• Abolissez Frontex, mettez fin au régime frontalier de l’Union Européenne (+ texte de Claire Rodier )

    À l’attention des gouvernements des États membres de l’UE, de la Commission européenne, du Conseil européen, du Conseil de l’UE, du Parlement européen et de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes (Frontex).

    Depuis le début de l’année, plus de 740 personnes sont mortes en tentant de traverser la Méditerranée à la recherche d’un lieu sûr. Par son régime frontalier, l’UE les a contraintes à emprunter des routes migratoires dangereuses, souvent sur des embarcations en piteux état ; elle a fait appel aux pays voisins pour les arrêter en chemin ; elle les a accueillies avec violence et les a repoussées ; ou elle a refusé de les secourir, les laissant se noyer en mer.

    https://entreleslignesentrelesmots.blog/2021/06/12/abolissez-frontex-mettez-fin-au-regime-frontalier-de-lu

    #migration #europe #frontex

  • Rapport spécial 08/2021 : Soutien de Frontex à la gestion des frontières extérieures : pas assez efficace jusqu´ici

    Dans le cadre de l’#audit objet du présent rapport, nous avons cherché à déterminer si Frontex avait exercé de manière efficace quatre de ses six activités principales afin de contribuer à la mise en oeuvre d’une #gestion_européenne_intégrée_des_frontières, aidant ainsi les États membres à prévenir et détecter l’immigration illégale et la criminalité transfrontalière et à réagir en conséquence. Nous avons également examiné dans quelle mesure Frontex était préparée à remplir le nouveau mandat élargi qui lui a été conféré en 2019.

    Nous sommes parvenus à la conclusion que le soutien apporté par Frontex aux États membres de l’UE/pays associés à l’espace Schengen dans la lutte contre l’immigration illégale et la criminalité transfrontalière n’était pas suffisamment efficace. Nous avons observé que Frontex ne s’était pas pleinement acquittée du mandat qui lui a été confié en 2016, et nous avons mis en évidence plusieurs risques liés à son mandat de 2019.

    Rapport spécial de la Cour des comptes européenne présenté en vertu de l’article 287, paragraphe 4, deuxième alinéa, du TFUE.

    Pour télécharger le rapport :
    https://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR21_08/SR_Frontex_FR.pdf

    Et le communiqué de presse :
    https://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/INSR21_08/INSR_Frontex_FR.pdf

    https://www.eca.europa.eu/fr/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=58564

    #rapport #cour_des_comptes #cour_des_comptes_européenne #Frontex #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #efficacité

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • L’action de Frontex mise en cause par la Cour des comptes européenne

      La Cour des comptes européenne dénonce son manque d’efficacité dans la lutte contre la criminalité transfrontalière et l’immigration illégale. L’agence admet que des « améliorations » sont nécessaires.

      L’agence Frontex, déjà visée par des accusations de refoulements illégaux de migrants, voit son action mise en cause lundi par la Cour des comptes européenne, qui dénonce son manque d’efficacité dans la lutte contre la criminalité transfrontalière et l’immigration illégale. « Notre opinion, basée sur des faits, est que Frontex ne s’acquitte pas de cette tâche de manière efficace actuellement. C’est d’autant plus inquiétant à un moment où elle se voit confier des responsabilités accrues », a déclaré le responsable d’un rapport publié lundi, Leo Brincat.

      L’agence européenne, créée en 2004, a vu son mandat élargi en 2016, pour aider les Etats membres à lutter contre l’immigration illégale et la criminalité transfrontalière. Ce mandat a encore été renforcé en 2019, en prévoyant la mise en place d’un contingent permanent de 10 000 membres d’ici 2027 - alors que ses effectifs n’étaient que de 750 en 2019 - et un budget moyen d’environ 900 millions d’euros par an pour la période 2021-2027. Les auditeurs pointent notamment « des lacunes et des incohérences » dans les systèmes d’échange d’informations entre Frontex et les Etats membres.

      La nécessité d’un « cadre adéquat »

      Ils ont « noté que, bien qu’un cadre fonctionnel pour l’échange d’informations ait été mis en place pour soutenir la lutte contre l’immigration illégale, il ne fonctionnait pas suffisamment bien pour fournir un tableau exact, complet et actualisé de la situation aux frontières extérieures de l’UE ». Et qu’un « cadre adéquat pour l’échange d’informations aux fins de la lutte contre la criminalité transfrontalière n’a pas encore été institué ».

      « Cela affecte la capacité de Frontex et des États membres à surveiller les frontières extérieures et, le cas échéant, à réagir rapidement aux menaces détectées », estiment-ils. « Nous pensons que Frontex a connu trop de changements trop vite », a commenté Léo Brincat, rappelant que la décision de renforcer son mandat avait été prise par les Etats membres.

      L’audit, décidé par la Cour en 2019, ne porte toutefois pas sur les accusations de refoulements de migrants en mer Egée dont fait l’objet Frontex depuis la publication d’une enquête dans plusieurs médias en octobre 2020. Accusée d’être impliquée avec les garde-côtes grecs dans ces agissements illégaux, Frontex est visée par plusieurs enquêtes, notamment de l’Office européen de lutte antifraude, l’Olaf.

      Frontex, dirigée par le Français Fabrice Leggeri, a indiqué dans un communiqué être « consciente que des améliorations sont nécessaires et travaille dur pour rendre l’agence plus forte et encore plus efficace ». « Bon nombre des problèmes soulevés sont liés à des facteurs externes qui échappent au contrôle de l’agence », a affirmé un porte-parole de l’agence, ajoutant que la mise en oeuvre des recommandations du rapport « requiert un effort combiné de Frontex, de la Commission européenne et des autorités nationales ».

      https://www.letemps.ch/monde/laction-frontex-mise-cause-cour-comptes-europeenne

    • Union européenne et immigration : Frontex jugée inefficace pour contrôler les frontières, les ONG dénoncent l’invisibilisation des migrants à Paris

      La Cour des comptes européenne épingle Frontex, dont le budget a été multiplié par 47 en 15 ans, pour son inefficacité contre le crime transfrontalier & l’immigration illégale. L’UE parle migrations à Luxembourg. La France est critiquée pour ses choix politiques qui poussent des migrants à se cacher.

      Des ONG accusaient déjà Frontex de refouler illégalement des migrants hors d’Europe. L’agence de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes est désormais critiquée pour son manque global d’efficacité et c’est la Cour des comptes européenne qui monte au créneau : Selon elle, Frontex n’arrive pas à lutter contre la criminalité transfrontalière et l’immigration illégale, alors que son budget a été multiplié par 47 en quinze ans. A sa création, ce corps de garde-frontières censé aider à sécuriser les frontières extérieures, était dotée de 19 millions d’euros par an, 900 millions d’euros aujourd’hui. Frontex est devenue la plus grosse agence de l’Union européenne, avec de lourdes responsabilités et un budget de 11 milliards d’euros pour la période 2021-2027. Mais l’argent du contribuable européen n’est pas forcément utilisé à bon escient, selon un audit de la Cour des comptes de l’Union européenne. Rapport sévère contre Frontex, analysé par Marie-Pierre Vérot.

      Les frontières extérieures de l’Union, il en sera aussi question lors d’une réunion à Luxembourg. L’occasion pour les ONG et la Défenseure des droits d’alerter sur des choix politiques pour rendre les migrants invisibles. A force de démanteler leurs campements de fortune et faute d’hébergement durable, certains vont se cacher dans des buissons, sous les ponts du périphérique parisien. La question migratoire et les règles aux frontières extérieures des Vingt-Sept seront au cœur d’une réunion des ministres européens de l’Intérieur et de la Justice, aujourd’hui, à Luxembourg. En France, la pandémie, les confinements successifs et les décisions politiques de ces derniers mois ont aggravé la situation des migrants, alerte la Défenseure des droits Claire Hédon. En Ile-de-France, les campements de fortune sont systématiquement évacués, comme fin novembre, à Saint-Denis, où 3 000 personnes dormaient sous des tentes ou à même le sol. La Défenseure des droits, les demandeurs d’asile et les associations sur le terrain dénoncent une invisibilisation de ces exilés. Reportage, à Paris de Théo Sire. Contactée, la préfecture d’Ile-de-France n’a pas répondu à nos sollicitations.

      https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/journal-de-7-h/journal-de-7h-du-mardi-08-juin-2021

    • La Cour des comptes de l’UE critique quant au rôle, à l’efficacité et à la gestion de Frontex

      L’organisme européen estime que l’Agence de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes ne soutient « pas toujours » les Etats membres dans leur gestion des frontières extérieures.

      Instrument essentiel dans le projet de « pacte global » pour la migration déposé par la Commission européenne en 2020 ainsi que pour ses récents plans de réforme de l’espace Schengen, l’agence Frontex est-elle, actuellement, capable d’exercer ses missions de contrôle des frontières extérieures de l’Union et de lutte contre la migration illégale et la criminalité ? La réponse est négative et, cette fois, elle ne vient pas d’ONG ou de médias mais de l’une des institutions les plus importantes de l’Union, à savoir la Cour des comptes européenne.

      Basée à Luxembourg, cette instance est chargée de contrôler les organisations qui gèrent des fonds de l’UE et publie des recommandations afin d’améliorer leur fonctionnement. Le rapport, publié lundi 7 juin, qu’elle consacre à l’activité de l’Agence de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes ne passera pas inaperçu.

      La Cour estime, en effet, que Frontex ne soutient « pas toujours » les Etats membres dans leur gestion des frontières extérieures, ce qui s’avère « particulièrement préoccupant », étant donné que cette agence établie à Varsovie va voir ses moyens, son budget, et ses tâches enfler considérablement au cours des prochaines années.

      Quant à la lutte contre le crime transfrontalier, autre mission-clé de Frontex, elle occupe une place trop limitée dans ses activités, relève le rapport. On manque, à cet égard, de données sur ses performances et le coût de ses agents. Les décideurs ne sont, dès lors, pas informés correctement. La Cour des comptes relève qu’aucune analyse d’impact n’a précédé la décision de faire de l’agence le premier corps armé de l’Union. Le dernier examen externe de son fonctionnement remonte d’ailleurs à 2015.
      Une action « pas assez efficace »

      C’est ensuite en 2016 et 2019 que ses compétences ont été progressivement élargies et qu’elle est passée d’un rôle de soutien et de coordination aux pays membres à un rôle vraiment opérationnel. Pour cela, l’organisation dirigée par le Français Fabrice Leggeri disposera, d’ici à 2027, d’un contingent de 10 000 agents et d’un budget annuel de quelque 900 millions d’euros.

      Or, aujourd’hui déjà, son action n’est « pas assez efficace », relèvent les auditeurs de la Cour : Frontex ne s’est pas pleinement acquittée de son mandat de 2016 et celui de 2019 présente « plusieurs risques ». Notamment parce que l’agence n’a pas adapté son organisation et accumule trop de lacunes dans l’utilisation des ressources humaines, l’analyse des risques ou la communication entre ses différentes unités.

      Autre critique : l’augmentation exponentielle des ressources décidée « a été approuvée alors que les besoins et l’impact sur les Etats membres n’avaient pas été quantifiés » et qu’en fait l’efficacité de Frontex n’a pas été mesurée depuis l’arrivée massive de migrants en 2015-2016. L’impression que la Commission et le Conseil ont assez largement improvisé l’extension du rôle de l’agence, au plus fort de la crise migratoire déclenchée voici plus de cinq ans, est confirmée par d’autres observations du rapport.

      Tentant de parer au plus pressé pour éviter une nouvelle crise et rassurer l’opinion quant à leur capacité de gérer la question migratoire, les décideurs ont, par exemple, prévu un cadre pour l’échange d’informations, mais, en réalité, il n’offre pas une vision précise de la situation aux frontières extérieures. La réelle surveillance de celles-ci et une réaction rapide à d’éventuelles menaces sont donc improbables. Jusqu’ici, seule la Grèce, en première ligne, a d’ailleurs activé (à quatre reprises) le mécanisme d’intervention rapide de Frontex -d’autres Etats, comme l’Italie, se gardent d’en appeler à cet embryon de force paneuropéenne.
      Statistiques non harmonisées

      L’efficacité du cadre d’échanges fixé est, en outre, entravée par des contraintes juridiques liées à l’exploitation des données. Certaines capitales ne livrent pas des informations suffisamment exhaustives ou qualitatives. Et si d’autres le sont, leur format fait que, pour des raisons techniques, elles restent inaccessibles à d’autres pays. Globalement, les statistiques sur des situations problématiques ne sont, elles, ni harmonisées ni comparables. Quant aux équipements mis en commun pour le contrôle des passages aux frontières, ils ne sont pas toujours interopérables.

      En concluant la cinquantaine de pages de son rapport, la Cour des comptes formule des recommandations qui alimenteront notamment les débats du Parlement européen, où de nombreux élus de gauche et du centre sont d’ores et déjà très remontés contre l’agence. Les eurodéputés ont refusé récemment de donner leur quitus au budget 2019 de l’agence et ils enquêtent toujours sur le rôle présumé de Frontex -qui rejette les accusations- dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants (ou « pushbacks ») dans différents pays de l’Union, à commencer par la Grèce.

      Le rapport n’évoque pas, il faut le noter, cette question du respect des droits fondamentaux. Elle « sortait du cadre de cet audit », indique le Cour, mais sera sans doute étudiée plus tard, dans le cadre d’une analyse sur la politique de l’Union en matière de retour des migrants et de lutte contre les trafics. En 2019, les opérations de retour représentaient 28 % des coûts opérationnels de Frontex.

      Dans l’immédiat, les auditeurs de Luxembourg prônent l’amélioration du cadre européen pour l’échange d’informations et le renforcement du rôle opérationnel de Frontex, avec la définition d’une méthodologie, des exercices en commun et une analyse du coût et de la pertinence des opérations menées. Ou encore une réforme en profondeur de l’organisation interne. « Il n’est pas certain que le contingent permanent [de 10 000 hommes] puisse fonctionner comme prévu », conclut le rapport, dans un sous-entendu lourd de sens. Dans l’immédiat, Frontex se dit cependant « consciente de [ses]lacunes » et prête à appliquer ces « conseils ».

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/06/07/la-cour-des-comptes-de-l-ue-critique-quant-au-role-a-l-efficacite-et-a-la-ge

  • Asyl im Dialog - der #Podcast der #Refugee_Law_Clinics Deutschland

    Episonden

    Flucht und Behinderung

    70 Jahre Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention

    Rechtswidrige Hausordnungen für Geflüchtete

    Wieso Menschen aus Eritrea fiehen

    Somalia - Frauen* auf der Flucht

    Alarmphone statt Küstenwache

    Warum Afghanistan nicht sicher ist

    Brutalität und Menschenrechte auf der Balkanroute

    Solidarität kindgerecht: Eine Wiese für alle

    Wenn der Klimanwandel zum Fluchtgrund wird

    Migrationssteuerung durch die EU in Westafrika

    Abschottung reloaded - die Zukunft der Hotspots durch den Nwe
    Pact der EU

    FRONTEX - Grenzschutz außer Kontrolle

    Flucht und Trauma

    Das Asylrecht aus Sicht eines Verwaltungsrichters

    Wenn JUMEN e.V. Familiennachzug durch strategische
    Prozessführung erkämpft

    Wieso das AsybLG ein Gestz für Menschen zweiter Klasse ist

    Wie hängen Flucht und Menschenhandel zusammen? Wie die EU ihre
    Verpflichtung zur Seenotrettung umgeht

    Die Härtefallkommission als Gandeninstanz

    Haft ohne Straftat - aus der Praxis einer Abschiebehaft

    Entrechtung von Geduldeten -die neue Duldung light

    Die griechischen Hospots

    Das Kirchenasyl als ultima ratio

    Zuständigkeiten im Asylverfahren

    Gestzgebung im Asylrecht seit 2015 - rechtsiwedrig und populistisch?

