• 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_

  • 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

  • Syrian NGO seeks a first before the ICC: Individual criminal liability for Greece’s abuses against refugees

    The #Syria_Justice_and_Accountability_Center (#SJAC) has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor to investigate Greek authorities and European Border and Coast Guard Agency (#Frontex) agents for abuses against asylum-seekers that could amount to crimes against humanity.

    On January 28, the Syrian non-governmental organization based in Washington DC submitted a file documenting five years of violations against refugees at the Greek-Turkish border and reception and identification centers in Greece.

    Since this submission, Nessma Bashi, Legal Fellow at SJAC, said they have received “hundreds of notifications from victims, mainly Syrian saying: ‘We have witnesses, we have videos, we are willing to testify.’”

    Over one million people have journeyed from Turkey to Greece to seek asylum in Europe in the past five years. Greece currently hosts 120,000 asylum-seekers and migrants; 14% of asylum applicants in 2019 were Syrian.

    If the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor decides to launch an investigation, “this will be the first major international criminal case pertaining to a European country,” Bashi said. It will be the first time the “individual criminal responsibility” of Greek and European officials “for crimes against humanity committed against asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants in a European country” is addressed, explained Alexandra Lily Kather, a legal consultant in the field of international justice.

    Previously, an ICC submission tried to seek accountability of EU member states for their complicity with human rights violations against migrants in Libya, but the case did not go forward.

    What crimes against humanity?

    SJAC’s submission has gathered documentation of abuses that could amount to five crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC:

    Deportation and forcible transfer of a population:

    Greek and Frontex agents have breached international law by expelling asylum seekers by land and sea without allowing them to apply for asylum.
    The Hellenic Coast Guard sped past refugee boats and towed them from Greek to Turkish waters, putting people at risk and violating international refugee law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
    Deportation has been done via coercive measures like physical and psychological violence.

    Persecution:

    Refugees have been deprived of their fundamental rights in attempts to push them out of Greece. For instance, they have been subjected to inhuman treatment, arbitrary arrests and have been denied their right to a standard of living adequate for their health.

    Inhumane acts of the deprivation of humanitarian aid:

    Greece has criminalized humanitarian workers accusing them of human-smuggling charges. For instance, in September 2020, 33 NGOs workers were charged with facilitating the clandestine arrival of migrants to Greek territory.
    At reception and identification centers, inhuman conditions such as inadequate food, unsanitary conditions, or limited medical support or access to NGOs have been documented.
    Frontex and the Hellenic Coast Guard have ignored calls of refugee boats in life-threatening situations.

    Sexual violence:

    At reception and identification centers, some police officers have allegedly purchased minors sold into prostitution.
    At the border, organizations have documented inappropriate touching at searches, where some individuals were forced to strip naked.

    Torture:

    The accounts of physical mistreatment could amount to torture by conduct, and the deplorable living conditions in centers of carceral nature could amount to torture by treatment.

    Who might be liable?

    If an investigation is launched, the Prosecutor will have to define who can be liable for the abuses perpetrated. But how can individual criminal responsibility be established when the alleged violations stem from a broader national and European policy of sealing EU borders?

    Lower-level officials may argue that they are just following orders. However, Bashi pointed out that this “means that there is a chain of command and the higher-ups can be implicated,” adding that these actions are “part of a widespread and systematic attacks.”

    Although “Greece has made certain judicial, administrative and policy decisions that led to the situation in camps and the border violence, it should not be the only state held accountable,” Kather argued, “because the entire of the European continent and all the states are contributing to this decision making.” Nonetheless, Kather saw this as an opportunity to end the impunity gap on a “system of endless human rights violations against asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants.”

    Why to the ICC?

    The International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent international criminal court, was created in 2002 by the Rome Statute.

    The court hears cases referred by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a State Party or - as with this case - by organizations. Bashi hopes the ICC’s Prosecutor will answer during 2021. The ICC has territorial jurisdiction on this case because Greece is a State Party and the alleged crimes occurred in Greek territory.

    The ICC can prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity if national courts are unable or unwilling to investigate a crime. SJAC argues that neither Greek nor European courts are able to carry out a serious investigation since the alleged crimes are part of a national policy backed by the European Union.

    In addition, previous rulings against Greece’s unlawful migration practices by the European Court of Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, and the UNHCR, as well as complaints before the European Commission have been ignored. As such, SJAC considers the ICC as the court of last resort.

    “The fact that this happened on European soil, the continent that claims to be a bastion of human rights, is really unjust,” Bashi said. Kather labeled it “a bold strategy” to go after a European country. Still, it is “a necessary development to uphold the credibility of the ICC, that from a Eurocentric perspective, it is often argued that crimes are always happening elsewhere, but never on the European territory,” she said. It is noteworthy that nine of the ten ICC cases relate to African countries.

    Where can this lead?

    If this case goes ahead, it will “send a very clear sign” to European countries that fail to protect the refugee population from violations that there is “no impunity” and “similar actions could follow,” Kather explained. “Greece is just the first one, but we are hoping that Italy and Spain will learn that these crimes are indeed crimes,” Bashi added.

    Traditionally, violations against asylum-seekers have been framed under international human rights law, but Kather points out that there is a shift towards “the realm of international criminal law” due to the “ever mounting violence at the border.”

    Last week, members of the European Parliament launched a probe against Frontex for allegations of harassment and unlawful operations to stop people from reaching European borders. Last month, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Italy had failed to protect the right to life for not assisting a vessel in distress in 2013. This decision responds to a complaint by three Syrians and a Palestinian who lost a combined 13 relatives in the sinking that cost 200 lives total.

    All these developments “send a broader sign that violence, at the sea or land border, is being monitored and legal actions are being filed,” Kather said.

    The ball is in the ICC’s court.

    https://syriadirect.org/news/syrian-ngo-seeks-a-first-before-the-icc-individual-criminal-liability-f
    #Grèce #réfugiés #justice #ICC #Cour_pénale_internationale #CPI #crimes_contre_l'humanité #droits_humains #asile #migrations

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • The #Frontex_files

    #Glock, #Airbus, #Heckler_&_Koch. Die Teilnehmerliste der 16 Lobby-Treffen der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex in den Jahren 2017 bis 2019 liest sich wie das Who-is-Who der Rüstungsindustrie. Kataloge mit Handfeuerwaffen wurden herumgereicht und in bunten PowerPoint-Präsentationen die Vorzüge von Überwachungsdrohnen erklärt.

    Externe Beobachter*innen gab es bei den Treffen nicht. Und Frontex hat die Inhalte dieser Treffen nicht öffentlich zugänglich gemacht. Ein Lobby-Transparenzregister, wie es EU-Parlamentarier*innen vor zwei Jahren gefordert haben, hat Frontex bis heute nicht veröffentlicht. Auf Anfrage des ZDF Magazin Royale schrieb die EU-Agentur Ende Januar:

    »Frontex trifft sich nicht mit Lobbyisten.«

    Weil Frontex seiner Verantwortung als EU-Agentur nicht gerecht wird, hat das ZDF Magazin Royale diese Aufgabe übernommen. Hiermit veröffentlichen wir die FRONTEX FILES. Das erste Lobby-Transparenzregister der Grenzschutzagentur Frontex.

    Was haben wir gemacht?

    Gemeinsam mit den Rechercheurinnen Luisa Izuzquiza, Margarida Silva and Myriam Douo sowie der NGO „Frag den Staat“ hat das ZDF Magazin Royale 142 Dokumente von 16 Industry-Meetings, die Frontex zwischen 2017 und 2019 veranstaltet hat, ausgewertet. Darunter Programme, Teilnehmer*innenlisten, Powerpoint-Präsentationen und Werbekataloge.

    Wie sind wir an die Dokumente gekommen?

    Die Dokumente haben wir durch Anfragen nach dem Informationsfreiheitsgesetz der Europäischen Union erhalten.

