• Fewer boat crossings, visit to Frontex : EU and Tunisia implement migration pact

    Despite an alleged repayment of funds for migration defence, Tunisia is cooperating with the EU. Fewer refugees are also arriving across the Mediterranean – a decrease by a factor of seven.

    In June, the EU Commission signed an agreement on joint migration control with Tunisia. According to the agreement, the government in Tunis will receive €105 million to monitor its borders and “combat people smuggling”. Another €150 million should flow from the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) in the coming years for the purposes of border management and countering the “smuggling” of migrants.

    Tunisia received a first transfer under the agreement of €67 million in September. The money was to finance a coast guard vessel, spare parts and marine fuel for other vessels as well as vehicles for the Tunisian coast guard and navy, and training to operate the equipment. Around €25 million of this tranche was earmarked for “voluntary return” programmes, which are implemented by the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organisation for Migration.

    However, a few weeks after the transfer from Brussels, the government in Tunis allegedly repaid almost the entire sum. Tunisia “does not accept anything resembling favours or alms”, President Kais Saied is quoted as saying. Earlier, the government had also cancelled a working visit by the Commission to implement the agreement.

    Successes at the working level

    Despite the supposed U-turn, cooperation on migration prevention between the EU and Tunisia has got off the ground and is even showing initial successes at the working level. Under the agreement, the EU has supplied spare parts for the Tunisian coast guard, for example, which will keep “six ships operational”. This is what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote last week to MEPs who had asked about the implementation of the deal. Another six coast guard vessels are to be repaired by the end of the year.

    In an undated letter to the EU member states, von der Leyen specifies the equipment aid. According to the letter, IT equipment for operations rooms, mobile radar systems and thermal imaging cameras, navigation radars and sonars have been given to Tunisia so far. An “additional capacity building” is to take place within the framework of existing “border management programmes” implemented by Italy and the Netherlands, among others. One of these is the EU4BorderSecurity programme, which among other things provides skills in sea rescue and has been extended for Tunisia until April 2025.

    The Tunisian Garde Nationale Maritime, which is part of the Ministry of the Interior, and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre benefit from these measures. This MRCC has already received an EU-funded vessel tracking system and is to be connected to the “Seahorse Mediterranean” network. Through this, the EU states exchange information about incidents off their coasts. This year Tunisia has also sent members of its coast guards to Italy as liaison officers – apparently a first step towards the EU’s goal of “linking” MRCC’s in Libya and Tunisia with their “counterparts” in Italy and Malta.

    Departures from Tunisia decrease by a factor of seven

    Since the signing of the migration agreement, the departures of boats with refugees from Tunisia have decreased by a factor of 7, according to information from Migazin in October. The reason for this is probably the increased frequency of patrols by the Tunisian coast guard. In August, 1,351 people were reportedly apprehended at sea. More and more often, the boats are also destroyed after being intercepted by Tunisian officials. The prices that refugees have to pay to smugglers are presumably also responsible for fewer crossings; these are said to have risen significantly in Tunisia.

    State repression, especially in the port city of Sfax, has also contributed to the decline in numbers, where the authorities have expelled thousands of people from sub-Saharan countries from the centre and driven them by bus to the Libyan and Algerian borders. There, officials force them to cross the border. These measures have also led to more refugees in Tunisia seeking EU-funded IOM programmes for “voluntary return” to their countries of origin.

    Now the EU wants to put pressure on Tunisia to introduce visa requirements for individual West African states. This is to affect, among others, Côte d’Ivoire, where most of the people arriving in the EU via Tunisia come from and almost all of whom arrive in Italy. Guinea and Tunisia come second and third among these nationalities.

    Reception from the Frontex Director

    In September, three months after the signing of the migration agreement, a delegation from Tunisia visited Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, with the participation of the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defence. The visit from Tunis was personally received by Frontex Director Hans Leijtens. EU officials then gave presentations on the capabilities and capacities of the border agency, including the training department or the deportation centre set up in 2021, which relies on good cooperation with destination states of deportation flights.

    Briefings were also held on the cross-border surveillance system EUROSUR and the “Situation Centre”, where all threads from surveillance with ships, aircraft, drones and satellites come together. The armed “permanent reserve” that Frontex has been building up since 2021 was also presented to the Tunisian ministries. These will also be deployed in third countries, but so far only in Europe in the Western Balkans.

    However, Tunisia still does not want to negotiate such a deployment of Frontex personnel to its territory, so a status agreement necessary for this is a long way off. The government in Tunis is also not currently seeking a working agreement to facilitate the exchange of information with Frontex. Finally, the Tunisian coast guard also turned down an offer to participate in an exercise of European coast guards in Greece.

    Model for migration defence with Egypt

    Aiding and abetting “smuggling” is an offence that the police are responsible for prosecuting in EU states. If these offences affect two or more EU states, Europol can coordinate the investigations. This, too, is now to get underway with Tunisia: In April, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson had already visited Tunis and agreed on an “operational partnership to combat people smuggling” (ASOP), for which additional funds will be made available. Italy, Spain and Austria are responsible for implementing this police cooperation.

    Finally, Tunisia is also one of the countries being discussed in Brussels in the “Mechanism of Operational Coordination for the External Dimension of Migration” (MOCADEM). This working group was newly created by the EU states last year and serves to politically bundle measures towards third countries of particular interest. In one of the most recent meetings, the migration agreement was also a topic. Following Tunisia’s example, the EU could also conclude such a deal with Egypt. The EU heads of government are now to take a decision on this.


    #Europe #Union_européenne #EU #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #accord #gestion_des_frontières #aide_financière #protocole_d'accord #politique_migratoire #externalisation #Memorandum_of_Understanding (#MoU) #Tunisie #coopération #Frontex #aide_financière #Neighbourhood_Development_and_International_Cooperation_Instrument (#NDICI) #gardes-côtes_tunisiens #militarisation_des_frontières #retours_volontaires #IOM #OIM #UNHCR #EU4BorderSecurity_programme #Seahorse_Mediterranean #officiers_de_liaison #arrivées #départs #chiffres #statistiques #prix #Frontex #operational_partnership_to_combat_people_smuggling (#ASOP) #Mechanism_of_Operational_Coordination_for_the_External_Dimension_of_Migration (#MOCADEM)

    ajouté à la métaliste sur le Mémorandum of Understanding entre l’UE et la Tunisie :

    • Épisode 1/4 : Des #bénévoles dans les airs face à l’agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes, #Frontex

      Depuis 2018, l’ONG #Pilotes_Volontaires survole le large des côtes libyennes pour localiser les bateaux de fortune en détresse qu’empruntent les migrants pour tenter de rejoindre l’Europe.

      #José_Benavente fait ce triste constat : « les agences européennes comme Frontex espéraient que mettre un terme à l’opération "#Mare_Nostrum" rendraient les traversées plus difficiles et opéreraient un effet de dissuasion pour les migrants qui tentent de traverser la mer ». Or depuis leur petit avion d’observation, le Colibri 2, ils aident les bateaux qui sont évidemment toujours présents dans la zone à opérer des sauvetages plus rapidement.

      D’autres avions, ceux de Frontex notamment, transitent aussi par là pour permettre aux gardes côtes libyens d’opérer toujours plus d’interceptions synonymes d’un retour en enfer pour les migrants qui tentent justement de fuir coûte que coûte ce pays en proie à la guerre civile. Comme le regrette #Charles_Heller « les migrants fuient la Libye, où ils sont réduits à l’esclavage, aux travaux forcés, à la torture. Les migrants sont devenus un objet qui circule de main en main, que ce soit les milices ou les centres de détention de l’Etat. Aucune opération de secours en mer dans la zone libyenne ne peut effectivement être terminée de manière adéquate et respectueuse du droit international, dès lors que les passagers sont ramenés dans un pays où leur vie est en danger ».

      Surveillance et interception d’un côté, contre surveillance et sauvetage de l’autre, ce documentaire retrace l’histoire récente de ce qui se trame dans les airs et en mer depuis l’arrêt en 2014 de l’opération "Mare Nostrum" initiée par la marine italienne et qui avait permis de sauver des dizaines de milliers de vies car comme le rappelle Charles Heller : « l’Union européenne a sciemment créé ce vide de secours d’abord, et ce système de refoulement indirect ensuite. Et les avions de surveillance européens sont au cœur de ce dispositif » et José Benavente ajoute « lorsqu’on survole la Méditerranée, on n’est pas au-dessus d’un cimetière. On est littéralement au-dessus d’une fosse commune ».

      Avec :

      – Jose Benavente, fondateur de l’ONG Pilotes Volontaires ONG Pilotes Volontaires
      - Charles Heller, chercheur et cinéaste, co-fondateur du projet Forensic Oceanography

      #frontières #sauvetage_en_mer #sauvetage #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #gardes-côtes_libyens #pull-backs #solidarité

    • Épisode 2/4 : De l’#apprentissage à l’#expulsion

      Les initiatives pour alerter sur la condition des jeunes majeurs étrangers en passe d’être expulsés se multiplient partout en France.

      La très médiatique grève de la faim de Stéphane Ravacley, boulanger à Besançon, tentant d’empêcher l’expulsion vers la Guinée de son apprenti Laye Fodé Traoré, a fait des émules : “j’ai reçu énormément d’appels de patrons qui étaient dans la même problématique que moi et ça m’a posé question. Je savais qu’il y avait des milliers de Laye en France, mais que je ne m’étais jamais posé la question. Et là, je me suis dit il faut faire quelque chose.”

      Dans la Marne, les militants épuisés, par l’aberration du système, comme l’explique Marie-Pierre Barrière : “il faut une autorisation de travail pour aller au CFA et il faut un titre de séjour. Donc ils ne peuvent pas travailler avec un patron parce qu’ils ne l’ont pas. C’est le serpent qui se mord la queue”.

      Pourtant quelques chefs d’entreprise commencent à timidement à protester contre les mesures d’expulsion de leurs apprentis étrangers. C’est le cas de Ricardo Agnesina : _“_je suis furax parce que quand on a justement des éléments comme Souleyman, on se dit il ne faut pas le louper parce que c’est réellement quelqu’un à qui il faut donner sa chance. Qu’il vienne de Guinée, de Pologne, de Normandie ou du sud de la France, peu importe, c’est quelqu’un qui a envie de travailler et qui a envie d’apprendre un métier donc on n’a pas le droit de lui dire non.”

      Ces patrons et artisans de secteurs dits "en tension" comme la restauration et le bâtiment se trouvent, par le biais de la défense de leurs intérêts, nouvellement sensibilisés à la question migratoire sont interdits face à l’arbitraire des décisions préfectorales qu’ils découvrent alors qu’ils peinent à embaucher des jeunes compétents. Bruno Forget, président de la foire de Châlons-en-Champagne s’indigne : “aujourd’hui, on vit une véritable hérésie. J’ai un cas précis d’une personne qui ne peut pas avoir de boulot parce qu’elle n’a pas de papiers. Et cette personne n’a pas de papiers parce qu’on ne peut pas fournir un certificat d’employeur. On se pince ! Il faut s’indigner ! ”

      Avec :

      – Mamadou, jeune apprenti guinéen
      - Souleimane, jeune apprenti guinéen
      - Laye Fodé Traoré, jeune apprenti guinéen
      - Marie-Pierre Barrière, militante Réseau Education Sans Frontières (RESF)
      – Stéphane Ravacley, boulanger, fondateur de l’association Patrons solidaires
      – Riccardo Agnesina, chef d’entreprise
      – Bruno Forget, directeur de la foire de Châlons-en-Champagne
      – M. et Mme Ansel, restaurateurs à Reims
      – Alexandrine Boia, avocate au barreau de Reims

      #travail #sans-papiers

    • Épisode 3/4 : #Femmes migrantes invisibles

      Statistiquement plus nombreuses que les hommes sur les chemins de l’exil, les femmes sont pourtant les grandes absentes du récit médiatique et de la recherche scientifique dans le domaine des migrations.

      Pour comprendre l’invisibilité Camille Schmoll constate : “il y a aussi un peu d’auto-invisibilité de la part des femmes qui ne souhaitent pas forcément attirer l’attention sur leur sort, leur trajectoire. La migration reste une transgression” et remarque que cette absence peut servir un certain discours “ or, quand on veut construire la migration comme une menace, c’est probablement plus efficace de se concentrer sur les hommes.”

      Depuis plus d’un demi-siècle, les bénévoles de l’Association meusienne d’accompagnement des trajets de vie des migrants (AMATRAMI) viennent en aide aux personnes migrantes présentes sur leur territoire, aux femmes notamment. Camille Schmoll rappelle cette situation : “il y a toujours eu des femmes en migration. On les a simplement occultés pour différentes raisons. En fait, ce sont à l’initiative de femmes, de chercheuses féministes que depuis les années 60-70, on redécouvre la part des femmes dans ces migrations. On sait qu’elles étaient très nombreuses dans les grandes migrations transatlantiques de la fin du 19ème siècle et du début du 20ème siècle. "

      Confrontées tout au long de leurs parcours migratoires mais également dans leur pays de destination à des violences de genre, ces femmes ne sont que trop rarement prises en compte et considérées selon leur sexe par les pouvoirs publics. Majoritairement des femmes, les bénévoles de l’AMATRAMI tentent, avec le peu de moyens à leur disposition de leur apporter un soutien spécifique et adapté.  Lucette Lamousse se souvient “elles étaient perdues en arrivant, leur première demande c’était de parler le français”. Camille Schmoll observe un changement dans cette migration : “les femmes qui partent, partent aussi parce qu’elles ont pu conquérir au départ une certaine forme d’autonomie. Ces changements du point de vue du positionnement social des femmes dans les sociétés de départ qui font qu’on va partir, ne sont pas uniquement des changements négatifs”.


      - Aïcha, citoyenne algérienne réfugiée en France
      - Mire, citoyenne albanaise réfugiée en France
      - Salimata, citoyenne ivoirienne réfugiée en France
      - Lucette Lamousse, co-fondatrice de l’Association meusienne d’accompagnement des trajets de vie des migrants (AMATRAMI)
      - Colette Nordemann, présidente de l’AMATRAMI
      - Camille Georges, médiatrice socioculturelle à l’AMATRAMI
      – Khadija, employée à l’AMATRAMI
      – Camille Schmoll, géographe, autrice de Les damnées de la mer (éd. La Découverte)
      - Élise Buliard, animatrice famille à l’AMATRAMI

      #femmes_migrantes #invisibilisation

    • Épisode 4/4 : Une famille afghane en #Touraine

      Comment Aziz et les siens négocient-ils leur exil en Touraine ? 