    Was machen Refugee Law Clinics?

    #podcast #audio #RLC #Germany #migration #refugees #EU #Frontex #migration_law #Duldung #trauma #gender #women* #handicap #children #family #asylum #Balkans #church_asylum #Greece #hotspot #Alarmphone #human_rights #Eritrea #Afghanistan

    ping @cdb_77

    https://www.podcast.de/podcast/778497/asyl-im-dialog-der-podcast-der-refugee-law-clinics-deutschland

  • #Mitsotakis blasts use of migrants as pawns to pressure the EU

    Prime Minister #Kyriakos_Mitsotakis on Friday decried the use of migrants and refugees as “geopolitical pawns to put pressure on the European Union.”

    Mitsotakis referred to efforts made by Turkey, in March 2020, and the recent surge of migrants reaching Spain’s African territories.

    Mitsotakis made this statement in a meeting with #Frontex Executive Director #Fabrice_Leggeri. Also present at the meeting were the Minister for Asylum ad Migration Policy Notis Mitarakis, Chief of the Greek Armed Forces Staff Konstantinos Floros and the heads of Police and the Coast Guard, as well as the head of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office.

    Mitsotakis said that thanks to Frontex’s assistance, migrant flows dropped by 80% in 2020 and a further 72% so far in 2021.

    https://www.ekathimerini.com/news/1161528/mitsotakis-blasts-use-of-migrants-as-pawns-to-pressure-the-eu

    Et cette vidéo insupportable... une suite d’hypocrisie et mensonges :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5-_StRXLpw

    #Grèce #migrations #asile #réfugiés #UE #Union_européenne #collaboration #coopération #frontières #passeurs #protection_des_frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #criminalisation_de_la_migration #hypocrisie #mensonge #morts_aux_frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #renvois #expulsions #accord_UE-Turquie #déclaration #reconnaissance #réadmission #Turquie

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Revealed: 2,000 refugee deaths linked to illegal EU pushbacks

    A Guardian analysis finds EU countries used brutal tactics to stop nearly 40,000 asylum seekers crossing borders

    EU member states have used illegal operations to push back at least 40,000 asylum seekers from Europe’s borders during the pandemic, methods being linked to the death of more than 2,000 people, the Guardian can reveal.

    In one of the biggest mass expulsions in decades, European countries, supported by EU’s border agency #Frontex, has systematically pushed back refugees, including children fleeing from wars, in their thousands, using illegal tactics ranging from assault to brutality during detention or transportation.

    The Guardian’s analysis is based on reports released by UN agencies, combined with a database of incidents collected by non-governmental organisations. According to charities, with the onset of Covid-19, the regularity and brutality of pushback practices has grown.

    “Recent reports suggest an increase of deaths of migrants attempting to reach Europe and, at the same time, an increase of the collaboration between EU countries with non-EU countries such as Libya, which has led to the failure of several rescue operations,’’ said one of Italy’s leading human rights and immigration experts, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, professor of asylum law at the University of Palermo. ‘’In this context, deaths at sea since the beginning of the pandemic are directly or indirectly linked to the EU approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe and the increasing externalisation of migration control to countries such as Libya.’’

    The findings come as the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, Olaf, has launched an investigation into Frontex (https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/20/eu-migration-chief-urges-frontex-to-clarify-pushback-allegations) over allegations of harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations aimed at stopping asylum seekers from reaching EU shores.

    According to the International Organization for Migration (https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals), in 2020 almost 100,000 immigrants arrived in Europe by sea and by land compared with nearly 130,000 in 2019 and 190,000 in 2017.

    Since January 2020, despite the drop in numbers, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Spain have accelerated their hardline migration agenda. Since the introduction of partial or complete border closures to halt the outbreak of coronavirus, these countries have paid non-EU states and enlisted private vessels to intercept boats in distress at sea and push back passengers into detention centres. There have been repeated reports of people being beaten, robbed, stripped naked at frontiers or left at sea.

    In 2020 Croatia, whose police patrol the EU’s longest external border, have intensified systemic violence and pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) recorded nearly 18,000 migrants pushed back by Croatia since the start of the pandemic. Over the last year and a half, the Guardian has collected testimonies of migrants who have allegedly been whipped, robbed, sexually abused and stripped naked (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/21/croatian-police-accused-of-sickening-assaults-on-migrants-on-balkans-tr) by members of the Croatian police. Some migrants said they were spray-painted with red crosses on their heads by officers who said the treatment was the “cure against coronavirus” (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/28/they-made-crosses-on-our-heads-refugees-report-abuse-by-croatian-police).

    According to an annual report released on Tuesday by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) (https://www.borderviolence.eu/annual-torture-report-2020), a coalition of 13 NGOs documenting illegal pushbacks in the western Balkans, abuse and disproportionate force was present in nearly 90% of testimonies in 2020 collected from Croatia, a 10% increase on 2019.

    In April, the Guardian revealed how a woman from Afghanistan was allegedly sexually abused (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/07/croatian-border-police-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-afghan-migrant) and held at knifepoint by a Croatian border police officer during a search of migrants on the border with Bosnia.

    “Despite the European Commission’s engagement with Croatian authorities in recent months, we have seen virtually no progress, neither on investigations of the actual reports, nor on the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms,” said Nicola Bay, DRC country director for Bosnia. “Every single pushback represents a violation of international and EU law – whether it involves violence or not.”

    Since January 2020, Greece has pushed back about 6,230 asylum seekers from its shores, according to data from BVMN. The report stated that in 89% of the pushbacks, “BVMN has observed the disproportionate and excessive use of force. This alarming number shows that the use of force in an abusive, and therefore illicit, way has become a normality […]

    “Extremely cruel examples of police violence documented in 2020 included prolonged excessive beatings (often on naked bodies), water immersion, the physical abuse of women and children, the use of metal rods to inflict injury.”

    In testimonies, people described how their hands were tied to the bars of cells and helmets put on their heads before beatings to avoid visible bruising.

    A lawsuit filed against the Greek state in April at the European court of human rights (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea) accused Athens of abandoning dozens of migrants in life rafts at sea, after some had been beaten. The case claims that Greek patrol boats towed migrants back to Turkish waters and abandoned them at sea without food, water, lifejackets or any means to call for help.

    BVMN said: “Whether it be using the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown to serve as a cover for pushbacks, fashioning open-air prisons, or preventing boats from entering Greek waters by firing warning shots toward boats, the evidence indicates the persistent refusal to uphold democratic values, human rights and international and European law.”

    According to UNHCR data, since the start of the pandemic, Libyan authorities – with Italian support since 2017, when Rome ceded responsibility (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/23/mother-and-child-drown-after-being-abandoned-off-libya-says-ngo) for overseeing Mediterranean rescue operations to Libya – intercepted and pushed back to Tripoli about 15,500 asylum seekers. The controversial strategy has caused the forced return of thousands to Libyan detention centres where, according to first hand reports, they face torture. Hundreds have drowned when neither Libya nor Italy intervened.

    “In 2020 this practice continued, with an increasingly important role being played by Frontex planes, sighting boats at sea and communicating their position to the Libyan coastguard,” said Matteo de Bellis, migration researcher at Amnesty International. “So, while Italy at some point even used the pandemic as an excuse to declare that its ports were not safe for the disembarkation of people rescued at sea, it had no problem with the Libyan coastguard returning people to Tripoli. Even when this was under shelling or when hundreds were forcibly disappeared immediately after disembarkation.”

    In April, Italy and Libya were accused of deliberately ignoring a mayday call (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) from a migrant boat in distress in Libyan waters, as waves reached six metres. A few hours later, an NGO rescue boat discovered dozens of bodies (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) floating in the waves. That day 130 migrants were lost at sea.

    In April, in a joint investigation with the Italian Rai News and the newspaper Domani, the Guardian saw documents from Italian prosecutors detailing conversations between two commanders of the Libyan coastguard and an Italian coastguard officer in Rome. The transcripts appeared to expose the non-responsive behaviour (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/16/wiretaps-migrant-boats-italy-libya-coastguard-mediterranean) of the Libyan officers and their struggling to answer the distress calls which resulted in hundreds of deaths. At least five NGO boats remain blocked in Italian ports as authorities claim administrative reasons for holding them.

    “Push- and pull-back operations have become routine, as have forms of maritime abandonment where hundreds were left to drown,’’ said a spokesperson at Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress at sea. ‘’We have documented so many shipwrecks that were never officially accounted for, and so we know that the real death toll is much higher. In many of the cases, European coastguards have refused to respond – they rather chose to let people drown or to intercept them back to the place they had risked their lives to escape from. Even if all European authorities try to reject responsibility, we know that the mass dying is a direct result of both their actions and inactions. These deaths are on Europe.’’

    Malta, which declared its ports closed early last year, citing the pandemic, has continued to push back hundreds of migrants using two strategies: enlisting private vessels to intercept asylum seekers and force them back to Libya or turning them away with directions to Italy (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/20/we-give-you-30-minutes-malta-turns-migrant-boat-away-with-directions-to).

    “Between 2014 and 2017, Malta was able to count on Italy to take responsibility for coordinating rescues and allowing disembarkations,” said De Bellis. “But when Italy and the EU withdrew their ships from the central Mediterranean, to leave it in Libya’s hands, they left Malta more exposed. In response, from early 2020 the Maltese government used tactics to avoid assisting refugees and migrants in danger at sea, including arranging unlawful pushbacks to Libya by private fishing boats, diverting boats rather than rescuing them, illegally detaining hundreds of people on ill-equipped ferries off Malta’s waters, and signing a new agreement with Libya to prevent people from reaching Malta.”

    Last May, a series of voice messages obtained by the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/19/exclusive-12-die-as-malta-uses-private-ships-to-push-migrants-back-to-l) confirmed the Maltese government’s strategy to use private vessels, acting at the behest of its armed forces, to intercept crossings and return refugees to Libyan detention centres.

    In February 2020, the European court of human rights was accused of “completely ignoring the reality” after it ruled Spain did not violate the prohibition of collective expulsion (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/european-court-under-fire-backing-spain-express-deportations), as asylum applications could be made at the official border crossing point. Relying on this judgment, Spain’s constitutional court upheld “border rejections” provided certain safeguards apply.

    Last week, the bodies of 24 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were found by Spain’s maritime rescue (https://apnews.com/article/atlantic-ocean-canary-islands-coronavirus-pandemic-africa-migration-5ab68371. They are believed to have died of dehydration while attempting to reach the Canary Islands. In 2020, according to the UNHCR, 788 migrants died trying to reach Spain (https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/esp).

    Frontex said they couldn’t comment on the total figures without knowing the details of each case, but said various authorities took action to respond to the dinghy that sunk off the coast of Libya (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) in April, resulting in the deaths of 130 people.

    “The Italian rescue centre asked Frontex to fly over the area. It’s easy to forget, but the central Mediterranean is massive and it’s not easy or fast to get from one place to another, especially in poor weather. After reaching the area where the boat was suspected to be, they located it after some time and alerted all of the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres (MRCCs) in the area. They also issued a mayday call to all boats in the area (Ocean Viking was too far away to receive it).”

    He said the Italian MRCC, asked by the Libyan MRCC, dispatched three merchant vessels in the area to assist. Poor weather made this difficult. “In the meantime, the Frontex plane was running out of fuel and had to return to base. Another plane took off the next morning when the weather allowed, again with the same worries about the safety of the crew.

    “All authorities, certainly Frontex, did all that was humanly possible under the circumstances.”

    He added that, according to media reports, there was a Libyan coast guard vessel in the area, but it was engaged in another rescue operation.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/may/05/revealed-2000-refugee-deaths-linked-to-eu-pushbacks

    #push-backs #refoulements #push-back #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières #décès #morts #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #responsabilité #Croatie #viols #Grèce #Italie #Libye

    ping @isskein

  • Greece proposes Frontex be allowed to operate beyond EU borders

    Returning unapproved asylum seekers to their home countries could become an easier task if European border patrol agency Frontex could operate outside of European borders, Greek Migration Minister #Notis_Mitarakis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking virtually with German Deputy Minister for Migration Stephan Mayer, #Mitarakis added that bilateral agreements with other partner countries would be required for this.

    The Minister underlined that collaborating with third countries to prevent migrants’ departures from Turkey is also key, as is a strong presence of Frontex in relevant regions.

    Mayer called on Greek authorities to intensify efforts for improving the hospitality and welfare system for asylum seekers or recognized refugees in Greece, in view of reducing the attraction factor for irregular secondary migration influx.

    According to data he cited, some 13,000 people have sought asylum in Germany since the summer of 2020, but they had already received international protection status in Greece.

    He also said the two countries should work together on mutual guarantees so that more relocations to Greece are possible from Germany.

    https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2021/05/13/greece-frontex-eu-borders-operation

    #Frontex #proposition #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #accords_bilatéraux #mouvements_secondaires #Allemagne #Grèce #relocalisations

    –—

    Intéressant:

    Mayer called on Greek authorities to intensify efforts for improving the hospitality and welfare system for asylum seekers or recognized refugees in Greece, in view of reducing the attraction factor for irregular secondary migration influx.

    #attraction #dissuasion #hospitalité #accueil

  • Adbusting: Killing people in a brand new uniform!

    Am 09. Mai ist der selbsternannte Europatag der Europäischen Union. Doch anlässlich dieser „Feierlichkeiten“ sah sich eine anonyme Aktionsgruppe gezwungen dies nicht unkommentiert zu lassen: heute morgen erschienen an mehreren Bushaltestellen in unmittelbarer Nähe zur CDU und SPD Parteizentrale in Berlin Werbeplakate im Namen der europäischen Grenzschutzagentur FRONTEX, die die neue, einheitliche Uniform präsentieren, die 1A zum illegalen pushbacken geeignet ist . Dabei ist die Aktionsgruppe dem Aufruf des Frontex Foto Wettbewerbs gefolgt und hat die Realität menschenverachtender Handlungen von Frontex deutlich gemacht. Auf den Plakaten wird die Realität an den europäischen Außengrenzen mit dem Spruch „Killing people in a brand new uniforms“ benannt.

    NGOs wie AlarmPhone, Sea-Watch und Border Violence Monitoring Network berichten regelmäßig von illegalen Pushbacks, die unter der Leitung von oder in Zusammenarbeit mit FRONTEX passieren. Menschen werden illegal nach Libyen zurückgebracht wo mitunter Folter und Tod auf sie warten, auf dem Mittelmeer zurückgedränkt oder beim Ertrinken im Stich gelassen. Auf europäischem Festland werden Menschen in nicht-EU Staaten deportiert und vorher misshandelt. Somit wird systematisch ihr Recht auf Asyl verwehrt.^1,2 Die EU betreibt dadurch eine konsequent menschenverachtende Abschottungspolitik, die das Sterben tausender Menschen zur Folge hat. Umgesetzt wird diese Politik maßgeblich durch FRONTEX.

    Diese Außenpolitik ist nichts Neues und wird auch nicht erst seit der sogenannten ‚Flüchtlingskrise‘ 2015 verfolgt. Die konsequente Abschottung war insbesondere Folge des Schengen-Abkommens, das zwar die innereuropäische Reisefreiheit ermöglichte, jedoch gleichzeitig zu einem verschärften Grenzschutz der Außengrenzen führte. Schon 1998 schlug die österreichische EU-Ratspräsident*innenschaft vor, die Außengrenzen Europas systematischer abzusichern und somit die Einreise von Nicht-EU Bürger*innen stärker zu kontrollieren und noch weiter einzuschränken. Die EU verfolgt ihre Abschottungs- und Aufrüstungspolitik systematisch und das schon seit langem.