    Was ist besonders und neu daran?

    Frontex hat die Einladungen zu den Treffen bisher nur teilweise auf der Webseite veröffentlicht. Wer dazu eingeladen war und was dort präsentiert wurde, jedoch nicht.

    Was sagt Frontex und was stimmt?

    Auf die Frage eines EU-Parlamentsabgeordneten im Jahr 2018 antwortete Frontex:

    »Frontex trifft sich nur mit Lobbyisten, die im Transparenzregister der EU registriert sind und veröffentlicht jährlich einen Überblick der Treffen auf der Website. 2017 gab es keine solcher Treffen.«

    Das stimmt nicht. Allein 2017 hat Frontex vier Meetings mit Lobby-Vertreter*innen abgehalten. 58 Prozent der Teilnehmenden waren nicht im EU-Transparenzregister gelistet. In den Treffen 2018 und 2019 waren 72 Prozent (91 von 125) der Lobbyist*innen nicht registriert.

    Auf Anfrage des ZDF Magazin Royale schreibt Frontex:

    »Frontex trifft sich nicht mit Lobbyisten. Es lädt Firmenvertreter ein, um an den Industrie-Tagen der Agentur teilzunehmen, die Grenzschutz-Offiziellen helfen sollen, über neue Technologien und Innovationen in Bezug auf Grenzkontrolle zu lernen.«

    Auch das ist falsch: Die Auswertung der Präsentationen und Kataloge zeigen, dass Unternehmen versucht haben, Einfluss auf die Politik der Agentur zu nehmen. Teilweise wurden Vorschläge bereits umgesetzt.

    Wer war bei den Frontex-Lobbytreffen?

    An den Treffen haben 138 Vertreter*innen privater Einrichtungen teilgenommen: 108 Vertreter*innen von Unternehmen, 10 Think Tanks, 15 Universitäten, eine Nichtregierungsorganisation.
    Keine einzige Menschenrechtsorganisation war bei diesen Treffen dabei.

    Neben Vertreter*innen von EU-Grenzschutzbehörden hat Frontex zu den Treffen auch Internationale Organisationen wie Interpol, Europol oder die OSZE eingeladen und Vertreter*innen aus Staaten, die für ihre brutale Grenzschutzpolitik bekannt sind: die australische Regierung, das Homeland Security Department der USA, das angolanische Innenministerium, Vertreter des General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate oder die belarussische Grenzschutzbehörde.

    Welche Produkte wurden präsentiert?

    In den teils themenspezifischen Treffen wurden unterschiedliche Gerätschaften präsentiert, die zur Verteidigung der EU-Außengrenzen dienen sollen. Dazu gehören Handfeuerwaffen, Munition und Überwachungsgeräte wie Sensoren, Drohnen, Kameras und Server für die Speicherung von biometrischen Daten. Die Produkte wurden in Powerpoint-Präsentationen vorgestellt.

    Welche Produkte wurden präsentiert?

    In den teils themenspezifischen Treffen wurden unterschiedliche Gerätschaften präsentiert, die zur Verteidigung der EU-Außengrenzen dienen sollen. Dazu gehören Handfeuerwaffen, Munition und Überwachungsgeräte wie Sensoren, Drohnen, Kameras und Server für die Speicherung von biometrischen Daten. Die Produkte wurden in Powerpoint-Präsentationen vorgestellt.

    Wo kann ich mich weiter über das Thema informieren?

    Die Rechercheurinnen Luisa Izuzquiza, Margarida Silva and Myriam Douo haben zu den Dokumenten einen ausführlichen Bericht geschrieben und bei Corporate Europe Observatory veröffentlicht. Hier geht es zu dem Bericht: https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe

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

    –—


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

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • Lobbying Fortress Europe. The making of a border-industrial complex

      The massive expansion of the budget, personnel, and powers of the EU’s border agency Frontex has also seen increasingly privileged access for industry. This perpetuates a vision of border control based on more and more firearms and biometric surveillance that has major human rights implications.
      Executive Summary

      The massive expansion of EU border agency Frontex in recent years has not been matched by a corresponding increase in transparency, accountability, nor scrutiny.

      Access to document requests reveal a disturbing trend by which arms, surveillance, and biometrics companies are being given an outsized role – unmatched by other voices – in shaping EU’s border control regime.

      This report gives the first comprehensive overview of this phenomenon, finding that:

      - Frontex holds special events for security industry lobbyists where they work hand in hand to promote ’solutions’ based on techno-fixes, from biometric surveillance to firepower.
      - These corporate interests are not neutral parties but de facto seek to shape Frontex’s approach to border control in their interests, and benefit from procurement contracts.
      - Meanwhile the agency has no real transparency or lobbying accountability mechanisms in place, and indeed denies that it is a target for lobbyists at all.
      – At the same time as the agency has open doors for corporate lobbyists selling defence and surveillance solutions which have major human rights implications, groups working to defend human rights are left on the sidelines.

      The European Union’s response to travellers, migrants, and refugees should be guided by the protection of human rights. This is too important an issue to be shaped by the interests of defence companies instrumentalising migration for profit.

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

      #surveillance #biométrie

      ping @etraces

    • The lobbyists behind Europe’s response to migration

      Last year wasn’t a happy one for Frontex, in the news for illegal pushbacks and abuses against migrants and refugees (see below). Now it is under investigation by the EU anti-fraud watchdog OLAF.

      “But the scandal of Frontex’s cozy relationship with the weapons and surveillance industry, brewing behind closed doors over the past few years, has received less attention,” Myriam Douo, Luisa Izuzquiza and Margarida Silva wrote in a recent Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) report (https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe).

      They obtained over 130 documents (https://fragdenstaat.de/dokumente/sammlung/49-fx-files) through freedom of information requests and the review opened “a window onto at least 17 industry meetings convened by Frontex from 2017 to 2019”. It all started with a lot of money.

      In fact, in 2020 Frontex was granted a €5.6 billion budget – the largest among all EU agencies – for the 2021-2027 timeframe. Then 10,000 border guards came along, together with an extension of its mandate and the ability to acquire and lease its own equipment like vessels, drones and radars.

      “This is a dream come true not just for Frontex, but for the security industry. Spying the opportunity for a new and major customer, it has been advocating since 2010 for an EU-level border force with precisely those capabilities.”

      In previous years, the agency had met with 138 private bodies: 108 companies, 10 research centres or think tanks, 15 universities and just one NGO (ID4Africa). European defence companies Airbus and Leonardo were awarded the most access, followed by tech companies (Japanese NEC, Atos, IDEMIA, Jenetric, secunet, and Vision-Box).

      Even the consultative forum on human rights, established by Frontex itself, has never been heard. It was the security industry lobbyists who eventually shaped the agency’s approach.

      They mostly discussed weapons, biometrics, maritime and aerial surveillance, heartbeat detectors and document inspection systems. Besides, migration was “portrayed as a threat, often linked to terrorism and crime”.

      Yet, transparency remains very little. When CEO asked Frontex to explain how it was handling lobbying, a press office told them that “Frontex does not meet with lobbyists” and that it “does not attract the interest of lobbyists.” When they asked again, Frontex denied meeting with lobbyists except on “Industry Days”.

      Migrants are the real elephant in the room. “A noticeable omission from almost every one of these discussions is the potential impact on human rights of these technologies and products, including undermining people’s fundamental right to privacy, presumption of innocence and liberty.”

      Human rights organisations had almost no access to the agency, which is particularly worrying in the context of the future EU border and migration policy. “Considering the growing power and budget”, CEO predicts that Frontex’ relationship with industry will intensify. “Scrutiny over it should, too,” they add.
      MEPs to probe Frontex over unlawful pushbacks

      The European Parliament has set up a probe over harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations run by Frontex and aimed at stopping migrants from reaching EU shores via Greek waters.

