• #Eyal_Weizman : « Il n’y a pas de #science sans #activisme »

    Depuis une dizaine d’années, un ensemble de chercheurs, architectes, juristes, journalistes et artistes développent ce qu’ils appellent « l’architecture forensique ». Pour mener leurs enquêtes, ils mettent en œuvre une technologie collaborative de la vérité, plus horizontale, ouverte et surtout qui constitue la vérité en « bien commun ». Eyal Weizman en est le théoricien, son manifeste La Vérité en ruines a paru en français en mars dernier.

    https://aoc.media/entretien/2021/08/06/eyal-weizman-il-ny-a-pas-de-science-sans-activisme-2

    #recherche #architecture_forensique #forensic_architecture #vérité #preuve #preuves #régime_de_preuves #spatialisation #urbanisme #politique #mensonges #domination #entretien #interview #espace #architecture #preuves_architecturales #cartographie #justice #Palestine #Israël #Cisjordanie #Gaza #images_satellites #contre-cartographie #colonialisme #Etat #contrôle #pouvoir #contre-forensique #contre-expertise #signaux_faibles #co-enquête #positionnement_politique #tribunal #bien_commun #Adama_Traoré #Zineb_Redouane #police #violences_policières #Rodney_King #Mark_Duggan #temps #Mark_Duggan #Yacoub_Mousa_Abu_Al-Qia’an #Harith_Augustus #fraction_de_seconde #racisme #objectivité #impartialité #faits #traumatisme #mémoire #architecture_de_la_mémoire #Saidnaya #tour_Grenfell #traumatisme #seuil_de_détectabilité #détectabilité #dissimulation #créativité #art #art_et_politique

    • La vérité en ruines. Manifeste pour une architecture forensique

      Comment, dans un paysage politique en ruines, reconstituer la vérité des faits ? La réponse d’Eyal Weizman tient en une formule-programme : « l’architecture forensique ». Approche novatrice au carrefour de plusieurs disciplines, cette sorte d’architecture se soucie moins de construire des bâtiments que d’analyser des traces que porte le bâti afin de rétablir des vérités menacées. Impacts de balles, trous de missiles, ombres projetées sur les murs de corps annihilés par le souffle d’une explosion : l’architecture forensique consiste à faire parler ces indices.
      Si elle mobilise à cette fin des techniques en partie héritées de la médecine légale et de la police scientifique, c’est en les retournant contre la violence d’État, ses dénis et ses « fake news ». Il s’agit donc d’une « contre-forensique » qui tente de se réapproprier les moyens de la preuve dans un contexte d’inégalité structurelle d’accès aux moyens de la manifestation de la vérité.
      Au fil des pages, cet ouvrage illustré offre un panorama saisissant des champs d’application de cette démarche, depuis le cas des frappes de drone au Pakistan, en Afghanistan et à Gaza, jusqu’à celui de la prison secrète de Saidnaya en Syrie, en passant par le camp de Staro Sajmište, dans la région de Belgrade.

      https://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/la_verite_en_ruines-9782355221446
      #livre

  • Eyal Weizman, archéologue et enquêteur d’une vérité en ruines
    Le 20/05/2021 in La Grande table idées par Olivia Gesbert
    https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/la-grande-table-idees/eyal-weizman-archeologue-et-enqueteur-dune-verite-en-ruines

    Face aux violences commises en toute impunité par des États qui en déclinent la responsabilité, comment renverser le rapport de force et redonner voix aux civils ? Pour l’architecte Eyal Weizman et l’équipe qu’il a formé au sein du laboratoire « Forensic Architecture », ce combat se mène sur le terrain de la vérité scientifique : établir des preuves irréfutables et ainsi redonner leur valeur aux témoignages des victimes passés sous silence. Pour y parvenir, son laboratoire de recherches a inventé une méthode dite « architecture forensic » au carrefour de l’investigation et de l’architecture urbaine, mobilisée notamment dans le cadre de procès mené par des organisations internationales de protection des droits de l’Hommecontre des exactions étatiques.

    #Forensic_Architecture #Eyal_Weizman

    • Archéologue du présent, son équipe réunit un maximum de données (vidéos, images prises sur le vif par les civils, imagerie satellite etc.) sur des lieux souvent inaccessibles de conflits urbains, notamment dans le cas d’attaques de drones. Justifiées par les États comme étant "plus humains" car davantage ciblés, ces drones permettent une surveillance accrue des zones de conflit. Dans les faits, les victimes civiles continuent de se compter par milliers. Grâce aux outils numériques et à la méthode d’analyse développée par le laboratoire Forensic Architecture, Eyal Weizman exploite, recoupe et donne du sens à ces données éparses, fragmentaires ou surabondantes pour construire un scénario le plus précis et probant possible. En étroite collaboration avec des ONG protégeant les droits humains, son travail œuvre au dévoilement d’une « vérité en ruines ». D’une portée politique déterminante, ses travaux ont conduit notamment Israël à reconnaître en 2012 l’utilisation, qu’elle niait jusqu’alors, de munitions au phosphore dans des zones habitées.

      La vérité en ruines, Eyal Weizmann, éd. Zones, 2021

      #vérification

  • Tracks. Spécial « Smartphonocène »

    En compagnie du philosophe italien Maurizio Ferraris, « Tracks » explore la relation, à tendance dévorante, que nous entretenons avec nos smartphones.

    Pour le philosophe italien #Maurizio_Ferraris, auteur de #Mobilisation_totale (éd. PUF, 2016), le téléphone portable nous maintient dans un état d’alerte permanent. Mais cette arme sociale pourrait-elle aussi aider à penser un nouveau bien-être mondial ? Un an après le début de la pandémie de Covid-19, qui a consacré le règne des écrans et du télétravail, Tracks a rencontré le philosophe chez lui, à Naples.

    #Forensic_Architecture
    Fondé par l’Israélien #Eyal_Weizman, le collectif pluridisciplinaire Forensic Architecture met en lumière la violence d’État en s’appuyant, notamment, sur des #technologies architecturales et de l’#open_data.

    Anti-5G
    Un monde saturé d’ondes magnétiques pour certains, le paradis des objets connectés pour d’autres : que nous promet la 5G ? Alors que les incendies d’antennes-relais se multiplient en Europe, une partie de la gauche libertaire et écologiste s’organise pour alerter sur ses risques, à l’instar du libraire Gontalde, à Montreuil, ou de la branche française de l’organisation américaine Deep Green Resistance.

    https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/100281-007-A/tracks

    #architecture_forensique #violence_d'Etat #traces #contre-enquête #justice #violences_policières #vérité

    voir aussi sur twitter l’extrait sur l’architecture forensique :
    https://twitter.com/ARTEfr/status/1382951390834696193

  • Weaponizing a River

    The Dam

    On the 10th of March, news reports emerged suggesting that Bulgaria had released water downstream from the Ivaylovgrad Dam on the Ardas, a tributary of the Evros (also Meriç, and Maritsa),
    and flooded the river border at the request of the Greek government. This intentional flooding of the border was subsequently denounced as fake news by the Bulgarian authorities and remains unverified. Yet due to the increasing severity of spring floods, including as recently as 2018, the release of water from Bulgarian dams has been a subject of friction between Greece, Turkey, and their upstream riparian neighbor. On the 27th of February, Turkey decided to effectively suspend the 2016 EU-Turkey deal and in doing so directed thousands of asylum seekers to the border with Greece. In the context of Greece’s military response, the recent reports have revealed a hidden violence designed into the environment of the Evros river. In the weeks since, there have been two confirmed casualties from the use of either live or rubber rounds—Muhammad al Arab and Muhammad Gulzar.

    The alleged opening of the dam and these shootings are not distinct but are in continuity with the long-term, albeit previously low intensity, weaponization of the river. These exceptional events prove the more insidious use of the Evros as an ecological border infrastructure extending to its entire floodplain.

    The intentional flooding of the valley, and its entanglement with border defense strategies, testifies to Evros as an arcifinious space. Derived from the legal heredity of international border law, according to legal scholar John W. Donaldson, the term “arcifinious” is the territorial concept whereby a state is bounded by geophysical limits with defensive capabilities, or “natural” boundaries “fit to keep the Enemy out,” such as seas, rivers, deserts, and mountains.
    According to eighteenth-century Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius and his followers, rivers are “part of ’arcifinious’ or ’natural’ military frontier zones that are ‘indetermined,’ and flexible based on the application of force.” While rivers shift of their own volition, they are also manipulated, like straightening. Perhaps more tellingly, the very flexibility of a river—its interstitial condition between water and sediment—is useful in the production of an “indeterminate” space that is materially porous, shifting, and thus difficult for trespassers to cross. This material ambiguity also makes river boundaries unstable in the eyes of international jurisprudence. The hostile characteristics of arcifinious boundaries are mobilized in naturalizing processes central to sovereign claims to territory in a practice that enables states to obscure their agency in relation to border deaths.Some days before the 10th, word had been circulating inside the Fylakio registration and pre-removal detention center in the north of the Evros region that the dam would be opened to make the river more difficult to cross. The dam being discussed by border guards as part of a border defense strategy emphasizes the river not as “natural” but, to the contrary, always flexible to force. Fylakio, also located near the Ardas river, would be one the first villages reached when onrushing water from the dam crosses the Bulgarian-Greek border. Before these waters arrive at the “Karaağaç Triangle,” the Ardas serves as the Greek-Turkey border for one kilometer, after which it meets the Evros/Meriç between the Greek villages of Marasia and Kastanies. This is the northwestern point of the Karaağaç Triangle, which was the only segment of the Greece-Turkey border not originally delimited by the Evros/Meriç river in the 1926 Athens Protocol, an annex to the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty. Instead, it is today a stretch of deforested land with an eleven-kilometer-long deterrent fence. Proposed in 2011 and completed in 2012, the fence directs border crossers to more dangerous routes across the river, and to deadlier maritime crossing routes in the Aegean sea. Fittingly, the fence is mentioned as a “technical obstacle” in FRONTEX Serious Incident Reports (SIR).The Karaağaç Triangle is where refugees were directed by the Turkish government on the 27th of February, and where they found themselves trapped between Greek forces who would not let them cross and Turkish forces who prevented them from returning to Istanbul and the Turkish mainland. It is where Muhamad Gulzar, a young man from Pakistan, was shot dead, and five more were injured on the 4th of March. During our visit to the Evros in early March, we witnessed trucks carrying fencing towards strategic—yet unfortified—parts of the river. The fence is currently being elongated by forty kilometers, particularly along parcels of Greek land that sit on the Turkish side of the river, and vice versa.In the war of words exchanged by the two sides, the Greek government and far right Twitter has been using the term “hybrid war” to describe what they perceive as a Turkish attempt to “intrude” on Greek territory through indirect means, here with refugee bodies instead of bullets. In response to Turkey’s weaponization of refugees, Greece and the EU are also employing a form of hybrid warfare explicitly incorporating the river ecology itself. Where so many people were—and still are—trapped in spaces along the frontier, like at Karaağaç, they are exposed to a hybrid form of border violence involving farmers spraying pesticides onto refugees across the fence, the deployment of large fans to direct teargas back to the Turkish side, and the use of water cannons to spray blue liquid across the fence so those who make it onto the Greek side can be easily identified. In addition to these assembled elements, on the night of the 26th of March, the impromptu camp that had been set up in Pazarkule, on the Turkish side of the border, caught fire. In videos that were circulated, witnesses claim that the fires were lit by Turkish authorities (jandarma) in their attempts to remove asylum seekers from the border (a measure supposed to counter the spread of COVID-19).Authors in critical border studies refer to the mobilization of geophysical and environmental features either as a hybrid collectif, an assemblage of actants, landscape as space of moral alibi,

    or what we call border natures. The border’s ecology of exception is made possible by both the river’s adaptability to force and flexibility, and contributes to the production of an ambiguous space in which multiple modes of violence are perpetrated with impunity. Methods of hybrid warfare are unambiguously mobilizing environmental elements. As such, “nature” can no longer be an alibi but is directly incorporated in the production of death at the border.

    What is the role of water in the politics of death at the border? Here river waters stand at the intersection of connection-division, and life-death.
    The fluvial frontier is a complex and nuanced territorial condition braiding together multiple elements including conservation, transboundary river management, military technology, the geopolitics of resource logistics, and the divergently visible and opaque politics of border crossing. Thinking against material and discursive reproductions of both rivers and borders as “natural” phenomena, the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa river is the result of multiple organizational technologies of territorial sovereignty. Primary amongst these is the mobilization of major infrastructure: the dam and the contingent release of waters downstream would be a direct threat to the lives of asylum seekers attempting to enter the EU. If Bulgaria, as a member state, had opened the dam, this would have been premised on its contribution to the fortification of the external borders of fortress Europe.

    2. A Shifting Border

    The Evros/Meriç/Maritsa has its source in the Rila mountains. It runs for 310 of its 528 kilometers through Bulgaria, with the final 210 kilometers forming a border, initially between Bulgaria and Greece, and then for the last 192 kilometers between Greece and Turkey before reaching its delta and emptying into the Thracian Sea in the Aegean. The river is fast, with a mean annual flow rate of 103 cubic meters per second (a rate which can increase twofold between December and April). Its course flows over sandy and malleable soil, and annually discharges approximately 3.2 million tons of sediment and 9.5 billion cubic meters of freshwater into the sea.
    This results in frequent erosion that alters its banks. Capricious shifts of the river produce islands of stranded land; there are expanses of “Turkish” earth on the “wrong” side of the river, and elsewhere, land has been ceded by the river to Greece. These stranded territories are also points where fatalities become concentrated. Pavlos Pavlidis, coroner at the University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, capital of the Evros prefecture, and Maria-Valeria Karakasi have identified a particular parcel of land near Feres, the entry point to the Delta, as the location where seventy-two bodies were recovered between 2000 and 2014. This is also where refugees were recently directed by geographers aligned with Turkish authorities,

    and where a young man from Aleppo, Muhammad al Arab, was shot dead by Greek soldiers standing inside the dry river bed of the 1926 border, which now acts as little more than a trench. Within the above calculations of river flow and sediment transportation is concealed a deadly politics of bordering that incorporates the full spectrum of the Evros’s hydrology and manipulates the ambiguities produced by rivers.

    The river’s movements occupy a central role in the territorial disputes between the riparian states of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, and compound what is already a militarized terrain. Due to these shifts, and the river’s own agency, many have considered rivers as inadequate political boundaries. Donaldson words it thus: “the presence of water makes a boundary river unstable, forceful, and risky; incompatible with the legal fiction of a fixed boundary line that would prefer the stability of land over the dynamism of water.”
    This instability lies behind the fantasies of territorial control implied by the international committee assembled in 1926 with the task of determining the precise course of the border between Greece and Turkey at the end of the Ottoman Empire.The 1926 committee, headed by Dutch colonel J. Backer, deemed that the border follow the median line between the banks throughout the course of the river, or its main “branch,” when the river splits. The border was marked with red ink on ten maps that were attached as annexes to the protocol, and the first twenty-six demarcation “pyramids” were installed. Delimited in such an inflexible way, like many river borders, it could not respond to shifts in the median line and changes in the course of the river. Instead, the demarcation of the protocol fixed the river in time and to an abstract line. Consequently, efforts to enforce the demarcation of the border have long been hampered by the agency of the river itself. As early as 1965, markers installed to designate part of the border along the Evros/Meriç by a joint Greek-Turkish committee were quickly carried away by the river. Similarly, in 2015, parts of the fence were carried away by flood waters released from the Ivaylovgrad dam. As recently as October 2017, Turkish authorities dug trenches underneath the fence to prevent flooding.

    There is now almost 100 years of geomorphological variation between the drawn border and the current course of the river. Islands that used to be there are no longer; banks have moved and canalizations have directed the river in divergent ways. Two rivers and two borders exist at the Evros/Meriç: the cartographic border of the old median line (featuring now almost unmoving oxbow lakes) and the water of the new trespass line. It comes with little surprise then that stabilizing the river banks to the 1926 condition has been a concern of both Greece and Turkey. Since 1936, the two countries have made efforts to draft plans for common flood defense, most notably the study undertaken in 1953 by the Chicago-based Harza Engineering Company. None of these plans were fully implemented, and after the 1970s, bilateral communication ceased for decades.

    In addition to the proposal of the fence in 2011, the Hellenic Army General Staff planned an unfulfilled project to dig a “120-kilometer-long, thirty-meter-wide, and seven-meter-deep” “moat.”

    Officially an “anti-tank trap” functioning primarily as a defense against Turkish invasion, in the context of increased crossings in 2011, the “moat” would have only been a further technical barrier for border crossers.

    Where rivers appear at first glance as “natural,” they are, to greater and lesser extents, the result of centuries of small and large-scale engineering interventions. In Stefan Helmreich’s concept of “infranature,” second nature—that which is always produced as socio-technical—is “folded” back into first or organic nature.
    What appears as “natural” or “organic” is therefore actually a mask for the production of techno-natural infrastructures. Helmreich echoes a famous passage in Michel Serres’s The Natural Contract where he describes the birth of geometry emerging from the calculations of Nile floods. Out of the “chaos” and “disorder” of flood events, Serres proposes that measurements made by surveyors, for irrigation purposes, reordered nature to give “it a new birth into culture.”

    Such culture, however, may itself produce violent effects. The measurements that reorder the river waters of the Evros are born into a culture that takes the form of a hybrid military-natural assemblage.

    Understanding the often intentionally ambiguous calculations of infranature in its combative applications helps to clarify how rivers are technologized through overt human interventions, such as dams and other large engineering projects, as well as in less overt ways. Rivers and their flows respond to assemblages of smaller scale and almost invisible interventions or those that occur far up river, like the opening of a dam. In these ways, the very speed at which water travels, or the amount of sediment that accumulates in the muddy delta, are part of the measurements of the infrantural technology of the arcifinious river. In these border environments, the river itself is potentially armed and dangerous.

    The river and its imagined doubling as a moat instrumentalizes the already treacherous route for asylum seekers beyond the scale of a “deterrent” into an engineered space unconcerned with fatalities. Stepping back from the Hellenic Army General Staff’s imagination, the Evros already performs the arcifinious role of a moat at the EU’s fluvial frontier. The drawing of a fixed, yet imaginary line along the central course of the river effectively produced the river as a frontier, whereby its movements and muds become spaces where sovereign territorial imaginaries are projected with horrifyingly real effects.

    3. Flood

    The risk of major flood events has long been one of the primary transboundary concerns in the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa. Such events have increased in frequency over the last twenty-five years, leading to a once in a thousand-year flood in 2005, severe events in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2015, and a “state of emergency” announced by the Greek Government in March and April 2018.
    Flooding in the region is closely tied to the politics of hydro-electric infrastructure. The majority of large dams and reservoirs in the basin are concentrated on Bulgarian territory (as many as 722), while Turkey has built sixty, and Greece just five (mainly for irrigation purposes, as opposed to energy production). Flow variability is central to many transboundary agreements whereby upstream riparian nations either force or allow downstream riparians to adapt to seasonal changes in both wet and dry conditions.

    This is a concern for hyrdrodiplomatic relations between Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria.

    When a tri-lateral working group met in October 2006 in Alexandroupolis, Turkey made a written demand, supported by Greece, that the reservoir storage capacity of large dams situated on the Ardas tributary in Bulgaria be regulated to “minimize water discharges downstream and reduce flow at Edirne,” a densely populated area, near to the border fence, and a major confluence where the Ardas and another tributary, the Tundzha, meet the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa. The Bulgarian delegation refused to respond and cancelled future working groups. Bulgaria is resistant to such regulation because of the role that the private sector plays in managing hydro-electric infrastructure.
    To maximize energy productivity and profits, their primary interest is to maintain the highest possible water level in the dam reservoirs all year round. Under previous conditions, this would have been in direct opposition to the interests of the downstream nations who want to regulate reservoir storage in wet seasons so they have the capacity to accommodate potential increases in volume that risk overtopping dams and result in flooding. The events of the past month, however, show that within the context of Bulgaria’s entrance into the EU in 2007, upstream storage of high levels of water is also part of military contingency planning to flood the valley and safeguard what is now a common European frontier.

    Recent attempts at hydrodiplomacy in the region include the 2016 “Joint Declaration Between the Government of the Hellenic Republic and the Government of the Republic of Turkey” signed by Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Ahmet Davutoglu.

    This agreement incorporated multiple political and hydrographical issues that fold onto the frontier, including a Joint Action Plan to “stem migration flows,” with the implied proviso that Greece will support Turkey in EU visa liberalization dialogue. While this proviso has since been forgotten, the lubrication of one form of movement was unambiguously exchanged for the curtailment of another. This is followed by a section on flooding, acknowledging the damage caused each year and expressing a joint commitment to adhering to the centralized European Water Directive. As downstream nations, Greece and Turkey agreed and welcomed faintly veiled “goodwill and cooperation” from the “other relevant parties,” intimating Bulgaria, to whom they direct much of the blame.

    The overlaps between a river that regularly floods and a territory where border crossers are at the mercy of systematic violence resonates troublingly with nationalist media and governmental rhetoric of “flows,” “floods,” or “surges” and the “stemming” of migrants.”
    Naturalizing metaphors such as these emerge wherever border regimes are discursively or materially constructed to ensure the illegality of movement across borders, and in doing so, racially “other” border crossers. Indeed, hydrologic metaphors are evoked to draw a distinction between those who do not belong and those who do within a sedentary notion of territory. In light of the events of March 2020, the material movement of water out of place is not perceived as a threat that must be contained to prevent it seeping into discourses that legally and culturally ground the nation-state. Instead, the movement of these waters are deployed in the very efforts to exclude others from the space of the nation-state.Joint Operation Poseidon Land, EU border agency Frontex’s Evros operation, began in 2011. The name conjures a pathologic mythology, casting border crossers as mortals committing the hubris of seeking refuge in Europe, while Frontex claims the role of chastising deity. Here Poseidon, god of both the sea and rivers, intervenes at the land-water divide. In mythology, where his trident struck, land quakes and flooding and drowning ensues. Echoing a crude sketch of the hydrologic cycle, Operation Poseidon Land transposes border violence in liquid form from the Aegean—where Operation Poseidon Sea is enacted—to the headwaters of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa and back down along its course. The rumored intentional flooding of the valley from the Ivaylovgrad dam brings Frontex’s troubling mythological sensibility into reality.

    4. Anachoma

    A week before the flooding made the headlines, and a day after Muhammad al Arab’s killing, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen visited Evros, along with three EU leaders and the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Following the visit, they gave a joint statement in which der Leyen thanked Greece for being Europe’s aspida, using the Greek word for “shield” (ασπίδα).

    Der Leyen’s choice of vocabulary uncannily echoes local military discourse, in which the region is often called Greece’s ανάχωμα (anachoma), or embankment, against Turkish invasion, and more recently against asylum seekers. The landscape of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa is entirely sculpted to either contain or facilitate movement, be it of military personnel, people, or water. The berm, a versatile and ambiguous military-ecological technology, is the physical embodiment of the ανάχωμα. There are multiple types of berms, each of which is designed to perform distinct functions. There are surpassable/summer berms, main berms, tertiary berms for flood defense, raised rail lines and roads enabling movement during flood periods, irrigation, and, most explicitly in the delta, anti-tank installations. A hierarchy is designed into the system of flood control to allow water, armies, and people to penetrate the frontier space to varying degrees.

    The military imaginary of Evros as an ανάχωμα also refers to a more nuanced politics of demographic engineering. The delimitation of the border in the 1920s coincided with the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, a process which created imagined communities that the river division helped crystalize. The process intended to produce a Greek Christian population along the border as a demographic buffer—or embankment—against invasion. This began with the transfer of Greek-speaking populations from what became Turkish territory on the shores of the Aegean and the Anatolian peninsula, as well as Pontic Greeks from the shores of the Black Sea. In return, Turkish-speaking and other Muslim populations from Greek territory were moved to Turkey, although significant minority populations still remain in western Thrace. In the century since, Turkish, Pomak, Bektashi, and other Muslim minorities in western Thrace have been the focus of multiple marginalizing practices. A system of checkpoints (barres) was put in place in 1936 to isolate these communities, the last of which were removed as recently as 1995.
    When we visited the Bektashi villages of Roussa and Goniko in Evros, we saw the check point still standing, an abandoned yet powerful reminder of the state as an ambient presence.

    As embankments of wet earth, berms are concentrations of these politics of demographic engineering and territorial control. They are ground engineered in excess. They are routes of control through the floodplain for the police, military, and local farmers, and they figure within the imaginary of the moat as obstacles for invading forces. The berms reveal the border regime’s deployment of the environment as defensive “infranatural” technology.

    Corresponding to the engineered limits of the floodplain, berms are often placed along the edge of the military buffer zone that runs along the Greek side of the Evros border, also known as ZAP (Zoni Asfaleias Prokalypsis). As human rights reports have been claiming for years, where the floodplain/buffer zone broadens, the river becomes a site where human rights violations occur. These include the failure to rescue and illegal pushbacks of border crossers back to Turkey.
    A case on May 8, 2018 involving a group of fourteen people attempting to cross during a flood event speaks directly to the overlapping of flooding with the operations of the border. The attempt failed and resulted in one fatality. Once the group returned to Turkey, they attempted to contact Greek authorities with a picture of the ID card and the GPS location of the body. Greek police stated that the flooding was too severe to attempt a recovery, and over the next few days, no confirmation of the recovery of the body was received. In other examples, the police have refuted the possibility of pushbacks because the water is too high or the geomorphology makes it impossible. In this way, the behavior of water in excess is co-opted as an obviatory device; a mask in the construction of denial. The flood is an alibi for border violence. Consequently, the berm infrastructure marks the limit of the flood and acts as a container for this riverine geography of exception.

    5. The Delta

    The Evros Delta, where the river meets the Thracian Sea, covers a surface area of 111,937 square kilometers. A protected conservation area designated as a wetland of international importance by the 1971 Ramsar treaty, the delta’s saline waters, ponds, and islands are home to a number of migratory bird species. Since last month, however, it has hosted a different kind of migration, with army and police units operating side by side with local, self-proclaimed “frontiersmen,” “guardians of the border,” and hunting clubs from all over Greece arriving to prevent what they understand to be an “intrusion” of “illegal aliens” (“lathrometanastes”) into Greece. Joining them are far-right and neo-nazi militants from Europe and the US who have flocked there to demonstrate their support, and “safeguard Europe’s borders.” Showing little regard for human life, they describe their operations as “hunting” for refugees. The ongoing dehumanization of asylum seekers using both language and physical force permeates the region. Detainees in the recently exposed border guard center at Poros, have described guards treating them “like animals.”
    The violent events of the past month, including the killings of Muhammad al Arab inside the Evros delta and Muhamad Gulzar in the Karaağaç Triangle, as well as the reports of the opening of the Ivaylovgrad dam, are punctuating moments that bring to the fore the slower environmental processes mobilized against asylum seekers at the border. The Evros catchment basin is currently a densely braided space of border violence and death, incorporating military personnel, nationalist and neo-nazi paramilitaries, local farmers and hunters, as well as the very ecology of this deltaic marshland, such as temperature and meteorological conditions. Indeed, rather than being a “natural” border, the Evros is an exemplary case of a borderized nature, where environmental elements, which are not deadly on their own, are made deadly by forcing people to traverse them under treacherous conditions. We have spoken with asylum seekers who have described the fog that hangs above the Evros. Fog, like clothes sodden from swimming across the river, and combined with freezing winter temperatures, contribute to the threat of hypothermia for border crossers, which, after drowning, is the second highest cause of death at Evros. As reported in the media, paramilitaries who have been recently drawn to the area to hunt people who cross “at night and in the fog,” are transposing the old Nazi directive for disappearing bodies “Nacht und Nebel” (“Night and Fog”) onto the Evros Delta.Through the waters of the river, amongst the impacted earth of the berms, and under the veil of the heavy airs of teargas and pesticides, complex forces are deployed and emerge from the fog of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa. Understanding the complexity of the river as a weaponized border ecology is crucial to reveal the ongoing and intensifying violence that unfolds across different scales in this region. To confront the far-right that is currently assembling its forces rhetorically, environmentally, and in person in the Evros delta and all along the fluvial frontier, and to counter the obfuscating tactics long deployed by the police in their use of the river as alibi, requires understanding how this border is constructed. When considering the Evros border, we must learn to perceive the entire floodplain as a border technology. This, in turn, involves striving to see the river as a spectrum, from freezing fog in the valley, dew in the field, and mud in the floodplain as clearly as it sees water flowing between the riverbanks themselves.To assist migrants in defending their rights, and to resist the far-right seeping out of border regions into increasingly xenophobic societies, the very concept of “nature” needs to be reframed to encompass the ways it is deployed within the military imaginary of borderized environments. Practices must be developed to perceive how border regimes harness environmental processes. Such practices reveal the varying watery states of the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa as what they are: the riverine arsenal of a deadly defense architecture. The border regime operates as an expanded or “dispersed” territorial technology: an entire region designed as a violent ανάχωμα.

    https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/at-the-border/325751/weaponizing-a-river

    #weaponization #Evros #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Thrace #Grèce #Turquie #architecture_forensique #Forensic_Architecture #rivière

    • GEOGRAPHY OF EVROS/MERIÇ RIVER PUSHBACKS

      Across January, BVMN collected testimonies
      documenting pushbacks over the Evros/
      Meriç river on the Greek-Turkish border,
      impacting over 500 people-on-the-move.
      These incidents validate a pattern identified
      by BVMN of Greek authorities using small
      islands in the river to stage pushbacks, often
      leaving groups stranded there for indefinite
      periods. Beyond inhumane treatment –
      pregnant women have been left without food,
      water or shelter – several reports indicate
      that people are placed at direct risk of
      drowning (see 8.4) in the river.
      Ironically, Greece has cited flooding as a
      reason not to mount rescue operations or
      recover the bodies of those who have
      drowned, while using the riverʼs water level
      and challenging geomorphology to refute the
      possibility of pushbacks.
      One testimony (see 8.5) offers a compelling
      example of the dangers associated with this
      practice. It describes how eight North African
      men were driven into the middle of the Evros
      river and ordered to jump in. With “water
      reaching their chests ”, the men were forced
      to wade to an island from where they could
      swim to Turkish shores. While attempting the
      crossing, however, one man was swept away
      by the overwhelming current, only managing
      to survive by grabbing onto a fallen tree.
      Witnessing this scene, the remaining men on
      the island feared to cross as they could not
      swim. With soaking wet clothes, they were
      stuck there for three days in sub-zero
      temperatures, until they were eventually
      retrieved by Greek police and pushed back to
      Turkey.
      Perhaps most unsettling is that the officers
      allegedly watched this scene unfold and took
      over 72 hours to intervene. Hypothermia is
      the second highest killer of transit groups in
      the Evros region. Reminiscent of the triborder
      area between Bulgaria, Greece and
      Turkey, which is being used to stage indirect
      chain pushbacks, this phenomenon
      represents a weaponization of geography, or
      as one commentator eloquently wrote, ʻa
      form of hybrid border violence that explicitly
      incorporates the river ecology itselfʼ.

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/balkan-region-report-january-2021
      –-> pp.7-8

  • #Mort de #Zineb_Redouane, les #preuves qui accusent la #police

    Disclose et Forensic Architecture ont réalisé une contre-enquête des évènements qui ont coûté la vie à Zineb Redouane, le 2 décembre 2018, à #Marseille. A l’aide de documents inédits et d’une #modélisation 3D des événements, elle démontre que la responsabilité de la police est plus que jamais engagée dans cette affaire.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhsbnmci04U


    #violences_policières #gilets_jaunes #décès #grenade_lacrymogène #André_Ribes #vidéo #forensic_architecture #architecture_forensique #expertise_balistique #justice #impunité #armes #rapport_balistique #contre-expertise #CRS #IGPN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein @karine4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      #forensic_architecture #architecture_forensique

    • EU Border Agency Frontex Complicit in Greek Refugee Pushback Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Later, the MAI 1103 passes the refugees traveling at high speed, with waves beating against the boat. The Romanian officials then withdrew and the Greek coast guard took over the operation.

      "These pushbacks violate the ban on collective expulsions and international maritime law,” says Dana Schmalz, an expert on international law at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. She notes that if Frontex officials stopped a completely overcrowded inflatable boat, they would be required to rescue the people immediately. "If they don’t do that and even make waves instead, only to drive away and let the Greeks do the dirty work, then they are still involved in the illegal pushback,” she says.

      Reporting by DER SPIEGEL and its partners found that a Frontex surveillance plane or Portuguese or Romanian Frontex ships were near at least six pushbacks in the area since April. The number of undetected cases could actually be much higher.

      The vast majority of Frontex vessels patrol the Aegean Sea with their AIS transponders switched off or untraceable in order to prevent giving away their positions. Their presence can only be verified with difficulty through videos and photos.

      When contacted for comment by DER SPIEGEL, Frontex did not deny the individual incidents, instead stating that the officials protected the fundamental rights of migrants and respected their right to non-refoulement. It further stated that the incidents that had been reported were forwarded to the Greek coast guard, which opened an investigation into the matter. The Greek government gave a blanket denial to the allegations, saying that it complies with the law and does not carry out illegal deportations.

      Under Frontex’s statutes, police officers are required to file so-called Serious Incident Reports to document violations of the law. But people familiar with the situation say that fewer and fewer of these reports are getting filed. The sources said the Frontex border guards, who are sent to Greece from all over Europe, frown upon such reports because they cause trouble for the host country.

      https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-border-agency-frontex-complicit-in-greek-refugee-pushback-campaign-a-4b6c

      –---

      en allemand :
      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-frontex-in-griechenland-in-illegale-pushbacks-verwickelt-a-0000

    • Bruxelles veut des explications de Frontex, accusée de procéder à des refoulements illégaux de migrants

      La #Commission_européenne a sollicité une réunion extraordinaire urgente du conseil d’administration de Frontex, l’agence européenne pour la protection des frontières, mise en cause pour des refoulements illégaux de migrants en mer Égée. Un article d’Euroefe.

      « Après s’être coordonnés avec la présidente de la Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, mes services ont demandé, au nom de la Commission, la convocation d’une réunion extraordinaire du conseil d’administration de Frontex le 10 novembre pour discuter des incidents présumés de refoulement en Grèce et de la protection des droits fondamentaux », a écrit Ylva Johansson, la commissaire chargée des migrations, dans un tweet.

      D’après des enquêtes menées par différents médias, Frontex aurait procédé à des refoulements illégaux de migrants en mer Égée, à la frontière entre la Turquie et la Grèce. Et ce à au moins six reprises.

      L’hebdomadaire allemand Der Spiegel a révélé le 23 octobre qu’il avait enquêté sur ces incidents en collaboration avec les médias numériques néerlandais Lighthouse Reports et britannique Bellingcat, ainsi qu’avec deux chaînes de télévision, l’Allemande ARD et la Japonaise Asahi.

      Ces médias disposent de films montrant comment, depuis le mois d’avril, des agents de Frontex ont procédé à ce que l’on appelle des « pushbacks » (refoulements) de migrants pour les empêcher d’atteindre le sol européen, une pratique illégale.

      Une vidéo montre comment un bateau de l’agence européenne bloque le passage d’une embarcation occupée par des migrants, avant de les dépasser à grande vitesse, provoquant ainsi de grosses vagues. Par la suite, les garde-côtes grecs obligent la barque à faire demi-tour vers la Turquie.

      De son côté, Frontex a nié les accusations et assuré au Spiegel que ses agents protégeaient les droits fondamentaux des migrants et respectaient le droit au non-refoulement.

      Le gouvernement grec a également nié catégoriquement ces accusations.

      https://www.euractiv.fr/section/migrations/news/bruxelles-veut-des-explications-de-frontex-accusee-de-proceder-a-des-refoulements-illegaux-de-migrants/?_ga=2.223583131.1633915392.1603989521-379746837.1590938192

    • Greek coast guard performed huge pushback involving 197 people and 7 life rafts!

      A boat carrying 197 people tried to cross from Turkey to Italy on Tuesday, but got in to bad weather and sat course towards Crete. Close to the south shore of Crete they had engine problems and the Greek Coast Guard was alerted 09.00.
      The coast guard divided the people on two coast guard vessels, 121 men and boys on one vessel and 76 people, families on the other. Reports from the refugees clearly states that some of them where abuse while onboard the HCG vessel, footage and video testimony has been provided. Most of their phones was confiscated by the Greek coast guard, but a few managed to hide their phones, and was able to send out distress messages.
      The first group containing the 121 males was forced in to 3 life rafts before first light on Wednesday the 21th just north of Rhodes, and found and picked up by Turkish coast guard 08.50 south of Marmaris.
      The second group with the families, 76 people, was put in 4 life rafts around noon north west of Simi, drifting for hours and not picked up by Turkish coast guard before 17.30 south west of Datça.
      This shows that the Greek coast guard is determined to prevent anyone to reach Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution.
      This is by far the largest pushback Aegean Boat Report has been able to document, but I guess nothing is a surprise anymore. No measures have been taken by the EU to try to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even do they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.

      https://www.facebook.com/AegeanBoatReport/posts/951612422028529

    • Έστειλαν πίσω 200 πρόσφυγες γιατί ήταν… τζιχαντιστές

      Τεκμηριωμένη καταγγελία για τη μεγαλύτερη ώς τώρα καταγεγραμμένη επαναπροώθηση προσφύγων από το Λιμενικό προς την Τουρκία με μεγάλη και κρυφή επιχείρηση του Λιμενικού εν μέσω σφοδρής κακοκαιρίας νότια της Κρήτης ● Έντεχνη προσπάθεια οι 200 άνθρωποι, μεταξύ αυτών και γυναικόπαιδα, να εμφανιστούν ως… ισλαμιστές τρομοκράτες.

      Ακόμα μια καταγγελία για βίαιες επαναπροωθήσεις προσφύγων από το Λιμενικό έρχεται στο φως τις τελευταίες ημέρες, την ίδια στιγμή που η κυβέρνηση πανηγυρίζει για τη μείωση των προσφυγικών ροών προς τα νησιά, χωρίς όμως να εξηγεί πώς έχει επιτευχθεί η μείωση αυτή.

      Η υπόθεση αφορά πλοιάριο με περίπου 200 ανθρώπους που έφτασαν στα ανοιχτά της Κρήτης, προερχόμενοι από Τουρκία και με τελικό προορισμό την Ιταλία. Στη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση υπάρχει μια περίεργη αλληλουχία γεγονότων και « ειδήσεων » τόσο στα κρητικά όσο και τα κεντρικά ΜΜΕ. Το πρωί της Τρίτης 20 Οκτωβρίου σε όλα τα ηλεκτρονικά ΜΜΕ της Κρήτης μεταδίδεται η είδηση για « κινητοποίηση του Λιμενικού » για σκάφος με 200 μετανάστες στη θαλάσσια περιοχή νότια της νήσου Χρυσής (Γαϊδουρονήσι), στην Ιεράπετρα. Το προηγούμενο βράδυ η Κρήτη είχε χτυπηθεί σφοδρά από την κακοκαιρία και το πρωί τα βλέμματα όλων ήταν στις εκτεταμένες καταστροφές που προκάλεσε το χαλάζι σε καλλιέργειες και υποδομές, κυρίως στην ανατολική πλευρά του νησιού. Την ίδια κακοκαιρία προφανώς αντιμετώπισαν και οι 200 επιβαίνοντες στο σκάφος, μεταξύ των οποίων υπήρχαν γυναίκες και παιδιά.

      Στις πρώτες αναφορές και σε ερωτήσεις δημοσιογράφων προς το Λιμεναρχείο Ιεράπετρας γινόταν λόγος για « αδυναμία του Λιμενικού να εντοπίσει το πλοιάριο », ωστόσο δινόταν η πληροφορία πως τα σκάφη θα έμεναν στα ανοιχτά λόγω της κακοκαιρίας και για την περίπτωση που χρειαστεί, να παράσχουν βοήθεια αν εντοπίσουν τους πρόσφυγες. Λίγες ώρες αργότερα η είδηση εξαφανίστηκε από τα ΜΜΕ και δημιουργήθηκε η εντύπωση πως τα σκάφη του Λιμενικού δεν βρήκαν ποτέ το πλοιάριο με τους πρόσφυγες.
      Τους βρήκαν ;

      Ωστόσο τα πράγματα φαίνεται πως έγιναν διαφορετικά. Τέσσερις μέρες μετά, η οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report, η οποία και στο παρελθόν έχει αποκαλύψει παράνομες επιχειρήσεις επαναπροώθησης λέμβων με μετανάστες προς την Τουρκία από τις ελληνικές αρχές και τη Frontex, καταγγέλλει πως το Λιμενικό όχι μόνο βρήκε τους πρόσφυγες στα ανοιχτά της Κρήτης αλλά προχώρησε και με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες στην επαναπροώθησή τους στην Τουρκία. Η οργάνωση καταγγέλλει πως η ελληνική Ακτοφυλακή εντόπισε τους πρόσφυγες στις 9 το πρωί της Τρίτης (όπως δηλαδή μετέδιδαν αρχικά και τα κρητικά ΜΜΕ). Στη συνέχεια, πάντα σύμφωνα με την καταγγελία, οι άνδρες του Λιμενικού επιβίβασαν τους 197 πρόσφυγες σε δύο επιχειρησιακά σκάφη χωρίζοντάς τους σε δύο ομάδες. Στην πρώτη ομάδα μπήκαν 121 άνδρες και αγόρια, ενώ στη δεύτερη μπήκαν οικογένειες με γυναίκες και παιδιά, συνολικά 76 άτομα. Και οι δύο ομάδες, πάντα σύμφωνα με την καταγγελία, μεταφέρθηκαν στη θαλάσσια περιοχή βόρεια της Ρόδου, όπου και εξαναγκάστηκαν με τη βία να επιβιβαστούν σε συνολικά επτά θαλάσσιες σωστικές σχεδίες αφού προηγουμένως τους είχαν αφαιρεθεί όλα τα κινητά τηλέφωνα. Και οι επτά σχεδίες « σπρώχτηκαν » προς τις ακτές της Τουρκίας, εν μέσω κακοκαιρίας και κατά παράβαση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και του δίκαιου της θάλασσας.

      Στιγμιότυπα από την επαναπροώθηση των προσφύγων (Φωτογραφίες από την οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report).


      Οι τρεις πρώτες σχεδίες, με 121 άτομα, εξωθήθηκαν τα ξημερώματα της Τετάρτης 21/10 προς την περιοχή της Μαρμαρίδας, όπου και εντοπίστηκαν από το τουρκικό Λιμενικό που τους περισυνέλεξε. Το δεύτερο γκρουπ, όπου βρίσκονταν οι γυναίκες και τα παιδιά, εξαναγκάστηκε να επιβιβαστεί σε τέσσερις σωστικές σχεδίες και επαναπροωθήθηκε προς την Τουρκία από τη θαλάσσια περιοχή δυτικά της Σύμης, το μεσημέρι της Τετάρτης. Τους περισυνέλεξε το τουρκικό Λιμενικό το απόγευμα της ίδιας μέρας στην περιοχή νοτιοδυτικά της πόλης Ντάκτα. Οπως αναφέρουν μάλιστα κάποιοι από τους επιβαίνοντες, χτυπήθηκαν από τους Ελληνες λιμενικούς, ενώ υπάρχει και σχετικό φωτογραφικό υλικό που τραβήχτηκε μετά την περισυλλογή τους από τις τουρκικές αρχές. Σε μία από τις φωτογραφίες φαίνεται ένας άνθρωπος με μώλωπες στην κοιλιά και με γύψο σε σημεία και των δύο χεριών του.