      Après des années d’une attente angoissée que la France veuille bien lui fournir un sauf conduit pour fuir la menace des Talibans en Afghanistan, Aziz, ancien Personnel Civil de Recrutement local (PCRL) de l’armée française est en sécurité dans le village d’#Avoine (Indre-et-Loire) avec son épouse et leurs six enfants. Mais comme le précise le maire de la commune d’Avoine : “une petite commune comme nous de 1900 habitants quand vous avez 10 réfugiés sur le terrain de la commune, ils sont acceptés, les gens sont très généreux avec eux et ils sont très acceptés. Si demain vous m’en mettez 200 sur un terrain de la commune, là vous risquez d’avoir des problèmes”.

      Quoique libéral car il a créé un lycée pour filles, Aziz est originaire d’une petite ville de province, patriarcale, religieuse et conservatrice qu’il a laissée derrière lui pour découvrir le monde jusque-là inconnu d’une société sécularisée. Ancien notable de cette petite ville qui l’a vu naître, il doit désormais vivre l’expérience du déclassement et de l’anonymat : “j’ai tout laissé derrière et j’ai le sentiment de ne plus avoir de valeur” . Mais il doit aussi faire face et tenter d’accepter la transformation de ses plus jeunes enfants qu’il a confiés aux bons soins de l’école de la République. Et l’adaptation n’est pas toujours évidente, ainsi son épouse qui à la nostalgie du pays, se sent mise à nue depuis le jour où elle a dû quitter sa burka : “c’était la première fois que je n’avais pas le visage caché. Nous portions toujours le voile avant. Je me sentais très bizarre. Je ne pouvais pas regarder les gens. C’était étrange, difficile”

      Le couple est vigilant et craint que leurs enfants perdent peu à peu l’usage de leur langue, le pashto : "j’espère que mes filles et mes fils n’oublieront pas l’islam, leur langue maternelle et leur éducation. Les quatre plus grands sont âgés et nous devons faire attention aux deux petites filles parce qu’elles sont petites. Elles oublient facilement la culture.”

      Avec :

      - Aziz Rahman Rawan, citoyen afghan réfugié en France, son épouse Bibi Hadia Azizi et leurs enfants
      - Julie Vérin, artiste
      – Françoise Roufignac, enseignante à la retraite
      – Didier Godoy, maire d’Avoine (Indre-et-Loire)
      – Christelle Simonaire, parente d’élève
      – M. Galet, directeur de l’école primaire d’Avoine
      – Mme Camard, enseignante à l’école primaire d’Avoine
      – Pauline Miginiac, coordinatrice régionale en Formation professionnelle à l’Union française des centres de vacances (UFCV)


  • EU to step up support for human rights abuses in North Africa

    In a letter (https://www.statewatch.org/media/4088/eu-com-migration-letter-eur-council-10-23.pdf) to the European Council trumpeting the EU’s efforts to control migration, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the provision of vessels and support to coast guards in Libya and Tunisia, where refugee and migrant rights are routinely violated.

    The letter (pdf) states:

    “…we need to build up the capacity of our partners to conduct effective border surveillance and search and rescue operations. We are providing support to many key partners with equipment and training to help prevent unauthorised border crossings. All five vessels promised to Libya have been delivered and we see the impact of increased patrols. Under the Memorandum of Understanding with Tunisia, we have delivered spare parts for Tunisian coast guards that are keeping 6 boats operational, and others will be repaired by the end of the year. More is expected to be delivered to countries in North Africa in the coming months.”

    What it does not mention is that vessels delivered to the so-called Libyan coast guard are used to conduct “pullbacks” of refugees to brutal detention conditions and human rights violations.

    Meanwhile in Tunisia, the coast guard has been conducting pullbacks of people who have subsequently been dumped in remote regions near the Tunisian-Algerian border.

    According to testimony provided to Human Rights Watch (HRW)¸ a group of people who were intercepted at sea and brought back to shore were then detained by the National Guard, who:

    “…loaded the group onto buses and drove them for 6 hours to somewhere near the city of Le Kef, about 40 kilometers from the Algerian border. There, officers divided them into groups of about 10, loaded them onto pickup trucks, and drove toward a mountainous area. The four interviewees, who were on the same truck, said that another truck with armed agents escorted their truck.

    The officers dropped their group in the mountains near the Tunisia-Algeria border, they said. The Guinean boy [interviewed by HRW) said that one officer had threatened, “If you return again [to Tunisia], we will kill you.” One of the Senegalese children [interviewed by HRW] said an officer had pointed his gun at the group.”

    Von der Leyen does not mention the fact that the Tunisian authorities refused an initial disbursement of €67 million offered by the Commission as part of its more than €1 billion package for Tunisia, which the country’s president has called “small” and said it “lacks respect.” (https://apnews.com/article/tunisia-europe-migration-851cf35271d2c52aea067287066ef247) The EU’s ambassador to Tunisia has said that the refusal “speaks to Tunisia’s impatience and desire to speed up implementation” of the deal.

    [voir: https://seenthis.net/messages/1020596]

    The letter also emphasises the need to “establish a strategic and mutually beneficial partnership with Egypt,” as well as providing more support to Türkiye, Jordan and Lebanon. The letter hints at the reason why – Israel’s bombing of the Gaza strip and a potential exodus of refugees – but does not mention the issue directly, merely saying that “the pressures on partners in our immediate vicinity risk being exacerbated”.

    It appears that the consequences rather than the causes of any movements of Palestinian refugees are the main concern. Conclusions on the Middle East agreed by the European Council last night demand “rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need” in Gaza, but do not call for a ceasefire. The European Council instead “strongly emphasises Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law and international humanitarian law.”

    More surveillance, new law

    Other plans mentioned in the letter include “increased aerial surveillance” for “combatting human smuggling and trafficking” by Operation IRINI, the EU’s military mission in the Mediterranean, and increased support for strengthening controls at points of departure in North African states as well as “points of entry by migrants at land borders.”

    The Commission also wants increased action against migrant smuggling, with a proposal to revise the 2002 Facilitation Directive “to ensure that criminal offences are harmonised, assets are frozen, and coordination strengthened,” so that “those who engage in illegal acts exploiting migrants pay a heavy price.”

    It appears the proposal will come at the same time as a migrant smuggling conference organised by the Commission on 28 November “to create a Global Alliance with a Call to Action, launching a process of regular international exchange on this constantly evolving crime.”

    Deportation cooperation

    Plans are in the works for more coordinated action on deportations, with the Commission proposing to:

    “…work in teams with Member States on targeted return actions, with a lead Member State or Agency for each action. We will develop a roadmap that could focus on (1) ensuring that return decisions are issued at the same time as a negative asylum decisions (2) systematically ensuring the mutual recognition of return decisions and follow-up enforcement action; (3) carrying out joint identification actions including through a liaison officers’ network in countries of origin; (4) supporting policy dialogue on readmission with third countries and facilitating the issuance of travel documents, as well as acceptance of the EU laissez passer; and (5) organising assisted voluntary return and joint return operations with the support of Frontex.”

    Cooperation on legal migration, meanwhile, will be done by member states “on a voluntary basis,” with the letter noting that any offers made should be conditional on increased cooperation with EU deportation efforts: “local investment and opportunities for legal migration must go hand in hand with strengthened cooperation on readmission.”

    More funds

    For all this to happen, the letter calls on the European Council to make sure that “migration priorities - both on the internal and external dimension - are reflected in the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework,” the EU’s 2021-27 budget.

    Mid-term revision of the budget was discussed at the European Council meeting yesterday, though the conclusions on that point merely state that there was an “in-depth exchange of views,” with the European Council calling on the Council of the EU “to take work forward, with a view to reaching an overall agreement by the end of the year.”


    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Afrique_du_Nord #externalisation #Ursula_von_der_Leyen #lettre #contrôles_frontaliers #Tunisie #Libye #bateaux #aide #gardes-côtes_libyens #surveillance_frontalière #surveillance_frontalière_effective #frontières #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #Memorandum_of_Understanding #MoU #pull-backs #Egypte #Turquie #Jourdanie #Liban #réfugiés_palestiniens #Palestine #7_octobre_2023 #Operation_IRINI #IRINI #surveillance_aérienne #passeurs #directive_facilitation #renvois #déportation #officiers_de_liaison #réadmissions #laissez-passer #Frontex

    ping @isskein @_kg_ @karine4

    • *Crise migratoire : le bilan mitigé des accords passés par l’Union européenne pour limiter les entrées sur son sol*

      Réunis en conseil jeudi et vendredi, les Vingt-Sept devaient faire le point sur la sécurisation des frontières extérieures de l’UE. Mardi, la présidente de la Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, a proposé de conclure de nouveaux partenariats « sur mesure » avec le #Sénégal, la #Mauritanie et l’Egypte.

      Malgré la guerre entre Israël et le Hamas, qui s’est imposée à leur ordre du jour, le sujet de la migration demeure au menu des Vingt-Sept, qui se réunissent en Conseil européen jeudi 26 et vendredi 27 octobre à Bruxelles. Les chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement doivent faire un point sur la dimension externe de cette migration et la sécurisation des frontières extérieures de l’Union européenne (UE). Depuis janvier, le nombre d’arrivées irrégulières, selon l’agence Frontex, a atteint 270 000, en progression de 17 % par rapport à 2022. Sur certaines routes, la croissance est bien plus importante, notamment entre la Tunisie et l’Italie, avec une augmentation de 83 % des arrivées sur les neuf premiers mois de 2023.

      Si le #pacte_asile_et_migration, un ensemble de réglementations censé améliorer la gestion intra européenne de la migration, est en passe d’être adopté, le contrôle des frontières externes de l’Europe est au cœur des discussions politiques. A moins de huit mois des élections européennes, « les questions de migration seront décisives », prévient Manfred Weber, le patron du groupe conservateur PPE au Parlement européen.

      Nouveaux « #partenariats sur mesure »

      Mardi, dans une lettre aux dirigeants européens, Ursula von der Leyen, la présidente de la Commission, a rappelé sa volonté de « combattre la migration irrégulière à la racine et travailler mieux avec des #pays_partenaires », c’est-à-dire ceux où les migrants s’embarquent ou prennent la route pour l’UE, en établissant avec ces pays des « #partenariats_stratégiques_mutuellement_bénéficiaires ». Elle propose de conclure avec le Sénégal, la Mauritanie et l’Egypte de nouveaux « #partenariats_sur_mesure » sur le modèle de celui qui a été passé avec la Tunisie. Sans oublier la Jordanie et le Liban, fortement déstabilisés par le conflit en cours entre Israël et Gaza.

      L’UE souhaite que ces pays bloquent l’arrivée de migrants vers ses côtes et réadmettent leurs citoyens en situation irrégulière sur le Vieux Continent contre des investissements pour renforcer leurs infrastructures et développer leur économie. « L’idée n’est pas nécessairement mauvaise, glisse un diplomate européen, mais il faut voir comment c’est mené et négocié. Le partenariat avec la Tunisie a été bâclé et cela a été fiasco. »

      Depuis vingt ans, l’Europe n’a eu de cesse d’intégrer cette dimension migratoire dans ses accords avec les pays tiers et cette préoccupation s’est accentuée en 2015 avec l’arrivée massive de réfugiés syriens. Les moyens consacrés à cet aspect migratoire ont augmenté de façon exponentielle. Au moins 8 milliards d’euros sont programmés pour la période 2021-2027, soit environ 10 % des fonds de la coopération, pour des politiques de sécurisation et d’équipements des gardes-côtes. Ces moyens manquent au développement des pays aidés, critique l’ONG Oxfam. Et la Commission a demandé une rallonge de 15 milliards d’euros aux Vingt-Sept.

      Mettre l’accent sur les retours

      Tant de moyens, pour quels résultats ? Il est impossible de chiffrer le nombre d’entrées évitées par les accords passés, exception faite de l’arrangement avec la Turquie. Après la signature le 18 mars 2016, par les Vingt-Sept et la Commission, de la déclaration UE-Turquie, les arrivées de Syriens ont chuté de 98 % dès 2017, mais cela n’a pas fonctionné pour les retours, la Turquie ayant refusé de réadmettre la majorité des Syriens refoulés d’Europe. Cet engagement a coûté 6 milliards d’euros, financés à la fois par les Etats et l’UE.

      « Pour les autres accords, le bilan est modeste, indique Florian Trauner, spécialiste des migrations à la Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgique). Nous avons étudié l’ensemble des accords passés par l’UE avec les pays tiers sur la période 2008-2018 pour mesurer leurs effets sur les retours et réadmissions. Si les pays des Balkans, plus proches de l’Europe, ont joué le jeu, avec les pays africains, cela ne fonctionne pas. »

      Depuis le début de l’année, la Commission assure malgré tout mettre l’accent sur les retours. Selon Ylva Johansson, la commissaire chargée de la politique migratoire, sur près de 300 000 obligations de quitter le territoire européen, environ 65 000 ont été exécutées, en progression de 22 % en 2023. Ces chiffres modestes « sont liés à des questions de procédures internes en Europe, mais également à nos relations avec les Etats tiers. Nous avons fait beaucoup de pédagogie avec ces Etats en mettant en balance l’accès aux visas européens et cela commence à porter ses fruits. »

      « Généralement, explique Florian Trauner, les Etats tiers acceptent les premiers temps les retours, puis la pression de l’opinion publique locale se retourne contre eux et les taux de réadmissions baissent. Les accords qui conditionnent l’aide au développement à des réadmissions créent davantage de problèmes qu’ils n’en résolvent. La diplomatie des petits pas, plus discrète, est bien plus efficace. »

      L’alternative, juge le chercheur, serait une meilleure gestion par les Européens des migrations, en ménageant des voies légales identifiées pour le travail, par exemple. Dans ce cas, affirme-t-il, les pays concernés accepteraient de reprendre plus simplement leurs citoyens. « Mais en Europe, on ne veut pas entendre cela », observe M. Trauner.
      Statut juridique obscur

      Le développement de ces accords donnant-donnant pose un autre problème à l’UE : leur statut juridique. « Quel que soit leur nom – partenariat, déclaration…–, ce ne sont pas des accords internationaux en bonne et due forme, négociés de manière transparente avec consultation de la société civile, sous le contrôle du Parlement européen puis des tribunaux, rappelle Eleonora Frasca, juriste à l’Université catholique de Louvain (Belgique). Ce sont des objets juridiques plus obscurs. »

      En outre, les arrangements avec la Turquie ou la Libye ont conduit des migrants à des situations dramatiques. Qu’il s’agisse des camps aux conditions déplorables des îles grecques où étaient parqués des milliers de Syriens refoulés d’Europe mais non repris en Turquie, ou des refoulements en mer, souvent avec des moyens européens, au large de la Grèce et de la Libye, ou enfin du sort des migrants renvoyés en Libye où de multiples abus et de crimes ont été documentés.

      Concernant la Tunisie, « l’Union européenne a signé l’accord sans inclure de clause de respect de l’Etat de droit ou des droits de l’homme au moment même où cette dernière chassait des migrants subsahariens vers les frontières libyenne et algérienne, relève Sara Prestianni, de l’ONG EuroMed Droit. Du coup, aucune condamnation n’a été formulée par l’UE contre ces abus. » L’Europe a été réduite au silence.