      On 24 February, MEPs have formed a new working group (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20210222IPR98303/frontex-meps-to-investigate-alleged-violations-of-fundamental-rights), chaided by Roberta Metsola (EPP, Malta) officially called #Frontex_Scrutiny_Working_Group (#FSWG) (https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/news/new-frontex-scrutiny-working-group-quote-from-tineke-strik-mep), to “monitor all aspects of the functioning of the border agency, including its compliance with fundamental rights.” The legislators will personally conduct a fact-finding investigation over the next four months in order to collect evidence to determine if the violations took place and if the agency was involved in them.

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

  • Hungary: 4,903 pushbacks after EU Court declared them illegal

    The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, along with various other human rights advocacy groups, have been busy collecting evidence documenting Hungary’s continual flouting of EU law with regards to pushbacks. Since the EU Court of Justice declared Hungary’s pushbacks illegal in December 2020, a recorded 4,903 people have been pushed back to Serbia.

    András Léderer is pleased. On Wednesday, January 27, Frontex, the European border agency, announced that it would suspend its operations in Hungary.

    Léderer is senior advocacy officer with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), a human rights NGO based in Budapest. He feels Frontex’ decision is partly due to his painstaking work gathering evidence to show that Hungary has continued with pushbacks, despite the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declaring those pushbacks illegal on December 17, 2020.

    On January 26, Léderer posted a google map documenting nearly 600 pushbacks involving 4,504 people in the month following the court’s decision. On the map, the blue dots mark separate incidences, with attached links in Hungarian and a short summary in English. The map is updated daily. As of today (February 1), a total of 4,903 people have been pushed back, according to the organization’s daily count: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11jlrJW-SbIa-tCkbfvOJ4x2e2bteCR0zHLs0fB9g_nw/edit#gid=0

    “You know, normally it is a difficult task to prove human rights violations of this magnitude, especially when it comes to collective expulsions,” comments Léderer in his Twitter post accompanying the map. “Then enters illiberal Hungary [which] proudly publishes hundreds of them on the police official website. We just had to put them on a map.”

    https://twitter.com/andraslederer/status/1354030019874590731

    “Just” putting them on the map took its time though. Léderer says that he scoured the information on the police website, carefully translating the summaries in English, as well as obtaining information from other human rights groups on the Hungarian and Serbian sides of the border.

    “Since 2016,” Léderer tells InfoMigrants by phone from Budapest, “Hungary has managed to push more than 50,000 people back to Serbia. I would never have the time to put all those on a map.”
    The Black Book of Pushbacks 2020

    Accounts of some of the pushbacks from 2020 feature in the “Black Book of Pushbacks,” (https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:3f809f15-bada-4d3f-adab-f14d9489275a) published by the Border Violence Monitoring Network, partially financed by the Left group in the European Parliament. Léderer wrote an introduction for the almost 100-page Hungarian section.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IbJdIu2fM4&feature=emb_logo

    What happens during the pushbacks varies, explains Léderer. The most violent incident, on June 1, 2016, resulted in the death of a young Syrian boy. HHC is helping represent his surviving brother who was also pushed back from Hungary at the time. The boy was forced to swim across the river back into Serbia, and drowned on the way, says Léderer. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on the incident too.

    “Head injuries, broken limbs, broken hands, the use of batons, the use of dogs,” all are fairly commonplace during these pushbacks, says Léderer. “Humiliation” is another weapon used, says Léderer, explaining that sometimes those caught by Hungarian police are forced to strip to their underwear, even in the middle of winter and then asked to walk kilometers in the snow “nearly naked.”

    ’Inhumane and degrading treatment’

    There have also been reports of police throwing water on participants in the winter too, which makes them wet and cold. “I’ve listened to testimonies from a small group of people who were made to sit down in a circle and close their eyes and a dog, apparently on a leash, was released on them, just before the dog could bite them, he would be pulled back. One boy wet himself and they made the others look and mock him,” explains Léderer.

    When asked if that would amount to torture, Léderer says, “I would make the argument that that is at the very least inhumane and degrading treatment.” The problem for organizations like HHC though, is “how do you prove this? There is no way to prove this,” says Lederer. “Physical violence on the other hand can be proven.” HHC have taken some of these cases to Strasbourg after prosecutors in Hungary said there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges.

    Although the Hungarian police document lots of the pushbacks on their website, they “don’t take fingerprints or check the identities of any of these people.” Essentially, says Léderer, no one knows who these people are. Hungary also doesn’t know, for instance, if any of these people being pushed back are actually on an Interpol Red List, because they haven’t bothered to check their names, documents or fingerprints.
    Ensuring they ’don’t ask for asylum’

    The reason for this lack of documentation is to “ensure that they don’t ask for asylum,” which is, in itself, contravening EU and international human rights law, but not Hungarian domestic law, which has been altered several times since 2016 to allow for these pushbacks and these practices.

    In July 2016, Hungary passed a law allowing for anyone within eight kilometers of the Serbian border to be pushed back immediately. Then in March 2017, that zone was extended across the entire country, which is why the map now shows people having been picked up in the middle of the country, at the famous tourist site Lake Balaton, as well as on the Slovakian, Romanian and Austrian borders.

    “We have clients,” says Léderer, “who arrived directly in Budapest from a war-zone [Yemen] and immediately asked for asylum. But because they had fake passports, so of course their stay was ’illegal’ they were immediately removed during the night, a single mother with four small children. She has never been to Serbia before.”

    Hungary’s legislation, explains Léderer, covers all these types of cases in one sentence. “It’s not very complex. […] It reads ’Anyone found on the territory of Hungary without the right to stay; —which in practice means expired passport, fake passport, no passport, expired visa, no visa, are to be removed to the external side of the border fence;’ that’s it.”
    ’Nothing written down’

    Léderer says there is “no procedure, there is no hearing, people are not issued with a decision, this is just taken as a matter of fact. You cannot appeal against it, you can’t seek asylum. There is nothing written down or forwarded to the asylum authority so you can’t contest it.” The woman and her children are still in Serbia and HHC are still in touch with them, Léderer says.

    Another case, that of a Kurdish Iraqi boy called Karox, dating from 2017 was featured in an HHC short film on World Refugee Day 2020.

    Karox fled Iraq after his uncle wanted to send him to the army. He arrived in Austria as an unaccompanied minor and was told by police that he would be taken to a home for unaccompanied children. Instead, he says, he was pushed back to Hungary. There in this case he was fingerprinted by the police and they recorded his wish to seek asylum. They too told him via an interpreter that they would take him to a children’s home, instead, along with a few other men, he was pushed out and told to walk over the Serbian border.

    He had never been to Serbia before, but with the help of civil society groups and a lawyer employed by them, he managed to seek asylum in Serbia and after three years has been granted refugee stauts, is living, working and studying in Belgrade. Nevertheless, HHC has taken his case to the European court in Strasbourg where it is pending against both Austria and Hungary.
    Allegations of pushbacks from Austria to Hungary

    More recently, the Hungarian police appear to have alleged two further incidents of the Austrian authorities handing over migrants to the Hungarian police at or near the Nickelsdorf border crossing.

    The first is on December 23, and was recorded by the Hungarian police as “five people readmitted from Austria.” The second one, on January 21, was noted as: “Austrian authorities officially handed over three people.” In both cases, the eight people were taken over the Serbian border by the Hungarian authorities.

    InfoMigrants asked the Austrian Interior Ministry and the police authorities for a comment on this but so far we have received no reply.

    When someone is pushed back across several borders it essentially becomes a chain of pushbacks. It seems there are not just allegations of these chains going from Austria, to Hungary to Serbia but also via Slovakia. Léderer is aware of one “off the books” pushback from Slovakia to Hungary, and then on to Serbia.
    Unknown and unregistered

    Léderer says he would like the Austrian authorities to answer why they are handing people over to the Hungarian police. “The problem is we don’t know who these people are,” says Léderer. So looking into their case files and getting answers is difficult. “I don’t think we will ever know what happened there,” says Léderer.