      Πρωτοσέλιδο

      Την ίδια μέρα, πάντως, που έγινε η καταγγελία από την Aegean Boat Report (το Σάββατο) η εφημερίδα « ΤΑ ΝΕΑ » κυκλοφορούσε με τίτλο « Προετοιμαστείτε για Τζιχαντιστές », αναφερόμενη στο μήνυμα που, σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες της εφημερίδας, έστειλε σε Ελλάδα και Κύπρο ο Αιγύπτιος πρόεδρος Αλ Σίσι κατά την τριμερή συνάντηση που πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Λευκωσία. Το μήνυμα υποτίθεται πως αφορούσε τις πληροφορίες που έχει η Αίγυπτος για τις κινήσεις του Ερντογάν και το πώς χρησιμοποιεί τον ισλαμιστικό παράγοντα. Σε κάποια κρητικά ΜΜΕ οι δύο υποθέσεις δεν άργησαν να συνδεθούν με αναφορές για το… περίεργο σκάφος στο οποίο, σύμφωνα με τα δημοσιεύματα, επέβαιναν « άτομα εμφανιζόμενα ως μετανάστες » και το οποίο, σύμφωνα με τις διοχετευμένες πληροφορίες, έχει κινητοποιήσει όχι μόνο το Λιμενικό αλλά και τον Στρατό, την ΕΥΠ ακόμα και ξένες μυστικές υπηρεσίες !

      Όπως αποκαλύπτεται, πάντως, οι επικίνδυνοι « τζιχαντιστές », τόσο οι άνδρες όσο και τα γυναικόπαιδα, είχαν ήδη από την Τετάρτη επαναπροωθηθεί παράνομα στην Τουρκία. Η Οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report αναφέρει πως αυτή είναι η μεγαλύτερη περίπτωση « pushback » που καταφέρνει να καταγράψει και τονίζει πως η Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση δεν έχει επιβάλει ακόμα καμία κύρωση στην Ελλάδα για τις παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις, παρά τα ακλόνητα στοιχεία που έχουν τεθεί στη διάθεση των ευρωπαϊκών αρχών.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/efkriti/koinonia/265835_esteilan-piso-200-prosfyges-giati-itan-tzihantistes

    • Greece’s coast guard accused of mass migrant pushbacks

      An NGO, the #Aegean_Boat_Report (ABR), has accused the Greek coast guard of pushing back 197 migrants at sea last week.

      Greek coast guards have been accused by the NGO Aegean Boat Report (ABR) of performing illegal pushbacks involving 197 people and seven life rafts off the coast of the island of Crete in the Southern Aegean.

      A boat carrying 197 people was on its way trying to cross from Turkey to Italy on October 20 but ran into bad weather and changed course towards Crete, the NGO said.

      Close to the south shore of Crete, the vessel reported engine problems and, according to the Norwegian organization, the Greek coast guard was alerted at 9 am.

      ’’The Greek coast guard divided the people into two groups onto two coast guard vessels, 121 men and boys on one vessel, and 76 people, mostly families, on the other.

      Abuse on board

      Reports from the refugees clearly state that some of them were abused while onboard the Hellenic coast guard vessel, with footage and video testimony being provided,’’ said ABR via a media statement.

      According to ABR, the first group with the 121 men and boys were forced into three life rafts in the early hours of Wednesday, October 21 just north of Rhodes, before being found and picked up by the Turkish coast guard at 8:50 am south of Marmaris.

      The second group of 76 people, made up of families, were put into four life rafts at around noon north-west of the islands of Simi, drifting for hours and not picked up by Turkish coast guards before 5:30 pm south-west of Data.

      ’Largest pushback’ ABR has documented

      ’’This shows that the Greek coast guard is determined to prevent anyone from reaching Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution’’, added ABR.

      ’’This is by far the largest pushback Aegean Boat Report has been able to document, but I guess nothing is a surprise anymore. No measures have been taken by the EU to try to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even if they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.’’

      29 NGOs and humanitarian groups sent an open letter to Parliament Last week’s incidents were reported after an appeal was launched by several prominent NGOs and humanitarian groups earlier this month on the topic of illegal pushbacks.

      A total of 29 organizations sent an open letter to Parliament urging it to investigate reports of illegal pushbacks at the country’s land and sea borders with neighboring Turkey.

      The letter called on the Greek Parliament to ’’immediately conduct an effective, transparent and impartial investigation into allegations that personnel from the Coast Guard, the Greek Police and the Greek Army, sometimes in close cooperation with masked men in uniform, have engaged in such actions, which are not only illegal but also endanger the lives and safety of displaced people."

      Tensions on migration in Greece

      Tensions on the migrant issue in Greece continue to run high following September’s fires which destroyed the controversial Moria open camp on Lesbos, and widespread lockdowns at refugee camps across the country following outbreaks of coronavirus cases.

      The reports of pushbacks taking place have prompted action from humanitarian rights groups, with the joint-appeal calling for disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as deemed appropriate, “on anyone in uniform who are found to have participated in such illegal activities, but also for their superiors who are responsible for the administration of these bodies.”

      “The investigation should establish the identity and relationship of the masked men and other unidentified officers to law enforcement, and take steps to hold them to account.”

      State pushes ahead with migrant camps

      Meanwhile, in related developments, the government is pressing ahead with plans to create more secure and strictly controlled ’’closed’’ migrant reception centers on the Aegean islands.

      With the COVID-19 pandemic creating further challenges and complications for the operation of existing camps, most of which are under lockdown due to positive cases of the virus, the state is aiming to build new ’’permanent’’ structures, starting with one on Lesbos.

      The situation on Lesbos is the primary concern right now, as the current temporary facility which was hastily set up in the Kara Tepe area on the coast after Moria was burned down, has already flooded twice with the first rainfalls of the season.

      Lesbos Mayor Stratis Kytelis met with government officials in Athens last week to discuss the location of a new permanent facility on the island, although the plans are being met with resistance from local community groups.Greece’s health authorities, meanwhile, are also conducting regular COVID-19 tests at migrant camps on the Aegean islands to ensure that any outbreak is quickly contained.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/28139/greece-s-coast-guard-accused-of-mass-migrant-pushbacks

    • Frontex sous pression après des accusations de refoulement de migrants aux portes de la Grèce

      C’est une première : mardi 10 novembre, le conseil d’administration de l’Agence européenne des garde-frontières et de garde-côtes Frontex devra examiner des accusations de refoulements illégaux (ou « pushbacks ») de migrants en mer Egée. Elles ont été portées contre Frontex par un groupe de médias. En octobre, le site d’investigation Bellingcat et le magazine Der Spiegel notamment, avaient rapporté, images et témoignages à l’appui, six épisodes au cours desquels des embarcations avaient été bloquées, contrairement aux règles internationales sur le non-refoulement.

      Celles-ci stipulent que des personnes ne peuvent être renvoyées vers un pays, avant un examen de leur situation, si leur existence est en danger en raison de leur race, leur religion, leur nationalité ou leur appartenance à un groupe social ou politique.

      Il aura apparemment fallu une intervention ferme de la Commission européenne pour que la direction de Frontex, devenue le premier corps en uniforme et la plus importante agence de l’Union avec un budget de quelque 500 millions d’euros, accepte de convoquer un conseil extraordinaire. Dans un premier temps, elle s’était contentée d’affirmer, le 24 octobre, qu’elle respectait la loi internationale et était en contact avec la Grèce, qui devait ouvrir « une enquête interne ».
      Enquête interne

      « Si l’agence est impliquée dans de telles actions, c’est totalement inacceptable », déclarait pour sa part la commissaire à la migration, Ylva Johansson, le 26 octobre. Le lendemain, Frontex promettait une enquête interne et, même si elle n’exerce pas une tutelle directe sur l’agence, la Commission obtenait la convocation d’une réunion. A charge pour Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur français, de fournir des explications détaillées.

      « La Grèce ne participe pas à des refoulements, a affirmé de son côté le ministre grec des migrations, Notis Mitarachi. Nous gardons nos frontières en respectant le droit international et nous continuons à sauver des centaines de migrants tous les jours en Méditerranée », a-t-il précisé.

      Athènes fait face depuis des mois à de nombreuses accusations de refoulement en mer Egée et à la frontière terrestre avec la Turquie, dans l’Evros. Le 14 août déjà, le New York Times avait affirmé que les gardes-côtes grecs avaient abandonné en « pleine mer » des canots remplis de migrants. Interviewé par CNN, le premier ministre conservateur Kyriakos Mitsotakis avait démenti : « Cela n’est jamais arrivé. Nous sommes les victimes d’une vaste campagne de désinformation », suggérant que les journalistes avaient interrogé principalement des sources turques voulant décrédibiliser les autorités grecques.

      Depuis l’envoi par la Turquie de milliers de réfugiés à la frontière terrestre de l’Evros, en mars, Athènes a toujours assuré vouloir « protéger ses frontières » qui sont aussi celles de l’Europe et faire face à « une menace ». Le gouvernement a renforcé le contrôle des frontières en embauchant notamment du personnel supplémentaire. Entre avril et juillet, les arrivées à Lesbos ont diminué de 85 % par rapport à l’année dernière, selon le ministère des migrations.
      Des « abus sont trop nombreux pour être ignorés »

      Pour de nombreuses ONG présentes sur le terrain, cette diminution spectaculaire est le résultat de « pushbacks ». Selon Human Rights Watch, « les preuves et les rapports décrivant les abus sont trop nombreux pour être ignorés ». L’organisation dit avoir interrogé des victimes et des témoins qui décrivent comment les garde-côtes grecs, la police, et des hommes masqués et vêtus d’habits sombres ont effectué depuis les îles de Rhodes, de Samos et Simi, des refoulements illégaux de personnes sur de petits canots gonflables.

      A la fin août, le Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) de l’ONU se disait « inquiet de l’augmentation des publications depuis mars 2020 attestant de refoulements illégaux ». « Le HCR a reçu des rapports et des témoignages de personnes abandonnées en pleine mer pendant un long moment, souvent sur des rafiots surpeuplés », précisait le communiqué.

      L’Observatoire grec des accords d’Helsinki a déjà déposé une plainte auprès de la Cour suprême grecque pour le refoulement de plus de 1 300 personnes en s’appuyant sur les témoignages recueillis par plusieurs ONG. En septembre, 29 organisations de défense des droits de l’homme ont par ailleurs adressé une lettre au premier ministre et au parlement grecs pour réclamer une enquête. Leur courrier est encore sans réponse alors que 35 membres d’ONG font, eux, l’objet d’une investigation : ils sont suspectés d’avoir renseigné des migrants sur les positions des gardes-côtes ainsi que des passeurs sur des lieux d’accostage. Ces humanitaires travaillent pour des organisations qui ont dénoncé avec le plus de véhémence les refoulements vers la Turquie par les gardes-côtes grecs.

      Frontex, qui a engagé en Grèce quelque six cents agents dotés de divers moyens de surveillance, a déjà fait l’objet d’autres accusations mais affirme à chaque fois respecter un code de conduite qui prohibe strictement les refoulements. La communication très cadenassée de l’agence ne détaille toutefois pas comment les contrôles sont vraiment exercés. L’action du service interne chargé de contrôler le respect des droits fondamentaux reste également nébuleuse. Une situation déplorée par le HCR, membre du forum consultatif chargé de conseiller l’agence européenne dans son action.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/11/05/frontex-sous-pression-apres-des-accusations-de-refoulement-de-migrants-aux-p

    • EU: Probe Frontex Complicity in Border Abuses. Ensure Independent and Effective Investigation

      The top governing body of the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) should urgently establish an independent inquiry into allegations of its involvement in unlawful operations to stop migrants from reaching the European Union (EU), Human Rights Watch said today.

      The agency’s board will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 10, 2020. Frontex should also address serious and persistent violations by border and law enforcement officers of the countries where it operates.

      “The fact that Frontex may have become complicit in abuses at Greece’s borders is extremely serious,” said Eva Cossé, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Management Board of Frontex should quickly open an inquiry into Frontex involvement in – or actions to disregard or cover up – abuses against people seeking protection from conflicts and persecution.”

      On October 23, a group of media outlets published a detailed investigative report alleging Frontex involvement in pushback operations at the Greek-Turkish maritime border, in the Aegean Sea. The reports said that asylum seekers and migrants were prevented from reaching EU soil or were forced out of EU waters. Such pushbacks violate international law, Human Rights Watch said.

      EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on October 28 that she had asked, in coordination with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “to convene an urgent extraordinary Frontex Management Board meeting on 10 November, to discuss alleged push-back incidents in Greece and fundamental rights protection.”

      Frontex’s mandate obliges officers and the officers of member states deployed to respect fundamental rights, but the agency has been under heavy criticism for the shortcomings of its internal monitoring and accountability mechanisms. On October 27, Frontex announced an internal inquiry into the incidents reported by the media.

      In recent years, nongovernmental groups and media outlets have consistently reported the unlawful return, including through pushbacks, of groups and individuals from Greece to Turkey, by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men who appear to be working in tandem with border enforcement officials.

      Since Frontex deployed officers along the full length of the Turkey-Greece land border in March, Human Rights Watch has documented that Greek law enforcement officers routinely summarily returned asylum seekers and migrants through the land border with Turkey. Human Rights Watch found that officers in some cases used violence and often confiscated and destroyed migrants’ belongings.

      Greek authorities have said that police officers wearing dark blue uniforms work at police stations. Border patrol police officers wear military camouflage uniforms. Frontex guards wear their national uniforms, with a blue armband with the EU flag.

      In July, Human Rights Watch documented collective expulsions, through the Evros river land border, of asylum seekers rounded up from deep inside Greece.

      In a June 19 response to questions posed by Human Rights Watch, Frontex wrote that no abuses against migrants by Greek border guards or by police or border guards of other EU member states deployed under Frontex had been reported to Frontex. It said that Frontex does not have the authority to investigate allegations of abuse by EU member states’ police or border guards deployed in Greece. It said that such investigations are conducted by the competent national authorities.

      In June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it was deeply concerned about persistent reports of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, in some cases violent, at Greece’s border with Turkey. In August, the UN Refugee Agency flagged concerns over the increasing number of credible reports of pushbacks at Greece’s land and sea borders.

      In May 2019, Frontex told Human Rights Watch that it had not detected any human rights violations or pushbacks during its operational presence at Croatia’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite consistent evidence of brutal pushbacks, reports from international and regional organizations, and the confirmation by Croatian officials that such abuses were taking place.

      Under the Frontex mandate, its executive director has the authority to, and should, withdraw financing, and suspend or terminate its activities if there are serious violations of fundamental rights related to its activities. The executive director is also expected to take into account information provided by relevant international organizations.

      On July 6, during a debate at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on fundamental rights at the Greek border, Johansson said that pushbacks by Greek border guards should be investigated. In its new Pact on Migration and Asylum, presented on September 23, the European Commission recommended to member states to set up an independent monitoring mechanism, amid increased allegations of abuse at the EU’s external borders.

      Members of the Frontex Management Board should set up an independent, prompt, effective, transparent, and impartial investigation into allegations that officers deployed by Frontex were involved in unlawful operations of pushbacks of asylum seekers. Any officer found to have engaged in such illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers and officials who have command responsibility over such forces, should be subject to disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as applicable.

      The investigation should also identify whether Frontex failed to report or otherwise address allegations of serious fundamental rights violations committed by law enforcement or border officers of the member state hosting operations.

      “An EU agency with a clear mandate to act in compliance with fundamental rights has the responsibility to do everything possible to prevent such severe violations,” Cossé said. “If Frontex not only turned a blind eye to abuses committed under its sight, or worse, directly took part in them, it becomes every EU member state’s responsibility.”

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/11/09/eu-probe-frontex-complicity-border-abuses

    • Frontex calls for committee to consider questions related to sea surveillance

      Today, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has called for the creation of an evaluation committee to consider legal questions related to the Agency’s surveillance of external sea borders and accommodating the concerns raised by Member States about “hybrid threats” affecting their national security at external borders where the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will deploy its standing corps.

      Under the Frontex proposal, the committee would be coordinated by the European Commission with the participation of Member States on a volunteer basis. It would address various questions, in particular those related to Regulation 2014/656 in the light of the current operational situation.

      Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri also expressed the Agency’s continued commitment to highest standards of protection of fundamental rights.

      “Any allegation of misconduct or infringement of international treaties or fundamental rights in the framework of joint operations coordinated by Frontex is treated with grave concern and carefully investigated,” said Fabrice Leggeri.

      “I am committed to reinforce the office of the Fundamental Rights Officer and to gradually increase its budget,” he added.

      Leggeri also proposed that the Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer to play a bigger role in raising awareness of the operational officers on the legal requirements that they need to apply on everyday basis in the field.

      “This could apply not only to the Frontex-deployed staff, but also to the staff of the International Coordination Centres, who often play an essential part in deciding to react to complicated events,” Leggeri said.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-calls-for-committee-to-consider-questions-related-to-sea-surv

    • #Ombudsman opens inquiry to assess European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) ‘#Complaints_Mechanism’

      European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has opened an inquiry to look into how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) deals with alleged breaches of fundamental rights. In particular, the investigation will assess the effectiveness and transparency of Frontex’s Complaints Mechanism for those who believe their rights have been violated in the context of Frontex border operations, as well as the role and independence of Frontex’s ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’.

      In 2013, as part of a previous inquiry, the Ombudsman recommended that Frontex set up an individual complaints mechanism, and that its Fundamental Rights Officer be in charge of the mechanism. Since then, such a mechanism was put in place and further developed, with a view to providing safeguards for fundamental rights in the context of Frontex’s expanding mandate, as well as ensuring increased accountability and redress for those impacted by its actions.

      This inquiry focuses on whether the Complaints Mechanism and the Fundamental Rights Officer are truly empowered to deal with the issues faced by migrants and asylum seekers who feel their rights have been violated under Frontex operations.

      In opening the inquiry, the Ombudsman has sent a set of detailed questions to Frontex on the Complaints Mechanism and the Fundamental Rights Officer. She has also informed members of the European Network of Ombudsmen (ENO), with a view to their possible participation in the inquiry, as part of the ENO’s parallel work. This is important, given the role of national authorities in Frontex operations, and the fact that some national ombudsmen are responsible for following up on complaints related to this.

      Among other things, the questions set out by the Ombudsman look at: how and when Frontex will be updating the mechanism to reflect its expanded mandate; what happens to complainants who are faced with forced return while their complaint is still being processed; what appeal possibilities are open to complainants; how Frontex monitors complaints against national authorities; how those who have been affected by Frontex operations but are in non-EU countries can complain about alleged breaches of fundamental rights, including the issue of language; and the role of the Fundamental Rights Officer in this process.

      https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/news-document/en/134739

    • Frontex: Cover-Up and Diversion. Outcomes of and Responses to the Frontex Management Board meeting on 10th November

      An extraordinary meeting took place on Tuesday 10th November, between the EU Commission and Frontex, regarding alleged Frontex involvement in illegal pushbacks in Greece.

      Why did the meeting take place?

      This meeting was called due to an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting the involvement or complicity of Frontex in pushbacks. Reports by Spiegel, Report Mainz, Bellingcat and other international media, including Josoor and other members of the BVMN, had led to this meeting taking place. These investigations show Frontex involvement in at least six pushbacks through, for example, blocking boats and making waves to deter boats from getting any closer to the shore. According to Frontex insiders, mission reports were routinely altered into something more positive, excluding explicit mentions of pushbacks, before being sent to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, Poland.

      We, at the Border Violence Monitoring Network, took advantage of the opportunity presented by the meeting on 10th November by sending a letter of concern to the Executive Director of Frontex and the FRO. This letter included evidence from testimonies, collected by BVMN partners, including Josoor, from people-on-the-move who claim that Frontex personnel were involved or complicit in pushbacks operations at the borders between Greek and Turkey, and Albania and Greece. The letter questioned Frontex’s knowledge and understanding of these allegations, and demanded an investigation into these claims. The letter was also addressed to the EU commissioner of Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and her officer and we hoped this was presented as evidence at the management board meeting on 10th November

      What were the outcomes?

      Johansson remarked on twitter after the meeting:

      “Today’s @Frontex extraordinary management board was a good start to what I want to be a transparent process. The @EU_Commission has asked the Frontex Executive Director to reply to Qs ahead of the next scheduled board meeting (end November).”

      Leggeri, the Executive Director of Frontex, has been ordered by the EU Commission to answer questions concerning these accusations by the end of November. Frontex is yet to comment in detail on the allegations and reported incidents have been forwarded to the Greek coastguard, where also the Greek authorities have refused to comment and denied involvement. Both Frontex and the Greek authorities have launched internal investigations in response to these allegations. Unsurprisingly, after just 48 hours of their investigations, Frontex announced that they were innocent.

      The meeting also included a discussion on whether Frontex should withdraw from missions, such as the one in the Aegean Sea in the event of serious and persistent human rights violations. Such a directive can be found already in Frontex’s regulations. Officials of a few member states vetoed the application of this rule, and Greek representatives in particular were concerned that this could expose the Greek government.

      In the end, a compromise was met. A Frontex statement outlined that a ‘Commission of Inquiry’ will now be made to deal with legal questions concerning operations at sea borders. This will be coordinated by the EU Commission.

      “Any allegation of misconduct or violation of international agreements or fundamental rights within joint operations coordinated by Frontex will be treated with grave concern and investigated closely,” Leggeri said.

      Also, Frontex seeks to strengthen the role of the Fundamental Rights Officer, but experts agree that the internal mechanisms at Frontex are insufficient and therefore see this move as insufficient. As of yesterday, Frontex is advertising for the vacancy of the FRO.

      Members of EU Parliament reactions:

      Tineke Strik (from Netherlands, Green) commented, according to Spiegel, “The announcement did not mention the human rights violations at the border. A committee does not replace a truly independent and transparent investigation. Strik stated “Citizens need to know what has happened and how human rights violations are to be prevented in the future”

      Dietmar Köster (from Germany, SPD) stated, quoted from Tagesschau, "It is a unique cover-up attempt to divert attention from one’s own responsibility and failure to observe human rights”. Köster further stated that Leggeri’s statements showed the arrogance and ignorance of Frontex. “Basic and human rights apply to all. The European Border Management Agency is not exempt from their observance, it is not above the law.”

      An successful outcome: an independent inquiry:

      On the morning of Thursday 12th November, the European Ombudsman tweeted that they would open an inquiry into Frontex, assessing the effectiveness and transparency of their ‘Complaints Mechanism’ and the role and independence of the ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’ (FRO). The latter is especially important as the current ad interim FRO, Annegret Kohler, appointed in 2018, and re-appointed in September 2020, was selected from the Executive Director’s former cabinet, where she was an advisor to the Executive Director. This raises questions about independence and objectivity of the FRO and the FRO’s team to carry out their duties and avoid potential conflicts of interest. Josoor welcomes this investigation.

      https://www.josoor.net/post/frontex-cover-up-and-diversion

    • EU erhöht Druck auf Frontex-Chef

      Die EU-Grenzschutzagentur gerät durch Recherchen des ARD-Magazins Report Mainz und weiterer Medien in Bedrängnis. Heute musste die Frontex-Führung der EU-Kommission zum Thema illegale Pushbacks Rede und Antwort stehen.

      Die Europäische Kommission erwartet Antworten vom Frontex-Chef. Bis Ende November muss sich Fabrice Leggeri zur Verwicklung seiner Grenzschutzagentur in illegale Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen äußern. Das ist das Ergebnis einer Dringlichkeitssitzung des Frontex Management Boards. Das Treffen sei ein guter Anfang gewesen, sie wolle den Prozess transparent gestalten, twitterte die zuständige EU-Kommissarin Ylva Johansson. Leggeri solle bis zur nächsten Zusammenkunft des Management Boards auf die Fragen der Kommission antworten.
      Recherchen bringen Frontex in Bedrängnis

      Johansson hatte das Treffen einberufen, um über eine gemeinsame Recherche des ARD-Magazins Report Mainz, des „Spiegel“ und der Medienorganisationen Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports und tv Asahi zu diskutieren. Die Medien hatten aufgedeckt, dass Frontex-Einheiten in der Ägäis in illegale Zurückweisungen von Flüchtlingen verwickelt sind.

      Seit April waren Frontex-Beamte nachweislich bei mindestens sechs sogenannten Pushbacks in der Nähe. Auf einem Video ist zu sehen, wie ein Frontex-Schiff ein überladenes Flüchtlingsboot zunächst blockiert, die Insassen aber nicht rettet. Stattdessen fahren die Frontex-Beamten mit hohem Tempo an dem Flüchtlingsboot vorbei und verlassen dann den Ort des Geschehens. Vertrauliche Gespräche mit Frontex-Beamten legten zudem nahe, dass diese ihre Berichte schönen, bevor sie an die Zentrale in Warschau geschickt werden.

      Keine Äußerung von Frontex und Griechenland

      Frontex ist auf die Vorwürfe bis heute nicht im Detail eingegangen. Alle gemeldeten Vorfälle seien an die griechische Küstenwache weitergeleitet worden, diese habe eine interne Untersuchung eingeleitet, teilte die Genzschutzagentur in einem Statement mit. Nach der Antwort der griechischen Behörden seien seine Zweifel ausgeräumt, sagte Leggeri zudem in einem Interview.

      Auch die griechischen Behörden hatten sich zu den Pushbacks nicht im Detail äußern wollen. Sie bestreiten die Vorwürfe pauschal, obwohl die ARD, der „Spiegel“ und andere Medien die Pushbacks mehrfach dokumentiert haben. Nach Angaben von Teilnehmern im „Spiegel“ sahen sich vor allem die griechischen Mitglieder des Management Boards bei dem Treffen Fragen ausgesetzt. Diskutiert wurde unter anderem ein Statement, welches betonen sollte, dass Frontex sich bei schwerwiegenden und anhaltenden Menschenrechtsverletzungen von Missionen wie der in der Ägäis zurückziehen muss.

      Griechen haben Angst vor Bloßstellung

      Ein solche Vorschrift findet sich schon jetzt in den Frontex-Regularien. Beamte einiger weniger Mitgliedsstaaten legten ihr Veto dagegen ein, dass die Anwendung dieser Regel nun in den Raum gestellt werden soll. Besonders die griechischen Teilnehmer fürchteten, dass das Statement die griechische Regierung bloßstellen könnte.

      Am Ende einigte man sich auf einen Kompromiss. Es soll ein Komitee geschaffen werden, das sich mit rechtlichen Fragen zu Einsätzen an der Seegrenzen beschäftigt, heißt es in einem Frontex-Statement. Die Kommission solle dem Vorschlag zufolge die Arbeit des Komitees koordinieren, Mitgliedsstaaten könnten sich auf freiwilliger Basis beteiligen. Im Komitee sollen auch die Sorgen einige Mitgliedsstaaten vor „hybriden Bedrohungen“ eine Rolle spielen. Vor allem Griechenland hatte immer wieder davor gewarnt, dass türkische Geheimdienste sich unter die Migranten auf den Inseln mischen könnten.

      Außerdem will Frontex nach eigener Aussage den sogenannten Fundamental Rights Officer stärken. Der Beamte ist bei Frontex dafür zuständig, dass die Grenzschützer die Grundrechte von Schutzsuchenden achten. Allerdings halten Beobachter alle bestehenden internen Überwachungsmechanismen bei Frontex für unzureichend.
      Kritik aus Europaparlament

      Nach den Enthüllungen der ARD und ihrer Recherchepartner hatten mehrere Europaparlamentarier von Leggeri eine vollständige Untersuchung der Vorwürfe gefordert. Die Grünen-EU-Abgeordnete Tineke Strik kritisierte das Frontex-Statement. Die Ankündigung erwähne die Menschenrechtsverletzungen an der Grenze nicht, sagte sie. Ein Komitee ersetze keine wirklich unabhängige und transparente Untersuchung. „Die Bürger müssen erfahren, was geschehen ist und wie Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Zukunft verhindert werden sollen“, so Strik.

      „Das Ganze ist eine große Nebelkerze“, sagte Europaparlamentarier Dietmar Köster von der SPD. „Es ist ein einzigartiger Vertuschungsversuch, von der eigenen Verantwortung und dem Versagen bei der Einhaltung von Menschenrechten abzulenken“,

      https://www.tagesschau.de/investigativ/report-mainz/frontex-pushbacks-103.html

    • EU-Grenzpolizei Frontex: Keine Untersuchung zu Verstößen gegen Menschenrechte

      Im März war die EU-Grenzpolizei Frontex in einen versuchten Verstoß gegen Menschenrechte verwickelt. Wie von uns veröffentlichte Akten zeigen, untersuchte Frontex den Vorfall aber nicht, sondern kehrte ihn unter den Teppich.

      Als ARD, Spiegel und Bellingcat vor drei Wochen aufdeckten, dass die Europäische Grenzpolizei Frontex an illegalen Pushbacks an EU-Grenzen beteiligt ist, versprach der Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri schnell Aufklärung. Die EU-Agentur werde die Vorwürfe untersuchen, nach denen Frontex Geflüchtete völkerrechtswidrig aus der EU abgeschoben hatte.

      „Jeder Vorwurf des Fehlverhaltens oder der Verletzung internationaler Verträge oder Grundrechte im Rahmen gemeinsamer Operationen, die von Frontex koordiniert werden, wird mit großer Besorgnis behandelt und sorgfältig untersucht.“

      Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri (Übersetzung von FragDenStaat)

      Ein interner E-Mail-Verlauf von Frontex, den wir per Informationsfreiheitsanfrage erhalten haben, zeigt jetzt jedoch, dass die EU-Agentur in vergleichbaren Fällen offenbar kein Interesse daran hat, Verstöße gegen Menschenrechte zu untersuchen. EU Observer hatte zunächst darüber berichtet.
      Dänemark widersetzt sich Frontex-Befehlen

      Bereits am 2. März diesen Jahres hatte Frontex in der Nähe der griechischen Insel Kos versucht, ein Boot mit 33 geflüchteten Menschen, die griechische Gewässer erreicht hatten, in die Türkei abzuschieben. Das griechische Frontex-Kommando befahl einem Schiff der Dänischen Marine mit dem Namen „Stela Polaris“, die Geflüchteten nicht an Land zu bringen, sondern wieder in ein Gummiboot zu setzen und aufs offene Meer Richtung Türkei zu schleppen. Der dänische Befehlshaber des Schiffes widersetzte sich dem rechtswidrigen Befehl jedoch und erreichte durch seine dänischen Vorgesetzten, dass er aufgehoben wurde.

      Frontex hatte den Vorgang bisher nie öffentlich zugegeben. Der dazugehörige E-Mail-Verkehr aus der Frontex-Zentrale in Warschau, den wir veröffentlichen, zeigt, dass Pushbacks die Entscheidungsträger um Direktor Fabrice Leggeri kaum interessierten. Erst aus der Presse erfuhr das Hauptquartier überhaupt davon, dass Frontex in einen versuchten Verstoß gegen die Menschenrechte verwickelt war.

      Einen Bericht – intern Serious Incident Report genannt – gab es trotz der Schwere des Vorfalls nicht. Die Frontex-Pressesprecherin forderte deswegen in Erwartung von Presseanfragen am Morgen des 6. März, vier Tage nach dem Vorfall, bei ihren Kolleg:innen einen Bericht zu den Vorfällen an. Am Nachmittag wurde sie informiert, dass es in der Tat einen versuchten Pushback gegeben hatte.

      Menschenrechte geprüft in vier Stunden

      Bemerkenswert ist, wie die Frontex-Zentrale anschließend mit den Informationen umging: Es schloss die Akten. Bereits vier Stunden nach der Meldung über Vorfall kamen die Frontex-Mitarbeiter:innen zu der Einschätzung, der versuchte Pushback sei ein „Einzelfall“. Er wurde noch nicht einmal beim täglichen Treffen der Befehlshabenden in der Frontex-Mission besprochen.

      Weitere Informationen zu dem Vorfall finden sich in den Akten laut Frontex nicht. Die Frontex-Mitarbeiter:innen überprüften nicht die Kommando-Strukturen und prüften nicht, warum es keinen internen Bericht zu dem rechtswidrigen Befehl gab. Sie unternahmen auch sonst keine Versuche, um sicherzustellen, dass Pushbacks durch das Frontex-Kommando nicht mehr vorkommen würden. Im Sommer schließlich gab Frontex-Direktor gegenüber dem Europäischen Parlament zu Protokoll, der versuchte Pushback sei ein „Missverständnis“ gewesen.

      Einige Monate später fanden Journalist:innen Beweise dafür, dass es sich offenbar nicht um einen Einzelfall handelt und Frontex mindestens im Juni an weiteren Pushbacks beteiligt war. Die EU-Agentur hatte offenbar kein Interesse daran, Verstöße gegen Menschenrechte zu unterbinden.

      https://fragdenstaat.de/blog/2020/11/18/frontex-pushbacks-denmark

    • Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee calls on Greece to reform its immigration detention system and stop pushbacks

      In a report published today on a rapid reaction ad hoc visit to Greece in March 2020, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) once again urges the Greek authorities to change their approach towards immigration detention and to ensure that migrants deprived of their liberty are treated both with dignity and humanity.

      The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Greece, which took place from 13 to 17 March 2020, together with the response of the Greek authorities.

      In the report, the CPT acknowledges the significant challenges faced by the Greek authorities in dealing with large numbers of migrants entering the country and that it requires a coordinated European approach. However, this cannot absolve the the Hellenic Republic from their human rights obligations and the duty of care owed to all migrants that the Greek authorities detain.

      The CPT found that the conditions of detention in which migrants were held in certain facilities in the Evros region and on the island of Samos could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment. The report again underlines the structural deficiencies in Greece’s immigration detention policy. Migrants continue to be held in detention centres composed of large barred cells crammed with beds, with poor lighting and ventilation, dilapidated and broken toilets and washrooms, insufficient personal hygiene products and cleaning materials, inadequate food and no access to outdoor daily exercise. Extreme overcrowding in several of the facilities further aggravated the situation. In addition, migrants were not provided with clear information about their situation.

      The CPT once again found that families with children, unaccompanied and separated children and other vulnerable persons (with a physical or mental health illness, or pregnant women) were being detained in such appalling conditions with no appropriate support. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to end the detention of unaccompanied children and of children with their parents in police establishments. Instead, they should be transferred to suitable reception facilities catering to their specific needs.

      The report also highlights that the CPT again received consistent and credible allegations of migrants being pushed back across the Evros River border to Turkey. The Greek authorities should act to prevent such pushbacks. The CPT furthermore raises concerns over acts by the Greek Coast Guard to prevent boats carrying migrants from reaching any Greek island and it questions the role and engagement of FRONTEX in such operations.

      The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to take vigorous steps to stamp out ill-treatment of detained migrants by the police. The report refers to a number of allegations by migrants that they had been ill treated by members of the Hellenic Police and/or Coast Guard either upon apprehension or after being brought to a place of detention. The ill treatment alleged consisted primarily of slaps to the head and kicks and truncheon blows to the body.

      In their response, the Hellenic Police provide information on the steps being taken to improve the conditions of detention for detained migrants. They also state that the alleged practice of pushbacks to the border is unsubstantiated and completely wrong. As regards unaccompanied minors, reference is made to a new strategy to end their detention and to their transfer from reception centres on the islands to safe accommodation facilities on the mainland.

      https://search.coe.int/directorate_of_communications/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680a06bcf

    • Annex to the reply of Fabrice Leggeri to the LIBE Committee

      https://www.tinekestrik.eu/sites/default/files/2020-11/Answers%20to%20the%20questions%20from%20the%20LIBE%20Commitee.pdf

      –---

      Thread sur twitter:

      It looks like Frontex are NOT denying that they may be involved in #pushbacks after all. FL partly evades (’...always committed...’) and partly seems to blame the ’uniqueness’ of operational areas & ’complex geography’ of the Greek and Turkish border for FX being involved in pushbacks.

      –---

      The earlier letter sent to the EP President might offer some clues. I’m not a legal expert, but FL seems to suggest that Art. 6 of Reg. 656/2014 (on interception at sea) needs to be clarified so as to define what constitutes a #pushback. Interesting.
      https://www.tinekestrik.eu/sites/default/files/2020-11/Letter%20to%20EP_Frontex%20maritime%20operations%20at%20EU%20external%20

      –—

      Yet not all pushbacks happen at sea. While the request for interpretation above might mean that FX is looking for a way out re: #pushbacks at the Aegean, what about those at the
      Greek-Turkish land border? I think there’s less concern with #pushbacks at #Evros, though. No videos...

      –---

      Back to the Annex: We know SIRs weren’t submitted as they should. The real question is why. It might be down to officers on the ground lacking in training (they shouldn’t, but...) or not wanting to get their colleagues in trouble (the spirit of camaraderie...).

      –---

      BUT: Today’s Spiegel article refers to a ’Frontex official in charge’ advising a Swedish officer not to submit a SIR. FX management were aware few SIRs being submitted for years. Is it a practice dictated from the top? To avoid having evidence of violations?

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/pushbacks-in-der-aegaeis-wie-frontex-menschenrechtsverletzungen-vertuscht-a-

      –—

      Suspension/non-launch of operations has never happened. The ED didn’t take into account reports by NGOs or human rights bodies when considering the 2016 recommendation to suspend operations in Hungary. He relied on the very low number of SIRs to reject it.
      https://respondmigration.com/wp-blog/fundamental-rights-accountability-transparency-european-governance

      –—

      Same with the 2019 & 2020 recommendations of the FRO to consider suspension of operations in #Evros. As for taking into account media reports ... well, I’d say the reply to the LIBE committee reads like the media accounts are being dismissed.

      https://twitter.com/lk2015r/status/1331662031095787521

    • E.U. Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

      Frontex is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc’s external borders.

      Mounting evidence indicates that the European Union’s border agency has been complicit in Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants to Turkey, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with officials.

      In at least one case, Frontex, as the E.U. border agency is known, is accused of having helped cover up the violations, when a crew said it was discouraged by agency officials from reporting that they had seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.

      The case is currently being investigated by Frontex. But it has fueled suspicions that the agency, newly boosted in its role as upholder of the rule of law at E.U. borders, is not just sporadically aware of such abuses, but that it plays a role in concealing them.

      “We are seeing an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful,” said Gerald Knaus, a migration expert. “This is deeply worrying because it is eroding the refugee convention on the continent on which it was created.”

      Throughout this year, The New York Times and others have reported on growing operations by the Greek Coast Guard to repel migrants from Greek waters back to Turkey, reports the Greek authorities deny amount to breaches of international laws.

      But revelations that Frontex has witnessed pushbacks have thrown the agency into a governance crisis that threatens to further blight the European Union’s liberal values, once again calling into question the bloc’s commitment to upholding its own laws on refugees.

      The cases have also highlighted a conundrum at the core of E.U. ambitions to tighten external borders by pooling resources and involving the bloc in the sensitive, zealously shielded work of sovereign border guards.

      Frontex is the European Union’s best-funded agency, with a budget of over $500 million, and will soon deploy the first uniformed officers in the bloc’s history. It has been built up specifically to help in migrant-rescue operations as the burden of policing Europe’s borders has fallen most heavily on its peripheral states, like Greece.

      It was also intended as a deterrent to the kind of mass arrival of refugees that sowed political crises across Europe after 2015, and fanned nationalist and populist movements.

      Yet Frontex is not empowered to stop national border guards from committing violations, and it is not clear how it can play a role as standard-bearer of E.U. laws when informing on national forces risks the working relationships on which its operations depend.

      Refugee arrivals to the European Union peaked five years ago and have dropped drastically since, but thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, still attempt the crossing. Unlike in the past, Greeks and their government have turned hostile to the new arrivals, exhausted by years in which asylum seekers have been bottled up in overrun camps on Greek islands.

      There is also a growing belief in the Greek and several other European governments that aggression at the borders and poor conditions at migrant camps will make the attempt to reach Europe less attractive for asylum seekers.

      Earlier this year, an analysis by The Times showed that the Greek government had secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, often by sailing them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and abandoning them in flimsy inflatable life rafts in violation of international laws.

      The Greek Coast Guard has rescued thousands of asylum seekers over the years but has become much more aggressive this year, especially as Turkey used migrants to provoke Greece by encouraging them to cross the border.

      The Greek government has denied it is doing anything illegal in repelling migrant boats from its national waters, characterizing the operations as robust border guarding. But Mr. Knaus said “the denials are not serious,” and the practices are effectively happening in the open — under the eyes of E.U. border patrols.

      The documents obtained by The Times describe, in Coast Guard vernacular littered with acronyms, codes, time-stamps and coordinates, a seemingly incessant Ping-Pong of migrant dinghies between Greek and Turkish waters, with Frontex crews on vessels or aircraft in observer status.

      Four officials with direct knowledge of Frontex operations said that agency officials have been discouraging crews from filing reports on pushback incidents, and, in some cases, have stopped initial alerts of violations from being filed as “serious incident reports,” at times after consulting with the Greek authorities.

      They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about losing their jobs, or were not authorized to brief the press.

      The Frontex spokesman, Chris Borowski, said the agency took the reporting of violations very seriously. “Pushbacks are illegal under international law,” Mr. Borowski said.

      In the latest case to come to light, a Swedish Coast Guard crew on deployment under Frontex witnessed a pushback to Turkish waters of a boat full of migrants by the Greek authorities on Oct. 30 off the Greek island of Chios.

      The Swedish crew was later advised by a Frontex officer to not report it, documents reviewed by The Times show. The Swedish representative to the management board of Frontex described the incident, and the suppression of the attempt to report it, at a meeting on Nov. 10 — the first known case of an E.U. member state reporting active interference by Frontex officials.

      The Swedish government did not comment. A spokesman for Frontex said the agency wouldn’t comment because of an “ongoing procedure.”

      Frontex has been working in Greece for more than a decade, providing sea, land and aerial surveillance and rescue capabilities and deploying crews from other member states under its command.

      The details now emerging push the agency deeper into a governance crisis which began in October when a consortium of news organizations, including the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, reported a number of occasions when Frontex crews witnessed pushbacks in Greece.

      The European Commission, which is part of the Frontex oversight system but does not control the agency, pushed for a special inquiry into these allegations and, at an emergency agency board meeting on Nov. 10, asked its leadership to answer detailed questions in writing.

      The answers arrived with a four-day delay, just 15 hours before the start of another meeting to discuss the problems on Wednesday. Yet another emergency meeting has been called in December, mounting pressure on the agency.

      Frontex has promised internal investigations but also quickly dismissed allegations, saying for example, in a letter seen by The Times, that it would look into the Swedish case, but that it had so far found no evidence that it happened.

      How these investigations shake out will matter a great deal for the future of Frontex, which was once little more than a back-office operation in Warsaw but now finds itself on the front lines of the nettlesome issue of migration that has the potency to make or break governments.