      Sous la pression d’Ursula von der Leyen, de Giorgia Melloni, la présidente du conseil italien, et de Mark Rutte, le premier ministre néerlandais, ce partenariat global doté d’un milliard d’euros « a été négocié au forceps et sans consultation », juge une source européenne. La conséquence a été une condamnation en Europe et une incompréhension de la part des Tunisiens, qui ont décidé de renvoyer 60 millions d’euros versés en septembre, estimant que c’était loin du milliard annoncé. « Aujourd’hui, le dialogue avec la Tunisie est exécrable, déplore un diplomate. La méthode n’a pas été la bonne », déplore la même source.
      Exposition à un chantage aux migrants

      « L’Union européenne a déjà été confrontée à ce risque réputationnel et semble disposée à l’accepter dans une certaine mesure, nuance Helena Hahn, de l’European Policy Center. Il est important qu’elle s’engage avec les pays tiers sur cette question des migrations. Toutefois, elle doit veiller à ce que ses objectifs ne l’emportent pas sur ses intérêts dans d’autres domaines, tels que la politique commerciale ou le développement. »

      Dernier risque pour l’UE : en multipliant ces accords avec des régimes autoritaires, elle s’expose à un chantage aux migrants. Depuis 2020, elle en a déjà été l’objet de la part de la Turquie et du Maroc, de loin le premier bénéficiaire d’aides financières au titre du contrôle des migrations. « Ce n’est pas juste le beau temps qui a exposé Lampedusa à l’arrivée de 12 000 migrants en quelques jours en juin, juge Mme Prestianni. Les autorités tunisiennes étaient derrière. La solution est de rester fermes sur nos valeurs. Et dans notre négociation avec la Tunisie, nous ne l’avons pas été. »


    • EU planning new anti-migration deals with Egypt and Tunisia, unrepentant in support for Libya

      The European Commission wants to agree “new anti-smuggling operational partnerships” with Tunisia and Egypt before the end of the year, despite longstanding reports of abuse against migrants and refugees in Egypt and recent racist violence endorsed by the Tunisian state. Material and financial support is already being stepped up to the two North African countries, along with support for Libya.

      The plan for new “partnerships” is referred to in a newly-revealed annex (pdf) of a letter from European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, that was sent to the European Council prior to its meeting in October and published by Statewatch.

      In April, the Commission announced “willingness” from the EU and Tunisia “to establish a stronger operational partnership on anti-smuggling,” which would cover stronger border controls, more police and judicial cooperation, increased cooperation with EU agencies, and anti-migration advertising campaigns.

      The annex includes little further detail on the issue, but says that the agreements with Tunisia and Egypt should build on the anti-smuggling partnerships “in place with Morocco, Niger and the Western Balkans, with the support of Europol and Eurojust,” and that they should include “joint operational teams with prosecutors and law enforcement authorities of Member States and partners.”

      Abuse and impunity

      Last year, Human Rights Watch investigations found that “Egyptian authorities have failed to protect vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers from pervasive sexual violence, including by failing to investigate rape and sexual assault,” and that the police had subjected Sudanese refugee activists to “forced physical labor [sic] and beatings.” Eritrean asylum-seekers have also been detained and deported by the Egyptian authorities.

      The EU’s own report on human rights in Egypt in 2022 (pdf) says the authorities continue to impose “constraints” on “freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and media freedom,” while “concerns remained about broad application of the Terrorism Law against peaceful critics and individuals, and extensive and indiscriminate use of pre-trial detention.”

      Amr Magdi, Human Rights Watch’s Senior Researcher on the Middle East and North Africa, has said more bluntly that “there can be no light at the end of the tunnel without addressing rampant security force abuses and lawlessness.” The Cairo Institute for Human Rights said in August that the country’s “security apparatus continues to surveil and repress Egyptians with impunity. There is little to no access to participatory democracy.”

      The situation in Tunisia for migrants and refugees has worsened substantially since the beginning of the year, when president Kais Said declared a crackdown against sub-Saharan Africans in speeches that appeared to draw heavily from the far-right great replacement theory.

      It is unclear whether the EU will attempt to address this violence, abuse and discrimination as it seeks to strengthen the powers of the countries’ security authorities. The annex to von der Leyen’s letter indicates that cooperation with Tunisia is already underway, even if an anti-smuggling deal has not been finalised:

      “Three mentorship pairs on migrant smuggling TU [Tunisia] with Member States (AT, ES, IT [Austria, Spain and Italy]) to start cooperation in the framework of Euromed Police, in the last quarter of 2023 (implemented by CEPOL [the European Police College] with Europol)”

      Anti-smuggling conference

      The annex to von der Leyen’s letter indicates that the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, “confirmed interest in a comprehensive partnership on migration, including anti-smuggling and promoting legal pathways,” at a meeting with European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, at the UN General Assembly.

      This month the fourth EU-Egypt High Level Dialogue on Migration and the second Senior Officials Meeting on Security and Law Enforcement would be used to discuss the partnership, the annex notes – “including on the involvement of CEPOL, Europol and Frontex” – but it is unclear when exactly the Commission plans to sign the new agreements. An “International Conference on strengthening international cooperation on countering migrant smuggling” that will take place in Brussels on 28 November would provide an opportune moment to do so.

      The conference will be used to announce a proposal “to reinforce the EU legal framework on migrant smuggling, including elements related to: sanctions, governance, information flows and the role of JHA agencies,” said a Council document published by Statewatch in October.

      Other sources indicate that the proposal will include amendments to the EU’s Facilitation Directive and the Europol Regulation, with measures to boost the role of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre hosted at Europol; step up the exchange of information between member states, EU agencies and third countries; and step up Europol’s support to operations.

      Additional support

      The proposed “partnerships” with Egypt and Tunisia come on top of ongoing support provided by the EU to control migration.

      In July the EU signed a memorandum of understanding with Tunisia covering “macro-economic stability, economy and trade, green energy, people-to-people contacts and migration and mobility.”

      Despite the Tunisian government returning €67 million provided by the EU, the number of refugee boat departures from Tunisia has decreased significantly, following an increase in patrols at sea and the increased destruction of intercepted vessels.

      Violent coercion is also playing a role, as noted by Matthias Monroy:

      “State repression, especially in the port city of Sfax, has also contributed to the decline in numbers, where the authorities have expelled thousands of people from sub-Saharan countries from the centre and driven them by bus to the Libyan and Algerian borders. There, officials force them to cross the border. These measures have also led to more refugees in Tunisia seeking EU-funded IOM programmes for “voluntary return” to their countries of origin.”

      The annex to von der Leyen’s letter notes that the EU has provided “fuel to support anti-smuggling operations,” and that Tunisian officials were shown around Frontex’s headquarters in mid-September for a “familiarisation visit”.

      Egypt, meanwhile, is expected to receive the first of three new patrol boats from the EU in December, €87 million as part of the second phase of a border management project will be disbursed “in the coming months,” and Frontex will pursue a working arrangement with the Egyptian authorities, who visited the agency’s HQ in Warsaw in October.

      Ongoing support to Libya

      Meanwhile, the EU’s support for migration control by actors in Libya continues, despite a UN investigation earlier this year accusing that support of contributing to crimes against humanity in the country.

      The annex to von der Leyen’s letter notes with approval that five search and rescue vessels have been provided to the Libyan Coast Guard this year, and that by 21 September, “more than 10,900 individuals reported as rescued or intercepted by the Libyan authorities in more than 100 operations… Of those disembarked, the largest groups were from Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria”.

      The letter does not clarify what distinguishes “rescue” and “interception” in this context. The organisation Forensic Oceanography has previously described them as “conflicting imperatives” in an analysis of a disaster at sea in which some survivors were taken to Libya, and some to EU territory.

      In a letter (pdf) sent last week to the chairs of three European Parliament committees, three Commissioners – Margaritas Schinas, Ylva Johansson and Oliver Várhelyi – said the Commission remained “convinced that halting EU assistance in the country or disengagement would not improve the situation of those most in need.”

      While evidence that EU support provided to Libya has facilitated the commission of crimes against humanity is not enough to put that policy to a halt, it remains to be seen whether the Egyptian authorities’ violent repression, or state racism in Tunisia, will be deemed worthy of mention in public by Commission officials.

      The annex to von der Leyen’s letter also details EU action in a host of other areas, including the “pilot projects” launched in Bulgaria and Romania to step up border surveillance and speed up asylum proceedings and returns, support for the Moroccan authorities, and cooperation with Western Balkans states, amongst other things.


      en italien:
      Statewatch. Mentre continua il sostegno alla Libia, l’UE sta pianificando nuovi accordi anti-migrazione con Egitto e Tunisia

    • Accord migratoire avec l’Égypte. Des #navires français en eaux troubles

      Les entreprises françaises #Civipol, #Défense_Conseil_International et #Couach vont fournir à la marine du Caire trois navires de recherche et sauvetage dont elles formeront également les équipages, révèle Orient XXI dans une enquête exclusive. Cette livraison, dans le cadre d’un accord migratoire avec l’Égypte, risque de rendre l’Union européenne complice d’exactions perpétrées par les gardes-côtes égyptiens et libyens.

      La France est chaque année un peu plus en première ligne de l’externalisation des frontières de l’Europe. Selon nos informations, Civipol, l’opérateur de coopération internationale du ministère de l’intérieur, ainsi que son sous-traitant Défense Conseil International (DCI), prestataire attitré du ministère des armées pour la formation des militaires étrangers, ont sélectionné le chantier naval girondin Couach pour fournir trois navires de recherche et sauvetage (SAR) aux gardes-côtes égyptiens, dont la formation sera assurée par DCI sur des financements européens de 23 millions d’euros comprenant des outils civils de surveillance des frontières.

      Toujours selon nos sources, d’autres appels d’offres de Civipol et DCI destinés à la surveillance migratoire en Égypte devraient suivre, notamment pour la fourniture de caméras thermiques et de systèmes de positionnement satellite.

      Ces contrats sont directement liés à l’accord migratoire passé en octobre 2022 entre l’Union européenne (UE) et l’Égypte : en échange d’une assistance matérielle de 110 millions d’euros au total, Le Caire est chargé de bloquer, sur son territoire ainsi que dans ses eaux territoriales, le passage des migrants et réfugiés en partance pour l’Europe. Ce projet a pour architecte le commissaire européen à l’élargissement et à la politique de voisinage, Olivér Várhelyi. Diplomate affilié au parti Fidesz de l’illibéral premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orbán, il s’est récemment fait remarquer en annonçant unilatéralement la suspension de l’aide européenne à la Palestine au lendemain du 7 octobre — avant d’être recadré.

      La mise en œuvre de ce pacte a été conjointement confiée à Civipol et à l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) de l’ONU, comme déjà indiqué par le média Africa Intelligence. Depuis, la présidente de la Commission européenne Ursula von der Leyen a déjà plaidé pour un nouvel accord migratoire avec le régime du maréchal Sissi. Selon l’UE, il s’agirait d’aider les gardes-côtes égyptiens à venir en aide aux migrants naufragés, via une approche « basée sur les droits, orientée vers la protection et sensible au genre ».
      Circulez, il n’y a rien à voir

      Des éléments de langage qui ne convainquent guère l’ONG Refugees Platform in Egypt (REP), qui a alerté sur cet accord il y a un an. « Depuis 2016, le gouvernement égyptien a durci la répression des migrants et des personnes qui leur viennent en aide, dénonce-t-elle auprès d’Orient XXI. De plus en plus d’Égyptiens émigrent en Europe parce que la jeunesse n’a aucun avenir ici. Ce phénomène va justement être accentué par le soutien de l’UE au gouvernement égyptien. L’immigration est instrumentalisée par les dictatures de la région comme un levier pour obtenir un appui politique et financier de l’Europe. »

      En Égypte, des migrants sont arrêtés et brutalisés après avoir manifesté. Des femmes réfugiées sont agressées sexuellement dans l’impunité. Des demandeurs d’asile sont expulsés vers des pays dangereux comme l’Érythrée ou empêchés d’entrer sur le territoire égyptien. Par ailleurs, les gardes-côtes égyptiens collaborent avec leurs homologues libyens qui, également soutenus par l’UE, rejettent des migrants en mer ou les arrêtent pour les placer en détention dans des conditions inhumaines, et entretiennent des liens avec des milices qui jouent aussi le rôle de passeurs.

      Autant d’informations peu compatibles avec la promesse européenne d’un contrôle des frontières « basé sur les droits, orienté vers la protection et sensible au genre ». Sachant que l’agence européenne de gardes-frontières et de gardes-côtes Frontex s’est elle-même rendue coupable de refoulements illégaux de migrants (pushbacks) et a été accusée de tolérer de mauvais traitements sur ces derniers.

      Contactés à ce sujet, les ministères français de l’intérieur, des affaires étrangères et des armées, l’OIM, Civipol, DCI et Couach n’ont pas répondu à nos questions. Dans le cadre de cette enquête, Orient XXI a aussi effectué le 1er juin une demande de droit à l’information auprès de la Direction générale du voisinage et des négociations d’élargissement (DG NEAR) de la Commission européenne, afin d’accéder aux différents documents liés à l’accord migratoire passé entre l’UE et l’Égypte. Celle-ci a identifié douze documents susceptibles de nous intéresser, mais a décidé de nous refuser l’accès à onze d’entre eux, le douzième ne comprenant aucune information intéressante. La DG NEAR a invoqué une série de motifs allant du cohérent (caractère confidentiel des informations touchant à la politique de sécurité et la politique étrangère de l’UE) au plus surprenant (protection des données personnelles — alors qu’il aurait suffi de masquer lesdites données —, et même secret des affaires). Un premier recours interne a été déposé le 18 juillet, mais en l’absence de réponse de la DG NEAR dans les délais impartis, Orient XXI a saisi fin septembre la Médiatrice européenne, qui a demandé à la Commission de nous répondre avant le 13 octobre. Sans succès.

      Dans un courrier parvenu le 15 novembre, un porte-parole de la DG NEAR indique :

      "L’Égypte reste un partenaire fiable et prévisible pour l’Europe, et la migration constitue un domaine clé de coopération. Le projet ne cible pas seulement le matériel, mais également la formation pour améliorer les connaissances et les compétences [des gardes-côtes et gardes-frontières égyptiens] en matière de gestion humanitaire des frontières (…) Le plein respect des droits de l’homme sera un élément essentiel et intégré de cette action [grâce] à un contrôle rigoureux et régulier de l’utilisation des équipements."