    Regelmäßig werden von der EU Abkommen und Leitfäden festgelegt, die stärkere Grenzkontrollen fordern und umsetzten. So zum Beispiel die European Neighboorhood Policy, die stärkere Grenzkontrollen durch nicht-EU Nachbarstaaten festlegt. Gekoppelt sind solche Abkommen oft an sogenannte „Entwicklungshilfe“, die kooperierende Länder erhalten wenn sie sich am Grenzschutz beteiligen. Das ökonomische Ausbeutungsverhältnis zwischen den Ländern wird dabei gezielt als Druckmittel genutzt und zeigt erneut, wie die EU ökonomische Privilegien ausnutzt. Dass die Ressourcen sich aus kolonialer Vergangenheit und kapitalistischer Ausbeutungspraxis ergeben, spielt dabei keine Rolle: Stattdessen werden diese Maßnahmen von der EU als humanitär verkauft.

    FRONTEX hat angekündigt, die bisherige stehende Truppe von 1.500 Einsatzkräften bis 2027 auf 10.000 Kräfte aufzustocken. Die geplanten 3.000 Offiziere sind dabei direkt der Zentrale in Warschau unterstellt und sollen mit eigenen Waffen und Munition ausgestattet werden. Da es bis jetzt keine Rechtsgrundlage für eigene Schusswaffen gibt, konnte dieses Vorhaben bisher nicht umgesetzt werden – das Zeichen ist jedoch klar, FRONTEX will sich und soll weiter militarisiert und aufgerüstet werden.^3

    Diese Aufrüstung wird Flucht und Migration tödlicher und das Vorgehen von FRONTEX und anderen Grenzbehörden noch menschenverachtender machen. Gegen das Europäische Grenzregime, gegen FRONTEX und die Militarisierung der Außengrenzen! Freedom of movement is everybody’s right!

    Quellen und Verweise

    Link zum Frontex Fotowettbewerb (freuen sich bestimmt über Bilder ihrer tatsächlchen Arbeit) : https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news/news-release/frontex-photo-c...

    Europatag 9.5 ?! Was es da zu feiern gebe ist unklar - am 9.Mai sich mit so einer scheiße befassen zu müssen statt den „Tag des Sieges“ zu feiern ist höchst ärgerlich

    Bisher tragen Einsatzkräfte, die im Rahmen von FRONTEX Operationen im Einsatz sind, die Uniformen ihrer Entsenderstaaten.

    1 https://alarmphone.org/en/2020/03/15/returned-to-war-and-torture
    2 https://www.borderviolence.eu/frontex-ignore-rights-violations-at-the-evros-border
    3 https://digit.site36.net/2020/09/22/frontexs-weapon-problem

    https://de.indymedia.org/node/148213

    #frontex #contre-campagne #affiches #Berlin #Allemagne #campagne #résistance

    ping @karine4 @isskein @_kg_

  • Frontex instruye a Marruecos en el rescate de inmigrantes

    Tras un acercamiento de la agencia europea de fronteras, los marroquíes han participado, desde 2019, en varios cursos y misiones en alta mar.

    La agencia europea de fronteras (Frontex) lleva instruyendo a Marruecos en la interceptación y el rescate de inmigrantes en alta mar hace al menos dos años. Desde septiembre de 2019, los marroquíes han participado en cuatro cursos de formación y en misiones en alta mar en Grecia y Malta, según una respuesta de la propia agencia a la europarlamentaria alemana Özlem Demirel, representante del partido Die Linke en la Eurocámara.

    La participación en las misiones de búsqueda y rescate de los países ribereños de donde salen la mayoría de los inmigrantes es prioritaria para la UE. Lo es también para España, que trabaja bilateralmente en este ámbito con Argelia y Marruecos y financia la capacitación de los guardacostas de países como Senegal y Mauritania hace más de una década. La estrategia de los 27 y su agencia de control de fronteras, sin embargo, no consiste solo en rescatar embarcaciones y reducir la letalidad en estas rutas mortales, sino en reforzar a los países vecinos para que eviten que los migrantes lleguen a costas europeas.

    Frontex no detalla el contenido ni la duración de los cursos, pero sí da algunas pistas. La primera misión llevó a un representante marroquí y otro egipcio hasta la isla griega de Chíos, en septiembre de 2019. Allí participaron como observadores en un ejercicio de búsqueda y rescate. En enero de 2020 se repitió la experiencia en Malta, esta vez con teoría y ejercicios prácticos de abordaje de embarcaciones por parte de los guardacostas.

    Dos meses después, en marzo de 2020, representantes marroquíes y egipcios viajaron a Estonia donde se les presentaron las instalaciones, los recursos y las tecnologías de las autoridades locales. Ya en pandemia, en diciembre de 2020, representantes de la Gendarmería, la Marina Real y del Ministro del Interior marroquí participaron virtualmente de una reunión técnica con expertos de Frontex en la que “se presentaron unos a otros y presentaron las respectivas actividades” de sus guardacostas.

    Los marroquíes además viajaron a Varsovia en octubre de 2019, en “la primera reunión conjunta del comité Frontex-Marruecos” en la sede de la agencia. En ella participaron representantes de la Real Gendarmería y la Marina Real junto con una delegación más numerosa presidida por el Ministerio del Interior marroquí. En el mismo marco se realizó otra reunión virtual el pasado octubre.

    Acercamiento a Marruecos

    Los países africanos no suelen ser partidarios de negociar con Frontex. Prefieren las relaciones bilaterales con los países, porque de ellas suelen sacar cosas tangibles, como barcos y otros medios, mientras que con la agencia europea los acuerdos suelen implicar solamente formación.

    El director ejecutivo de Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, sin embargo, ha procurado en los últimos tiempos un acercamiento para tratar directamente con Marruecos. En una visita a Rabat en junio 2019, el francés alabó los “esfuerzos considerables” de un “socio estratégico” de la UE y discutió con los responsables marroquíes en temas migratorios el modo de desarrollar una mayor cooperación, según recogió la Agencia Marroquí de Prensa. Esta visita marcó el punto de inflexión y la nueva estrategia: los cursos de formación a oficiales marroquíes entrarían dentro de este nuevo marco de relaciones entre la agencia europea y el país africano.

    “Frontex ha entrado en Marruecos como un elefante en una cacharrería”, critica un mando de las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado español, con amplia experiencia en asuntos migratorios. Según esta fuente, el alcance de la formación que se le haya podido dar a unos pocos oficiales de Marruecos es escaso, y las contrapartidas para Frontex, de momento, también. Pero Rabat, dice, “se ha dejado querer”.

    Este mando censura el hecho de que que Frontex haya hecho un acercamiento unilateral al país africano, cuando la agencia debería pasar para su interlocución con Marruecos por España, tradicional socio del reino alauí en la lucha contra la migración irregular: “Frontex ha de coordinarse con el Estado miembro que tenga intereses allí, sucede lo mismo en Libia con los italianos”. En su opinión la relación entre Madrid y Rabat, con buenos canales de inteligencia, es hasta la fecha más fructífera que la que haya podido establecer Frontex “haciendo la guerra por su cuenta”.

    La colaboración de Marruecos en el auxilio de migrantes en el Estrecho y el Mar de Alborán, donde Frontex tiene desplegada la Operación Indalo, pasa por altos y bajos. En 2018, cuando llegaron a costas españolas más de 57.000 inmigrantes, un récord histórico, se puso de manifiesto que las dinámicas de los rescates con España no fluían. Las reclamaciones de las autoridades españolas ante la falta de respuesta o la lenta reacción de la Marina Real cuando se les comunicaba que había una patera en apuros eran recurrentes y un tercio de las operaciones de Salvamento Marítimo se realizaron en aguas de responsabilidad marroquí. La cooperación comenzó a mejorar a partir de febrero de 2019, coincidiendo con una visita del rey Felipe VI a Rabat y el empuje financiero y diplomático de la UE y de España en el país.

    “Frontex está cooperando con los guardacostas del norte de África en mayor medida de lo que ha dado a conocer hasta ahora”, afirma la europarlamentaria Özlem Demirel. La alemana ve en estas iniciativas “otra prueba de cómo la agencia se está volviendo cada vez más autónoma e incontrolable” y señala cómo esta cooperación es, en realidad, una forma de comprometer a los guardacostas africanos “en la vigilancia de la Europa Fortaleza”.

    Con este tipo de formación, según un portavoz de la agencia, se pretende compartir las “mejores prácticas” en áreas como la búsqueda y rescate de inmigrantes en el mar. La Oficina Europea de Lucha Contra el Fraude (OLAF) investiga a la agencia europea de fronteras Frontex por sospechas de acoso, mala conducta y también por supuestas devoluciones ilegales de migrantes en aguas griegas.

    https://elpais.com/espana/2021-05-05/frontex-instruye-a-marruecos-en-el-rescate-de-inmigrantes.html
    #Maroc #formation #Frontex #asile #migrations #réfugiés #gardes-frontière

  • How Frontex Helps Haul Migrants Back To Libyan Torture Camps

    Refugees are being detained, tortured and killed at camps in Libya. Investigative reporting by DER SPIEGEL and its partners has uncovered how close the European Union’s border agency Frontex works together with the Libyan coast guard.

    At sunrise, Alek Musa was still in good spirits. On the morning of June 25, 2020, he crowded onto an inflatable boat with 69 other people seeking asylum. Most of the refugees were Sudanese like him. They had left the Libyan coastal city of Garabulli the night before. Their destination: the island of Lampedusa in Italy. Musa wanted to escape the horrors of Libya, where migrants like him are captured, tortured and killed by militias.

    The route across the central Mediterranean is one of the world’s most dangerous for migrants. Just last week, another 100 people died as they tried to reach Europe from Libya. Musa was confident, nonetheless. The sea was calm and there was plenty of fuel in the boat’s tank.

    But then, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Musa saw a small white plane in the sky. He shared his story by phone. There is much to suggest that the aircraft was a patrol of the European border protection agency Frontex. Flight data shows that a Frontex pilot had been circling in the immediate vicinity of the boat at the time.

    However, it appears that Frontex officials didn’t instruct any of the nearby cargo ships to help the refugees – and neither did the sea rescue coordination centers. Instead, hours later, Musa spotted the Ras Al Jadar on the horizon, a Libyan coast guard vessel.

    With none of them wanting to be hauled back to Libya, the migrants panicked. "We tried to leave as quickly as possible,” says Musa, who won’t give his real name out of fear of retaliation.

    Musa claims the Libyans rammed the dinghy with their ship. And that four men had gone overboard. Images from an aircraft belonging to the private rescue organization Sea-Watch show people fighting for their lives in the water. At least two refugees are believed to have died in the operation. All the others were taken back to Libya.
    Frontex Has Turned the Libyans into Europe’s Interceptors

    The June 25 incident is emblematic of the Europeans’ policy in the Mediterranean: The EU member states ceased sea rescue operations entirely in 2019. Instead, they are harnessing the Libyan coast guard to keep people seeking protection out of Europe.

    The European Court of Human Rights ruled back in 2012 that refugees may not be brought back to Libya because they are threatened with torture and death there. But that’s exactly what Libyan border guards are doing. With the help of the Europeans, they are intercepting refugees and hauling them back to Libya. According to an internal EU document, 11,891 were intercepted and taken back ashore last year.

    The EU provides financing for the Libyan coast guard and has trained its members. To this day, though, it claims not to control their operations. “Frontex has never directly cooperated with the Libyan coast guard,” Fabrice Leggeri, the head of the border agency, told the European Parliament in March. He claimed that the Libyans alone were responsible for the controversial interceptions. Is that really the truth, though?

    Together with the media organization “Lighthouse Reports”, German public broadcaster ARD’s investigative magazine “Monitor” and the French daily “Libération”, DER SPIEGEL has investigated incidents in the central Mediterranean Sea over a period of months. The reporters collected position data from Frontex aircraft and cross-checked it with ship data and information from migrants and civilian rescue organizations. They examined confidential documents and spoke to survivors as well as nearly a dozen Libyan officers and Frontex staff.

    This research has exposed for the first time the extent of the cooperation between Frontex and the Libyan coast guard. Europe’s border protection agency is playing an active role in the interceptions conducted by the Libyans. The reporting showed that Frontex flew over migrant boats on at least 20 occasions since January 2020 before the Libyan coast guard hauled them back. At times, the Libyans drove deep in the Maltese Search and Rescue Zone, an area over which the Europeans have jurisdiction.

    Some 91 refugees died in the interceptions or are considered missing – in part because the system the Europeans have established causes significant delays in the interceptions. In most cases, merchant ships or even those of aid organizations were in the vicinity. They would have reached the migrant boats more quickly, but they apparently weren’t alerted. Civilian sea rescue organizations have complained for years that they are hardly ever provided with alerts from Frontex.

    The revelations present a problem for Frontex head Leggeri. He is already having to answer for his agency’s involvement in the illegal repatriation of migrants in the Aegean Sea that are referred to as pushbacks. Now it appears that Frontex is also bending the law in operations in the central Mediterranean.

    An operation in March cast light on how the Libyans operate on the high seas. The captain of the Libyan vessel Fezzan, a coast guard officer, agreed to allow a reporter with DER SPIEGEL to conduct a ride-along on the ship. During the trip, he held a crumpled piece of paper with the coordinates of the boats he was to intercept. He didn’t have any internet access on the ship – indeed, the private sea rescuers are better equipped.

    The morning of the trip, the crew of the Fezzan had already pulled around 200 migrants from the water. The Libyans decided to leave an unpowered wooden boat with another 200 people at sea because the Fezzan was already too full. The rescued people huddled on deck, their clothes soaked and their eyes filled with fear. "Stay seated!” the Libyan officers yelled.

    Sheik Omar, a 16-year-old boy from Gambia squatted at the bow. He explained how, after the death of his father, he struggled as a worker in Libya. Then he just wanted to get away from there. He had already attempted to reach Europe five times. "I’m afraid,” he said. "I don’t know where they’re taking me. It probably won’t be a good place.”

    The conditions in the Libyan detention camps are catastrophic. Some are officially under the control of the authorities, but various militias are actually calling the shots. Migrants are a good business for the groups, and refugees from sub-Saharan countries, especially, are imprisoned and extorted by the thousands.

    Mohammad Salim was aware of what awaited him in jail. He’s originally from Somalia and didn’t want to give his real name. Last June, he and around 90 other migrants tried to flee Libya by boat, but a Frontex airplane did a flyover above them early in the morning. Several merchant ships that could have taken them to Europe passed by. But then the Libyan coast guard arrived several hours later.

    Once back on land, the Somali was sent to the Abu Issa detention center, which is controlled by a notorious militia. “There was hardly anything to eat,” Salim reported by phone. On good days, he ate 18 pieces of maccaroni pasta. On other days, he sucked on toothpaste. The women had been forced by the guards to strip naked. Salim was only able to buy his freedom a month later, when his family had paid $1,200.

    The EU is well aware of the conditions in the Libyan refugee prisons. German diplomats reported "concentration camp-like conditions” in 2017. A February report from the EU’s External Action described widespread "sexual violence, abduction for ransom, forced labor and unlawful killings.” The report states that the perpetrators include "government officials, members of armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and members of criminal gangs.”

    Supplies for the business are provided by the Libyan coast guard, which is itself partly made up of militiamen.

    In response to a request for comment from DER SPIEGEL, Frontex asserted that it is the agency’s duty to inform all internationally recognized sea rescue coordination centers in the region about refugee boats, including the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC). The sea rescue coordination center reports to the Libyan Defense Ministry and is financed by the EU.

    According to official documents, the JRCC is located at the Tripoli airport. But members of the Libyan coast guard claim that the control center is only a small room at the Abu Sitta military base in Tripoli, with just two computers. They claim that it is actually officers with the Libyan coast guard who are on duty there. That the men there have no ability to monitor their stretch of coastline, meaning they would virtually be flying blind without the EU’s aerial surveillance. In the event of a shipping accident, they almost only notify their own colleagues, even though they currently only have two ships at their disposal. Even when their ships are closer, there are no efforts to inform NGOs or private shipping companies. Massoud Abdalsamad, the head of the JRCC and the commander of the coast guard even admits that, "The JRCC and the coast guard are one and the same, there is no difference.”