      Apart from helping member states with asylum-seeker arrivals, Frontex’s role as an E.U. agency by law is to respect fundamental rights, and bring up human-rights standards across national E.U. border agencies, which often don’t have a strong culture of upholding them.

      But claims that Frontex does not take fundamental rights seriously enough are growing. This year, only one million euros in its budget of 460 million euros — about $548 million — was allocated to rights monitoring.

      The agency was supposed to hire 40 fundamental-rights officers by Dec. 5 but the jobs have not yet been advertised. The agency is currently hiring for their boss, after years of staffing issues around that position. A Frontex spokesman said the delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.

      Documents seen by The Times laid out how in one episode the Greek authorities were consulted before a report was made, and were able to suppress it. On Aug. 10, a German crew deployed by Frontex reported that a Greek Coast Guard vessel “took up border control measures prohibiting the landing to Samos.”

      The expression refers to maneuvering and making waves around a dinghy to repel it. The event was not recorded as a “serious incident,” because, the document said, the Greek Coast Guard argued the activities “do not provide any ground” to initiate such a report.

      Another incident, which a Frontex aerial crew observed and reported in detail to its headquarters, took place on the evening of April 18 to 19 off the coast of Lesbos, and lasted more than five hours.

      A dinghy was detected by the Greek authorities and approximately 20 migrants were rescued and put on board a Greek Coast Guard vessel shortly after midnight, their empty dinghy towed by the Coast Guard toward the island.

      But instead of being taken to shore, at 2:45 a.m., the migrants were put back on their dinghy and tugged to Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, the Frontex aerial crew reported.

      As events unfolded, the Greek command center twice asked the Frontex aircraft to change its flight path, directing it away from the incident.

      “At 03:21 Frontex Surveillance Aircraft communicates that the rubber boat has no engine and it is adrift. Greek assets are departing the area leaving the rubber boat adrift,” the document said.

      The internal Frontex report detailing this incident and categorizing it as a fundamental-rights violation was “dismissed,” the document shows.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/world/europe/frontex-migrants-pushback-greece.html

    • La Grèce fortement soupçonnée de refouler les migrants

      L’agence européenne Frontex, potentiellement impliquée dans les refoulements, mène une enquête interne et doit fournir des explications à la Commission européenne fin novembre. Une plainte a été déposée le 17 novembre auprès du comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU.

      L’étau se resserre autour de la Grèce, de plus en plus fréquemment accusée de refouler les migrants vers la Turquie, aussi bien en mer qu’à terre. Le soupçon n’est pas nouveau, comme l’atteste le terrible récit de Fadi Faj. Ce jeune Syrien de 25 ans est arrivé en 2015 avec l’immense vague de demandeurs d’asile en Allemagne. Berlin lui octroie alors le statut de réfugié et un permis de séjour avec lequel il se rend en Grèce en novembre 2016, à la recherche de son jeune frère de 11 ans dont il a perdu la trace lors de sa traversée de la frontière greco-turque à Evros.

      Fadi Faj est alors arrêté par la police grecque qui lui confisque ses papiers et l’expulse vers la Turquie avec une cinquantaine d’autres demandeurs d’asile. Devenu un sans-papier, il sera à treize reprises repoussé de part et d’autre de la frontière par les forces grecques ou turques. Ayant enfin mis un pied à terre en Grèce en décembre 2017, il y vivra encore deux ans dans le dénuement avant d’obtenir un visa pour regagner l’Allemagne qui lui délivrera un nouveau permis de séjour en mai 2020.

      Une plainte auprès du Comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU

      Ce récit glaçant fait l’objet d’une plainte à l’encontre de la Grèce déposée le 17 novembre auprès du Comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU, par le Global Legal Action Network (Réseau mondial d’action juridique) basé en Irlande et l’ONG grecque HumanRights 360.

      Entre-temps, les cas du même type se sont multipliés. Surtout depuis le printemps dernier, après que le président turc Erdogan a menacé d’ouvrir les frontières et incité les migrants à se diriger vers la Grèce. « J’ai vu de mes yeux vu deux refoulements en mer depuis ma maison sur la côte nord de Lesbos », dénonce ainsi Christina Chatzidaki, une habitante de l’île qui jouxte les côtes turques, et y dirige l’association Siniparxi (Coexistence).

      Alarm phone qui reçoit les appels de détresse des embarcations en mer se déclarait en mai dernier « très préoccupé par la récente augmentation des rapports d’attaques sur les bateaux de migrants ». L’ONG avait alors engrangé les témoignages de survivants de 18 bateaux. « Ils ont fait état d’actions dangereuses, telles que le fait de tourner autour de leurs bateaux et de provoquer des vagues, des menaces avec des armes à feu, le vol de leur essence, la destruction de moteurs et, également, le remorquage de bateaux vers les eaux turques où ils ont été laissés à la dérive », précise l’ONG.
      Intimer la Commission d’agir

      Les dénonciations de pratiques qui violent les droits humains, et contreviennent au droit de la mer et au droit européen n’ont pas cessé par la suite. Le porte-parole du Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) déclarait le 12 juin dernier : « le HCR a continuellement fait état de ses préoccupations auprès du gouvernement grec et a demandé des enquêtes urgentes sur une série d’incidents présumés ». Il soulignait alors la corrélation entre la forte baisse du nombre d’arrivées de migrants en Grèce et l’augmentation du nombre de refoulements signalés. En 2019, 60 000 personnes avaient débarqué en Grèce par la mer et 15 000 par la terre. En 2020, jusqu’au 22 novembre, ils ne sont plus, respectivement, que 9 400 et 5 400.

      Jusqu’à présent la Grèce a nié ces allégations. « Nous protégeons nos frontières en accord avec les lois internationales et européennes » a encore affirmé le ministre grec de l’immigration Notis Mitarakis le 13 novembre dernier au site Infomigrants. Deux mois auparavant, le 22 septembre, les ONG Oxfam et WeMove adressaient une plainte auprès de la Commission européenne pour l’intimer de mener « une enquête sur les violations systématiques du droit européen concernant le traitement des demandeurs d’asile en Grèce ».
      La possible implication de Frontex

      Enfin, le site d’investigation Bellingcat et le magazine allemand Der Spiegel apportèrent en octobre un coup de grâce supplémentaire, en dénonçant, images à l’appui, le laisser-faire, voire l’implication, de l’agence européenne de surveillance aux frontières Frontex - qui a déployé plus de 600 agents en Grèce - dans six cas documentés de pratique illégale de refoulement.

      Un soupçon repris par le comité contre la torture du Conseil de l’Europe. Dans son rapport publié le 19 novembre, le comité a indiqué « avoir de nouveau reçu des allégations cohérentes et crédibles de migrants repoussés vers la Turquie ».

      Il s’est déclaré « inquiet des actes commis par les garde-côtes grecs pour empêcher les bateaux transportant des migrants d’atteindre les îles grecques » et « s’interroge sur le rôle et l’implication de Frontex dans de telles opérations ».

      Face à une telle avalanche, l’Union européenne pouvait difficilement continuer à se voiler la face. La suédoise Ylva Johansson, commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures a réclamé des explications pour fin novembre à l’agence Frontex, laquelle a indiqué avoir ouvert une enquête interne.

      https://www.la-croix.com/Monde/Grece-fortement-soupconnee-refouler-migrants-2020-11-24-1201126401

    • Refoulements de demandeurs d’asile : le directeur de Frontex interrogé par les députés

      La supposée implication d’agents de Frontex dans les refoulements de demandeurs d’asile à la frontière grecque sera au cœur du débat en commission des libertés civiles mardi.

      Les députés seront en attente de réponses de la part du directeur exécutif de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, Fabrice Leggeri, concernant les incidents révélés récemment par les médias au cours desquels des garde-côtes grecs (avec la connaissance présumée et même l’implication d’agents de Frontex) ont arrêté des migrants qui tentaient d’atteindre les côtes de l’UE et les ont renvoyés dans les eaux turques. Les députés devraient s’enquérir des résultats de l’enquête interne menée par l’Agence européenne de gestion des frontières et de la réunion du conseil d’administration convoquée à la demande de la Commission européenne.

      En octobre dernier, avant les révélations des médias, le forum consultatif de Frontex (qui réunit notamment des représentants du Bureau européen d’appui en matière d’asile (EASO), de l’Agence des droits fondamentaux de l’UE (FRA), du HCR, du Conseil de l’Europe et de l’OIM) avait exprimé son inquiétude dans son rapport annuel. Le forum pointait du doigt l’absence de véritable système de contrôle permettant de prévenir et de traiter les violations potentielles des droits fondamentaux dans les activités de l’Agence.

      Le 6 juillet, au cours d’une précédente réunion de la commission des libertés civiles, Fabrice Leggeri avait assuré aux eurodéputés que Frontex n’était pas impliquée dans les refoulements et avait qualifié l’incident avec l’équipe danoise à bord de l’un des navires de l’Agence de ‘‘malentendu’’.

      DATE : mardi 1er décembre de 13h50 à 14h45

      LIEU : Parlement européen à Bruxelles, bâtiment Antall, salle 4Q2 et à distance

      https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/fr/press-room/20201126IPR92509

    • EU border chief urged to quit over migrant pushback claims

      European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.

      The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”

      The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.

      “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”

      Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.

      Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.

      “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. “We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”

      Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly’s political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.

      Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe’s external borders to be clarified.

      “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks,” he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”

      Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.

      He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.

      The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.

      Part of the EU’s migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.

      EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.

      During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report “concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”

      Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/259789/article/ekathimerini/news/eu-border-chief-urged-to-quit-over-migrant-pushback-claims

    • Frontex is taking us to court

      The EU border police Frontex is under fire for its involvement in human rights violations at the EU’s borders. Now, they want to silence those exposing their wrongdoing.

      For many years, we have been fighting to make Frontex, the EU’s border police, more transparent and accountable. We have made public over a thousand of their documents, including those that show the agency has been complicit in human rights violations and violence against migrants at the EU’s borders.

      Frontex is currently under fire for its involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean and for having concealed evidence about these illegal acts. Confronted with such serious accusations, the EU border agency has now chosen to go after those who investigate them: they are taking us to court.

      Frontex has filed a case against us before the General Court of the European Union in order to force us to pay them a large amount of money. Last year, we lost our lawsuit for information about Frontex and now, the agency is demanding from us excessive legal fees. The message is clear: they want to make sure that we never take them to court again.
      Details must remain secret

      For the time being, we will not be able to disclose further details related to the case due to the court’s rules on keeping all information secret while proceedings are ongoing. Back in January, the agency justified their excessive legal fees on their decision to hire expensive private lawyers.

      Frontex, which has a billion-euro budget, making it the best resourced EU agency, employs a well-staffed internal legal department. Both the decision to hire private lawyers and to then claim these costs from civil society are highly unusual in court cases against the EU authorities.
      What happens if Frontex wins?

      If Frontex succeeds, in the future only corporations and the rich will be able to afford legal action against EU authorities. Activists, journalists, NGOs and individuals will not be able to defend human rights before the EU court. Frontex bringing a case like this directly against civil society, let alone winning, discourages others from holding them accountable in the future. It’s this chilling effect that we believe they’re hoping for.

      In the spring, more than 87,000 people petitioned Frontex to withdraw their legal bill. 44 civil society organizations also called on Frontex to retract its demand. Frontex has nonetheless chosen to ignore their voices.

      In recent years, Frontex has experienced an enormous increase of power and resources. Not only is it about to receive € 11 billion under the next EU budget, but it can also now hire its own border guards and buy its own equipment, including aircrafts, ships, drones and weapons.

      Investigating Frontex and holding it accountable is now more important than ever. As recent publications have revealed, the EU border force has been involved in numerous human rights violations at the EU borders.
      What you can do

      Our freedom of information work is financed by individual donations. We will fight in court for a judgement that gives Frontex as little money as possible. If you want to support us in this, we would be very happy to receive a donation. We will use every extra euro for new investigations and legal action against Frontex.

      https://fragdenstaat.de/en/blog/2020/12/02/frontex-costs-court-transparency

    • S&Ds call for Frontex Director to resign

      The S&D Group in the European Parliament today called for the Executive Director of Frontex to resign following months of allegations on the agency’s involvement in illegal practices and violations of fundamental rights.

      In today’s hearing of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE), Director Fabrice Leggeri failed to answer questions relating to the agency’s involvement in pushbacks at the EU’s external borders aimed at preventing asylum-seekers from entering the EU.

      Following the hearing, S&D MEPs concluded Mr Leggeri’s position at the head of Frontex is not sustainable, especially in light of the important role for Frontex in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      Kati Piri, S&D vice-president for migration and LIBE member taking part in the hearing, said

      “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign. After months of the S&D Group calling for explanations, Director Leggeri had the chance to set the record straight. But there are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.

      “Pushbacks are a violation of international law and every single incident must be fully investigated. Do we have the confidence in Frontex to ensure alleged incidents are properly investigated? After today, the answer is no.

      “As long as allegations hang over Frontex, its reputation remains severely damaged and in desperate need of repair. In our view, Director Leggeri is not the right person to fix the damage.”

      Birgit Sippel, S&D LIBE coordinator, added:

      “We have to ask ourselves how we got to the point where we have to rely on journalists and whistle-blowers in Frontex to inform us of instances of fundamental and human rights violations at our borders. This is unacceptable and deeply disturbing, in particular when considering the potentially increased role of Frontex as part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      “The series of alleged pushbacks and cover-ups from Frontex show that we need a strong and independent border monitoring mechanism to investigate any and all alleged violations of fundamental and human rights and international laws at European borders.

      “Under the 2019 Frontex mandate, the Agency was obliged to have recruited at least 40 Fundamental Rights Monitors by 5 December 2020. It is now clear that Frontex will not even have come close to fulfilling this task, and therefore will not comply with the new mandate. Blaming bureaucratic hurdles for the delay of such an important task is insufficient, while the Commission’s role in this delay requires further examination as well. Mr Leggeri has failed in many of his responsibilities and must bear the consequences of his actions.”

      https://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/newsroom/sds-call-frontex-director-resign

    • E.U. Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

      Frontex is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc’s external borders.

      Mounting evidence indicates that the European Union’s border agency has been complicit in Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants to Turkey, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with officials.

      In at least one case, Frontex, as the E.U. border agency is known, is accused of having helped cover up the violations, when a crew said it was discouraged by agency officials from reporting that they had seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.

      The case is currently being investigated by Frontex. But it has fueled suspicions that the agency, newly boosted in its role as upholder of the rule of law at E.U. borders, is not just sporadically aware of such abuses, but that it plays a role in concealing them.

      “We are seeing an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful,” said Gerald Knaus, a migration expert. “This is deeply worrying because it is eroding the refugee convention on the continent on which it was created.”

      Throughout this year, The New York Times and others have reported on growing operations by the Greek Coast Guard to repel migrants from Greek waters back to Turkey, reports the Greek authorities deny amount to breaches of international laws.

      But revelations that Frontex has witnessed pushbacks have thrown the agency into a governance crisis that threatens to further blight the European Union’s liberal values, once again calling into question the bloc’s commitment to upholding its own laws on refugees.

      The cases have also highlighted a conundrum at the core of E.U. ambitions to tighten external borders by pooling resources and involving the bloc in the sensitive, zealously shielded work of sovereign border guards.

      Frontex is the European Union’s best-funded agency, with a budget of over $500 million, and will soon deploy the first uniformed officers in the bloc’s history. It has been built up specifically to help in migrant-rescue operations as the burden of policing Europe’s borders has fallen most heavily on its peripheral states, like Greece.

      It was also intended as a deterrent to the kind of mass arrival of refugees that sowed political crises across Europe after 2015, and fanned nationalist and populist movements.

      Yet Frontex is not empowered to stop national border guards from committing violations, and it is not clear how it can play a role as standard-bearer of E.U. laws when informing on national forces risks the working relationships on which its operations depend.

      Refugee arrivals to the European Union peaked five years ago and have dropped drastically since, but thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, still attempt the crossing. Unlike in the past, Greeks and their government have turned hostile to the new arrivals, exhausted by years in which asylum seekers have been bottled up in overrun camps on Greek islands.

      There is also a growing belief in the Greek and several other European governments that aggression at the borders and poor conditions at migrant camps will make the attempt to reach Europe less attractive for asylum seekers.

      Earlier this year, an analysis by The Times showed that the Greek government had secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, often by sailing them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and abandoning them in flimsy inflatable life rafts in violation of international laws.

      The Greek Coast Guard has rescued thousands of asylum seekers over the years but has become much more aggressive this year, especially as Turkey used migrants to provoke Greece by encouraging them to cross the border.

      The Greek government has denied it is doing anything illegal in repelling migrant boats from its national waters, characterizing the operations as robust border guarding. But Mr. Knaus said “the denials are not serious,” and the practices are effectively happening in the open — under the eyes of E.U. border patrols.

      The documents obtained by The Times describe, in Coast Guard vernacular littered with acronyms, codes, time-stamps and coordinates, a seemingly incessant Ping-Pong of migrant dinghies between Greek and Turkish waters, with Frontex crews on vessels or aircraft in observer status.

      Four officials with direct knowledge of Frontex operations said that agency officials have been discouraging crews from filing reports on pushback incidents, and, in some cases, have stopped initial alerts of violations from being filed as “serious incident reports,” at times after consulting with the Greek authorities.

      They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about losing their jobs, or were not authorized to brief the press.

      The Frontex spokesman, Chris Borowski, said the agency took the reporting of violations very seriously. “Pushbacks are illegal under international law,” Mr. Borowski said.

      In the latest case to come to light, a Swedish Coast Guard crew on deployment under Frontex witnessed a pushback to Turkish waters of a boat full of migrants by the Greek authorities on Oct. 30 off the Greek island of Chios.

      The Swedish crew was later advised by a Frontex officer to not report it, documents reviewed by The Times show. The Swedish representative to the management board of Frontex described the incident, and the suppression of the attempt to report it, at a meeting on Nov. 10 — the first known case of an E.U. member state reporting active interference by Frontex officials.

      The Swedish government did not comment. A spokesman for Frontex said the agency wouldn’t comment because of an “ongoing procedure.”

      Frontex has been working in Greece for more than a decade, providing sea, land and aerial surveillance and rescue capabilities and deploying crews from other member states under its command.

      The details now emerging push the agency deeper into a governance crisis which began in October when a consortium of news organizations, including the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, reported a number of occasions when Frontex crews witnessed pushbacks in Greece.

      The European Commission, which is part of the Frontex oversight system but does not control the agency, pushed for a special inquiry into these allegations and, at an emergency agency board meeting on Nov. 10, asked its leadership to answer detailed questions in writing.

      The answers arrived with a four-day delay, just 15 hours before the start of another meeting to discuss the problems on Wednesday. Yet another emergency meeting has been called in December, mounting pressure on the agency.

      Frontex has promised internal investigations but also quickly dismissed allegations, saying for example, in a letter seen by The Times, that it would look into the Swedish case, but that it had so far found no evidence that it happened.

      How these investigations shake out will matter a great deal for the future of Frontex, which was once little more than a back-office operation in Warsaw but now finds itself on the front lines of the nettlesome issue of migration that has the potency to make or break governments.

      Apart from helping member states with asylum-seeker arrivals, Frontex’s role as an E.U. agency by law is to respect fundamental rights, and bring up human-rights standards across national E.U. border agencies, which often don’t have a strong culture of upholding them.

      But claims that Frontex does not take fundamental rights seriously enough are growing. This year, only one million euros in its budget of 460 million euros — about $548 million — was allocated to rights monitoring.

      The agency was supposed to hire 40 fundamental-rights officers by Dec. 5 but the jobs have not yet been advertised. The agency is currently hiring for their boss, after years of staffing issues around that position. A Frontex spokesman said the delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.

      Documents seen by The Times laid out how in one episode the Greek authorities were consulted before a report was made, and were able to suppress it. On Aug. 10, a German crew deployed by Frontex reported that a Greek Coast Guard vessel “took up border control measures prohibiting the landing to Samos.”

      The expression refers to maneuvering and making waves around a dinghy to repel it. The event was not recorded as a “serious incident,” because, the document said, the Greek Coast Guard argued the activities “do not provide any ground” to initiate such a report.

      Another incident, which a Frontex aerial crew observed and reported in detail to its headquarters, took place on the evening of April 18 to 19 off the coast of Lesbos, and lasted more than five hours.

      A dinghy was detected by the Greek authorities and approximately 20 migrants were rescued and put on board a Greek Coast Guard vessel shortly after midnight, their empty dinghy towed by the Coast Guard toward the island.

      But instead of being taken to shore, at 2:45 a.m., the migrants were put back on their dinghy and tugged to Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, the Frontex aerial crew reported.

      As events unfolded, the Greek command center twice asked the Frontex aircraft to change its flight path, directing it away from the incident.

      “At 03:21 Frontex Surveillance Aircraft communicates that the rubber boat has no engine and it is adrift. Greek assets are departing the area leaving the rubber boat adrift,” the document said.

      The internal Frontex report detailing this incident and categorizing it as a fundamental-rights violation was “dismissed,” the document shows.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/world/europe/frontex-migrants-pushback-greece.html?smid=tw-share

    • #Seehofer deckte offenbar griechische Verbrechen

      Griechische Grenzschützer setzen Flüchtlinge systematisch auf dem Meer aus. Ein internes Dokument legt nun nahe, dass Innenminister #Horst_Seehofer einen Rechtsbruch kaschierte. SPD-Vize Kühnert stellt ihm ein Ultimatum.

      Die Sprecherin von Bundesinnenminister Horst Seehofer war sichtlich nervös, als sie sich Ende November den Fragen der Journalisten stellen musste. Zwei Tage zuvor hatten der SPIEGEL und das ARD-Magazin »Report Mainz« berichtet, dass die Bundespolizei in der Ägäis in eine illegale Zurückweisung von Flüchtlingen verwickelt war. Wiederholt fragten die Journalisten nach. »Ich weiß nicht, wie Sie zu der Einschätzung kommen, dass es sich hierbei um einen illegalen Pushback gehandelt hat«, sagte die Sprecherin schließlich.

      Dabei lagen dem Bundesinnenministerium zu diesem Zeitpunkt längst Informationen vor, die genau darauf hindeuten.

      Im Auftrag der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex patrouillierten die deutschen Einsatzkräfte am 10. August in der Ägäis, nur wenige Hundert Meter von der griechischen Insel Samos entfernt. Dabei entdeckten sie ein Schlauchboot mit 40 Flüchtlingen an Bord. Auftragsgemäß hielten sie es an, allerdings nahmen sie die Menschen auf dem völlig überfüllten Boot nicht an Bord. Stattdessen warteten sie mehr als eine halbe Stunde, bis die griechische Küstenwache das Schlauchboot übernahm.

      Wenig später fanden sich die Flüchtlinge plötzlich in türkischen Gewässern wieder. So beschreiben es interne Dokumente der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex, die dem SPIEGEL vorliegen. Die türkische Küstenwache musste die 40 Migranten später retten. Fotos zeigen Männer, Frauen und kleine Kinder auf dem überfüllten Schlauchboot. Offensichtlich wurden die Menschen von den griechischen Grenzschützern illegal zurückgedrängt.

      Als die griechischen Beamten in den Hafen zurückkehrten, wunderten sich die deutschen Polizisten. Die Küstenwache hatte keine Migranten an Bord und auch kein Schlauchboot im Schlepptau. Die Deutschen meldeten im Anschluss zwar die Details des Einsatzes – aber keine mögliche Menschenrechtsverletzung.
      Was genau haben die Deutschen von diesem illegalen Pushback mitbekommen?

      Bis heute haben die Bundespolizei und das Innenministerium nicht auf die Fragen des SPIEGEL geantwortet. Dabei finden sich die Antworten auf diese Fragen seit Wochen im Intranet der Bundespolizei, also in einem nur für Mitarbeiter zugänglichen Netzwerk. Anhand der elf SPIEGEL-Fragen legte die Bundespolizei-Führung ihre Sicht der Dinge ausführlich dar – noch am Tag der Veröffentlichung des Berichts. Die Fragen waren also längst beantwortet, nur abgeschickt wurden sie nie. Das Innenministerium erklärt das inzwischen auf Anfrage mit einem »Büroversehen«.

      Die Ausführungen im Intranet der Bundespolizei sind politisch heikel. Auf den ersten Blick entlasten sie die deutschen Einsatzkräfte. Wörtlich heißt es, die Bundespolizisten hätten beobachtet, »dass durch die (…) griechischen Einsatzkräfte Migranten physisch an Bord genommen wurden.« Die deutschen Frontex-Beamten konnten also davon ausgehen, dass die Flüchtlinge zunächst in Sicherheit waren. Schließlich wurden sie vor ihren Augen auf ein Schiff der griechischen Küstenwache geholt und trieben nicht mehr in ihrem überfüllten Schlauchboot.

      Warum hat das Innenministerium dieses Detail trotzdem bis heute verschwiegen? Will man im Ministerium die Griechen nicht als Lügner entlarven? Das Flüchtlingsboot, so hatten die griechischen Behörden erklärt, sei beim Anblick der Küstenwache umgekehrt und zurück in türkische Gewässer gefahren.
      Beobachtungen der Deutschen entlarven die Ausrede der Griechen

      Die Beobachtungen der Bundespolizisten widersprechen dieser Darstellung, die Bundespolizei stellt das in ihrem Bericht selbst fest. Wenn die Geflüchteten bereits an Bord des Schiffes der griechischen Küstenwache waren, können sie unmöglich freiwillig auf ihrem Schlauchboot umgekehrt sein. Sollten die Aussagen der Deutschen zutreffen, und davon ist auszugehen, bleibt keine andere vernünftige Erklärung als ein illegaler Pushback der griechischen Küstenwache.

      Horst Seehofer muss sich deshalb die Frage gefallen lassen, warum sein Haus die Verbrechen der griechischen Behörden deckt. Statt aufzuklären, führt er die Öffentlichkeit offenbar in die Irre. So fügt Seehofer sich in das System des Schweigens.

      Seit Juni hat SPIEGEL in gemeinsamen Recherchen mit der Medienorganisation Lighthouse Reports und »Report Mainz« genau dokumentiert, wie die griechischen Pushbacks ablaufen: Die Küstenwache fängt die Migrantinnen und Migranten meist noch auf dem Wasser ab. Manchmal zerstört sie den Außenbordmotor der Schlauchboote, um diese manövrierunfähig zu machen. Dann werden die Schutzsuchenden mit gefährlichen Manövern Richtung Türkei zurückgedrängt. Die Menschen werden auf den Booten oder auf aufblasbaren Rettungsflößen mit Seilen aufs offene Meer gezogen, vom SPIEGEL ausgewertete Videos belegen das.

      Griechische Grenzschützer bedrohen die Geflüchteten mit Waffen, nicht selten fallen Schüsse. Bisweilen schleppen die Beamten sogar Menschen aufs Meer, die es schon auf die griechischen Inseln geschafft haben.

      Auch Frontex-Einheiten stoppen immer wieder Flüchtlingsboote und übergeben sie anschließend an die griechische Küstenwache. Seit Anfang März wird das so gehandhabt. Die Frontex-Einheiten, darunter deutsche Bundespolizisten, unterstehen in der Ägäis der griechischen Küstenwache. Sie werden so zu Gehilfen der Griechen, die bei ihren illegalen Praktiken nicht mal besonders verdeckt vorgehen.

      »Das Innenministerium scheint sich zum Komplizen der Griechen zu machen«, sagt der menschenrechtspolitische Sprecher der Sozialdemokraten, Frank Schwabe. »Dazu müssen sowohl Frontex als auch Innenminister Seehofer dem Bundestag Rede und Antwort stehen.«

      Das Innenministerium teilte auf Anfrage mit, dass eine abschließende Bewertung des Sachverhaltes aufgrund der vorliegenden Informationen nicht möglich sei. Die Bundespolizei habe sich jedenfalls nicht an illegalen Pushbacks beteiligt. Eine vollständige Aufklärung bleibe abzuwarten und Berichte von griechischen Behörden würden nicht kommentiert.

      Die griechischen Behörden bleiben bei ihrer Version der Ereignisse. Das für die Küstenwache zuständige Ministerium teilte mit, der Fahrer der Schlauchbootes sei in Richtung Türkei zurückgefahren, nachdem er die griechische Küstenwache erblickt habe.
      »Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass Seehofer die Regelverstöße der griechischen Küstenwache deckt, weil sie ihm politisch in den Kram passen«

      SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert

      Doch in der Opposition und auch beim eigenen Koalitionspartner ist der Unmut groß. Selbst SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert schaltet sich nun in die Debatte ein. Durch die schriftlich festgehaltenen Erkenntnisse der eigenen Beamten festige sich der Eindruck, dass es in der Ägäis in der Tat zu Pushbacks komme, sagt er. Deshalb müsse Seehofer nun politisch reagieren. »Frontex muss die mutmaßliche griechische Pushback-Praxis endlich effektiv verhindern und die Zugänge zum Asylverfahren sicherstellen«, so Kühnert. »Sollte dies durch die Bundesregierung kurzfristig nicht durchsetzbar sein, muss das deutsche Kontingent unverzüglich aus der Mission abgezogen werden.«

      Kühnert möchte nun von Seehofer »noch in diesem Jahr dargelegt bekommen, wie und bis wann er auf Frontex einwirken wolle, um die Zusammenarbeit mit der griechischen Küstenwache wieder auf eine rechtskonforme Grundlage zu stellen.« Mit seiner Salamitaktik bei der Preisgabe von Informationen werde der Innenminister auch der Fürsorgepflicht gegenüber seinen eigenen Beamten nicht gerecht, mahnt Kühnert. »Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass Seehofer die Regelverstöße der griechischen Küstenwache deckt, weil sie ihm politisch in den Kram passen. Alles daran wäre inakzeptabel.«

      Neben Seehofer gerät auch Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri durch die Beobachtungen der deutschen Polizisten in Erklärungsnot. Bis heute beteuert Leggeri, dass sich seine Grenzschützer nicht an Pushbacks beteiligen oder von ihnen wissen. Daran zweifelt aber inzwischen selbst die EU-Kommission.

      Auf deren Drängen schilderte Leggeri schriftlich die Details des Vorfalls vom 10. August. In seinen Antworten verschwieg aber auch Leggeri, dass die griechische Küstenwache laut den Deutschen die Flüchtlinge bereits an Bord geholt hatten – obwohl er wohl davon hätte wissen müssen. Die Bundespolizei jedenfalls hat auch dieses Detail des Einsatzes nach eigener Aussage an Frontex gemeldet.

      Frontex teilte auf Anfrage mit, wegen der laufenden Untersuchung keine Angaben zum Vorfall machen zu können.

      Für Leggeri ist die Angelegenheit besonders misslich, weil sich in seinen Aussagen ein Muster erkennen lässt: Der Frontex-Direktor täuscht die Öffentlichkeit, um die Pushbacks zu vertuschen. Vor den EU-Parlamentariern verteidigte er sich unlängst mit einer Falschaussage, indem er behauptete, dass der SPIEGEL und seine Recherchepartner sich bei ihren Recherchen zu einem Pushback im April geirrt hätten. Am fraglichen Tag habe es gar keinen Frontex-Aufklärungsflug gegeben, sagte Leggeri. Keine zwei Tage später musste er einräumen, dass das nicht stimmte. Weitere Vorfälle, die Experten als klare Pushbacks werten, erwähnte Leggeri entweder gar nicht oder nur auf Nachfrage in internen Schreiben.
      EU-Kommission rechnet mit Leggeri ab

      Inzwischen wirft auch die EU-Kommission Leggeri »irreführende« Aussagen vor. Das geht aus einem Brief der Kommission an ihn hervor. In dem Streit geht es um die Einstellung von Grundrechtsbeobachtern. Eigentlich hätte Frontex bis zum 5. Dezember 40 Mitarbeiter einstellen müssen, die darauf achten soll, dass die Rechte von Migranten an Europas Grenzen gewahrt werden. Bis heute hat Leggeri allerdings nicht einen solchen Mitarbeiter eingestellt.

      Der Frontex-Direktor macht die Kommission für die Verzögerung verantwortlich, die wiederum gibt Leggeri die Schuld. Leggeris Äußerungen zu dem Thema würden die Kommission »bestürzen« und »beunruhigen« heißt es in dem Brief. Das Schreiben liegt dem SPIEGEL vor, es liest sich wie eine Kampfansage.

      Die Verzögerungen bei den Grundrechtsbeobachtern seien skandalös, sagt die Grünenbundestagsabgeordnete Luise Amtsberg. Die Sache zeige, dass die Grenzschutzagentur den Menschenrechtsschutz schlicht nicht ernst genug nehme. »Die Bundesregierung muss endlich klare Konsequenzen aus den völkerrechtswidrigen Handlungen im Rahmen von Frontex-Missionen ziehen.«

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/frontex-skandal-horst-seehofer-deckte-offenbar-griechische-verbrechen-a-bd06

    • Push backs and violations of human rights at sea: a #timeline

      The following timeline provides a non-exhaustive compilation of main reports of push backs and other violations of human rights at the Greek-Turkish sea borders since March 2020, following Greece’s decision to impose a one-month suspension of its asylum procedure in response to declarations by Turkey that it would not prevent refugees from crossing its western borders. On 2 March, the Hellenic Armed Forces began live-fire military exercises along the Aegean, from Samothrace to Kastellorizo.

      Timeline dates refer to the date of publication of reports, separately indicating the date of alleged incidents, where available.

      This timeline solely purports to reproduce material made publicly available by media and civil society organisations and does not amount to an assessment by RSA or PRO ASYL of the allegations contained therein.

      https://rsaegean.org/en/push-backs-and-violations-of-human-rights-at-sea-a-timeline
      #chronologie

    • EU: Frontex director accused of misleading parliament over fundamental rights obligations

      Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri has been accused by a senior European Commission official of making statements “in a misleading manner” at a parliamentary hearing in December, when MEPs questioned him over the agency’s alleged role in pushbacks and the new fundamental rights monitoring framework included in 2019 legislation.

      Bang to rights

      In a letter obtained by Statewatch, Monique Pariat (the Director-General of the Commission’s migration and home affairs department), expresses “dismay” at Leggeri’s appearance before the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) on 1 December and rebukes, in no uncertain terms, the account he provided of the agency’s attempts to implement its new fundamental rights obligations.

      Those obligations include a fully functioning and independent fundamental rights office, an accessible complaints mechanism, and a credible serious incident reporting mechanism – the aim of which is to prevent, or at least ensure the reporting and investigation of, human rights abuses witnessed or committed by officials deployed on Frontex operations.

      A key role is foreseen in all this for the fundamental rights officer (FRO), who is supposed to head a team of at least 40 fundamental rights monitors – all of whom the agency was legally obliged to have recruited by 5 December 2020. However, it failed to do so.

      Blame game

      Leggeri told MEPs that although he personally prioritised the swift recruitment of fundamental rights staff, vacancy notices published by the agency in November 2019 were withdrawn on the request of the Commission, and subsequent delays in agreeing the seniority of the posts meant that vacancy notices were only published again in November 2020.

      Pariat does not dispute these points, but underlines that the Commission was obliged to request the withdrawal of the notices, because the Management Board had not approved them, as required by the 2019 Frontex Regulation. Without that approval, the letter says that “the publication of these vacancies was plain and simply unlawful” (emphasis in original).

      She adds that the Frontex Regulation requires the involvement of the FRO in the appointment of their deputy, but there was no such involvement prior to the 2019 vacancy notice publication. The Commission had to intervene to request removal of the vacancy notices, says Pariat, “to prevent serious irregularities which could jeopardise the well-functioning and the reputation of the Agency.”

      Bad reputation

      The agency’s reputation has nevertheless taken a battering in recent months. Frontex has faced numerous accusations that it either knew of or has been involved in pushbacks at Greece’s sea border with Turkey, leading the Socialists & Democrats – the second-largest group in the European Parliament – to call for Leggeri’s resignation. There are numerous other reports of similar violent incidents in the Balkans involving officials deployed on Frontex missions.

      The EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, has also launched an investigation into the border agency, although the exact reasons for this remain unclear. OLAF’s remit allows it to carry out “administrative investigations for the purpose of fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the Union.”

      Leggeri has said that the agency will be undertaking a thorough investigation into the allegations of pushbacks, although the working group set up to investigate the affair is made up representatives from the agency’s Management Board and does not include the Fundamental Rights Officer or the agency’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights.

      “Active resistance”

      A document cited by Greek newspaper Kathimerini suggests that fundamental rights are not one of Leggeri’s main interests. The document, provided to the paper by someone described as having “knowledge of the inner workings of Frontex,” says Leggeri told agency staff that “reporting pushbacks involving Frontex personnel is not a route to popularity or promotion,” and that the serous incident reporting (SIR) mechanism is “intentionally centralized to be slow, cumbersome and very discreet”.

      According to the paper, the document also says that Leggeri “actively resisted” hiring the 40 fundamental rights officers required by the Frontex Regulation, and told staff at the agency in early 2020 that “it is not a priority.”

      Pariat’s letter suggests that Leggeri himself delayed the procedure for recruiting new fundamental rights staff by five months, because of his “insistence on an arrangement which would not have been compatible with the EBCG [Frontex] Regulation”.

      There was a “surprising reluctance” from the agency to follow the Commission’s advice on implementing the new fundamental rights framework, says Pariat. She argues that “if the Agency had followed the Commission’s timely guidance and suggestions, the main milestones… could have been completed on time.”

      Even though the recruitment procedure is now going ahead, concerns remain. At the LIBE hearing in December, several MEPs questioned whether the staff grade applicable to the 40 posts will confer adequate authority and independence to the fundamental rights officers.

      At the time of publication, Frontex had not responded to a request for comment.

      Documentation

      - European Commission letter to Mr Leggeri, 18 December: Subject: Your letter of 4 December 2020 (ref: CAB/KARO/10563/2020) (pdf): https://www.statewatch.org/media/1708/eu-com-letter-to-frontex-18-12-20.pdf
      – Fabrice Leggeri, Answers to written questions following the LIBE Committee meeting 1 December (pdf) - annex to this letter (pdf): https://www.statewatch.org/media/1709/eu-frontex-written-questions-answers-libe-hearing-1-12-20.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/january/eu-frontex-director-accused-of-misleading-parliament-over-fundamental-ri

    • Refoulements et gestion contestée : la pression s’intensifie sur le patron de Frontex

      Fabrice Leggeri, directeur exécutif de l’agence européenne de protection des frontières, est sous la pression de la Commission et du Parlement.

      Ce n’est pas un appel à la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, directeur exécutif de Frontex, mais cela y ressemble fort. Rencontrant, lundi 18 janvier, plusieurs médias européens, dont Le Monde, Ylva Johansson, commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures et à la migration, a été interrogée sur un éventuel départ du patron français de ce qui est désormais l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes. « Je ne fais pas de commentaire là-dessus. Des procédures ont été lancées, elles ne sont pas terminées. Mais je pense qu’elles doivent l’être », indiquait la commissaire socialiste suédoise.

      Des propos prudents mais qui cachent mal le fait qu’entre la Commission et Frontex le torchon brûle. Pour preuve, une lettre envoyée au siège de l’agence en décembre 2020 par #Monique_Pariat, chef de la direction générale de la migration et des affaires intérieures à Bruxelles. Un long réquisitoire reprochant à M. Leggeri des retards, des carences dans la gestion et des « hésitations incompréhensibles » à suivre les instructions. Voire un #mensonge au sujet du recrutement des personnels qui devaient être chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux au sein de l’Agence.

      Les « procédures » visant M. Leggeri et évoquées par Mme Johansson sont multiples. Et elles visent essentiellement la possible implication de Frontex dans des « pushbacks », des refoulements illégaux de migrants aux frontières de l’Union, avant qu’ils aient pu introduire d’éventuelles demandes d’asile. En octobre 2020, plusieurs médias évoquaient, témoignages et images à l’appui, six cas de refoulements en mer Egée. Avec, notamment, les manœuvres dangereuses d’un navire de Frontex, qui aurait pu entraîner le #naufrage d’une embarcation. La direction de l’Agence démentait à l’époque toute infraction.

      Constitution d’un groupe de travail

      L’Office de lutte antifraude de l’Union a lancé une enquête et, le 7 décembre 2020, les bureaux de M. Leggeri et de son directeur de cabinet ont été perquisitionnés. L’investigation porterait, aussi, sur des faits de #harcèlement et des erreurs de gestion.

      Plusieurs groupes politiques du Parlement européen ont, eux, transmis une longue liste de questions au directeur exécutif après qu’il a été entendu, le 1er décembre 2020, par l’Assemblée. M. Leggeri avait indiqué qu’une #enquête_interne n’avait pas prouvé l’implication de membres de Frontex dans des refoulements illégaux. Peu convaincus, les eurodéputés du groupe socialiste ont exigé sa #démission, d’autres groupes ont réclamé des explications complémentaires.

      Au sein de Frontex même, un #groupe_de_travail avait été constitué en novembre, sur insistance de la Commission. Son rapport devrait être examiné lors d’une réunion du conseil d’administration, mercredi 20 et jeudi 21 janvier. Ce conseil est composé de représentants des pays membres de l’Union et de deux membres de la Commission.

      L’un des principaux reproches adressés à M. Leggeri est qu’il aurait tergiversé pour embaucher la quarantaine de personnes qui, en théorie, auraient dû être à pied d’œuvre dès décembre 2020 pour veiller au respect des droits des migrants et demandeurs d’asile. Dans la lettre de Mme Pariat qu’il a reçue en décembre, le directeur se voit reprocher d’avoir agi « de manière trompeuse » en ne livrant pas les explications correctes aux parlementaires quant à l’absence de ces employés. Mme Johansson pense également que certains des propos qu’il avait tenus n’étaient « pas vrais ».

      Action « illégale »

      La commissaire suédoise n’a, jusqu’ici, pas officiellement retiré sa confiance au directeur. Elle endosse cependant les critiques qui lui sont adressées par sa direction générale, qui évoque encore une action « illégale » de M. Leggeri en 2019, avec la publication de deux vacances de postes dirigeants qui n’avaient pas été approuvées par le conseil d’administration.

      Au Parlement, où la plénière débattait, mardi, du pacte migratoire proposé récemment par la Commission, la tension monte également. Mme Johansson a insisté sur la nécessité pour les pays de l’Union, les candidats à l’adhésion et « les agences européennes aussi » d’adhérer pleinement au respect des #droits_fondamentaux. Et plusieurs députés ont à nouveau mis en cause Frontex, l’élue socialiste bulgare #Elena_Yoncheva jugeant qu’en matière de « pushbacks » l’agence fait désormais « partie du problème, pas de la solution ».

