia and its neighbors have “turned the tables” on Beijing. They, too, have been using the UN to advance their own South China Sea agenda.

    #mer_de_Chine #droit_maritime #droit_international

  • Malte permet à des garde-côtes libyens d’entrer dans sa zone de sauvetage pour intercepter des migrants

    Une embarcation de migrants a été interceptée vendredi dernier dans la zone de recherche et de sauvetage maltaise par une patrouille de garde-côtes libyens. Les 50 personnes qui se trouvaient à bord ont été ramenées en Libye. Pour la première fois, Alarm phone a pu documenter cette violation du #droit_maritime_international. Le HCR a ouvert une #enquête.

    L’agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) a annoncé mardi 22 octobre l’ouverture d’une enquête après que les autorités maltaises ont laissé des garde-côtes libyens intercepter une embarcation de migrants en détresse qui se trouvait dans la zone de recherche et de sauvetage (SAR) maltaise.

    Alarm phone, une organisation qui permet aux bateaux de migrants en difficultés de demander de l’aide, a retracé mercredi 23 octobre, dans un communiqué, le déroulé des événements qui ont conduit à l’emprisonnement des 50 migrants dans le centre de #Tarik_al_Sika, à #Tripoli.

    Tout commence le vendredi 18 octobre, en début d’après-midi, quand Alarm phone reçoit un appel de détresse d’un bateau surchargé. Environ 50 personnes, dont des femmes et des enfants, se trouvent à bord de ce rafiot en bois. Les coordonnées GPS que les migrants envoient à Alarm Phone indiquent qu’ils se trouvent dans la SAR zone maltaise.

    La plateforme téléphonique transmet alors la position de l’embarcation aux centres de coordination des secours en mer de Malte (#RCC) et de Rome (#MRCC). Malte ne tarde pas à répondre : “Nous avons reçu votre email. Nous nous occupons de tout", indique un officier maltais.

    Enfermement à Tripoli

    Dans les heures qui suivent, Alarm phone tente de garder le contact avec le RCC de Malte et le MRCC de Rome mais ne reçoit plus de réponse. À bord, les migrants donnent de nouvelles coordonnées GPS à l’organisation : ils se trouvent toujours dans la SAR zone maltaise. Le dernier contact entre Alarm phone et l’embarcation a lieu à 17h40.

    Quelques heures plus tard, le #PB_Fezzan, un navire appartenant aux garde-côtes libyens, a intercepté l’embarcation de migrants dans la zone de recherche et sauvetage de Malte. Les équipes d’Alarm phone apprennent, par un officier du RCC de Malte, qu’un hélicoptère des Forces armées maltaises avait été impliqué dans l’opération, en "supervisant la situation depuis les airs".

    Le PB Fezzan est ensuite rentré à Tripoli avec les migrants à son bord. Tous ont été placés dans le centre de détention de Tarik al Sika.

    Violation des conventions internationales et du principe de non-refoulement

    En ne portant pas secours à cette embarcation, le RCC de Malte a violé à la fois le droit de la mer et le principe de non-refoulement établi dans la Convention européenne des droits de l’Homme et celle relative au statut international de réfugiés.

    Le HCR a ouvert une enquête afin de déterminer pour quelles raisons Malte n’a pas porté secours à l’embarcation, a indiqué mardi Vincent Cochetel, l’envoyé spécial du HCR pour la Méditerranée centrale, à l’agence Associated press (AP).

    Selon lui, "des preuves existent que Malte a demandé à des garde-côtes libyens d’intervenir" dans sa propre zone de recherche et sauvetage le 18 octobre. "Le problème est que les migrants ont été débarqués en Libye. Il ne fait aucun doute qu’il s’agit d’une violation des lois maritimes. Il est clair que la Libye n’est pas un port sûr", a-t-il ajouté.

    Vincent Cochetel a également affirmé qu’il ne s’agissait pas de la première fois que Malte se rendait coupable d’une telle non-assistance.

    "Malte est particulièrement peu coopérant"

    Contacté par InfoMigrants, Maurice Stierl, membre d’Alarm phone, rappelle qu’il n’est pas rare que les garde-côtes européens ne remplissent pas leurs obligations. "Ce cas est particulièrement dramatique mais ce n’est pas une surprise pour nous tant nous avons vu [des autorités européennes] se dérober à leurs responsabilités", assure-t-il.

    "Malte est particulièrement peu coopérant ces dernières semaines. Quand nous les appelons, soit ils sont injoignables, soit ils ne nous communiquent pas d’informations sur les modalités de la mission de sauvetage qu’ils vont lancer", s’agace l’activiste.

    Malte n’est pas le seul pays européen à rechigner à secourir des migrants en Méditerranée centrale, précise Maurice Stierl. "Nous avons aussi eu de mauvaises expériences avec d’autres États membres dont le MRCC de Rome […] C’est un problème européen."

    https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1187265157937991680?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E11

    https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/20377/malte-permet-a-des-garde-cotes-libyens-d-entrer-dans-sa-zone-de-sauvet
    #migrations #réfugiés #zone_SAR #SAR #gardes-côtes_libyens #sauvetage #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Méditerranée #pull-back #Mer_Méditerranée

  • Peut-on contrôler les contrôles de #Frontex ?

    À la veille des élections européennes, Bruxelles s’est empressée de voter le renforcement de Frontex. Jamais l’agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes n’a été aussi puissante. Aujourd’hui, il est devenu presque impossible de vérifier si cette autorité respecte les #droits_fondamentaux des migrants, et si elle tente vraiment de sauver des vies en mer. Mais des activistes ne lâchent rien. Une enquête de notre partenaire allemand Correctiv.

    Berlin, le 18 juin 2017. Arne Semsrott écrit à Frontex, la police des frontières de l’UE. « Je souhaite obtenir la liste de tous les bateaux déployés par Frontex en Méditerranée centrale et orientale. »

    Arne Semsrott est journaliste et activiste spécialisé dans la liberté de l’information. On pourrait dire : « activiste de la transparence ».

    Trois semaines plus tard, le 12 juillet 2017, Luisa Izuzquiza envoie depuis Madrid une requête similaire à Frontex. Elle sollicite des informations sur un meeting entre le directeur de l’agence et les représentants de l’Italie, auquel ont également participé d’autres pays membres de l’UE. Luisa est elle aussi activiste pour la liberté de l’information.

    Cet été-là, Arne et Luisa sont hantés par la même chose : le conflit entre les sauveteurs en mer privés et la #surveillance officielle des frontières en Méditerranée, qu’elle soit assurée par Frontex ou par les garde-côtes italiens. En juillet dernier, l’arrestation de la capitaine allemande Carola Rackete a déclenché un tollé en Europe ; en 2017, c’était le bateau humanitaire allemand Iuventa, saisi par les autorités italiennes.

    Notre enquête a pour ambition de faire la lumière sur un grave soupçon, une présomption dont les sauveteurs parlent à mots couverts, et qui pèse sur la conscience de l’Europe : les navires des garde-frontières européens éviteraient volontairement les secteurs où les embarcations de réfugiés chavirent, ces zones de la Méditerranée où des hommes et des femmes se noient sous nos yeux. Est-ce possible ?

    Frontex n’a de cesse d’affirmer qu’elle respecte le #droit_maritime_international. Et les sauveteurs en mer n’ont aucune preuve tangible de ce qu’ils avancent. C’est bien ce qui anime Arne Semsrott et Luisa Izuzquiza : avec leurs propres moyens, ils veulent sonder ce qui se trame en Méditerranée, rendre les événements plus transparents. De fait, lorsqu’un bateau de réfugiés ou de sauvetage envoie un SOS, ou quand les garde-côtes appellent à l’aide, les versions diffèrent nettement une fois l’incident terminé. Et les personnes extérieures sont impuissantes à démêler ce qui s’est vraiment passé.

    Luisa et Arne refusent d’accepter cette réalité. Ils sont fermement convaincus que les informations concernant les mouvements et les positions des bateaux, les rapports sur la gestion et les opérations de Frontex, ou encore les comptes rendus des échanges entre gouvernements sur la politique migratoire, devraient être accessibles à tout un chacun. Pour pouvoir contrôler les contrôleurs. Ils se sont choisi un adversaire de taille. Ce texte est le récit de leur combat.

    Frontex ne veut pas entendre le reproche qui lui est fait de négliger les droits des migrants. Interviewé par l’émission « Report München », son porte-parole Krzysztof Borowski déclare : « Notre agence attache beaucoup d’importance au respect des droits humains. Il existe chez Frontex différents mécanismes permettant de garantir que les droits des individus sont respectés au cours de nos opérations. »

    En 2011, au moment où les « indignados » investissent les rues de Madrid, Luisa vit encore dans la capitale espagnole. Ébranlé par la crise économique, le pays est exsangue, et les « indignés » règlent leurs comptes avec une classe politique qu’ils accusent d’être corrompue, et à mille lieues de leurs préoccupations. Luisa se rallie à la cause. L’une des revendications phares du mouvement : exiger plus de transparence. Cette revendication, Luisa va s’y vouer corps et âme. « La transparence est cruciale dans une démocratie. C’est l’outil qui permet de favoriser la participation politique et de demander des comptes aux dirigeants », affirme-t-elle aujourd’hui.

    Luisa Izuzquiza vit à deux pas du bureau de l’organisation espagnole Access Info, qui lutte pour améliorer la transparence dans le pays. Début 2014, la jeune femme tente sa chance et va frapper à leur porte. On lui donne du travail.

    En 2015, alors que la population syrienne est de plus en plus nombreuse à se réfugier en Europe pour fuir la guerre civile, Luisa s’engage aussi pour lui venir en aide. Elle travaille comme bénévole dans un camp de réfugiés en Grèce, et finit par faire de la lutte pour la transparence et de son engagement pour les réfugiés un seul et même combat.

    Elle ne tardera pas à entendre parler de Frontex. À l’époque, l’agence de protection des frontières, qui siège à Varsovie, loin du tumulte de Bruxelles, n’est pas connue de grand monde. Luisa se souvient : « Frontex sortait du lot : le nombre de demandes était très faible, et les réponses de l’agence, très floues. Ils rédigeaient leurs réponses sans faire valoir le moindre argument juridique. »

    L’Union européenne étend la protection de ses frontières en toute hâte, et l’agence Frontex constitue la pierre angulaire de ses efforts. Depuis sa création en 2004, l’agence frontalière se développe plus rapidement que toute autre administration de l’UE. Au départ, Frontex bénéficie d’un budget de 6 millions d’euros. Il atteindra 1,6 milliard d’euros en 2021. Si l’agence employait à l’origine 1 500 personnes, son effectif s’élève désormais à 10 000 – 10 000 employés pouvant être détachés à tout moment pour assurer la protection des frontières. Frontex avait organisé l’expulsion de 3 500 personnes au cours de l’année 2015. En 2017, ce sont 13 000 personnes qui ont été reconduites aux frontières.