    WhatsApp Messages to the Coast Guard

    As such, experts are convinced that even the mere transfer of coordinates by Frontex to the JRCC is in violation of European law. "Frontex officials know that the Libyan coast guard is hauling refugees back to Libya and that people there face torture and inhumane treatment,” says Nora Markard, professor for international public law and international human rights at the University of Münster.

    In fact, it appears that Frontex employees are going one step further and sending the coordinates of the refugee boats directly to Libyan officers via WhatsApp. That claim has been made independently by three different members of the Libyan coast guard. DER SPIEGEL is in possession of screenshots indicating that the coast guard is regularly informed – and directly. One captain was sent a photo of a refugee boat taken by a Frontex plane. “This form of direct contact is a clear violation of European law,” says legal expert Markard.

    When confronted, Frontex no longer explicitly denied direct contact with the Libyan coast guard. The agency says it contacts everyone involved in emergency operations in order to save lives. And that form of emergency communication cannot be considered formal contact, a spokesman said.

    But officials at Frontex in Warsaw are conscious of the fact that their main objective is to help keep refugees from reaching Europe’s shores. They often watch on their screens in the situation center how boats capsize in the Mediterranean. It has already proven to be too much for some – they suffer from sleep disorders and psychological problems.

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/libya-how-frontex-helps-haul-migrants-back-to-libyan-torture-camps-a-d62c396

    #Libye #push-backs #refoulements #Frontex #complicité #milices #gardes-côtes_libyens #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #Ras_Al_Jadar #interception #Fezzan #Joint_Rescue_Coordination_Center (#JRCC) #WhatsApp #coordonnées_géographiques

    ping @isskein @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_ @i_s_

    • Frontex : l’agence européenne de garde-frontières au centre d’une nouvelle polémique

      Un consortium de médias européens, dont le magazine Der Spiegel et le journal Libération, a livré une nouvelle enquête accablante sur l’agence européenne des gardes-frontières. Frontex est accusée de refouler des bateaux de migrants en mer Méditerranée.

      Frontex, c’est quoi ?

      L’agence européenne des gardes-frontières et gardes-côtes a été créée en 2004 pour répondre à la demande d’aides des pays membres pour protéger les frontières extérieures de l’espace Schengen. Frontex a trois objectifs : réduire la vulnérabilité des frontières extérieures, garantir le bon fonctionnement et la sécurité aux frontières et maintenir les capacités du corps européen, recrutant chaque année près de 700 gardes-frontières et garde-côtes. Depuis la crise migratoire de 2015, le budget de l’agence, subventionné par l’Union Européen a explosé passant 142 à 460 millions d’euros en 2020.

      Nouvelles accusations

      Frontex est de nouveau au centre d’une polémique au sein de l’UE. En novembre 2020, et en janvier 2021 déjà, Der Spiegel avait fait part de plusieurs refoulements en mer de bateaux de demandeurs d’asile naviguant entre la Turquie et la Grèce et en Hongrie. Dans cette enquête le magazine allemand avait averti que les responsables de Frontex étaient"conscients des pratiques illégales des gardes-frontières grecs et impliqués dans les refoulements eux-mêmes" (https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-border-agency-frontex-complicit-in-greek-refugee-pushback-campaign-a-4b6c).

      A la fin de ce mois d’avril, de nouveaux éléments incriminants Frontex révélés par un consortium de médias vont dans le même sens : des agents de Frontex auraient donné aux gardes-côtes libyens les coordonnées de bateaux de réfugiés naviguant en mer Méditerranée pour qu’ils soient interceptés avant leurs arrivées sur le sol européen. C’est ce que l’on appelle un « pushback » : refouler illégalement des migrants après les avoir interceptés, violant le droit international et humanitaire. L’enquête des médias européens cite un responsable d’Amnesty International, Mateo de Bellis qui précise que « sans les informations de Frontex, les gardes-côtes libyens ne pourraient jamais intercepter autant de migrants ».

      Cet arrangement entre les autorités européennes et libyennes « constitue une violation manifeste du droit européen », a déclaré Nora Markard, experte en droit international de l’université de Münster, citée par Der Spiegel.

      Une politique migratoire trop stricte de l’UE ?

      En toile de fond, les détracteurs de Frontex visent également la ligne politique de l’UE en matière d’immigration, jugée trop stricte. Est-ce cela qui aurait généré le refoulement de ces bateaux ? La Commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, s’en défendait en janvier dernier, alors que Frontex était déjà accusé d’avoir violé le droit international et le droit humanitaire en refoulant six migrants en mer Egée. « Ce que nous protégeons, lorsque nous protégeons nos frontières, c’est l’Union européenne basée sur des valeurs et nous devons respecter nos engagements à ces valeurs tout en protégeant nos frontières (...) Et c’est une des raisons pour lesquelles nous avons besoin de Frontex », expliquait la Commissaire à euronews.

      Pour Martin Martiniello, spécialiste migration à l’université de Liège, « l’idée de départ de l’Agence Frontex était de contrôler les frontières européennes avec l’espoir que cela soit accompagné d’une politique plus positive, plus proactive de l’immigration. Cet aspect-là ne s’est pas développé au cours des dernières années, mais on a construit cette notion de crise migratoire. Et cela renvoie une image d’une Europe assiégée, qui doit se débarrasser des migrants non souhaités. Ce genre de politique ne permet pas de rencontrer les défis globaux des déplacements de population à long terme ».

      Seulement trois jours avant la parution de l’enquête des médias européens incriminant Frontex, L’Union européenne avait avancé sa volonté d’accroître et de mieux encadrer les retours volontaires des personnes migrantes, tout en reconnaissant que cet axe politique migratoire était, depuis 2019, un échec. L’institution avait alors proposé à Frontex un nouveau mandat pour prendre en charge ces retours. Selon Martin Martiniello, « des montants de plus en plus élevés ont été proposés, pour financer Frontex. Même si le Parlement européen a refusé de voter ce budget, celui-ci comporte de la militarisation encore plus importante de l’espace méditerranéen, avec des drones et tout ce qui s’en suit. Et cela fait partie d’une politique européenne ».

      Les accusations de novembre et janvier derniers ont généré l’ouverture d’une enquête interne chez Frontex, mais aussi à l’Office européen de lutte antifraude (OLAF). Pour Catherine Woolard, directrice du Conseil européen des Réfugiés et Exilés (ECRE), « On voit tout le problème des structures de gouvernance de Frontex : ce sont les États membres qui font partie du conseil d’administration et de gestion de Frontex, et ces États membres ont fait une enquête préliminaire. Mais cette enquête ne peut pas être profonde et transparente, puisque ces États membres sont parties prenantes dans ce cas de figure ».

      Pour la directrice de l’ECRE, une enquête indépendante serait une solution pour comprendre et réparer les torts causés, et suggère une réforme du conseil d’administration de Frontex. « La décision du Parlement concernant le budget est importante. En plus des enquêtes internes, le Parlement a créé un groupe de travail pour reformer le scrutin au sein du conseil administratif de l’agence, ce qui est essentiel. Nous attendons le rapport de ce groupe de travail, qui permettra de rendre compte de la situation chez Frontex ».

      Certains députés européens ont demandé la démission du directeur exécutif de Frontex. « C’est un sujet sensible » souligne Catherine Woolard. « Dans le contexte de l’augmentation des ressources de Frontex, le recrutement d’agents de droits fondamentaux, ainsi que les mesures et mécanismes mentionnés, sont essentiels. Le Parlement européen insiste sur la création de ces postes et n’a toujours pas eu de réponse de la part du directeur de Frontex. Entretemps, l’agence a toujours l’obligation de faire un rapport sur les incidents où il y a une suspicion de violation du droit international et humanitaire ».

      https://www.levif.be/actualite/europe/frontex-l-agence-europeenne-de-garde-frontieres-au-centre-d-une-nouvelle-polemique/article-normal-1422403.html?cookie_check=1620307471

  • Europe’s Border Guards Are Illegally Expelling Refugees

    Border guards expelling Syrian refugees after they’ve already been granted asylum has shown the hollowness of European Union humanitarianism. An expansion of the EU-wide Frontex force will make things even worse.

    A young man known in public documents only as Fady has been fighting a battle far harder than anyone his age would normally imagine.

    He first came to Europe from Deir az-Zour, Syria, fleeing that country’s civil war. In 2015, German authorities recognized him as a legally protected refugee. Since then, Fady has used his German passport to look for his lost brother, who he believes to be stuck in Greece and who he wishes to bring to Germany.

    He has paid dearly for those wishes.

    According to information and quotes from Fady provided to Jacobin by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), which is representing him in front of international policymakers, Fady took a trip to Greece in November 2016, hoping to track down his brother. At that time just eleven years of age, his brother had fled recruitment by ISIS, and Fady hoped to find him in Greece.

    While searching for him at a bus station in that country’s Evros region, Fady says he was approached by police and asked about his ethnic origin. After responding that he was Syrian, he was taken into custody by the police, who drove him to an unknown location, despite his protestations that he was a documented German resident who was in the EU legally, with the papers to prove it. They allegedly took his ID, papers, and belongings away from him before handing him to a group of people he describes as “commandos,” who he told the Intercept spoke German and were armed, masked, and clad entirely in black.

    He said the commandos beat anyone who tried to speak to them as they took a group of detained people — some as young as one or two years old — across the river border with Turkey in a rubber boat. There they were dumped paperless, homeless, and stateless in a country that many of them had never resided in for more than a couple days. It took Fady three years to get back his papers and EU residency — a period during which he tried multiple times to get back into Greece in order to search for his brother. He has not found him.

    The ordeal to which Fady was subjected is the most extreme version of what is known as a “pushback” operation. In other forms, these operations can involve keeping people outside of the borders of the EU — denying them entry at sea, for example. GLAN is arguing in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council that the type of pushback operation Fady endured, in which identity papers are confiscated, goes beyond that, amounting to a forced disappearance, which is illegal under a clause of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Greece is a signatory. (Turning away refugees in general is also illegal under international law, but GLAN hopes to add weight to the potential HRC ruling by having the actions acknowledged as forced disappearances.)
    Frontex

    Such operations, many immigrant rights groups allege, are often led by Frontex, the EU’s border security agency, which coordinates national governments’ anti-immigration operations and is the fastest-growing agency in the EU. Headquartered in Warsaw, the organization is slated to grow from a relatively small current workforce to a staff likely to include a potential ten thousand border guards by 2027, in addition to national governments’ forces.

    I wanted to get detailed statements from the German government, the Greek government, and the Frontex bureaucracy about Fady’s incident, so I sent each group a list of several detailed questions.

    A spokesperson for the German government’s press office declined to answer the questions, sending back a short statement that read, “Within the framework of Frontex operations, the German Federal Police supports the Greek authorities to protect the Greek border. The German officers comply with German, European and international law.”

    A Frontex representative also declined to answer specific questions, stating that “Frontex is not aware of any such incident. Frontex officers deployed at the Greek land borders have not been involved in any such incidents. In addition, two investigations have found no evidence of any participation by Frontex in any alleged violations of human rights at the Greek sea borders.”

    The Greek government is keeping its silence about whether it was involved in Fady’s kidnapping. Five emails sent to the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum over the course of two weeks went unanswered.

    Dr Valentina Azarova of the Manchester International Law Centre and GLAN noted that Frontex’s assurances that it is not involved in violent pushbacks alongside Greek border forces are based on faulty information, citing a “dysfunctional reporting system” that was in place at the time of the alleged incident and that is under scrutiny as part of a recent wave of probes.

    While she says that Frontex’s reporting system was supposed to have improved since 2019 reforms went into place — three years after Fady says he was abducted and expelled — the scope of the current probes to the fact that there’s still a long way to go.

    “Frontex’s reporting practice is irregular and opaque,” she told me. “When it does report, it misrepresents illegal expulsions as ‘prevention of departure’ [from Turkey].”
    Driven From Home

    That euphemistic band-aid — an alleged way of trying to reverse an immigration journey that has already happened without getting caught doing so — is emblematic of the problems of this EU agency. For it is tasked with treating only the symptoms of a condition that European countries are guilty of helping to perpetuate, rather than taking on the root causes forcing people onto the move.

    The effects are felt across much of the Global South. By pulling the financial and governmental levers that control the global economy, leaders in industrialized and postindustrial countries have created what Dr Michael Yates — an economist, writer, editor, and editorial director of Monthly Review Press — calls a “complex brew” of austerity, land theft, and political oppression.

    As an addition to this brew of factors, European countries are often either silently complicit or actively encouraging of weapons sales to nearby conflict zones. For example, German manufacturers Hensoldt and Rheinmetall supplied arms to Saudi Arabia via South Africa for its war against Yemen, skirting an export ban, with full knowledge of the German government. And the French industrial giant Airbus dodged an arms embargo on Libya by routing planes through Turkey. This behavior is a logical outgrowth of late-stage capitalism, as weapon sales are one of the more profitable sectors that a business can enter, and as bought-and-paid-for politicians are told to look the other way when misbehavior occurs.

    Together, these factors — the austerity, the land theft, the political oppression, and the encouragement of violent civil conflicts — form a neocolonialist zone of low opportunity that pushes people from the Global South to the Global North.

    Not least among these sources of pressure is the Syrian civil war from which Fady and his brother fled. That conflict has now been going on for more than a decade, involving at least a half-dozen major belligerents, along with other minor parties. It has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

    Any left-wingers in the United States who had held onto hopes that the new Biden administration might introduce a more pacifist stance on Syria — perhaps removing one party from the bloody, multifaceted tragedy playing out between the Tigris and the Mediterranean — were severely disappointed. Immediately after taking office, Biden prioritized bombing that country over fulfilling his $15 minimum wage pledge. And so, the weapon sales continue, the conflict continues, and the Syrian refugees continue trying to find better lives elsewhere.

    Increasingly, those who would help the refugees are finding themselves the targets of government actions. As a Jacobin essayist documented last month, Italy’s new, supposedly centrist government has made some of its first actions a series of moves against groups that assist migrants braving the Mediterranean. On March 1, a hundred officers raided homes and offices all around Italy, seizing activists’ computers, telephones, and files. The accused are, as the essayist argued, “targeted under suspicion of the crime of saving lives.”

    Greece isn’t doing much better. As Jacobin reported last year, at least a thousand asylum seekers have been subjected to pushbacks at the hands of the Greek border authorities.
    Answering to No One

    It’s not just Greece and Italy doing dirty deeds either. Frontex is staffing up, and it is not accountable to the European Court of Human Rights, which only has jurisdiction over member states — not over the EU’s own continent-wide agencies.

    This unaccountability has emboldened Frontex, to the point where it’s comfortable flying an entire plane full of would-be refugees out of Greece to be left — as with Fady — in Turkey. As Melanie Fink wrote for the blog of the European Journal of International Law, it is “notoriously difficult to hold Frontex to account for failures” to uphold its obligations under international law, thanks to the way the bureaucracy is set up.

    And that bureaucracy just gave itself the power to carry weapons, even though, as the Frontex Files investigative website published by German broadcaster ZDF puts it, “no legal regulations permit members of an EU agency to carry firearms.” In other words, the member states never voted on these powers arming Frontex — they are fully an outgrowth of the EU unilaterally deciding that it wants a paramilitary border force to call its own.

    Either by accident or by design, Frontex has by some accounts become an opaque group of European security forces, with no one to answer to. Here there is a great risk of mission creep — for instance, if its agents join other border forces in pursuing or persecuting migrants’ rights activists or labor leaders who speak out for underpaid refugees. As the ongoing probes have affirmed, Azarova says, the whole Frontex system has been set up to be “highly unaccountable.”