      Paris-Le Caire, une relation particulière

      Cette livraison de navires s’inscrit dans une longue histoire de coopération sécuritaire entre la France et la dictature militaire égyptienne, arrivée au pouvoir après le coup d’État du 3 juillet 2013 et au lendemain du massacre de centaines de partisans du président renversé Mohamed Morsi. Paris a depuis multiplié les ventes d’armes et de logiciels d’espionnage à destination du régime du maréchal Sissi, caractérisé par la mainmise des militaires sur la vie politique et économique du pays et d’effroyables atteintes aux droits humains.

      La mise sous surveillance, la perquisition par la Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (DGSI) et le placement en garde à vue de la journaliste indépendante Ariane Lavrilleux fin septembre étaient notamment liés à ses révélations dans le média Disclose sur Sirli, une opération secrète associant les renseignements militaires français et égyptien, dont la finalité antiterroriste a été détournée par Le Caire vers la répression intérieure. Une enquête pour « compromission du secret de la défense nationale » avait ensuite été ouverte en raison de la publication de documents (faiblement) classifiés par Disclose.

      La mise en œuvre de l’accord migratoire UE-Égypte a donc été indirectement confiée à la France via Civipol. Société dirigée par le préfet Yann Jounot, codétenue par l’État français et des acteurs privés de la sécurité — l’électronicien de défense Thales, le spécialiste de l’identité numérique Idemia, Airbus Defence & Space —, Civipol met en œuvre des projets de coopération internationale visant à renforcer les capacités d’États étrangers en matière de sécurité, notamment en Afrique. Ceux-ci peuvent être portés par la France, notamment via la Direction de la coopération internationale de sécurité (DCIS) du ministère de l’intérieur. Mais l’entreprise travaille aussi pour l’UE.

      Civipol a appelé en renfort DCI, société pilotée par un ancien chef adjoint de cabinet de Nicolas Sarkozy passé dans le privé, le gendarme Samuel Fringant. DCI était jusqu’à récemment contrôlée par l’État, aux côtés de l’ancien office d’armement Eurotradia soupçonné de corruption et du vendeur de matériel militaire français reconditionné Sofema. Mais l’entreprise devrait prochainement passer aux mains du groupe français d’intelligence économique ADIT de Philippe Caduc, dont l’actionnaire principal est le fonds Sagard de la famille canadienne Desmarais, au capital duquel figure désormais le fonds souverain émirati.

      DCI assure principalement la formation des armées étrangères à l’utilisation des équipements militaires vendus par la France, surtout au Proche-Orient et notamment en Égypte. Mais à l’image de Civipol, l’entreprise collabore de plus en plus avec l’UE, notamment via la mal nommée « Facilité européenne pour la paix » (FEP).
      Pacte (migratoire) avec le diable

      Plus largement, ce partenariat avec l’Égypte s’inscrit dans une tendance généralisée d’externalisation du contrôle des frontières de l’Europe, qui voit l’UE passer des accords avec les pays situés le long des routes migratoires afin que ceux-ci bloquent les départs de migrants et réfugiés, et que ces derniers déposent leurs demandes d’asile depuis l’Afrique, avant d’arriver sur le territoire européen. Après la Libye, pionnière en la matière, l’UE a notamment signé des partenariats avec l’Égypte, la Tunisie — dont le président Kaïs Saïed a récemment encouragé des émeutes racistes —, le Maroc, et en tout 26 pays africains, selon une enquête du journaliste Andrei Popoviciu pour le magazine américain In These Times.

      Via ces accords, l’UE n’hésite pas à apporter une assistance financière, humaine et matérielle à des acteurs peu soucieux du respect des droits fondamentaux, de la bonne gestion financière et parfois eux-mêmes impliqués dans le trafic d’êtres humains. L’UE peine par ailleurs à tracer l’utilisation de ces centaines de millions d’euros et à évaluer l’efficacité de ces politiques, qui se sont déjà retournées contre elles sous la forme de chantage migratoire, par exemple en Turquie.

      D’autres approches existent pourtant. Mais face à des opinions publiques de plus en plus hostiles à l’immigration, sur fond de banalisation des idées d’extrême droite en politique et dans les médias, les 27 pays membres et les institutions européennes apparaissent enfermés dans une spirale répressive.


  • Libia. Il Consiglio di sicurezza Onu conferma le sanzioni ai guardacoste-trafficanti

    Approvato all’unanimità l’inasprimento delle sanzioni per i boss del traffico di esseri umani, petrolio e armi. Dal guardacoste «#Bija» ai capi della «polizia petrolifera» fino al direttore dei «#lager»

    La Libia non è un porto sicuro di sbarco, e le connessioni dirette tra guardia costiera libica e trafficanti di esseri umani, petrolio e armi, sono il motore della filiera dello sfruttamento e dell’arricchimento. All’unanimità il Consiglio di sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite ha accolto le richieste degli investigatori Onu, che hanno proposto l’inasprimento delle sanzioni contro i principali boss di un sistema criminale che tiene insieme politica, milizie e clan.

    La decisione mette in difficoltà il governo italiano e le direttive Piantedosi, secondo cui le organizzazioni del soccorso umanitario dovrebbero prima coordinarsi con la cosiddetta guardia costiera libica, che invece l’Onu indica tra i principali ingranaggi del sistema criminale. Dopo una lunga discussione interna il Consiglio di sicurezza ha accolto le richieste degli investigatori Onu in Libia a cui è stato rinnovato il mandato fino al 2025. Gli esponenti per i quali è richiesto il blocco dei beni e il divieto assoluto di viaggio sono cinque, ma uno risulta deceduto il 16 marzo di quest’anno in Egitto. Gli altri componenti del «poker libico» sono nomi pesanti, a cominciare da #Saadi_Gheddafi, il figlio ex calciatore del colonnello Gheddafi, che sta tentando di vendere una proprietà in Canada aggirando le sanzioni anche attraverso il consolato libico in Turchia. Il cinquantenne Gheddafi avrebbe viaggiato indisturbato e il 27 giugno 2023, gli esperti Onu hanno scritto al governo turco «in merito all’attuazione delle misure di congelamento dei beni e di divieto di viaggio. Non è stata ricevuta alcuna risposta». Secondo gli investigatori la firma di Gheddafi su una procura depositata in Turchia, costituisce «una prova della mancata osservanza da parte della Turchia della misura di divieto di viaggio».

    Se i Gheddafi rappresentano il passato che continua a incombere sulla Libia, soprattutto per lo smisurato patrimonio lasciato dal patriarca dittatore e mai realmente quantificato, nella lista dei sanzionati ci sono i nuovi boss della Libia di oggi. Come #Mohammed_Al_Amin_Al-Arabi_Kashlaf. «Il Gruppo di esperti ha stabilito che la #Petroleum_Facilities_Guard di Zawiyah è un’entità che è nominalmente sotto il controllo del Governo di unità nazionale», dunque non una polizia privata in senso stretto ma un gruppo armato affiliato alle autorità centrali e incaricato di sorvegliare i principali stabilimenti petroliferi, da cui tuttavia viene fatta sparire illegalmente un certa quantità di idrocarburi che poi vengono immessi nel mercato europeo grazie a una fitta rete di contrabbandieri. «Il gruppo di esperti - si legge ancora - ha chiesto alle autorità libiche di fornire informazioni aggiornate sull’attuazione del congelamento dei beni e del divieto di viaggio nei confronti di questo individuo, compresi i dettagli sullo status attuale e sulla catena di comando della Petroleum Facilities Guard a Zawiyah, nonché sulle sue attività finanziarie e risorse economiche personali». Anche in questo caso le autorità libiche «non hanno ancora risposto».

    Collegato a Kashlaf è #Abd_al-Rahman_al-Milad, forse il più noto del clan. Noto anche come “Bija”, ha utilizzato «documenti delle Nazioni Unite contraffatti nel tentativo di revocare il divieto di viaggio - si legge - e il congelamento dei beni imposti nei suoi confronti». Bija si è però mosso trovando appoggi sia «nel governo libico che in interlocutori privati all’interno della Libia», con l’obiettivo di ottenere il sostegno «alla sua richiesta di cancellazione» delle sanzioni. In particolare, gli investigatori Onu sono in possesso «di un documento ufficiale libico, emesso il 28 settembre 2022 dall’Ufficio del Procuratore Generale, in cui si ordina alle autorità responsabili - denunciano gli esperti - di rimuovere il nome di #Al-Milad dal sistema nazionale di monitoraggio degli arrivi e delle partenze». Una copertura al massimo livello della magistratura, che lo aveva già assolto dalle accuse di traffico di petrolio, e che «consentirebbe ad Al-Milad di lasciare la Libia con i beni in suo possesso, in violazione della misura di congelamento dei beni». Il 25 gennaio 2023 «il Gruppo di esperti ha chiesto alle autorità libiche di fornire informazioni aggiornate sull’effettiva attuazione del congelamento dei beni e del divieto di viaggio nei confronti di Al-Milad. La richiesta è stata fatta a seguito della ripresa delle sue funzioni professionali nelle forze armate libiche, compresa la nomina a ufficiale presso l’Accademia navale di Janzour dopo il suo rilascio dalla custodia cautelare l’11 aprile 2021». A nove mesi di distanza, le autorità libiche «non hanno ancora risposto».

    La risoluzione approvata dal Consiglio di sicurezza si basa anche su un’altra accusa del «Panel of Expert» i quali hanno «hanno stabilito che il comandante della Petroleum Facilities Guard di Zawiyah, Mohamed Al Amin Al-Arabi Kashlaf , e il comandante della Guardia costiera libica di #Zawiyah, Abd al-Rahman al-Milad (Bija), insieme a #Osama_Al-Kuni_Ibrahim, continuano a gestire una vasta rete di traffico e contrabbando a Zawiyah». Le sanzioni non li hanno danneggiati. «Da quando i due comandanti sono stati inseriti nell’elenco nel 2018, hanno ulteriormente ampliato la rete includendo entità armate che operano nelle aree di Warshafanah, Sabratha e Zuara». Tutto ruota intorno alle prigioni per i profughi. «La rete di Zawiyah continua a essere centralizzata nella struttura di detenzione per migranti di Al-Nasr a Zawiyah, gestita da Osama Al-Kuni Ibrahim», il cugino di Bija identificato grazie ad alcune immagini pubblicate da Avvenire nel settembre del 2019. Il suo nome ricorre in diverse indagini. Sulla base «di ampie prove di un modello coerente di violazioni dei diritti umani, il Gruppo di esperti ha rilevato - rincara il “panel” - che Abd al-Rahman al-Milad e Osama al-Kuni Ibrahim, hanno continuano a essere responsabili di atti di tortura, lavori forzati e altri maltrattamenti nei confronti di persone illegalmente confinate nel centro di detenzione di Al-Nasr», allo scopo di estorcere «ingenti somme di denaro e come punizione».

    Il modello di #business criminale è proprio quello che Roma non vuole riconoscere, ma che gli investigatori Onu e il Consiglio di sicurezza ribadiscono: «La rete allargata di Zawiyah - si legge nel rapporto - comprende ora elementi della 55esima Brigata, il comando dell’Apparato di Supporto alla Stabilità a Zawiyah, in particolare le sue unità marittime, e singoli membri della Guardia Costiera libica, tutti operanti al fine di eseguire il piano comune della rete di ottenere ingenti risorse finanziarie e di altro tipo dalle attività di traffico di esseri umani e migranti».

    Al Consiglio di Sicurezza è stato mostrato lo schema che comprende «quattro fasi operative: (a) la ricerca e il ritorno a terra dei migranti in mare; (b) il trasferimento dai punti di sbarco ai centri di detenzione della Direzione per la lotta alla migrazione illegale; (c) l’abuso dei detenuti nei centri di detenzione; (d) il rilascio dei detenuti vittime di abusi». Una volta rimessi in libertà i migranti, rientrano nel ciclo dello sfruttamento: rimessi in mare, lasciando che una percentuale venga catturata dai guardacoste per giustificare il sostegno italiano ed europeo alla cosiddetta guardia costiera libica, e di nuovo «trasferimento dai punti di sbarco ai centri di detenzione della Direzione per la lotta alla migrazione illegale; l’abuso dei detenuti nei centri di detenzione; il rilascio dei detenuti vittime di abusi».

    Il rapporto Onu e il voto unanime dei 15 Paesi che siedono nel Consiglio di sicurezza sono uno schiaffo. «Per quanto riguarda il divieto di viaggio e il congelamento dei beni - si legge in una nota riassuntiva della seduta al Palazzo di Vetro -, gli Stati membri, in particolare quelli in cui hanno sede le persone e le entità designate, sono stati invitati a riferire» al Comitato delle sanzioni circa «le rispettive azioni per attuare efficacemente entrambe le misure in relazione a tutte le persone incluse nell’elenco delle sanzioni». Tutte gli esponenti indicati dal «Panel of expert» sono inclusi nell’elenco degli «alert» dell’Interpol. La risoluzione approvata ieri riguarda anche il contrabbando di petrolio e di armi. Il Consiglio di Sicurezza ha prorogato «l’autorizzazione delle misure per fermare l’esportazione illecita di prodotti petroliferi dalla Libia e il mandato del gruppo di esperti che aiuta a supervisionare questo processo».

    #gardes-côtes_libyens #sanctions #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Libye #externalisation #sanctions #conseil_de_sécurité_de_l'ONU #conseil_de_sécurité #ONU #détention #prisons

  • Leaked letter on intended Cyprus-Lebanon joint border controls: increased deaths and human rights violations

    In an increasingly worrying context for migrants and refugees in Cyprus, with the recent escalation of violent racist attacks and discrimination against refugees on the island and the continued pushback policy, civil society organisations raise the alarm concerning Cyprus’ increased support to the Lebanese Army to harden border control and prevent departures.

    A letter leaked on 26 September 2023 (https://www.philenews.com/kipros/koinonia/article/1389120/exi-metra-protini-ston-livano-i-kipros), from the Cypriot Interior Minister to his Lebanese counterpart, reveals that Cyprus will provide Lebanon with 6 vessels and speedboats by the end of 2024, trainings for the Lebanese Armed Forces, will carry out joint patrol operations from Lebanese shores, and will finance the salaries of members of the Lebanese Armed Forces “who actively contribute to the interception of vessels carrying irregular migrants to Cyprus”. In this way, by providing equipment, funding and training to the Lebanese Army, Cyprus will have a determining influence, if not effective control, on the interceptions of migrants’ boats in Lebanese territorial waters and forced returns (the so-called “pullbacks”), to Lebanon. This in violation of EU and international law, which is likely to trigger legal liability issues. As seen in numerous cases, refugees, especially Syrians, who are pulled back to Lebanon are at risk of detention, ill-treatment and deportations to Syria where they are subject to violence, arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance. The worsening situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who face increasing violence and deportations, confirms that Lebanon is not a “safe” third country.