      Une situation embarrassante pour toute l’Union : dotée maintenant d’uniformes, d’armes et d’un budget passé au total à 5,6 milliards d’euros pour la période 2021-2027, l’agence des garde-frontières peut difficilement voir la #légitimité de son principal dirigeant remise en question au plus haut niveau. A ce stade, celui-ci n’a pas réagi officiellement aux accusations qui le visent. Il pourrait le faire prochainement, selon un membre de son entourage.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/01/20/refoulements-et-gestion-contestee-la-pression-s-intensifie-sur-le-patron-de-

    • Le garde-frontière Frontex en pleine tourmente

      Les refoulements aux frontières européennes fragilisent la position du directeur de Frontex, l’agence européenne de garde-frontières. La Commission reproche à Fabrice Leggeri d’avoir ralenti l’embauche d’officiers de contrôle des droits fondamentaux. Son agence est soumise à plusieurs #enquêtes, dont une de l’#office_européen_anti-fraude. Des députés demandent sa #démission.

      Bruxelles (Belgique).– Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur de Frontex, est cerné de toutes parts. Sa position, à la tête de l’agence européenne de garde-côtes et de garde-frontières, est fragilisée suite à de récents scandales concernant des refoulements de demandeurs d’asile vers la Turquie, auxquels aurait participé Frontex. Des députés appellent à sa démission. La médiatrice européenne, #Emily_O’Reilly, a ouvert une #enquête le 11 novembre dernier pour évaluer le fonctionnement du mécanisme de #plainte_interne à Frontex. Même l’office européen de lutte anti-fraude investigue et scrute la gestion de l’agence.

      Le dernier coup de boutoir vient de la #Commission_européenne. Dans une lettre du 18 décembre, la directrice générale chargée des migrations et des affaires intérieures, Monique Pariat, adressait des mots durs à Fabrice Leggeri au sujet d’irrégularités et de retards dans les procédures de recrutement d’un officier des droits fondamentaux, de son adjoint et de 40 contrôleurs des droits fondamentaux, qui devaient faire partie de l’agence le 5 décembre 2020 au plus tard et qui ne sont toujours pas embauchés : « C’est la responsabilité de la Commission […] d’intervenir pour empêcher que des irrégularités sérieuses viennent compromettre le bon fonctionnement et la réputation de l’agence. »

      La réputation de Frontex a pourtant déjà été écornée à de multiples reprises dans le passé, sans que l’exécutif bruxellois s’en émeuve. « Pendant longtemps la Commission a protégé Fabrice Leggeri, commente #Birgit_Sippel, eurodéputée allemande du groupe des socialistes et démocrates. Il semble que le vent tourne, notamment sous la pression du #Parlement_européen. »

      C’est le 23 octobre 2020 que le vent a tourné. Une série de médias européens, dont Der Spiegel et Bellingcat, publiaient alors une enquête fouillée suggérant que l’agence européenne avait, entre mars et août 2020, soit assisté à des refoulements de demandeurs d’asile en mer Égée par des garde-côtes grecs, sans les avoir rapportés, soit participé activement au renvoi de canots vers les côtes turques, alors que les refoulements sont strictement prohibés par le droit international. Le 8 juin, un navire de l’opération « #Poséidon » de Frontex, battant pavillon roumain, aurait même bloqué un canot de migrants avant de contribuer à le repousser.

      Fabrice Leggeri est venu s’expliquer devant le Parlement européen le 1er décembre. Selon lui, l’enquête interne menée par ses services concluait à « l’absence de preuves » de refoulement dans les cas mentionnés par la presse. Il insistait sur le fait que les activités de contrôle aux frontières avaient toujours lieu « à la demande et sous le commandement des autorités nationales », Frontex intervenant en coordination des opérations maritimes, en mobilisant des avions, des navires et des garde-frontières originaires des 27 États membres.

      Ces déclarations élusives ont hérissé de nombreux députés européens. « La façon dont il a répondu à nos questions montre que Fabrice Leggeri ne prend pas vraiment au sérieux ces allégations. Frontex a besoin de changements structurels, et je pense qu’il n’est pas la bonne personne pour les mener », avance Tineke Strik, eurodéputée néerlandaise des Verts.

      De la #gauche_unitaire_européenne (#GUE) au groupe centriste de #Renew, les critiques pleuvent à l’encontre de Fabrice Leggeri, mais l’attitude à adopter crée des divisions. La centriste néerlandaise, #Sophie_In’t_Veld, du groupe Renew, milite pour qu’une commission d’enquête parlementaire soit mise sur pied, « car on parle d’actes criminels ». Avant de réclamer la démission du directeur – qui ne peut être décidée que par le conseil d’administration de Frontex composé des États membres et de la Commission – la députée pense « qu’il faut d’abord faire toute la lumière sur les faits ».

      Au sein du groupe des socialistes et démocrates, des députés veulent aller plus vite. « Pourquoi perdre un an avec une #commission_d’enquête ?, s’interroge #Birgit_Sippel. Les rapports décrivant les violations des droits humains aux frontières sont là. Pour l’instant, Fabrice Leggeri se cache et échappe à ses responsabilités. » Des députés de la GUE comme des #Verts réclament à la fois une commission d’enquête et la #démission du directeur. Quant à la droite, le Parti populaire européen n’a pas encore de position sur ces thèmes, mais voit d’un mauvais œil cette idée de commission d’enquête.

      Le mastodonte sans contrôle

      Pour Yves Pascouau, directeur du programme Europe à l’association Res-Publica, par ailleurs spécialiste des questions migratoires européenne (et élu de la majorité nantaise), « l’augmentation des moyens et des pouvoirs de Frontex ne peut pas se faire sans une augmentation de ses responsabilités ».

      Frontex, au fil des ans, est devenu un mastodonte. En 2012, son budget était de 89,5 millions d’euros. Il est en 2020 de 460 millions. 5,6 milliards d’euros ont été dégagés pour la période 2021-2027. Il s’agit de la plus grosse agence de l’UE qui sera dotée, d’ici 2027, de 10 000 garde-côtes véritablement européens, avec leurs propres uniformes. « Cela permettra d’augmenter la transparence et la responsabilité de Frontex », veut croire une source européenne.

      Aujourd’hui, Frontex se déploie sous commandement des autorités nationales. Mais les agents qui agissent en son nom ne sont pas exempts de responsabilités. Ils ont l’obligation d’envoyer un rapport aux dirigeants de Frontex à chaque incident sérieux auquel ils assistent, y compris lorsque des violations des droits humains sont observées.

      Le Forum consultatif de Frontex, qui réunit des institutions européennes, des organisations internationales et ONG, s’interroge inlassablement sur « l’effectivité » de ce système. En 2018, seuls 3 incidents sérieux relatifs à des violations de droits humains furent comptabilisés par l’agence, et 9 en 2019, sans que l’on sache quel a été le suivi de ces dossiers.

      Quant à l’embauche des milliers de garde-frontières, elle doit être contrebalancée par davantage de contrôles des activités de Frontex. L’officier des droits fondamentaux, son adjoint et sa petite équipe d’au minimum 40 contrôleurs sont considérés comme la clef de voûte de ce système de surveillance du respect des #droits_humains.

      Dans la lettre adressée à Fabrice Leggeri, Monique Pariat regrette qu’au 18 décembre, aucun de ces recrutements n’ait été effectué. Elle pointe la « réticence surprenante de Frontex » à suivre les lignes directrices de la Commission, « ce qui a encore davantage entravé et retardé cet important processus ». La directrice générale dénonce encore la démarche « illégale » du directeur général qui avait publié, en 2019, une première annonce pour le poste d’officier des droits fondamentaux, sans l’accord du conseil d’administration de Frontex qui sera pourtant le supérieur hiérarchique direct de ce futur employé.

      Elle l’accuse encore d’avoir présenté les faits aux eurodéputés « de manière trompeuse ». L’attaque est frontale. Au-delà de l’enjeu institutionnel, Giorgos Kosmopoulos, du bureau européen d’Amnesty International, estime que « l’embauche de contrôleurs des droits fondamentaux n’est pas une mauvaise chose à condition qu’ils aient véritablement les moyens de mener des enquêtes, d’aller sur le terrain ». Et sur le terrain, justement, les refoulements aux frontières de l’Europe sont documentés et très nombreux. En #Grèce, en #Croatie, en #Hongrie.

      En mars 2020, le comité européen pour la prévention de la torture rapportait des allégations « crédibles et consistantes » de refoulements et détentions arbitraires, souvent accompagnées de violences, à la frontière gréco-turque. « On ne parle pas de cas isolés, ajoute Giorgos Kosmopoulos. La pratique est si répandue et généralisée qu’il est impossible que Frontex ne soit pas au courant, vu son implication sur le terrain. »

      Le directeur de Frontex, s’il estime qu’il existe « des violations graves […] des droits fondamentaux » doit mettre un terme à l’activité litigieuse à laquelle participe son agence. « Le directeur doit vérifier la situation sur le terrain et le cas échéant il doit retirer ses équipes pour qu’elles ne soient pas liées à des violations de droits humains, mais ce n’est jamais arrivé », conclut Giorgos Kosmopoulos.

      Dans ce contexte, Tineke Strik pense qu’une démission de Fabrice Leggeri, certes bienvenue, « ne résoudra pas tout. Les problèmes sont structurels. Il faudra lancer une enquête approfondie sur le fonctionnement de Frontex ».

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/210121/le-garde-frontiere-frontex-en-pleine-tourmente?onglet=full

    • Validating Border Violence on the Aegean: Frontex’s Internal Records

      The Aegean Sea, separating Turkey from Greece’s ‘hotspot’ islands, is a site of longstanding and increasingly visible border violence: the systematic use of inflatable life rafts by the Hellenic Coast Guard to push people back to Turkey has been widely documented since March last year. This maritime borderzone also stages the operational theatre of Frontex Joint Operation Poseidon, under which patrol boats, helicopters and surveillance planes have been deployed to patrol the extensive breadth of water.

      Frontex repeatedly denied any involvement in these pushbacks (see here and here), stressing its commitment to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of fundamental rights. This ‘modus operandi’ in which fundamental rights become a rhetorical defence could no longer hold after investigative reporters showed visual evidence of Frontex’s complicit role in pushbacks, prompting further media scrutiny and pressure by the European Parliament and Commission.

      In November, Efsyn, a Greek media outlet, published an eighteen-page long Frontex internal document addressed to the agency’s Management Board. The document aimed at answering questions by Member States and the Commission about the on-going pushbacks in the Aegean. The document, which fuelled Frontex’s recent internal inquiry, lists a series of so-called ‘incidents’ and, at times, offers detailed accounts of the previously denied pushbacks. However, these were not recorded as such.

      A closer look at the document reveals numerous ‘#JORA_incidents’ classified as ‘prevention of departure’, as this transcript from August 19, 2020, illustrates:

      frontex

      The #Joint_Operations_Reporting_Application (#JORA) is the main information system that collects and stores all ‘border related incidents’ from Frontex joint operations. Such incidents range from Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, interceptions, Serious Incident Reports to, as the one above, so-called preventions of departure. The leaked document contains twenty of the latter, all following a similar pattern: Firstly, the location of the rubber boat is recorded in Turkish territorial waters; second, Frontex assets are “excused from the scene” after detection; and, finally, a rehearsed ending: the boat “altered course on her own initiative/will and headed towards the Turkish coasts” or, alternately, the Turkish Coast Guard “took over responsibility”.

      Importantly, these JORA incidents coexist with the regular documenting of border violence. Descriptions of boats of asylum-seekers returning to Turkey of their own volition jar with regular testimonies describing the coercive methods employed to push them back. Alarm Phone, Aegean Boat Report and Border Violence Monitoring Network document human rights violations occurring at the same border, on the same dates and, often, at the same time as the JORA incidents.

      On the same day as the JORA incident above:

      Logging the border

      JORA incidents, together with information collected via Eurosur, form the backbone of Europe’s external borders and migration situational picture, Frontex’s narrative of the border. Yet, what is and is not accounted for in JORA and how, has not received much attention. Contrary to the few Serious Incident Reports related to violations of fundamental rights, which are dealt with by the Fundamental Rights Officer and presented to the Management Board, other incidents recorded in JORA don’t reach the public domain. Once inserted and validated, they become a dot on a map at the Frontex Situation Centre in Warsaw. They are devised to feed into risk analyses, maps and weekly analytical overviews.

      This ‘business-as-usual’ mode of reporting is mostly done by a few officers from the host Member State— in Greece, by the Hellenic Coast Guard and Police—who insert incidents into a standardised template through a set of rigid, mandatory fields. Reporting is not done by the officers on the patrol boats but mostly those who sit at coordination centres. Once inserted in the system, incidents are sent to the International Coordination Centre and the Frontex Situation Centre where they are cross-checked with reports from both Hellenic Coast Guard and Frontex deployed officers for validation. This validation process does not statically move in one direction; incidents can go back and forth in the validation chain. The final validation is done by a “specialized team of experts” at Frontex headquarters as the leaked document explains. Yet, incidents can be re-initiated and modified even after finalisation (see work by Pollozek).

      The design of the system allows for the rehearsed recording of formulaic bordering practices that, if closely examined, resemble its coexistent violent forms. Shading into the routine, the JORA records circulate regularly from the islands to Piraeus and Warsaw. While the full JORA archive is inaccessible to the public, the reviewed incidents give us insight into how a particular doctrine of border enforcement is being sustained by the agency and to what effects.

      Normalising violence, eroding rights

      The effects of these records arguably extend beyond the tactical level of border policing. Through their production, a narrative arc is formed by the recorded incidents, generating a specific mode of understanding. Data must be made intelligible to the JORA system and officials along the chain before it can be validated. As a result, even acts of violence such as pushbacks can get translated into mundane logs and thus, brought within the remit of everyday border enforcement and legality.

      The leaked document asserts that the “the notion of ‘prevention of departure”, according to which these ‘incidents’ are classified, should be interpreted “in conjunction with the provisions of Regulation 656/2014, in particular Articles 6 and 7”. While the precise legal meaning of this category in this context remains unclear, its ramifications for the right to leave a country are concerning.

      Regulation 656/2014 indeed provides legal basis (in certain factual circumstances) for the interception of boats carrying asylum-seekers. Yet, it clearly stipulates that the actions that official entities may lawfully take to enforce the border must be compliant with their obligations under EU and international law, including, inter alia, international human rights and refugee law. Moreover, it states: “This Regulation should not affect the responsibilities of search and rescue authorities, including for ensuring that coordination and cooperation is conducted in such a way that the persons rescued can be delivered to a place of safety.”

      The records, however, present an account of border enforcement that exists in isolation from human rights and humanitarian commitments. The dangerous conditions in which border enforcement takes place and the vulnerability of asylum seekers to these conditions are rendered irrelevant and thereby, banalised. Rubber boats carrying illegalized migrants are generally considered seaworthy, not recognised as in distress, regardless of how many people they carry or the fluctuating weather conditions in the Aegean. In none of the incidents contained in the leaked document was a SAR triggered by the Hellenic Coast Guard or Frontex. In this sense, JORA acts as a mediator that transforms, translates, distorts and modifies the meaning of these ‘incidents’. Through the designation of bureaucratic categories (e.g. prevention of departure), JORA codifies and transforms situations that should trigger humanitarian and human rights obligations into legitimate practices of border control. In the process, the duty to render assistance at sea is distorted, and the obligation to facilitate access to asylum is obscured.

      In the context of on-going internal discussions about the legality of interceptions at sea, Frontex’s internal records reveal the practices deemed acceptable by the agency and their interpretation of international legal obligations. The records provide insight into a vision of border enforcement, crystallised at the boundaries of the global north, that perpetuates the violent securitisation of borders to the detriment of human mobility, dignity and safety. They carve out a space where border control activities are shielded from scrutiny, erasing human rights from the operational script.

      Any comments about this post? Get in touch with us! Send us an email, or post a comment here or on Facebook. You can also tweet us.

      https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2021/01/validating-border

    • Five migrant pushback claims under scrutiny

      The board of directors of the European border agency Frontex, which met on Wednesday and Thursday, has decided to further investigate five of 13 reported cases of illegal migrants pushbacks last year, with the alleged help of Frontex guards, from Greece into Turkish territorial waters in the eastern Aegean.

      The board deemed that Frontex did not provide the necessary information and clarifications for the five cases under investigation.

      In view of this, the team investigating the claims has been given additional time to complete its work and present its final conclusions to a new extraordinary board meeting scheduled for February 26.

      With regard to the other eight cases, the board said that there is no evidence to confirm any violations. It also accepted that some of these incidents unfolded in Turkish territorial waters, and in others the migrant boats turned back on their own accord.

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/261560/article/ekathimerini/news/five-migrant-pushback-claims-under-scrutiny

    • L’agence européenne Frontex fragilisée par les accusations d’expulsions illégales

      L’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, qui a annoncé qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie, est accusée d’avoir participé au « pushback », qui consiste à repousser les migrants sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile.
      Accusations d’implication dans des « pushbacks » – des refoulements illégaux de migrants et demandeurs d’asile aux frontières –, enquêtes de l’Office de lutte antifraude de l’Union européenne (UE) et de la Commission de Bruxelles, mise en cause de son directeur, Fabrice Leggeri : l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, Frontex, chargée de surveiller les frontières extérieures de l’UE, traverse de grosses turbulences. Mercredi 27 janvier, elle a même été contrainte d’annoncer qu’elle allait arrêter ses opérations en Hongrie, une première dans l’histoire de cette institution, fondée en 2004.
      « Nos efforts communs pour protéger les frontières extérieures ne peuvent réussir que si nous veillons à ce que notre coopération et nos activités soient pleinement conformes aux lois de l’UE », a expliqué un porte-parole, en critiquant implicitement les pratiques illégales de la police hongroise, auxquelles l’agence européenne participait pourtant depuis la crise des réfugiés de 2015.
      En cause, la pratique du « pushback », systématisée par le premier ministre ultranationaliste, Viktor Orban, et développée ailleurs dans l’Union. Le fait de repousser les migrants arrivés sur le sol européen sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile n’a pas été partout aussi clairement assumé qu’en Hongrie, mais la Grèce, la Croatie, l’Italie ou la Slovénie, notamment, ont été mises an cause pour s’être livrées, elles aussi, à cette pratique illégale. Un « Livre noir », épais de 1 500 pages et présenté récemment par un réseau d’ONG, a recensé pas moins de 900 cas de ce type, concernant près de 13 000 personnes.
      Expulsions inhumaines
      Depuis une loi adoptée en 2016, la Hongrie considère, elle, que tous les migrants arrivant sur son sol peuvent être immédiatement renvoyés vers la Serbie voisine. Lorsqu’ils sont arrêtés, après avoir réussi à franchir la clôture que M. Orban a fait construire tout le long de la frontière, ou même à Budapest, les migrants se voient systématiquement refuser de déposer une demande d’asile et sont expulsés sans autre forme de procès, dans des conditions parfois inhumaines.
      Présents à la frontière hongroise depuis 2015, les agents de Frontex ont participé à cette politique, malgré les critiques des organisations non gouvernementales. « La Hongrie est le seul pays à avoir légalisé les “pushbacks” et à les pratiquer aussi ouvertement. La police hongroise publie même des chiffres tous les jours sur le nombre de personnes renvoyées en Serbie », dénonce Andras Lederer, du Comité Helsinki hongrois, une ONG spécialisée dans l’aide aux migrants. Il estime que la Hongrie a pratiqué 50 000 refoulements depuis 2016. A l’issue d’une longue bataille juridique, la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne a estimé, le 17 décembre 2020, que les pratiques hongroises enfreignent les directives régissant le droit d’asile.
      Malgré cet arrêt, le gouvernement de Budapest a refusé de modifier sa législation et a continué ces pratiques. « La Hongrie ne va pas céder devant la pression des forces pro-immigration », affirmait encore le porte-parole du gouvernement, Zoltan Kovacs, jeudi 28 janvier. « Bruxelles veut nous prendre le peu d’aide qu’on avait », a-t-il ajouté en réaction au retrait de Frontex, devenu inéluctable après l’arrêt de la Cour de Luxembourg. Pour M. Lederer, ce retrait est en revanche « bienvenu » : « La Hongrie ne pourra plus se cacher derrière la présence de Frontex pour continuer cette pratique. »
      Violences aux frontières de l’Union
      Avec un contingent censé atteindre 10 000 hommes, un budget pluriannuel passé à 5,6 milliards d’euros et son rôle de gardienne stricte des frontières, en association avec les forces nationales, l’agence dirigée par M. Leggeri est l’une des pièces essentielles de la politique migratoire de l’UE et du « pacte » proposé en 2020 pour la Commission. Sa mise en cause, alors même qu’elle est loin de tourner à plein régime, est de mauvais augure.
      Jeudi 28 janvier, alors que les vingt-sept ministres de l’intérieur, réunis en visioconférence, évoquaient – en présence du directeur de Frontex – le dossier de la migration, l’Agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés évoquait un droit d’asile « menacé » en Europe et disait recevoir « de nombreux rapports » sur les violences exercées aux frontières de l’Union.
      D’où l’attention toute particulière que porte la commissaire aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, au dossier des « pushbacks ». La responsable suédoise se satisfait-elle des explications de la direction de Frontex, dont le conseil d’administration affirmait, le 21 janvier, qu’il n’avait pas trouvé de preuves de violation des droits de l’homme dans les cas qu’il a examinés ? « Sur la base des informations fournies », il n’aurait « pu établir de preuves ». Il a toutefois précisé que ses conclusions ne concernaient que certains incidents en Grèce et que des clarifications étaient nécessaires. Cinq cas problématiques de possibles refoulements impliquant Frontex sont encore examinés.
      Jeudi, devant les ministres, Mme Johansson a réclamé « toutes les analyses nécessaires » pour, dit-elle, rétablir la confiance dans l’agence. Elle a aussi évoqué un projet de réforme, incluant la nomination de trois sous-directeurs et la mise en place – enfin – d’un système de surveillance des droits humains.
      Le débat « recule »
      Au-delà du sort de Frontex, la question est de savoir si une définition d’une véritable politique migratoire européenne, avec une refonte des règles de l’asile et une solidarité accrue entre les pays, a une chance de se réaliser. Confirmant que le débat sur le « pacte » élaboré par la Commission « n’a pas beaucoup avancé », le secrétaire d’Etat belge à la migration, Sammy Mahdi, déclarait, jeudi, au quotidien La Libre Belgique qu’il fallait le rendre « rationnel ». Pour sortir les discussions de l’ornière, pour vérifier que la proposition de la Commission est opérationnelle et, enfin, pour que chacun annonce vraiment ses intentions, M. Mahdi propose « une simulation » : sur la base des chiffres de l’année 2019, chaque pays préciserait ce qu’il pourrait accomplir concernant l’accueil, la solidarité, le financement des infrastructures d’accueil aux frontières, etc.
      Un communiqué du secrétaire d’Etat évoquait une possible évolution de la Hongrie et de ses partenaires du groupe de Visegrad, à condition que soit satisfaite leur revendication (très floue) d’une solidarité « flexible ». Un participant à la réunion de jeudi faisait preuve de moins de conviction : « Faire avancer le débat ? Mais il recule ! » Vétéran des conseils européens sur la migration, le ministre luxembourgeois Jean Asselborn n’est pas loin de confirmer : « Nous sommes sans doute tous d’accord sur les contrôles aux frontières extérieures ou sur les retours. Mais pas sur la manière de respecter les droits humains des demandeurs d’asile, sur les relocalisations obligatoires ou sur l’impératif de solidarité » entre les pays européens. Les Etats prêts à respecter ces principes se compteraient, en effet, désormais sur les doigts d’une main.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/01/29/l-agence-europeenne-frontex-fragilisee-par-les-accusations-d-expulsions-ille

    • Refoulement de migrants : « Frontex se retranche toujours derrière ses États hôtes » (Migreurop)

      L’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, a annoncé qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie après une décision de la Cour de justice européenne critiquant le système d’asile de ce pays. L’Office européen de lutte antifraude enquête de son côté sur la gouvernance de l’agence par son directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri dont plusieurs eurodéputés demandent la démission. Frontex a-t-elle participé à des opérations de « pushback », initiées par la Hongrie, qui consistent à repousser des migrants arrivés sur le sol européen sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile ? Le décryptage de Brijitte Espuche, co-coordinatrice du réseau Migreurop.

      https://www.rfi.fr/fr/podcasts/invit%C3%A9-international/20210129-refoulement-de-migrants-frontex-se-retranche-toujours-derri%C3%A8re-ses

    • Frontex: Management Board pushes back against secrecy proposals in preliminary report

      Statewatch is publishing the preliminary report of the working group set up by the agency’s Management Board following allegations of involvement in pushbacks from Turkey to Greece. Amongst other things, the report indicates that Frontex has proposed labelling Serious Incident Reports as EU Classified Information, which would reduce transparency and, in turn, accountability.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim

    • Scandals Plunge Europe’s Border Agency into Turmoil

      Accusations of workplace harassment, mismanagement and financial irregularities have led to chaos at Europe’s border agency. The allegations weigh heavily on Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri.

      The men and women who are part of Europe’s new elite border force meet every morning at 9 a.m. for a video conference that is viewed on screens in countries like Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Albania. The Frontex officials usually discuss migration movements and human trafficking, But since the beginning of January, the internal meetings have focused primarily on low morale within the team.

      "Do something at last, or soon no one will work here anymore,” one border guard warned in one of the calls. The policemen and women who regularly complain about their woes are the European Union’s first dedicated border guards. They’re part of Frontex’s standing corps.

      For months now, Frontex, the EU’s border protection agency, and its head Fabrice Leggeri, have been embroiled in a series of scandals. Frontex has been accused of being involved in illegal repatriations of refugees at Europe’s external borders, workplace harassment and a possible case of fraud linked to the agency. Now the crisis has also reached the standing corps, the border management agency’s prestige project.

      Frontex plans to deploy up to 10,000 border guards to the EU’s external borders in the coming years. The civil servants were promised brand new equipment and EU jobs with lavish salaries and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen personally pushed for the creation of the standing corps. The stars of the EU flag sparkle on the sleeves of the new dark blue uniforms worn by the reserves.

      The job may sound glamorous on paper, but it is anything but in the countries where the reserve guards have been deployed, like Greece, Croatia and Albania. Several officers have told DER SPIEGEL of a shortage of agency vehicles, such that expensive SUVs must be rented instead — with officers allegedly even having to pay for gas themselves in some cases. They claim that expenses weren’t reimbursed for bureaucratic reasons, and that parts of the new uniforms were missing and had to be bought by the border guards themselves.

      The officers should be out hunting down criminals and catching smugglers, but Category 1 officers, who are directly employed by Frontex, so far haven’t been allowed to carry weapons because the agency failed to provide the legal basis for doing so in time. The result is that the border guards, supposedly members of an elite European force, have to be escorted on every one of their patrols by national security forces.

      When contacted by DER SPIEGEL, Frontex also said that the pandemic has created additional challenges for deploying the force, but things are back on track again. Yet the agency’s own officers don’t see it that way. It’s a "Potemkin reserve,” scoffs one. "It’s not worth it,” says another officer, who is thinking about quitting.

      The establishment of the standing corps is one of the EU’s most important migration policy projects. The purpose is to control irregular immigration. But now the European Commission and the member states must stand by and watch as it becomes the focus of ridicule.

      The fiasco over the standing corps has become emblematic of an agency that has been falling short of public expectations for years, and of an agency head who is accumulating more and more power but doesn’t seem to know how to use it correctly.

      Under Leggeri, Frontex has stumbled from one scandal to the next. Last autumn, DER SPIEGEL, together with international media partners, first reported that Frontex forces in the Aegean Sea were involved in illegal repatriations of refugees, which are called pushbacks. The Frontex Management Board is investigating the allegations and the EU Ombudsman has opened an inquiry. Leggeri himself is apparently obstructing the investigations.

      In January, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced it had launched an investigation into Frontex. Leggeri claims that the investigators are looking into the pushback reports and that he cannot provide any further comment. But DER SPIEGEL has found in its reporting that the accusations go much further. The investigation involves a possible case of fraud involving a service provider, allegations of workplace harassment and whether information was withheld from the agency’s fundamental rights officer, whose job is to monitor Frontex’s adherence to basic human rights laid out in EU charters, conventions and international law. Internal documents suggest that Leggeri’s entire leadership style is under scrutiny.

      What happened? How could the authority charged with protecting the EU’s external borders descend into such chaos? And what does it all mean for the EU’s migration policy?

      DER SPIEGEL, the media organization Lighthouse Reports and the French newspaper Libération interviewed nearly a dozen current and former Frontex officials in the reporting of this story. Most insisted that their names not be mentioned in the story for fear that they could lose their jobs. Leggeri, for his part, rejected an interview request.

      When combined with internal documents that DER SPIEGEL and its partners were able to view, the insiders’ reports paint a picture of an agency in turmoil.

      France Télécom: How Leggeri seized power at Frontex

      The headquarters of Frontex are located in an office complex in Warsaw’s Wola district, not far from the city center. For years, only a few officials worked here compiling reports on migration routes. Actual border guards were borrowed from national police forces.

      But the agency has grown from a budget of just over 6 million euros in 2005 to 460 million euros in 2020. By 2027, Europe’s taxpayers will have provided 5.6 billion euros in funding to the agency.

      Frontex now has its own border guards, called the standing corps, in addition to aircraft and drones that will soon be complemented by unmanned airships that will provide surveillance as they circle over the Aegean Sea. Frontex’s rise has had a lot to do with Leggeri, the man who has done more than anyone else to shape the agency.

      Leggeri, 52, was born in Mulhouse, in France’s Alsace region, and speaks fluent German. He studied at the École Nationale d’Administration in Strasbourg, a university that has long produced the French elite. Starting in 2013, he worked at the Interior Ministry in Paris in the department for irregular immigration. At the time, the government advocated for Frontex’s expansion, and two years later, Leggeri was named head of the agency.

      Colleagues describe Leggeri as a technocrat. At a Christmas party once, the team gathered around and he began talking with great pathos about the achievements of the "Frontex family.” But Leggeri was reading from his notepad. "It seemed like the whole things was out of his league,” recalled one audience member.

      During the course of Frontex’s expansion, Leggeri tailored the agency to precisely fit his needs. He expanded his cabinet, filling many important posts with fellow French compatriots.

      Frontex workers say Leggeri is on rarely seen in the hallways, and that all important decisions are made by a small inner circle. They describe him as being a control freak, with some former staffers even going so far as to call him a "dictator.” Leggeri "runs the agency like it’s a sub-prefecture,” says someone who has worked with him for a long time. "You may be able to run a French ministry that way, but not an international organization.”

      Frontex staffers have taken to calling Leggeri’s cabinet "France Télécom” when the bosses aren’t around. It’s a reference to the scandal at the French telecommunications authority, which involved systematic bullying and harassment so bad that it drove a number of employees to commit suicide.

      The resentment felt by many Frontex staffers is largely directed at one of Leggeri’s closest confidants: Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin. The Frenchman comes from an aristocratic family from southern France. He once worked for Bernard Carayon, a member of the French parliament, who used to be part of a far-right student union. De La Haye Jousselin is a reserve officer in the French army and has a thing for the military and uniforms. “De La Haye Jousselin is clearly on the right politically,” says someone who has known him for years. Now, he serves Leggeri as the head of his cabinet.

      Insiders say that de La Haye Jousselin leads with an iron fist, and that he is quick to lose his temper. Employees claim he insults people and engages in disrespectful behavior. The agency stated that Frontex has not received any official complaints about de La Haye Jousselin and also claimed that no cabinet member has been hired solely on the basis of their nationality. De La Haye Jousselin dismissed the accusations as "false and baseless.”

      But the behavior of Leggeri and his cabinet chief has consequences. Dissent seems to be frowned upon. And this is likely one of the reasons internal control mechanisms at the agency are becoming less effective.

      Inmaculada Arnáez has more than 20 years of experience in human rights issues. The Spanish lawyer has worked for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and she has been with Frontex since 2012. As the fundamental rights officer, she is supposed to operate independently of the executive director in her job as the agency’s internal watchdog. But when Leggeri took the helm in 2015, she quickly became aware of how little concern the new leader apparently had for human rights.

      Former Frontex employees report that Arnáez was left out in the cold. "We felt like Leggeri just bypassed her.” They claim that human rights had never been his priority.

      The final break between Leggeri and Arnáez came when the European Parliament granted the fundamental rights commissioner more powers in 2019. Arnáez was to be assisted by 40 human rights observers, which would have enabled her office to conduct its own investigations at Europe’s external borders. Apparently that was unthinkable for Leggeri.

      On Nov. 19, 2019, just as Arnáez was returning from an extended illness, the Frontex chief publicly advertised her position. In doing so, Leggeri had also bypassed the Frontex Management Board, since such a job posting requires the board’s approval. He had informed Arnáez only a short time before. In a written assessment obtained by DER SPIEGEL, the European Commission states that Leggeri’s move had been "plain and simply unlawful” and "could be considered as an attempt to discredit or weaken” Arnáez.

      The Commission forced Leggeri to withdraw the job posting. But the Frontex chief didn’t give up. He claimed Arnáez had to be replaced because she doesn’t have enough management experience to lead 40 employees.

      It seems likely, though, that the Frontex chief was mainly bothered by Arnáez because of her advocacy for human rights. Arnáez has repeatedly warned Leggeri against breaking the law. Colleagues say that she believed in the power of her reports. She regularly informed Leggeri about human rights violations in the Aegean Sea and recommended that he abandon the mission in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán legalized pushbacks in 2016.

      Leggeri ignored the fundamental rights officer’s reports and continued the operation in the Aegean Sea. He only withdrew his officers from Hungary a few weeks ago after a ruling by the European Court of Justice forced him to do so. When contacted for comment, Leggeri stated that he had always valued working together with Arnáez. He added that management experience is needed in the post because of the sharp increase in the budget.

      Leggeri still hasn’t hired the 40 human rights monitors to this day. When grilled by the European Parliament, Leggeri blamed the European Commission for the delays. European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who is responsible for the portfolio that includes Frontex, then accused him of having misled parliament.

      Arnáez has been on medical leave again since last March. The Frontex Management Board replaced her on an interim basis with Annegret Kohler, a German national who had previously worked in Leggeri’s cabinet. "It’s a clear conflict of interest,” says a Frontex official.
      The Pushback Affair: How Frontex Covered Up Human Rights Violations

      The walls of the Frontex Situation Centre are covered in monitors, with surveillance planes and satellites transmitting real-time images from border regions. From their desks, Frontex officers can closely monitor events taking place on the edges of Europe. “You can see how many people are sitting in a refugee boat,” says someone who knows the room well.

      A collection of images that appeared on screens here on the night of April 18-19, 2020, continue to occupy members of European Parliament until today. They come from a Frontex surveillance plane flying over the Aegean, according to several internal Frontex reports that DER SPIEGEL has obtained.

      Shortly before midnight, Greek border patrol officers intercepted a rubber dinghy just north of the island of Lesbos and transferred the 20 to 30 refugees onboard their ship. According to prevailing law, they should have then brought the asylum-seekers to Lesbos, where they could apply for asylum. Instead, though, they put the refugees back into the dinghy and then towed them back toward Turkey.

      Greek officials in the coordination center in Piraeus ordered the Frontex pilots to change course away from the dinghy. The Frontex team leader asked if there was a particular reason for the change in course. “Negative,” came the response from the Greeks.

      At 3:15 a.m., the Frontex plane began running low on fuel. The pilot took one last image, which showed the refugees alone at sea, a few hundred meters from the Turkish coast. No Turkish units were in the area, the pilot reported. The dinghy, he reported, had no motor and the Greek Coast Guard had sailed off. The refugees, including four children, were only rescued the next morning at 6:52 a.m. by the Turkish Navy.

      The Greek Coast Guard has been systematically conducting pushbacks for several months. They stop refugee boats in Greek territorial waters and sometimes destroy their motors before then towing them back toward Turkey. “Aggressive surveillance,” is the official term the government in Athens has come up with to describe the practice. In fact, it is illegal.

      Frontex regulations require Leggeri to suspend missions when he learns of rights violations of a serious nature or that are likely to persist. His forces, after all, are supposed to protect human rights. But Leggeri insists that he has no reliable information about pushbacks in his possession – despite the fact that DER SPIEGEL and its reporting partners have exhaustively documented how Frontex units were nearby during at least seven illegal pushback operations.

      During their operations, Frontex personnel are under the command of Greek border officials. Already last March, a Greek liaison officer ordered a Danish Frontex unit to abandon a group of intercepted refugees at sea, according to internal emails that DER SPIEGEL has reviewed. Nevertheless, Frontex decided nothing was wrong and closed the matter within a day. Later, in testimony he delivered before the European Parliament, Leggeri claimed the incident had merely been a misunderstanding.

      The pushback that took place off Lesbos in the night of April 18-19 was exhaustively documented by Frontex officers themselves. There is a strong belief “that presented facts support an allegation of possible violation of Fundamental Rights or international protection obligations such as the principle of non-refoulement,” reads an internal Frontex report that DER SPIEGEL has obtained.

      The case was apparently so sensitive that Leggeri took personal control over the investigation and did not, as was standard procedure, delegate it to his Fundamental Rights Officer. On May 8, he wrote to Ioannis Plakiotakis, the Greek minister of maritime affairs, a letter that DER SPIEGEL has obtained. In it, Leggeri voiced his concern and requested an internal investigation. The observance of human rights, particularly the principle of non-refoulement, is an “ultimate requirement” of the Frontex mission, he wrote.

      The answer from the Greek government is a smorgasbord of attempts to explain it away. Migration flows in the Aegean represent a “hybrid nature threat,” the response reads. Because of the corona crisis, it continues, it is more important than ever to prevent illegal border crossings and none of the migrants had requested asylum. According to an initial assessment by Greek officials, the letter claims, none of those on board were in particular need of protection.

      Legal experts see the Greek response as worthless. “The Greek Coast Guard without a doubt committed a human rights violation in the case,” says Dana Schmalz, an international law expert with the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. From her perspective, it is a clear case of an illegal pushback. It is impossible, she says, to determine if someone needs protection or if they are faced with danger back in Turkey on board a rickety dinghy. Individual proceedings conducted on land are necessary to make such a determination, she says. Furthermore, she continues, the Greek Coast Guard put the migrants’ lives in danger by abandoning them at sea in a dinghy without a motor.

      But Leggeri was satisfied with the report. The verdict: There was no pushback, there were no human rights violations. The head of Frontex silently buried the incident. “There have been several occasions when Leggeri has not provided us with adequate information,” says Tineke Strik, a member of European Parliament from the Netherlands.

      When reached for comment, Frontex said the Greek government had not ascertained any human rights violations. The agency has to rely on national authorities to investigate such incidents, Frontex insisted, since it is not authorized to undertake such investigations itself.

      Frontex officials are actually required to report incidents where they suspect that human rights violations may have occurred, so-called “Serious Incident Reports.” But such reports are hardly ever written. For years, Frontex officials have followed the example of their boss Leggeri: When in doubt, keep quiet.

      Insiders describe the rules as a kind of omertà, a code of silence. Hardly anyone is willing to risk their career or cause problems for their host country. In one case, an official even tried to prevent a Swedish colleague from submitting a Serious Incident Report, the head of Swedish border control told the Frontex Management Board.

      A German federal police officer is one of the few willing to dissent, though he has asked that we not publish his real name. On Nov. 28, 2020, his first day on a Frontex mission on the Greek island of Samos, an article from DER SPIEGEL popped up on his mobile phone. The story was about the Uckermark, the ship on which he was scheduled to serve that very evening. The article reported that the Germans had stopped a refugee boat on August 10 and handed it over to the Greek Coast Guard, which then proceeded to abandon the refugees at sea.

      The federal policeman went to his commanding officer and said he couldn’t participate in such operations and essentially said he didn’t want to be an accessory to any legal transgressions. Later, he sent an explanation around to his comrades via WhatsApp: “I have decided for me personally that I cannot tolerate the measures taken by the Greeks and certainly cannot support them.”

      His commanding officer responded a few minutes later: “The fact is that our actions are legal! Covered by the Frontex mandate.” He apparently was referring to the requirement to obey orders from the Greek Coast Guard.

      The German Federal Police does not contradict the man’s account, but when contacted, the force denied having taken part in any legal violations. The policeman himself, however, had a different view of the situation. He refused to take part in the mission, preferring instead to stay on land. He says he will never again volunteer to take part in a Frontex mission.

      Dodgy Business: How Leggeri Landed in the Sights of the European Anti-Fraud Office

      The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) always gets involved when there are suspicions that EU financial interests have been violated. And recently, OLAF opened an investigation into Frontex. On Dec. 7, OLAF officials searched Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, including the offices belonging to Leggeri and to Head of Cabinet Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin.

      Leggeri has yet to comment publicly on the investigation. According to members of the German parliament, the Bundestag, Leggeri testified before the Committee on Internal Affairs in January in Berlin and said that the inquiry had to do with the pushback accusations and that he couldn’t say any more. That, though, is at best only half true.

      DER SPIEGEL has learned that the investigation has a much broader scope than that. For weeks, OLAF officials have been summoning witnesses and interrogating Frontex staff members.

      One focus of the investigation is apparently a possible case of fraud. A Polish IT company sold the agency a business software solution that cost hundreds of thousands of euros, in part for the training of border guards. Frontex employees complained to their superiors, however, that the software didn’t work well. But the agency nevertheless paid most of the negotiated purchase price. According to documentation DER SPEIGEL has seen, employees informed management in 2018 that the inconsistencies in the case could amount to fraud.

      Leggeri, too, learned of the allegations, and an internal investigation was undertaken. “But according to EU regulations, the Frontex director is required to immediately report potential cases of fraud to OLAF,” says Valentina Azarova of the Manchester International Law Centre. Frontex declined to comment on the OLAF investigation. The Polish software company in question insisted that it has thus far correctly fulfilled all of its contractual obligations to Frontex. And the company is still getting contracts from the European border agency, some of them worth millions.

      The OLAF investigators are also apparently interested in suspicions of workplace harassment at Frontex. They hope to find out if Leggeri or his head of cabinet have yelled at or otherwise harassed agency employees. They are also investigating whether staff members were ordered to withhold information from Fundamental Rights Officer Arnáez and her successor – and if so, by whom.

      OLAF emphasizes that the presumption of innocence still applies, despite the inquiry, explaining that the existence of the investigation offers no proof that anything untoward took place. But there are apparently serious indications of personal misconduct on the part of Leggeri. The collection of questions being asked by investigators indicate significant doubts about his leadership style.

      In Brussels, some refer to Leggeri as “Fabrice Teflon,” with the Frontex boss having thus far survived despite accusations of mismanagement and allegations that his agency was involved in pushbacks. Now, though, the pressure has been cranked up.

      European Commissioner Johansson has more or less made it clear that she no longer considers Leggeri to be tenable in his position. “It has been difficult to keep track of the missteps,” says a high-ranking Commission official. “The priority must be on the long-term reputation of the agency. But it has been hard to reconcile recent actions with that aim.”

      It is not, however, up to the European Commission to decide Leggeri’s fate. That is a decision that must be made by the Frontex Management Board. The board is essentially made up of representatives from those countries that are part of the Schengen Area, with the Commission having just two deputies on the board. EU member states have always thrown their support behind Leggeri in the past. And many of them are likely pleased by the occasionally ruthless methods employed by Frontex to prevent asylum-seekers from crossing into the EU, believes Giulia Laganà, a migration expert with the Open Society European Policy Institute.