    Il est difficile de quantifier le pouvoir, à plus forte raison avec des chiffres. Mais l’action de Frontex a des conséquences directes sur la vie des personnes en situation de détresse. À cet égard, l’agence est sans doute la plus puissante administration ayant jamais existé au sein de l’UE.

    « Frontex a désormais le droit de se servir d’armes à feu »

    Et Frontex continue de croître, tout en gagnant de plus en plus d’indépendance par rapport aux États membres. L’agence achète des bateaux, des avions, des véhicules terrestres. Évolution récente, ses employés sont désormais habilités à mener eux-mêmes des contrôles aux frontières et à recueillir des informations personnelles sur les migrants. Frontex signe en toute autonomie des traités avec des pays tels que la Serbie, le Nigeria ou le Cap-Vert, et dépêche ses agents de liaison en Turquie. Si les missions de cette administration se cantonnaient initialement à l’analyse des risques ou des tâches similaires, elle est aujourd’hui active le long de toutes les frontières extérieures de l’UE, coordonnant aussi bien les opérations en Méditerranée que le traitement des réfugiés arrivant dans les États membres ou dans d’autres pays.

    Et pourtant, force est de constater que Frontex ne fait pas l’objet d’un véritable contrôle parlementaire. Le Parlement européen ne peut contrôler cette institution qu’indirectement – par le biais de la commission des budgets, en lui allouant tout simplement moins de fonds. « Il faut renforcer le contrôle parlementaire, déclare Erik Marquardt, député vert européen. L’agence Frontex a désormais le droit de se servir d’armes à feu. »

    En Europe, seul un petit vivier d’activistes lutte pour renforcer la liberté de l’information. Tôt ou tard, on finit par se croiser. Début 2016, l’organisation de Luisa Izuzquiza invite des militants issus de dix pays à un rassemblement organisé à Madrid. Arne Semsrott sera de la partie.

    Aujourd’hui, Arne a 31 ans et vit à Berlin. Une loi sur la liberté de l’information a été votée en 2006 outre-Rhin. Elle permet à chaque citoyen – et pas seulement aux journalistes – de solliciter des documents officiels auprès des ministères et des institutions fédérales. Arne travaille pour la plateforme « FragDenStaat » (« Demande à l’État »), qui transmet les demandes de la société civile aux administrations concernées.

    Dans le sillage du rassemblement de Madrid, Arne lance une « sollicitation de masse ». Le principe : des activistes invitent l’ensemble de la sphère publique à adresser à l’État des demandes relevant de la liberté de l’information, afin d’augmenter la pression sur ces institutions qui refusent souvent de fournir des documents alors même que la loi l’autorise.

    Arne Semsrott crée alors le mouvement « FragDenBundestag » (« Demande au Parlement »), et réussit à obtenir du Bundestag qu’il publie dorénavant les expertises de son bureau scientifique.

    « J’étais impressionnée qu’une telle requête puisse aboutir à la publication de ces documents », se souvient Luisa Izuzquiza. Elle écrit à Arne pour lui demander si ces expertises ont un lien avec la politique migratoire. Ils restent en contact.

    Les journalistes aussi commencent à soumettre des demandes en invoquant la liberté d’informer. Mais tandis qu’ils ont l’habitude de garder pour eux les dossiers brûlants, soucieux de ne pas mettre la puce à l’oreille de la concurrence, les activistes de la trempe de Luisa, eux, publient systématiquement leurs requêtes sur des plateformes telles que « Demande à l’État » ou « AsktheEU.org ». Et ce n’est pas tout : ils parviennent même à obtenir que des jugements soient prononcés à l’encontre d’institutions récalcitrantes. Jugements auxquels citoyennes et citoyens pourront dorénavant se référer. Ce sont les pionniers de la transparence.

    En septembre 2017, Luisa Izuzquiza et Arne Semsrott finissent par conjuguer leurs efforts : ils demandent à obtenir les positions des bateaux d’une opération Frontex en Méditerranée.

    Ce qu’ils veulent savoir : les équipes de l’agence de garde-côtes s’appliqueraient-elles à tourner en rond dans une zone de calme plat ? Éviteraient-elles à dessein les endroits où elles pourraient croiser des équipages en détresse qu’elles seraient forcées de sauver et de conduire jusqu’aux côtes de l’Europe ?

    Frontex garde jalousement les informations concernant ses navires. En prétextant que les passeurs pourraient échafauder de nouvelles stratégies si l’agence révélait trop de détails sur ses opérations.

    Frontex rejette leur demande. Les activistes font opposition.

    Arne Semsrott est en train de préparer une plainte au moment où son téléphone sonne. Au bout du fil, un employé de Frontex. « Il m’a dit que si nous retirions notre demande d’opposition, il se débrouillerait pour nous faire parvenir les informations qu’on réclamait », se rappelle Arne.

    Mais les deux activistes ne se laissent pas amadouer. Ils veulent qu’on leur livre ces informations par la voie officielle. Pour tenter d’obtenir ce que l’employé de l’agence, en leur proposant une « fuite », cherchait manifestement à éviter : un précédent juridique auquel d’autres pourront se référer à l’avenir. Ils portent plainte. C’est la toute première fois qu’une action en justice est menée contre Frontex pour forcer l’agence à livrer ses informations.

    Pendant que Luisa et Arne patientent devant la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne à Luxembourg, le succès les attend ailleurs : Frontex a inscrit à sa charte l’obligation de respecter les droits fondamentaux des migrants.

    Une « officière aux droits fondamentaux » recrutée par Frontex est censée s’en assurer. Elle n’a que neuf collaborateurs. En 2017, l’agence a dépensé 15 fois plus pour le travail médiatique que pour la garantie des droits humains. Même l’affranchissement des lettres lui a coûté plus cher.

    Mais la garante des droits humains chez Frontex sert quand même à quelque chose : elle rédige des rapports. L’ensemble des incidents déclarés par les équipes de Frontex aux frontières de l’Europe sont examinés par son service. Elle en reçoit une dizaine par an. L’officière en fait état dans ses « rapports de violation des droits fondamentaux ». Luisa Izuzquiza et Arne Semsrott vont tous les recevoir, un par un. Il y en a 600.

    Ces documents offrent une rare incursion dans la philosophie de l’agence européenne.

    Au printemps 2017, l’officière aux droits fondamentaux, qui rend directement compte au conseil d’administration de Frontex – lequel est notamment composé de membres du gouvernement allemand –, a ainsi fait état de conflits avec la police hongroise. Après avoir découvert dix réfugiés âgés de 10 à 17 ans dans la zone frontalière de Horgoš, petite ville serbe, les policiers auraient lancé leur chien sur les garçons. L’officière rapporte que trois d’entre eux ont été mordus.

    La police serait ensuite entrée sur le territoire serbe, avant d’attaquer les membres du petit groupe à la matraque et en utilisant des sprays au poivre. Quatre réfugiés auraient alors été interpellés et passés à tabac, jusqu’à perdre connaissance. Frontex, qui coopère avec la police frontalière hongroise, a attiré l’attention des autorités sur l’affaire – mais peine perdue.

    Ce genre de débordement n’est pas inhabituel. L’année précédente, l’officière rapportait le cas d’un Marocain arrêté et maltraité le 8 février 2016, toujours par des policiers hongrois, qui lui auraient en outre dérobé 150 euros. Frontex a transmis les déclarations « extrêmement crédibles » du Marocain aux autorités hongroises. Mais « l’enquête est ensuite interrompue », écrit la garante des droits de Frontex (lire ici, en anglais, le rapport de Frontex).

    Ses rapports documentent d’innombrables cas de migrants retrouvés morts par les agents chargés de surveiller les frontières, mais aussi des viols constatés dans les camps de réfugiés, ou encore des blessures corporelles commises par les policiers des pays membres.

    Luisa Izuzquiza et Arne Semsrott décident de rencontrer l’officière aux droits fondamentaux : elle est allemande, elle s’appelle Annegret Kohler et a été employée par intérim chez Frontex. Sa prédécesseure est en arrêt maladie. Luisa écrit à Annegret Kohler.

    Et, miracle, l’officière accepte de les rencontrer. Luisa est surprise. « Je croyais qu’elle était nouvelle à ce poste. Mais peut-être qu’elle n’a tout bonnement pas vérifié qui on était », dit la jeune femme.

    La même année, en janvier, les deux activistes se rendent à Varsovie. Les drames qui assombrissent la Méditerranée ont fait oublier Frontex : à l’origine, l’agence était surtout censée tenir à l’œil les nouvelles frontières orientales de l’UE, dont le tracé venait d’être redéfini. C’est le ministère de l’intérieur polonais qui offre à l’agence son quartier général de Varsovie, bien loin des institutions de Bruxelles et de Strasbourg, mais à quelques encablures des frontières de la Biélorussie, de l’Ukraine et de la Russie.

    Luisa Izuzquiza et Arne Semsrott ont rendez-vous avec Annegret Kohler au neuvième étage du gratte-ciel de Frontex, une tour de verre qui domine la place de l’Europe, en plein centre de Varsovie. C’est la première fois qu’ils rencontrent une employée de l’agence en chair et en os. « La discussion s’est avérée fructueuse, bien plus sincère que ce à quoi je m’attendais », se rappelle Luisa.

    Ils évoquent surtout la Hongrie. Annegret Kohler s’est cassé les dents sur la police frontalière de Victor Orbán. « Actuellement, je me demande quelle sorte de pression nous pouvons exercer sur eux », leur confie-t-elle au cours de la discussion.

    Luisa ne s’attendait pas à pouvoir parler si ouvertement avec Annegret Kohler. Celle-ci n’est accompagnée d’aucun attaché de presse, comme c’est pourtant le cas d’habitude.

    En réponse aux critiques qui lui sont adressées, Frontex brandit volontiers son « mécanisme de traitement des plaintes », accessible aux réfugiés sur son site Internet. Mais dans la pratique, cet outil ne pèse en général pas bien lourd.