    As seen in the past with several examples from other examples at the EU’s external borders, (e.g. Turkey, Libya and most recently Tunisia), striking deals with EU neighboring countries of departure in order to increase border controls and contain migratory movements has several catastrophic consequences. Despite officially aiming at decreasing the number of lost lives, they actually increase border violence and deaths, leading to serious human rights abuses and violations of EU and international laws. They also foster a blackmail approach as third countries use their borders as leverage against European countries to get additional funds or negotiate on other sensitive issues, at the expense of people’s lives. All these contribute to having a negative impact on the EU and Member States’ foreign policy.

    As demonstrated by a recent article from the Mixed Migration Centre (https://mixedmigration.org/articles/how-to-break-the-business-model-of-smugglers), the most effective way to “disrupt the business model of smugglers” and reduce irregular departures, migrants’ dangerous journeys and the consequent losses of lives, is to expand legal migratory routes.

    By going in the complete opposite direction, Cyprus, for many years now, has prevented migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from reaching the island in a legal way and from leaving the island for other EU countries1. Cyprus has resorted to systematic practices of pushbacks sending refugees back to countries where they are at risk of torture, persecution and arbitrary detention, has intensified forced returns, has dismantled the reception and asylum system, and has fueled a toxic anti-refugee narrative that has led to indiscriminate violent attacks that were initially against Syrian refugees and their properties in #Chloraka (https://kisa.org.cy/sundays-pogrom-in-chloraka) and a few days later to against migrants and their properties in #Limassol (https://cde.news/racism-fuelled-violence-spreads-in-cyprus). More recently, Cyprus has also announced its willingness to push the EU and Member States to re-evaluate Syria’s status and consider the country as “safe” in order to forcibly return Syrian refugees to Syria – despite on-going clashes, structural human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    These deadly externalisation policies and unlawful practices have and continue to kill individuals and prevent them from accessing their rights. A complete change in migration and asylum policies is urgently needed, based on the respect of human rights and people’s lives, and on legal channels for migration and protection. Cyprus, as well as the EU and its Member States, must protect the human rights of migrants at international borders, ensure access to international protection and proper reception conditions in line with EU and international human rights law. They must open effective legal migratory pathways, including resettlement, humanitarian visas and labour migration opportunities; and they must respect their obligations of saving lives at sea and set up proper Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean.


    #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #droits_humains #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Chypre #Liban #racisme #attaques_racistes #refoulements #push-backs #militarisation_des_frontières #joint_operations #opérations_conjointes #aide #formation #gardes-côtes_libanaises #pull-backs #réfugiés_syriens #externalisation

  • EU Commission gifts Egypt patrol boats to become a gatekeeper for migration, following Tunisian model

    The EU Commission wants to conclude a migration defense agreement with Egypt and is upgrading the country’s land and sea borders. However, hardly any refugee boats leave from Egyptian shores for Europe.

    The government in Cairo is to receive two new ships for its coast guard. A corresponding tender worth €23 million was published by the EU Commission in May. This was confirmed by Neighborhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi in a response to a question from MEP Özlem Demirel. Accordingly, the funds come from the NDICI fund, which is intended to provide financial support for the EU’s Neighborhood Policy. As a purpose, the Commission states border management and search and rescue operations. Egypt will also receive thermal imaging cameras, satellite tracking systems and other surveillance equipment.

    With the donations, the Commission wants to build Egypt into a new partner in migration defense. In 2021, the government had sent a “list” of border protection equipment to Brussels for this purpose. EU Migration Commissioner Ylva Johansson then traveled to the Egyptian capital to negotiate them, followed by a visit by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2022.

    Before the end of this year, the Commission intends to conclude an “Operational Partnership to Combat People Smuggling” with Egypt. Tunisia recently became the first African country to sign such a deal with the EU. However, this “partnership” violates EU treaties. This is because the Commission should actually have obtained the approval of the 27 member states before concluding the contract with Tunisia.

    Egypt is also upgrading its land borders with EU funds. To this end, the Commission has promised the country a further €87 million – a significant increase on plans from last year, which still envisaged €57 million. For the “protection of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants,” the government in Cairo will receive an extra €23 million.

    In addition, 20 million will be used to take in people who have fled Sudan because of the civil war. Two months ago, however, the Egyptian government drastically tightened conditions for displaced Sudanese, who must now apply for a visa to cross the border. Since then, thousands have been stranded at the border in dire humanitarian conditions, writes the organization Human Rights Watch.

    The Egyptian government continues to oppose the stationing of Frontex in Egypt. As early as 2007, the EU states had commissioned their border agency to negotiate a working agreement with Cairo, but this has not yet come to pass. However, Frontex coordinates “Joint Return Operations” of rejected asylum seekers to Egypt.

    With about 108 million inhabitants, Egypt is one of the EU’s neighbors with the largest population. A third of them are under 24 years old. Many of them seek a better future in Europe and cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat to do so. According to the Commission, the number of these irregular entries into the EU increased sixfold in 2021 compared to the previous year.

    Most border crossings by Egyptian nationals take place in Italy. However, these depart mainly from Libya, the Commission confirms: not even one percent of the crossings started from Egyptian shores, according to the figures. This also applies to refugees from other countries after they have passed through Egypt as a transit country.

    However, the refugee route via Libya is also becoming increasingly closed: In recent years, Egypt has significantly strengthened its military border surveillance to the neighboring country. Refugees are therefore increasingly reliant on aid workers, who are also facing more persecution. The “Law No. 82 on Combating Illegal Migration and Smuggling of Migrants,” enacted in 2016 and strengthened in 2022, allows authorities to take tougher action against any kind of aid to escape.

    Refugees are also criminalized in this way, confirms human rights lawyer Muhammad Al Kashef, who is active in the Alarmphone project and the Abolish Frontex campaign: “Thousands of people have been arrested under Law No. 82 for trying to enter or leave the country irregularly.” Egypt’s poor human rights record is compounded by its new partnership with the EU, Al Kashef told “nd.”

    Not all migration from Egypt is unwanted in Europe. EU states want to benefit from skilled workers from Egypt and facilitate their entry. Egypt is therefore one of the priority countries to be won over for a so-called “Talent Partnership”. The Commission began negotiations on this in June.


    #externalisation #asile #réfugiés #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #Egypte #accord #gardes-côtes #aide_financière #militarisation_des_frontières #surveillance #matériel #Operational_Partnership_to_Combat_People_Smuggling #partenariat


  • The Migration Managers

    How a little-known organization far from public scrutiny is helping to shape Europe’s migration policy.

    “Making Migration Better” is what the #International_Centre_for_Migration_Policy_Development (#ICMPD) promises its members. ICMPD advises countries in the background, creates international networks and also becomes active itself in border regions of the EU. ICMPD is an organization that is known to only a few, but at the same time has become an important player in EU migration policy.

    Together with a team of international journalists, we investigated what exactly ICMPD does. We filed numerous requests under the EU and German Freedom of Information laws and received hundreds of documents in response. Additionally, we were able to view internal ICMPD documents, some of which we are also publishing today after thorough examination and careful consideration. We shared our findings in advance with ZDF Magazin Royale and the Austrian daily DerStandard, and jointly coordinated articles.

    Our investigation led to the EU’s external borders in the Western Balkans and to North Africa; to training camps for border guards and “dead body management”, and the roleplayed not only by ministries and governments, but also by the German Federal Police, a former Austrian Vice Chancellor, and the now internationally wanted white-collar criminal Jan Marsalek.
    Our research shows:

    – As an international organization, ICMPD is subject to few transparency obligations. This allows ICMPD to create and host spaces where member states like Germany can discuss migration policy out of the public eye.
    - ICMPD directly and indirectly influences European migration policy. Strengthening of asylum law, which is publicly proposed by politicians, was partly worked out beforehand in informal meetings or outlined in documents of ICMPD.
    – ICMPD directly and indirectly supports border and coast guards in Libya, Morocco and Tunisia - authorities that are accused of grave human rights violations. In doing so, ICMPD is helping to push the EU’s external border towards North Africa. Currently, the EU is also discussing border procedures at the EU’s external borders as part of the asylum system reform.
    - ICMPD co-developed ideas for a dubious asylum project - including for Germany. In the process, ICMPD also worked closely with Jan Marsalek, a white-collar criminal who has since gone underground.

    ICMPD was founded in 1993. The organization’s purpose was to make it possible to exchanges views on migration policy. Due to the ongoing conflict in Yugoslavia,, the focus was mainly on the Balkans. Nearly two decades later, ICMPD’s focus would radically shift.

    Michael Spindelegger was appointed as he ICMPD’s Director General in 2016. He is a former Austrian vice chancellor, former Secretary General of ÖVP, the countrys’ biggest governing party, and the political foster father of Austria’s former chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Commenting on his arrival at ICMPD, Spindelegger said in an interview, “I want to give the organization more political weight and visibility.”

    Since Spindelegger took office, ICMPD’s projects, staff and annual budget have steadily increased. While the budget was 16.8 million euros in 2015, it was already 74.5 million in 2022. 56 percent of the money ICMPD received in 2022 came from the EU Commission. The rest came from EU member states, transit countries and countries of origin: the members of the ICMPD.

    Technocratic terms to disguise the true essence

    ICMPD describes its main business as a three-pillar model of “migration management”: research, dialogue and capacity building. The organization writes studies on migration, it brings states to the table for negotiations, and then implements what governments have decided. But what sounds mundane in theory has far-reaching consequences in practice.

    “I think the notion of migration management appeals to a lot of people because it makes migration more of a technocratic issue,” explains Jeff Crisp. Crisp was a senior staff member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and is an expert on migration. The term migration management, according to him, is so popular among governments and organizations because it obscures the true nature of their actions and there is no need to talk openly about restriction and deterrence.

    In 2020, ICMPD’s chief Spindelegger described how he envisions successful “migration management” in several interviews. EU states should enter into more partnerships with countries of origin for a “more efficient return policy,” i.e., deport more people. Asylum applications should be processed in a few days near the border, which human rights organizations criticize as insufficient time for a fair process. Similarly, the ICMPD chief argued that migrants should be selected according to the needs of companies in the destination countries.

    These ideas have been widely criticized by human rights activists and lawyers, but they fit into the political line of many European governments, especially in view of the current debate about reforming the EU asylum system.

    In early 2023, the need for deportations and cooperation with third countries is now publicly the dogma of EU migration policy. In Germany, the governing coalition came to conclusions after a summit which are in fact contrary to the coalition agreements: the government wants more deportations, asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders, agreements with third countries, as shown by a document we recently published. To enforce more deportations, Germany has even created its own special envoy since the beginning of the year.

    This strategic orientation has been discussed for some time, but in an informal setting: at negotiation rounds, events and congresses such as those organized by ICMPD. So far, however, little of this has reached the outside world, because ICMPD has almost no transparency obligations.
    Backroom Talks and Racist Comments

    Legally, ICMPD is an “International Organization” - an intergovernmental association to carry out a supranational task. It has the same status as, for example, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As an international organization, ICMPD does not pay taxes, is difficult to prosecute in court, and cannot be summoned before any parliament for information.

    This special status seems to be welcomed, above all, by EU states whose migration policies are particularly controversial. For example, according to the minutes of a meeting with Spindelegger in July 2020, the then-deputy migration minister of Greece said, “ICMPD can provide a flexible and informal forum (for discussions) without the pressure of the media; A forum to solve problems.” One solution he may have wanted to discuss at the time was a heavily criticized asylum law which contemplated rejected asylum seekers to be detained on a blanket basis.

    In the informal setting provided by ICMPD, some seem to dare to formulate what would probably be strongly criticized publicly. A representative of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, in an informal exchange with representatives of EU states and EU institutions in May 2020 on “The Protection of Human and Public Security in the New Migration Agenda,” said that the “Refugee Treaty is not the issue”, but the European Convention on Human Rights is. According to the representative, “the right to request asylum makes migration management” very difficult”.

    Insights into the inner workings of ICMPD are provided by an internal diversity report from 2019, which we were able to view. Half of the respondents said they believe that not all employees have the same opportunities. More than one in three said they had been discriminated against or harassed while working at ICMPD. Similarly, the report found that employees regularly made racist and discriminatory comments about people from regions where ICMPD works - especially from the African continent.

    When asked, ICMPD said that “internal steps” have been taken since then and “will be subject to a new review soon.”
    Externalization of the EU’s external borders

    In 2015, the EU launched the Trust Fund for Africa with a funding budget of five billion euros. It was an indirect reaction to the increasing number of migrants coming to Europe. Since then, EU funds have been flowing to North African states and their border institutions for technological and personnel development, among other things - and ICMPD is helping with this.

    Exactly what that looks like is revealed at a meeting in January 2019 between Spindelegger and the EU Commission. It says that an agreement with Morocco for ICMPD “border management assistance operations” had been concluded. A previous investigation shows that, in the course of this project, surveillance technologies that allow access to secured phones had been delivered. According to a former ICMPD employee, there were no mechanisms to prevent abuses by Morocco, such as using this technology to target activists, academics and journalists.

    Furthermore, the meeting between ICMPD and the EU Commission relates to border security through “provide training and technical assistance” in Libya. The EU stresses that ICMPD’s involvement is “instrumental” to moving this forward quickly - for example, with regard to the “White Paper,” a strategy document that, while not binding on the parties involved, sets the political direction and next steps.

    For several years, journalists and human rights organizations have reported on how migrants are systematically pushed back along the central Mediterranean and the inhumane detention conditions that await them in Libya. The fact that the EU and some member states support Libya is also an issue. What is less known, however, is what mediating role ICMPD had in the elaboration of the strategy.

    Just a few months after the EU highlighted ICMPD’s mediating role in the process, representatives from the EU, UN, Libya, France, Italy, and ICMPD met in Tunis in June 2019. The aim of this meeting was to start the elaboration of a strategy paper for a “fully-fledged border security and management system”.
    Training and coordination with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard

    We had filed a request under the EU Freedom of Information law for the white paper from the EU Commission, but it was denied. The reason given was that, if the document became public, the relationship between the EU and Libya would be endangered. Nevertheless, we have obtained the document and publish it after a thorough examination. It is a version from December 2019, which is described as final.

    The document justifies why the preparation of such a strategy document is necessary: Libya would need to reform its structures in order to regain full control over its borders. The reason given is that the country faces “immense challenges” from “the flow of migrants, who, to a large extent, intend to use Libya as a transit route to Europe.” Migration “has complicated an already fragile political situation” and is “undermining the security, stability, and social wellbeing of the Libyan state and society.

    What should follow from this, with the participation of ICMPD among others, is shown in an EU document from 2021: A training center for the so-called Libyan coast guard is to be established. Likewise, mechanisms are to be created to forge cooperation between Libya, the EU and neighboring countries - for the Border Guard Training Academy and the Libyan Maritime Rescue Coordination Center.

    Human rights organizations call this approach the “externalization of the EU’s external borders,” which means the outsourcing of border protection and migration management tasks to third countries. Likewise, cooperation with the Libyan Maritime Rescue Coordination Unit would lead to more pull-backs. This means that third countries, with the support of the EU, would prevent fleeing people from reaching Europe.