      The question is whether the Management Board will continue to back Leggeri once the accusations of workplace harassment and even potential fraud are made public. The European Parliament has already announced its intention to conduct a four-month inquiry into the agency, with the investigation’s mandate having been kept intentionally broad. Leggeri’s leadership style and the workplace atmosphere at Frontex are to be included in the inquiry.

      Even Leggeri’s own staff members in Warsaw have begun wondering how long their boss will continue to cling to his post. “OLAF is onto us, morale is down,” says one official. “I wonder why he doesn’t just leave.”

      https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/missteps-and-mismanagement-at-frontex-scandals-plunge-europe-s-border-agency

    • Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières, à nouveau mise en cause pour ses liens avec des lobbyistes

      Premier corps armé en uniforme de l’Union européenne, l’organisme n’aurait pas déclaré ses liens avec des lobbyistes de l’industrie de la surveillance et de l’armement.

      De nouvelles accusations contre Frontex ont été lancées, vendredi 5 février, par la chaîne publique allemande ZDF, laquelle a, avec la collaboration de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), mené une enquête sur les liens entre l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et l’industrie de la surveillance et de l’armement.

      Des dizaines de documents, auxquels Le Monde a également eu accès, démontrent des infractions aux règles des institutions européennes sur le lobbying, un défaut de transparence et une absence quasi complète de préoccupation pour le respect des droits humains. Ce dernier point était déjà au cœur d’un débat récent sur le rôle du corps européen dans des « pushbacks », des refoulements illégaux de migrants, en Grèce et en Hongrie notamment.

      Dotée d’un budget en forte hausse (6 millions d’euros lors de sa création en 2005, 460 millions en 2020, 5,6 milliards prévus pour 2021-2027) et d’un effectif qui devrait atteindre 10 000 personnes à terme, Frontex, premier corps armé en uniforme de l’Union européenne (UE), effectue actuellement des missions de sauvetage et de surveillance, en appui des forces nationales. Elle lutte aussi contre divers trafics et participe aux expulsions des migrants irréguliers.

      Mais l’agence est, en réalité, en train de devenir un véritable corps de police appelé à se doter de nombreux équipements : armes, radars, drones, systèmes de vérification des documents et de reconnaissance faciale, véhicules, avions, etc.
      Profiter des opportunités

      Devient-elle, du même coup, une sorte d’acteur du secteur de la sécurité et de l’armement ? Et échappe-t-elle au contrôle démocratique, celui du Parlement européen notamment, qui, en 2019, exigeait de l’institution dirigée par le Français Fabrice Leggeri la mise au point d’un « registre transparence », conforme aux pratiques des autres institutions de l’UE ? Ce sont les questions posées par les investigateurs de la ZDF et de CEO, qui ont examiné les dernières années de fonctionnement de l’institution installée à Varsovie.

      Le registre, qui était réclamé par les eurodéputés, devait notamment recenser l’ensemble des réunions tenues avec des représentants des entreprises. Il est « en préparation », dit-on chez Frontex. Et il ne devrait pas satisfaire les attentes : en 2018 et 2019, indiquent des documents de CEO, 91 des 125 lobbyistes reçus par Frontex (soit 72 %) n’étaient pas inscrits au registre européen de la transparence, comme le veulent pourtant les règles fixées pour les institutions de l’UE.

      Idem pour 58 % des entreprises consultées. Sur une application créée pour centraliser les demandes de contacts, aucune demande ne leur est d’ailleurs formulée quant à leur inscription dans ce registre. Etonnamment, le service de presse de Frontex affirme de son côté que l’agence « ne rencontre pas de lobbyistes ».

      Il semble évident, pourtant, que le secteur de la défense entend profiter des opportunités offertes par le développement des missions et des moyens de l’agence. Le programme Horizon 2020 avait déjà affecté 118 millions d’euros au développement de la recherche en lien avec le projet de « Sécurité aux frontières extérieures » de l’UE. Un fonds avait, lui, été doté de 2,8 milliards d’euros pour la période 2018-2020. Et la nécessité d’équiper Frontex a évidemment aiguisé un peu plus les appétits des acteurs du marché mondial du « border control », qui enfle de 8 % chaque année et frôle désormais les 20 milliards d’euros.
      « Surveillance agressive »

      L’agence dirigée par M. Leggeri est-elle sortie de son rôle en s’arrogeant un statut d’intermédiaire de fait entre l’industrie et des institutions européennes soucieuses de conjurer à tout prix le risque de nouveaux flux migratoires ? Serait-elle, même, devenue un acteur qui entend stimuler cette industrie, voire lui confier les rênes d’une politique à vocation essentiellement sécuritaire ?

      Avec son objectif de « faciliter la coopération entre les autorités de contrôle aux frontières, la recherche et l’industrie », Frontex a, en tout cas, multiplié les congrès, les rencontres et les « ateliers » où grands patrons, hauts fonctionnaires, mais aussi délégués des Etats membres échangent beaucoup. Sur des questions de technologie, de sécurité, de « surveillance agressive », mais rarement de droits humains.

      Déjà mise en cause pour avoir tardé à mettre en place un service interne chargé de la surveillance du respect des droits fondamentaux des migrants, l’agence n’aurait, en effet, presque jamais consulté le « Forum des droits fondamentaux » constitué à cette fin. Une organisation qui était membre du forum indique d’ailleurs n’avoir aucun souvenir d’un quelconque échange sur la question des droits et des libertés dans le cadre du lancement d’appels d’offres.

      « La protection des droits humains est un sujet trop important pour le sacrifier à la défense des intérêts de l’industrie », notent les responsables de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory

      Parmi les participants à des réunions, on a noté, en revanche, la présence de représentants de pays très critiqués pour leur politique à l’égard des migrants, comme la Bosnie-Herzégovine ou l’Australie. Des responsables du département américain de la Homeland Security ont été également conviés.

      « Les conclusions de tout cela sont extrêmement préoccupantes », notent les responsables de CEO. Ils déplorent une politique migratoire qui risque de reposer seulement sur une force de police armée et des techniques comme la surveillance biométrique. « La protection des droits humains est un sujet trop important pour le sacrifier à la défense des intérêts de l’industrie », relèvent-ils.

      « Nous vivons une métamorphose du rôle de Frontex. Il faut en prendre la mesure et s’y habituer », affirmait, vendredi, M. Leggeri, interrogé par Europe 1. On ne sait pas si Ylva Johansson, la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, qui demande que la confiance en Frontex soit « entièrement rétablie », approuvera totalement ce propos.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/02/05/nouvelles-accusations-contre-frontex-l-agence-europeenne-des-gardes-frontier

    • PUSHBACK REPORT 2020

      VIOLENCE IS INCREASING – IN #2020 MARE LIBERUM COUNTED AT LEAST 9,000 PEOPLE ILLEGALLY PUSHED BACK

      #Mare_Liberum monitors the current human rights situation in the Aegean Sea using its own ships. As independent observers, we conduct research in order to document and publicise circumstances at the European border. Since March 2020, Mare Liberum has witnessed a dramatic increase in human rights violations in the Aegean, both at sea and on land. Illegal pushbacks, in which those fleeing and migrating people are pushed back across a national border, play an especially crucial role. Over the past year in particular, pushbacks have become an inhumane everyday reality for people on the move. Pushbacks happen almost daily at the Greek-Turkish border and in 2020 alone, we counted 321 pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, with some 9,798 people pushed back.

      Although pushbacks have demonstrably been carried out at the EU’s external border for years, media attention has now increased notably, especially in recent months. News magazines such as Der Spiegel and the research collective Bellingcat have been able to publicly demonstrate how the Hellenic Coast Guard forcibly pushes those seeking protection back to Turkey, thereby violating international, European and national law. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, as has become all too clear, not only turns a blind eye to illegal repatriation operations, but rather actively and systematically participates.

      Within the framework of the annual report, we seek to adopt a perspective on pushbacks that looks at the long-term development of these practices at the EU’s external border. The comprehensive documentation of pushbacks forms the basis of the report and is an essential part of our monitoring work in the Aegean. Beyond the mere counting of pushbacks, our work also includes the collection of relevant information on the persons affected by pushbacks, practices by the responsible actors and related geographical data. We have gained deeper insights into these issues by conducting interviews with people who have themselves been pushed back at the Greek-Turkish border.

      https://mare-liberum.org/en/pushback-report

    • NEW REPORT ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN THE AEGEAN

      Since March 2020, collective expulsions in the Aegean Sea have been perpetrated with impunity.

      Legal Centre Lesvos’ new report contributes to the growing body of evidence, media coverage, civil society reports and other investigations which have documented how Greek authorities are deliberately and systematically abandoning hundreds of migrants in the middle of the Aegean sea, without means to call for rescue, on unseaworthy, motorless dinghies and liferafts. It is intended to serve as a resource for survivors of collective expulsions and solidarity actors.

      Following the Legal Centre Lesvos’ first report, the present report is based on evidence shared by over fifty survivors of collective expulsions, and underscores the widespread, systematic and violent nature of this attack against migrants. Beyond being egregious violations of international, European and national human rights law, this report argues that the constituent elements of the modus operandi of collective expulsions in the Aegean amount to crimes against humanity within the definition of Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      Despite overwhelming evidence of collective expulsions in the Aegean, the national and European response has been to turn a blind eye: failing to even attempt to hold the responsible Greek authorities to account, let alone other public and private actors directly or indirectly involved. On the contrary, the European Commission has praised the violent “border and migration management” practices implemented in Greece and underwritten its support with substantial financial and material assistance. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented Greece carrying out “official” deportations to Turkey, collective expulsions have conveniently served as an unofficial implementation of the “EU-Turkey Deal” and other bilateral “readmission” agreements with Turkey, which form part of fortress Europe’s border externalisation drive.

      There are only so many times legal and civil society actors can list and table such human rights violations and be met with deafening silence and inaction before this itself becomes evidence of Greek and European liability for collective expulsions as an egregious attack on migrants’ lives. Such inaction also reveals how migrants’ lives are increasingly treated as disposable, in a manner that has historically accompanied the commission of atrocity crimes.

      While the systematic violence of pushbacks in the Aegean is scandalous, it is also the logical endpoint of a dehumanising and punitive European border regime that has systematically obstructed access to territory and the right to asylum by prioritising and funding the ‘hotspot’ containment system, accelerated procedures, detention, deportations, border militarisation and externalisation through deals of questionable legality with third countries; as well as by prosecuting migrants and solidarity actors in a manner that successfully obscures Europe’s own violent, imperialist role in many of the reasons people migrate.

      The absence of serious investigations, let alone practical steps to redress violations are a clear sign that collective expulsions form part of a Greek and European migration policy: instrumentalising human suffering in acts of spectacular state violence for the purpose of deterring migration, at any cost.

      In this context, it is important to ask what justice might look like for survivors of crimes against humanity in the Aegean, many of whom experience ongoing psychological trauma and distress as a result of these crimes. Survivors who have been in contact with the Legal Centre Lesvos have spoken about justice in terms of being able to safely reach Europe. Justice for collective expulsions as crimes against humanity must therefore include safe and legal routes to Europe, as well as defunding, demilitarising and dismantling Europe’s violent border regime.

      https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2021/02/01/crimesagainstumanityintheaegean

      #crimes_contre_l'humanité

      pour télécharger le rapport :
      legalcentrelesvos.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Collective-Expulsions-in-the-Aegean-LCL-01.02.2021-1.pdf

    • UE : Frontex accusée d’incarner l’« Europe forteresse »

      Soupçons de refoulements illégaux de migrants et de bafouement des droits fondamentaux, l’agence Frontex est dans la tourmente. Au point de diviser la Commission européenne.

      C’est potentiellement ce que les Anglo-Saxons appellent la « tempête parfaite », la « poly polémique » qui couve chez Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes.

      Entre les accusations de fermer les yeux ou de participer à des refoulements illégaux de migrants, l’enquête de l’Office anti-fraude sur des allégations de harcèlement et d’inconduite ayant poussé des responsables à quitter l’agence ou l’absence, à ce jour, de recrutement des quarante agents chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux, Frontex accumule les tuiles.

      Après l’enquête de la médiatrice européenne, qui s’est aussi penchée sur son cas, c’est le Parlement européen qui s’en mêle. Outre la mise en place d’un « groupe d’enquête permanent », les eurodéputés ont aussi refusé, fin de la semaine dernière, d’octroyer « la décharge budgétaire » à l’agence, nous explique l’élue belge Saskia Bricmont (Ecolo). « Chaque année, le Parlement a un pouvoir de contrôle budgétaire. Donner la décharge, cela signifie qu’on considère que Frontex a accompli ses missions, a respecté le cadre légal et a donc droit au budget suivant », explique-t-elle. En commission des libertés civiles, de la justice et des affaires intérieures, les eurodéputés ont donc décidé de reporter de six mois cette décharge, une décision qui doit être validée en plénière mais que « tous les groupes politiques » soutiennent, ajoute l’élue. D’ici là, il est principalement attendu de Frontex qu’elle recrute les agents chargés de défendre en interne les droits fondamentaux.
      Mandat et budget élargis

      Depuis cinq ans, le mandat de l’agence a été élargi considérablement. Ses effectifs multipliés. En 2016, Frontex se félicitait du fait qu’elle emploierait 1500 agents à l’horizon 2020. Elle devrait être à 10.000 d’ici 2027, pour un budget de plus de cinq milliards sur sept ans, contre une enveloppe annuelle de 19 millions il y a quinze ans.

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      Car pour Fabrice Leggeri, le patron de Frontex, les critiques trouvent bien leur source dans ce renforcement des pouvoirs de l’agence. « Pour la première fois, une agence cesse d’être un objet simplement administratif européen, mais a du personnel sur le terrain. C’est une responsabilité d’autant plus grande que nous avons l’usage de la force, sous l’autorité et le contrôle des Etats, et qu’il y a bien sûr des contrepoids, les droits fondamentaux. C’est tout à fait normal que cela suscite des réactions, parce que c’est inhabituel », a-t-il expliqué la semaine dernière lors d’un événement organisé par la Fondation Robert Schuman. « Il peut y avoir des retards de mise en œuvre de certaines choses, tout ne sera certainement pas parfait. Il faut utiliser cette période où il y a beaucoup de questionnements sur l’agence pour expliquer, faire de la pédagogie », a-t-il ajouté.

      A ses côtés, le vice-président de la commission en charge de la Promotion du mode de vie européen, Margaritis Schinas, a évoqué la tentative de « quelques milieux » de bâtir « un narratif qui affaiblit Frontex au moment où nous avons le plus besoin de l’agence. Ça, je ne l’accepterai jamais ». Un ton qui contraste avec celui de sa collègue aux Affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, qui a démenti fin janvier les explications données par Leggeri pour justifier le retard de l’embauche des 40 agents pour les droits fondamentaux.

      Selon le quotidien français Le Monde, François Xavier-Bellamy, chef de la délégation Les Républicains au sein du groupe du Parti populaire européen (PPE, conservateurs) du Parlement européen, a écrit à Ylva Johansson en évoquant de sa part une tentative de déstabilisation voire de procès politique envers Fabrice Leggeri.
      Pas en ligne sur le lobbying

      S’ajoutent à tout cela les accusations de relations troubles avec l’industrie de l’armement et de la biométrie (par exemple, la reconnaissance faciale), étudiées de long en large par l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) le mois dernier. Cette dernière estime que l’élargissement des compétences de Frontex et son besoin d’équipement neuf (y compris en matière de défense) ont été une aubaine pour ces industries.

      Entre 2017 et 2019, Frontex a rencontré pas moins de 108 entreprises pour discuter d’armes à feu et de munitions, d’équipements de surveillance etc. Contre dix think tanks, 15 universités et seulement une ONG. Dans les procès-verbaux de ces réunions obtenus par CEO grâce à des demandes d’accès aux documents, elle a pu constater que les droits fondamentaux figuraient rarement à l’agenda. « Sans surprise, il y a des chevauchements significatifs entre les entreprises qui font du lobbying à Frontex et celles qui bénéficient le plus des marchés publics » de l’agence, explique l’ONG.

      En outre, l’agence ne publie pas toutes ses rencontres et voit majoritairement (72 %) des représentants du privé qui ne sont pas enregistrés dans le registre de transparence de l’UE. Frontex s’en est défendu en répondant qu’elle ne faisait pas l’objet de lobbying, compte tenu du fait qu’elle n’est pas impliquée dans le processus législatif européen. Alors, acharnement ou véritable scandale ? L’enquête des eurodéputés devrait permettre d’y voir clair. C’est aussi l’avis/l’espoir de Fabrice Leggeri, qui a jusqu’ici résisté aux appels à la démission.

      https://plus.lesoir.be/358143/article/2021-03-01/ue-frontex-accusee-dincarner-leurope-forteresse

    • La droite française au secours de Fabrice Leggeri, patron de Frontex

      Le groupe #LR au Parlement européen critique la « tentative de déstabilisation » à laquelle se livrerait la commissaire Ylva Johansson à l’égard du directeur de l’agence.

      Le torchon brûle entre la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures et à la migration, #Ylva_Johansson, et la droite française. Dans une lettre au ton cinglant adressée vendredi 26 février à l’ancienne ministre sociale-démocrate suédoise et lue par Le Monde, #François_Xavier-Bellamy, chef de la délégation #Les_Républicains (LR) au sein du groupe du #Parti_populaire_européen (#PPE, conservateurs) interroge la commissaire. Et il parle de « tentative de déstabilisation », de « divergence de fond », voire de « procès politique » que la commissaire instruirait contre Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’agence des gardes-frontières et gardes-côtes Frontex.

      Ce responsable français est sur la sellette depuis des mois. Pour des refoulements illégaux de migrants (pushbacks) qu’aurait favorisés l’agence. Pour des retards dans le recrutement d’une quarantaine d’officiers chargés précisément de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux par les agents de Frontex. Pour d’apparentes réticences à se conformer à des règles administratives en matière budgétaire. Ou encore pour ne pas avoir souscrit à des obligations de transparence en ce qui concerne des réunions avec des lobbys et des responsables de l’industrie de la défense et de la surveillance.

      Le groupe socialiste du Parlement a demandé la démission du numéro un de Frontex

      Ce dernier point n’est pas mentionné dans la lettre de M. Bellamy et l’entourage de Mme Johansson semble, par ailleurs, considérer qu’il n’y a pas de quoi mettre en cause M. Leggeri pour ces contacts, dénoncés notamment par l’ONG #Corporate_Europe_Observatory. Sur les autres questions, en revanche, la commissaire a demandé des explications. Et le groupe socialiste du Parlement a demandé la démission du numéro un de Frontex. En décembre, la responsable de la direction générale des affaires intérieures de la Commission adressait, elle, une longue lettre à M. Leggeri, avec, à la clé, de nombreux griefs.

      Demande de preuves

      Les élus LR volent, eux, au secours du directeur et demandent très fermement des explications à la commissaire. Quelles preuves a-t-elle, interrogent-ils, quand elle accuse M. Leggeri de ne pas se conformer aux directives budgétaires, comme elle l’a fait le 22 février dans la commission de contrôle du Parlement ? Sans éléments incontestables, cela pourrait s’apparenter à une volonté de déstabiliser le patron de l’agence, estiment-ils.

      A propos des refoulements illégaux de migrants, les eurodéputés français endossent les explications livrées jusqu’ici par Frontex : sur treize épisodes douteux, huit ont été jugés conformes par un groupe de travail constitué par la Commission. Cinq autres cas sont encore à l’examen, sur lesquels Mme Johansson a exigé « toutes les explications nécessaires ».

      La Turquie est soupçonnée d’être à l’origine d’informations sur les refoulements illégaux de migrants

      M. Bellamy lui demande à son tour si elle a répondu à un courrier qui lui a été adressé en novembre par M. Leggeri, et dans lequel il réclamait des instructions claires quant à l’attitude à adopter à l’égard de la Turquie. Celle-ci, qui a orienté massivement des migrants vers la Grèce et la Bulgarie en mars 2020, est aussi soupçonnée par certaines sources d’être à l’origine d’informations sur les refoulements illégaux de migrants.
      « Reproches infondés »

      Le groupe LR, qui bénéficie du soutien tacite d’autres élus du PPE, exige, dès lors, de disposer de tous les échanges entre Frontex et la Commission. La lettre se termine par des questions sur l’éventuel désaccord entre la commissaire Johansson et Frontex au sujet des missions mêmes de l’agence.

      Relayant l’idée que la commissaire serait partisane des « frontières ouvertes » – ce qu’elle conteste – les eurodéputés lui demandent s’il y a, de sa part, « un désaccord de fond » sur la stratégie actuelle de la Commission von der Leyen, qui vise à garantir le « mode de vie européen » ? A savoir la maîtrise des frontières, la lutte contre l’immigration clandestine et la contribution à « la sécurité intérieure ».

      « En instruisant un procès politique au moyen de reproches infondés, vous prendriez le risque de violer les principes fondamentaux de l’Etat de droit, de salir des fonctionnaires intègres et loyaux, de fragiliser la cohérence de l’action européenne », conclut la lettre. Contacté dimanche, le cabinet de Mme Johansson a déclaré avoir reçu la lettre mais ne pas souhaiter réagir immédiatement.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/03/01/la-droite-francaise-au-secours-de-fabrice-leggeri-patron-de-frontex_6071549_

    • Un rapport d’enquête interne peu concluant sur le rôle de Frontex dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants

      Le document présenté lundi s’abstient d’impliquer des membres de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes dans des incidents en mer Egée.

      Un long rapport, lu par Le Monde et présenté, le 1er mars, par un groupe de travail désigné par le conseil d’administration de Frontex, confirme qu’il ne sera décidément pas simple, voire pas possible, de démontrer que des membres de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes ont été impliqués dans des « pushbacks » en mer Egée, des refoulements illégaux de migrants.

      Ce document final, pourtant très attendu, n’apporte aucune conclusion déterminante. D’autant que, sur quatre des cinq incidents encore jugés litigieux (huit ont été classés en janvier), l’enquête se poursuit.

      Sur la base des informations qui lui ont été livrées, le groupe de travail, composé de représentants de diverses institutions européennes et d’Etats membres, formule quelques recommandations qui peuvent être lues comme des critiques implicites du fonctionnement actuel de Frontex. Il prône ainsi une amélioration des rapports et de la surveillance des missions, une utilisation systématique de la vidéo, la recension de toute possible violation des droits humains et la suspension de l’aide apportée aux pays qui ne les respecteraient pas.
      Situations douteuses

      Pour le reste, la liste des « incidents » qui se seraient déroulés entre le 18 avril et le 21 octobre 2020 ne mentionne que les soupçons, parfois lourds mais jugés insuffisants, qui pèsent plutôt, en réalité, sur les gardes-côtes grecs et la marine turque, qui agissent aux limites des eaux territoriales des deux pays. Embarcations chassées, menacées, remorquées : dans certains cas, un navire suédois ou un avion danois mis à la disposition de l’agence ont recensé des situations douteuses, mais le groupe de travail conclut qu’il semble « impossible de les élucider entièrement ». D’autant que ce sont les autorités nationales qui assurent le commandement des opérations.

      Le rapport tient à souligner cependant l’importance de la mission de Frontex, présentée comme la « principale garantie de frontières solides et protégées ». Il y est rappelé aussi que, grâce aux interventions de Frontex, 28 000 personnes ont été sauvées en 2019 et près de 3 000 en 2020, tandis que 10 433 illégaux et 84 trafiquants étaient arrêtés. A propos des incidents considérés comme des « pushbacks » par des journalistes et des ONG, le document invite à considérer qu’aucun décès, aucune disparition et aucune blessure n’y seraient liés.

      Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’agence, qui doit être entendu jeudi 4 mars par un comité spécial du Parlement européen, pourra se prévaloir de ces conclusions face aux diverses accusations dont il faitl’objet. L’Office de lutte antifraude (OLAF) et la médiatrice de l’Union européenne enquêtent aussi sur la gestion de l’agence, basée à Varsovie, tandis que la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, a réclamé toutes les explications sur l’action en mer Egée.
      Action de la Turquie

      M. Leggeri soulignera sans doute, jeudi, qu’il espère obtenir de la Commission qu’elle lui indique les lignes directrices précises qu’il doit suivre en ce qui concerne, notamment, l’action de la Turquie. Dans les considérations qu’il a formulées à destination du groupe de travail de son conseil d’administration, il rappelle d’ailleurs que les autorités d’Ankara entendent utiliser la migration comme un « levier politique » et il souligne que la Grèce se dit soumise aux « menaces hybrides » du régime turc.

      Soutenu entre autres par la droite française au Parlement, le directeur de Frontex transforme ainsi le débat sur le rôle humanitaire de son agence en une question géostratégique, et il incite la Commission à se positionner par rapport à l’encombrant partenaire avec lequel elle a signé, en 2016, un accord visant à réduire les flux migratoires vers l’Europe.

      Pendant ce temps, la Ligue hellénique des droits de l’homme, l’ONG Legal Centre Lesvos et l’organisation juridique Front-Lex demandent à Frontex « de suspendre immédiatement ou de cesser » ses activités en mer Egée, sous peine d’une action devant la justice européenne. Legal Centre Lesvos aurait documenté, depuis mars 2020, 17 refoulements de plus de 50 migrants entre la Grèce et la Turquie. L’ONG estime aussi que l’agence a enfreint le droit européen et violé la convention de Genève de 1951 relative aux droits des réfugiés.

      Frontex est aussi taxée de complicité dans la « détention sommaire de migrants sur les îles de la mer Egée dans des ports, des bus, des navires, des plages où l’accès aux procédures d’asile leur a été refusé ». Le 12 février, l’ONG allemande Mare Liberum faisait état, pour sa part, d’une « escalade inédite » des refoulements de migrants en mer Egée impliquant Frontex en 2020.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/03/03/un-rapport-d-enquete-interne-peu-concluant-sur-le-role-de-frontex-dans-des-r

    • Le patron de Frontex se défend devant les eurodéputés, Bruxelles maintient la pression

      Le patron de Frontex a souligné jeudi devant des eurodéputés qu’aucune « preuve » d’une implication de l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants n’avait été établie par une enquête, mais Bruxelles a réitéré ses critiques.

      Le patron de Frontex a souligné jeudi devant des eurodéputés qu’aucune « preuve » d’une implication de l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants n’avait été établie par une enquête, mais Bruxelles a réitéré ses critiques.

      Ce rapport interne, qui doit être examiné vendredi par le conseil d’administration de Frontex et consulté mercredi par l’AFP, n’a pas permis de « clarifier complètement » les circonstances de plusieurs incidents au cours desquels des refoulements de migrants auraient eu lieu. Il préconise d’ailleurs d’améliorer le système de signalement et de surveillance des missions de l’agence.

      « Il n’y a pas eu de faits étayés ou prouvés pour aboutir à la conclusion que Frontex aurait participé ou se serait livrée à des violations des droits fondamentaux », a déclaré son directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri, devant un groupe d’eurodéputés qui a ouvert sa propre enquête sur ces incidents.

      L’agence est montrée du doigt depuis la publication en octobre 2020 d’une enquête de plusieurs médias l’accusant d’être impliquée avec les garde-côtes grecs dans des incidents de refoulement de bateaux de migrants à la frontière entre la Grèce et la Turquie.

      Ces accusations ont également entraîné une enquête du gendarme européen antifraude, l’Olaf, ainsi que de la médiatrice de l’UE.

      La Commission européenne, membre du conseil d’administration de Frontex aux côtés des 27 Etats membres, s’est montrée critique sur la gestion de l’agence, fustigeant notamment la lenteur du recrutement des officiers chargés de surveiller le respect des droits fondamentaux et des agents devant constituer le nouveau contingent permanent.

      Créée en 2004, Frontex a vu son mandat renforcé en 2019. Elle doit se doter d’agents en uniforme et armés, employés directement par l’agence, et non plus mis à disposition provisoirement par les Etats membres.

      Le directeur exécutif a notamment dit qu’un officier et 40 « moniteurs » chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux étaient en cours de recrutement et que 300 officiers du contingent permanent étaient déployés sur le terrain ou allaient l’être la semaine prochaine.

      La commissaire européenne aux Affaires intérieures Ylva Johansson a toutefois souligné que 700 officiers auraient dû être déployés en janvier.

      Elle a aussi estimé que les « clarifications » sur les accusations de refoulements n’avaient que « trop tardé », et que ce délai n’était « pas bon pour la réputation et la confiance » dans Frontex.

      « Une agence de première classe a besoin d’une gouvernance de première classe », a-t-elle poursuivi, se réjouissant toutefois d’« entendre que beaucoup de choses sont en train d’être réglées ».

      Si des eurodéputés à gauche ont demandé la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, la droite française au Parlement européen a quant à elle pris la défense du patron de Frontex.

      Dans une lettre adressée le 26 février à la responsable suédoise, le président de la délégation française du groupe PPE (droite) François-Xavier Bellamy lui a demandé des « justifications solides et vérifiées » à ses « accusations », dénonçant une « tentative de déstabilisation » du chef de Frontex et « un procès politique ».

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/fil-dactualites/040321/le-patron-de-frontex-se-defend-devant-les-eurodeputes-bruxelles-maintient-

    • Greece accused of ‘shocking’ illegal pushback against refugees at sea

      Lawsuit filed at European court of human rights says group were abandoned in life rafts after some were beaten.

      A lawsuit filed against the Greek state at the European court of human rights accuses Athens of a shocking level of violence in sophisticated inter-agency operations that form part of an illegal pushback strategy to stop the arrival of refugees and migrants.

      The suit, filed by the NGO Legal Centre Lesvos, centres on an incident in October last year in which a fishing boat set off from Marmaris in Turkey for Italy carrying about 200 people, including 40 children and a pregnant woman. The boat ran into difficulty in a storm off the south coast of Crete, leading the captain to radio for assistance.

      The legal case claims that in an operation of unprecedented size and sophistication, instead of helping the stranded people onboard, a Greek search and rescue vessel and two small patrol boats stalled the smuggler’s boat for five hours until speedboats carrying masked commandos arrived. Several passengers claim they were beaten in the ensuing incident.

      Those onboard were separated into two groups and taken to two large coastguard boats, where armed crews of between 10 and 15 men, most wearing balaclavas, searched them and confiscated belongings including phones, passports and money.

      The passengers were then reportedly forced on to several small life rafts, towed back to Turkish waters and abandoned at sea without food, water, life jackets or any means to call for help. By the time they were picked up by the Turkish coastguard, their ordeal had lasted more than 24 hours.

      “It was like watching a movie. The men from the speedboats jumped onboard screaming and shouting, they all had guns and knives and were wearing black and masks,” said Mahmoud, a witness from Syria whose name has been changed.

      “They began beating people with batons, looking for the captain. They punched me in the face and broke my glasses … I understand they don’t want us, but you could send us back to Turkey without the need for violence. When they cut us loose on the rafts we all thought we were going to die,” he said.

      The lawsuit claims the practice of “pushbacks” has become standard for the Greek coastguard since March 2020, when Turkey, in an effort to pressure the EU, told its 4 million registered refugees that it would no longer stop them trying to reach Europe as per a 2016 deal between Ankara and Brussels.

      Athens reacted by temporarily halting all new asylum applications and allegedly employing increasingly brutal tactics to dissuade people in Turkey from making the journey.

      Exact figures are difficult to verify, but rights groups and journalists have recorded hundreds of alleged pushback incidents over the last 12 months. In most cases, people trying to cross the Aegean have been intercepted and towed back to Turkish waters. They are then cut loose either in their own boats, after the Greek coastguard has disabled their engines, or on overcrowded life rafts.

      On several occasions people claim to have been pushed back after landing on Greek soil, and passengers have been abandoned on an uninhabited Turkish islet at least twice, according to reporting by Der Spiegel, Lighthouse Reports and the New York Times.

      In at least one case, the EU border agency, Frontex, is accused of covering up evidence of a Greek pushback operation.

      These collective expulsions, as they are known, are illegal under international law but not under Greek national law. The Guardian’s requests for comment from Greek officials went unanswered. Greece has denied illegality in the past.

      The incident in October stands out because of the reported level of violence involved and the size and scope of the operation, which would have taken hours to coordinate and involved eight Greek vessels and two dozen crew from different agencies.

      “‘Pushback’ isn’t even really the right term. It’s a decision by the authorities to deliberately abandon people at sea putting their lives at risk, with no means to call for rescue and no chance at all to claim asylum,” said Natasha Ntailiani, a Legal Centre Lesvos lawyer representing some of the survivors before the ECHR.

      “It’s a new and disturbing trend characterised by planned and systematic violence, which has increased over the last year in the Aegean region. Even search and rescue vessels and materials are now being used against migrants, which is a remarkable insight into the lengths the Greek authorities are now willing to go to.”

      Testimony from 11 complainants and dozens of pages of collaborating evidence – including geo-located pictures and video, GPS coordinates, and phone and message logs from the ship’s radio, passengers, the Alarm Phone hotline and the Greek and Turkish coastguards – painted a complete and damning picture of the new tactics, the centre said.

      The suit is the fifth LCL has filed at the ECHR in recent years to allege violations of migrant and refugee rights in Greece. Progress is slow, but the applicants hope the latest case will persuade the court that pushbacks, despite the fact they are now reportedly a systemic and regular feature of Greek border policing, are illegal.

      A decision at the court last year that Spain did not breach the rights of two men it expelled from the Melilla enclave on the basis they had tried to enter illegally “as part of a large group” sets a worrying precedent.

      In light of the judgment, Frontex has since asked the European commission if it can refuse to process individual asylum claims if people are travelling in groups, as is often the case in the Aegean.

      “I didn’t even want to go to Greece. We knew that they were harming refugees when they arrive, but it was shocking to experience the reality, which is that Europe doesn’t care at all about human rights and dignity,” said Yara from Damascus, whose name has also been changed. She said she had been traumatised by her experiences on the day the storm hit the fishing boat.

      “Despite all of that, I will still try again. I can’t build a life in Syria or Turkey,” she said.

      Mahmoud echoed Yara’s thoughts. “I got kicked out of Qatar because of the pandemic. I would rather have stayed there,” he said. “If there was a legal way to get to Europe I would take it, but there isn’t. I don’t want to make that journey again, but I will, because I have to.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea

    • Grèce : refoulements illégaux en Mer Egée

      En Grèce, les « pushbacks » ou refoulements illégaux de potentiels demandeurs d’asile par les garde-côtes grecs vers les eaux turques, se sont systématisés depuis un an.

      Le gouvernement grec se félicite d’avoir réussi à tenir une de ses promesses électorales : réduire le flux de migrants.

      La pratique est en infraction avec le droit maritime et l’obligation de porter assistance aux personnes en détresse en mer, mais aussi au regard du droit européen et international dont l’article 3 de la Convention des Droits de l’Homme stipule l’interdiction du refoulement des réfugiés.

      Informés, le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés de l’ONU et des commissaires européens se disent “alarmés” mais semblent jusqu’à présent bien impuissants à faire respecter le droit d’asile par Athènes. Documentés et dénoncés par des avocats et des ONG internationales, ces refoulements illégaux révèlent des pratiques cruelles et cyniques. Mais rares sont les voix en Grèce à s’élever la voix contre ces renvois aux frontières de l’Europe.

      https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/102791-000-A/grece-refoulements-illegaux-en-mer-egee
      #Samos

    • Message de Claire Rodier via la mailing-list Migreurop :

      Dans une interview au Guardian, Gil Arias Fernández, ancien directeur adjoint de Frontex a déclaré qu’il était profondément inquiet de l’atteinte à la réputation de l’agence, de sa décision d’armer les agents et de son incapacité à empêcher l’extrême droite d’infiltrer ses rangs, dans un contexte de mouvements anti-migrants en Europe.

      –—

      Frontex turning ‘blind eye’ to human rights violations, says former deputy

      The former deputy head of Europe’s border and coastguard agency has said the state of the beleaguered force “pains” him and that it is vulnerable to the “alarming” rise of populism across the continent.

      In his first interview since leaving office, #Gil_Arias_Fernández, former deputy director at Frontex and once tipped for the top post, said he was deeply worried about the agency’s damaged reputation, its decision to arm officers, and its inability to stop the far-right infiltrating its ranks, amid anti-migrant movements across Europe.

      “Weapons are not needed for Frontex operations,” he said. “They are more of a problem than a help.”

      Frontex is experiencing the most acute crisis in its 16-year history. The agency is being investigated by the European parliament over allegations of illegal pushbacks of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and its head, Fabrice Leggeri, is facing calls to quit over allegations he misled the EU commission. Leggeri has strongly rejected allegations about the agency’s operations.

      Arias Fernández, 65, now retired, lost out on the top role to Leggeri in 2015. He admits he did not get on with Leggeri when they worked together for a year.

      “From the first moment I saw that he had a perhaps excessive eagerness to change things. Maybe it was to put his personal stamp on things,” said Arias Fernández.

      He said decisions made by one of the EU’s most powerful agencies had led to complicity in human rights violations.

      “Frontex pains me,” he said. “Especially for the staff, because they don’t deserve what they are going through. We saw the agency as an instrument to help the member states and the migrants. These events put a dent in all that effort.

      “I do not believe that the agency has proactively violated the rights of migrants, but there are reasons to believe that it has turned a blind eye.”
      Gil Arias Fernández. ‘Frontex pains me,’ he said. Photograph: Jose Bautista/Courtesy of Fundation for Causa

      In January 2015, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, several European politicians suggested the presence of refugees among the terrorists.

      When the media asked Frontex about any link between refugees and the Paris attack, Arias Fernández, a former police commissioner in Spain, told them there was no evidence.

      Arias Fernández believes this cost him the director’s job.

      The political pressure made the job a tough one, Arias Fernández said. “There is a lot of pressure on the part of certain states to put their people in positions of responsibility. Whether the agency is headed by a Frenchman or a Finn may determine whether there is more or less sensitivity to migration problems. The agency is independent, but ‘independent’ should be put in quotation marks because without a fluid relationship with the [European] commission, you have a hard time.

      “Operations have always been conducted unarmed and there have never been any problems. In operations where Libyan tribal clans smuggling migrants shot in the air to frighten the patrols, even there it was not considered appropriate to carry weapons. In this case, weapons are more a problem than a help. The proposal of carrying weapons came from the European Commission, which I do not know to what extent is influenced by lobbyists in Brussels.

      “There is no filter in the recruitment system. You cannot prevent people with extremist ideas from entering, unless they clearly express their position in favour of hate crimes, xenophobia and racism.”

      Arias Fernández pointed to the dearth of human rights training for Frontex officers. “But lack of information should not be used to justify certain things,” he said. “The incidents under investigation were carried out by Greek units following the instructions of their commanders.

      “When there are irregularities like this in operations, it is usually because there are instructions from the authorities responsible for coordinating the operation. The decision to turn back a boat with migrants is not taken by an officer but is an order from above.”
      A rescue boat escorts a dinghy with migrants from Afghanistan as a Frontex ship patrols off Lesbos in Greece. Photograph: Costas Baltas/Reuters

      He said he appreciated borders needed a certain level of security to know who was entering but added that immigration was vitally important for the survival of all European states.

      “I come to this conclusion because there are studies that show that if we do not resort to immigration and other incentives, the EU will have serious problems and the welfare state will be a chimera. We should learn these lessons. In the first half of the pandemic, migrants saved our bacon.

      “In Europe, movements that use populism are growing at an alarming rate, and the fight against immigrants is one of those arguments. States are excessively prudent in not touching this issue. The commission presented the new pact on migration and asylum, which contains no proposals for channelling migration through legal channels. They tried to satisfy all the blocs, Visegrád [Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia], southern states, northern states, and I fear that in the end it satisfies no one.”

      Arias Fernández said the lack of migrants being allowed into Europe would have a severe economic impact amid an ageing workforce: “Who will pay the pensions of the growing number of pensioners?”

      A Frontex spokesman denied the agency ignored migrants’ rights. “The executive director of Frontex has written several letters to the Greek authorities to address incidents that raised his concerns. Two inquiries, including one that was conducted by representatives of national authorities and the European Commission, have found no evidence of violations of human rights in Frontex operations in Greece.”

      The spokesman also denied that officers had always conducted operations while unarmed, saying: “Before this year, Frontex relied exclusively on officers provided by national authorities, who brought their own weapons to the agency’s operational activities. Today, Frontex has its own operational arm, the standing corps, whose core is made up of officers directly employed by the agency who require weapons for self-defence and to protect others.

      “Since Mr Arias left more than half-a-decade ago, Frontex has undergone a massive transformation that included a much bigger focus on cross-border crime, which means a greater chance that our officers may encounter life-threatening situations while patrolling the borders or performing other duties.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jun/11/frontex-turning-blind-eye-to-human-rights-violations-says-former-deputy

      #extrême_droite

    • Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads

      It is not a ‘one-off’. It did not take place six, twelve or eighteen months ago, and now things are better.

      It was just one of 491 incidents since March 2020, in which 14,720 men, women and children have been denied their fundamental human rights by a coastguard armed with assault rifles and behaving like a sea-militia ‘defending’ Greece against innocent, unarmed, and peaceful men, women and children attempting to find safe places to live.

      In the morning of 10 June, a boat carrying 31 people travelled towards Kos. Closing in on Ag. Fokas, on the south east side of the island, the boat was approached by several vessels from the Hellenic coast guard, and forced back towards Turkey.

      If anyone is wondering what a pushback at sea looks like, this is how it’s being carried out. And it is illegal.

      https://videopress.com/v/vPX3Vme3

      This shocking, immoral and illegal practice has become ‘normal’ in the Aegean Sea. Greece carries it out without let or hindrance, while the EU seems unable or unwilling to act.

      Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads.

      According to the Greek government and Frontex, this isn’t a pushback, but a ‘prevention of entry’.

      There are two major problems with this assessment. First, under international law, no country is allowed to ‘prevent the entry’ of men, women and children not suspected of any crime (as these people are not) and who intend to apply for asylum. Even if the people in this boat had not entered Greek waters, the Greek coastguard would have broken international law, by forcibly preventing people who wish to apply for asylum, from entering Greece.

      But in fact, secondly, these people had in fact already entered Greek water. It cannot be a ‘prevention of entry’ if people have already ‘entered’: it is a pushback. And it is absolutely illegal.

      In the video we can hear one of the officers on the Hellenic coast guard vessel ΛΣ150, say “everyone abide by the rules, because he’s filming”. It’s disturbing that this even needed to be said. First, because what would have happened had this person not had the presence of mind, and technology, to film? What would have happened then? How would the heavily-armed coastguard have responded to these innocent, unarmed people trying to exercise their fundamental human rights? Why did this coastguard, who noticed a person filming, need to advise his colleagues to abide by the law? What did he fear they would do?

      Secondly, the disturbing images we can see in this video are in fact not ‘abiding by the rules’. It appears the coastguard does not understand – or perhaps accept – the rules. This is a video of the Greek coastguard breaking the law, even as one member of the coastguard warns his colleagues not to do something even worse.

      Nor is this an isolated incident.

      It’s how the Hellenic coastguard – and in some cases also Frontex – have been operating for the last 15 months.