    En 2018, alors que Frontex avait été en contact avec des centaines de milliers de personnes, l’agence reçoit tout juste dix plaintes. Rares sont ceux qui osent élever la voix. Les individus concernés refusent de donner leur nom, concède Annegret Kohler au fil de la discussion, « parce qu’ils craignent d’être cités dans des documents et de se voir ainsi refuser l’accès aux procédures de demande d’asile ».

    Qui plus est, la plupart des réfugiés ignorent qu’ils ont le droit de se plaindre directement auprès de Frontex, notamment au sujet du processus d’expulsion par avion, également coordonné par l’agence frontalière. Il serait très difficile, toujours selon Kohler, de trouver le bon moment pour sensibiliser les migrants à ce mécanisme de traitement des plaintes : « À quel stade leur en parler ? Avant qu’ils soient reconduits à la frontière, à l’aéroport, ou une fois qu’on les a assis dans l’avion ? »

    Mais c’est bien l’avion qui serait le lieu le plus indiqué. Selon un rapport publié en mars 2019 par les officiers aux droits fondamentaux de Frontex, les employés de l’agence transgresseraient très fréquemment les normes internationales relatives aux droits humains lors de ces « vols d’expulsion » – mais aussi leurs propres directives. Ce document précise que des mineurs sont parfois reconduits aux frontières sans être accompagnés par des adultes, alors qu’une telle procédure est interdite. Le rapport fustige en outre l’utilisation des menottes : « Les bracelets métalliques n’ont pas été employés de manière réglementaire. La situation ne l’exigeait pas toujours. »

    La base juridique de l’agence Frontex lui permet de suspendre une opération lorsque des atteintes aux droits de la personne sont constatées sur place. Mais son directeur, Fabrice Leggeri, ne considère pas que ce soit nécessaire dans le cas de la Hongrie. Car la simple présence de l’agence suffirait à dissuader les policiers hongrois de se montrer violents, a-t-il répondu dans une lettre adressée à des organisations non gouvernementales qui réclamaient un retrait des équipes présentes en Hongrie. Sans compter qu’avoir des employés de Frontex sur place pourrait au moins permettre de documenter certains incidents.

    Même une procédure en manquement lancée par la Commission européenne contre la Hongrie et un jugement de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme n’ont rien changé à la position de Frontex. Les lois hongroises en matière de demande d’asile et les expulsions pratiquées dans ce pays ont beau être contraires à la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, l’agence n’accepte pas pour autant d’interrompre ses opérations sur place.

    Et les garde-frontières hongrois se déchaînent sous l’œil indifférent de Frontex.

    Surveiller pour renvoyer

    Le débat sur les sauvetages en Méditerranée et la répartition des réfugiés entre les pays membres constitue une épreuve de vérité pour l’UE. Les négociations censées mener à une réforme du système d’asile commun stagnent depuis des années. Le seul point sur lequel la politique européenne est unanime : donner à Frontex plus d’argent et donc plus d’agents, plus de bateaux, plus d’équipements.

    Voilà ce qui explique que l’UE, un mois avant le scrutin européen de mai 2019, ait voté en un temps record, via ses institutions, une réforme du règlement relatif à la base juridique de Frontex. Il aura fallu à la Commission, au Parlement et au Conseil à peine six mois pour s’accorder sur une ordonnance longue de 245 pages, déterminante pour les questions de politique sécuritaire et migratoire. Rappelons en comparaison que la réforme du droit d’auteur et le règlement général sur la protection des données, deux chantiers si ardemment controversés, n’avaient pu être adoptés qu’au bout de six ans, du début des concertations à leur mise en œuvre.

    « Au vu des nouvelles habilitations et du contrôle direct qu’exerce Frontex sur son personnel et ses équipements, il est plus important que jamais de forcer l’agence à respecter les lois », affirme Mariana Gkliati, chercheuse en droit européen à l’université de Leyde. « Petit à petit, le mandat des officiers aux droits fondamentaux s’est élargi, mais tant qu’ils n’auront pas à leur disposition suffisamment de personnel et de ressources, ils ne seront pas en mesure de remplir leur rôle. »

    Frontex récuse cette critique.

    « Le bureau des officiers aux droits fondamentaux a été considérablement renforcé au cours des dernières années. Cela va de pair avec l’élargissement de notre mandat, et il est bien évident que cette tendance ne fera que s’accroître au cours des années à venir, déclare Krzysztof Borowski, porte-parole de l’agence. Le bureau prend de l’ampleur à mesure que Frontex grandit. »

    Mais le travail des officiers aux droits fondamentaux s’annonce encore plus épineux. Car Frontex s’efforce de réduire le plus possible tout contact direct avec les migrants aux frontières extérieures de l’Europe. En suivant cette logique : si Frontex n’est pas présente sur place, personne ne pourra lui reprocher quoi que ce soit dans le cas où des atteintes aux droits humains seraient constatées. Ce qui explique que l’agence investisse massivement dans les systèmes de surveillance, et notamment Eurosur, vaste programme de surveillance aérienne.

    Depuis l’an dernier, Frontex, non contente de recevoir des images fournies par ses propres satellites de reconnaissance et par le constructeur aéronautique Airbus, en récolte aussi grâce à ses drones de reconnaissance.

    Eurosur relie Frontex à l’ensemble des services de garde-frontières des 28 États membres de l’UE. De concert avec l’élargissement d’autres banques de données européennes, comme celle de l’agence de gestion informatique eu-Lisa, destinée à collecter les informations personnelles de millions de voyageurs, l’UE met ainsi en place une banque de données qu’elle voudrait infaillible.

    Son but : aucun passage de frontière aux portes de l’Europe – et à plus forte raison en Méditerranée – ne doit échapper à Frontex. Or, la surveillance depuis les airs permet d’appréhender les réfugiés là où la responsabilité de Frontex n’est pas encore engagée. C’est du moins ce dont est persuadé Matthias Monroy, assistant parlementaire du député de gauche allemand Andrej Hunko, qui scrute depuis des années le comportement de Frontex en Méditerranée. « C’est là que réside à mon sens l’objectif de ces missions : fournir aux garde-côtes libyens des coordonnées permettant d’intercepter ces embarcations le plus tôt possible sur leur route vers l’Europe. »

    Autre exemple, cette fois-ci dans les Balkans : depuis mai 2019, des garde-frontières issus de douze pays de l’UE sont déployés dans le cadre d’une mission Frontex le long de la frontière entre l’Albanie et la Grèce – mais côté albanais. Ce qui leur permet de bénéficier de l’immunité contre toute poursuite civile et juridique en Grèce.

    Forte de ses nouvelles habilitations, Frontex pourrait bientôt poster ses propres agents frontaliers au Niger, en Tunisie ou même en Libye. L’agence collaborerait alors avec des pays où les droits humains ont une importance quasi nulle.

    Qu’à cela ne tienne : Luisa Izuzquiza va tout faire pour suivre cette évolution, en continuant à envoyer ses demandes d’information au contrôleur Frontex. Même s’il faut le contrôler jusqu’en Afrique. Et même si le combat doit être encore plus féroce.

    Mais de petits succès se font sentir : en mars 2016, l’UE négocie une solution avec la Turquie pour endiguer les flux de réfugiés en mer Égée. La Turquie se chargera de bloquer les migrants ; en contrepartie, l’UE lui promet des aides de plusieurs milliards d’euros pour s’occuper des personnes échouées sur son territoire.

    Cet accord entre l’UE et la Turquie a suscité de nombreuses critiques. Mais peut-être faut-il rappeler qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un accord en bonne et due forme, et que l’UE n’a rien signé. Ce que les médias ont qualifié de « deal » a simplement consisté en une négociation entre le Conseil de l’Europe, c’est-à-dire les États membres, et la Turquie. Le fameux accord n’existe pas, seul un communiqué officiel a été publié.

    Cela veut dire que les réfugiés expulsés de Grèce pour être ensuite acheminés vers la Turquie, en vertu du fameux « deal », n’ont presque aucun moyen de s’opposer à cet accord fantôme. Grâce à une demande relevant de la liberté de l’information, Luisa Izuzquiza est tout de même parvenue à obtenir l’expertise juridique sur laquelle s’est fondée la Commission européenne pour vérifier, par précaution, la validité légale de son « accord ». Ce qui s’est révélé avantageux pour les avocats de deux demandeurs d’asile ayant déposé plainte contre le Conseil de l’Europe.

    Luisa Izuzquiza et Arne Semsrott auront attendu un an et demi. En juillet dernier, l’heure a enfin sonné. Dans la « salle bleue » de la Cour de justice européenne, à Luxembourg, va avoir lieu la première négociation portant sur le volume d’informations que Frontex sera tenue de fournir au public sur son action.

    Il y a quelques années, Frontex rejetait encore les demandes relevant de la liberté de l’information sans invoquer aucun argument juridique. Ce jour-là, Frontex se présente au tribunal avec cinq avocats, secondés par un capitaine des garde-côtes finnois. « Il s’agit pour nous de sauver des vies humaines », plaide l’un des avocats à la barre, face au banc des juges, dans un anglais mâtiné d’accent allemand. Et justement, pour protéger des vies humaines, il est nécessaire de garder secrètes les informations qui touchent au travail de Frontex. L’avocat exige que la plainte soit rejetée.

    Après la séance de juillet, la Cour a maintenant quelques mois pour statuer sur l’issue de l’affaire. Si les activistes sortent vainqueurs, ils sauront quels bateaux l’agence Frontex a déployés en Méditerranée deux ans plus tôt, dans le cadre d’une mission qui n’existe plus. Dans le cas d’une décision défavorable à Frontex, l’agence redoute de devoir révéler des informations sur ses navires en activité, ce qui permettrait de suivre leurs mouvements. Mais rien n’est moins vrai. Car la flotte de Frontex a tout bonnement pour habitude de couper les transpondeurs permettant aux navires d’indiquer leur position et leur itinéraire par satellite.

    Mais c’est une autre question qui est en jeu face à la cour de Luxembourg : l’agence européenne devra-t-elle rendre des comptes à l’opinion publique, ou pourra-t-elle garder ses opérations sous le sceau du secret ? Frontex fait l’objet de nombreuses accusations, et il est très difficile de déterminer lesquelles d’entre elles sont justifiées.