    “The support given by the EU to the Libyan coast guard in terms of pull-backs, pushbacks, (and) interceptions led to violations of certain human rights,” said Chaloka Beyani in late March 2023, who was a member of the Fact-Finding Mission to Libya of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which released its report in the process.

    “You can’t push back people to areas that are unsafe, and the Libyan waters are unsafe for the embarkation of migrants,” Beyani continued. He added that the EU and its member states are not found to be responsible for war crimes, but “the support given has aided and abetted the commission of the crimes.”
    Atmosphere of hatred towards migrants

    ICMPD is not only active in Libya, but also in Tunisia - and since 2019, on a much larger scale.

    That same year, Tunisia elected a new president who is now not only pushing the state system towards dictatorship, but also creating an atmosphere of hatred towards migrants. At the end of February 2023, he called on Tunisian security forces to take urgent measures against migrants.

    Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesman for the Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights, tells us exactly what that looks like. “There is a political pressure on the coast guard to prevent people from leaving, no matter what the cost, no matter what the damage. That’s how the violence started, and the Coast Guard is responsible for a lot of it.”

    Reports of human rights abuses by the Tunisian coast guard are mounting. Alarmphone writes about this, saying that the Tunisian coast guard beats migrants with sticks, demands money for rescues, and even steals the boat engines.

    And it is these security forces that continue to be supported and trained by ICMPD with the support of the EU, Germany, Austria and Denmark. In fact, this cooperation is even being expanded, as EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson reiterated at a meeting in Tunis in late April 2023.

    When asked about this, ICMPD says that it learned about the violence emanating from the Tunisian coast guard through the media and therefore cannot comment further.
    Active support of the German Federal Police

    Regarding EU support to the Tunisian coast guard, a dossier was prepared in 2019 jointly with ICMPD. “Preferred options in line with the National vision” had been identified, as well as “requests for equipment and capacity building measures.” Underwater drones, radars and even a dedicated IT system, the Integrated System for Maritime Surveillance, or ISMariS, were to be provided.

    Germany was presented with the plans for Tunisia at a meeting in January 2020 between the Federal Police and ICMPD. The goal: “Make migration and mobility of people orderly, safe and regular.” To this end, the coast guards of North African states are to be trained and provided with equipment. Two training centers are being built in Tunisia for this purpose, one in the south and one in the north of the country. The northern center is financed by Germany.

    The minutes of a meeting in January 2022 show how Germany is continuing to provide support: the Federal Police have equipped the Tunisian coast guard with 12 speedboats. Likewise, the Federal Police was “involved in SAR-connected trainings”. In an email written after the meeting, the Federal Police representative again advocates that Tunisia’s fleet be further expanded through “donor support.” For the following years, he proposed “boating training for Fast Control Boats” and “modernization of the boat fleet.”

    We were unable to find out in detail what curriculum ICMPD, the German Federal Police and other authorities of EU member states use to train the Tunisian coast guard. However, the minutes of various meetings provide an insight into the subject areas. French security authorities organized for example a “training course on the management of dead bodies at sea.”

    When asked, the German Federal Police confirmed that it was supporting the Tunisian coast guard with “training, advisory and procurement services.” In response to criticism of its involvement in Tunisia, the Federal Police pointed out that Tunisia was described as a “safe port” on the UNHCR website. However, this description can no longer be found on the UNHCR website.
    More deportations through migration diplomacy

    ICMPD is very active not only on the African continent, but also along the so-called Balkan route.

    In July 2020, the “Salzburg Forum”, a meeting of 18 EU interior ministers, EU commissioners, EU agencies such as Frontex and ICMPD took place in Vienna. The result was, among other things, the establishment of the “Joint Cooperation Platform on Irregular Migration”. This was chaired by the former deputy director of Frontex Berndt Körner.

    According to preparatory documents and an email, ICMPD elaborated on why such a platform was needed at a follow-up meeting in February 2021. “Irregular economic migration” is a shared problem, ICMPD said, and therefore there is a need to build capacity for “quick procedures, quick returns, and to coordination border closures again”.

    ICMPD will not only assist with training and capacity building, it said, but will also help with the “implementation of a regional returns mechanism” - meaning deportations. Through “migration diplomacy,” ICMPD would support the negotiation of agreements with third countries.

    Previous experience in supporting deportations has been gained by ICMPD in Turkey. The project, with the acronym FRMON, aims to “strengthen the capacity to conduct return operations in Turkey.” The duration was from 2021 to 2022, during which time Human Rights Watch wrote that deportations from Turkey to Afghanistan had increased by 150 percent. Many other states had suspended this after the Taliban took power.
    More money for migration management

    Those who try to enter the EU via the so-called Western Balkan route often arrive from Bosnia-Herzegovina and want to get to Croatia. In recent years, journalists and activists have documented how Croatian border officials use batons to push back migrants, preventing them from applying for asylum in an EU country.

    The Western Balkan states, where many of the migrants are then stranded, are therefore of great importance to the EU. Bosnia-Herzegovina has been an official candidate for EU membership since 2022 and must therefore fulfill certain conditions. For this purpose, a so-called Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) fund was set up years before. Part of the money goes to migration and border management.

    What this means exactly is revealed in documents from meetings between ICMPD and Bosnian authorities, which we have obtained and will publish following a detailed examination.

    In January 2021, shortly before the second meeting of the coordination platform, Spindelegger made a phone call on behalf of ICMPD to then-Bosnian Security Minister Selmo Cikotić. According to the minutes, the telephone call had been initiated by ICMPD. We have the preparatory documents.

    ICMPD criticized that EU funds “for the management of migration would be mainly provided for humanitarian needs." Ninety percent of the budget has been used on basic needs of migrants and only 10 percent for “migration management,” he said. Therefore, according to ICMPD, it “became evident that it is necessary to intensify the efforts aimed at strengthening the capacities of the migration management authorities in BiH”. For a good “migration management” ICMPD will provide equipment, training but also personnel.

    The Lipa camp, whose detention center had been reported on several times in the previous weeks, was also discussed. The security minister was pleased that ICMPD had sent a “project proposal” regarding Lipa.

    500,000 € had been paid by the EU Commission to ICMPD for the construction of the detention unit. According to the documents, the order was for “temporary detention facilities
    for migrants within the multi-purpose reception centre Lipa in line with European and international standards.”. When asked, ICMPD did not answer what was meant by this term. The detention unit would be built to “support the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to further develope and implement capacity in the area of returns in order to adress irregular migration.”

    We publish the “Action Plan” prepared by ICMPD with the EU.
    Dialogue only

    Another point raised in the conversation between ICMPD and Bosnia’s minister is a “facilitation of dialogue between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and Slovenia regarding readmission and prevention of push-backs.” It is true that there has been a so-called “readmission” agreement between Bosnia and Croatia since 2007. This allows a state to send migrants back to another country. So far, however, this agreement has not been implemented, and Croatia was not yet a member of the EU at the time of the agreement.

    The Border Violence Monitoring Network reports that migrants who enter Croatia through Bosnia and Herzegovina are apprehended, imprisoned, and forced to sign a document in Croatian agreeing to be sent back to Bosnia. According to a conversation with representatives of the network and a report by Human Rights Watch, this is made possible by the revival of the readmission agreement – the dialogue that ICMPD wanted to promote.
    A dubious card project

    Even before Germany became a member of ICMPD, the organization had come up with something very special for German “migration management.” The now internationally wanted white-collar criminal Jan Marsalek and the now insolvent financial services provider Wirecard were a part of it.. Their plan: a “digital refugee card”. Asylum seekers were no longer to receive cash, but all financial support was to be paid out digitally.

    According to the project description, which we are now publishing, this card should not be limited to the payment function. The “usability of certain functions, such as payment transactions” should be limited to “certain geographies” and “deployment scenarios.” Similarly, the card “could be extended to include the possibility of direct retrieval of cardholder data with government/police terminals/equipment.”

    The project should not be limited to Bavaria, according to documents we received following a Freedom of Information Act request to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior. Bavarian State Secretary Joachim Herrmann wrote in a letter to then-Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in October 2020 that he planned to "implement this new payment system in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Spindelegger and ICMPD. He said it could “serve as a model for similar projects in Europe.” In his response, Seehofer called the project a “lighthouse project.”

    “If a German politician were to propose introducing an identity card that is also a bank card that all Germans use to pay for their purchases, and which could then be read by all authorities, including the police, one thing would be certain: he would be out of a job within hours,” said Matthias Spielkamp of AlgorithmWatch. “But the fact that Seehofer and others call it a lighthouse project to force people seeking protection to use such a card shows abundantly clear their contempt for the human rights of those who need protection the most.”

    What Herrmann and Seehofer’s emails do not mention, however, is who was originally intended to carry out the project alongside ICMPD. The project description comes from a mail in November 2019 for preparation of a meeting between state secretaries from Bavaria and Brandenburg, a CDU politician, ICMPD head Michael Spindelegger and Jan Marsalek, at that time still CFO of Wirecard. Another email we publish shows that Marsalek had already had a conversation with a company about the idea of a Digital Refugee Card in July 2019 and had helped develop the idea.

    As the report from Wirecard’s investigative committee shows, Marsalek had a very unique idea when it came to migrants. He wanted to pay for a border guard force of 15,000 to 20,000 “militiamen” to stop people trying to get to Europe via Libya and the central Mediterranean Sea as early as Libya’s southern border.

    Wirecard is now insolvent and is considered Germany’s biggest financial scandal. However, the “Digital Refugee Card” project is not completely on hold. In Bavaria, the legal framework for the project has already been adjusted accordingly. An email from the State Ministry to the BMI in March 2021 states that a “private sector payment service provider” will provide the cards. An “involvement of NGOs” is not planned.

    In response to a press inquiry, the Bavarian Ministry of Interior said that it was currently looking for an implementing company.


    #lobby #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #lobbying #influence #politique_migratoire #externalisation #Afrique_du_Nord #Tunisie #route_des_Balkans #Jan_Marsalek #gardes-côtes_libyens #Maroc #Libye #Michael_Spindelegger #migration_management #Spindelegger

  • EU responds to Italy drownings with more support for Libya

    The European Commission wants to further shore up the Libyan coast guard and launch anti-smuggling partnerships with Tunisia and Egypt.

    The proposals were outlined in a letter sent earlier this week by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and seen by EUobserver, to Italy’s prime minister Giorgia Meloni.

    The letter came in response to Meloni, who had queried the European Commission over the recent drowning deaths of some 70 people, including small children, off the Calabrian coast.

    “First, we must coordinate our actions with key patterns to prevent irregular departures and save lives at sea,” said von der Leyen, in her letter.

    This includes priority funding with Tunisia and Egypt, as well as “further support to Libya’s maritime border management and search-and-rescue capacities,” she said.

    The boat which sank off the Italian coast late last month departed from Turkey and in an area not patrolled by NGO search-and-rescue boats.

    Those NGO boats are currently under intense pressure from Rome’s far-right government under Meloni’s leadership. Geo Barents, a rescue boat operated by Doctor’s without Borders, was recently detained and fined up to €10,000 by Italian authorities.

    Von der Leyen’s emphasis on North Africa, however, is part of a larger effort to stem irregular migration.

    The European Commission had in February, along with Italian authorities, already handed over new patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard and announced some €800m for North Africa up until 2024.

    But those intercepted at sea by the Libyans, including in search-and-rescue zones controlled by the Maltese , are returned to a country where they are often locked up in inhumane conditions.

    The Libyans intercepted and returned almost 31,000 people last year, up from around 12,000 in 2020.

    Over 330 have died or gone missing in the attempt across all Mediterranean routes, so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a UN body.

    Meanwhile, the Egypt and Tunisia police plans will be part of a new north African multi-country program against smuggling in the region, she said.

    Von der Leyen also mentioned €500m to help resettle some 50,000 people up until 2025, noting the need to create humanitarian corridors.

    A first meeting had also taken place on how to best coordinate and cooperate on search and rescues among national authorities, she said.
    Interior ministers in Brussels

    The letter comes ahead of a crunch meeting in Brussels on Thursday (9 March) of interior ministers, where migration will be a key point of talks.

    Although no decisions are expected, the discussions will likely feed into an European summit later this month.

    Ministers on Thursday are set to discuss visa policy and how to best use it as leverage to get origin countries to take back their rejected nationals.

    But internal aspects are also on the table.

    Since December, the Dutch, along with other EU states, have been unable to return migrants to Italy under the so-called Dublin rules.

    “The reason, as far as we understand right now, is that the Italians have a lack of reception capacities,” an EU diplomat told reporters on Wednesday.

    The Swedish EU presidency is also hoping to get some in-house agreements on the outstanding overhaul of the EU’s asylum and migration policy.

    Key to that reform is the regulation on asylum and migration management.

    The rule is a core component of the overhaul first proposed by the European Commission in September 2020 and is set to replace the broken Dublin system currently in place.

    A second EU diplomat said the Council, representing member states, is on track to get an internal agreement on the regulation.

    But talks on politically sensitive issues, when it comes defining so-called mandatory solidarity, won’t likely start until the next EU presidency, under Spain, in July.

    “We need to have the legal framework in place first. I mean, there is there are a lot of opinions on this issue,” said the EU diplomat.

    That in-house agreement is needed before negotiations can start with the European Parliament amid a wider plan to get all the outstanding asylum files sorted before next year’s European elections.


    #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Libye #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Tunisie #Egypte #gardes-côtes_libyens #commission_européenne #UE #EU

    Fil de discussion sur le #naufrage de #Crotone:

  • Des appareils de #surveillance de #Frontex sont utilisés par les #gardes-côtes_libyens pour intercepter illégalement des migrants

    « Le Monde » a identifié l’origine de sept images aériennes publiées par les gardes-côtes libyens sur leurs pages Facebook. Elles ont été réalisées par des appareils de surveillance de Frontex, et démontrent comment les activités de l’agence européenne facilitent des interceptions illicites par les Libyens en Méditerranée. Frontex a toujours soutenu ne pas collaborer avec les garde-côtes libyens.

    « Le patrouilleur Fezzan a porté secours à un chalutier en feu et a sauvé son équipage de huit personnes. » Le 24 août 2021, la page Facebook « Gardes-côtes et sécurité portuaire » publie le bilan d’une opération de sauvetage menée au cours de la journée par les gardes-côtes libyens.

    La présence d’informations temporelles et de localisations sur l’image indique qu’il s’agit d’une prise de vue réalisée par un appareil de surveillance aérienne, et non par un simple appareil photo. Ce genre d’images, entre 2018 et 2022, les gardes-côtes libyens en ont publié une douzaine, sur différents comptes et réseaux. Sauf que la Libye n’est pas dotée d’appareils capables de réaliser ces images. Qui en est à l’origine ?