    Frontex, according to their own legislation, have to ensure the respect of human rights as per their charter, including the right to seek asylum. So, since March 2017, if Frontex knew about any of these people in the country they were essentially complicit in pushbacks, says Léderer, if only by turning a blind eye to what was clearly going on and being documented on the police website every day.

    “The Hungarians, in order to ensure that these people do not have a chance to seek any remedy against what happens to them, they make sure there are no individual paper trails. That’s why I can’t tell you who these people are,” says Léderer.
    Frontex withdraws from Hungary

    #Frontex might not have literally carried the people from Hungary to Serbia, but by knowing what was happening, “they have been party to what is going on. That is why Frontex have had to suspend operations,” says Léderer.

    And that is also why Léderer is so pleased. He says they have been hoping since 2016 that Frontex would suspend operations in Hungary. He thinks that the Hungarian government would have put a lot of pressure on Frontex not to leave, because their departure puts Hungary in a more difficult position.

    “After the judgment delivered in December, the Hungarian policy was dragging the entire EU into a rights violation. So this is a unique situation. You have a judgment from the court of justice of the EU and at the same time you have an EU agency that participates in this policy after the judgment and that is a no-go. I think the EU realizes that if they had gone down that road, it would have been a very slippery slope,” explains Léderer.

    Léderer says that since Frontex’ announcement, the Hungarian government has not issued any kind of statement and the decision has not been reported in the pro-government media. Léderer thinks that the police might now stop reporting the pushbacks on its website, “we shall see,” he says, but adds that he will still find out what is going on keep reporting it.

    “I think what helps, however, clichéd that might sound, is knowing that we are doing the right thing,” says Léderer as he bids goodbye. “That is really what keeps us going. I have no doubt that what is happening here is very bad and we are trying to stop it, and that is the right thing to do.”

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/29944/hungary-4-903-pushbacks-after-eu-court-declared-them-illegal

    #chiffres #statistiques #push-backs #refoulements #refoulement #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Hongrie #Autriche #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • La Hongrie ignore la justice européenne en expulsant des migrants vers la Serbie

      La Cour de juste de l’Union européenne a jugé illégale l’expulsion de demandeurs d’asile de la Hongrie vers la Serbie. Mais le gouvernement national-conservateur de Viktor Orban ignore ce jugement.

      Le gouvernement hongrois ne fait aucun secret de son non respect de la loi européenne. Un site officiel fournit des chiffres précis et recense méticuleusement chaque cas d’expulsion par année et par catégorie.

      Ces cas concernent l’expulsion de demandeurs d’asile par les garde-frontières hongrois vers la Serbie. Selon les statistiques officielles, disponibles sur le site de la police hongroise, 2 824 réfugiés ont été appréhendés près de la clôture qui sépare les deux pays, rien que pour ce mois de janvier. Tous ont été contraints à retourner en Serbie.

      Par ailleurs, 184 sans papiers ont été appréhendés et doivent encore être jugés en Hongrie. Ils seront eux aussi très probablement renvoyés en Serbie.

      Ces « refoulements » ne sont pas seulement contraires aux traités internationaux comme la Convention de Genève, dont la Hongrie est signataire. Depuis décembre dernier, ils violent également un arrêt juridiquement contraignant de la plus haute juridiction de l’Union européenne, à savoir la Cour de justice de l’UE (CJUE).

      Le verdict a été rendu le 17 décembre dernier, mais pour le moment, les autorités hongroises l’ignorent vertement. Près de 5.000 demandeurs d’asile ont été expulsés vers la Serbie depuis le jour du verdict. Le premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orban et plusieurs membres de son gouvernement ont depuis confirmé à plusieurs reprises leur intention de vouloir poursuivre cette pratique.

      « Escortes »

      Andreas Lederer, expert en politique migratoire au Comité d’Helsinki hongrois, l’une des plus importantes ONG du pas, estime que ces renvois sont « un sérieux affront » aux arrêtés de la CJUE et aux lois européennes. « Dans le domaine juridique, il arrive rarement que les choses soient claires comme de l’eau de roche », note l’expert. « Mais dans le cas des verdicts de la CJUE, c’est le cas. Ils sont contraignants et la Hongrie se doit d’y obéir. Mais le gouvernement hongrois s’y refuse ».

      Dans le jargon des officiels hongrois, ces refoulements sont qualifiés « d’escortes de migrants illégaux appréhendés vers les portes de la barrière de sécurité frontalière provisoire ». Il s’agit de la clôture érigée le long de la frontière serbe. Celle-ci n’a cessé d’être modernisée depuis 2015 pour devenir une infrastructure de haute sécurité. Des portes y sont installées à intervalles réguliers. C’est par ces portes que les migrants sont renvoyés, généralement immédiatement après avoir été interceptés.

      Une « faille »

      Selon l’interprétation du gouvernement hongrois, une faille dans le système permettrait de justifier ces refoulements. La clôture le long de la frontière avec la Serbie est située sur le territoire hongrois, éloignée de quelques mètres de la frontière actuelle. Faire repasser des migrants de l’autre côté de la frontière ne constituerait donc pas une expulsion, puisque les personnes renvoyées se trouvent de fait toujours sur le territoire hongrois.

      Cet argument a été avancé à plusieurs reprises par les représentants du gouvernement hongrois.

      Mais dans son verdict de décembre, la CJUE a explicitement jugé que cette pratique était illégale, car les personnes renvoyées de l’autre côté de la clôture n’ont finalement pas d’autre choix que de quitter le territoire hongrois, ce qui équivaut à une expulsion. Par ailleurs, renvoyer des demandeurs d’asile sans leur donner la chance de présenter leur cas constitue une violation des directives de l’UE.
      Epuisement et privation de nourriture

      Ce n’est pas la première fois que la CJUE condamne le gouvernement hongrois pour sa politique migratoire. En mai 2020, elle a jugé que les conditions d’hébergement des demandeurs d’asile dans les zones dites de transit étaient illégales.

      Fin 2015, la Hongrie avait établi deux zones de transit près de la clôture frontalière dans lesquelles les migrants pouvaient faire une demande d’asile. Toutefois, ces dernières années, les conditions de séjour y étaient devenues de plus en plus difficiles. Les couples et les familles étaient séparés et seuls les bébés autorisés à rester avec leur mère. Une extrême promiscuité régnait dans ces zones ressemblant avant tout à des prisons de haute sécurité. Enfin, la distribution de nourriture se limitait au minimum, faisant dire aux militants de droits humains hongrois que les autorités pratiquaient une stratégie d’épuisement et de privation de nourriture.

      En face, le gouvernement soutenait que toute personnes était libre de quitter la zone de transit à tout moment pour faire des courses. Une réponse peu convaincante, car la loi hongroise prévoyait que le fait de quitter la zone de transit entraînait automatiquement la fin de la procédure d’asile et le réfugié se voyant interdit de présenter une nouvelle demande.

      Depuis le verdict de la CJUE, la Hongrie a fermé les deux zones de transit. Depuis, les migrants ne peuvent demander l’asile que dans les ambassades hongroises situées dans des pays non membres de l’UE, principalement la Serbie et l’Ukraine. L’automne dernier, la Commission européenne a réagi en engageant de nouvelles procédures contre Budapest.