    « Pour moi, les demandes relevant de la liberté de l’information constituent une arme contre l’impuissance, déclare Arne Semsrott. L’une des seules armes que les individus peuvent brandir contre la toute-puissance des institutions, même quand ils ont tout perdu. »

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/160819/peut-controler-les-controles-de-frontex
    #frontières #migrations #réfugiés #asile #sauvetage #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #droits_humains #pouvoir #Serbie #Nigeria #Cap-Vert #externalisation #agents_de_liaison #Turquie #contrôle_parlementaire

    ping @karine4 @isskein @reka

  • Militarisation des frontières en #Mer_Egée

    En Mer Egée c’est exactement la même stratégie qui se met en place, et notamment à #Samos, où une #zeppelin (#zeppelin_de_surveillance) de #Frontex surveillera le détroit entre l’île et la côte turque, afin de signaler tout départ de bateaux. L’objectif est d’arrêter « à temps » les embarcations des réfugiés en les signalant aux garde-corps turques. Comme l’a dit le vice-ministre de l’immigration Koumoutsakos « on saura l’heure de départ de l’embarcation, on va en informer les turques, on s’approcher du bateau... »
    S’approcher pourquoi faire, sinon, pour le repousser vers la côte turque ?
    Le fonctionnement de la montgolfière sera confié aux garde-cotes et à la police grecque, l’opération restant sous le contrôle de Frontex.

    –-> reçu via la mailing-list de Migreurop, le 30.07.2017

    #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Turquie #Grèce #migrations #réfugiés #asile #police #gardes-côtes #surveillance

    –-----------

    Commentaire de Martin Clavey sur twitter :

    Cynisme absolu : Frontex utilise des drones pour surveiller les migrants en méditerranée ce qui permet à l’Union européenne de ne pas utiliser de bateau de surveillance et donc ne pas être soumis au #droit_maritime et à avoir à les sauver

    https://twitter.com/mart1oeil/status/1158396604648493058

    • Σε δοκιμαστική λειτουργία το αερόσταστο της FRONTEX

      Σε δοκιμαστική λειτουργία τίθεται από σήμερα για 28 ημέρες το αερόστατο της FRONTEX στη Σάμο, μήκους 35 μέτρων, προσδεμένο στο έδαφος, εξοπλισμένο με ραντάρ, θερμική κάμερα και σύστημα αυτόματης αναγνώρισης, το οποίο θα επιτηρεί αδιάλειπτα και σε πραγματικό χρόνο το θαλάσσιο πεδίο.

      Σύμφωνα με ανακοίνωση του Λιμενικού, στόχος είναι η αστυνόμευση του θαλάσσιου πεδίου και η καταπολέμηση του διασυνοριακού εγκλήματος. Δημιουργείται ωστόσο το ερώτημα αν οι πληροφορίες που θα συλλέγει το αερόστατο θα χρησιμοποιούνται για την αναχαίτιση ή την αποτροπή των πλεούμενων των προσφύγων που ξεκινούν από τα τουρκικά παράλια για να ζητήσουν διεθνή προστασία στην Ευρώπη.

      « Πρώτα απ’ όλα ξέρεις τι ώρα φεύγει από τους διακινητές το σκάφος, ενημερώνεις την τουρκική πλευρά, πηγαίνεις εσύ κοντά, δηλαδή είναι ένα σύνολο ενεργειών » σημείωνε την περασμένη εβδομάδα σε συνέντευξή του στον ΑΝΤ1 ο αναπληρωτής υπουργός Μεταναστευτικής Πολιτικής Γιώργος Κουμουτσάκος, μιλώντας για τα αποτελέσματα που αναμένεται να έχει το αερόστατο στην ενίσχυση της επιτήρησης των συνόρων.

      Το Λιμενικό είναι η πρώτη ακτοφυλακή κράτους-μέλους της Ε.Ε. που χρησιμοποιεί αερόστατο για την επιτήρηση της θάλασσας, δέκα μήνες μετά την πρώτη παρόμοια πανευρωπαϊκή χρήση μη επανδρωμένου αεροσκάφους μεσαίου ύψους μακράς εμβέλειας.

      « Αυτό καταδεικνύει την ισχυρή και ξεκάθαρη βούληση του Λ.Σ.-ΕΛ.ΑΚΤ. να καταβάλει κάθε δυνατή προσπάθεια, χρησιμοποιώντας τη διαθέσιμη τεχνολογία αιχμής, για την αποτελεσματική φύλαξη των εξωτερικών θαλάσσιων συνόρων της Ευρωπαϊκής Ενωσης, την πάταξη κάθε μορφής εγκληματικότητας καθώς και την προστασία της ανθρώπινης ζωής στη θάλασσα », σημειώνει το Λιμενικό.

      Η λειτουργία του αερόστατου εντάσσεται στην επιχείρηση « Ποσειδών » που συντονίζουν το Λιμενικό και η ΕΛ.ΑΣ. υπό την επιτήρηση της FRONTEX.

      Παράλληλα, στο νησί θα τεθεί σε λειτουργία φορτηγό εξοπλισμένο με παρόμοια συστήματα, προκειμένου να μπορούν να συγκριθούν τα αποτελέσματα και η λειτουργία του επίγειου και του εναέριου συστήματος.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/ellada/koinonia/205553_se-dokimastiki-leitoyrgia-aerostasto-tis-frontex

    • Zeppelin over the island of Samos to monitor migrants trafficking

      Greek authorities and the Frontex will release a huge surveillance Zeppelin above the island of Samos to monitor migrants who illegally try to reach Greece and Europe. The installation of the ominous balloon will be certainly a grotesque attraction for the tourists who visit the island in the East Aegean Sea.

      Deputy Minister of Migration Policy Giorgos Koumoutsakos told private ANT1 TV that the Zeppelin will go in operation next week.

      “In Samos, at some point, I think it’s a matter of days or a week, a Zeppelin balloon will be installed in cooperation with FRONTEX, which will take a picture of a huge area. What does that mean? First of all, you know what time the ship moves away from the traffickers, inform the Turkish side, you go near, that is a set of actions,” Koumoutsakos said.

      The Zeppelin will be monitored by the GNR radar unit of the Frontext located at the port of Karlovasi, samiakienimerosi notes adding “It will give a picture of movements between the Turkish coast to Samos for the more effective guarding of our maritime borders.”

      The Deputy Minister did not elaborate on what exactly can the Greek Port Authority do when it comes “near” to the refugee and migrants boats.

      According to daily efimerida ton syntakton, the Norwegian NGO, Aegean Boat Report, revealed a video shot on July 17. The video shows how a Greek Coast Guard vessel approaches a boat with 34 people on board and leaves them at the open sea to be “collected” by Turkish authorities, while the passengers, among them 14 children, desperately are shouting “Not to Turkey!”

      It is not clear, whether the Greek Coast Guard vessel is in international waters as such vessels do not enter Turkish territorial waters. According to international law, the passengers ought to be rescued. The Greek Coast Guard has so far not taken position on the issue, saying it will need to evaluate the video first, efsyn notes.

      “There is no push backs. Everything will be done in accordance with the international law. Greece will do nothing beyond the international law,” Koumoutsakos stressed.

      PS I suppose, tourists will be cheered to have their vacation activities monitored by a plastic Big Brother. Not?

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2019/07/26/zeppelin-samos-migrants-refugees

    • Once migrants on Mediterranean were saved by naval patrols. Now they have to watch as #drones fly over
      https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/8a92adecf247b04c801a67a612766ee753738437/0_109_4332_2599/master/4332.jpg?width=605&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=c0051d5e4fff6aff063c70

      Amid the panicked shouting from the water and the smell of petrol from the sinking dinghy, the noise of an approaching engine briefly raises hope. Dozens of people fighting for their lives in the Mediterranean use their remaining energy to wave frantically for help. Nearly 2,000 miles away in the Polish capital, Warsaw, a drone operator watches their final moments via a live transmission. There is no ship to answer the SOS, just an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the European border and coast guard agency, Frontex.

      This is not a scene from some nightmarish future on Europe’s maritime borders but a present-day probability. Frontex, which is based in Warsaw, is part of a £95m investment by the EU in unmanned aerial vehicles, the Observer has learned.

      This spending has come as the EU pulls back its naval missions in the Mediterranean and harasses almost all search-and-rescue charity boats out of the water. Frontex’s surveillance drones are flying over waters off Libya where not a single rescue has been carried out by the main EU naval mission since last August, in what is the deadliest stretch of water in the world.

      The replacement of naval vessels, which can conduct rescues, with drones, which cannot, is being condemned as a cynical abrogation of any European role in saving lives.

      “There is no obligation for drones to be equipped with life-saving appliances and to conduct rescue operations,” said a German Green party MEP, Erik Marquardt. “You need ships for that, and ships are exactly what there is a lack of at the moment.” This year the death rate for people attempting the Mediterranean crossing has risen from a historical average of 2% to as high as 14% last month. In total, 567 of the estimated 8,362 people who have attempted it so far this year have died.

      Gabriele Iacovino, director of one of Italy’s leading thinktanks, the Centre for International Studies, said the move into drones was “a way to spend money without having the responsibility to save lives”. Aerial surveillance without ships in the water amounted to a “naval mission without a naval force”, and was about avoiding embarrassing political rows in Europe over what to do with rescued migrants.

      Since March the EU’s main naval mission in the area, Operation Sophia, has withdrawn its ships from waters where the majority of migrant boats have sunk. While Sophia was not primarily a search-and-rescue mission, it was obliged under international and EU law to assist vessels in distress. The switch to drones is part of an apparent effort to monitor the Mediterranean without being pulled into rescue missions that deliver migrants to European shores.

      Marta Foresti, director of the Human Mobility Initiative at the Overseas Development Institute, an influential UK thinktank, said Europe had replaced migration policy with panic, with potentially lethal consequences. “We panicked in 2015 and that panic has turned into security budgets,” she said. “Frontex’s budget has doubled with very little oversight or design. It’s a knee-jerk reaction.”

      The strategy has seen Frontex, based in Warsaw, and its sister agency, the European Maritime Safety Agency, based in Lisbon, invest in pilotless aerial vehicles. The Observer has found three contracts – two under EMSA and one under Frontex – totalling £95m for drones that can supply intelligence to Frontex.

      The models include the Hermes, made by Elbit Systems, Israel’s biggest privately owned arms manufacturer, and the Heron, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, a state-owned company. Both models were developed for use in combat missions in the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza. Frontex said its drone suppliers met all “EU procurement rules and guidelines”.