    Pour identifier leur source, Le Monde a recoupé les informations qu’elles contiennent avec des données ADS-B, un signal émis par les avions en vol, ainsi qu’avec les journaux de bord de plusieurs ONG actives en Méditerranée, dans les airs ou en mer. Dans le cas du 24 août 2021, par exemple, les informations présentes sur l’image indiquent les coordonnées, l’altitude et l’heure précise à laquelle l’appareil se trouvait lorsqu’il a réalisé cette image. Elles donnent aussi la position approximative du chalutier observé par l’appareil.

    Nous avons reconstitué le trafic aérien au-dessus de la Méditerranée dans la matinée du 24 août 2021. En comparant les parcours des différents appareils avec les données disponibles sur l’image, nous avons ainsi pu identifier un appareil qui se trouvait précisément aux coordonnées et à l’altitude à laquelle la photo a été prise, lorsqu’elle a été réalisée : le drone AS2132, opéré par Frontex.

    Pour d’autres images, nous avons eu accès aux observations d’ONG, comme SeaWatch ou SOS Méditerranée, consignées dans des journaux de bord. Ceux-ci sont librement accessibles ici. Au total, ce travail nous permet d’affirmer que sur cinq dates différentes les images publiées par les gardes-côtes libyens ont été réalisées par des appareils de Frontex. Au moins une autre l’a été par un appareil de l’EunavforMed, la force navale européenne en Méditerranée, qui collabore avec Frontex.

    Des interceptions impossibles sans renseignements extérieurs

    Sollicitée, l’agence de garde-frontière l’assure : « il n’y a pas de collaboration entre Frontex et les gardes-côtes libyens », ce qu’affirmait déjà en mars 2021 son ex-directeur Fabrice Leggeri.

    L’agence précise, en revanche : « Chaque fois qu’un avion de Frontex découvre une embarcation en détresse, une alerte – et une image, le cas échéant – est immédiatement envoyée au centre de coordination des sauvetages régional. L’information envoyée inclut notamment la position, la navigabilité du navire et la probabilité qu’il n’atteigne pas sa destination finale. »

    De fait, dans les cinq cas identifiés par Le Monde, les images de Frontex ont pourtant bien fini entre les mains des gardes-côtes libyens. Et certaines ont vraisemblablement rendu possible l’interception d’embarcations, autrement impossibles à localiser pour les Libyens. Dans le cas du 8 mai 2019, par exemple, l’avion de Frontex découvre une embarcation en route pour l’Europe en Méditerranée centrale. Un contact est établi entre les autorités libyennes et l’agence, mais il n’émet pas de Mayday. Ce message d’urgence aurait pu être capté par tous les avions et navires à proximité à ce moment-là, dont le Mare Jonio, de l’ONG Mediterranea Saving Humans, spécialisé dans le sauvetage. Frontex dit n’envoyer des Maydays que « lorsqu’il existe un danger imminent pour la vie des occupants ».

    Les gardes-côtes libyens retrouvent finalement sans difficulté l’embarcation, pourtant située à plus d’une centaine de kilomètres de leurs côtes. A 17 heures, ils font monter les migrants à bord de leur patrouilleur avant de les rapatrier en Libye. Une interception que les informations de Frontex ont vraisemblablement facilitée, voire rendue possible. Pendant toute la durée de l’opération, l’avion de Frontex continue de survoler la zone, et de filmer la scène. Des images auxquelles les gardes-côtes ont aussi eu accès.

    Frontex souligne que, conformément au règlement européen relatif à la surveillance des frontières maritimes extérieures, ses alertes ne sont pas adressées aux gardes-côtes libyens, mais au « centre régional de coordination des sauvetages (#RCC) [libyen] (…) internationalement reconnu ». Une fois l’alerte envoyée, « Frontex ne coordonne pas les opérations de recherche et de sauvetage (...), c’est la responsabilité des centres de secours régionaux« . Reste à savoir si ce RCC existe réellement. Frontex s’en tient à la position de l’Organisation maritime internationale (OMI), qui a reconnu officiellement l’existence d’un RCC en 2018.

    Plusieurs enquêtes ont pourtant mis en doute l’existence d’un tel RCC libyen. Derrière les adresses e-mail et les numéros de téléphone du RCC se trouvent en réalité les gardes-côtes, selon les différentes ONG impliquées dans des opérations de sauvetage en mer Méditerranée. Et le 8 novembre 2022, le vice-président de la commission européenne, Josep Borrell, lui-même affirmait : « Le centre de coordination des secours maritime n’est pas encore opérationnel. »

    Parmi les règles européennes, que Frontex dit respecter, figure le principe du non-refoulement : « Nul ne peut être (…) débarqué, forcé à entrer, conduit dans un pays ou autrement remis aux autorités d’un pays où il existe (…) un risque sérieux qu’il soit soumis à la peine de mort, à la torture, à la persécution ou à d’autres peines ou traitements inhumains ou dégradants. » Des situations courantes en Libye, de sorte qu’en 2020 la Commission européenne affirmait que le pays n’était pas un « lieu sûr » vers lequel il serait possible de renvoyer des migrants. Dans un rapport de 2018, l’ONU constatait que « les migrants subissent des horreurs inimaginables en Libye (…). Ils s’exposent à des meurtres extrajudiciaires, à la torture et à des mauvais traitements, à la détention arbitraire (…), au viol (…), à l’esclavage et au travail forcé, à l’extorsion et à l’exploitation ».

    #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Méditerranée #Libye #mer_Méditerranée #pull-backs #pull-back #push-backs

    • Airborne Complicity – Frontex Aerial Surveillance Enables Abuse

      Over the last year, we have partnered with Human Rights Watch to investigate the use by the EU’s border agency, Frontex, of aerial surveillance in the central Mediterranean. The aircraft, several planes and a drone operated by private companies, transmit video feeds and other information to a situation centre in Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, where operational decisions are taken about when and whom to alert about migrants’ boats. Frontex aerial surveillance is key in enabling the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrant boatsand return their passengers to Libya, knowing full well that they will face systematic and widespread abuse when forcibly returned there.

      To circumvent Frontex’s lack of transparency on these issues (in processing 27 of 30 freedom of information requests we submitted – the others are pending – Frontex identified thousands of relevant documents but released only 86 of them, most of which were heavily redacted) we cross-referenced official and open-source data, including drone and plane flight tracks, together with information collected by Sea-Watch (through its various search and rescue ships and planes operating in the area), the Alarm Phone, as well as the testimony of survivors who courageously shared their stories with us. 

      Overall, contrary to Frontex claim that its aerial surveillance saves lives, the evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch and Border Forensics demonstrates it is in service of interceptions by Libyan forces, rather than rescue. While the presence of Frontex aircraft has not had a meaningful impact on the death rate at sea, we found a moderate and statistically significant correlation between its aerial assets flights and the number of interceptions performed by the Libyan Coast Guard. On days when the assets fly more hours over its area of operation, the Libyan Coast Guard tends to intercept more vessels.

      Our reconstruction of the events of July 30, 2021, when several boats carrying migrants were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard in the area where the drone was patrolling, is a good demonstration of this. The evidence we collected strongly suggests that the droneplayed a key role in facilitating the interception of potentially hundreds of people. 

      The analysis of available data supports the conclusion that the Frontex aerial surveillance forms a central plank of the EU’s strategy to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from reaching Europe by boat and to knowingly return them to unspeakable abuse in Libya. It should be understood in continuity with the progressive withdrawal of EU ships from the central Mediterranean, the handover of responsibility to Libyan forces, and the obstruction of nongovernmental rescue groups which we have been investigating in the frame of the Forensic Oceanography project since several years. 

      The retreat of rescue vessels from the central Mediterranean and the simultaneous increase of surveillance aircraft in the sky is yet another attempt by the EU to further remove itself spatially, physically, and legally from its responsibilities: it allows the EU to maintain a distance from boats in distress, while keeping a close eye from the sky that enables Libyan forces to carry out what we have previously referred to as “refoulement by proxy”. Our investigation seeks to re-establish the connection between Frontex aerial surveillance and the violence captured migrants face at sea and in Libya thereafter.
      Reconstructing 30 July 2021 

      Since the beginning of our research, we have been looking into a number of specific cases of interceptions that involved European aerial assets. Thanks to the relentless effort of documentation by civil society organisations active in the central Mediterranean, in particular the Alarm Phone and Sea Watch, we were able to put together an extensive list of such cases. 

      We eventually decided to focus on the events of July 30, 2021 as a case study. In order to reconstruct what happened on that day, we have combined witness testimonies, data and footage collected by Alarm Phone and Sea Watch, tracks of aerial and naval assets, open-source information and data about disembarkation in Libya as well as two separate databases of interceptions (Frontex’ own JORA database and information from two European Union External Action Service classified documents). 

      Frontex drone’s tracks that day indicate it most likely detected at least two boats later intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard. The rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 witnessed by chance the interception of one of them that took place within the Maltese Search and Rescue Area. The Sea-Watch 3 had not received any distress alert via Frontex despite being in the immediate vicinity of the boat and ready to assist its passengers. 

      Frontex’ own database admits that its aerial surveillance program detected a total of 5 boats on that day. While only further disclosure by Frontex would allow to ultimately assess its impact on each specific interception that took place on that day, the precise geographical coordinates for the five interceptions reported in the classified EEAS documents seem to match at least three peculiar flight patterns of the Frontex drone.
      Analysing Frontex aerial surveillance
      Flight tracking

      In parallel to case reconstructions, we have been tracking the overall activities of Frontex aircraft in the central Mediterranean. Since these planes and drone are chartered from private companies such as DEA Aviation and ADAS, a subsidiary of Airbus, there is no publicly available official list of such assets. The first task was to understand which were the aerial assets patrolling the central Mediterranean on behalf of Frontex. Cross-referencing various identification information (hexcodes, callsigns, etc.) of these planes with those that had been already identified by Sea Watch airborne team and various journalists allowed us to establish a dependable list of Frontex aerial assets operating in the area. 

      Once that was established, we acquired from ADS-B Exchange (the only flight tracking platform that does not block any aircraft for which data is received by their feeders) a large dataset of flight tracking data covering a period of several months (May 2020 to September 2022) for all these aircraft. While the low number of data feeders near our area of interest means that coverage of the recorded data is at times inconsistent, ADS-B flight tracking data (which include latitude, longitude, altitude, and several other parameters) provide an exceptional insight into aerial activities performed by these assets and became a key element in our investigation.

      Thanks to these data, we were able to visualize the extend of each assets operational area over time. Each of these aircraft monitors a specific area of the central Mediterranean. What emerged were also a series of clearly identifiable and consistent search patters that Frontex aircraft are flying off the coast of Libya. More generally, these visualisations have allowed to grasp the extensive, yet tightly knit web of surveillance that results from aerial operations. 

      Pattern analysis

      When observed closely, flight tracks can provide further precious insights into Frontex surveillance activities. Several loops, U-turns, perfect circles, and sharp corners starts to emerge against the strict geometry of standard search patterns. These deviations indicate an aircraft is taking a closer look at something, thus testifying to potential sightings of migrant boats. Inspired by similar projects by John Wiseman, Emmanuel Freundenthal and others, we then started to isolate and taxonomise such search patterns and then wrote code to automatically identify similar patterns across the whole flight tracking dataset we had acquired. While this aspect of the research is still ongoing, it was already very useful in reconstructing the events of July 30, 2021, as detailed in the following section.

      Statistical analysis

      In order to assess the overall impact of aerial surveillance, we also conducted statistical analysis exploring the relation between interceptions carried out by Libyan forces and the presence of Frontex’s aerial assets in the 2021-2022 timeframe. 

      We first compiled several statistical data sources (data from the IOM, the UNHCR, the Maltese government as well as Frontex’ JORA database and a classified report by the European External Action Service) which, despite inconsistencies, have allowed us to measure migrant crossings and deaths, Libyan Coast Guard interceptions, and Frontex aerial presence. 

      The data gathered shows that Frontex aerial surveillance activities have intensified over time, and that they have been increasingly related to interception events. Our analysis reveals that almost one third of the 32,400 people Libyan forces captured at sea and forced back to Libya in 2021 were intercepted thanks to intelligence gathered by Frontex through aerial surveillance. Frontex incident database also shows that while Frontex’s role is very significant in enabling interception to Libya, it has very little impact on detecting boats whose passengers are eventually disembarked in Italy and Malta. 

      We then tested the correlation between Frontex aerial presence and Libyan Coast Guard interceptions over time and in space. The results show a moderate-to-strong and statistically significant correlation between the number of interceptions and the hours of flight flown by Frontex aerial assets. Said otherwise, on days when the assets fly more hours over its area of operation, the Libyan Coast Guard tends to intercept more vessels. A spatial approach showed that interceptions and flight tracks are autocorrelated in space. At the same time, contrary to Frontex claims that aerial surveillance saves lives at sea, the analysis shows that there is no correlation between death rate and the flight time.

      Read the full statistical analysis here

      Ultimately these different methods have allowed us to demonstrate how Frontex aerial surveillance (and in particular, because of its wider operational range, its drone) has become a key cog in the “pushback machine” that forces thousands of people back to abuse in Libya. 

      The publication of our findings with Human Rights Watch is the first stage of our ongoing investigation into the impact of European aerial surveillance on the lives and rights of migrants. We plan to continue deepening this investigation over the coming months.


      #surveillance_aérienne #drones

  • Des appareils de #surveillance de #Frontex sont utilisés par les #gardes-côtes_libyens pour intercepter illégalement des migrants

    « Le Monde » a identifié l’origine de sept images aériennes publiées par les gardes-côtes libyens sur leurs pages Facebook. Elles ont été réalisées par des appareils de surveillance de Frontex, et démontrent comment les activités de l’agence européenne facilitent des #interceptions illicites par les Libyens en Méditerranée. Frontex a toujours soutenu ne pas collaborer avec les garde-côtes libyens.

    « Le patrouilleur #Fezzan a porté secours à un chalutier en feu et a sauvé son équipage de huit personnes. » Le 24 août 2021, la page Facebook « Gardes-côtes et sécurité portuaire » publie le bilan d’une opération de sauvetage menée au cours de la journée par les gardes-côtes libyens. Pour l’illustrer, la page publie une photo du chalutier en feu.

    La présence d’informations temporelles et de localisations sur l’image indique qu’il s’agit d’une prise de vue réalisée par un appareil de #surveillance_aérienne, et non par un simple appareil photo. Ce genre d’images, entre 2018 et 2022, les gardes-côtes libyens en ont publié une douzaine, sur différents comptes et réseaux. Sauf que la #Libye n’est pas dotée d’appareils capables de réaliser ces images. Qui en est à l’origine ?