      « Empêcher la formation de couloirs migratoires »

      Suite à notre demande, le porte-parole du gouvernement hongrois, Zoltan Kovacs, n’a pas voulu expliquer sur quelle base le gouvernement hongrois refusait d’appliquer l’arrêt de la CJIUE de décembre. Dans sa réponse, il reprend quasiment mot pour mot une publication sur Facebook de la ministre hongroise de la justice Jugit Varga en décembre dernier, affirmant que « le gouvernement continue à protéger les frontières de la Hongrie et de l’Europe et fera tout pour empêcher la formation de couloirs internationaux de migration. »

      Étant donné le refus du gouvernement hongrois d’appliquer l’arrêt de la CJUE de décembre 2020, Andras Lederer du Comité d’Helsinki appelle la Commission européenne à prendre des mesures. « Il serait possible d’imposer des sanctions financières à la Hongrie, sous la forme d’importantes amendes pour la non-exécution des décisions de la CJUE », selon l’expert en migration. « Malheureusement, il semble que la Commission européenne ne soit pas aussi résolue qu’elle devrait l’être lorsqu’un État membre viole des lois existantes. »

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/30345/la-hongrie-ignore-la-justice-europeenne-en-expulsant-des-migrants-vers

  • #Frontex suspend ses #opérations en Hongrie

    Frontex, l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, a annoncé mercredi qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie après une décision de la Cour de justice européenne critiquant le système d’asile de ce pays.

    Frontex, l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, a annoncé mercredi qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie après une décision de la #Cour_de_justice_européenne critiquant le système d’asile de ce pays.

    « Frontex a suspendu toutes ses #activités_opérationnelles sur le terrain en Hongrie », a déclaré à l’AFP Chris Borowski, le porte-parole de Frontex, dont le siège est à Varsovie.

    « Nos efforts communs pour protéger les frontières extérieures de l’UE ne peuvent réussir que si nous veillons à ce que notre coopération et nos activités soient pleinement conformes aux lois de l’UE », a-t-il déclaré.

    En décembre, la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne a constaté de nombreuses failles dans les procédures d’asile de la Hongrie, notamment l’#expulsion_illégale de migrants en provenance de #Serbie.

    Elle a également déclaré que les lois interdisant aux demandeurs d’asile de demeurer en Hongrie pendant que leur appel devant la justice était examiné étaient illégales et a critiqué la #détention de migrants dans des « #zones_de_transit ».

    Le Comité Helsinki hongrois (HHC), un organisme de surveillance non gouvernemental, a affirmé mardi que la Hongrie avait expulsé plus de 4.400 migrants depuis la décision de la Cour de justice de l’UE.

    « La décision de Frontex est importante puisque Frontex n’a jamais suspendu ses activités » auparavant, a déclaré Andras Lederer, un membre du HHC.

    M. Lederer a estimé que Frontex avait été forcée de suspendre ses opérations en Hongrie parce qu’elle risquait d’être tenue pour « complice » de la politique migratoire hongroise.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/fil-dactualites/270121/frontex-suspend-ses-operations-en-hongrie?onglet=full

    #suspension #Hongrie #arrêt #stop #justice #CJUE #illégalité #complicité
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #zones_frontalières

    ping @isskein @_kg_ @rhoumour @karine4

    • Frontex suspend ses activités en Hongrie, quelles conséquences pour la Serbie ?

      Le 27 janvier, l’agence européenne de gestion des frontières a suspendu ses activités en Hongrie, le temps que Budapest mette sa législation vis-à-vis des réfugiés en conformité avec le droit européen. Les associations serbes d’aide aux exilés s’inquiètent d’une décision potentiellement contreproductive.

      (Avec Radio Slobodna Evropa) – « La violence aux frontières et les retours illégaux de personnes en Serbie risquent de s’intensifier. » Voilà ce que craint Radoš Đurović, du Centre pour l’assistance aux demandeurs d’asile, une ONG basée à Belgrade, après la décision de Frontex, l’agence européenne de garde-frontières, de se retirer de Hongrie. Est-il possible, pourtant, d’envisager un scénario pire que la situation actuelle ? « On assiste tous les jours à des expulsions massives et à des scènes de violence », rappelle-t-il. « Les autorités hongroises ne prennent même pas la peine d’avertir leurs collègues serbes. Elles se contentent de pousser les réfugiés par centaines de l’autre côté de l’immense clôture de barbelés. »

      Frontex a suspendu ses activités en Hongrie le 27 janvier en attendant que le gouvernement de Viktor Orban harmonise la législation du pays avec l’arrêt rendu le 17 décembre par la Cour européenne de justice sur les demandes d’asile. Dès le lendemain, la Commission européenne a appelé Budapest à respecter les droits des réfugiés. « Je m’attends à ce que la Hongrie change sa politique et permette aux réfugiés de demander l’asile sur son territoire », a déclaré avec optimisme la commissaire aux Affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson. « Une agence comme Frontex ne peut pas aider la Hongrie à empêcher des gens d’entrer sur son territoire si la Hongrie elle-même ne respecte pas les droits fondamentaux des migrants et les lois de l’UE. »

      Autrement dit, pour Bruxelles, il serait grand temps que Budapest commence à accepter les demandes d’asile et permette aux réfugiés de rester en Hongrie au moins le temps que leurs demandes soient examinées, et qu’elle mette un terme aux expulsions massives sans laisser la possibilité aux candidats à l’exil de déposer une demande d’asile. Selon Vladimir Petronijević, de Grupa 484, une ONG belgradoise d’aide aux réfugiés, Frontex a émis de sérieuses objections vis-à-vis de cette pratique qui contrevient aux principes de l’UE. « Il a été souligné que la partie hongroise met en œuvre en permanence l’expulsion collective de migrants et de réfugiés vers la Serbie, une pratique qui prévaut depuis plusieurs années. » Or, regrette-t-il, avec ou sans Frontex, ces expulsions risquent bel et bien de se poursuivre. « Je ne vois pas de raisons particulières qui empêcheraient la Hongrie de continuer à faire ce qu’elle a toujours fait depuis 2015. »

      Selon le Comité Helsinki en Hongrie, Budapest aurait expulsé plus de 4000 réfugiés de Hongrie depuis décembre dernier. « Nous continuerons à défendre le peuple hongrois et les frontières du pays et de l’UE », a d’ailleurs affirmé, le 28 janvier, le porte-parole du gouvernement de Viktor Orbán. Du côté de Belgrade, les autorités continuent de pratiquer la politique de l’autruche. « D’après ce que nous observons sur le terrain, la Serbie réagit peu à ces pratiques unilatérales, non seulement le long de la frontière hongroise, mais aussi des frontières croate et roumaine, peut-être parce qu’elle ne veut pas offenser les pays voisins membres de l’UE », estime Radoš Đurović. La Hongrie n’est en effet pas la seule à mettre en œuvre ces mauvaises pratiques : la Croatie lui a depuis longtemps emboîté le pas, de même que la Roumanie ou encore la Macédoine du Nord.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Frontex-Hongrie

  • #Damien_Carême dans « à l’air libre » sur la #politique_migratoire européenne et française
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU1TpPLjRzI&feature=youtu.be

    –—

    Quelques citations :

    Damien Carême :

    « On est reparti [au parlement européen] sur les discussion sur le #pacte asile migration pour voir dans quelles conditions celui qui nous est proposé maintenant est pire que le précédent, parce qu’on nivelle par le bas les exigences. On l’appelait la directive #Dublin il y encore quelque temps, aujourd’hui moi je dis que c’est la #Directive_Budapest parce qu’on s’est aligné sur les désirs de #Orban vis-à-vis de la politique de migration, et c’est pas possible qu’on laisse faire cette politique-là. [Aujourd’hui] C’est laisser les camps en #Grèce, laisser les gens s’accumuler, laisser les pays de première entrée en Europe s’occuper de la demande d’asile et permettre maintenant aux Etats qui sont à l’extérieur (la Suède, la France, l’Allemagne ou ailleurs) organiser le retour, depuis la Grèce, depuis l’Italie, depuis l’Espagne en se lavant les mains. »

    –—

    Sur le manque chronique de #logement pour les exilés en France... et la demande de #réquisition de #logements_vacants de la part des associations...
    Question du journaliste : pourquoi les mairies, et notamment les mairies de gauche et écologistes ne le font pas ?