      There is mounting concern both over how Frontex is spending EU taxpayers’ money and how it can be held accountable. The migration panic roiling Europe’s politics has been a boon for a once unfashionable EU outpost that coordinated national coastal and border guards. Ten years ago Frontex’s budget was £79m. In the latest budget cycle it has been awarded £10.4bn.

      Demand from member states for its services have largely been driven by its role in coordinating and carrying out deportations. The expansion of the deportation machine has caused concern among institutions tasked with monitoring the forced returns missions: a group of national ombudsmen, independent watchdogs appointed in all EU member states to safeguard human rights, has announced plans to begin its own independent monitoring group. The move follows frustration with the way their reports on past missions have been handled by Frontex.

      Andreas Pottakis, Greece’s ombudsman, is among those calling for an end to the agency policing itself: “Internal monitoring of Frontex by Frontex cannot substitute for the need for external monitoring by independent bodies. This is the only way the demand for transparency can be met and that the EU administration can effectively be held into account.”
      Acting to extradite helpless civilians to the hands of Libyan militias may amount to criminal liability

      The Frontex Consultative Forum, a body offering strategic advice to Frontex’s management board on how the agency can improve respect for fundamental rights, has also severely criticised it for a sloppy approach to accountability. An online archive of all Frontex operations, which was used by independent researchers, was recently removed.

      The switch to drones in the Mediterranean has also led to Frontex being accused of feeding intelligence on the position of migrant boats to Libya’s coast guards so they can intercept and return them to Libya. Although it receives EU funds, the Libyan coast guard remains a loosely defined outfit that often overlaps with smuggling gangs and detention centre owners.

      “The Libyan coast guard never patrols the sea,” said Tamino Böhm of the German rescue charity Sea-Watch. “They never leave port unless there is a boat to head to for a pullback. This means the information they have comes from the surveillance flights of Italy, Frontex and the EU.”

      A Frontex spokesperson said that incidents related to boats in distress were passed to the “responsible rescue coordination centre and to the neighbouring ones for situational awareness and potential coordination”. Thus the maritime rescue coordination centre in Rome has begun to share information with its Libyan counterpart in Tripoli, under the instructions of Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

      The EU is already accused of crimes against humanity in a submission before the International Criminal Court for “orchestrating a policy of forced transfer to concentration camp-like detention facilities [in Libya] where atrocious crimes are committed”.

      The case, brought by lawyers based in Paris, seeks to demonstrate that many of the people intercepted have faced human rights abuses ranging from slavery to torture and murder after being returned to Libya.

      Omer Shatz, an Israeli who teaches at Sciences Po university in Paris, and one of the two lawyers who brought the ICC case, said Frontex drone operators could be criminally liable for aiding pullbacks. “A drone operator that is aware of a migrant boat in distress is obliged to secure fundamental rights to life, body integrity, liberty and dignity. This means she has to take actions intended to search, rescue and disembark those rescued at safe port. Acting to extradite helpless vulnerable civilians to the hands of Libyan militias may amount to criminal liability.”

      Under international law, migrants rescued at sea by European vessels cannot be returned to Libya, where conflict and human rights abuses mean the UN has stated there is no safe port. Under the UN convention on the law of the sea (Unclos) all ships are obliged to report an encounter with a vessel in distress and offer assistance. This is partly why EU naval missions that were not mandated to conduct rescue missions found themselves pitched into them regardless.

      Drones, however, operate in a legal grey zone not covered by Unclos. The situation for private contractors to EU agencies, as in some of the current drone operations, is even less clear.

      Frontex told the Observer that all drone operators, staff or private contractors are subject to EU laws that mandate the protection of human life. The agency said it was unable to share a copy of the mission instructions given to drone operators that would tell them what to do in the event of encountering a boat in distress, asking the Observer to submit a freedom of information request. The agency said drones had encountered boats in distress on only four occasions – all in June this year – in the central Mediterranean, and that none had led to a “serious incident report” – Frontex jargon for a red flag. When EU naval vessels were deployed in similar areas in previous years, multiple serious incidents were reported every month, according to documents seen by the Observer.

      https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/04/drones-replace-patrol-ships-mediterranean-fears-more-migrant-deaths

      #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #Libye

    • L’uso dei droni per guardare i migranti che affogano mette a nudo tutta la disumanità delle pratiche di controllo sui confini

      In troppi crediamo al mito di una frontiera dal volto umano, solo perché ci spaventa guardare in faccia la realtà macchiata di sangue.

      “Se avessi ignorato quelle grida di aiuto, non avrei mai più trovato il coraggio di affrontare il mare”.

      Con queste parole il pescatore siciliano Carlo Giarratano ha commentato la sua decisione di sfidare il “decreto sicurezza” del Governo italiano, che prevede sanzioni o l’arresto nei confronti di chiunque trasporti in Italia migranti soccorsi in mare.

      La sua storia è un esempio della preoccupante tensione che si è creata ai confini della “Fortezza Europa” in materia di leggi e regolamenti. Secondo il diritto internazionale, il capitano di un’imbarcazione in mare è tenuto a fornire assistenza alle persone in difficoltà, “a prescindere dalla nazionalità o dalla cittadinanza delle persone stesse”. Al contempo, molti paesi europei, e la stessa UE, stanno cercando di limitare questo principio e queste attività, malgrado il tragico bilancio di morti nel Mediterraneo, in continua crescita.

      L’Agenzia di Confine e Guardia Costiera Europea, Frontex, sembra aver escogitato una soluzione ingegnosa: i droni. L’obbligo legale di aiutare un’imbarcazione in difficoltà non si applica a un veicolo aereo senza pilota (UAV, unmanned aerial vehicle). Si può aggirare la questione, politicamente calda, su chi sia responsabile di accogliere i migranti soccorsi, se questi semplicemente non vengono proprio soccorsi. Questo principio fa parte di una consolidata tendenza a mettere in atto politiche finalizzate a impedire che i migranti attraversino il Mediterraneo. Visto l’obbligo di soccorrere le persone che ci chiedono aiuto, la soluzione sembra essere questa: fare in modo di non sentire le loro richieste.

      Jean-Claude Juncker sostiene che le politiche europee di presidio ai confini sono concepite per “stroncare il business dei trafficanti”, perché nella moralità egocentrica che ispira la politica di frontiera europea, se non ci fossero trafficanti non ci sarebbero migranti.

      Ma non ci sono trafficanti che si fabbricano migranti in officina. Se le rotte ufficiali sono bloccate, le persone vanno a cercare quelle non ufficiali. Rendere la migrazione più difficile, ha fatto aumentare la richiesta di trafficanti e scafisti, certamente non l’ha fermata. Invece che stroncare il loro business, queste politiche lo hanno creato.

      Secondo la logica della foglia di fico, l’UE sostiene di non limitarsi a lasciare affogare i migranti, ma di fornire supporto alla guardia costiera libica perché intercetti le imbarcazioni che tentano la traversata e riporti le persone nei campi di detenzione in Libia.

      Ma il rapporto del Global Detention Project, a proposito delle condizioni in questi campi, riferisce: “I detenuti sono spesso sottoposti a gravi abusi e violenze, compresi stupri e torture, estorsioni, lavori forzati, schiavitù, condizioni di vita insopportabili, esecuzioni sommarie.” Human Rights Watch, in un rapporto intitolato Senza via di fuga dall’Inferno, descrive situazioni di sovraffollamento e malnutrizione e riporta testimonianze di bambini picchiati dalle guardie.

      L’Irish Times ha riportato accuse secondo cui le milizie associate con il GNA (Governo Libico di Alleanza Nazionale, riconosciuto dall’ONU), starebbero immagazzinando munizioni in questi campi e userebbero i rifugiati come “scudi umani”. Sembra quasi inevitabile, quindi, la notizia che il 3 luglio almeno 53 rifugiati sono stati uccisi durante un attacco dei ribelli appartenenti all’Esercito Nazionale Libico, nel campo di detenzione di Tajura, vicino a Tripoli.

      Secondo una testimonianza riportata dall’Associated Press, a Tajura i migranti erano costretti a pulire le armi delle milizie fedeli al GNA, armi che erano immagazzinate nel campo. Secondo i racconti di testimoni oculari dell’attacco, riportati dalle forze ONU, le guardie del campo avrebbero aperto il fuoco su chi tentava di scappare.

      Nel mondo occidentale, quando parliamo di immigrazione, tendiamo a focalizzarci sul cosiddetto “impatto sulle comunità” causato dai flussi di nuovi arrivati che si muovono da un posto all’altro.

      Nelle nostre discussioni, ci chiediamo se i migranti portino un guadagno per l’economia oppure intacchino risorse già scarse. Raramente ci fermiamo a guardare nella sua cruda e tecnica realtà la concreta applicazione del controllo alle frontiere, quando si traduce davvero in fucili e filo spinato.

      Ci ripetiamo che i costi vanno tutti in un’unica direzione: secondo la nostra narrazione preferita, i controlli di confine sono tutti gratis, è lasciare entrare i migranti la cosa che costa. Ma i costi da pagare ci sono sempre: non solo il tributo di morti che continua a crescere o i budget multimilionari e sempre in aumento delle nostre agenzie di frontiera, ma anche i costi morali e sociali che finiamo con l’estorcere a noi stessi.

      L’ossessione per la sicurezza dei confini deve fare i conti con alcune delle più antiche e radicate convinzioni etiche proprie delle società occidentali. Prendersi cura del più debole, fare agli altri quello che vogliamo sia fatto a noi, aiutare chi possiamo. Molti uomini e donne che lavorano in mare, quando soccorrono dei naufraghi non sono spinti solo da una legge che li obbliga a prestare aiuto, ma anche da un imperativo morale più essenziale. “Lo facciamo perché siamo gente di mare”, ha detto Giarratano al Guardian, “in mare, se ci sono persone in pericolo, le salviamo”.

      Ma i nostri governi hanno deciso che questo non vale per gli europei. Come se fosse una perversa sfida lanciata a istinti morali vecchi di migliaia di anni, nell’Europa moderna un marinaio che salva un migrante mentre sta per affogare, deve essere punito.