    Azarova explains that both Frontex and the European Commission rely on Greece to conduct border operations in accordance with EU law but have not even considered the suspension of their extensive technical and financial assistance to Greece’s abusive border operations. Since EU institutions have done little to redress the illegal expulsions at the EU’s borders, GLAN has taken Fady’s case to the UN.

    Fady says that what he likes about Germany is that his life and work are now here. “I like Germany’s nice people and how kind they are. My work is good, and life is safe here,” he said. He’s even started supporting Bayern Munich.

    But he hopes to go back to the border areas, bringing cameras to document what governments are doing there.

    The authorities can ignore him — or kidnap him once more. While that could damage his life all over again, it will make little difference for them, as their actions will remain almost entirely futile: as long as instability, inequality, and wars encouraged by the Global North push residents of the Global South out of their homes, even ten thousand militarized, unaccountable border guards will not be enough to stop the flow. The people will keep coming.

    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/05/europe-syrian-refugees-greece-germany-frontex

    #push-backs #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #refoulement #réfugiés_syriens #Evros #Thraces #Grèce #Turquie #frontière_terrestre #Frontex

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les refoulements dans la région de l’Evros :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/914147

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tragedy and Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Our Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    State of Necessity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NGOs in the Crosshairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Same Uniforms, Same Ships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Result of Mere Chance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @karine4 @isskein @rhoumour

  • Rückführung illegaler MigrantenNGOs üben scharfe Kritik an Nehammers Balkan-Plänen

    Österreich hat mit Bosnien die Rückführung illegaler Migranten vereinbart, Nehammer sagte Unterstützung zu. Laut NGOs mache sich Österreich damit „zum Komplizen eines Völkerrechtsbruches“.

    Innenminister #Karl_Nehammer (ÖVP) hat am Mittwoch seine Westbalkanreise fortgesetzt und mit Bosnien einen Rückführungsplan für irreguläre Migranten vereinbart. Mit dem Sicherheitsminister von Bosnien und Herzegowina, #Selmo_Cikotić, unterzeichnete er eine Absichtserklärung. Scharfe Kritik äußerten mehrere Initiativen in Österreich. Außerdem kündigte Nehammer an, dass Österreich für das abgebrannte Camp #Lipa 500.000 Euro bereitstellt, damit dieses winterfest gemacht wird.

    Die Arbeiten dazu haben laut dem Innenministerium bereits begonnen, mit dem Geld sollen ein Wasser- und Abwassernetz sowie Stromanschlüsse errichtet werden. Im Dezember war die Lage in Bihać eskaliert, nachdem das Camp Lipa im Nordwesten des Landes kurz vor Weihnachten von der Internationalen Organisation für Migration (IOM) geräumt worden war – mit der Begründung, dass es die bosnischen Behörden nicht winterfest gemacht hätten. Kurz darauf brannten die Zelte aus, den damaligen Berichten zufolge hatten Bewohner das Feuer selbst gelegt. Beobachter gehen davon aus, dass auch die Einheimischen das Feuer aus Wut auf die Flüchtenden gelegt haben könnten.

    Charterflüge für Migranten ohne Bleibechancen

    Zentrales Ziel der Balkanreise von Innenminister Nehammer ist die Erarbeitung von Rückführungsplänen mit den besuchten Ländern. Migranten ohne Bleibewahrscheinlichkeit, die laut Nehammer auch ein Sicherheitsproblem sind, sollen bereits von den Balkanländern in die Herkunftsländer zurückgebracht werden. Mit Bosnien wurde bereits ein Charterflug vereinbart. Damit zeige man den Menschen, dass es nicht sinnvoll sei, Tausende Euro in die Hände von Schleppern zu legen, ohne die Aussicht auf eine Bleibeberechtigung in der EU zu haben, betonte Nehammer.

    Die geplanten Rückführungen sollen über die im vergangenen Sommer bei der Ministerkonferenz in Wien angekündigte „Plattform gegen illegale Migration“ operativ organisiert werden. In die Koordinierungsplattform für Migrationspolitik mehrerer EU-Länder – darunter Deutschland – sowie der Westbalkanstaaten wird auch die EU-Kommission miteinbezogen.
    Beamte sollen im „Eskortentraining“ geschult werden

    Bosnien hat bereits auch konkrete Anliegen für Unterstützung vorgebracht. So sollen 50 sogenannte „Rückführungsspezialisten“ in Österreich trainiert werden. Diese sind bei Abschiebungen und freiwilligen Ausreisen für die Sicherheit in den Flugzeugen zuständig. Bei diesem sogenannten Eskortentraining werden die bosnischen Beamten theoretisch und praktisch geschult, in Absprache mit Frontex und unter Miteinbeziehung der Cobra, berichtete Berndt Körner, stellvertretender Exekutivdirektor von Frontex.

    „Wir helfen bei der Ausbildung, vermitteln Standards, das ändert aber nichts an der Verantwortlichkeit, die bleibt in den jeweiligen Ländern“, sagte er im Gespräch mit der APA. Es gehe darum, dass „alle internationalen Standards eingehalten werden“, betonte der österreichische Spitzenbeamte.
    NGOs sehen „falsches Zeichen“

    Scharfe Kritik an dem von Nehammer geplanten „Rückführungsplan“ übten unterdessen zahlreiche Initiativen aus der Zivilgesellschaft. „Wenn Österreich den Westbalkanländern helfen will, dann soll es diese Länder beim Aufbau von rechtsstaatlichen Asylverfahren unterstützen. Wenn allerdings Menschen, die in diesen Ländern keine fairen Verfahren erwarten können, einfach abgeschoben werden sollen und Österreich dabei hilft, macht es sich zum Komplizen eines Völkerrechtsbruches“, kritisierte etwa Maria Katharina Moser, Direktorin der Diakonie Österreich, in einer Aussendung.

    „Die Vertiefung der Zusammenarbeit mit der EU-Agentur Frontex ist ein falsches Zeichen“, erklärte Lukas Gahleitner-Gertz, Sprecher der NGO Asylkoordination Österreich. „Die Vorwürfe gegen Frontex umfassen inzwischen unterschiedlichste Bereiche von unterlassener Hilfeleistung über Beteiligung an illegalen Push-backs bis zur Verschwendung von Steuergeldern bei ausufernden Betriebsfeiern. Statt auf die strikte Einhaltung der völker- und menschenrechtlichen Verpflichtungen zu pochen, stärkt Österreich der umstrittenen Grenztruppe den Rücken.“

    „Im Flüchtlingsschutz müssen wir immer die Menschen im Auge haben, die Schutz suchen. Ich habe bei meiner Reise nach Bosnien selbst gesehen, unter welchen Bedingungen Geflüchtete leben müssen. Für mich ist klar: Diejenigen, die Schutz vor Verfolgung brauchen, müssen durch faire Asylverfahren zu ihrem Recht kommen“, sagte Erich Fenninger, Direktor der Volkshilfe Österreich und Sprecher der Plattform für eine menschliche Asylpolitik.

    https://www.kleinezeitung.at/politik/innenpolitik/5972469/Rueckfuehrung-illegaler-Migranten_NGOs-ueben-scharfe-Kritik-an

    #Autriche #Bosnie #accord #accord_bilatéral #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #renvois #route_des_Balkans #expulsions #Nehammer #Selmo_Cikotic #externalisation #camp_de_réfugiés #encampement #IOM #OIM #vols #charter #dissuasion #Plattform_gegen_illegale_Migration #machine_à_expulsion #Rückführungsspezialisten #spécialistes_du_renvoi (tentative de traduction de „Rückführungsspezialisten“) #avions #Eskortentraining #Frontex #Cobra #Berndt_Körner

  • Frontex Twitter Account Assessment Paper :

    Un document qui date de très probablement de 2015, moment dans lequel Frontex réfléchit les avantages et inconvénients d’avoir un compte twitter.

    * Preliminary note *

    It is clear that a significant part of discussions about Frontex does not take place in mainstream media. There is a large quantity of Tweets, blogs, online fora and discussions dedicated either directly to Frontex or to the wider topic of migration. Politicians and activists communicate regularly about Frontex without us being aware of it or being able to influence it. For a signific ant share of young people information gained online is the only source of information. According to Shaefer (2014) over 90% of US and some 75% of European journalists use social media as the primary source of information for breaking stories. As many corporate crises have proved in the past 3 years, Twitter is increasingly proving to be an invaluable tool for PR crisis management as it allows putting our side of the story not only in real time, but also directly to the concerned target audiences. By ignoring social media we will not make it go away. There is little doubt we should have a better picture of what is said ‘out there’ about Frontex and that we should start reaching out to those audiences we have virtually no contact with.

    Dans cet assessment, il y a une section dédiée aux #target_groups (p.4) :

    où figurent dans les "Frontex critics" : #Frontexit, #Migreurop, les #Verts, #Die_Linke, #No_Borders, #Panopticon et des non-spécifiées "migrants associations"

    Parmi les menaces que Frontex voit dans cette stratégie liée aux réseaux sociaux :

    “Insufficient and irregular engagement due to lack of dedicated staff to manage response to criticism could damage Frontex reputation”

    https://fragdenstaat.de/en/documents/9317-microsoft-word-twitter-strategy

    –-> document qui fait partie de la requête du 20.12.2020 ”Frontex Social Media Guidelines” :
    https://fragdenstaat.de/en/request/frontex-social-media-guidelines

    #réseaux_sociaux #surveillance #twitter #Frontex #migrations #big_brother #image #réputation

    ping @etraces

  • Intelligence artificielle : l’Europe face aux apprentis sorciers
    https://www.telerama.fr/debats-reportages/intelligence-artificielle-leurope-face-aux-apprentis-sorciers-6865602.php

    Alors que l’intelligence artificielle ne cesse de se développer, la Commission européenne vient de présenter son projet pour réguler les technologies numériques dans “le respect de l’humain”. Mais cette volonté d’encadrement est-elle tenable face aux appétits des géants chinois et américains ?

    Évoquant l’équilibre, Julien Gracq disait qu’« il suffit d’un souffle pour tout faire bouger ». Dans le rôle du funambule, la Commission européenne vient de publier son projet de règlement sur l’intelligence artificielle (IA). Alors que celle-ci s’insinue partout, charriant son lot de promesses – parfois intenables – et de prophéties autoréalisatrices, l’Europe prend l’initiative, selon la commissaire Margrethe Vestager, d’« élaborer de nouvelles normes qui garantiront une IA sûre, tournée vers le progrès et centrée sur l’humain ». Privilégiant une approche fondée sur le risque, Bruxelles cherche une ligne de crête qui permettrait d’encadrer ce nouvel eldorado sans l’interdire, de respecter les libertés sans hypothéquer l’innovation. Mission impossible ?

    Le sandwich sino-américain

    Trois ans après l’entrée en vigueur du Règlement général sur la protection des données (RGPD), régulièrement salué comme une avancée dans le champ du respect de la vie privée, l’Europe veut remettre le couvert et se positionner comme le champion de la régulation technologique. Le couloir de nage est néanmoins étroit : coincée entre un modèle américain prédateur des données personnelles et un paradigme chinois fondé sur le contrôle social dopé aux algorithmes, l’Union européenne connaît une impuissance relative. Pas facile d’être un gendarme en 2 CV quand les go fast roulent en Maserati.

    Thierry Breton, le commissaire au marché intérieur, a beau répéter que « l’UE doit organiser l’univers numérique pour les vingt prochaines années », en matière d’intelligence artificielle, le futur s’écrit pour l’heure à Shenzhen ou en Californie plutôt qu’à Bruxelles. Il suffit par exemple de jeter un œil curieux sur une présentation déclassifiée de la Commission de sécurité nationale sur l’intelligence artificielle (NSCAI), qui conseille le Congrès et oriente la politique technologique des États-Unis. L’organe, présidé par Eric Schmidt, ancien patron de Google, y déplore l’avance du rival chinois dans des domaines aussi variés que « les véhicules autonomes, les villes intelligentes, les services de transport ou les échanges dématérialisés ». Et affirme sans détours dans une diapositive : « La surveillance est le meilleur client pour l’intelligence artificielle. »

    De quoi mettre à mal les bonnes volontés européennes, pourtant bien réelles. Si la Chine – qui vise une économie de l’IA valorisée à 150 milliards de dollars d’ici à 2030 – n’est pas nommée dans le document de la Commission, son fameux « crédit social », au nom duquel chaque individu se voit attribuer une note modulée en fonction de ses actions quotidiennes, est agité comme un repoussoir absolu : l’Europe suggère ainsi d’interdire ces outils, qui portent « un préjudice systémique à certains individus ou groupes de personnes ».

    Exceptions sécuritaires…

    Autre point saillant : l’identification en temps réel dans l’espace public, qui serait également proscrite. La recommandation a de quoi surprendre quand on sait qu’en janvier 2020 l’Union européenne a renoncé à un moratoire de cinq ans sur la reconnaissance faciale. Mais le diable se niche dans les détails : primo, la biométrie intrusive resterait possible a posteriori ; deuxio, le texte prévoit plusieurs exceptions qui permettraient aux autorités de recourir à ces technologies. Si une première version du texte (ayant fuité la semaine dernière) se contentait d’une grossière dérogation sécuritaire, le projet final réduit les cas d’usage à trois situations : la recherche de victimes et d’enfants disparus, la prévention d’actes terroristes imminents et la localisation de personnes recherchées par la police pour des crimes punis d’au moins trois ans de prison.

    Le projet de règlement mentionne également les intelligences artificielles utilisées aux limites de l’espace communautaire, susceptibles d’« affecter des personnes en situation vulnérable ». Ces outils seraient considérés comme « à risque » et donc assujettis à des contrôles particuliers, sans pour autant être bannis. Ce n’est pas neutre : sous l’égide de Frontex, l’agence européenne de gardes-frontières, l’Europe mobilise drones, caméras thermiques et autres détecteurs de fréquence cardiaque pour refouler – illégalement – les migrants. Or, comme le rappelait le collectif Border Violence Monitoring Network dans un rapport récent, ces technologies répressives contribuent à les déshumaniser, légitimant les violences commises à leur encontre par la police.

    … et péril pseudoscientifique

    Plus surprenant, le projet de règlement reste particulièrement flou au sujet des « systèmes de catégorisation biométriques », autorisant et mettant sur le même plan des IA capables de classer les individus en fonction de leur couleur de cheveux et d’autres qui prétendent les ordonner suivant leur origine ethnique ou leur orientation sexuelle. Inacceptable pour une quarantaine d’eurodéputés. Dans un courrier adressé à la présidente de la Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, ils réclament l’interdiction pure et simple de telles pratiques, « qui réduisent la complexité de l’existence humaine à une série de cases binaires, risquant de perpétuer de nombreuses formes de discrimination ». Le péril n’est pas seulement théorique : il y a quelques mois, un chercheur américain, déjà à l’origine d’un « gaydar » dopé à l’intelligence artificielle, publiait un article scientifique dans la revue Nature, affirmant qu’on peut inférer les opinions politiques d’un individu grâce à la reconnaissance faciale.

    En l’état, cet angle mort du texte européen pourrait contribuer à ressusciter les pseudosciences racistes du XIXe siècle, au premier rang desquelles la physiognomonie, qui prétend examiner le langage animal du corps et déduire la personnalité d’un individu sur la foi des traits de son visage. Largement utilisée par les eugénistes pour soutenir leurs thèses, cette discipline dangereuse revit aujourd’hui sur un marché émergent de la détection des émotions, boosté par la pandémie. La physiognomonie est par exemple à l’origine de la start-up Clearview AI, l’épouvantail de la reconnaissance faciale, aujourd’hui poursuivie aux États-Unis pour avoir illégalement bâti une base de données de 3 milliards de visages. Appelant récemment à une régulation drastique de l’identification des affects, la chercheuse australienne Kate Crawford évoquait la nécessité de résister à « la pulsion phrénologique », un autre charlatanisme selon lequel nos caractères dépendent de la forme de notre crâne : « Nous devons rejeter la mythologie selon laquelle nos états d’âme sont un jeu de données qu’on pourrait extraire de nos visages. » Le pays moteur dans ce secteur infréquentable ? La Chine.