      We must demand that Notis Mitarachis, and Fabrice Leggeri, are held to account for their continued, immoral, unacceptable, and illegal activity in the Aegean Sea. We must demand that the EU – or if, as increasingly seems to be the case, the EU is unwilling – the wider international community takes legal action, now, to prevent the Greek coastguard, the Greek government, Frontex and the EU, breaking international law, and shaming the whole of Europe in the process.

      None of this is acceptable. None of it is even beneficial to either Greece or the EU.

      The time to stop this is now. The time to act is now. The EU can and must act. If it refuses, it is time for the international court to prosecute Mitarachis, Nea Dimokratia, Leggeri, Frontex, and the European Commission. Anything else is to further damage, and indeed make a laughing stock of international law, and all our human rights.

      https://aegeanboatreport.com/2021/06/28/human-rights-in-europe-are-at-a-crossroads

    • Communiqué de presse : Frontex a besoin d’une #réorganisation radicale

      Les députés du groupe de travail sur le contrôle de Frontex, sous l’égide de l’eurodéputée écologiste Tineke Strik, ont présenté aujourd’hui en commission des libertés civiles (LIBE) du Parlement européen, le rapport sur le rôle de Frontex dans le #refoulement illégal des réfugiés. Un des principaux enseignements est la nécessité d’ une réorganisation radicale de l’agence pour qu’elle respecte les droits humains.

      L’enquête menée par les eurodéputés confirme que Frontex a manqué à ses responsabilités en matière de protection des droits humains aux frontières de l’UE. L’agence avait connaissance de violations des droits fondamentaux commises dans des pays de l’UE avec lesquels elle coopère, et n’a pas réagi face à ces allégations. La direction de Frontex a sciemment ignoré les rapports des journalistes d’investigation et d’ONG, les avertissements internes du personnel et même les séquences vidéo dans lesquelles ces violations étaient visibles.

      Saskia Bricmont, députée européenne Vert/ALE, membre de la commission LIBE et responsable du rapport sur la décharge budgétaire Frontex, déclare :

      “En ne faisant pas respecter les droits fondamentaux aux frontières de l’UE, Frontex a failli à son devoir. L’agence a besoin d’une réorganisation radicale. Je salue le travail d’enquête mené par mes collègues : il est essentiel d’identifier les lacunes et les fautes afin d’y remédier au plus vite.”

      “Le rapport dévoile que Frontex était non seulement conscient des violations des droits fondamentaux, mais n’a de surcroît pas réagi de manière appropriée face à son obligation de prévenir les violations des droits humains. En dépit des différents signaux d’alerte provenant d’acteurs internes et externes, l’agence a fait preuve d’inactivité manifeste, voire de réticence à agir. Nous sommes particulièrement préoccupés par le respect des normes en matière de droits humains dans les opérations menées en Grèce et en Hongrie. Nous demandons au directeur exécutif de suspendre immédiatement les opérations en Hongrie et d’évaluer les opérations en Grèce.”

      “Il existe des signes clairs de mauvaise gestion : les rapports internes faisant état de violations des droits fondamentaux ont été ignorés, le recrutement des agents spécialisés dans les droits fondamentaux a été retardé et reste incomplet. Nous ne croyons pas en la capacité de l’actuel directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri, à résoudre les problèmes que nous avons exposés. M. Leggeri a induit le Parlement européen en erreur à plusieurs reprises et a encouragé une culture d’impunité, tout en continuant à nier l’existence des refoulements illégaux.”

      “Notre rapport exhorte le Conseil d’administration de Frontex à reconsidérer la position de M. Leggeri et de l’ensemble de la direction générale. Dans un tel contexte, la décharge budgétaire ne doit pas être octroyée à l’agence. Par ailleurs, il est temps que les États membres assument leur responsabilité commune dans la défense des valeurs européennes en matière de gestion des frontières et le respect des droits fondamentaux.”

      https://twitter.com/saskiabricmont/status/1415611092894724097

      Recommandations du #rapport :

      – Frontex ne doit effectuer des opérations conjointes qu’avec des pays qui agissent dans le plein respect des droits fondamentaux. Pour remplir cette obligation, Frontex devrait surveiller l’ensemble de la zone opérationnelle et enquêter sur tous les incidents ou autres indications de non-conformité.

      – Si un refoulement est signalé à Frontex, l’agence ne devrait pas seulement enquêter en s’appuyant sur les réponses des autorités gouvernementales, mais également vérifier les informations fournies.

      – La Commission européenne devrait conditionner le financement européen de la gestion des frontières au respect des droits fondamentaux par l’État membre concerné.

      https://saskiabricmont.eu/frontex-besoin-reorganisation-radicale
      #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés

      –—

      Réaction de Frontex :

      Frontex welcomes report by the Scrutiny Working Group

      Frontex welcomes the report by the Scrutiny Working Group and its conclusions which reaffirmed that there is no evidence of the Agency’s involvement in any violation of human rights.

      The agency has been working with the Parliament’s scrutiny group in an open and transparent manner, sharing information and receiving the MEPs during an online visit to Frontex. The agency remains committed to cooperating with the European Parliament.

      “I acknowledge the conclusion of Parliament’s fact-finding scrutiny and its recommendations. Frontex is a bigger, more complex organisation than a couple of years ago, so a system that was designed in the past needs to undergo further transformation. The report underlined the challenges of the Agency’s transformation in a more and more complex security environment,” said Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri.

      “We are determined to uphold the highest standards of border control within our operations. We will look into the recommendations and see how we can implement them to further strengthen the respect of fundamental rights in all our activities,” he added.

      Frontex has completed two stages of the inquiry into last autumn’s media allegations. Both an internal inquiry and the report by a special working group appointed by the Management Board (with Commission and Member states representatives) have found no evidence of any Frontex involvement in violation of human rights.

      The agency has already taken on board many of the recommendations issued by the working group, upgraded its reporting mechanism and reinforced its operational coordination centres to improve information exchange. It will continue working towards an effective and transparent management of EU external borders in full respect of fundamental rights.

      Recent events at the European Union’s external borders have shown that Frontex is an essential assistance for Member States and the whole EU in situations of increased migratory pressure. Our security environment is increasingly volatile and complex.

      Today, Frontex has officially launched its rapid border intervention at Lithuania’s border with Belarus and deployed standing corps officers and equipment to help secure EU’s common external border.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news/news-release/frontex-welcomes-report-by-the-scrutiny-working-group-0AQJWY
      https://twitter.com/Frontex/status/1415654854412877824

    • EU border agency ‘has failed to protect asylum seekers’ rights’

      Author of European parliament report says Frontex agency’s director should resign or be sacked

      The EU border agency has failed to protect the human rights of asylum seekers, according to a damning European parliament report on the organisation.

      After a four-month investigation by MEPs the report’s author, Tineke Strik, told the Guardian, that Frontex “did not fulfil its human rights obligations and therefore did not address and therefore did not prevent future violations”.

      Strik, a Dutch Green MEP, wants the agency’s director, Fabrice Leggeri, to resign or be fired, but the special cross-party group of eight MEPs, spanning rightwing nationalists to the radical left, that was convened to investigate Frontex has not made that call.

      Speaking before the report was released on Thursday, Strik continued: “We should consider in the end, can we have confidence in this executive director to really implement those recommendations [in her report] and really change it into a human rights sensitive agency? My group [Green MEPs], we don’t have confidence in him any more. We think it would be sound if the management board would draw the same conclusion and start the search for a new executive director.”

      Once an obscure EU agency, Frontex has become a central pillar of EU border management. After more than a 1.2 million people sought asylum in the EU in 2015, European leaders agreed to give the Warsaw-based organisation more staff and money, a point of consensus in the often fraught EU debate on how to manage migration. By 2027, Frontex will have 10,000 border and coastguards, while its budget has already increased more than 19-fold since its creation in 2006.

      But the agency has come under growing scrutiny over its role in alleged pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, with dozens of human rights organisations calling for it to be abolished.

      Last year Frontex was accused of complicity in forcing back asylum seekers in breach of international law, after video footage emerged of one of its ships creating waves that drove back a dingy in the Aegean Sea crammed with people. That footage came through a joint investigation by Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said it had found six incidents where the agency was directly involved in a pushback in the Aegean or in close proximity to one.

      The committee said they had not found “conclusive evidence” that the agency was involved in pushbacks but concluded Frontex had failed to investigate such reports promptly. “As a result, Frontex did not prevent these violations, nor reduced the risk of future fundamental rights violations,” said the report.

      Strik said it was “pretty clear that [Frontex] were at least aware of what was going on” in the Aegean Sea. The agency’s investigations were “very superficial”, she said. “They asked for a response from the [Greek] government and when the government denied [pushbacks] the case was closed.”

      She said Frontex’s modus operandi was to rely on the word of the EU member state it was working with. “They end up asking the government, the host member state, and they almost always accept this response. Our conclusion is that Frontex did not fulfil its human rights obligations and therefore did not address and therefore did not prevent future violations.”

      The agency had repeatedly failed to respond to reports of rights violations from inside the organisation and external organisations, the MEPs said.

      The blame is placed largely on Leggeri, a former senior official in France’s interior ministry in charge of illegal migration, who has been the agency’s executive director since 2015. He has been singled out for criticism for shoring up his own power base within the agency, while failing to recruit all 40 fundamental rights monitors as required by EU law.

      MEPs found that Leggeri had appointed 63 staff to his private office, a number that far exceeds the average. By contrast, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has 30 staff in her private office. “We contrast that in the way he acts with the monitors, only delaying and undermining, yet he provides for an amazing number of staff measures for his own cabinet,” Strik said.

      The MEPs concluded that Leggeri had delayed the recruitment of three executive directors required under EU law that might have checked his power.

      “That results in a complete lack of checks and balances within the organisation and of course we blame the executive director for that, but also the management board because the management board is overall responsible for good governance in the organisation,” Strik said.

      EU member states, she said, needed to make sure their representatives on the Frontex management board had the required expertise in fundamental rights and a direct line to ministers.

      “One of the problems,” she said, was that Frontex was conceived as a security rather than a rights organisation. EU member states found the agency reassuring: “[They] talk about threats at the border. They always call for Frontex. Maybe as reassurance for their own population, ‘we have secured your borders and we have made you safe’.”

      She said there was a perception inside and outside the agency that upholding human rights was in conflict with border control. “Some of the actors still perceive that when you start acting on fundamental rights, then you become less effective on border control … [Frontex] needs to do both and it’s possible to do both at the same time, so it’s a non-discussion actually.”

      The Guardian has contacted Frontex for a response to the European parliament’s report. The agency has always denied any involvement or knowledge of illegal pushbacks.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/15/eu-border-agency-has-failed-to-protect-asylum-seekers-rights

    • Frontex wusste von Menschenrechtsverletzungen – und tat nichts

      Monatelang haben EU-Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier SPIEGEL-Enthüllungen zu illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen in der Ägäis untersucht. Der Bericht ist eine Abrechnung mit Frontex-Direktor Leggeri – er soll belastendes Material vernichtet haben.

      Monatelang haben EU-Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier SPIEGEL-Enthüllungen zu illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen in der Ägäis untersucht. Der Bericht ist eine Abrechnung mit Frontex-Direktor Leggeri – er soll belastendes Material vernichtet haben.

      Der europäischen Grenzschutzagentur Frontex lagen Beweise für mutmaßlich illegale Pushbacks durch griechische Grenzschützer vor, die Agentur hat es jedoch »versäumt, die Grundrechtsverletzungen anzusprechen und zu verhindern«. Das ist das Ergebnis einer monatelangen Untersuchung des Europaparlaments.

      Eine Prüfgruppe unter Beteiligung aller Fraktionen hat untersucht, was Frontex von den illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingsbooten in der Ägäis wusste – und ob Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri angemessen auf die Rechtsbrüche reagiert hat. Der Bericht der Arbeitsgruppe, den der SPIEGEL vorab einsehen konnte, liest sich wie eine Abrechnung mit Leggeri. Er zeichnet das Bild eines Direktors, der sich für die Einhaltung von Menschenrechten an den EU-Außengrenzen kaum interessiert und alles tut, um Verstöße zu vertuschen. Auf 17 Seiten listen die Abgeordneten seine Verfehlungen auf.

      Leggeri ignorierte sämtliche Hinweise

      Frontex habe öffentliche Berichte über Menschenrechtsverletzungen an den EU-Grenzen generell abgetan, heißt es im Report. Auch auf interne Informationen über mutmaßliche Rechtsbrüche habe die Agentur nicht angemessen reagiert. Leggeri ignoriere die Stellungnahmen und Anfragen seiner Grundrechtsbeauftragten und des sogenannten Konsultativforums. Diese sollen eigentlich dafür sorgen, dass die Agentur die Rechte von Asylsuchenden achtet.

      Trotz zahlreicher Berichte über mutmaßliche Rechtsbrüche in der Ägäis habe Leggeri nie umfassend erwogen, den Frontex-Einsatz zu beenden, oder überlegt, wie er die Menschenrechtsverletzungen verhindern könne. »Im Gegenteil, der Exekutivdirektor behauptet weiterhin, dass ihm keine Informationen über Grundrechtsverletzungen bekannt sind«, schreiben die Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier.

      Darüber hinaus habe Leggeri das Parlament lange Zeit nicht angemessen informiert. Bei seinen Auftritten im Ausschuss habe der Frontex-Direktor Informationen über einzelne Pushbacks verschwiegen. In mehreren Fällen seien Grenzbeamte davon abgebracht worden, Rechtsbrüche mittels eines sogenannten »Serious Incident Reports« an die Frontex-Führung zu melden. Selbst die Einstellung von 40 Grundrechtsbeobachtern, die die Grenzbeamten kontrollieren sollen, habe Leggeri erheblich verzögert. Sie seien noch immer nicht vollständig rekrutiert.

      Frontex machte sich bei Menschenrechtsverletzungen zum Komplizen

      Die Untersuchung des Europaparlaments ist eine Reaktion auf Enthüllungen des SPIEGEL. Gemeinsame Recherchen mit den Medienorganisationen Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat und dem ARD-Magazin »Report Mainz« zeigten, dass Frontex in der Ägäis in illegale Pushbacks verwickelt ist und sich bei griechischen Menschenrechtsverletzungen zum Komplizen gemacht hatte.

      Frontex-Beamte, darunter auch deutsche Bundespolizisten, stoppen in der Ägäis Flüchtlingsboote, bevor sie die griechischen Inseln erreichen, und übergeben sie an die griechische Küstenwache. Die Grenzschützer setzen die Geflüchteten anschließend systematisch auf dem Meer aus – entweder auf aufblasbaren Rettungsflößen oder auf Schlauchbooten, in denen sie den Motor entfernt haben. So stellen sie sicher, dass die Flüchtlinge nicht erneut griechische Gewässer erreichen können. Oft wenden die griechischen Beamten bei den Aktionen Gewalt an, stechen auf die Schlauchboote ein oder schießen ins Wasser. Bei mindestens sieben Fällen waren Frontex-Einheiten bei solchen Pushbacks in der Nähe oder in sie verstrickt.

      Pushbacks im Mittelmeer: Wie Frontex in Verbrechen verstrickt ist

      Griechische Grenzschützer schleppen Flüchtlinge systematisch aufs offene Meer zurück. Recherchen des SPIEGEL und seiner Partner zeigen, wie Frontex in die illegalen Operationen verwickelt ist. Sehen Sie hier den Film.

      In der Nacht vom 18. auf den 19. April zeichnete Frontex aus der Luft auf, wie die griechische Küstenwache Flüchtlinge auf ein Boot ohne Motor setzte und wegfuhr – ein klarer Rechtsverstoß, der die Menschen in Lebensgefahr brachte. Die Aufarbeitung des Pushbacks vom 18. April übernahm Leggeri persönlich. Dem Parlament verschwieg er den Pushback zunächst. Stattdessen stufte er den Vorfall nachträglich so ein, dass die Grundrechtsbeauftragte der Agentur fortan nicht mehr beteiligt war.

      Leggeri ließ offenbar belastendes Material vernichten

      Einer der brisantesten Vorwürfe im Bericht des Europaparlaments bezieht sich auf den Pushback in jener Nacht. Demnach wies Leggeri die Grundrechtsbeauftragte persönlich an, alle Informationen zu löschen, die sie zu dem Vorfall gesammelt hatte. Nach SPIEGEL-Informationen soll dies aus internen E-Mails hervorgehen, die die Abgeordneten einsehen konnten.

      https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/gefluechtete-in-griechenland-frontex-wusste-von-menschenrechtsverletzungen-u

  • The Killing of Mark Duggan - YouTube

    Forensic Architecture

    Mark Duggan’s killing by police led to the most widespread social unrest in the UK in a generation. A decade on, what happened remains unclear: was Duggan holding a gun? How did the gun get to the grass?

    Working alongside the Duggan family’s lawyers, we analysed the shooting in closer detail than ever, exposing critical weaknesses in the official accounts of his death.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_xzmOpGypY&t=676s

  • Enquête : les dernières heures d’Adama Traoré
    17 juil. 2020 par l’équipe vidéo du Monde, en partenariat avec le collectif d’experts Forensic Architecture

    Que s’est-il passé le 19 juillet 2016, jour de la mort d’Adama Traoré ? Une enquête vidéo du Monde.

    Le 19 juillet 2016, dans la cour de la gendarmerie de Persan (Val-d’Oise), à une trentaine de kilomètres au nord de Paris, Adama Traoré gît, inanimé. Il est 19 h 05 quand le médecin du SAMU appelé sur place déclare son décès. Depuis, au gré des expertises contestées et des témoignages contradictoires, cette affaire judiciaire hors norme ne s’est jamais refermée.

    Grâce à l’analyse des images de vidéosurveillance, au recoupement des échanges radio des forces de l’ordre, aux récits de témoins et à des simulations 3D, l’équipe vidéo du Monde, en partenariat avec le collectif d’experts Forensic Architecture, a reconstitué les deux heures critiques qui ont précédé la mort d’Adama Traoré.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l_bgcUKO40


    #Adama_Traoré

  • Pushbacks in Melilla : ND and NT v. Spain

    On 13 February 2020, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rendered a judgment in the case of ND and NT v. Spain, the first trial to address ‘pushbacks’—the cross-border expulsion of refugees and migrants—at Europe’s land borders.

    The case concerns the pushback of two men from Mali and Ivory Coast at the Spanish-Moroccan border in Melilla in August 2014. ND and NT had crossed into the Spanish enclave of Melilla by climbing a series of fences at its border, along with a group of other migrants.

    The group, including ND and NT, were handcuffed and returned to Morocco by Spain’s paramilitary Guardia Civil, without the opportunity to explain their circumstances or speak to a lawyer

    In its judgment, the Court found that those pushbacks did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In doing so, the Court introduced a new legal exception to human rights at Europe’s borders, creating a dangerous precedent: the Court stated that climbing the border fences was ‘culpable conduct’ on the part of ND and NT, who should have used legal entry procedures instead. The Court accepted that Spain had provided ‘several possible means of seeking admission’, in particular:

    – by applying for international protection at the Beni Enzar border crossing point,

    – or in Spain’s diplomatic and consular representations.

    FA and ECCHR investigated whether the legal entry procedures presented to the Court by Spain were in fact available to Sub-Saharan nationals, using spatial analysis, official data from the Spanish government, human rights reports, and testimony.

    Our investigation demonstrates that both Spain’s claims and the Court’s conclusions are false, and that Black people from Sub-Saharan Africa are systematically discriminated against at the Melilla border.

    In fact, Black people trying to reach the Spanish border in Melilla have to evade a special Moroccan border police force and bypass three Moroccan border checkpoints, at which they are consistently denied passage.

    Spain made the claim that legal routes to apply for asylum are available to Sub-Saharan nationals however, gave no evidence to support this claim. In fact, there were only two applications made by Sub-Saharan nationals at the Melilla and Ceuta border posts between September 2014 and May 2017, both of them were women ‘camouflaged with typical Moroccan clothes’ to obscure their skin. According to witness testimony, the consulate in Nador is not accessible to Black Sub-Saharan nationals and there were no applications by Sub-Saharan nationals at any Spanish embassies in Morocco between 2015 and 2018. Nevertheless, the Court accepted Spain’s claims.

    The case of ND and NT reveals the mechanisms of structural racism embedded in Europe’s border policies. During the trial, Spain made misleading claims which were contradicted not only by multiple reports and testimonies, but also by their own data. Nevertheless, the Court accepted these arguments, and dismissed those of the claimants. The resulting judgment is a gross distortion of the facts, and fails to acknowledge the realities at Europe’s borders.

    This video investigation was submitted to the ECtHR as part of a further case relating to pushbacks at the EU’s borders, ‘Danny’ v Spain.

    https://forensic-architecture.org/investigation/pushbacks-in-melilla-nd-and-nt-vs-spain
    #push-backs #refoulements #Melilla #Espagne #Maroc #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #CourEDH #CEDH #justice #architecture_forensique #forensic_architecture

    ping @isskein @reka

  • The Militarization of Quarantine
    https://jewishcurrents.org/the-militarization-of-quarantine

    Eyal Weizman is the founding director of Forensic Architecture, an interdisciplinary research agency that uses architectural techniques and technologies to investigate cases of state violence and human rights violations. Weizman—a Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he founded the Centre for Research Architecture—first developed Forensic Architecture in 2010 to investigate the physical planning aspects of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. (...)

    #smartphone #activisme #algorithme #géolocalisation #militaire #écoutes #santé #surveillance (...)

    ##santé ##urbanisme

  • Une coalition contre les violences aux frontières

    Nous déposerons plainte contre la Grèce et l’UE pour les violations des droits des personnes migrantes et réfugiées fuyant la Turquie

    Ces derniers jours, les #violations des droits des migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s qui cherchent à accéder au territoire européen via la Grèce ont pris une tournure dramatique. Si les #violences contre les exilé·e·s atteignent aujourd’hui un niveau inouï, les conditions de cette #escalade ont été posées par les dirigeants européens depuis plusieurs années. En 2015, l’Union européenne (UE) a introduit son « #approche_hotspot », obligeant l’Italie et la Grèce à trier les migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s arrivant sur leurs côtes. En mars 2016, l’UE a signé un arrangement avec la Turquie qui, pour un temps, a permis de contenir de nouvelles arrivées. Sans surprise, ces dispositifs ont transformé les îles grecques en prisons à ciel ouvert et exacerbé la catastrophe humanitaire aux frontières grecques. La coopération avec la Turquie – largement dénoncée par la société civile –, s’effondre aujourd’hui, alors que les autorités turques, cherchant à faire pression sur l’UE, poussent les personnes migrantes et réfugiées en sa direction.

    Pour empêcher l’arrivée d’un plus grand nombre d’exilé·e·s – principalement Syrien⋅ne·s – fuyant la guerre et maintenant les menaces turques, les agents grecs ont déployé un niveau de #violence inédit, rejoints par une partie de la population. En mer, les garde-côtes coupent la route aux bateaux des migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s, tirant en l’air et blessant certain·e·s passager·e·s. [1] Un enfant s’est noyé durant la traversée [2] Sur terre, les refoulements à la rivière #Evros ont continué. Une vidéo - qualifiée de « fake news » par les autorités grecques [3] mais vérifiée par #Forensic_Architecture - montre un réfugié syrien tué par balle alors qu’il tentait de traverser la rivière. [4] Par ailleurs, les militant⋅e·s, agissant en solidarité avec les personnes migrantes et réfugiées sont criminalisé⋅e·s et attaqué⋅e·s par des groupes d’extrême droite. [5] Des violations graves sont en cours et les principes de base du droit d’asile sont foulés au pied.

    Cette violence vise à envoyer un message simple aux migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s potentiel·le·s, celui que le ministère des Affaires Étrangères a exprimé via Twitter : « Personne ne peut traverser les frontières grecques ». [6] Cette politique grecque de fermeture des frontières [7] est soutenue par l’UE. Charles Michel, président du Conseil européen, a ainsi encensé les efforts des Grecs pour « protéger les frontières de l’Europe » [8]. Ursula von der Leyen, présidente de la Commission européenne, a qualifié la Grèce de « bouclier européen » - suggérant ainsi que les personnes migrantes et réfugiées constituent une menace physique pour l’Europe. [9] Enfin, l’agence européenne Frontex va déployer une intervention rapide dans la zone. [10] La Grèce et l’UE sont ainsi prêtes à recourir à tous les moyens pour tenter de dissuader les migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s et empêcher la répétition des arrivées en grand nombre de 2015 – et la crise politique qu’elles ont générée à travers l’Europe.

    Nous condamnons fermement l’instrumentalisation des migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s par la Turquie et par l’UE. Aucun objectif politique ne peut justifier de telles exactions. Il est révoltant que des personnes fuyant la violence se trouvent exposées à de nouvelles violences commises par les États européens dont le cynisme et l’hypocrisie culminent. Nos organisations s’engagent à joindre leurs efforts pour forcer les États à rendre compte de leurs crimes. Nous documenterons ainsi les violations des droits des migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s et déposerons plainte contre ceux qui en sont responsables. Nous soutenons également celles et ceux qui sont de plus en plus criminalisé·e·s pour leur solidarité.

    Nos efforts visent à utiliser tous les outils d’#investigation et du #droit pour faire cesser la #violence_d’État, en finir avec la multiplication et la #banalisation des pratiques de #refoulement en Grèce, et ailleurs aux frontières de l’Europe. Les migrant·e·s et réfugié·e·s ne sont pas une menace face à laquelle l’Europe doit ériger un bouclier, mais sont eux même menacés par la violence des États tout au long de leurs trajectoires précaires. Nous utiliserons les outils du droit pour tenter de les protéger contre cette #brutalité.


    https://www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6320
    #plainte #justice #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Grèce #Turquie #mourir_aux_frontières #morts #décès #îles #mer_Egée #push-back #push-backs #refoulements

  • Turkey to open #Idlib border and allow Syrian refugees free passage to Europe

    Route out of northwestern Syria to be opened for 72 hours, officials tell MEE, after 33 Turkish troops killed in attack by pro-Assad forces.

    Turkey will open its southwestern border with Syria for 72 hours to allow Syrians fleeing the pro-government forces’ assault free passage to Europe, Turkish official sources have told Middle East Eye.

    The decision came after a security meeting chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara late on Thursday after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria’s Idlib province.

    A senior Turkish official said on Thursday that Syrian refugees headed towards Europe would not be stopped either on land or by sea.

    The official said that Ankara would order police and border and sea patrols to stand down if they detected any Syrian refugees trying to cross into Europe.

    Groups of Syrian refugees and migrants from other countries began heading to Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria after the announcement was made.

    Various Turkish refugee groups have also organised buses for Syrian refugees intending to head to Turkey’s border with Europe.

    The governor of Hatay province said that Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian government attack in Idlib, a province where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been staging an offensive against rebels since December.

    Since then, about a million civilians have been displaced towards the Turkish border - more than half of them children - and hundreds have been killed in the onslaught.
    Nato meeting

    Turkey blamed Thursday’s air strike on Syrian government forces, who are backed by Russia.

    However, Russia’s defence ministry was cited by the RIA news agency on Friday as saying that the Turkish troops had been hit by artillery fire from Syrian government forces who were trying to repel an offensive by Turkish-backed rebel forces.

    Russia is sending two warships equipped with cruise missiles to the Mediterranean Sea towards the Syrian coast, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s Black Sea fleet as saying on Friday.

    North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ambassadors were meeting in Brussels on Friday at Turkey’s request to hold consultations about developments in Syria, the alliance said.

    Under article four of Nato’s founding Washington Treaty, any ally can request consultations whenever, in their opinion, their territorial integrity, political independence or security are threatened.
    Migrants not allowed through

    Turkey’s Demiroren news agency said around 300 migrants, including women and children, had begun heading towards the borders between European Union countries Greece and Bulgaria and Turkey’s Edirne province at around midnight on Thursday.

    Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Moroccans were among those in the group, it said.

    It said migrants had also gathered in the western Turkish coastal district of Ayvacik in Canakkale province with the aim of travelling by boat to the Greek island of Lesbos.

    Video footage of the migrants broadcast by pro-government Turkish television channels could also not immediately be verified.

    Turkish broadcaster NTV showed scores of people walking through fields wearing backpacks and said the refugees had tried to cross the Kapikule border into Bulgaria, but were not allowed through.

    It said the same group of migrants had then walked through fields to reach the Pazarkule border crossing into Greece, but it was unclear what happened to them thereafter.

    Greece has tightened sea and land borders with Turkey after the overnight developments in Idlib, government sources told Reuters on Friday.

    The sources, who declined to be identified, said Athens was also in contact with the European Union and Nato on the matter.
    ’Turkey is currently hitting all known regime targets’

    The Turkish soldiers’ deaths are the biggest number of fatalities suffered by Ankara’s forces in a single day since it began deploying thousands of troops into Idlib in recent weeks in a bid to halt the military push by Assad’s forces and their allies.

    The latest incident means a total of 46 Turkish security personnel have been killed this month in Idlib.

    Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan’s communications director, said in a written statement that the Turkish government had decided in the meeting to retaliate against Assad’s forces by land and by air.

    “Turkey is currently hitting all known regime targets. What happened in Rwanda and Bosnia cannot be allowed to be repeated in Idlib,” he said.

    Attacks on Turkish forces have caused severe tensions between the Syrian government’s key ally, Russia, and Turkey, which backs certain opposition groups in Idlib.

    Erdogan had vowed to launch a military operation to push back Syrian government forces if they did not retreat from a line of Turkish observations posts by the end of February.

    The nine-year war in Syria has devastated much of the country. An estimated half a million people have been killed and millions have been forced to live as refugees.

    Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, having taken in some 3.7 million Syrians.

    Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to open the gates for migrants to travel to Europe.

    If it did so, it would reverse a pledge Turkey made to the EU in 2016 and could draw western powers into the standoff over Idlib.

    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/turkey-syrian-refugees-free-passage-europe-soldiers-killed-Idlib

    #turquie #frontières #ouverture_des_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Erdogan #bras_de_fer #Europe

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les refoulements dans l’Evros :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/914147

    • La #Grèce bloque des centaines de migrants à sa frontière avec la Turquie

      A la suite de la montée des tensions en Syrie, Ankara avait plus tôt affirmé que le pays « ne retiendrait pas » les migrants qui cherchent à rejoindre l’Europe. La Grèce a annoncé avoir renforcé ses patrouilles à la frontière.


      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/02/28/la-turquie-menace-d-ouvrir-la-porte-de-l-europe-aux-migrants_6031137_3210.ht

    • Greek police fire teargas on migrants at border with Turkey

      Greek police fired teargas toward migrants who were gathered on its border with Turkey and demanding entry on Saturday, as a crisis over Syria abruptly moved onto the European Union’s doorstep.

      The Greek government reiterated its promise to keep migrants out.

      “The government will do whatever it takes to protect its borders,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters, adding that in the past 24 hours Greek authorities had averted attempts by 4,000 people to cross.

      Live images from Greece’s Skai TV on the Turkish side of the northern land border at Kastanies showed Greek riot police firing teargas rounds at groups of migrants who were hurling stones and shouting obscenities.

      Media were not permitted to approach the Greek side of the border in the early morning, but the area smelled heavily of teargas, a Reuters witness said.

      A Turkish government official said late Thursday that Turkey will no longer contain the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers after an air strike on war-ravaged Idlib in Syria killed 33 Turkish soldiers earlier that day.

      Almost immediately, convoys of people appeared heading to the Greek land and sea borders on Friday.

      An estimated 3,000 people had gathered on the Turkish side of the border at Kastanies, according to a Greek government official. Kastanies lies just over 900 km (550 miles)north-east of Athens.

      Greece, which was a primary gateway for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, has promised it will keep the migrants out.

      However, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that some 18,000 migrants had crossed borders from Turkey into Europe. Speaking in Istanbul, he did not immediately provide evidence for the number, but said it would rise.

      Greek police were keeping media about a kilometre away from the Kastanies border crossing, but the broader area, where the two countries are divided by a river, was more permeable.

      A group of Afghans with young children waded across fast-moving waters of the Evros river and took refuge in a small chapel. They crossed into Greece on Friday morning.

      “Today is good” said Shir Agha, 30 in broken English. “Before, Erdogan people, police problem,” he said. Their shoes were caked in mud. It had rained heavily the night before, and by early morning, temperatures were close to freezing.

      Greece had already said on Thursday it would tighten border controls to prevent coronavirus reaching its Aegean islands, where thousands of migrants are living in poor conditions.

      Nearly a million refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to Greece’s islands in 2015, setting off a crisis over immigration in Europe, but that route all but closed after the European Union and Ankara agreed to stop the flow in March 2016.

      https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN20N0F6
      #Evros #région_de_l'Evros

    • ’Following last night’s announcement of Turkish plans to open the borders with Greece for 72 hours, a large number of people attempted to cross the Evros/Meriç border near the 11km-long fence in Kastanies.
      They were stopped and are now trapped in the buffer zone between the two countries, surrounded by Greek and Turkish armed forces. Tear gas and stun grenade were reportedly used to dispersed the crowds.
      Human Rights 360 and @ForensicArchi have obtained material from the ground, including proof of people being pushed back across the border from Greece to Turkey and are monitoring the situation.
      As night has fallen, these people fear their human rights will be violated further. We urge the European, Greek, and Turkish authorities to safeguard their rights and safety.


      https://twitter.com/rights360/status/1233468982788841479

    • ’Number of migrants leaving Turkey reaches 36,776’

      Migrants departing from Turkey via northwestern border province of #Edirne, says country’s interior minister.

      The number of migrants leaving Turkey via its northwestern border province of Edirne reached 36,776, the country’s interior minister said on Saturday.

      In a statement on Twitter, Suleyman Soylu said that the number was registered as of 9.02 p.m. local time (1802 GMT).

      Turkish officials announced Friday that they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe.

      The decision was made as 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred at the hands of regime forces in Idlib, Syria. The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.

      Since then, thousands of irregular migrants have flocked to Edirne to make their way into Europe.

      Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million migrants from Syria alone, more than any other country in the world.

      It has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.

      https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/number-of-migrants-leaving-turkey-reaches-36-776/1750216

    • Erdoğan says border will stay open as Greece tries to repel influx

      Turkish leader claims 18,000 people have crossed into EU but some are met with teargas.

      Thousands of migrants may be in no man’s land between Turkey and Greece after Ankara opened its western borders, sparking chaotic scenes as Greek troops attempted to prevent refugees from entering Europe en masse.

      Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, claimed 18,000 migrants had crossed the border, without immediately providing supporting evidence, but many appear to have been repelled by Greek border patrols firing teargas and stun grenades.

      Erdoğan has long threatened to allow refugees and migrants transit into the EU, with which Turkey signed an accord in 2016 to stem westward migration in return for financial aid.

      He stressed the frontier would remain open. “We will not close these doors in the coming period and this will continue,” he said in Istanbul on Saturday. “Why? The European Union needs to keep its promises. We are not obliged to look after and feed so many refugees. If you’re honest, if you’re sincere, then you need to share.”

      Erdoğan complained that funds transferred to Turkey from the EU to support refugees were arriving too slowly, saying he had asked Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to send them directly to his government.

      But the policy shift appears to be intended to force the EU and Nato to support Ankara’s new military campaign in the north-western province of Idlib, Syria’s last rebel stronghold, where thousands of Turkish soldiers are supporting opposition forces facing an onslaught from regime forces backed by Russian air power.

      Erdoğan said Turkey could not handle a new wave of migration, in an apparent reference to the growing humanitarian crisis in Idlib.

      The Idlib offensive has pushed almost a million displaced civilians toward the Syrian-Turkish border, and hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians remain between advancing Syrian government forces backed by Russia and rebel fighters supported by Turkey.

      In the largest single loss of life to Turkish forces since their country became involved in the Syria conflict, at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike on Thursday night.

      After officials briefed on Friday that police, coastguard and border guards had been ordered to stand down, meaning passage to Europe would be no longer prevented, thousands of refugees and migrants made haste to Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria. Many travelled on buses provided by the Turkish state.

      They were met by Greek border patrols reportedly firing teargas and stun grenades. Some young migrants and refugees appeared to hurl rocks at the guards.

      “A titanic battle [is being waged] to keep our frontiers closed,” said Panayiotis Harelas, who heads the federation of border guards during an impromptu press conference at the scene.

      A 17-year-old Iranian who had made it into Greece overnight along with a group of friends told the Associated Press he had spent two months in Turkey and could not sustain himself there. “We learned the border was open and we headed there,” he said. “But we saw it was closed and we found a hole in the fence and went through it.”

      Greek authorities said 52 ships were patrolling the seas around Lesbos, along with other Aegean isles, in an apparent show of force to deter clandestine voyages. Greece has also bolstered its eastern land border, while Bulgaria has sent an extra 1,000 troops to its border with Turkey.

      A Greek government spokesperson, Stelios Petsas, said after an emergency meeting of ministers that security forces had repelled “more than 4,000 illegal entries”. Sixty-six people had been arrested after making their way through forest land into the country, none of whom were believed to hail from Idlib, according to Petsas.

      On Saturday morning high winds on Lesbos were mostly preventing arrivals there, with just one boat containing 27 people from various African countries reported to have reached the island. Another 180 reached other Greek islands from Turkey between Friday morning and Saturday morning, according to the coastguard.

      There are more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, along with many others fleeing war and poverty in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Turkey’s borders to Europe were closed to migrants following a £5.2bn deal with the EU in 2016 after more than a million people crossed into Europe by foot.

      As that policy was effectively reversed, Erdoğan claimed that the number of people entering Europe from Turkey could rise to up to 30,000 on Saturday.

      He also said he had told Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to end his support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria so that Turkey could more easily battle Assad’s forces.

      “We did not go [to Syria] because we were invited by [Assad],” he said. “We went there because we were invited by the people of Syria. We don’t intend to leave before the people of Syria [say] OK, this is done.”

      Syrian and Russian warplanes kept up airstrikes on the strategically important Idlib city of Saraqib on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There were reports that nine Assad-supporting Hezbollah forces were killed by Turkish smart missiles and drones.

      Russia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that the two sides had agreed this week to reduce tensions on the ground in Idlib, though military action will continue, after Nato envoys held emergency talks at the request of Turkey, a member of the alliance.

      While urging de-escalation in Idlib, Nato offered no immediate assistance but said it would consider strengthening Ankara’s air defences.

      The UN secretary general, António Guterres, called for an immediate ceasefire and said the risk of ever greater escalation was growing by the hour, with civilians paying the gravest price.

      https://seenthis.net/messages/828209

    • Austria says it will stop any migrants trying to rush its border

      Austria will stop any migrants attempting to rush its border if measures to halt them in Greece and through the Balkans fail, conservative Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on Sunday.

      Greek police fired tear gas to repel hundreds of stone-throwing migrants who tried to force their way across the border from Turkey on Sunday, with thousands more behind them after Ankara relaxed curbs on their movement. It was the second straight day of clashes.

      The rush echoes Europe’s migration crisis in 2015-2016, when Austria served as a corridor into Germany for hundreds of thousands of migrants who traveled through Greece and the Balkans. Austria also took in more than 1% of its population in asylum seekers in the process.

      “Hungary has assured us that it will protect its borders as best it can, like Croatia’s,” Nehammer told broadcaster ORF, referring to two of Austria’s neighbors. Migrants coming up through the Balkans would almost certainly have to pass through either of those countries before reaching Austria.

      “Should, despite that, people reach us then they must be stopped,” he said when asked what Austria would do.

      Nehammer’s boss, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, built his career on a hard line on immigration, pledging to prevent a repeat of 2015’s influx. He governed in coalition with the far right from 2017 until last year, and is back in power with the Greens as a junior partner.

      When Kurz was foreign minister in 2016, Austria coordinated border restrictions in neighboring Balkan countries to stop migrants reaching it from Greece.

      Austria is prepared to do the same again if necessary, Kurz and Nehammer have indicated. Kurz is an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s government, a popular stance in his conservative Alpine country.

      Turkey said on Thursday it would let migrants cross its borders into Europe, despite a commitment to hold them in its territory under a 2016 deal with the European Union.

      Turkey’s turnabout came after an air strike killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Syria, and appeared to be an effort to press for more EU aid in tackling the refugee crisis from Syria’s civil war.

      “The second safety net, and here the Austrian security services have a lot of previous experience, is close cooperation and also support, whether that be financial, material or in terms of personnel, with countries along the (migrants’) escape route,” Nehammer said, referring to Balkan countries.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-austria-idUSKBN20O2CS
      #route_des_Balkans #Autriche

    • Evros: Greek Army announces exercise with live ammunition on March 2

      Real ammunition will be used on Monday, March 2, 2020, across the Evros river, an announcement by the Greek Army said late on Sunday.

      The 4th Army Corps has announced military exercises with live ammunition at all border outposts at Kipoi and Kastanies where thousands of migrants and refugees have amassed. The broader area of the 24-hour exercise is where also all migrants crossings are in general.

      According to the announcement, guns, machine guns, rifles and pistols will be used during the military exercise with live ammunition.

      Listing the specific areas where the exercise will take place, the Army warns that “movement or stay of persons, trucks and animals during shooting hours is prohibited to avoid accidents.”

      “Non-exploded bullets that may be found, shod not me removed,” and the nearest police authorities should be immediately notified.”

      The timing of the military exercise and thus on a Greek holiday – Clean Monday – is peculiar, but it may serve rather the “internal consumption” and to scare off the migrants, comments news website tvxs.gr

      On Sunday, Greek special police forces and army fired warning shots during patrol in the Evros area in order to deter migrants trying to cross into the country.

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/03/02/greece-army-exercise-live-ammunition-mar2

      #armée #militarisation_des_frontières #armes #armes_à_feu

    • Greece Suspends Asylum as Turkey Opens Gates for Migrants

      Greece took a raft of tough measures Sunday as it tried to repel thousands of migrants amassed at its border with Turkey.

      It deployed major military forces to the border, seeking to fortify the area after Turkey allowed migrants to pass through to the European Union over the weekend. The Greek government also said it would suspend asylum applications for a month and summarily deport migrants entering illegally.

      The developments were increasing tensions between the two countries, leaving thousands of people exposed to winter weather and caught in an increasingly volatile situation.

      Neither move announced by Greece is permitted by European Union law, but the Greek government said it would request special dispensation from the bloc. International protocols on the protection of refugees, of which Greece is a signatory, also prohibit such policies.

      “Turkey, instead of curbing migrant and refugee smuggling networks, has become a smuggler itself,” the Greek government said in a statement.

      Military officials would not say how many additional troops were being deployed, but they confirmed that they were stepping up joint military and police operations along the border. Dozens of military vehicles were seen moving toward various outposts along Greece’s 120-mile boundary with Turkey.

      The fortification of the area came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey confirmed on Saturday that he was opening Turkey’s border for migrants to enter Europe, saying that his country could no longer handle the huge numbers of people fleeing the war in Syria.

      Mr. Erdogan accused European leaders of failing to keep their promise to help Turkey bear the load of hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees. And he demanded European support for his military operation against a Russian and Syrian offensive in northern Syria that has displaced at least a million Syrians, many of whom are now heading toward the Turkish border. The Turkish Army also suffered significant casualties last week in an airstrike in northwest Syria.

      The president of the European Council said he would visit the Greek-Turkish line on Tuesday with the Greek prime minister, and the European Union announced an urgent foreign ministers’ meeting sometime this week to deliberate on the crisis.