      Infrangere queste reti di reciproche responsabilità fra gli esseri umani, ha dei costi: divisioni e tensioni sociali. Ed è un amaro paradosso, perché proprio argomenti di questo genere sono in testa alle nostre preoccupazioni percepite quando si parla di migrazioni. E mentre l’UE fa di tutto per respingere un fronte del confine verso i deserti del Nord Africa, cercando di tenere i corpi dei rifugiati abbastanza lontani da non farceli vedere da vicino, intanto l’altro fronte continua a spingere verso di noi. L’Europa diventa un “ambiente ostile” e quindi noi diventiamo un popolo ostile.

      Ci auto-ingaggiamo come guardie di confine al nostro interno. Padroni di casa, infermiere, insegnanti, manager – ogni relazione sociale deve essere controllata. Il nostro regime di “frontiera quotidiana” crea “comunità sospette” all’interno della nostra società: sono persone sospette per il solo fatto di esistere e, nei loro confronti, si possono chiamare le forze dell’ordine in ogni momento, “giusto per dare un’occhiata”.

      Il confine non è solo un sistema per tenere gli estranei fuori dalla nostra società, ma per marchiare per sempre le persone come estranee, anche all’interno e per legittimare ufficialmente il pregiudizio, per garantire che “l’integrazione” – il Sacro Graal della narrazione progressista sull’immigrazione – resti illusoria e irrealizzabile, uno scherzo crudele giocato sulla pelle di persone destinate a rimanere etichettate come straniere e sospette. La nostra società nel suo insieme si mette al servizio di questo insaziabile confine, fino a definire la sua vera e propria identità nella capacità di respingere le persone.

      Malgrado arrivino continuamente immagini e notizie di tragedie e di morti, i media evitano di collegarle con le campagne di opinione che amplificano le cosiddette “legittime preoccupazioni” della gente e le trasformano in un inattaccabile “comune buon senso”.

      I compromessi che reggono le politiche di controllo dei confini non vengono messi in luce. Questo ci permette di guardare da un’altra parte, non perché siamo crudeli ma perché non possiamo sopportare di vedere quello che stiamo facendo. Ci sono persone e gruppi che, come denuncia Adam Serwer in un articolo su The Atlantic, sono proprio “Focalizzati sulla Crudeltà”. E anche se noi non siamo così, viviamo comunque nel loro stesso mondo, un mondo in cui degli esseri umani annegano e noi li guardiamo dall’alto dei nostri droni senza pilota, mentre lo stato punisce chi cerca di salvarli.

      In troppi crediamo nel mito di una frontiera dal volto umano, solo perché ci spaventa guardare in faccia la tragica e insanguinata realtà del concreto controllo quotidiano sui confini. E comunque, se fosse possibile, non avremmo ormai risolto questa contraddizione? Il fatto che non lo abbiamo fatto dovrebbe portarci a pensare che non ne siamo capaci e che ci si prospetta una cruda e desolante scelta morale per il futuro.

      D’ora in poi, il numero dei migranti non può che aumentare. I cambiamenti climatici saranno determinanti. La scelta di non respingerli non sarà certamente gratis: non c’è modo di condividere le nostre risorse con altri senza sostenere dei costi. Ma se non lo facciamo, scegliamo consapevolmente i naufragi, gli annegamenti, i campi di detenzione, scegliamo di destinare queste persone ad una vita da schiavi in zone di guerra. Scegliamo l’ambiente ostile. Scegliamo di “difendere il nostro stile di vita” semplicemente accettando di vivere a fianco di una popolazione sempre in aumento fatta di rifugiati senza patria, ammassati in baracche di lamiera e depositi soffocanti, sfiniti fino alla disperazione.

      Ma c’è un costo che, alla fine, giudicheremo troppo alto da pagare? Per il momento, sembra di no: ma, … cosa siamo diventati?

      https://dossierlibia.lasciatecientrare.it/luso-dei-droni-per-guardare-i-migranti-che-affogano-m

    • Et aussi... l’utilisation de moins en moins de #bateaux et de plus en plus de #avions a le même effet...

      Sophia : The EU naval mission without any ships

      Launched in 2015 to combat human smuggling in the Mediterranean, the operation has been all but dismantled, symbolizing European division on immigration policy.


      The Italian air base of Sigonella extends its wire fencing across the green and yellow fields of Sicily, 25 kilometers inland from the island’s coastline. Only the enormous cone of Mount Etna, visible in the distance, stands out over this flat land. Posters depicting a sniper taking aim indicate that this is a restricted-access military zone with armed surveillance.

      Inside, there is an enormous city with deserted avenues, runways and hangars. This is the departure point for aircraft patrolling the Central Mediterranean as part of EU Naval Force Mediterranean Operation Sophia, Europe’s military response to the human smuggling rings, launched in 2015. But since March of this year, the planes have been a reflection of a mutilated mission: Sophia is now a naval operation without any ships.

      The Spanish detachment in #Sigonella has just rotated some of its personnel. A group of newly arrived soldiers are being trained in a small room inside one of the makeshift containers where the group of 39 military members work. The aircraft that they use is standing just a few meters away, on a sun-drenched esplanade that smells of fuel. The plane has been designed for round-the-clock maritime surveillance, and it has a spherical infrared camera fitted on its nose that allows it to locate and identify seagoing vessels, as well as to detect illegal trafficking of people, arms and oil.

      If the EU had systematically shown more solidarity with Italy [...] Italian voters would not have made a dramatic swing to the far right

      Juan Fernando López Aguilar, EU Civil Liberties Committee

      This aircraft was also made to assist in sea rescues. But this activity is no longer taking place, now that there are no ships in the mission. Six aircraft are all that remain of Operation Sophia, which has been all but dismantled. Nobody would venture to say whether its mandate will be extended beyond the current deadline of September 30.

      The planes at Sigonella continue to patrol the Central Mediterranean and collect information to meet the ambitious if vague goal that triggered the mission back at the height of the refugee crisis: “To disrupt the business of human and weapons smuggling.” The operation’s most controversial task is still being carried out as well: training Libya’s Coast Guard so they will do the job of intercepting vessels filled with people fleeing Libyan war and chaos, and return them to the point of departure. Even official sources of Europe’s diplomatic service admitted, in a written reply, that the temporary suspension of naval assets “is not optimal,” and that the mission’s ability to fulfill its mandate “is more limited.”

      In these four years, the mission has had some tangible achievements: the arrest of 151 individuals suspected of human trafficking and smuggling, and the destruction of 551 boats used by criminal networks. Operation Sophia has also inspected three ships and seized banned goods; it has made radio contact with 2,462 vessels to check their identity, and made 161 friendly approaches. For European diplomats, the mission has been mainly useful in “significantly reducing smugglers’ ability to operate in high seas” and has generally contributed to “improving maritime safety and stability in the Central Mediterranean.”

      Sophia’s main mission was never to rescue people at sea, yet in these last years it has saved 45,000 lives, following the maritime obligation to aid people in distress. The reason why it has been stripped of its ships – a move that has been strongly criticized by non-profit groups – can be found 800 kilometers north of Sicily, in Rome, and also in the offices of European politicians. Last summer, Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini began to apply a closed-port policy for ships carrying rescued migrants unless a previous relocation agreement existed with other countries. Salvini first targeted the non-profit groups performing sea rescues, and then he warned his European colleagues that Italy, which is leading the EU mission, would refuse to take in all the rescued migrants without first seeing a change in EU policy. A year later, no European deal has emerged, and every time a rescue is made, the issue of who takes in the migrants is negotiated on an ad hoc basis.

      Operation Sophia has saved 45,000 lives

      Although arrivals through this route have plummeted, Salvini insists that “Italy is not willing to accept all the migrants who arrive in Europe.” Political division among member states has had an effect on the European military mission. “Sophia has not been conducting rescues since August 2018,” says Matteo Villa, a migration expert at Italy’s Institute for International Policy Studies (ISPI). “Nobody in the EU wanted to see a mission ship with migrants on board being refused port entry, so the ‘solution’ was to suspend Sophia’s naval tasks.”

      The decision to maintain the operation without any ships was made at the last minute in March, in a move that prevented the dismantling of the mission just ahead of the European elections. “Operation Sophia has helped save lives, although that was not its main objective. It was a mistake for [the EU] to leave it with nothing but airplanes, without the ships that were able to save lives,” says Matteo de Bellis, a migration and refugee expert at Amnesty International. “What they are doing now, training the Libyans, only serves to empower the forces that intercept refugees and migrants and return them to Libya, where they face arbitrary detention in centers where there is torture, exploitation and rape.”

      Ever since the great maritime rescue operation developed by Italy in 2013, the Mare Nostrum, which saved 150,000 people, its European successors have been less ambitious in scope and their goals more focused on security and border patrolling. This is the case with Sophia, which by training the Libyan Coast Guard is contributing to the increasingly clear strategy of outsourcing EU migratory control, even to a country mired in chaos and war. “If Europe reduces search-and-rescue operations and encourages Libya to conduct them in its place, then it is being an accomplice to the violations taking place in Libya,” says Catherine Wollard, secretary general of the non-profit network integrated in the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

      Training the Libyans only serves to empower the forces that intercept refugees and migrants and return them to Libya, where they face torture, exploitation and rape

      Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International

      The vision offered by official European sources regarding the training of the Libyan Coast Guard, and about Operation Sophia in general, is very different when it comes to reducing mortality on the Mediterranean’s most deadly migration route. “Operation Sophia was launched to fight criminal human smuggling networks that put lives at risk in the Central Mediterranean,” they say in a written response. European officials are aware of what is going on in Libya, but their response to the accusations of abuse perpetrated by the Libyan Coast Guard and the situation of migrants confined in detention centers in terrible conditions, is the following: “Everything that happens in Libyan territorial waters is Libya’s responsibility, not Europe’s, yet we are not looking the other way. […] Through Operation Sophia we have saved lives, fought traffickers and trained the Libyan Coast Guard […]. We are performing this last task because substantial loss of life at sea is taking place within Libyan territorial waters. That is why it is very important for Libya’s Coast Guard and Navy to know how to assist distressed migrants in line with international law and humanitarian standards. Also, because the contribution of Libya’s Coast Guard in the fight against traffickers operating in their waters is indispensable.”

      Criticism of Operation Sophia is also coming from the European Parliament, which funded the trip that made this feature story possible. Juan Fernando López Aguilar, president of the parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, attacks the decision to strip Sophia of its naval resources. The Socialist Party (PSOE) politician says that this decision was made “in the absolute absence of a global approach to the migration phenomenon that would include cooperative coordination of all the resources at member states’ disposal, such as development aid in Africa, cooperation with origin and transit countries, hirings in countries of origin and the creation of legal ways to access the EU. Now that would dismantle [the mafias’] business model,” he says.