    #Frontex #algorithme #CCTV #drone #biométrie #migration #température #données #facial #législation #reconnaissance #vidéo-surveillance #BigData #surveillance (...)

    ##[fr]Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données__RGPD_[en]General_Data_Protection_Regulation__GDPR_[nl]General_Data_Protection_Regulation__GDPR_

  • Réfugiés : contourner la #Croatie par le « #triangle » #Serbie - #Roumanie - #Hongrie

    Une nouvelle route migratoire s’est ouverte dans les Balkans : en Serbie, de plus en plus d’exilés tentent de contourner les barbelés barrant la #Hongrie en faisant un crochet par la Roumanie, avant d’espérer rejoindre les pays riches de l’Union européenne. Un chemin plus long et pas moins risqué, conséquence des politiques sécuritaires imposées par les 27.

    Il est 18h30, le jour commence à baisser sur la plaine de #Voïvodine. Un groupe d’une cinquantaine de jeunes hommes, sacs sur le dos et duvets en bandoulière, marche d’un pas décidé le long de la petite route de campagne qui relie les villages serbes de #Majdan et de #Rabe. Deux frontières de l’Union européenne (UE) se trouvent à quelques kilomètres de là : celle de la Hongrie, barrée depuis la fin 2015 d’une immense clôture barbelée, et celle de la Roumanie, moins surveillée pour le moment.

    Tous s’apprêtent à tenter le « #game », ce « jeu » qui consiste à échapper à la police et à pénétrer dans l’UE, en passant par « le triangle ». Le triangle, c’est cette nouvelle route migratoire à trois côtés qui permet de rejoindre la Hongrie, l’entrée de l’espace Schengen, depuis la Serbie, en faisant un crochet par la Roumanie. « Nous avons été contraints de prendre de nouvelles dispositions devant les signes clairs de l’augmentation du nombre de personnes traversant illégalement depuis la Serbie », explique #Frontex, l’Agence européenne de protection des frontières. Aujourd’hui, 87 de ses fonctionnaires patrouillent au côté de la police roumaine.

    Depuis l’automne 2020, le nombre de passages par cet itinéraire, plus long, est en effet en forte hausse. Les #statistiques des passages illégaux étant impossibles à tenir, l’indicateur le plus parlant reste l’analyse des demandes d’asiles, qui ont explosé en Roumanie l’année dernière, passant de 2626 à 6156, soit une hausse de 137%, avec un pic brutal à partir du mois d’octobre. Selon les chiffres de l’Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, les services d’immigrations roumains, 92% de ces demandeurs d’asile étaient entrés depuis la Serbie.

    “La Roumanie et la Hongrie, c’est mieux que la Croatie.”

    Beaucoup de ceux qui espèrent passer par le « triangle » ont d’abord tenté leur chance via la Bosnie-Herzégovine et la Croatie avant de rebrousser chemin. « C’est difficile là-bas », raconte Ahmed, un Algérien d’une trentaine d’années, qui squatte une maison abandonnée de Majdan avec cinq de ses compatriotes. « Il y a des policiers qui patrouillent cagoulés. Ils te frappent et te prennent tout : ton argent, ton téléphone et tes vêtements. Je connais des gens qui ont dû être emmenés à l’hôpital. » Pour lui, pas de doutes, « la Roumanie et la Hongrie, c’est mieux ».

    La route du « triangle » a commencé à devenir plus fréquentée dès la fin de l’été 2020, au moment où la situation virait au chaos dans le canton bosnien d’#Una_Sana et que les violences de la police croate s’exacerbaient encore un peu plus. Quelques semaines plus tard, les multiples alertes des organisations humanitaires ont fini par faire réagir la Commission européenne. Ylva Johansson, la Commissaire suédoise en charge des affaires intérieures a même dénoncé des « traitements inhumains et dégradants » commis contre les exilés à la frontière croato-bosnienne, promettant une « discussion approfondie » avec les autorités de Zagreb. De son côté, le Conseil de l’Europe appelait les autorités croates à mettre fin aux actes de tortures contre les migrants et à punir les policiers responsables. Depuis, sur le terrain, rien n’a changé.

    Pire, l’incendie du camp de #Lipa, près de #Bihać, fin décembre, a encore aggravé la crise. Pendant que les autorités bosniennes se renvoyaient la balle et que des centaines de personnes grelottaient sans toit sous la neige, les arrivées se sont multipliées dans le Nord de la Serbie. « Rien que dans les villages de Majdan et Rabe, il y avait en permanence plus de 300 personnes cet hiver », estime Jeremy Ristord, le coordinateur de Médecins sans frontières (MSF) en Serbie. La plupart squattent les nombreuses maisons abandonnées. Dans cette zone frontalière, beaucoup d’habitants appartiennent aux minorités hongroise et roumaine, et Budapest comme Bucarest leur ont généreusement délivré des passeports après leur intégration dans l’UE. Munis de ces précieux sésames européens, les plus jeunes sont massivement partis chercher fortune ailleurs dès la fin des années 2000.

    Siri, un Palestinien dont la famille était réfugiée dans un camp de Syrie depuis les années 1960, squatte une masure défoncée à l’entrée de Rabe. En tout, ils sont neuf, dont trois filles. Cela fait de longs mois que le jeune homme de 27 ans est coincé en Serbie. Keffieh sur la tête, il tente de garder le sourire en racontant son interminable odyssée entamée voilà bientôt dix ans. Dès les premiers combats en 2011, il a fui avec sa famille vers la Jordanie, puis le Liban avant de se retrouver en Turquie. Finalement, il a pris la route des Balkans l’an dernier, avec l’espoir de rejoindre une partie des siens, installés en Allemagne, près de Stuttgart.

    “La police m’a arrêté, tabassé et on m’a renvoyé ici. Sans rien.”

    Il y a quelques jours, Siri à réussi à arriver jusqu’à #Szeged, dans le sud de la Hongrie, via la Roumanie. « La #police m’a arrêté, tabassé et on m’a renvoyé ici. Sans rien », souffle-t-il. À côté de lui, un téléphone crachote la mélodie de Get up, Stand up, l’hymne reggae de Bob Marley appelant les opprimés à se battre pour leurs droits. « On a de quoi s’acheter un peu de vivres et des cigarettes. On remplit des bidons d’eau pour nous laver dans ce qui reste de la salle de bains », raconte une des filles, assise sur un des matelas qui recouvrent le sol de la seule petite pièce habitable, chauffée par un poêle à bois décati.

    De rares organisations humanitaires viennent en aide à ces exilés massés aux portes de l’Union européennes. Basé à Belgrade, le petit collectif #Klikaktiv y passe chaque semaine, pour de l’assistance juridique et du soutien psychosocial. « Ils préfèrent être ici, tout près de la #frontière, plutôt que de rester dans les camps officiels du gouvernement serbe », explique Milica Švabić, la juriste de l’organisation. Malgré la précarité et l’#hostilité grandissante des populations locales. « Le discours a changé ces dernières années en Serbie. On ne parle plus de ’réfugiés’, mais de ’migrants’ venus islamiser la Serbie et l’Europe », regrette son collègue Vuk Vučković. Des #milices d’extrême-droite patrouillent même depuis un an pour « nettoyer » le pays de ces « détritus ».

    « La centaine d’habitants qui restent dans les villages de Rabe et de Majdan sont méfiants et plutôt rudes avec les réfugiés », confirme Abraham Rudolf. Ce sexagénaire à la retraite habite une modeste bâtisse à l’entrée de Majdan, adossée à une ruine squattée par des candidats à l’exil. « C’est vrai qu’ils ont fait beaucoup de #dégâts et qu’il n’y a personne pour dédommager. Ils brûlent les charpentes des toits pour se chauffer. Leurs conditions d’hygiène sont terribles. » Tant pis si de temps en temps, ils lui volent quelques légumes dans son potager. « Je me mets à leur place, il fait froid et ils ont faim. Au vrai, ils ne font de mal à personne et ils font même vivre l’épicerie du village. »

    Si le « triangle » reste a priori moins dangereux que l’itinéraire via la Croatie, les #violences_policières contre les sans papiers y sont pourtant monnaie courante. « Plus de 13 000 témoignages de #refoulements irréguliers depuis la Roumanie ont été recueillis durant l’année 2020 », avance l’ONG Save the Children.

    “C’est dur, mais on n’a pas le choix. Mon mari a déserté l’armée de Bachar. S’il rentre, il sera condamné à mort.”

    Ces violences répétées ont d’ailleurs conduit MSF à réévaluer sa mission en Serbie et à la concentrer sur une assistance à ces victimes. « Plus de 30% de nos consultations concernent des #traumatismes physiques », précise Jérémy Ristor. « Une moitié sont liés à des violences intentionnelles, dont l’immense majorité sont perpétrées lors des #push-backs. L’autre moitié sont liés à des #accidents : fractures, entorses ou plaies ouvertes. Ce sont les conséquences directes de la sécurisation des frontières de l’UE. »

    Hanan est tombée sur le dos en sautant de la clôture hongroise et n’a jamais été soignée. Depuis, cette Syrienne de 33 ans souffre dès qu’elle marche. Mais pas question pour elle de renoncer à son objectif : gagner l’Allemagne, avec son mari et leur neveu, dont les parents ont été tués dans les combats à Alep. « On a essayé toutes les routes », raconte l’ancienne étudiante en littérature anglaise, dans un français impeccable. « On a traversé deux fois le Danube vers la Roumanie. Ici, par le triangle, on a tenté douze fois et par les frontières de la Croatie et de la Hongrie, sept fois. » Cette fois encore, la police roumaine les a expulsés vers le poste-frontière de Rabe, officiellement fermé à cause du coronavirus. « C’est dur, mais on n’a pas le choix. Mon mari a déserté l’armée de Bachar avec son arme. S’il rentre, il sera condamné à mort. »

    Qu’importe la hauteur des murs placés sur leur route et la terrible #répression_policière, les exilés du nord de la Serbie finiront tôt ou tard par passer. Comme le déplore les humanitaires, la politique ultra-sécuritaire de l’UE ne fait qu’exacerber leur #vulnérabilité face aux trafiquants et leur précarité, tant pécuniaire que sanitaire. La seule question est celle du prix qu’ils auront à paieront pour réussir le « game ». Ces derniers mois, les prix se sont remis à flamber : entrer dans l’Union européenne via la Serbie se monnaierait jusqu’à 2000 euros.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Refugies-contourner-la-Croatie-par-le-triangle-Serbie-Roumanie-Ho
    #routes_migratoires #migrations #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #contournement #Bihac #frontières #the_game

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Le #Kosovo va-t-il rejoindre les normes européennes ?

    3 avril - 18h30 : #Frontex a récemment conduit une #évaluation des systèmes #IT au Kosovo, pour préparer la mise en place d’un système compatible avec #Eurodac dans le cadre du projet « #Regional_Support_to _Protection-Sensitive_Migration_Management in the WB and Turkey ». En effet, le Kosovo a déjà des systèmes de collectes de #données efficaces mais qui ont été mis en place par les Américains et qui ne respectent pas les normes européennes. Par ailleurs, Le Bureau européen d’appui en matière d’asile (#EASO) a préparé un plan pour la mise en place d’un #système_d’asile au Kosovo aligné sur les #normes_européennes.

    Enfin, du fait de son statut particulier, le Kosovo n’a que peu d’#accords_de_réadmission pour expulser les ressortissant.e.s de pays tiers sur son territoire. L’idée de l’UE serait de mutualiser les retours à l’échelle des Balkans pour contourner cette difficulté.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/refugies-balkans-les-dernieres-infos

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #réadmission #retours #renvois

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749
    Et plus précisément :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message782649

  • ‘They can see us in the dark’: migrants grapple with hi-tech fortress EU

    A powerful battery of drones, thermal cameras and heartbeat detectors are being deployed to exclude asylum seekers

    Khaled has been playing “the game” for a year now. A former law student, he left Afghanistan in 2018, driven by precarious economic circumstances and fear for his security, as the Taliban were increasingly targeting Kabul.

    But when he reached Europe, he realised the chances at winning the game were stacked against him. Getting to Europe’s borders was easy compared with actually crossing into the EU, he says, and there were more than physical obstacles preventing him from getting to Germany, where his uncle and girlfriend live.

    On a cold December evening in the Serbian village of Horgoš, near the Hungarian border, where he had spent a month squatting in an abandoned farm building, he and six other Afghan asylum seekers were having dinner together – a raw onion and a loaf of bread they passed around – their faces lit up by the glow of a fire.

    The previous night, they had all had another go at “the game” – the name migrants give to crossing attempts. But almost immediately the Hungarian border police stopped them and pushed them back into Serbia. They believe the speed of the response can be explained by the use of thermal cameras and surveillance drones, which they had seen during previous attempts to cross.

    “They can see us in the dark – you just walk, and they find you,” said Khaled, adding that drones had been seen flying over their squat. “Sometimes they send them in this area to watch who is here.”

    Drones, thermal-vision cameras and devices that can detect a heartbeat are among the new technological tools being increasingly used by European police to stop migrants from crossing borders, or to push them back when they do.

    The often violent removal of migrants without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum is illegal under EU law, which obliges authorities to process asylum requests whether or not migrants possess identification documents or entered the country legally.

    “Routes are getting harder and harder to navigate. Corridors [in the Balkans are] really intensively surveyed by these technologies,” says Simon Campbell, field coordinator for the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), a migrant rights group in the region.

    The militarisation of Europe’s borders has been increasing steadily since 2015, when the influx of migrants reached its peak. A populist turn in politics and fear whipped up around the issue have fuelled the use of new technologies. The EU has invested in fortifying borders, earmarking €34.9bn (£30bn) in funding for border and migration management for the 2021-27 budget, while sidelining the creation of safe passages and fair asylum processes.

    Osman, a Syrian refugee now living in Serbia, crossed several borders in the southern Balkans in 2014. “At the time, I didn’t see any type of technology,” he says, “but now there’s drones, thermal cameras and all sorts of other stuff.”

    When the Hungarian police caught him trying to cross the Serbian border before the pandemic hit last year, they boasted about the equipment they used – including what Osman recalls as “a huge drone with a big camera”. He says they told him: “We are watching you everywhere.”

    Upgrading of surveillance technology, as witnessed by Khaled and Osman, has coincided with increased funding for Frontex – the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency. Between 2005 and 2016, Frontex’s budget grew from €6.3m to €238.7m, and it now stands at €420.6m. Technology at the EU’s Balkan borders have been largely funded with EU money, with Frontex providing operational support.

    Between 2014 and 2017, with EU funding, Croatia bought 13 thermal-imaging devices for €117,338 that can detect people more than a mile away and vehicles from two miles away.

    In 2019, the Croatian interior ministry acquired four eRIS-III long-range drones for €2.3m. They identify people up to six miles away in daylight and just under two miles in darkness, they fly at 80mph and climb to an altitude of 3,500 metres (11,400ft), while transmitting real-time data. Croatia has infrared cameras that can detect people at up to six miles away and equipment that picks upheartbeats.

    Romania now has heartbeat detection devices, alongside 117 thermo-vision cameras. Last spring, it added 24 vehicles with thermo-vision capabilities to its border security force at a cost of more than €13m.

    Hungary’s investment in migration-management technology is shielded from public scrutiny by a 2017 legal amendment but its lack of transparency and practice of pushing migrants back have been criticised by other EU nations and the European court of justice, leading to Frontex suspending operations in Hungary in January.

    It means migrants can no longer use the cover of darkness for their crossing attempts. Around the fire in Horgoš, Khaled and his fellow asylum-seekers decide to try crossing instead in the early morning, when they believe thermal cameras are less effective.

    A 2021 report by BVMN claims that enhanced border control technologies have led to increased violence as police in the Balkans weaponise new equipment against people on the move. Technology used in pushing back migrants has “contributed to the ease with which racist and repressive procedures are carried out”, the report says.