      Thousands of migrants languishing in Turkey were on the move this weekend after Mr. Erdogan said he would not stand in their way. Many dropped everything the moment they heard the border was opening and rushed by bus or taxi, fearing they might miss the chance to get across.

      The Greek government, alarmed at the unfolding migrant wave, said it had sent a warning through mass text messages to all international phone numbers in the area. “From the Hellenic Republic: Greece is increasing border security to level maximum,” the message said in English. “Do not attempt illegally to cross the border.”

      Many migrants went ahead anyway, and some succeeded. Many ended up clashing with the authorities in Greece as riot police officers with batons, shields and masks tried to block their path, sometimes firing tear gas.

      Turkey’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, wrote Sunday on Twitter that more than 76,000 people had left Turkey for Greece — a drastically inflated number, according to ground reports from both sides of the border.

      The United Nations estimated that about 15,000 people from several countries, including families with children, were on their way in Turkey to the northern land border with Greece.

      Hundreds of people crossed the Turkish border, either over farmland or the Evros River. Nearly 500 others arrived by boat on the islands near Turkey in the northeastern Aegean, creating small-scale scenes reminiscent of the 2015 crisis that paralyzed parts of Europe.

      The Greek government said it had thwarted nearly 10,000 crossing attempts in 24 hours and arrested 150 people over the weekend.

      But dozens of migrants in small groups could be seen scattered in the region’s villages. The Greek government claimed that those attempting to cross into Greece were all single men and that none were Syrians, but families and Syrians did manage to reach Greece.
      Image

      One man with his wife and small children took shelter in a church, trying to warm up and regroup after the arduous crossing.

      Another migrant, Kaniwar Ibrahim, a 26-year-old tailor from Kobane, Syria, said he had heard from friends that Mr. Erdogan was opening the borders to Europe, so he rushed north.

      Mr. Ibrahim, his face ashen and his lips blue from the cold, was planning his next move at the train station in Orestiada with three West Africans and a few Palestinian migrants who had crossed the border with him overnight.

      He had spent two terrible years in Turkey, he said, so he grabbed the chance to join relatives legally settled in Germany.

      On the Turkish side, where thousands were gathering and smugglers were flocking to offer rides, boats and other services, others were less fortunate, and the hazards of attempting the crossing were becoming clear.

      One migrant died from the cold overnight, according to other migrants, and others said they were badly beaten by Greek border guards or vigilantes — an assertion that the Greek government denied.

      Abdul Kareem al Mir, 23, from the city of Al Salamiyah in central Syria, reached Edirne, Turkey, near Greece, but he was already having second thoughts.

      “I’ve been stuck here for three days in the rain and cold,” he said in a series of messages. “I guess the promises and statements were just a lie.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/world/europe/greece-migrants-border-turkey.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimesworld

    • Greece freezes asylum applications from illegally entering migrants

      Greece will not accept for a month, beginning Sunday, any asylum applications from migrants entering the country illegally and, where possible, will immediately return them to the country they entered from, Greece’s government spokesman Stelios Petsas announced Sunday.

      The announcement was made at the conclusion of a cabinet meeting on national security.

      Greece will also ask the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, to engage in a rapid border intervention to protect Greece’s borders, which are also EU’s borders, Petsas said.

      The above decisions will be communicated to the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council so that Greece can benefit from temporary measures to face an emergency.

      Petsas said Turkey is violating its commitments from the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement and of becoming itself a trafficker instead of cracking down on them. He called the migrant movement “a sudden, massive, organized and coordinated pressure from population movements in its eastern, land and sea, borders.”

      Charles Michel, President of the European Council, tweeted a few minutes ago:

      “Support for Greek efforts to protect the European borders. Closely monitoring the situation on the ground. I will be visiting the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday with @PrimeministerGR Mitsotakis.”


      http://www.ekathimerini.com/250097/article/ekathimerini/news/greece-freezes-asylum-applications-from-illegally-entering-migrants

      #procédure_d'asile

    • Griechenland setzt Asylrecht für einen Monat aus

      Der Lage an der griechisch-türkischen Grenze spitzt sich weiter zu: Nun kündigte der griechische Ministerpräsident an, dass sein Land für einen Monat keine neuen Anträge auf Asyl annehmen werde.

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-griechenland-setzt-asylrecht-fuer-einen-monat-aus-a-14421c7e-80

    • Clashes as thousands gather at Turkish border to enter Greece

      EU border agency Frontex on high alert as Turkish president keeps crossings open.

      Migrants trying to reach Europe have clashed violently with Greek riot police as Turkey claimed more than 76,000 people were now heading for the EU as a result of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to open the Turkish side of the border.

      Officers fired teargas at the migrants, some of whom threw stones and wielded metal bars as they sought to force their way into Greece at the normally quiet crossing in the north-eastern town of Kastanies.

      As the situation escalated, Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, fuelled the anxiety in Greece and Bulgaria, which also shares a border with Turkey, by tweeting on Sunday morning that 76,385 refugees had left his country through Edirne, a province bordering the two EU member states. He provided no evidence pto support the claim.

      The UN’s International Organization for Migration had said earlier in the day that at least 13,000 people had gathered by Saturday evening at the formal border crossing points at Pazarkule and İpsala, among others, in groups of between several dozen and more than 3,000. The majority were said to have been from Afghanistan.

      Greek police confirmed that at least 500 people had arrived by sea on the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos near the Turkish coast within a few hours.

      The Greek government said on Sunday evening that it would suspend EU asylum law to implement summary deportations over the next month, a fix allowed within the treaties.

      Earlier in the day the government in Athens had sent a mass text message to all international numbers in the border region appealing for people to stay away. “From the Hellenic Republic: Greece is increasing border security to level maximum,” read the message in English. “Do not attempt illegally to cross the border.”

      The EU’s border protection agency, Frontex, said it was on high alert and had deployed extra support to Greece, as the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, held a meeting of his national security council.

      “We … have raised the alert level for all borders with Turkey to high,” a Frontex spokeswoman said. “We have received a request from Greece for additional support. We have already taken steps to redeploy to Greece technical equipment and additional officers.”

      The Greek government accused Turkey of orchestrating a “coordinated and mass” attempt to breach the country’s borders by encouraging thousands of asylum seekers to illegally cross them.

      Mitsotakis said he would visit the land border Greece shares with Turkey along the Evros river alongside Charles Michel, the European Council president, on Tuesday. “Once more, do not attempt to enter Greece illegally – you will be turned back,” Mitsotakis said after the national security council meeting.

      Along the north-eastern mainland border, some people waded across a shallow section of the Evros river to the Greek side. Witnesses said there were groups of up to 30, including an Afghan woman with a five-day-old infant.

      Erdoğan opened his western border after an airstrike on Thursday night in Syria’s Idlib province killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers recently deployed to support the Syrian opposition.

      The deaths came as fighting in north-west Syria between Turkish-backed rebels and Russian-backed Syrian government forces escalated, raising the risk of the two regional powers being brought into direct confrontation.

      The Turkish president had repeatedly said he would break his country’s deal with Brussels to prevent migrants entering the EU unless he received greater support from the 27 member states for his intervention in Syria.

      Erdoğan said in a speech on Saturday that he had no intention of rethinking his decision. “What did we say? If this continues, we will be forced to open the doors,” he told a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development party.

      “They did not believe what we said. What did we do yesterday? We opened our border. The number of people crossing the doors to Europe reached around 18,000 by Saturday morning, but today the number could reach 25 or even 30,000, and we will not close the passages during the period to come.”

      The EU has insisted it expects Ankara to abide by a €6bn (£5.2bn) deal signed in 2016, under which Turkey agreed to halt the flow of people to the EU in return for funds. Turkey hosts about 3.6 million refugees from Syria.

      The European council president, Charles Michel, spoke to Erdoğan on Saturday. “The EU is actively engaged to uphold the EU-Turkey statement and to support Greece and Bulgaria to protect the EU’s external borders,” he said in a statement.

      The Kremlin said on Sunday that it hoped Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan would hold talks in Moscow on Thursday or Friday. Istanbul police released Mahir Boztepe, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish edition of Sputnik, the Russian news website, on Sunday.

      Boztepe had been held for two hours as part of what the Ankara public prosecutor’s office said was an investigation into whether Sputnik had been involved in “degrading the Turkish people, the Turkish state, state institutions” and “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state”.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/01/thousands-gather-at-turkish-border-to-cross-into-greece#maincontent

    • Migrants : Erdogan ouvre sa frontière, la Grèce la ferme

      Mécontent du manque de soutien de l’UE, le président turc a mis à exécution vendredi sa menace de laisser passer des réfugiés.

      « Yunanistan ! » C’est avec ce cri de ralliement, qui désigne la Grèce en turc, que plusieurs centaines de réfugiés se sont amassés dès vendredi matin le long du fleuve Evros qui marque la frontière terrestre entre la Grèce et la Turquie. Très vite, les autorités grecques ont fermé le principal point de passage situé à Kastanies, alors que le chef d’état-major des armées se précipitait sur place pour annoncer l’arrivée d’hélicoptères et de renforts militaires pour empêcher toute incursion massive. Les menaces d’Erdogan d’ouvrir les vannes des flux migratoires, qui lui permettent depuis cinq ans de souffler le chaud et le froid vis-à-vis de l’Europe, ont donc été mises à exécution. Furieux du peu de soutien de l’Occident après la perte de 33 soldats jeudi en Syrie, Erdogan a joué la pression sur le point faible de l’UE. Et un simple effet d’annonce a suffi pour ressusciter le spectre d’un remake de 2015, lorsque la Grèce, et l’Europe, avaient dû faire face à un afflux massif de réfugiés, considéré comme le plus important mouvement de population depuis 1945.
      Promesse

      Et pour Athènes, cette menace réactualisée ne pouvait tomber à un plus mauvais moment. Alors que la surpopulation des camps de réfugiés sur les îles grecques faisant face à la Turquie a déjà conduit à une situation explosive, cette semaine des affrontements d’une violence inédite ont eu lieu sur les îles de Lesbos et Chios. De véritables batailles rangées entre les forces de l’ordre et les populations locales, qui refusent la construction de nouveaux centres. Longtemps les habitants avaient pourtant fait preuve d’une générosité et d’une patience à toute épreuve. Mais l’inaction des autorités, qui ont laissé les camps se dégrader jusqu’à l’intolérable, et l’indifférence de l’Europe, qui a renié sa promesse de partager le fardeau migratoire, ont fini par provoquer la colère populaire sur les îles. Et c’est dans ce climat toxique que la Turquie fait soudain basculer le fragile dispositif censé contenir les réfugiés aux portes de l’Europe.

      En réalité, le deal conclu en 2016 entre Ankara et l’Union européenne avait dès le départ tout d’un marché de dupes, sacrifiant de facto la Grèce, chargée de jouer les zones tampons en confinant les nouveaux arrivants sur les îles. Or les flux n’ont jamais totalement cessé. Ils sont même repartis à la hausse en 2019, avec plus de 70 000 arrivées depuis les côtes turques, faisant à nouveau de la Grèce la principale porte d’entrée en Europe.

      En comparaison, les mouvements observés dans la journée de vendredi n’avaient rien d’impressionnant dans l’immédiat : quelques centaines de réfugiés regroupés le long de l’Evros, certes, mais seulement deux canots pneumatiques ont accosté dans la journée de vendredi dans le petit port de Skala Sikaminia, dans le nord de Lesbos. Le premier transportait une quinzaine de personnes, le second une cinquantaine. Alors que pour le seul mois de janvier, 3 136 réfugiés avaient débarqué à Lesbos.

      Mais le vrai sujet d’inquiétude est ailleurs. « Le problème, ce n’est pas seulement que la Turquie annonce qu’elle ne surveille plus ses frontières. Ce qui est plus grave, et totalement nouveau, c’est que les autorités turques semblent organiser et encadrer ces départs vers la Grèce », souligne un humanitaire joint à Athènes. Toute la journée de vendredi, les médias turcs ont ainsi relayé les images de réfugiés invités à monter dans des bus, mis spécialement à disposition pour eux, et qui les ont conduits de la périphérie d’Istanbul jusqu’à la frontière grecque. Au même moment, plusieurs chaînes de télévision, dont la version turque de CNN, filmaient d’autres réfugiés se rassemblant sur des plages pour grimper tranquillement dans un canot pneumatique en partance vers la Grèce, comme pour une banale balade en mer. « Du jamais-vu. En 2015, au moins, la Turquie prétendait ne pas voir et ne pas pouvoir contenir les flux en partance vers la Grèce », soulignait vendredi un internaute grec.
      Horizon

      Par ailleurs, la crise syrienne, qui sert de prétexte à la Turquie pour rompre le statu quo migratoire, a pour l’instant motivé non pas les innombrables réfugiés du pays qu’elle accueille à quitter son sol, mais en priorité des Afghans, à l’image de ceux arrivés en canots vendredi à Lesbos. Sur cette île, où se trouvent près de 20 000 réfugiés, nombreux sont ceux qui dans les prochains jours guetteront l’horizon avec inquiétude. Et d’ores et déjà, les habitants ont noté un fait révélateur : vendredi, Athènes comme Bruxelles sont restés très discrets. Comme si les deux principaux interlocuteurs d’Ankara étaient totalement tétanisés. Sans aucune stratégie face à un voisin pourtant notoirement imprévisible.

      https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2020/02/28/migrants-erdogan-ouvre-sa-frontiere-la-grece-la-ferme_1780087

    • Schreie der Verzweiflung am Grenzzaun

      Rund 15.000 Migranten stehen am türkisch-griechischen Grenzübergang inzwischen den Polizisten gegenüber. Die griechischen Beamten treiben die Geflüchteten mit Tränengas zurück. Premier Mitsotakis bittet um Hilfe von Frontex.

      Die Migranten, die am Samstag durch die Straßen auf der griechischen Seite der Grenze zur Türkei laufen, haben es eilig. „Wir wollen nach Deutschland“, sagt eine Frau aus Algerien. Sie ist mit drei Männern unterwegs, in der Nacht haben sie den Evros überquert, der Fluss markiert die Grenze zwischen Türkei und EU. Ihre Kleidung ist noch nass. Jetzt haben sie Angst, von der griechischen Polizei oder dem Militär festgenommen zu werden. So wie 66 andere Geflüchtete, die es auf griechischen Boden geschafft hatten.

      Der Grenzposten Kastanies ist zum Mittelpunkt eines Kräfteringens zwischen Türkei und Griechenland geworden. Nach SPIEGEL-Informationen schätzen Behörden, dass inzwischen 15.000 Migranten in der Nähe ausharren. Am Samstag versuchten immer wieder Gruppen von Migranten den Grenzzaun zu überwinden, auf Videos sind ihre Schreie der Verzweiflung zu hören. Die griechische Polizei setzte Tränengas ein, um sie daran zu hindern. 4000 Grenzübertritte verhinderte sie nach eigenen Angaben.

      Einige Hundert Migranten wateten durch den Evros, um die griechische Seite zu erreichen. Andere waren in der Pufferzone zwischen dem türkischen und dem griechischen Grenzposten gefangen. Vor ihnen: Stacheldraht und griechische Grenzschützer.

      Der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan bekräftigte am Samstag in Istanbul noch einmal, was schon am Freitag offensichtlich war: „Wir haben die Tore geöffnet“, sagte er. Es ist das faktische Ende des Flüchtlingsdeals zwischen der Europäischen Union und der Türkei.

      Sein Land könne so viele Flüchtlinge nicht versorgen, sagte Erdogan. Außerdem habe Europa seine Versprechen gebrochen. Die Türkei spricht von 35.000 Migranten, die es bereits nach Europa geschafft hätten. Das ist wohl übertrieben, wahrscheinlich waren es bisher nur ein paar Hundert.

      Erdogan hatte die Anweisung am Donnerstagabend erteilt, nachdem bei Kämpfen in Idlib mindestens 36 türkische Soldaten gestorben waren. Im Syrienkrieg hat er sich in eine Sackgasse manövriert. Wenn er noch eine Chance haben will, die türkische Einflusszone im Norden Syriens zu sichern, braucht er nun amerikanische oder europäische Unterstützung.

      Dass die Europäer sich noch in den schon neun Jahre andauernden Bürgerkrieg einmischen wollen, ist unwahrscheinlich. Mit der Grenzöffnung versucht Erdogan nun, die EU zu Konzessionen zu zwingen.

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/tuerkei-schickt-fluechtlinge-nach-europa-schreie-der-verzweiflung-am-grenzza

    • Réfugiés : « La Turquie se sert des Syriens pour faire pression sur l’UE »

      La Turquie a annoncé vendredi qu’elle n’assurait plus le contrôle de ses frontières européennes, ajoutant qu’elle ne souhaitait pas accueillir davantage de réfugiés sur son territoire. Les télévisions turques ont filmé desmilliers de Syriens se mettant en route vers la Grèce. Face au chantage d’Ankara, l’UE craint une nouvelle crise migratoire, comme avant 2016.

      « La Turquie n’est plus en mesure de retenir les réfugiés souhaitant se rendre en Europe », a affirmé vendredi 28 février le porte-parole du Parti de la Justice et du Développement (AKP). Cette déclaration intervient dans un contexte particulier : la nuit précédente, 33 soldats turcs ont été tué dans le bombardement d’un bâtiment dans la région d’Idlib.

      Militairement présente dans cette région, la Turquie soutient les rebelles syriens, alors que Bachar Al-Assad tente de récupérer cet ultime bastion rebelle avec l’aide de la Russie. Ces dernières semaines, il a ainsi reconquis près de la moitié de la province, entraînant des mouvements de population qui tentaient de fuir les bombardements. Au total, depuis décembre 2019, l’offensive du régime de Damas a engendré le déplacement de plus de 900 000 Syriens.

      De son côté, la Turquie, qui accueille sur son territoire 3,6 millions de réfugiés syriens, maintient fermée sa frontière avec la Syrie. Ses frontières européennes, en revanche, ne sont désormais plus contrôlées. « Le pays ne souhaite pas accueillir davantage de réfugiés sur son territoire et, aucune sortie de conflit n’étant en vue à Idlib, elle ouvre ses frontières aux réfugiés et facilite leur passage vers l’UE, ce qui s’appelle du chantage », estime une chercheuse indépendante basée en Turquie, sous couvert d’anonymat.

      « La Turquie se sert de nouveau des Syriens pour faire pression sur l’UE », poursuit-elle. « Certains Syriens sont choqués d’être ainsi utilisés et disent qu’ils ne vont pas être manipulés par les Turcs, alors que d’autres saisissent cette opportunité pour fuir la Turquie où les conditions de vie sont de plus en plus précaires. » Depuis l’annonce d’Ankara, des centaines de réfugiés ont pris la direction de la Bulgarie et de la Grèce. « Beaucoup sont sur le départ, tout le monde veut tenter sa chance. Les gens se rendent à Edirne et dans les ports maritimes. Des bus gratuits sont mis à leur disposition et de plus en plus de bateaux partent. »

      “Ce ne sont pas tant les intérêts des réfugiés qui sont au cœur de la question, mais ceux de la Turquie, ou plutôt ceux de sa classe dirigeante.”

      Cette instrumentalisation de la question migratoire de la part de l’AKP n’est pas nouvelle. « Ce ne sont pas tant les intérêts des réfugiés qui sont au cœur de la question, mais ceux de la Turquie, ou plutôt ceux de sa classe dirigeante », explique Juliette Tolay, professeure de Sciences politiques à l’Université de Penn State Harrisburg. Elle ajoute que le Président turc Recep Tayyip Erdoğan menace régulièrement de rouvrir la frontières turque à des fins diverses : accélérer la libéralisation des visas pour les citoyens turcs, éviter toute critique sur le référendum constitutionnel de 2017 ou obtenir un soutien pour la création d’une zone de sécurité en Syrie.

      Dans un article du New York Times, Matina Stevis-Gridneff et Patrick Kingsley observent que les autorités locales ont acheté plusieurs milliers de billets, qu’elles ont aidé les réfugiés syriens à monter dans des autocars Mercedes et les ont conduits à la frontière. 

Tout cela a été filmé par les médias pro-gouvernement, précisent-ils, tandis que les chaînes de télévision ont retransmis en direct des scènes où l’on voit de familles se dirigeant vers les îles grecques, rappelant la crise de 2015.

      La situation évoque désormais celle précédant l’accord de 2016 entre l’UE et la Turquie, venant ainsi mettre unilatéralement fin à ce traité devenu moribond. Signé avec les 28 États membres de l’UE de l’époque, l’objectif de cet accord était de faire cesser l’arrivée quotidienne des migrants sur les îles grecques. Il prévoyait également, en échange d’un considérable soutien financier, le renvoi systématique de tous les migrants vers la Turquie. 

Le traité n’a pourtant pas empêché l’arrivée de migrants sur les îles de la mer Égée et, depuis cet été, le nombre de réfugiés est en hausse. Alors que les patrouilles turques étaient toujours présentes, certains chercheurs affirmaient que la Turquie laissait délibérément passer les réfugiés.

      Quelques heures après l’annonce de l’AKP, ce vendredi, des réfugiés tentant de se rendre en Grèce par voie terrestre se sont retrouvés coincés dans le no man’s land séparant les deux pays. Renforçant sa sécurité à la frontière de Kastanies, la police grecque a réprimé à coups de gaz lacrymogènes toute tentative de traversée. Le porte-parole du gouvernement Stelios Petsas a indiqué que la Grèce avait empêché 4000 migrants venant de Turquie d’entrer « illégalement » sur le territoire.

      Selon Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, depuis vendredi, 18 000 migrants auraient franchi les frontières de la Turquie pour se rendre en Europe.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Turquie-syriens-pression-UE

    • Réfugiés : catastrophe humanitaire en vue sur les frontières de la Grèce

      Depuis vendredi, des milliers de réfugiés tentent de passer la frontière terrestre entre la Turquie et la Grèce, avec le soutien d’Ankara qui joue cette carte pour faire pression sur l’Union européenne. Des réfugiés débarquent aussi sur les îles de la mer Égée, où la tension ne cesse de monter avec la population locale.

      Depuis que la Turquie a annoncé qu’elle n’était « plus en mesure de retenir les réfugiés souhaitant se rendre en Europe », vendredi 28 février, la Grèce est débordée à ses frontières. Au poste de Kastanies, dans la région de l’Evros (nord-est de la Grèce, sur la route d’Edirne), plus de 13 000 migrants sont arrivés durant le week-end depuis Istanbul pour tenter de passer. Un chiffre toutefois « gonflé » par la Turquie, qui utilise les réfugiés pour faire pression sur l’Union européenne. Des chaînes de télévision turques ont même diffusé des cartes du chemin à suivre pour se rendre en Europe...

      Vendredi, la Grèce a doublé ses patrouilles à la frontière terrestre et sur les îles de la mer Egée, face à la Turquie. Des drones ont été déployés à la frontière terrestre pour localiser les réfugiés et les avertir par haut-parleur que la frontière était fermée. Des SMS en anglais ont été envoyés sur tous les téléphones portables étrangers à la frontière : « Personne ne peut traverser les frontières grecques. Tous ceux qui tentent d’entrer illégalement sont dans les faits empêchés d’entrer ». L’agence européenne de contrôle des frontières Frontex a également annoncé avoir « redéployé de l’équipement technique et des agents supplémentaires en Grèce ».

      Les autorités grecques ont déclaré le lendemain avoir empêché « 9972 entrées illégales » dans la région de l’Evros, le long des 212 km de frontière terrestre avec la Turquie. « Personne ne venait d’Idlib, mais la plupart venaient d’Afghanistan, du Pakistan et de Somalie », ont précisé les autorités grecques, dénonçant le « chantage d’Ankara ».

      Dimanche, les autorités grecques ont annoncé avoir arrêté, dans la journée, 5500 migrants tentant de traverser illégalement la frontière. Depuis vendredi, des échauffourées ont lieu entre les forces de l’ordre et les migrants au poste-frontière de Kastanies, où des gaz lacrymogènes ont été tirés. Selon une source gouvernementale grecque, des gaz lacrymogènes auraient aussi été distribués par les autorités turques aux migrants pour les utiliser contre la police grecque. Le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés de l’Onu (HCR) a appelé « au calme et au relâchement des tensions à la frontière ». Mais dimanche, la situation restait tendue : un policier grec a été blessé et transporté à l’hôpital.

      Sur les îles, la tension monte

      Sur les îles grecques, alors que la situation semblait calme vendredi et samedi, au moins 500 migrants ont débarqué dimanche, en raison d’une météo favorable, sur l’île de Lesbos et près de 200 à Chios et Samos, selon l’Agence de presse grecque ANA. Dimanche, les gardes-côtes turcs ne répondaient plus à l’appel de leurs homologues grecs et laissaient passer les embarcations. Alors que le camp de Moria accueille déjà 19 000 personnes dans des conditions sordides et que les habitants de Lesbos s’opposent à la construction de nouveaux camps fermés, la tension a augmenté. Un groupe de personnes a notamment empêché un canot chargé d’environ 50 migrants de descendre à terre en leur criant de rentrer chez eux. Certains insulaires en colère s’en sont également pris aux journalistes, à un représentant du HCR et à des membres d’ONG. D’autres habitants ont bloqué l’accès d’autocars transportant des demandeurs d’asile vers le camp de Moria.

      En rompant de facto l’accord signé avec l’UE en mars 2016 pour lequel elle a perçu six milliards d’euros, et en laissant passer les réfugiés en Europe, la Turquie cherche à obtenir de l’UE et des membres de l’Otan leur soutien dans ses opérations militaires en Syrie. Dimanche, Joseph Borrell, haut-représentant pour les Affaires étrangères européennes, a annoncé la tenue extraordinaire d’un conseil des ministres des Affaires étrangères pour répondre à l’urgence de la situation et soutenir la Grèce et la Bulgarie. Selon son communiqué, « l’accord UE-Turquie doit être maintenu ».

      La procédure d’asile provisoirement suspendue

      En attendant, le Conseil grec de sécurité nationale, convoqué dimanche soir par le Premier ministre, a décidé le renforcement maximal de la garde des frontières orientales, tant terrestres que maritimes. Les forces de l’ordre et l’armée se chargent de refouler les migrants « illégaux » qui essaient d’entrer sur le territoire.

      La procédure d’asile a par ailleurs été suspendue pour une durée d’un mois. Ce qui signifie que ceux qui entrent « illégalement » en Grèce ne pourront pas y déposer une demande d’asile. Ils seront immédiatement expulsés, si possible dans leur pays d’origine, sans procédure préalable d’identification.

      Athènes a également demandé à Frontex de déployer ses unités RABIT pour protéger les frontières du pays, qui sont aussi de frontières de l’UE. Cette décision sera communiqué au Conseil des ministres des Affaires étrangères de l’UE, où la Grèce demandera la mise en application de l’article 78 paragraphe 3 de la Convention européenne, afin que, dans le cadre de la solidarité entre les États membres, des mesures provisoires de protection du territoire soient prises pour faire face à l’urgence.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/La-Grece-debordee-par-l-arrivee-de-milliers-de-migrants

    • Réfugiés : la #Bulgarie envoie la gendarmerie à la frontière turque

      La Bulgarie a dépêché vendredi la gendarmerie à sa frontière terrestre et maritime avec la Turquie, le Premier ministre Boïko Borissov évoquant le « danger réel » d’une pression migratoire, suite à la menace d’Ankara de ne plus retenir les candidats au départ.

      La Bulgarie a dépêché vendredi la gendarmerie à sa frontière terrestre et maritime avec la Turquie, le Premier ministre Boïko Borissov évoquant le « danger réel » d’une pression migratoire, suite à la menace d’Ankara de ne plus retenir les candidats au départ.

      M. Borissov s’est notamment inquiété devant des journalistes « du retrait des garde-frontières turcs » et dit attendre un entretien téléphonique avec le président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan. « Avec ce qui se passe, le danger est réel en ce moment : les gens fuient face aux missiles », a-t-il déclaré à Sofia, annonçant avoir déployé « tôt ce matin » des renforts.

      La Turquie accueille sur son territoire quelque 3,6 millions de Syriens ayant fui la guerre et craint l’arrivée de nouveaux réfugiés. Un haut responsable turc a assuré vendredi à l’AFP qu’Ankara n’empêchera plus ceux qui essaient de se rendre en Europe de franchir sa frontière, après la mort d’au moins 33 militaires turcs dans la région d’Idleb (nord-ouest de la Syrie) dans des frappes aériennes attribuées par Ankara au régime syrien.

      La Bulgarie partage 259 km de frontière terrestre clôturée avec la Turquie. Elle est membre de l’Union européenne (UE), mais pas de l’espace de libre circulation Schengen.

      En mars 2016, la Turquie et l’UE ont conclu un pacte migratoire qui a fait chuter drastiquement le nombre de passages vers l’Europe. Dans le passé, la Turquie a plusieurs fois menacé d’« ouvrir les portes » de l’Europe aux candidats à l’asile, les observateurs y voyant une manière de faire pression sur Bruxelles.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/fil-dactualites/280220/refugies-la-bulgarie-envoie-la-gendarmerie-la-frontiere-turque

    • Violations des droits humains à la frontière gréco-turque : l’Union européenne complice !

      Les expulsions d’exilé·e·s décidées par la Grèce, qui annonce vouloir les renvoyer non seulement vers la Turquie d’Erdogan mais même dans leur pays d’origine, sans aucun examen de leur situation et de leur besoin de protection, sont insupportables.

      La situation à la frontière gréco-turque est la conséquence de la politique de l’Union européenne fondée sur la fermeture des frontières, l’externalisation de l’asile et le marchandage avec des États sans scrupules.

      La xénophobie, le racisme et leur normalisation doivent être combattus partout où ils apparaissent, que ce soit en Turquie, en Grèce ou ailleurs. L’instrumentalisation de la vie des migrants, des demandeurs d’asile et des réfugiés réduite à une menace et à une monnaie d’échange doit cesser, tant dans les campagnes électorales nationales que dans les relations entre le gouvernement turc et l’UE.

      Les politiques de rejet qui poussent des milliers de personnes déjà déplacées dans les limbes et les régimes frontaliers qui provoquent le cycle sans fin de la violence à leur encontre doivent être abandonnées.

      Dans l’immédiat, les États membres doivent assurer la libre entrée des exilé·e·s nassé·e·s à la frontière grecque en attente de protection et de soins et l’UE doit cesser de mobiliser Frontex pour les refouler.

      Ce que nous exigeons, c’est la paix, les droits et libertés fondamentaux de chaque personne en déplacement.

      Les frontières tuent, ouvrez les frontières !
      Arrêtez la guerre contre les réfugié·e·s et les migrant·e·s !
      La solidarité transnationale contre le racisme et la guerre !
      Liberté de circulation et d’installation pour tou·te·s !

      Nous appelons à des rassemblements de protestation partout où ce sera possible, et à Paris ce lundi 2 mars à 18 heures devant la représentation de la Commission européenne, 288, boulevard Saint-Germain, métro Assemblée nationale.

      http://www.migreurop.org/article2957

    • Entre crispation et la solidarité, l’UE en ordre dispersé sur la situation des migrants à la frontière greco-turque

      Tandis que certains pays européens prennent leurs dispositions à la perspective d’un nouvel afflux de migrants, d’autres appellent à la solidarité européenne. L’agence européenne de garde-frontières, Frontex, a déployé des dizaines d’agents en Grèce et réfléchit à muscler davantage ses opérations, à la demande d’Athènes.

      « Après que nous avons ouvert les portes, les coups de téléphone se sont multipliés, ils nous disent ’fermez les portes’. Je leur ai dit : ’C’est fait, c’est fini. Les portes sont désormais ouvertes. Maintenant, vous allez prendre votre part du fardeau’. » Dans un discours prononcé lundi 2 mars à Ankara, le président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan a sommé l’Europe de prendre ses responsabilités quant aux milliers de migrants massés à la frontière greco-turque depuis vendredi.

      En face, les réactions sont nombreuses, à commencer par la Grèce, première concernée, qui a envoyé l’armée à la frontière et a annoncé la suspension de toute demande d’asile, en vertu de l’article 78.3 du Traité sur le fonctionnement de l’Union européenne. En invoquant ce texte, le Premier ministre grec Kyriakos Mitsotakis veut s’assurer d’avoir « le soutien total » des Vingt-sept.

      Celui-ci n’a pas tardé. Dès samedi, la commissaire européenne Ursula von der Leyen avait indiqué que l’Union européenne (UE) observait avec « préoccupation » l’afflux de migrants depuis la Turquie vers ses frontières orientales, en Grèce et en Bulgarie. « Notre première priorité à ce stade est de veiller à ce que la Grèce et la Bulgarie reçoivent notre plein soutien. Nous sommes prêts à fournir un appui supplémentaire, notamment par l’intermédiaire de Frontex (l’agence européenne de garde-frontières) aux frontières terrestres », avait-elle affirmé dans un tweet.

      https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1233828575029186567?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      Dimanche, Frontex a répondu présent en déployant des renforts. « Nous (...) avons remonté le niveau d’alerte pour toutes les frontières avec la Turquie à ’élevé’ », a déclaré une porte-parole de l’agence européenne dans un communiqué. « Nous examinons d’autres moyens de soutenir les pays de l’UE frontaliers avec la Turquie », ajoute la porte-parole qui précise que l’agence suivait également de très près la situation à Chypre, un membre de l’UE dont la partie nord est contrôlée par la Turquie mais qui n’est pas reconnue par quiconque sauf Ankara.

      https://twitter.com/Frontex/status/1234075394619400193?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      Actuellement, la plus grosse opération de Frontex se trouve dans les îles grecques avec 400 personnes sur le terrain, tandis qu’un petit groupe d’agents se trouve dans la région grecque d’Evros, à la frontière turque. Soixante agents sont également déployés en Bulgarie, selon Frontex.

      « Une menace à la stabilité de la région », selon la Bulgarie

      Bien que la frontière bulgare n’a connu aucun mouvement comparable à ceux en cours en Grèce, Sofia a pris les devant. Ainsi, le Premier ministre bulgare Boïko Borissov, dont le pays est voisin de la Turquie, doit rencontrer lundi à Ankara le président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan pour discuter de l’aggravation de la situation à Idleb et de l’afflux de migrants aux portes de l’UE.

      Boïko Borissov a déjà prévenu qu’un nouvel afflux de migrants clandestin constituait, selon lui « une menace à la stabilité de la région » alors même que l’Europe « peine à gérer l’épidémie de coronavirus ». La Bulgarie entretient des relations diplomatiques et économiques privilégiées avec son voisin turc. Les deux pays partagent plus de 250 kilomètres de frontière le long de laquelle Sofia a fait installer depuis 2016 une clôture pour bloquer les migrants.

      https://twitter.com/BoykoBorissov/status/1232666456283844608?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      La Bulgarie n’est pas la seule à avoir a fait un pas vers Ankara. Recep Tayyip Erdogan a indiqué, lundi, que des responsables européens - sans préciser lesquels - lui avaient proposé de se réunir avec lui pour un sommet « à quatre ou cinq » pays. Il a aussi déclaré avoir eu un entretien téléphonique avec la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel. L’Allemagne, de son côté, affirme que sa chancelière s’est entretenue avec son homologue bulgare et qu’ils ont convenu ensemble qu’il était nécessaire d’ouvrir le dialogue avec Ankara.

      Fidèle à ses positions conservatrices, l’Autriche a prévenu dès dimanche, par la voix de son ministre de l’Intérieur Karl Nehammer, qu’elle empêcherait tous les migrants clandestins d’entrer sur son territoire. Des déclarations qui font écho à celles prononcées en 2015 et 2016 au pic de la crise migratoire, lorsque l’Autriche servait principalement de pays de transit pour des milliers de migrants en provenance des Balkans qui souhaitaient atteindre l’Allemagne. « La Hongrie nous a assuré qu’elle ferait tout pour protéger ses frontières, tout comme la Croatie. Mais si des migrants arrivent quand même à passer, nous les stopperons », a expliqué Karl Nehammer qui se dit prêt à réinstaurer d’importants contrôles aux frontières comme ce fut le cas en 2015-2016.

      « La Hongrie n’ouvrira ou ne laissera passer personne », a déclaré pour sa part Gyorgy Bakondi, conseiller du Premier ministre nationaliste Viktor Orban. Des renforts policiers et militaires ont été envoyés aux frontières du pays qui avait vu, lui aussi, transiter des dizaines de milliers d’exilés en 2015-2016.

      Autre pays de transit, la Macédoine du nord qui voit le nombre de migrants à sa frontière en augmentation ces derniers mois, se dit prête à faire face à un nouvel afflux. Sa position est de demeurer « un pays de transit » en n’autorisant les migrants à rester sur le sol macédonien que 72 heures, a rappelé lundi le Premier ministre Oliver Spasovski. Se voulant rassurant, celui-ci affirme que la situation est sous contrôle et que la communication avec la Grèce à cet égard était fluide.

      https://denesen.mk/spasovski-nema-da-ima-nov-migrantski-bran-kje-prodolzi-dogovorot-pomegju-eu-

      « Nous devons agir ensemble pour éviter une crise humanitaire et migratoire », dit Paris

      Le président français Emmanuel Macron assure, de son côté, que « la France est prête à contribuer aux efforts européens pour prêter [à la Grèce et à la Bulgarie] une assistance rapide et protéger les frontières. » Et le dirigeant français d’appeler à la solidarité de tous : « Nous devons agir ensemble pour éviter une crise humanitaire et migratoire », a-t-il lancé dans un tweet.

      https://twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron/status/1234233225700048900?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      Même discours d’appel à la solidarité pour la Croatie, située sur la route migratoire des Balkans et qui a récemment pris pour six mois la présidence tournante de l’UE : « La Croatie se tient aux côtés de la Grèce et la Bulgarie pour protéger les frontières de l’Europe. Nous exprimons notre pleine solidarité et nous tenons prêts à intervenir si besoin », a déclaré le gouvernement croate sur Twitter.

      https://twitter.com/MVEP_hr/status/1234134767328747529?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      Reste que l’UE n’a jamais réussi à parler d’une seule voix depuis le début de la crise migratoire en 2015. Bruxelles appelle à une réunion d’urgence des ministres européens des Affaires étrangères afin de décider des prochaines étapes dans cette affaire. Le président du Conseil européen Charles Michel se rendra dans la région d’Evros à la frontière turque mardi aux côtés du Premier ministre grec Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

      https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1234188948735430656?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12
      Les Nations unies ont appelé dimanche au calme et à la retenue : « Les États ont certes le droit légitime de contrôler leurs frontières et de gérer les mouvements irréguliers, mais ils devraient se retenir d’user d’une force excessive et disproportionnée et mettre en place un système permettant de faire une demande d’asile de manière ordonnée », a écrit un porte-parole du Haut commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR), Babar Baloch, dans un email à l’AFP. Le HCR appelle également les demandeurs d’asile à « respecter la loi et se retenir de créer des situations perturbant l’ordre public et la sécurité aux frontières et ailleurs ».

      La Turquie accueille sur son sol plus de quatre millions de réfugiés et migrants, en majorité des Syriens, et affirme qu’elle ne pourra pas faire face seule à un nouvel afflux, alors que près d’un million de personnes fuyant les violences à Idleb sont massées à sa frontière. L’Organisation internationale des migrations (OIM) a annoncé samedi soir que quelque 13 000 migrants s’étaient amassés à la frontière gréco-turque, dont des familles avec de jeunes enfants qui ont passé la nuit dans le froid. Environ 2 000 personnes supplémentaires sont arrivées au poste-frontière de Pazarkule (Turquie) dimanche, dont des Afghans, des Syriens et des Irakiens, a constaté un journaliste de l’AFP.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/23128/entre-crispation-et-la-solidarite-l-ue-en-ordre-disperse-sur-la-situat

    • Le quotidien grec Efimerida tôn Syntaktôn a publié le communiqué de l’armée qui dit en somme que le 4ième corps de l’Armée fera un exercice avec des tirs à balles réelles à diverses région frontalières dont la forêt de Kastanies et l’endroit dit Gefyra Koipôn (Pont des Jardins) :
      Βολές με πραγματικά πυρά στον Έβρο την Καθαρά Δευτέρα

      Ξεκάθαρο μήνυμα με συγκεκριμένους αποδέκτες έστειλαν οι ελληνικές ένοπλες δυνάμεις, το βράδυ της Κυριακής, ανακοινώνοντας πως το Δ’ Σώμα Στρατού θα προχωρήσει σε βολές με πραγματικά πυρά, την Καθαρά Δευτέρα, 2 Μαρτίου καθ΄ όλη τη διάρκεια του 24ώρου στην περιοχή του Έβρου.

      Η ανακοίνωση γίνεται τη στιγμή που χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες βρίσκονται στα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα και επιδιώκουν να εισέλθουν σε ελληνικό έδαφος, και ενώ το ΚΥΣΕΑ αποφάσισε (μεταξύ άλλων) την « αναβάθμιση σε μέγιστο επίπεδο των μέτρων φύλαξης των ανατολικών, χερσαίων και θαλάσσιων, συνόρων της χώρας από τα σώματα ασφαλείας και τις ένοπλες δυνάμεις για την αποτροπή παράνομων εισόδων στη χώρα ».

      Επίσης, στην ανακοίνωση γίνεται σαφής αναφορά για βολές « ευθυτενούς τροχιάς με πολυβόλα, τυφέκια και πιστόλια με πραγματικά πυρά », ενώ υπάρχει ξεκάθαρη προειδοποίηση πως « απαγορεύεται κάθε κίνηση ή παραμονή ατόμων... για αποφυγή ατυχημάτων ».

      Η ανακοίνωση

      Το Δ΄ ΣΩΜΑ ΣΤΡΑΤΟΥ ανακοινώνει ότι, από την 02 Μαρτίου 2020 και καθόλη τη διάρκεια του 24ώρου, θα εκτελούνται βολές ευθυτενούς τροχιάς με πολυβόλα, τυφέκια και πιστόλια με πραγματικά πυρά, σε όλη την παρέβρια περιοχή όπως παρακάτω :

      Επικίνδυνες περιοχές είναι αυτές , που περικλείονται από τα σημεία : α. ΕΦ Διλόφου – Λυκόνησος – Μουσμουλιές – ΕΦ Μαρασίων .β. ΕΦ Μαρασίων -Δάσος Καστανιών – ΕΦ 1- Περιοχή αποτρεπτικού εμποδίου- ΕΦ 5 – Πράσινη Πόρτα.γ. Πράσινη Πόρτα- ΕΦ 10- ΕΦ Γέφυρας Πυθίου.δ. ΕΦ Γέφυρας Πυθίου -ΕΦ Μαύρου Όγκου- ΕΦ 126- ΕΦ Σουφλίου-ΕΦΜανίτσας.ε. ΕΦ Μανίτσας -ΕΦ. Πλαγιές- Περιοχή Τυχερού- ΕΦ Γεμιστής- ΕΦ ΓέφυραΚήπων- ΕΦ Πετάλου- Αινήσιο Δέλτα.