      López Aguilar says that the EU is aware of Italy’s weariness of the situation, considering that “for years it dealt with a migratory pressure that exceeded its response capacity.” Between 2014 and 2017, around 624,000 people landed on Italy’s coasts. “If they EU had systematically shown more solidarity with Italy, if relocation programs for people in hotspots had been observed, very likely Italian voters would not have made a dramatic swing giving victory to the far right, nor would we have reached a point where a xenophobic closed-port narrative is claimed to represent the salvation of Italian interests.”

      Miguel Urbán, a European Member of Parliament for the Spanish leftist party Unidas Podemos, is highly critical of the way the EU has been managing immigration. He talks about a “militarization of the Mediterranean” and describes European policy as bowing to “the far right’s strategy.” He blames Italy’s attitude for turning Sophia into “an operation in the Mediterranean without a naval fleet. What the Italian government gets out of this is to rid itself of its humanitarian responsibility to disembark migrants on its coasts.”

      For now, no progress has been made on the underlying political problem of disembarkation and, by extension, on the long-delayed reform of the Dublin Regulation to balance out frontline states’ responsibility in taking in refugees with solidarity from other countries. Sophia will continue to hobble along until September after being all but given up for dead in March. After that, everything is still up in the air.

      https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/08/29/inenglish/1567088519_215547.html
      #Sophie #Opération_Sophia #Sicile

    • L’uso dei droni per guardare i migranti che affogano mette a nudo tutta la disumanità delle pratiche di controllo sui confini

      In troppi crediamo al mito di una frontiera dal volto umano, solo perché ci spaventa guardare in faccia la realtà macchiata di sangue.

      “Se avessi ignorato quelle grida di aiuto, non avrei mai più trovato il coraggio di affrontare il mare”.

      Con queste parole il pescatore siciliano Carlo Giarratano ha commentato la sua decisione di sfidare il “decreto sicurezza” del Governo italiano, che prevede sanzioni o l’arresto nei confronti di chiunque trasporti in Italia migranti soccorsi in mare.

      La sua storia è un esempio della preoccupante tensione che si è creata ai confini della “Fortezza Europa” in materia di leggi e regolamenti. Secondo il diritto internazionale, il capitano di un’imbarcazione in mare è tenuto a fornire assistenza alle persone in difficoltà, “a prescindere dalla nazionalità o dalla cittadinanza delle persone stesse”. Al contempo, molti paesi europei, e la stessa UE, stanno cercando di limitare questo principio e queste attività, malgrado il tragico bilancio di morti nel Mediterraneo, in continua crescita.

      L’Agenzia di Confine e Guardia Costiera Europea, Frontex, sembra aver escogitato una soluzione ingegnosa: i droni. L’obbligo legale di aiutare un’imbarcazione in difficoltà non si applica a un veicolo aereo senza pilota (UAV, unmanned aerial vehicle). Si può aggirare la questione, politicamente calda, su chi sia responsabile di accogliere i migranti soccorsi, se questi semplicemente non vengono proprio soccorsi. Questo principio fa parte di una consolidata tendenza a mettere in atto politiche finalizzate a impedire che i migranti attraversino il Mediterraneo. Visto l’obbligo di soccorrere le persone che ci chiedono aiuto, la soluzione sembra essere questa: fare in modo di non sentire le loro richieste.

      Jean-Claude Juncker sostiene che le politiche europee di presidio ai confini sono concepite per “stroncare il business dei trafficanti”, perché nella moralità egocentrica che ispira la politica di frontiera europea, se non ci fossero trafficanti non ci sarebbero migranti.

      Ma non ci sono trafficanti che si fabbricano migranti in officina. Se le rotte ufficiali sono bloccate, le persone vanno a cercare quelle non ufficiali. Rendere la migrazione più difficile, ha fatto aumentare la richiesta di trafficanti e scafisti, certamente non l’ha fermata. Invece che stroncare il loro business, queste politiche lo hanno creato.

      Secondo la logica della foglia di fico, l’UE sostiene di non limitarsi a lasciare affogare i migranti, ma di fornire supporto alla guardia costiera libica perché intercetti le imbarcazioni che tentano la traversata e riporti le persone nei campi di detenzione in Libia.

      Ma il rapporto del Global Detention Project, a proposito delle condizioni in questi campi, riferisce: “I detenuti sono spesso sottoposti a gravi abusi e violenze, compresi stupri e torture, estorsioni, lavori forzati, schiavitù, condizioni di vita insopportabili, esecuzioni sommarie.” Human Rights Watch, in un rapporto intitolato Senza via di fuga dall’Inferno, descrive situazioni di sovraffollamento e malnutrizione e riporta testimonianze di bambini picchiati dalle guardie.

      L’Irish Times ha riportato accuse secondo cui le milizie associate con il GNA (Governo Libico di Alleanza Nazionale, riconosciuto dall’ONU), starebbero immagazzinando munizioni in questi campi e userebbero i rifugiati come “scudi umani”. Sembra quasi inevitabile, quindi, la notizia che il 3 luglio almeno 53 rifugiati sono stati uccisi durante un attacco dei ribelli appartenenti all’Esercito Nazionale Libico, nel campo di detenzione di Tajura, vicino a Tripoli.

      Secondo una testimonianza riportata dall’Associated Press, a Tajura i migranti erano costretti a pulire le armi delle milizie fedeli al GNA, armi che erano immagazzinate nel campo. Secondo i racconti di testimoni oculari dell’attacco, riportati dalle forze ONU, le guardie del campo avrebbero aperto il fuoco su chi tentava di scappare.

      Nel mondo occidentale, quando parliamo di immigrazione, tendiamo a focalizzarci sul cosiddetto “impatto sulle comunità” causato dai flussi di nuovi arrivati che si muovono da un posto all’altro.

      Nelle nostre discussioni, ci chiediamo se i migranti portino un guadagno per l’economia oppure intacchino risorse già scarse. Raramente ci fermiamo a guardare nella sua cruda e tecnica realtà la concreta applicazione del controllo alle frontiere, quando si traduce davvero in fucili e filo spinato.

      Ci ripetiamo che i costi vanno tutti in un’unica direzione: secondo la nostra narrazione preferita, i controlli di confine sono tutti gratis, è lasciare entrare i migranti la cosa che costa. Ma i costi da pagare ci sono sempre: non solo il tributo di morti che continua a crescere o i budget multimilionari e sempre in aumento delle nostre agenzie di frontiera, ma anche i costi morali e sociali che finiamo con l’estorcere a noi stessi.

      L’ossessione per la sicurezza dei confini deve fare i conti con alcune delle più antiche e radicate convinzioni etiche proprie delle società occidentali. Prendersi cura del più debole, fare agli altri quello che vogliamo sia fatto a noi, aiutare chi possiamo. Molti uomini e donne che lavorano in mare, quando soccorrono dei naufraghi non sono spinti solo da una legge che li obbliga a prestare aiuto, ma anche da un imperativo morale più essenziale. “Lo facciamo perché siamo gente di mare”, ha detto Giarratano al Guardian, “in mare, se ci sono persone in pericolo, le salviamo”.

      Ma i nostri governi hanno deciso che questo non vale per gli europei. Come se fosse una perversa sfida lanciata a istinti morali vecchi di migliaia di anni, nell’Europa moderna un marinaio che salva un migrante mentre sta per affogare, deve essere punito.

      Infrangere queste reti di reciproche responsabilità fra gli esseri umani, ha dei costi: divisioni e tensioni sociali. Ed è un amaro paradosso, perché proprio argomenti di questo genere sono in testa alle nostre preoccupazioni percepite quando si parla di migrazioni. E mentre l’UE fa di tutto per respingere un fronte del confine verso i deserti del Nord Africa, cercando di tenere i corpi dei rifugiati abbastanza lontani da non farceli vedere da vicino, intanto l’altro fronte continua a spingere verso di noi. L’Europa diventa un “ambiente ostile” e quindi noi diventiamo un popolo ostile.

      Ci auto-ingaggiamo come guardie di confine al nostro interno. Padroni di casa, infermiere, insegnanti, manager – ogni relazione sociale deve essere controllata. Il nostro regime di “frontiera quotidiana” crea “comunità sospette” all’interno della nostra società: sono persone sospette per il solo fatto di esistere e, nei loro confronti, si possono chiamare le forze dell’ordine in ogni momento, “giusto per dare un’occhiata”.

      Il confine non è solo un sistema per tenere gli estranei fuori dalla nostra società, ma per marchiare per sempre le persone come estranee, anche all’interno e per legittimare ufficialmente il pregiudizio, per garantire che “l’integrazione” – il Sacro Graal della narrazione progressista sull’immigrazione – resti illusoria e irrealizzabile, uno scherzo crudele giocato sulla pelle di persone destinate a rimanere etichettate come straniere e sospette. La nostra società nel suo insieme si mette al servizio di questo insaziabile confine, fino a definire la sua vera e propria identità nella capacità di respingere le persone.

      Malgrado arrivino continuamente immagini e notizie di tragedie e di morti, i media evitano di collegarle con le campagne di opinione che amplificano le cosiddette “legittime preoccupazioni” della gente e le trasformano in un inattaccabile “comune buon senso”.

      I compromessi che reggono le politiche di controllo dei confini non vengono messi in luce. Questo ci permette di guardare da un’altra parte, non perché siamo crudeli ma perché non possiamo sopportare di vedere quello che stiamo facendo. Ci sono persone e gruppi che, come denuncia Adam Serwer in un articolo su The Atlantic, sono proprio “Focalizzati sulla Crudeltà”. E anche se noi non siamo così, viviamo comunque nel loro stesso mondo, un mondo in cui degli esseri umani annegano e noi li guardiamo dall’alto dei nostri droni senza pilota, mentre lo stato punisce chi cerca di salvarli.

      In troppi crediamo nel mito di una frontiera dal volto umano, solo perché ci spaventa guardare in faccia la tragica e insanguinata realtà del concreto controllo quotidiano sui confini. E comunque, se fosse possibile, non avremmo ormai risolto questa contraddizione? Il fatto che non lo abbiamo fatto dovrebbe portarci a pensare che non ne siamo capaci e che ci si prospetta una cruda e desolante scelta morale per il futuro.