    BVMN highlighted the 2019 case of an 18-year-old Algerian who reported being beaten and strangled with his own shirt by police while attempting a night crossing from Bosnia to Croatia. “You cannot cross the border during the night because when the police catch you in the night, they beat you a lot. They break you,” says the teenager, who reported seeing surveillance drones.

    Ali, 19, an Iranian asylum-seeker who lives in a migrant camp in Belgrade, says that the Croatian and Romanian police have been violent and ignored his appeals for asylum during his crossing attempts. “When they catch us, they don’t respect us, they insult us, they beat us,” says Ali. “We said ‘we want asylum’, but they weren’t listening.”

    BVMN’s website archives hundreds of reports of violence. In February last year, eight Romanian border officers beat two Iraqi families with batons, administering electric shocks to two men, one of whom was holding his 11-month-old child. They stole their money and destroyed their phones, before taking them back to Serbia, blasting ice-cold air in the police van until they reached their destination.

    “There’s been some very, very severe beatings lately,” says Campbell. “Since the spring of 2018, there has been excessive use of firearms, beatings with batons, Tasers and knives.”

    Responding to questions via email, Frontex denies any link between its increased funding of new technologies and the violent pushbacks in the Balkans. It attributes the rise in reports to other factors, such as increased illegal migration and the proliferation of mobile phones making it easier to record incidents.

    Petra Molnar, associate director of Refugee Law Lab, believes the over-emphasis on technologies can alienate and dehumanise migrants.

    “There’s this alluring solution to really complex problems,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to sell a bunch of drones or a lot of automated technology, instead of dealing with the drivers that force people to migrate … or making the process more humane.”

    Despite the increasingly sophisticated technologies that have been preventing them from crossing Europe’s borders, Khaled and his friends from the squat managed to cross into Hungary in late December. He is living in a camp in Germany and has begun the process of applying for asylum.

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

    #Balkans #complexe_militaro-industriel #route_des_Balkans #technologie #asile #migrations #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #caméras_thermiques #militarisation_des_frontières #drones #détecteurs_de_battements_de_coeur #Horgos #Horgoš #Serbie #the_game #game #surveillance_frontalière #Hongrie #Frontex #Croatie #Roumanie #nuit #violence #refoulements #push-backs #déshumanisation

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Frontex y España se enfrentan por las operaciones contra la inmigración irregular

    La pugna por el despliegue en África y el creciente poder del cuerpo europeo llevaron a la agencia de control de fronteras a amenazar con su retirada

    Las relaciones entre España y la Agencia Europea de la Guardia de Fronteras y Costas (Frontex) son más tensas que nunca. La pugna por el despliegue de medios materiales y el control de los operativos ha llevado a Frontex a amagar con suspender su actividad en el Estrecho y las islas Canarias ―además del dispositivo que se despliega en cada operación #Paso_del_Estrecho― , según tres fuentes conocedoras del episodio. La decisión corrió el pasado miércoles por los despachos, llegó a comunicarse hasta a los agentes de la agencia desplegados en el archipiélago y amenazó con convertirse en una crisis política. El pasado viernes, Frontex salió al paso con un comunicado desde su sede en Varsovia para atajar rumores y anunciar que renovaba su presencia en España un año más.

    Las tensiones vienen de lejos y son el reflejo de la disputa entre los cuerpos y fuerzas de seguridad nacionales y una agencia europea de fronteras con un mandato extendido. En los planes operativos para este 2021, que se cierran a principios de año, Frontex reclamaba a España mayor control sobre la inteligencia y el acceso a los datos de carácter personal en las fronteras españolas, competencias en materia de investigaciones transfronterizas (como las mafias de narcotráfico internacional) o el despliegue sobre el terreno del nuevo cuerpo de agentes europeos, un personal armado de cuya profesionalidad recelan las policías españolas. La propuesta no gustó a los negociadores. Un mando de las fuerzas y cuerpos de seguridad del Estado considera que aceptar las propuestas de Varsovia supone una “entrega de soberanía” y cree que el conflicto “estallará cuando haya una desgracia”.

    Influencia en África

    La negociación de estos puntos ha estado marcada por otra de las principales batallas para España: el papel de la agencia en las islas Canarias, un enclave desde el que Frontex quiere ganar influencia en África. Actualmente, la agencia trabaja con un equipo de 26 agentes, españoles y extranjeros, que apoyan a la Policía Nacional en la identificación y las entrevistas a los migrantes con el objetivo de desbaratar las redes que les facilitan el viaje. Pero este despliegue tiene una cobertura limitada y el espectacular repunte de llegadas al archipiélago, que ha recibido casi 25.000 personas en los últimos 13 meses, impulsó nuevas negociaciones entre Varsovia y Madrid para lanzar una operación conjunta con la Guardia Civil en Senegal.

    El objetivo inicial era reformular la operación Hera II, un operativo que Frontex y la Guardia Civil ya habían desplegado de 2006 a 2019 en varios países de origen para cerrar la vía migratoria que se abrió durante la llamada crisis de los cayucos. Pero las diferencias entre unos y otros mantienen la iniciativa bloqueada.

    Por un lado, Frontex ―que aprobó un nuevo reglamento en 2019 que le da más autonomía― alega la necesidad de firmar su propio acuerdo bilateral con Dakar para patrullar sus costas, señalan fuentes españolas conocedoras de la negociación. Por otro, la #Guardia_Civil demanda que no haya condiciones para que la agencia colabore con más medios en origen y lo haga siempre bajo su coordinación.

    La Guardia Civil, que ya tiene acuerdos y agentes desplegados en Mauritania, Gambia y Senegal hace más de una década, siempre concentró el mando de las operaciones, las investigaciones y las relaciones con las autoridades locales y no tiene intención de renunciar a ello. “Hemos trabajado en todos estos ámbitos independientemente del decreciente apoyo de Frontex a lo largo de los últimos años porque consideraba esta ruta cerrada”, afirma una fuente española. En definitiva, la agencia con más presupuesto de la UE quiere más poder del que los agentes españoles están dispuestos a darle.

    España trató de plantarse en la negociación de los planes operativos con Frontex: si no hay ayuda de la agencia europea para un despliegue conjunto en Senegal, no se aceptarían las peticiones de mandato extendido de Frontex en territorio nacional, según otra fuente al tanto de las discusiones. Pero finalmente, tras la presión por una posible cancelación de las operaciones, se han aceptado las exigencias de Varsovia. “Es una lucha entre la realidad del terreno y la de los altos cargos que firman los reglamentos en la oficina”, según esta fuente.

    Frontex, que tiene presupuestados 5.600 millones de euros para los próximos siete años ―frente a los 19,2 millones de 2006―, incorporará 10.000 agentes propios para la vigilancia de fronteras y costas. En este contexto de crecimiento, la agencia empieza a demandar más control e influencia sobre las operaciones y no quiere limitarse a ofrecer barcos y aviones. Los agentes españoles, por su parte, quieren el apoyo de la agencia en los países de origen, pero siempre bajo su mando. No quieren ceder espacio ni competencias en un ámbito en el que llevan años invirtiendo recursos propios y experiencia.

    Fuentes europeas reconocen que la incorporación de guardias de Frontex a las operaciones en España “ha complicado la negociación del programa de trabajo para el nuevo año”. El programa debía renovarse, como en cada ejercicio, para entrar en vigor el 1 de febrero, pero las fricciones retrasaron la negociación: España, según fuentes conocedoras de la negociación, pidió cambios relevantes en los planes operativos; la agencia hizo una contrapropuesta, y las autoridades españolas no la aceptaron. El acuerdo no llegó hasta 29 de enero, al filo de que el plan de trabajo no se aprobase y los dos operativos de Frontex en España se quedaran sin base legal para su continuidad. En Frontex aseguran que las operaciones nunca estuvieron en peligro y que la voluntad de la agencia siempre ha sido mantener su presencia en España.

    En una entrevista con EL PAÍS el pasado 4 de enero el propio vicepresidente de la Comisión Europea, Margaritis Schinas, se refirió a los desencuentros entre Madrid y Varsovia.

    –¿Por qué cree que España no ve con buenos ojos la presencia de Frontex?

    – Eso me pregunto yo, por qué Frontex no está en Canarias cuando hay un serio problema y sí está masivamente en el Egeo, con cientos de agentes

    España apoyó desde el inicio, en 2005, la creación y puesta en marcha de Frontex, pero con el tiempo se ha mostrado reticente a implicar a los agentes de la agencia en sus competencias. “España se caracteriza por ser un Estado miembro que ha invertido considerables recursos públicos en operaciones de rescates en el mar además de en el control de sus fronteras exteriores”, afirma el eurodiputado socialista Juan Fernando López Aguilar. “Eso explica que retenga bastante el protagonismo de su papel en fronteras, a diferencia de otros países que han recurrido más a la agencia, como Croacia, Grecia o incluso Italia”.

    La agencia está actualmente bajo una presión sin precedentes, cuando está a punto de convertirse en el primer cuerpo uniformado y armado en la historia de la UE. Las investigaciones cercan a su director, Fabrice Leggeri, sobre el que se han vertido duras críticas por su gestión, la degradación de las relaciones en el seno de la agencia y, sobre todo, por supuesta connivencia con la devolución en caliente de emigrantes en la frontera greco-turca.

    https://elpais.com/espana/2021-02-01/frontex-y-espana-se-enfrentan-por-las-operaciones-contra-la-inmigracion-irre

    Traduction:

    La lutte pour le déploiement en Afrique et la puissance croissante de l’organisme européen ont conduit l’agence de contrôle des frontières à menacer son retrait.
    Les relations entre l’Espagne et l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes (Frontex) sont plus tendues que jamais. La lutte pour le déploiement des moyens matériels et la maîtrise des opérations a conduit Frontex à menacer de suspendre son activité dans le détroit et aux îles Canaries `` en plus du dispositif qui est déployé dans chaque opération au-dessus du détroit du détroit ’’, selon trois sources bien informées de l’épisode. La décision a traversé les bureaux mercredi dernier, elle a même été communiquée aux agents de l’agence déployés dans l’archipel et menaçait de devenir une crise politique. Vendredi dernier, Frontex a publié une déclaration de son siège à Varsovie pour arrêter les rumeurs et annoncer qu’elle renouvelait sa présence en Espagne pour une autre année.

    #Frontex #Espagne #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #opération_Paso_del_Estrecho #Canaries #îles_Canaries #Mauritanie #Gambie #Sénégal

  • The fortified gates of the Balkans. How non-EU member states are incorporated into fortress Europe.

    Marko Gašperlin, a Slovenian police officer, began his first mandate as chair of the Management Board of Frontex in spring 2016. Less than two months earlier, then Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar had gone to North Macedonia to convey the message from the EU that the migration route through the Balkans — the so-called Balkan route — was about to close.

    “North Macedonia was the first country ready to cooperate [with Frontex] to stop the stampede we had in 2015 across the Western Balkans,” Gašperlin told K2.0 during an interview conducted at the police headquarters in Ljubljana in September 2020.

    “Stampede” refers to over 1 million people who entered the European Union in 2015 and early 2016 in search of asylum, the majority traveling along the Balkan route. Most of them were from Syria, but also some other countries of the global South where human rights are a vague concept.

    According to Gašperlin, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s primary interest at the EU’s external borders is controlling the movement of people who he describes as “illegals.”

    Given numerous allegations by human rights organizations, Frontex could itself be part of illegal activity as part of the push-back chain removing people from EU territory before they have had the opportunity to assert their right to claim asylum.

    In March 2016, the EU made a deal with Turkey to stop the flow of people toward Europe, and Frontex became even more active in the Aegean Sea. Only four years later, at the end of 2020, Gašperlin established a Frontex working group to look into allegations of human rights violations by its officers. So far, no misconduct has been acknowledged. The final internal Frontex report is due at the end of February.

    After allegations were made public during the summer and fall of 2020, some members of the European Parliament called for Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri to step down, while the European Ombudsman also announced an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Agency’s complaints mechanism as well as its management.

    A European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group was also established to conduct its own inquiry, looking into “compliance and respect for fundamental rights” as well as internal management, and transparency and accountability. It formally began work this week (February 23) with its fact-finding investigation expected to last four months.

    2021 started with more allegations and revelations.

    In January 2021 the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, confirmed it is leading an investigation over allegations of harassment and misconduct inside Frontex, and push-backs conducted at the EU’s borders.

    Similar accusations of human rights violations related to Frontex have been accumulating for years. In 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled “The EU’s Dirty Hands” that documented the ill-treatment of migrant detainees in Greece.

    Various human rights organizations and media have also long reported about Frontex helping the Libyan Coast Guard to locate and pull back people trying to escape toward Europe. After being pulled back, people are held in notorious detention camps, which operate with the support of the EU.

    Nonetheless, EU leaders are not giving up on the idea of expanding the Frontex mission, making deals with governments of non-member states in the Balkans to participate in their efforts to stop migration.

    Currently, the Frontex plan is to deploy up to 10,000 border guards at the EU external borders by 2027.

    Policing Europe

    Frontex, with its headquarters in Poland, was established in 2004, but it remained relatively low key for the first decade of its existence. This changed in 2015 when, in order to better control Europe’s visa-free Schengen area, the European Commission (EC) extended the Agency’s mandate as it aimed to turn Frontex into a fully-fledged European Border and Coastguard Agency. Officially, they began operating in this role in October 2016, at the Bulgarian border with Turkey.

    In recent years, the territory they cover has been expanding, framed as cooperation with neighboring countries, with the main goal “to ensure implementation of the European integrated border management.”

    The budget allocated for their work has also grown massively, from about 6 million euros in 2005, to 460 million euros in 2020. According to existing plans, the Agency is set to grow still further and by 2027 up to 5.6 billion euros is expected to have been spent on Frontex.

    As one of the main migration routes into Europe the Balkans has become the key region for Frontex. Close cooperation with authorities in the region has been growing since 2016, particularly through the “Regional Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey” project: https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Partners/Third_countries/IPA_II_Phase_II.pdf.

    In order to increase its powers in the field, Frontex has promoted “status agreements” with the countries in the region, while the EC, through its Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) fund, has dedicated 3.4 million euros over the two-year 2019-21 period for strengthening borders.

    The first Balkan state to upgrade its cooperation agreement with Frontex to a status agreement was Albania in 2018; joint police operations at its southern border with Greece began in spring 2019. According to the agreement, Frontex is allowed to conduct full border police duties on the non-EU territory.

    Frontex’s status agreement with Albania was followed by a similar agreement with Montenegro that has been in force since July 2020.

    The signing of a status agreement with North Macedonia was blocked by Bulgaria in October 2020, while the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina requires further approvals and the one with Serbia is awaiting ratification by the parliament in Belgrade.

    “The current legal framework is the consequence of the situation in the years from 2014 to 2016,” Gašperlin said.

    He added that he regretted that the possibility to cooperate with non-EU states in returns of “illegals” had subsequently been dropped from the Frontex mandate after an intervention by EU parliamentarians. In 2019, a number of changes were made to how Frontex functions including removing the power to “launch return interventions in third countries” due to the fact that many of these countries have a poor record when it comes to rule of law and respect of human rights.

    “This means, if we are concrete, that the illegals who are in BiH — the EU can pay for their accommodation, Frontex can help only a little with the current tools it has, while when it comes to returns, Frontex cannot do anything,” Gašperlin said.

    Fortification of the borders

    The steady introduction of status agreements is intended to replace and upgrade existing police cooperation deals that are already in place with non-EU states.

    Over the years, EU member states have established various bilateral agreements with countries around the world, including some in the Balkan region. Further agreements have been negotiated by the EU itself, with Frontex listing 20 “working arrangements” with different non-member states on its website.