    Damien Carême :

    « C’est à eux qu’il faut poser la question, moi je ne le comprends pas, moi, je l’ai fait chez moi. Je ne souhaite pas faire des camps, c’est pas l’idée de faire des #camps partout, mais parce que j’avais pas d’école vide, j’avais pas d’ancien hôpital, d’ancienne caserne, de vieux bâtiments pour héberger ces personnes. Donc on peut accueillir ces personnes-là, je ne comprends pas pourquoi ils ne le font pas. Je milite en tant que président de l’association #ANVITA pour l’#accueil_inconditionnel »

    Journaliste : Qu’est-ce que vous diriez à #Anne_Hidalgo ?

    « On travaille ensemble... on ne peut pas laisser ces personnes là... il faut les rendre visibles. Il a raison #Yann_Manzi d’#Utopia_56 dans le reportage. Il ne faut surtout pas jouer la politique du gouvernement qui joue l’#invisibilité. Et le ras-le-bol des #bénévoles... moi je connais des bénévoles à Grande-Synthe, ça fait 20 ans qu’ils sont là pour aider des exilés qui arrivent sur le territoire... ils sont épuisés, et c’est l’#épuisement que joue le gouvernement. Il ne faut pas céder à cela et il faut en arriver de temps en temps à un #rapport_de_force pour faire en sorte qu’on ouvre [des bâtiments vides] pour que ces gens ne soient pas à la rue. »

    Journaliste : un mot pour qualifier la politique migratoire du gouvernement

    « C’est la #politique_du_refus. C’est une politique d’#extrême_droite. D’ailleurs l’extrême droite applaudit des 4 mains ce que fait aujourd’hui le gouvernement. »

    Sur la situation à #Briançon :
    Damien Carême :

    « C’est du #harcèlement organisé par l’Etat pour jouer l’épuisement sur les bénévoles mais aussi chez les exilés qui arrivent. Et on voit bien que ça ne sert à rien. Macron, à grand renfort de pub a annoncé qu’il doublait les forces de l’ordre à la frontière italienne pour éviter les entrées, y a jamais eu autant d’entrée à la #frontière franco-italienne... »

    Journaliste : "Il y a quasiment autant d’exilés que de policiers qui dorment dans les hôtels de la ville..."
    Damien Carême :

    « Mais bien sûr ! Le budget de #Frontex est passé de 50 millions à l’origine à 476 millions aujourd’hui, ça ne change rien. La seule chose que ça change, c’est qu’aujourd’hui, à Calais, pour passer de l’autre côté en Angleterre, il y a des gens qui prennent des #small_boats et il y a des gens qui meurent en traversant le détroit de la Manche. Et c’est ça qui est grave. Et c’est ça que font ces politiques ! Que le #trafic_d'êtres_humains est le troisième trafic international après les armes et la drogue, parce que le coût du passage a énormément augmenté. A Grande-Synthe en 2015, on me disait que c’était 800 euros le passage garanti, aujourd’hui c’est entre 10 et 14’000 euros. C’est toute l’#efficacité de cette politique-là. Donc changeons de politique : dépensons beaucoup moins d’argent à faire de la #répression [utilisons-le] en organisant l’accueil »

    Commentaire à partir de cette photo, prise à Grande-Synthe :


    Journaliste : Pourquoi ça se passe comment ça, sachant que c’est votre ancien adjoint, un socialiste, #Martial_Beyaert, qui est maire maintenant ?
    Damien Carême :

    "Il avait toujours été d’accord avec notre politique d’accueil. A partir du moment dans lequel il a assumé la responsabilité, il s’est réfugié derrière la volonté du préfet. Et aujourd’hui il dit qu’il est prêt à ouvrir le gymnase, « mais il faut que l’Etat soit d’accord pour le faire, et l’Etat n’est pas d’accord ». Mais l’Etat ne sera jamais d’accord, donc c’est du #cynisme de tenir ces propos aujourd’hui".

    Sur l’ANVITA :
    Damien Carême :

    « C’est un réseau de soutien, c’est un réseau de pression, il y a 44 communes, 3 régions et 2 départements. »

    Journaliste : c’est facile d’être solidaire en ce moment ?

    Damien Carême : « Oui c’est facile. En fait, tout repose sur l’#imaginaire, sur les #récits qu’on peut faire. Nous, ce qu’on a fait quand on était à Grande-Synthe, et c’est ce qui se passe dans plein de villes... quand on accueille réellement, quand on met en relation les populations accueillies et les populations accueillantes, tout se passe merveilleusement bien. »

    Carême parle de #Lyon comme prochaine ville qui intégrera le réseau... et il rapporte les mots de #Gérard_Collomb :
    Damien Carême :

    "Lyon c’est quand même symbolique, parce que Gérard Collomb... qui avait été, pour moi, le ministre de l’intérieur le plus cynique, lui aussi, puisqu’il m’avait dit quand je l’avais vu en entretien en septembre 2017, ouvert les guillemets : « On va leur faire passer l’envie de venir chez nous », fermées les guillemets. C’était les propos d’un ministre de l’intérieur sur la politique migratoire qui allait été mise en ville"

    L’ANVITA....

    « c’est mettre en réseau ces collectivités, c’est montrer qu’on peut faire, qu’on peut faire de l’accueil sans soulèvement de population... Et c’est bientôt créer un réseau européen, car il y a des réseaux comme ça en Allemagne, en Belgique, en Italie, et fédérer ces réseaux »

    Damien Carême :

    « Dans la #crise_écologique, dans la #crise_climatique qu’on vit, il y a la crise migratoire, enfin... c’est pas une #crise_migratoire, c’est structurel, c’est pas conjoncturel la migration : c’est depuis toujours et ça durera toujours. C’est quelque chose à intégrer. Et donc intégrons-le dans nos politiques publiques. C’est pas une calamité, c’est une #chance parfois d’avoir cet apport extérieur. Et toute l’histoire de l’humanité nous le raconte parfaitement »

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #interview #Calais #France #Grande-Synthe #camp_humanitaire #camps_de_réfugiés #accueil #rhétorique #appel_d'air #solidarité #mouvements_citoyens #associations #sauvetage #mer #secours_en_mer #Frontex #Fabrice_Leggeri #refus #harcèlement_policier #passeurs #militarisation_des_frontières #efficacité

    signalé par @olaf : https://seenthis.net/messages/898383

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • How the Pandemic Turned Refugees Into ‘Guinea Pigs’ for Surveillance Tech

    An interview with Dr. Petra Molnar, who spent 2020 investigating the use of drones, facial recognition, and lidar on refugees

    The coronavirus pandemic unleashed a new era in surveillance technology, and arguably no group has felt this more acutely than refugees. Even before the pandemic, refugees were subjected to contact tracing, drone and LIDAR tracking, and facial recognition en masse. Since the pandemic, it’s only gotten worse. For a microcosm of how bad the pandemic has been for refugees — both in terms of civil liberties and suffering under the virus — look no further than Greece.

    Greek refugee camps are among the largest in Europe, and they are overpopulated, with scarce access to water, food, and basic necessities, and under constant surveillance. Researchers say that many of the surveillance techniques and technologies — especially experimental, rudimentary, and low-cost ones — used to corral refugees around the world were often tested in these camps first.

    “Certain communities already marginalized, disenfranchised are being used as guinea pigs, but the concern is that all of these technologies will be rolled out against the broader population and normalized,” says Petra Molnar, Associate Director of the Refugee Law Lab, York University.

    Molnar traveled to the Greek refugee camps on Lesbos in 2020 as part of a fact-finding project with the advocacy group European Digital Rights (EDRi). She arrived right after the Moria camp — the largest in Europe at the time — burned down and forced the relocation of thousands of refugees. Since her visit, she has been concerned about the rise of authoritarian technology and how it might be used against the powerless.