      D’ora in poi, il numero dei migranti non può che aumentare. I cambiamenti climatici saranno determinanti. La scelta di non respingerli non sarà certamente gratis: non c’è modo di condividere le nostre risorse con altri senza sostenere dei costi. Ma se non lo facciamo, scegliamo consapevolmente i naufragi, gli annegamenti, i campi di detenzione, scegliamo di destinare queste persone ad una vita da schiavi in zone di guerra. Scegliamo l’ambiente ostile. Scegliamo di “difendere il nostro stile di vita” semplicemente accettando di vivere a fianco di una popolazione sempre in aumento fatta di rifugiati senza patria, ammassati in baracche di lamiera e depositi soffocanti, sfiniti fino alla disperazione.

      Ma c’è un costo che, alla fine, giudicheremo troppo alto da pagare? Per il momento, sembra di no: ma, … cosa siamo diventati?

      https://dossierlibia.lasciatecientrare.it/luso-dei-droni-per-guardare-i-migranti-che-affogano-m

    • Grèce : le gouvernement durcit nettement sa position et implique l’armée à la gestion de flux migratoire en Mer Egée

      Après deux conférences intergouvernementales ce we., le gouvernement Mitsotakis a décidé la participation active de l’Armée et des Forces Navales dans des opérations de dissuasion en Mer Egée. En même temps il a décidé de poursuivre les opérations de ’désengorgement’ des îlses, de renfoncer les forces de garde-côte en effectifs et en navires, et de pousser plus loin la coopération avec Frontex et les forces de l’Otan qui opèrent déjà dans la région.

      Le durcissement net de la politique gouvernementale se traduit aussi par le retour en force d’un discours ouvertement xénophobe. Le vice-président du gouvernement grec, Adonis Géorgiadis, connu pour ses positions à l’’extrême-droite de l’échiquier politique, a déclaré que parmi les nouveaux arrivants, il y aurait très peu de réfugiés, la plupart seraient des ‘clandestins’ et il n’a pas manqué de qualifier les flux d’ ‘invasion’.

      source – en grec - Efimerida tôn Syntaktôn : https://www.efsyn.gr/politiki/kybernisi/211786_kybernisi-sklirainei-ti-stasi-tis-sto-prosfygiko

      Il va de soi que cette militarisation de la gestion migratoire laisse craindre le pire dans la mesure où le but évident de l’implication de l’armée ne saurait être que la systématisation des opérations de push-back en pleine mer, ce qui est non seulement illégal mais ouvertement criminel.

      Reçu de Vicky Skoumbi via la mailing-list Migreurop, 23.09.2019

  • Cinq ans d’atteintes au droit maritime

    Depuis 2014, selon l’Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations (OIM), près de 20 000 personnes sont mortes en tentant de traverser la Méditerranée sur des embarcations impropres à la navigation - une catastrophe humanitaire qui perdure et aurait pu être évitée si les Etats européens s’en étaient donné les moyens. A la veille des élections européennes, SOS MEDITERRANEE revient sur cinq ans de détérioration et d’atteintes au droit maritime international et au droit humanitaire en Méditerranée centrale.

    2013-2014 : MARE NOSTRUM, une opération de la marine italienne torpillée par l’Union européenne

    A la suite d’un terrible naufrage au large de Lampedusa, l’Italie lance l’opération de recherche et de sauvetage Mare Nostrum le 18 octobre 2013 afin de « prêter assistance à quiconque est trouvé en péril en mer ». Plus de 150 000 vies sont sauvées. Mais le 31 octobre 2014, l’Italie met fin à l’opération en raison du manque de soutien de l’Union européenne. Mare Nostrum est remplacée par Triton, dont le but premier n’est plus de sauver des vies mais de contrôler les frontières. Malgré l’absence de navires de secours en mer, les gens continuent à fuir la Libye. Résultat : plusieurs milliers d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants meurent noyés en tentant la traversée.

    Voir la vidéo - épisode 1 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X6nrVELQ00

    Depuis février 2017 : renforcement des garde-côtes libyens et création d’une zone de recherche et de sauvetage gérée depuis Tripoli

    En février 2017, les chefs d’Etat européens réunis à Malte adoptent la Déclaration de Malte prévoyant la formation, l’équipement et le financement des garde-côtes libyens afin qu’ils puissent intercepter les embarcations en détresse et les ramener de force vers la Libye. Au regard de la situation de chaos qui prévaut en Libye, ceci est totalement contraire au droit maritime et au droit des réfugiés.

    En juin 2018, une région de recherche et de sauvetage libyenne est créée dans les eaux internationales, ce qui provoque une grande confusion dans les opérations de sauvetage. Des milliers de personnes interceptées sont refoulées illégalement en Libye ; d’autres ne sont pas secourues car les garde-côtes libyens ne peuvent assurer des sauvetages efficaces et sûrs. Les rescapés sont ramenés dans des camps où ils sont soumis à des violations systématiques de leurs droits fondamentaux, à la torture, au viol, au travail forcé, à des exécutions arbitraires. L’obligation légale de conduire les survivants des sauvetages vers un « lieu sûr » est bafouée. A terre comme en mer, des milliers de personnes périssent.

    Voir la vidéo - épisode 2 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Lb--g2_s0

    Depuis 2017 : graves entraves à l’action des navires civils de sauvetage

    Créées en 2014 et 2015 par des citoyens européens pour combler le vide laissé par leurs gouvernements, les ONG de recherche et de sauvetage deviennent la cible de harcèlement administratif, politique et judiciaire qui les empêche de sauver des vies. Depuis 2017, plusieurs enquêtes sont lancées contre les navires et leurs équipages, sans que les accusateurs ne puissent prouver la moindre action illégale. Des navires tels que l’Aquarius de SOS MEDITERRANEE sont privés de pavillon suite à des pressions politiques. Alors que les sauveteurs sont entravés dans leur action, le devoir d’assistance en mer est bafoué, les témoins écartés.

    Voir la vidéo - épisode 3 :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLfO5it4uPQ

    Depuis juin 2018 : fermeture des ports, les rescapés bloqués en mer

    Juin 2018 : après la fermeture des ports italiens aux navires de sauvetage, l’odyssée de l’Aquarius, contraint de débarquer à Valence en Espagne les 630 rescapés à son bord, inaugure une longue série de blocages en mer. Les navires, quels qu’ils soient, sont bloqués des jours voire des semaines avant qu’une solution de débarquement ad hoc ne soit proposée par quelques Etats européens, avec une répartition des rescapés par quotas. Le droit maritime prévoit pourtant que les navires doivent être relevés de la responsabilité du sauvetage aussi vite que possible et traiter les survivants humainement. En mer, les navires immobilisés ne peuvent secourir d’autres personnes en détresse. La capacité de sauvetage est encore réduite et la mortalité explose.

    Vidéo à venir.

    http://www.sosmediterranee.fr/journal-de-bord/5-ans-d-atteintes-au-droit-maritime
    #ONG #histoire #chronologie #Méditerranée #naufrages #sauvetages #mourir_en_mer #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #mer_Méditerranée #vidéo #droit_maritime #Mare_Nostrum #Triton

    ping @reka

  • Chèr·es tou·tes,

    j’ai donc fait un peu d’ordre et mis les liens et textes à la bonne place.

    J’essaie de faire une petite #métaliste des listes.

    #métaliste
    #ONG #sauvetage #Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mourir_en_mer #sauvetages

    En général, quelques autres liens à droite et à gauche à retrouver avec les tags #Méditerranée #ONG #sauvetage :
    https://seenthis.net/recherche?recherche=%23ong+%23m%C3%A9diterran%C3%A9e+%23sauvetage

    Et un résumé + vidéos de SOS Méditerranée sur les 5 ans d’atteinte au #droit_maritime :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/780857

    cc @reka @isskein

  • #marins privés de Sécu : ils ont gagné, mais n’ont plus de salaire
    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/economie/230916/marins-prives-de-secu-ils-ont-gagne-mais-n-ont-plus-de-salaire

    Depuis plus de 18 mois, deux matelots qui assuraient la liaison entre Saint-Malo et les îles Anglo-Normandes se battent pour avoir le droit à la Sécurité sociale et à la retraite. Le 1er janvier, ils auront gain de cause. Mais depuis le début du mois, leur employeur #Condor_ferries a suspendu le paiement de leur salaire.

    #Economie #CGT #droit_maritime #droit_socia #Jersey #l_entreprises #prud'hommes #social

  • Wasted Lives. Borders and the Right to Life of People Crossing Them

    States are obliged to protect the right to life by law. This paper analyses the way in which states do this in the field of aviation law, maritime law, and the law on migrant smuggling . A comparative description of these fields of law shows that states differentiate in protecting the right to life. Regular travelers benefit from extensive positive obligations to safeguard their right to life, whereas the lives of irregularized travelers are protected first and foremost by combating irregularized migration and, if the worst come s to pass, by search and rescue. The right of states to exclude aliens from the their territories leads to exclusion of irregularized travelers from their main positive obligations under the right to life. This situation is analyzed through Zygmunt Bauman’s notion of ‘wasted lives’. The contrast with aviation and maritime law makes clear that this situation is the outcome of human choice, which can be changed.

    http://thomasspijkerboer.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Wasted-Lives-DEF.pdf
    #droit_à_la_vie #vie #mort #étrangers #migrations #asile #réfugiés #droit_maritime
    cc @reka

  • #Mer_de_Chine : Pékin pas prêt à lâcher, quel que soit l’#arbitrage de #La_Haye
    http://www.rfi.fr/asie-pacifique/20160711-verdict-mer-chine-pekin-philippines-manille

    Selon un sondage, 88% des Chinois se disent favorables au refus de leur gouvernement de respecter le verdict que la Cour d’arbitrage doit rendre ce mardi 12 juillet dans le conflit territorial avec les #Philippines. Elle doit trancher si Pékin enfreint la loi maritime dans cette mer, que l’Etat chinois considère comme étant cruciale pour ses intérêts stratégiques.

    « C’est une mer riche en ressources naturelles, en poissons et en hydrocarbures », détaille Yanmei Xie. « Mais c’est aussi une voie de navigation, essentielle pour le commerce et la sécurité de la #Chine. Pékin considère cette mer comme son avant-poste militaire ». Pékin y fait patrouiller ses navires et construit des ports militaires.

    #droit_international #droit_maritime