      Στις παραπάνω περιοχές απαγορεύεται κάθε κίνηση ή παραμονή ατόμων, τροχοφόρων και ζώων κατά τις ώρες των βολών, για αποφυγή ατυχημάτων.

      Βλήματα μη εκραγέντα, που τυχόν θα βρεθούν, να μη μετακινηθούν και να ειδοποιείται άμεσα η πλησιέστερη Αστυνομική Αρχή.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/node/233421

    • Βολές με πραγματικά πυρά σε Έβρο και νησιά

      Βολές με πραγματικά πυρά, την Καθαρά Δευτέρα, καθ΄ όλη τη διάρκεια του 24ώρου στην περιοχή του Έβρου και σε περιοχές των νησιών του ανατολικού Αιγαίου ανακοίνωσε το Δ’ Σώμα Στρατού και η Ανώτατη Στρατιωτική Διοίκηση Εσωτερικού και Νήσων (ΑΣΔΕΝ).

      Οι ανακοινώσεις γίνονται τη στιγμή που πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες βρίσκονται στα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα (χερσαία και θαλάσσια) και επιδιώκουν να εισέλθουν σε ελληνικό έδαφος.

      Σύμφωνα με πηγές του στρατού, καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια του 24ώρου, θα εκτελούνται βολές (Έβρος) « ευθυτενούς τροχιάς με πολυβόλα, τυφέκια και πιστόλια με πραγματικά πυρά », ενώ υπάρχει ξεκάθαρη προειδοποίηση πως « απαγορεύεται κάθε κίνηση ή παραμονή ατόμων... για αποφυγή ατυχημάτων ».

      Στα νησιά, η ΑΣΔΕΝ ανακοίνωσε βολές « ευθυτενούς τροχιάς » στις θαλάσσιες περιοχές ανατολικά των νησιών του ανατολικού Αιγαίου από τη νήσο Σαμοθράκη μέχρι Μεγίστη.

      Στο μεταξύ, στη Λέσβο βρίσκεται εκτάκτως ο υφυπουργός Εθνικής Άμυνας, Αλκιβιάδης Στεφανής, προκειμένου να δει από κοντά την κατάσταση που έχει δημιουργηθεί.


      https://www.efsyn.gr/node/233432

    • Πρωτοφανής ποινικοποίηση της αίτησης ασύλου

      Σε ευθεία και κατάφωρη παραβίαση των διεθνών και ελληνικών νόμων περί ασύλου έχει προβεί η κυβέρνηση της Νέας Δημοκρατίας, με αφορμή τα γεγονότα που εξελίσσονται τις τελευταίες ημέρες στα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα.

      Εκτός, λοιπόν, από την αναστολή που αποφάσισε χθες (Κυριακή) το ΚΥΣΕΑ για την υποβολή των αιτήσεων ασύλου —ενέργεια για την οποία ήδη έχει εκφράσει την αντίθεσή της η Ύπατη Αρμοστεία του ΟΗΕ— η κυβέρνηση προχώρησε σε δίκη και καταδίκη των ανθρώπων που εισέρχονται παράνομα σε ελληνικό έδαφος.

      Όπως ανακοινώθηκε από την κυβέρνηση, σήμερα (Καθαρά Δευτέρα) πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες δικάστηκαν και καταδικάστηκαν σε τέσσερα έτη φυλάκισης, χωρίς αναστολή και 10.000 ευρώ χρηματική ποινή έκαστος. Μάλιστα, οι καταδικασθέντες μεταφέρθηκαν σε καταστήματα κράτησης.

      Μέχρι στιγμής δεν έχει γίνει γνωστός ο αριθμός των ανθρώπων που έχουν οδηγηθεί στις φυλακές. Πάντως, από τις 6 το πρωί του Σαββάτου ως τις 6 το απόγευμα της Καθαράς Δευτέρας, έχουν συλληφθεί 183 άτομα.

      Σημειώνεται πως ο ελληνικός νόμος 4636/2019 για τη διεθνή προστασία (άρθρο 46) που εφαρμόζει τις ευρωπαϊκές οδηγίες (άρθρα 8 και 9 Οδηγίας 2013/33/ΕΕ) είναι σαφής, όπως καταγράφεται παρακάτω :

      Σε κάθε περίπτωση, οι δίκες και οι καταδίκες προσφύγων και μεταναστών διαφοροποιούν εντελώς τη μέχρι στιγμής πολιτική των ελληνικών κυβερνήσεων, που ήταν να μην προχωρούν σε διώξεις ανθρώπων που θεωρείται ότι ανήκουν σε ευάλωτες ομάδες. Υπενθυμίζεται πως μέχρι σήμερα, οι διώξεις αφορούσαν μόνο τους διακινητές προσφύγων και μεταναστών.

      Σημειώνεται ότι σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες από τα νησιά, ο υπουργός Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου ενημέρωσε σήμερα τη δημοτική αρχή Χίου ότι έχουν παραχωρηθεί δημοτικό κτήριο στην οδό Λάδης και χώρος στα Καρδάμυλα, όπου θα κρατούνται οι νεοεισερχόμενοι και θα μεταφέρονται μέσα σε τρεις μέρες σε κλειστές δομές της ενδοχώρας.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/ellada/dikaiomata/233470_protofanis-poinikopoiisi-tis-aitisis-asyloy

      –-> Commentaire de Vicky Skoumbi :

      Criminalisation sans précédent de la demande d’asile

      D’après le quotidien grec Efimerida tôn Syntatktôn, le gouvernement grec ne s’est pas contenté de suspendre la procédure d’asile pour les nouveaux arrivants- suspension contre laquelle l’HCR a exprimé son opposition- mais il franchit un nouveau seuil dans la repression en procédant à des jugements et des condamnations de ceux qui entrent ‘illégalement’ dans le territoire grec. Le gouvernement a annoncé qu’aujourd’hui des réfugiés et des migrants ont été jugés dans un procès sans doute plus qu’expéditif, et condamnés à quatre ans de détention sans sursis et à 10.000 euros d’amende chacun. Les personnes ayant écopés ces peines ahurissantes ont été déjà transférées à des prisons. Pour l’instant on ignore combien furent condamnés. Toutefois on sait du samedi matin jusqu’à cet après-midi, 183 personnes ont été arrêtées à la frontière.

      Ces faits et gestes constituent une flagrante violation de la législation grecque, car selon la loi grecque 4636/2019 / article 46, pour la protection international, et conformément aux directives européennes (articles 8 et 9 de la directive 2013/33/UE, un ressortissant d’un pays tiers, demandeur d’asile, ne peut pas être détenu du fait qu’il est entré d’une façon irrégulière au pays, ou bien du fait qu’il y séjourne sans autorisation des autorités.

      Le Ministre de l’Immigration et de l’asile, aurait informé les autorités municipales de Chios qu’un immeuble municipal sera transformé en lieu de détention et les arrivants y seront détenus pour trois jours après lesquels ils seront transférés à des centres fermés de la Grèce continentale.

    • Commission pledges border guards, aid to Greece to tackle migrant surge

      The European Commission presented on Wednesday a six-point action plan to support Greece for border policing, that includes financial aid and beefing up #Frontex patrols in the Aegean and Evros, the northeastern border with Turkey.

      More than 10,000 migrants have been trying to breach the Greek border with Turkey after Ankara said last Thursday it would no longer try to halt illegal migration flows to Europe.

      “Greece faces an incredibly challenging situation, one that is completely unprecedented and this difficult task cannot fall on Greece alone. It is the responsibility of the whole of Europe,” Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said in a joint press conference with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in Brussels.

      Presenting the plan, Schinas said Frontex would launch two rapid border operations both on the land and sea border, that will include an additional 100 border guards and equipment.

      Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, is also preparing the deployment of one offshore patrol vessel, six coastal patrol vessels, two helicopters, one aircraft and three thermo-vision vehicles.

      Schinas said the Commission has also asked Frontex to coordinate a new return program for the quick return of “persons without the right to stay” to their countries of origin from Greece, making use of Frontex’s new mandate on returns.

      The EU will provide immediate financial assistance of 350 million euros to support increased reception capacity on the five Greek islands receiving the bulk of migrants, voluntary returns of migrants, and all the infrastructure needed to carry out screening procedures for health and security on the islands.

      The Commission will in addition propose an amended budget to make available a further 350 million euros, if needed.

      On Greece’s request the Commission also launched the civil protection mechanism through which Greece can receive additional medical staff and equipment, blankets and tents, Schinas added.

      At the same time, the EU agency for refugees, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), will accelerate the deployment of an additional number of around 160 case workers in Greece to support the process of asylum applications.

      The Commissioner also said the EU aims to strengthen regional cooperation by developing a coordinating mechanism with countries in the Western Balkan countries on migration.

      The plan will be introduced before the extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Office Ministers who will meet later on Wednesday.

      http://www.ekathimerini.com/250222/article/ekathimerini/news/commission-pledges-border-guards-aid-to-greece-to-tackle-migrant-surge

    • Ankara déploie un millier de policiers à la frontière avec la Grèce

      La Turquie a annoncé jeudi que 1 000 policiers « pleinement équipés » allaient être déployés à la frontière avec la Grèce. Ankara espère ainsi « empêcher » Athènes de « repousser » les migrants qui tentent d’entrer sur son territoire depuis près d’une semaine.

      Le bras de fer entre la Grèce et la Turquie continue à la frontière entre ces deux pays. Ankara a annoncé, jeudi 5 mars, le déploiement d’un millier de policiers, « pleinement équipés », le long du fleuve frontalier Evros (Meriç en turc) afin « d’empêcher » Athènes de « repousser » les migrants qui essayent de pénétrer sur son sol.

      La semaine dernière, la Turquie a ouvert ses frontières avec la Grèce pour laisser passer les migrants déjà présents sur son territoire. Depuis cette annonce, des dizaines de milliers de personnes se sont massées le long de la frontière terrestre entre la Turquie et la Grèce, essayant de passer par des postes frontaliers ou en traversant le fleuve. Certains ont fini par renoncer, comme l’a confié à InfoMigrants Khaled, un Palestinien reparti à Istanbul après avoir tenté en vain de rentrer sur le territoire grec.
      35 000 migrants empêchés d’entrer en Grèce

      Une guerre de communication fait rage entre les deux pays voisins. Athènes a annoncé avoir empêché ces derniers jours près de 35 000 migrants d’entrer « illégalement » sur son territoire. La Turquie accuse de son côté la Grèce d’avoir tué plusieurs migrants, ce qu’Athènes a démenti, rejetant des « fausses informations ». De plus, selon le ministre turc de l’Intérieur, Süleyman Soylu, les forces de sécurité grecques ont « blessé 164 personnes et tenté d’en repousser 4 900 sur le territoire turc ».

      Des migrants présents à la frontière et rencontrés par une équipe d’InfoMigrants sur place ont en effet expliqué avoir été repoussés par les Grecs « violemment ». Ils « utilisent du gaz lacrymogène et des grenades assourdissantes. L’un de mes camarades a même dû aller se faire soigner à l’hôpital pour une blessure reçue au bras », a déclaré Mounir, un migrant marocain.

      L’Union européenne a qualifié de « chantage » la décision prise par Ankara d’ouvrir ses frontières, au moment où la Turquie est en quête d’un appui occidental en Syrie.

      L’afflux de migrants vers la Grèce a réveillé en Europe la crainte d’une nouvelle crise migratoire semblable à celle qui a secoué le continent en 2015.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/23219/ankara-deploie-un-millier-de-policiers-a-la-frontiere-avec-la-grece
      #militarisation_des_frontières #police

      Localisation de #Pazarkule :


      –-> ce #poste-frontière se trouve dans le #triangle_de_Karaagac, un territoire attribué à la Grèce en 1923 par le traité de Lausanne et permettant au fleuve Evros de faire une incursion dans le territoire turc (https://visionscarto.net/evros-mur-inutile), soit là où la Grèce a construit un #mur en 2012...

    • La Grèce veut « renvoyer dans leurs pays » les migrants arrivés après le 1er mars

      Le ministre grec chargé des migrations a annoncé mercredi que les migrants arrivés sur les îles grecques depuis le 1er mars seraient transférés vers la ville de Serres, dans le nord du pays, au cours des prochains jours. « Notre objectif est de les ramener dans leurs pays », a-t-il affirmé.

      Les migrants qui sont arrivés illégalement en Grèce après le 1er mars 2020 seront transférés vers la ville de Serres, située dans le nord du pays, a annoncé le ministre chargé des migrations, Notis Mitarachi dans la soirée du 4 mars. Les autorités grecques prévoient, dans un second temps, de renvoyer ces nouveaux arrivants vers leurs différents pays d’origine.

      « Notre objectif est de les ramener dans leurs pays », a affirmé Notis Mitarachi à l’agence de presse Athens News. Il a par ailleurs ajouté que les personnes entrées dans le pays avant le 1er janvier 2019 et vivant sur les îles grecques seraient transférées sur le continent dans les prochains jours.

      Le 1er mars, la Grèce avait déjà annoncé qu’elle n’accepterait plus de nouvelles demandes d’asile pendant un mois.

      Suite à l’ouverture des frontières turques la semaine dernière, plusieurs centaines de migrants ont réussi à entrer illégalement en Grèce, la plupart en rejoignant les îles via la mer. Selon le gouvernement grec, près de 7 000 tentatives d’entrées illégales ont été empêchées en 24 heures dans la région et une vingtaine de migrants y ont été arrêtés, surtout originaires d’Afghanistan et du Pakistan, entre mercredi matin et jeudi matin.

      La Turquie, qui accueille déjà 3,7 millions de réfugiés syriens, a annoncé le 28 février qu’elle se désengageait d’un accord conclu en 2016 avec l’Union européenne et qu’elle n’empêcherait plus les migrants de quitter son territoire. Une manière de faire pression sur Bruxelles et d’obtenir soit davantage de moyens financiers pour prendre en charge les migrants, soit un soutien diplomatique à ses visées géopolitiques dans le conflit syrien, accusent la Grèce et l’Union européenne.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/23230/la-grece-veut-renvoyer-dans-leurs-pays-les-migrants-arrives-apres-le-1
      #01_mars_2020

    • Migrants : la Grèce accusée de recourir à la manière forte

      Refoulement en Turquie, utilisation de gaz lacrymogènes, confiscation de biens : la Grèce est accusée de recourir à la manière forte avec les migrants qui tentent d’entrer en Europe, et Ankara lui attribue même la mort de trois personnes.

      « Des soldats grecs (...) nous ont pris notre argent, nos téléphones. Il est arrivé la même chose à nos amis », raconte Resul,un jeune Afghan, rencontré par l’AFP le long de la longue frontière terrestre qui sépare la Turquie et la Grèce sur plus de 200 km.

      D’autres candidats malheureux à l’exil rencontrés sur les routes affirment qu’ils ont été rossés par les forces de l’ordre grecques, déjà montrées du doigt pour avoir utilisé des gaz lacrymogènes aux ogives potentiellement mortelles en cas de tir tendu sur une personne.

      Depuis que le président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan a ordonné l’ouverture des frontières pour laisser passer les migrants désireux de se rendre dans l’Union européenne, Athènes a complètement fermé sa frontière terrestre tout en déployant des forces le long du fleuve Evros.

      Les pratiques présumées de « push-back », qui consistent à repousser les personnes qui voudraient entrer sur un territoire sont dénoncées par plusieurs organisations internationales et des ONG, qui reprochent également au gouvernement grec de contrevenir au droit international et européen en décidant de suspendre les demandes d’asile pendant un mois.
      Etat de siège

      De source gouvernementale grecque, on assure qu’"il n’y a pas de refoulements". Le gouvernement « empêche l’entrée (sur son territoire ndlr), c’est tout à fait différent », a déclaré cette source à l’AFP.

      Parmi les mesures décidées par le conseil gouvernemental de sécurité nationale détaillées dans un acte législatif, figurent « l’arrestation, le transfert dans des centres de détention et le retour immédiat, si c’est possible dans leur pays d’origine, de tous ceux qui entrent illégalement dans le territoire grec ».

      « Le principe fondamental de non-refoulement » stipule que « personne ne peut être renvoyé dans un pays où sa vie ou sa liberté seraient en péril », a souligné mardi Stella Nanou, la responsable de l’Agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) en Grèce, lors d’une visite au poste-frontière de Kastanies (Pazarkule côté turc).

      L’ONG allemande de défense des droits des réfugiés Pro Asyl a elle aussi tancé les autorités grecques, jugeant « illégaux » les renvois vers la Turquie « sans que les procédures d’asile n’aient été enclenchées ».

      A la frontière, la région reculée de terres agricoles et de villages assoupis offre le spectacle d’une zone en état de siège : camions militaires et véhicules de police quadrillent la zone du nord au sud et d’est en ouest.

      La Turquie accuse aussi les gardes-frontières grecs d’avoir tué trois migrants lors de heurts à la frontière, ce qu’Athènes a fermement démenti, rejetant des « fausses informations ».
      Chaussures et téléphones portables

      Des journalistes de l’AFP ont vu le long de la frontière des soldats grecs cagoulés embarquant des migrants dans des véhicules militaires. Certains réfugiés se trouvaient aussi à bord de fourgonnettes sans plaques d’immatriculation.

      Les policiers et les militaires ont systématiquement refusé d’indiquer la destination de ces personnes interpellées.

      « On les livre à la justice pour entrée illégale sur le territoire », se contente d’indiquer à l’AFP un policier qui refuse de décliner son identité, à Tychero, un bourg collé à la frontière.

      Des forces de l’ordre grecques sont également soupçonnées d’avoir dépouillé des réfugiés de leurs effets personnels.

      A Tychero, des paires de chaussures souillées de boue sont entassées à côté de l’entrée du poste de police, ainsi que des téléphones portables. De l’autre côté de la frontière, des migrants marchent pieds nus et affirment que les policiers grecs leur ont pris leurs chaussures.

      Quand ils parviennent à entrer en Grèce, les migrants sont livrés à eux-mêmes. A la différence des îles de la mer Egée, aucune organisation humanitaire n’est déployée dans cette vaste région.

      https://www.lepoint.fr/monde/migrants-la-grece-accusee-de-recourir-a-la-maniere-forte-05-03-2020-2365952_

    • La Grèce veut dissuader les exilés de franchir ses frontières

      Depuis l’annonce d’Ankara concernant l’ouverture de la frontière, la Grèce et la Turquie mènent une véritable bataille de la communication : bataille de chiffres, accusations d’exactions, dénonciations de propagande. Côté grec, le ton redouble de fermeté.

      Lesbos (Grèce), de notre envoyée spéciale.– Les rafales de vent fouettent les visages sur le port bétonné de Mytilène, à Lesbos. Les côtes turques, à une dizaine de kilomètres, sont noyées dans la brume ce mercredi.

      Derrière des barrières gardées par des policiers, ils sont près de 560 migrants, majoritairement venus d’Afghanistan et de pays d’Afrique. Depuis des heures, ils guettent l’arrivée d’un bateau qui viendrait les extirper de l’île grecque.

      Peu d’informations circulent sur ces passagers, ce matin-là. Les quelques journalistes autorisés à observer cette scène sous haute surveillance n’ont pas le droit de leur parler. « Pour éviter tout mouvement de foule », explique d’un ton ferme un policier.

      On sait seulement que ces migrants en quête d’Europe sont les derniers à avoir accosté à Lesbos. Ils ont pris la mer à bord d’une dizaine de bateaux pneumatiques depuis la Turquie les 1er, 2 et 3 mars, encouragés par l’annonce de l’ouverture de la frontière par Ankara.

      Isolés dès leur arrivée, les réfugiés n’ont pas fait escale dans le camp surchargé de l’île, Moria, où s’entassent déjà 20 000 migrants dans l’attente de leur traitement d’asile.

      L’imposante frégate militaire s’approche du port en fin de matinée. Elle amarre. Elle devrait embarquer les réfugiés puis prendre le chemin de Serres dans le nord de la Grèce. Mais là-bas, la colère des habitants gronde déjà contre leur venue. Les réfugiés ne le savent pas encore, mais Serres ne sera peut-être qu’une escale.

      « Notre but est de les renvoyer dans leur pays », a révélé le ministre de l’immigration, Notis Mitarachi à l’agence Reuters mercredi, en évoquant l’ensemble des quelque 1 500 exilés arrivés sur les îles depuis le 1er mars.

      Le sort de ces passagers illustre la politique de dissuasion voulue par la Grèce, qui qualifie d’« invasion » et de « menace asymétrique » le déplacement de migrants à ses portes depuis l’annonce par Ankara de l’ouverture de cette frontière, jeudi 27 février. Le message se veut clair. Il n’y aura pas d’accueil pour les nouveaux exilés dans ce pays redevenu en 2019 la première porte d’entrée de l’Europe pour les demandeurs d’asile, qui peine à traiter les quelque 60 000 requêtes déjà en cours.

      La campagne de communication du gouvernement grec a commencé dès vendredi par l’envoi de renforts de police et de l’armée à sa frontière terrestre, dans le nord-est, dans le nome de l’Évros. Il faut dissuader les 12 000 migrants massés du côté turc de la frontière.

      Les images de l’afflux de soldats, puis du chef d’état-major grec et du ministre de la protection du citoyen, Michalis Chryssochoidis, en visite ce jour-là dans la ville-frontière de Kastanies, ont fait le tour des télévisions grecques. La tournée de ces hauts responsables a pour objectif d’envoyer un message fort. « La Grèce est un pays sûr. La Grèce protège les frontières », martèle le ministre.

      La frontière grecque est bien fermée : ce refrain est aussi repris par le premier ministre conservateur Kyriakos Mitsotákis. Le 1er mars, il annonçait également la suspension, à compter de cette date, du dépôt des demandes d’asile pour toutes les personnes arrivées illégalement en Grèce. Une décision illégale, dénoncent de nombreuses ONG, et contraire au droit international selon le Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR).

      Les autorités grecques, qui dénoncent un « chantage » d’Ankara, ont également annoncé le renvoi systématique des migrants vers leurs pays, la demande de déploiement de la force de réaction rapide (Rabit) de la force européenne Frontex à sa frontière puis le soutien de l’UE « par tous les moyens possibles ».

      Kostas Moutzouris, gouverneur local des îles du nord de l’Égée, assume ce qu’il qualifie de politique de « dissuasion » du gouvernement grec. Droit dans son bureau qui surplombe le port de Mytilène, l’homme populaire à Lesbos précise lui aussi « qu’il faut décourager ces gens de venir ».

      « Les habitants ici étaient solidaires, mais ils n’en peuvent plus, il y a trop de monde », insiste le politicien de droite. « [Le président turc] Erdogan fait de la propagande de l’autre côté, il incite les migrants à venir jusqu’aux frontières depuis Constantinople [Istanbul – ndlr] et d’autres villes du pays. Ils sont pour l’instant dans le nord de la Grèce, à l’Évros, mais comme ils ne peuvent pas passer, ils commenceront à descendre vers la frontière maritime face aux îles », croit-il.

      Les deux pays se livrent une guerre de communication. Les autorités grecques accusent Ankara d’inciter les migrants à venir et de les escorter jusqu’aux eaux grecques. « Le transport [de migrants] est organisé gratuitement jusqu’à la frontière, accompagnés par l’armée turque », a expliqué mercredi 4 mars le porte-parole du gouvernement grec, Stelios Petsas, au cours d’un point presse.

      Il affirme que « des SMS [sont] reçus par les migrants sur leurs téléphones portables au sujet des frontières prétendument ouvertes… [que] la télévision d’État turque […] a diffusé une carte avec des itinéraires vers la région d’Évros et la côte ». De son côté, Ankara nie et affirme qu’Athènes tire à balles réelles sur les réfugiés aux frontières terrestre et maritime. La Grèce dément.

      Une vidéo datant de début mars a fait le tour des réseaux sociaux, relayée par les autorités turques. On y voit un bateau pneumatique de migrants en mer Égée, et une vedette qui fonce à toute vitesse faisant tanguer le zodiac. On y entend les cris des passagers apeurés, puis des tirs de sommation, visant à repousser l’embarcation, au large de Lesbos, d’après Ankara.

      « J’ignore si ce contenu est authentique, avoue Kostas Moutzouris. Mais si c’est avéré, cela ne me paraît pas étrange : il faut dissuader les gens de venir, ces hommes [garde-côtes – ndlr] ne tirent pas sur les réfugiés, mais en l’air pour les dissuader. Les migrants ne doivent pas passer et les militaires grecs feront tout pour qu’ils ne viennent pas. »

      Mercredi 4 mars, des heurts entre migrants et forces de l’ordre grecques à la frontière terrestre ont aussi fait six blessés en raison de « tirs à balles réelles », affirme le gouvernement local turc, qui précisait qu’un migrant était mort de ses blessures.

      Mohamed Al Arab avait 22 ans et était originaire d’Alep, rapporte Le Parisien. Le gouvernement grec, lui, « dément catégoriquement » ces tirs. « La police grecque n’a pas tiré, maintient M. Moutzouris, mais malheureusement cela ne serait pas surprenant que la situation dérape. »

      Une enquête vidéo (visible ci-dessous en anglais) de Forensic Architecture – laboratoire d’investigation pluridisciplinaire avec qui Mediapart a déjà travaillé – sur le meurtre de #Mohamed_Al_Arab contredit la version des autorités grecques.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/050320/la-grece-veut-dissuader-les-exiles-de-franchir-ses-frontieres

    • #Forensic_Architecture releases video confirming murder of Syrian refugee on Greek border

      London-based research group Forensic Architecture has released an investigative video yesterday debunking Greek government’s claims of fake news over the killing of Syrian refugee #Muhammad_al-Arab by Greek fire on the country’s land border with Turkey.

      Twenty-two-year-old al-Arab’s murder was first reported by journalist Jenan Moussa on 02 March on Twitter. Moussa shared videos of the incident and managed to track down al-Arab’s family in Istanbul, who confirmed his death. Greek government spokesperson Stelios Petsas immediately tweeted that the reports were fake news and “Turkish propaganda”, to which Moussa responded with a photo of al-Arab’s coffin.

      Reuters and other international media picked up the story of al-Arab’s death by Greek fire on the border, but local media’s silence on the issue has been deafening. For two days it was unclear whether a killing had actually taken place, with the government repeatedly denouncing reports as inaccurate.

      Last night, Forensic Architecture released a video of their research on al-Arab’s killing. The video confirms the time, date and location of videos shot by witnesses during the incident, using video metadata and comparing video footage with satellite images of the area. The video therefore proves that al-Arab was indeed killed by live ammunition on the Greek-Turkish border as he was trying to cross into Greece. You can watch the Forensic Architecture video here (warning: graphic content).

      This is not the first case Forensic Architecture investigates in Greece. The Turner-nominated group conducted research on the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, the lynching of Zak Kostopoulos, a shipwreck off the coast of Lesvos that resulted in the death of at least 43 people, and the extradiction of Turkish political asylum seekers by Greece. In September 2019, Forensic Architecture had its first solo exhibition in Greece at State of Concept in Athens.

      The killing of al-Arab is the result of escalating violence on the Greek side of the border and rampant racism among Greek citizens, fuelled by politicians and the media. On 02 March, the Greek armed forces announced that they would be using live ammunition on the land border with Turkey and the coast of Lesvos. Meanwhile, armed vigilante groups have emerged patrolling the border, in order to deter refugees from crossing. According to Die Linke and Twitter reports, these groups are joined by neonazi groups from Germany and Austria.

      Amnesty International has released a statement calling out Greece for betraying its human rights responsibilities and for putting people’s lives at risk, stating that Greece should do whatever possible to protect the arrival of asylum seekers to the country. The Greek section of Amnesty International has released a separate report, pointing out that the situation along the Greek-Turkish border is “a humanitarian crisis caused by Europe”, and that Greece should protect the right to asylum with support from the EU.

      Demonstrations in solidarity with refugees and against state violence and racism have been announced for today, Thursday 05 March, in various cities in Greece.

      http://und-athens.com/journal/fa-alarab-killing
      #assassinat #meurtre #preuves

    • Pourquoi les migrants bloqués à la frontière grecque évitent-ils la #Bulgarie ?

      Réputé pour faire la vie dure aux réfugiés, le pays est aussi protégé par les bonnes relations que son Premier ministre entretient avec le président turc, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      Dans le bras de fer migratoire qui oppose la Turquie à l’Union européenne (UE), un pays pourtant géographiquement en première ligne est resté jusqu’ici bien discret. Alors qu’environ 35 000 migrants ont tenté d’entrer en Grèce depuis la fin février d’après les autorités nationales, la situation à la frontière bulgare reste calme.

      Le 28 février, au lendemain de la décision du président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan de laisser passer les réfugiés cherchant à rejoindre l’Union européenne, le ministre bulgare de l’Intérieur, Mladen Marinov, s’est rendu au poste frontière de Kapitan Andreevo, situé à une vingtaine de kilomètres seulement du village grec de Kastaniès, pour constater « qu’aucune tentative de franchir la frontière [n’avait] été relevée, à l’exception de quelques cas isolés ». Depuis, la situation n’a pas évolué alors que migrants et réfugiés continuent à affluer à la frontière grecque.

      Ce contraste peut en partie s’expliquer par une réticence des réfugiés eux-mêmes à se rendre en Bulgarie, selon Miladina Monova, anthropologue à l’Académie des sciences bulgares et engagée dans l’aide aux migrants. « La situation est particulièrement difficile pour les migrants en Bulgarie, explique-t-elle. Depuis 2015, le message circule dans le milieu des réfugiés qu’il vaut mieux éviter de passer par ce pays car les risques d’être tabassé et dépouillé à la frontière sont particulièrement élevés. »

      Depuis 2016, Sofia a fait installer une clôture métallique équipée de détecteurs de mouvements le long des 250 kilomètres de frontière avec la Turquie. Le gouvernement défend une politique « zéro migration ». Ce mardi, le ministre bulgare de la Défense s’est même opposé à l’installation d’un camp de réfugiés provisoire dans le nord de la Grèce, à 45 km de la Bulgarie, estimant que « l’installation de migrants clandestins du côté grec, près de notre frontière, [créerait] les conditions d’une aggravation de la tension ».
      Violence aux frontières

      Les gardes-frontières bulgares sont effectivement réputés pour leurs pratiques violentes, consistant à repousser physiquement les migrants en dehors du territoire national. « L’usage excessif de la force et les vols par la police des frontières est toujours d’actualité. L’entrée irrégulière sur le territoire reste criminalisée, avec pour conséquence une détention administrative des migrants et réfugiés, y compris des enfants non-accompagnés », rappelle Amnesty international dans son dernier rapport sur la question, publié en 2018. En 2015, un migrant afghan est mort, tué par un coup de feu tiré par un garde-frontière, dans des circonstances qui n’ont toujours pas été éclaircies.

      Malgré sa situation géographique qui en fait une porte de l’UE, la Bulgarie n’a jamais constitué une grosse route migratoire. Ainsi en 2016, seuls 17 187 migrants sont entrés en Bulgarie, dix fois moins qu’en Grèce (176 906). Cette année, entre le premier janvier et la fin du mois de février, ils n’ont été que 141 à passer en Bulgarie, contre 5 854 en Grèce, selon l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM).

      Pour comprendre l’absence actuelle de tension migratoire à frontière turco-bulgare, il faut aussi regarder du côté des relations diplomatiques entre Sofia et Ankara. Le 2 mars, alors que les tensions entre la Turquie et la Grèce étaient à leur comble, le Premier ministre bulgare, Boïko Borissov, a affiché sur les réseaux sociaux sa poignée de main avec Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Et précisé devant les micros : « Nous sommes tombés d’accord pour continuer à entretenir nos relations de bon voisinage, la compréhension réciproque et la paix. » Une relation de bon voisinage qui a probablement évité à la Bulgarie le sort de la Grèce, qui a vu arriver à sa porte des migrants convoyés gratuitement par bus depuis le reste de la Turquie.

      Expulsion des gülenistes

      Au pouvoir depuis 2009, Boïko Borissov entretient depuis longtemps de bonnes relations avec Erdogan. Il a notamment gagné sa confiance en renvoyant vers la Turquie les gülenistes, ces membres d’une confrérie musulmane accusés par le président turc d’avoir organisé la tentative de coup d’Etat de juillet 2016. « On sait dans le milieu des défenseurs des droits de l’homme que le renvoi des gülénistes et des Kurdes est systématique. Mais leur nombre exact est difficile à établir, car il s’agit de renvois immédiats, avant même que ces personnes ne déposent une demande d’asile, note Miladina Monova. La Bulgarie est le seul pays des Balkans à le faire systématiquement, alors même qu’elle est membre de l’UE. » En retour, la Turquie reprend systématiquement les migrants qui tentent de passer en Bulgarie.

      Cette relation entre Borissov et Erdogan a ainsi conduit le Premier ministre conservateur bulgare à servir à plusieurs reprises de médiateur entre l’homme fort d’Ankara et les autres chefs d’Etat européens. En 2018, c’était déjà à son initiative qu’un sommet réunissant dirigeants turcs et européens avait été organisé à Varna, sur la côte bulgare, pour sauver une première fois l’accord migratoire.

      https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2020/03/10/pourquoi-les-migrants-bloques-a-la-frontiere-grecque-evitent-la-bulgarie_

    • Notes From #Pazarkule/ #Evros, Ninth Day

      Pazarkule. Turkey. March 8, 2020. Today we learned that it had become even harder for the refugees to leave the designated area to come to Karaağaç. They are now only allowed to use the main checkpoint. They are also required to give fingerprints and accept bodily checks. The soldiers also take pictures of their eyes. As our friend told us, exists started at 10 o’clock in the morning and went on during the day despite the long queues. Our friends waited two hours in the queue and only after that, they reached to Karaağaç. They were still in a positive mood when we met them there.

      One of our migrant friends told that while they were waiting in the queue a gendarmerie yelled at him saying ‘why are you laughing?’ He answered ‘I am not laughing at anything but why are you yelling?’ Then a higher officer took him to a corner and beat him. In an earlier conversation, this very same friend told us that the soldiers were helping them to cross to Greece. They even gave them hooks and ropes to take down the last remaining fence in front of the border gate. Our friends often tell us about incidents of ill-treatment by the same soldiers who ‘help’ them to cross to the Greek side.

      We also learned that although independent aid organizations were not allowed in the fenced-off area, Yavuz Selim Association was given permission to enter and distribute aid. Our friends from the inside also told us that the Beşir Association had been present on the ground since the first day and they distributed blue clothing items today.

      Our friends went back around 23.00 and reported that their fingerprints were not taken went they re-entered.

      Today we came across a Women’s Day demo in downtown Edirne. Migrants, borders or the war were mentioned neither in the press release nor on the banners and posters; despite the existence of such a large group of migrant women just by the city.

      Today we also had a chance to chat with refugee women. Our female friends who came from the zone told us about their experiences, stories and how they live through this as women. While we were filming, one of the women told us that she studied cinema for one year in Iran and offered to use the camera and make the shooting. We gave her the camera. Thanks to this, the women we were chatting got to know each other and they were relieved because they spoke the same language.

      They told us that in Turkey migrant women were ill approached particularly by men. Their common experience involved being sexually harassed by their bosses. They also mentioned that they had to work for very low wages, could not even get their salaries paid and did not have any access to mechanisms that would guarantee their rights. They also did not have much solidarity from Turkish women. This lack of contact made them feel isolated. Two of these friends told us that although they had Masters degrees and appropriate expertise, they could only find unskilled work. A younger friend said that she wanted to continue with her education and it was not possible in Turkey. They also told us that their future seemed full of uncertainties but they still held the hope that they would be able to cross the border and realize their dreams. Despite all the hardships they had to endure, their only wish is to have an ordinary, quiet and safe life.

      They told us that the conditions in Pazarkule are particularly harsh for women and children; that the sanitary and accommodation conditions were very bad. Women in the area (including themselves) would not go out of their tents often, because they were not feeling safe. There have been incidents of sexual harassment and one woman managed to run away from those who tried to rape her.

      On top of all these problems, the aggression from the Greek side is very tough. Our friends told us with much regret that last night (March 7) the intensity of teargas was really bad, and women with babies lacked protection. Another friend told us that, the same night a mother with a baby in her arms took refuge in our friend’s make-shift nylon tent. The baby had difficulty breathing and the mother was waving a t-shift to air the tent. The baby was now fine, though.

      When we asked about how the women in the area were interacting, they told us that a group of women visited tents to discuss acting in unison. However there was not consensus because everybody had different motivations. Our friends said that they understood these women too because they all were in a struggle for themselves and their children and they would do anything to win this struggle.

      When we chatted about the Women’s Day, they emphasized that their expectation from all women was that women would not discriminate against them. They also expect solidarity between women without any reservations on the basis of language, religion, and nationality. Their wish for all women in the world is to live in equality and freedom. We also learned that some women organized a Women’s day demo in the area. There is a need for more activity directed towards women and other vulnerable groups in the area.

      We also think that sharing our experience in coordination would be useful for new initiatives:

      –Our chat with female migrant friends today reminded us of the importance of maintaining gender equality in our work.

      – All newcomers need orientation about what has been going on here and the material conditions. Short visits only allow getting used to the field, but longer stays are emotionally and physically very tiring.

      –Therefore, we prioritize groups that can stay between 2-5 days. We can manage our activities in groups of 2-5 people. More people are not necessary and larger groups increase the risk of facing interference from officials. If people want to be in the field and commit time and labour, there are plenty of political and practical arenas to contribute. We have at the moment a pool of volunteers that would be enough to do rotations in the coming weeks. If we need further volunteers, we will issue a call again.

      No border pazarkule/edirne, March 8, 2020.

      https://enoughisenough14.org/2020/03/11/notes-from-pazarkule-evros-ninth-day

    • Turkey Steps Back From Confrontation at Greek Border

      The country is winding down an aggressive two-week operation to move tens of thousands of migrants to its frontiers. But relations with Greece and Europe have suffered.

      Turkey has signaled that it is winding down its two-week operation to aid the movement of tens of thousands of people toward Europe, following a tough on-the-ground response from Greek border guards and a tepid diplomatic reaction from European politicians.

      Migrants at the Greek-Turkish land border began to be transported back to Istanbul by bus this week, witnesses at the border said, de-escalating a standoff that initially set off fears of another European migration crisis. Greek officials said the number of attempted border crossings had dwindled from thousands a day to a few hundred, and none were successful on Friday, even as sporadic exchanges of tear-gas with Turkish security forces continued.

      Also Friday, Turkish officials announced that three human smugglers had each been sentenced to 125 years in prison for their roles in the death of a Syrian toddler, Alan Kurdi, whose drowning came to epitomize an earlier migration crisis, in 2015.

      That announcement and the week’s other developments were interpreted by experts and European politicians as signals to Europe that the Turkish authorities were once again willing to police their borders and quell a second wave of migration.

      It follows a tense period in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey attempted to engineer the reverse: a new migration crisis on Europe’s borders.

      On Feb. 28, the Turkish government announced it would no longer stop migrants trying to reach Europe, and it then drove hundreds to the threshold of Greece, live-streaming the process to encourage more to follow.

      The move was perceived as an attempt to rally European support for Turkey’s military campaign in northern Syria, and more European aid for the four million refugees inside Turkey.

      On at least one occasion, Turkish officials even forced migrants to leave. In a video clip filmed onboard a bus ferrying people to the border, reluctant migrants were shown being forced off the vehicle at gunpoint by officers in plain clothes, and beaten when they resisted.

      https://twitter.com/daphnetoli/status/1236263937706004481?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      Marc Pierini, a former European Union envoy to Turkey, called it “the first-ever refugee exodus, albeit a limited one, fully organized by one government against another.”

      The border clash not only stirred fears of a new migration crisis, but it also saw both countries react with anger and tough tactics. The Greeks have been condemned for suspending asylum applications and detaining and returning some migrants to Turkey.

      To foment a sense of crisis, Turkish security forces fired tear gas over the border at their Greek counterparts and provided journalists with footage of aggressive Greek responses to migrants. Mr. Erdogan accused Greek officials of behaving like officials in Nazi Germany.

      But the Turks used aggressive tactics of their own.

      Footage captured by The New York Times showed Turkish security forces standing aside to allow migrants to tear down part of a fence dividing Turkey and Greece. And other footage emerged of a Turkish vessel pursuing a Greek coast guard vessel in the Aegean, and of a Turkish armored vehicle ramming a border fence between the two countries.

      The Turkish Interior Ministry then sent more guards to the border — not to prevent people from leaving without documents, but to stop Greece from returning them by force, according to the Turkish interior minister, Suleyman Soylu.

      The confrontation marked a low point in relations between two neighbors who have long had a fragile coexistence within NATO, and it threatened to upend a fine balance in the strategically important, energy-rich southeastern Mediterranean.

      It also brought front and center the European Union’s dependence on Turkey to limit the movement of migrants toward its territory, as well as Mr. Erdogan’s willingness to weaponize migrants for his own purposes.

      But experts said Mr. Erdogan’s mobilization of migrants and security forces at the borders with Europe could have backfired, being so provocative that it may have made European politicians less willing to make concessions.

      “The problem is that because of the blackmail used by Turkey, getting an agreement from the European Council is going to be more difficult,” said Mr. Pierini, who is now an analyst for Carnegie Europe, a research organization.

      The European Union in 2016 agreed to funnel 6 billion euros to organizations helping the nearly four million Syrian refugees in Turkey, in exchange for Turkey’s help in securing its borders with Greece.

      That deal came after nearly one million refugees left Turkey for Greece, allowing them to reach the Continent’s prosperous north relatively easily.

      But Turkey has complained that European funding has been slow in coming, and has been paid to aid groups as well as into its own government coffers, making it less efficient. At a meeting in Brussels this week, European Union leaders discussed with Mr. Erdogan whether the agreement would be extended and how to restore it.

      Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said the meeting with Mr. Erdogan on Monday had been a “good start” in restoring normalcy at the Greek-Turkish borders.

      “Migrants need support, Greece needs support but also Turkey needs support, and this involves finding a path forward with Turkey,” she said. “Clearly we have our disagreements but we have spoken plainly and we have spoken openly to each other about these.”

      https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1237119313447923712?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      The European Union is likely to eventually agree to send more money to Turkey to help with challenges posed by the refugee influx, Mr. Pierini said.

      But European leaders have taken a dim view of Mr. Erdogan’s latest showmanship, and may have become even more reluctant to accede to other Turkish diplomatic priorities, Mr. Pierini added. Those include an expansion of the Turkey’s joint customs union with Europe, and further visa reforms for Turkish nationals.

      The awkward coexistence between Greece and Turkey since the mid-1990s, when the two countries came close to war, could be at even greater risk of lasting damage.

      “Greek-Turkish détente has been one of the cornerstones of geostrategic relations in the southeastern Mediterranean — and the potential of this collapsing is alarming to the region and Western allies,” said Ian Lesser, the vice president of the German Marshall Fund.

      He said that the escalation had unleashed forces that may not be easy to manage.

      “Once someone opens up Pandora’s box, in an environment when you have proxy groups, coast guards, criminal traffickers, many actors who may not be fully under the control of governments, there is always the potential to go wrong,” Mr. Lesser said.

      “That’s true in Syria but it’s also true on the Greek-Turkish border,” he added.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/world/europe/turkey-greece-border-migrants.html