    With the pandemic still raging and states more desperate than ever to contain it, it seemed a good time to discuss the uses and implications of surveillance in the refugee camps. Molnar, who is still in Greece and plans to continue visiting the camps once the nation’s second lockdown lifts, spoke to OneZero about the kinds of surveillance technology she saw deployed there, and what the future holds — particularly with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Molnar says, adding “that they’ve been using Greece as a testing ground for all sorts of aerial surveillance technology.”

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

    OneZero: What kinds of surveillance practices and technologies did you see in the camps?

    Petra Molnar: I went to Lesbos in September, right after the Moria camp burned down and thousands of people were displaced and sent to a new camp. We were essentially witnessing the birth of the Kara Tepes camp, a new containment center, and talked to the people about surveillance, and also how this particular tragedy was being used as a new excuse to bring more technology, more surveillance. The [Greek] government is… basically weaponizing Covid to use it as an excuse to lock the camps down and make it impossible to do any research.

    When you are in Lesbos, it is very clear that it is a testing ground, in the sense that the use of tech is quite rudimentary — we are not talking about thermal cameras, iris scans, anything like that, but there’s an increase in the appetite of the Greek government to explore the use of it, particularly when they try to control large groups of people and also large groups coming from the Aegean. It’s very early days for a lot of these technologies, but everything points to the fact that Greece is Europe’s testing ground.

    They are talking about bringing biometric control to the camps, but we know for example that the Hellenic Coast Guard has a drone that they have been using for self-promotion, propaganda, and they’ve now been using it to follow specific people as they are leaving and entering the camp. I’m not sure if the use of drones was restricted to following refugees once they left the camps, but with the lockdown, it was impossible to verify. [OneZero had access to a local source who confirmed that drones are also being used inside the camps to monitor refugees during lockdown.]

    Also, people can come and go to buy things at stores, but they have to sign in and out at the gate, and we don’t know how they are going to use such data and for what purposes.

    Surveillance has been used on refugees long before the pandemic — in what ways have refugees been treated as guinea pigs for the policies and technologies we’re seeing deployed more widely now? And what are some of the worst examples of authoritarian technologies being deployed against refugees in Europe?

    The most egregious examples that we’ve been seeing are that ill-fated pilot projects — A.I. lie detectors and risk scorings which were essentially trying to use facial recognition and facial expressions’ micro-targeting to determine whether a person was more likely than others to lie at the border. Luckily, that technology was debunked and also generated a lot of debate around the ethics and human rights implications of using something like that.

    Technologies such as voice printing have been used in Germany to try to track a person’s country of origin or their ethnicity, facial recognition made its way into the new Migration’s Pact, and Greece is thinking about automating the triage of refugees, so there’s an appetite at the EU level and globally to use this tech. I think 2021 will be very interesting as more resources are being diverted to these types of tech.

    We saw, right when the pandemic started, that migration data used for population modeling became kind of co-opted and used to try and model flows of Covid. And this is very problematic because they are assuming that the mobile population, people on the move, and refugees are more likely to be bringing in Covid and diseases — but the numbers don’t bear out. We are also seeing the gathering of vast amounts of data for all these databases that Europe is using or will be using for a variety of border enforcement and policing in general.

    The concern is that fear’s being weaponized around the pandemic and technologies such as mobile tracking and data collection are being used as ways to control people. It is also broader, it deals with a kind of discourse around migration, on limiting people’s rights to move. Our concern is that it’ll open the door to further, broader rollout of this kind of tech against the general population.

    What are some of the most invasive technologies you’ve seen? And are you worried these authoritarian technologies will continue to expand, and not just in refugee camps?

    In Greece, the most invasive technologies being used now would probably be drones and unpiloted surveillance technologies, because it’s a really easy way to dehumanize that kind of area where people are crossing, coming from Turkey, trying to claim asylum. There’s also the appetite to try facial recognition technology.

    It shows just how dangerous these technologies can be both because they facilitate pushbacks, border enforcement, and throwing people away, and it really plays into this kind of idea of instead of humane responses you’d hope to happen when you see a boat in distress in the Aegean or the Mediterranean, now entities are turning towards drones and the whole kind of surveillance apparatus. It highlights how the humanity in this process has been lost.

    And the normalization of it all. Now it is so normal to use drones — everything is about policing Europe’s shore, Greece being a shield, to normalize the use of invasive surveillance tech. A lot of us are worried with talks of expanding the scope of action, mandate, and powers of Frontex [the European Border and Coast Guard Agency] and its utter lack of accountability — it is crystal clear that entities like Frontex are going to do Europe’s dirty work.

    There’s a particular framing applied when governments and companies talk about migrants and refugees, often linking them to ISIS and using careless terms and phrases to discuss serious issues. Our concern is that this kind of use of technology is going to become more advanced and more efficient.

    What is happening with regard to contact tracing apps — have there been cases where the technology was forced on refugees?

    I’ve heard about the possibility of refugees being tracked through their phones, but I couldn’t confirm. I prefer not to interact with the state through my phone, but that’s a privilege I have, a choice I can make. If you’re living in a refugee camp your options are much more constrained. Often people in the camps feel they are compelled to give access to their phones, to give their phone numbers, etc. And then there are concerns that tracking is being done. It’s really hard to track the tracking; it is not clear what’s being done.

    Aside from contact tracing, there’s the concern with the Wi-Fi connection provided in the camps. There’s often just one connection or one specific place where Wi-Fi works and people need to be connected to their families, spouses, friends, or get access to information through their phones, sometimes their only lifeline. It’s a difficult situation because, on the one hand, people are worried about privacy and surveillance, but on the other, you want to call your family, your spouse, and you can only do that through Wi-Fi and people feel they need to be connected. They have to rely on what’s available, but there’s a concern that because it’s provided by the authorities, no one knows exactly what’s being collected and how they are being watched and surveilled.

    How do we fight this surveillance creep?

    That’s the hard question. I think one of the ways that we can fight some of this is knowledge. Knowing what is happening, sharing resources among different communities, having a broader understanding of the systemic way this is playing out, and using such knowledge generated by the community itself to push for regulation and governance when it comes to these particular uses of technologies.

    We call for a moratorium or abolition of all high-risk technology in and around the border because right now we don’t have a governance mechanism in place or integrated regional or international way to regulate these uses of tech.

    Meanwhile, we have in the EU a General Data Protection Law, a very strong tool to protect data and data sharing, but it doesn’t really touch on surveillance, automation, A.I., so the law is really far behind.

    One of the ways to fight A.I. is to make policymakers understand the real harm that these technologies have. We are talking about ways that discrimination and inequality are reinforced by this kind of tech, and how damaging they are to people.

    We are trying to highlight this systemic approach to see it as an interconnected system in which all of these technologies play a part in this increasingly draconian way that migration management is being done.

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

    #réfugiés #cobaye #surveillance #technologie #pandémie #covid-19 #coroanvirus #LIDAR #drones #reconnaissance_faciale #Grèce #camps_de_réfugiés #Lesbos #Moria #European_Digital_Rights (#EDRi) #surveillance_aérienne #complexe_militaro-industriel #Kara_Tepes #weaponization #biométrie #IA #intelligence_artificielle #détecteurs_de_mensonges #empreinte_vocale #tri #catégorisation #donneés #base_de_données #contrôle #technologies_autoritaires #déshumanisation #normalisation #Frontex #wifi #internet #smartphone #frontières

    ping @isskein @karine4

    ping @etraces

  • Loin des migrants, Frontex fait #bombance

    Chaque année jusqu’en 2019, l’agence européenne de gardes-frontières a organisé une fête pour ses agents. La facture fait mal.