    Based on existing Frontex working arrangements, exchange of information and “consultancy” visits by Frontex officials — which also include work at border crossings — are already practiced widely across the Balkan-EU borders.

    The new status agreements allow Frontex officers to guard the borders and perform police tasks on the territory of the country with which the agreement is signed, while this country’s national courts do not have jurisdiction over the Frontex personnel.

    Comparing bilateral agreements to status agreements, Marko Gašperlin explained that, with Frontex taking over certain duties, individual EU states will be able to avoid the administrative and financial burdens of “bilateral solidarity.”

    Radoš Đurović, director of the NGO Asylum Protection Centre (APC) which works with migrants in Serbia, questions whether Frontex’s presence in the region will bring better control over violations and fears that if past acts of alleged violence are used it could make matters worse.

    “The EU’s aim is to increase border control and reduce the number of people who legally or illegally cross,” Đurović says in a phone interview for K2.0. “We know that violence does not stop the crossings. It only increases the violence people experience.”

    Similarly, Jasmin Redžepi from the Skopje-based NGO Legis, argues that the current EU focus on policing its borders only entraps people in the region.

    “This causes more problems, suffering and death,” he says. “People are forced to turn to criminals in search of help. The current police actions are empowering criminals and organized crime.”

    Redžepi believes the region is currently acting as some kind of human filter for the EU.

    “From the security standpoint this is solidarity with local authorities. But in the field, it prevents greater numbers of refugees from moving toward central Europe,” Redžepi says.

    “They get temporarily stuck. The EU calls it regulation but they only postpone their arrival in the EU and increase the violations of human rights, European law and international law. In the end people cross, just more simply die along the way.”

    EU accused of externalizing issues

    For the EU, it was a shifting pattern of migratory journeys that signified the moment to start increasing its border security around the region by strengthening its cooperation with individual states.

    The overland Balkan route toward Western Europe has always been used by people on the move. But it has become even more frequented in recent years as changing approaches to border policing and rescue restrictions in the Central Mediterranean have made crossings by sea even more deadly.

    For the regional countries, each at a different stage of a still distant promise of EU membership, partnering with Frontex comes with the obvious incentive of demonstrating their commitment to the bloc.

    “When regional authorities work to stop people crossing towards the EU, they hope to get extra benefits elsewhere,” says APC Serbia’s Radoš Đurovic.

    There are also other potential perks. Jasmin Redžepi from Legis explains that police from EU states often leave behind equipment for under-equipped local forces.

    But there has also been significant criticism of the EU’s approach in both the Balkans and elsewhere, with many accusing it of attempting to externalize its borders and avoid accountability by pushing difficult issues elsewhere.

    According to research by Violeta Moreno-Lax and Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, who have analyzed the consequences of the EU’s approach to border management, the bloc’s actions amount to a “dispersion of legal duties” that is not “ethically and legally tenable under international law.”

    One of the results, the researchers found, is that “repressive forces” in third countries gain standing as valid interlocutors for cooperation and democratic and human rights credentials become “secondary, if at all relevant.”

    APC’s Radoš Đurović agrees, suggesting that we are entering a situation where the power of the law and international norms that prevent illegal use of force are, in effect, limited.

    “Europe may not have enough power to influence the situations in places further away that push migration, but it can influence its border regions,” he says. “The changes we see forced onto the states are problematic — from push-backs to violence.”

    Playing by whose rules?

    One of the particular anomalies seen with the status agreements is that Albanian police are now being accompanied by Frontex forces to better control their southern border at the same time as many of Albania’s own citizens are themselves attempting to reach the EU in irregular ways.

    Asked about this apparent paradox, Marko Gašperlin said he did “not remember any Albanians among the illegals.”

    However, Frontex’s risk analysis for 2020, puts Albania in the top four countries for whose citizens return orders were issued in the preceding two years and second in terms of returns effectively carried out. Eurostat data for 2018 and 2019 also puts Albania in 11th place among countries from which first time asylum seekers come, before Somalia and Bangladesh and well ahead of Morocco and Algeria.

    While many of these Albanian citizens may have entered EU countries via regular means before being subject to return orders for reasons such as breaching visa conditions, people on the move from Albania are often encountered along the Balkan route, according to activists working in the field.

    Meanwhile, other migrants have complained of being subjected to illegal push-backs at Albania’s border with Greece, though there is a lack of monitoring in this area and these claims remain unverified.

    In Serbia, the KlikAktiv Center for Development of Social Policies has analyzed Belgrade’s pending status agreement for Frontex operations.

    It warns that increasing the presence of armed police, from a Frontex force that has allegedly been involved in violence and abuses of power, is a recipe for disaster, especially when they will have immunity from local criminal and civil jurisdiction.

    It also flags that changes in legislation will enable the integration of data systems and rapid deportations without proper safeguards in place.

    Police activities to secure borders greatly depend on — and supply data to — EU information technology systems. But EU law provides fewer protections for data processing of foreign nationals than for that of EU citizens, effectively creating segregation in terms of data protection.

    The EU Fundamental Rights Agency has warned that the establishment of a more invasive system for non-EU nationals could potentially lead to increased discrimination and skew data that could further “fuel existing misperceptions that there is a link between asylum-seekers, migration and crime.”

    A question of standards

    Frontex emphasizes that there are codified safeguards and existing internal appeal mechanisms.

    According to the status agreements, violations of fundamental rights such as data protection rules or the principle of non-refoulement — which prohibits the forcible return of individuals to countries where they face danger through push-backs or other means — are all reasons for either party to suspend or terminate their cooperation.

    In January, Frontex itself suspended its mission in Hungary after the EU member state failed to abide by an EU Court of Justice decision. In December 2020, the court found that Hungarian border enforcement was in violation of EU law by restricting access to its asylum system and for carrying out illegal push-backs into Serbia.

    Marko Gašperlin claimed that Frontex’s presence improved professional police standards wherever it operated.

    However, claims of raising standards have been questioned by human rights researchers and activists.

    Jasmin Redžepi recounts that the first complaint against a foreign police officer that his NGO Legis filed with North Macedonian authorities and international organizations was against a Slovenian police officer posted through bilateral agreement; the complaint related to allegations of unprofessional conduct toward migrants.

    “Presently, people cross illegally and the police push them back illegally,” Redžepi says. “They should be able to ask for asylum but cannot as police push people across borders.”

    Gašperlin told K2.0 that it is natural that there will be a variation of standards between police from different countries.

    In its recruitment efforts, Frontex has sought to enlist police officers or people with a customs or army background. According to Gašperlin, recruits have been disproportionately from Romania and Italy, while fewer have been police officers from northern member states “where standards and wages are better.”

    “It would be illusory to expect that all of the EU would rise up to the level of respect for human rights and to the high standards of Sweden,” he said. “There also has not been a case of the EU throwing a member out, although there have been examples of human rights violations, of different kinds.”

    ‘Monitoring from the air’

    One of the EU member states whose own police have been accused of serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants, including torture, is Croatia.

    Despite the allegations, in January 2020, Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior Police Academy was chosen to lead the first Frontex-financed training session for attendees from police forces across the Balkan route region.

    Frontex currently has a presence in Croatia, at the EU border area with Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst other places.

    Asked about the numerous reports from international NGOs and collectives, as well as from the national Ombudsman Lora Vidović and the Council of Europe, of mass human rights violations at the Croatian borders, Gašperlin declined to engage.

    “Frontex helps Croatia with monitoring from the air,” he said. “That is all.”

    Gašperlin said that the role of his agency is only to notify Croatia when people are detected approaching the border from Bosnia. Asked if Frontex also monitors what happens to people once Croatian police find them, given continuously worsening allegations, he said: “From the air this might be difficult. I do not know if a plane from the air can monitor that.”

    Pressed further, he declined to comment.

    To claim ignorance is, however, becoming increasingly difficult. A recent statement on the state of the EU’s borders by UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, notes: “The pushbacks [at Europe’s borders] are carried out in a violent and apparently systematic way.”

    Radoš Đurović from APC Serbia pointed out that Frontex must know about the alleged violations.

    “The question is: Do they want to investigate and prevent them?” he says. “All those present in the field know about the violence and who perpetrates it.”

    Warnings that strict and violent EU border policies are increasing the sophistication and brutality of smugglers, while technological “solutions” and militarization come with vested interests and more potential human rights violations, do not seem to worry the head of Frontex’s Management Board.

    “If passage from Turkey to Germany is too expensive, people will not decide to go,” said Gašperlin, describing the job done by Frontex:

    “We do the work we do. So people cannot simply come here, sit and say — here I am, now take me to Germany, as some might want. Or — here I am, I’m asking for asylum, now take me to Postojna or Ljubljana, where I will get fed, cared for, and then I’ll sit on the bus and ride to Munich where I’ll again ask for asylum. This would be a minimal price.”

    Human rights advocates in the region such as Jasmin Redžepi have no illusions that what they face on the ground reflects the needs and aims of the EU.

    “We are only a bridge,” Redžepi says. “The least the EU should do is take care that its policies do not turn the region into a cradle for criminals and organized crime. We need legal, regular passages and procedures for people to apply for asylum, not illegal, violent push-backs.

    “If we talk about security we cannot talk exclusively about the security of borders. We have to talk about the security of people as well.”

    https://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/the-fortified-gates-of-the-balkans

    #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #frontex #Macédoine_du_Nord #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #push-backs #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #frontières_extérieures #Regional_Support_to_Protection-Sensitive_Migration_Management_in_the_Western_Balkans_and_Turkey #Instrument_for_Pre-Accession (#IPA) #budget #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #accords_bilatéraux

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749
    Et plus particulièrement ici :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message782649

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • #Frontex guards in Greece could be armed by summer

    The EU’s border agency Frontex is pressing to have its guards armed by the summer.

    The weapon-carrying border guards would be among the first deployment of armed EU officials to other member states.

    The Warsaw-based agency, which also bills itself as a law-enforcement force, has been at pains of getting the legal basis sorted for its new recruits to carry guns.

    It managed to reach an agreement with Poland to carry weapons on site - but has been at loggerheads to do the same elsewhere.

    But Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri on Tuesday (16 March) told MEPs that it had since reached a “bridging agreement” with Athens so that its guards can also carry guns on missions in Greece.

    “We are a fully-fledged EU agency, no doubt about that, but we are also more a fully-fledged European law enforcement force,” he added.

    Leggeri said background checks for criminal records of the future armed guards are currently being carried out.

    The recruits belong to a so-called ’category one’ staffing of EU officials, which are part of a future 10,000 standing corps under Frontex control.

    “We are in the process of vetting the category one staff so that we can deploy them with use of force,” he said.

    Leggeri said the plan is to get similar “bridging agreements” by the summer in place with other member states which currently host its missions.

    Aside from Greece, Frontex has operations in the Canary Islands, Cyprus, Italy and Spain. They also operate on the land border in Bulgaria, as well as in Albania and Montenegro.

    Frontex currently has some 500 mostly-trained category one staff. Others are currently in training in Italy and Spain.

    The agency is seeking to have at least 700 category one staff by the end of the year. Some 200 will be picked this month from a reserve list created at the end of 2019.

    Its biggest operation remains in Greece, where up to 800 Frontex officers are deployed at any one time.

    The move comes amid border tensions between Greece and Turkey.

    Earlier this month, reports emerged of Turkish soldiers firing shots into the air at the Greek land border at the Evros river.

    Ana Cristina Jorge, who heads Frontex’s operational response division, said one of its patrols had witnessed the shootings.

    “When it comes to the aggression of Frontex by Turkey, we have had them for a long time,” she said earlier this week.

    The issue of weapons was also the source of another spat between the European Commission and the agency. The two sides are indirectly blaming one another for the delays on clarifying the legal basis of arming the guards.

    Meanwhile, the agency remains under scrutiny from MEPs looking into its alleged role of violating the fundamental rights of would-be asylum seekers.

    Frontex was supposed to have hired some 40 fundamental right monitors four months ago. Currently it has none. But Leggeri said at least 15 should be hired by the end of the month or at the start of April.

    The commission has faulted Leggeri for the delays, also noting that the agency still needs to hire three deputy executive directors and a permanent fundamental rights officer.

    “It would have been better if all senior management staff that should have been in place would have been in place,” said EU home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson.

    https://euobserver.com/migration/151253
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #militarisation_des_frontières #Grèce #gardes-frontière #armes #Pologne

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Frontex : les lobbyistes derrière la politique migratoire de l’Europe
    https://www.alternatives-economiques.fr/frontex-lobbyistes-derriere-politique-migratoire-de-leurope/00098362

    Frontex, l’agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, défend les intérêts des entreprises plutôt que les droits de l’homme, dénonce un nouveau rapport de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory. Le millésime 2020 n’a pas été bon pour Frontex. L’agence a fait la Une des journaux à cause d’une recrudescence de violations des droits humains et d’expulsions illégales de migrants et de réfugiés. Elle fait à présent l’objet d’une enquête de l’Office européen de lutte anti-fraude (Olaf). « Le scandale de (...)

    #Airbus #Atos #Frontex #Idemia #Leonardo_ #NEC #migration #fraude #frontières (...)

    ##surveillance

  • Malta pushback claims ’may’ form part of Frontex misconduct probe

    MEPs are looking into claims migrants were unlawfully pushed back.

    MEPs probing claims of misconduct by the EU’s border agency have not excluded investigating reports of migrant pushbacks by Malta.

    European Parliament vice-president and Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola on Friday said that the door was not shut on investigating whether Malta had indeed pushed migrants back to Libya using private fishing vessels last year, and whether border agency Frontex was complicit in this.

    Metsola was selected to chair an investigative committee tasked with looking into allegations of misconduct made about the EU’s border agency.

    The agency has come under scrutiny following allegations of harassment and misconduct as well as claims that it facilitated the pushback of migrants - a violation of international law.

    EU anti-fraud agency OLAF opened its own investigation into the agency earlier this year and the EU Ombudsman is also investigating.

    Frontex has rebutted claims of misconduct.

    “What we want out of this process is to give answers to the questions being asked and come up with suggestions to improve the way things are done,” Metsola told a press briefing organised by the European Parliament.

    In April last year Times of Malta reported how a private fishing boat picked up a group of migrants stranded at sea and returned them to war-torn Libya, with high level sources saying the vessel was commissioned by Maltese authorities to provide ’help’.

    Asked about the incident and whether it fell within the scope of the committee’s work, Metsola told Times of Malta that the matter had already been discussed in one of the EP’s civil liberties committee meetings.

    “Of course all political groups have put forward ideas for scrutiny on different matters in this regard across a number of member states. The door has not been closed to look into any concerns, and we are open to all points including this issue,” Metsola said.

    The MEP added that the group’s remit was rather broad, but it would certainly be taking a look at the Mediterranean.

    The internal scrutiny began after German news outlet Der Spiegel published reports alleging Frontex was unlawfully returning asylum seekers to the places they were fleeing.

    The investigative committee, which is made up of 14 MEPs, will report back to parliament within four months.

    https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/malta-pushback-claims-may-form-part-of-frontex-misconduct-probe.855988

    #refoulement #refoulements #push-back #push-backs #Malte #Frontex #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières

  • Les dates secrètes de Frontex et de l’industrie de l’armement
    https://frontexfiles.eu/fr.html

    La liste des participants lors des 16 réunions de lobbying de l’agence européenne de gestion des frontières Frontex entre 2017 et 2019 ressemble au « who’s who » de l’industrie de l’armement. Glock, Airbus, Heckler & Koch etc. Des catalogues d’armes de poing ont été distribués et les mérites des drones de surveillance expliqués dans des présentations PowerPoint colorées. Il n’y avait pas d’observateurs extérieurs aux réunions. Et Frontex n’a pas rendu accessible au public le contenu de ces réunions. Un (...)

    #arme #frontières #lobbying #surveillance #Frontex #Airbus #Glock #Heckler&Koch

    ##Heckler&Koch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Ils n’en oublient pas Fabrice Leggeri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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