    Un dîner gourmet, du foot, quelques conférences et des exercices de détection de passeurs… On a le sens de la #convivialité à Frontex. Selon des révélations du site EUobserver, l’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières extérieures de l’UE a organisé chaque année, jusqu’en 2019, un #séminaire_festif près de son siège, en Pologne.

    Un petit raout entre collègues, pourquoi pas ? Mais l’addition pique : 2,1 millions d’euros en cinq ans. En mai 2015, juste avant la crise migratoire, 800 agents ont déboulé de toute l’Europe. Facture : 360 000 €, dont 94 000 € pour le dîner… C’était le bon temps. La fête a cessé en 2020, sans que l’on sache pourquoi, Frontex ayant refusé de nous répondre.

    Ces fuites n’en demeurent pas moins indigestes : l’agence, autonome, n’a certes pas de comptes à rendre à la Commission européenne… Mais elle est bien financée par des fonds de l’UE. Et depuis sa création en 2005, son budget est passé de 6 à 460 millions d’euros.

    Enquête pour refoulement illégal

    Cela ne lui sert pas qu’à ripailler. Débordés, les 1 200 gardes-frontières reçoivent, ce mois-ci, le renfort de 700 nouveaux agents. 8 000 autres seront recrutés d’ici à 2027. Mais ce déploiement de force pose question. L’Office européen de lutte antifraude (Olaf) vient d’ouvrir une enquête sur le refoulement illégal de migrants par des garde-côtes.

    En octobre, des agents maltais et grecs avaient déjà été accusés d’avoir mis en péril des embarcations, en les repoussant vers la Turquie. Et les dénonciations de violences profilèrent à toutes nos frontières.

    Pas de quoi redorer le blason de Frontex pourtant fière de présenter le « premier uniforme européen de gardes-frontières », la semaine dernière. Las, sa vidéo glamour et virile à souhait n’a fait qu’ajouter au malaise.

    https://www.ouest-france.fr/europe/ue/loin-des-migrants-frontex-fait-bombance-7122222

    #fête #Frontex #dîner

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • Frontex spent €94,000 on a dinner in Warsaw

      The EU’s border and coast agency, Frontex, holds a one-day event annually every May to celebrate itself, often attracting several hundred participants.

      And almost every year, expenses soar to ever greater heights.

      In 2015, it spent just over €94,000 for a dinner at the swanky Belvedere restaurant in Warsaw, according to documents released by a freedom-of-information request to EUobserver.

      The feast was the finale of the so-called European Border and Coast Guard Day, a celebration Frontex says gives border guards around Europe an “opportunity to share experiences and best practice.”

      The event includes representatives from the industry, national border guard authorities, and policy experts. The 2015 edition had some 800 guests. It is unclear how many of those attended the dinner.

      Prizes for the best ’work’ photo, movies, football and volley ball matches between Frontex and national border guards, shooting competitions and exercises to detect smugglers are also part of the festivities.

      It billed the EU taxpayer €360,499.45 for the day.

      Those expenses include renting out a conference space (€91,818) and reimbursing participants (€56,118), most likely for hotel and transport.

      But the biggest bill remains the Belvedere gala dinner, where people dined on fine cuisine inside the 150-year old New Orangery at the Royal Łazienki Park.

      The example is not isolated.

      Documents reveal that the costs linked to the agency’s one-day annual celebration of itself have grown over the years.

      In 2018, European taxpayers paid €580,152.22 for the event held in Sopot, a Polish seaside resort city on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea.

      “Following the official conference, participants witnessed a spectacular maritime exercise conducted by the Polish border guard,” said Frontex, in a report.

      The figures for 2015 was €360,499.45, 2016 (€371,063.31), 2017 (€341,324.58), 2018 (€580,152.22) and 2019 (€494,542.46) - a total of €2.1m.

      It is unclear if Frontex held extravagant dinners for each of the years as the agency provided only limited and partial breakdown of the costs. The most complete breakdown was given for 2015, with details diminishing for each consecutive year.

      But it did release a 2019 survey, where most respondents rated the food and “evening dinner” as excellent. Others also rated as “excellent” an exercise to detect smugglers.

      Respondents, in the same questionnaire, were somewhat less enthusiastic about their interest in the policy presentations, with most ranking them below the top score of “strongly agree”.

      The 2019 celebration was held in Arłamów, a Polish village near Ukraine.

      “Even before the appearance of Covid, Frontex had decided to stop holding the event,” said a Frontex spokesperson, noting that it did not take place last year and won’t this year either.

      Frontex now ranks as among the most well-funded of EU agencies. In 2005, it had an annual budget of €6m, which has since ballooned to almost €500m.

      The budget is set to increase further as some €11bn has been earmarked for the agency between this year and 2027.

      Frontex is required to ensure sound financial management of its EU budget.

      In an email last year, its spokesperson said that the agency is obliged “to responsibly implement its budget.”

      The comment was made after it decided to sue pro-transparency campaigners, who, after losing an EU court case, refused to reimburse the agency’s €24,000 legal fees.

      “As a public institution relying on the funds that ultimately come from European taxpayers, we cannot refuse a court ruling that asks the parties that sued us to pay the legal costs,” said a Frontex spokesperson, at the time.

      He then added that Frontex is tasked to “ensure sound financial management” and “to protect the financial interests of the EU.”

      Although the case against the transparency campaigners has yet to be resolved, Frontex has since been pressured into being more open on how it handles freedom-of-information requests.

      When EUobserver filed for the documents to release expenditures for European Border and Coast Guard Day, it came with a warning.

      “Kindly be reminded that the copyrights of the documents rest with Frontex and making these works, available to third parties in this or another form without prior authorisation of Frontex is prohibited,” stated a letter from Frontex.

      Such threats don’t make any sense, says Chris Jones from Statewatch, a civil liberties charity based in the UK.

      “It’s public money, how can they copyright it? I don’t think that copyright argument can stand up to any meaningful scrutiny to be honest,” he said.

      https://euobserver.com/institutional/150625

      #dépenses

  • #Frontex to expand cooperation with Operation #IRINI

    Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and Operation #EUNAVFOR_MED IRINI have agreed last Friday to expand their cooperation to address challenges and threats to EU security in the Central Mediterranean region.

    Under a new working arrangement, Frontex will be supporting Operation IRINI with information gathered as part of the agency’s risk analysis activities, such as tracking vessels of interests on the high seas, as well as data from its aerial surveillance in the Central Mediterranean. The agreement also foresees the exchange of experts. Currently, an EUNAVFOR MED expert is based at the Warsaw headquarters of Frontex to support information exchange and cooperation in search and rescue operations.

    “Operation IRINI is a as a valuable operational partner for us. Frontex will provide information that will help tackle security challenges in the Central Mediterranean. We also work together to help save lives at sea,” said Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri.

    “I am happy to sign the agreement with Frontex in order to strengthen our common action in order to ensure the security of EU borders and stem illicit traffic in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Admiral #Fabio_Agostini, IRINI Operation Commander, during the virtual ceremony.

    The working arrangement was signed during a virtual ceremony by Frontex’s Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri and Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini, the Commander of Operation IRINI and attended by Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs #Monique_Pariat.

    EUNAVFOR MED Operation IRINI is tasked with the implementation of the United Nation Security Council Resolutions on the arms embargo on Libya through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets.
    Cooperation with EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy missions is an integral part of Frontex’s activities. Before the launch of IRINI, the agency worked with EUNAVFOR Med Sophia to together combat people smuggling and trafficking and helped the mission build a comprehensive picture of cross-border criminal activities in the Central Mediterranean.

    https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/news-release/frontex-to-expand-cooperation-with-operation-irini-IYCjyo

    #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #operation_IRINI #EUNAVFOR_MED_IRINI #militarisation_des_frontières #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #Méditerranée_Centrale #information #données #sécurité #sauvetage #accord

    ping @isskein @karine4 @etraces