    Pour identifier leur source, Le Monde a recoupé les informations qu’elles contiennent avec des données #ADS-B, un signal émis par les #avions en vol, ainsi qu’avec les journaux de bord de plusieurs ONG actives en Méditerranée, dans les airs ou en mer. Dans le cas du 24 août 2021, par exemple, les informations présentes sur l’image indiquent les coordonnées, l’altitude et l’heure précise à laquelle l’appareil se trouvait lorsqu’il a réalisé cette image. Elles donnent aussi la position approximative du chalutier observé par l’appareil.

    Nous avons reconstitué le trafic aérien au-dessus de la Méditerranée dans la matinée du 24 août 2021. En comparant les parcours des différents appareils avec les données disponibles sur l’image, nous avons ainsi pu identifier un appareil qui se trouvait précisément aux coordonnées et à l’altitude à laquelle la photo a été prise, lorsqu’elle a été réalisée : le #drone AS2132, opéré par Frontex.

    Pour d’autres images, nous avons eu accès aux observations d’ONG, comme SeaWatch ou SOS Méditerranée, consignées dans des journaux de bord. Ceux-ci sont librement accessibles ici. Au total, ce travail nous permet d’affirmer que sur cinq dates différentes les images publiées par les gardes-côtes libyens ont été réalisées par des appareils de Frontex. Au moins une autre l’a été par un appareil de l’#EunavforMed, la force navale européenne en Méditerranée, qui collabore avec Frontex.

    Des interceptions impossibles sans renseignements extérieurs

    Sollicitée, l’agence de garde-frontière l’assure : « il n’y a pas de collaboration entre Frontex et les gardes-côtes libyens », ce qu’affirmait déjà en mars 2021 son ex-directeur Fabrice Leggeri. L’agence précise, en revanche : « Chaque fois qu’un avion de Frontex découvre une embarcation en détresse, une alerte – et une image, le cas échéant – est immédiatement envoyée au centre de coordination des sauvetages régional. L’information envoyée inclut notamment la position, la navigabilité du navire et la probabilité qu’il n’atteigne pas sa destination finale. »

    De fait, dans les cinq cas identifiés par Le Monde, les images de Frontex ont pourtant bien fini entre les mains des gardes-côtes libyens. Et certaines ont vraisemblablement rendu possible l’interception d’embarcations, autrement impossibles à localiser pour les Libyens. Dans le cas du 8 mai 2019, par exemple, l’avion de Frontex découvre une embarcation en route pour l’Europe en Méditerranée centrale. Un contact est établi entre les autorités libyennes et l’agence, mais il n’émet pas de Mayday. Ce message d’urgence aurait pu être capté par tous les avions et navires à proximité à ce moment-là, dont le Mare Jonio, de l’ONG Mediterranea Saving Humans, spécialisé dans le sauvetage. Frontex dit n’envoyer des Maydays que « lorsqu’il existe un danger imminent pour la vie des occupants ».

    Les gardes-côtes libyens retrouvent finalement sans difficulté l’embarcation, pourtant située à plus d’une centaine de kilomètres de leurs côtes. A 17 heures, ils font monter les migrants à bord de leur patrouilleur avant de les rapatrier en Libye. Une interception que les informations de Frontex ont vraisemblablement facilitée, voire rendue possible. Pendant toute la durée de l’opération, l’avion de Frontex continue de survoler la zone, et de filmer la scène. Des images auxquelles les gardes-côtes ont aussi eu accès.

    Frontex souligne que, conformément au règlement européen relatif à la surveillance des #frontières_maritimes_extérieures, ses alertes ne sont pas adressées aux gardes-côtes libyens, mais au « #centre_régional_de_coordination_des_sauvetages (#RCC) [libyen] (…) internationalement reconnu ». Une fois l’alerte envoyée, « Frontex ne coordonne pas les opérations de recherche et de sauvetage (...), c’est la responsabilité des centres de secours régionaux« . Reste à savoir si ce RCC existe réellement. Frontex s’en tient à la position de l’#Organisation_maritime_internationale (#OMI), qui a reconnu officiellement l’existence d’un RCC en 2018.

    Plusieurs enquêtes ont pourtant mis en doute l’existence d’un tel RCC libyen. Derrière les adresses e-mail et les numéros de téléphone du RCC se trouvent en réalité les gardes-côtes, selon les différentes ONG impliquées dans des opérations de sauvetage en mer Méditerranée. Et le 8 novembre 2022, le vice-président de la commission européenne, Josep Borrell, lui-même affirmait : « Le centre de coordination des secours maritime n’est pas encore opérationnel. »

    Parmi les règles européennes, que Frontex dit respecter, figure le principe du non-refoulement : « Nul ne peut être (…) débarqué, forcé à entrer, conduit dans un pays ou autrement remis aux autorités d’un pays où il existe (…) un risque sérieux qu’il soit soumis à la peine de mort, à la torture, à la persécution ou à d’autres peines ou traitements inhumains ou dégradants. » Des situations courantes en Libye, de sorte qu’en 2020 la Commission européenne affirmait que le pays n’était pas un « lieu sûr » vers lequel il serait possible de renvoyer des migrants. Dans un rapport de 2018, l’ONU constatait que « les migrants subissent des horreurs inimaginables en Libye (…). Ils s’exposent à des meurtres extrajudiciaires, à la torture et à des mauvais traitements, à la détention arbitraire (…), au viol (…), à l’esclavage et au travail forcé, à l’extorsion et à l’exploitation ».


    #garde-côtes_libyens #frontières #asile #migrations #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée

  • EU funds border control deal in Egypt with migration via Libya on rise

    The European Union signed an agreement with Egypt on Sunday (30 October) for the first phase of a €80 million border management programme, a statement from the EU delegation in Cairo said, at a time when Egyptian migration to Europe has been rising.

    The project aims to help Egypt’s coast and border guards reduce irregular migration and human trafficking along its border, and provides for the procurement of surveillance equipment such as search and rescue vessels, thermal cameras, and satellite positioning systems, according to an EU Commission document published this month.

    Since late 2016, irregular migration to Europe from the Egypt’s northern coast has slowed sharply. However, migration of Egyptians across Egypt’s long desert border with Libya and from Libya’s Mediterranean coast to Europe has been on the rise, diplomats say.

    From1 January to 28 October this year 16,413 migrants arriving by boat in Italy declared themselves to be Egyptian, making them the second largest group behind Tunisians, according to data published by Italy’s interior ministry.

    In 2021 more than 26,500 Egyptians were stopped at the Libyan border, according to the EU Commission document.

    Egypt is likely to experience “intensified flows” of migrants in the medium to long term due to regional instability, climate change, demographic shifts and lack of economic opportunities, the document says.

    The agreement for the first 23 million-euro phase of the project was signed during a visit to Cairo by the EU’s commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi.

    It will be implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and CIVIPOL, a French interior ministry agency, and is expected to include the provision of four search and rescue vessels, Laurent de Boeck, head of IOM’s Egypt office, said.

    The EU Commission document says that to date, Egypt has addressed irregular migration “predominantly from a security perspective, sometimes at the expense of other dimensions of migration management, including the rights based protection migrants, refugees and asylum seekers”.

    The programme will seek to develop the capacity of the Egyptian ministry of defence and other government and civil society stakeholders to apply “rights-based, protection oriented and gender sensitive approaches” in their border management, it says.


    #EU #UE #Union_européenne #migrations #asile #réfugiés #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #externalisation #Egypte #accord #border_management #aide_financière #gardes-côtes #surveillance #complexe_militaro-industriel #réfugiés_égyptiens #CIVIPOL #IOM #OIM

    • EU funding for the Egyptian Coast Guard (Strengthening a Partnership That Violates Human Rights)

      The Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) issues a paper on the European Union’s decision, last June, to fund the Egyptian Coast Guard with 80 million euros, an amount that will be paid in two phases with the aim of “purchasing maritime border control equipment”, but there are no details about what the equipment is and how it is going to be used, and without setting clear indicators to ensure accountability for potential human rights violations and protect the rights of people on the move.

      The paper notes that the EU has previously provided funding to strengthen migration management in Egypt, but in fact, the funds and support of the EU have contributed to tightening restrictions on irregular migration in Egypt, by using law No. 82 of 2016, the law in which among several things, it criminalizes aiding irregular migrants and contradicts with other laws that expand the circle of human rights violations against people on the move. RPE paper also criticizes the EU’s demand to enhance cooperation between Egypt and Libya in the field of migration, especially since the two countries have a long record of violations of the rights of migrants and refugees.

      In the paper, incidents are tracked on the Egyptian side’s sea and land borders, and falsification of official figures related to the sinking of migrant boats, or the announcement of deaths of people who later turned out to be alive and being held in unknown places, and the violations that follow arbitrary arrest from medical negligence and forced deportation, and the paper also adds another monitoring of the refugee situation inside the country.

      Paper contents:

      – Ambiguous and worrying funds
      – EU cooperates with authoritarian regimes to suppress migration movements
      – Egypt’s successive failures in search and rescue operations and in providing the necessary protection to migrants and refugees, both at the borders and within the country
      – More funds without transparency, independent monitoring mechanisms, or prior assessments of their impact on migrants’ rights
      - Recommendations to (the EC, the EU and its Member States, and the Egyptian government)


  • EU to provide €80 million to Egyptian coast guard

    The European Commission has confirmed that €23 million will be allocated in 2022 and €57 million in 2023 to provide equipment and services to Egyptian authorities for “search and rescue and border surveillance at land and sea borders”.

    Following a Parliamentary question (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-002428_EN.html) submitted by MEPs Erik Marquardt and Tineke Strike (of the Greens), the Commission stated that while it is “developing an action in support of border management… in close coordination with Egyptian authorities… no overview of equipment or services to be delivered to Egyptian authorities is available at this stage.” (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-002428-ASW_EN.html)

    Responding to Marquardt and Strik’s concern over the “dire human rights situation in Egypt,” and the fact that this funding will go towards preventing Egyptians, 3,500 of whom have fled the country to Italy since January last year, from being able to exercise their right to leave their country, the Commission states that it:

    “...stands ready to support Egypt in maintaining its capacity to prevent irregular migration by sea, as well as to strengthen the control of its border with Libya and Sudan. This is of particular importance in light of the six-fold increase of irregular arrivals of Egyptian nationals to the EU in 2021 (9 219), of which over 90% to Italy, mostly via Libya.

    An ex ante risk assessment will be conducted and monitoring will take place throughout the action to ensure that it does not pose any threats to the respect of international human rights standards and the protection of refugees and migrants."

    The two paragraphs would appear to directly contradict one another. No answer was given as to what indicators the Commission will use to ensure compliance with Article 3(5) of the Treaty of the European Union on upholding and promoting human rights.

    Commenting on this response, Erik Marquardt states:

    "The commission wants ’to prevent irregular migration by sea’. Therefore, they are willing to work together with the Egyptian military-regime. The European Union should not cooperate with the Egyptian Coast Guard in order to prevent people from fleeing. We should use the tax payers money to prevent suffering and to support people in need of international protection - not to build a fortress europe

    “The Commission needs to tell us what exactly the €80 million are going to be spend on. We need to know if the funds will be used to buy weapons and see how exactly they plan to prevent people from fleeing. In Libya, we saw how funds were used to arm militias, we cannot let something similar happen again.”

    The €80 million allocation for border control makes up part of a €300 million total in short and long-term EU funding for Egypt.

    Après les #gardes-côtes_libyens... les #gardes-côtes_égyptiens

    #EU #UE #union_européenne #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #externalisation #Egypte #financement

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

  • Plateforme « drift-backs » en mer Egée

    Une enquête de #Forensic_Architecture et Forensis menée avec une grande rigueur –recoupements de photos et de vidéos, géolocalisations, recoupements de témoignages- révèle que, entre mars 2020 et mars 2020, 1018 opérations de refoulement -la plupart par la méthode dite ‘#drift-back’- ont été menées en mer Egée, impliquant 27.464 réfugiés. Remarquez que ce chiffre concerne uniquement les refoulements en Mer Egée et non pas ceux effectués d’une façon également systématique à la frontière terrestre d’Evros.



    Présentation succincte des résultats de l’enquête parue au journal grec Efimérida tôn Syntaktôn (https://www.efsyn.gr/ellada/dikaiomata/352169_pano-apo-1000-epanaproothiseis).

    Plus de 1 000 opérations de refoulements en mer Egée répertoriés et documentés par Forensic Architecture 15.07.2022, 10:26

    Dimitris Angelidis

    L’enquête des groupes Forensic Architecture et Forensis est très révélatrice. ● De mars 2020 à mars 2022, 1 018 cas de refoulement d’un total de 27 464 réfugiés ont été enregistrés, dont 600 ont été recoupés et documentés de façon qui ne laisse aucune place au doute ● « Des preuves d’une pratique assassine qui s’avère non seulement systématique et généralisée, mais aussi bien planifiée émergent », rapportent les deux groupes.

    Plus de 1 000 opérations illégales de refoulement de réfugiés dans la mer Égée, de mars 2020 à mars 2022, ont été enregistrées et documentées par le célèbre groupe de recherche Forensic Architecture et l’organisation sœur Forensis (fondée à Berlin, 2021).

    Les résultats de leurs enquêtes depuis plus d’un an sont aujourd’hui publiés en ligne (https://aegean.forensic-architecture.org ), sur une plateforme électronique qui constitue l’enregistrement le plus complet et le plus valide des refoulements grecs en mer Égée, alors que sa mise à jour sera effectuée régulièrement.

    « Des preuves d’une pratique de meurtre systématique, étendue et bien planifiée émergent », rapportent les deux groupes, notant que le déni des refoulements par le gouvernement grec manque tout fondement.

    Les preuves qu’ils ont croisées et documentées avec des techniques de géolocalisation et d’analyse spatiale proviennent de réfugiés et d’organisations telles que Alarm Phone et l’organisation Agean Boat Report, la base de données Frontex, le site Web des garde-côtes turcs et des recherches open source.

    Il s’agit de 1 018 cas de refoulement d’un total de 27 464 réfugiés, dont 600 ont été recoupés et documentés d’une façon si complète que leur existence ne peut pas être mise en doute. Il y a aussi 11 morts et 4 disparus lors de refoulements, ainsi que 26 cas où les garde-côtes ont jeté des réfugiés directement à la mer, sans utiliser les radeaux de sauvetage (life-rafts) qu’ils utilisent habituellement pour les refoulements, depuis mars 2020. Deux des personnes jetées à l’eau mer ont été retrouvées menottées.

    Dans 16 cas, les opérations ont été menées loin de la frontière, dans les eaux grecques, soulignant « un degré élevé de coopération entre les différentes administrations et autorités du pays impliquées, ce qui indique un système soigneusement conçu pour empêcher l’accès aux côtes grecques », comme le note l’ enquête.

    Frontex est directement impliquée dans 122 refoulements, ayant été principalement chargée d’identifier les bateaux entrants et de notifier leurs présences aux autorités grecques. Frontex a également connaissance de 417 cas de refoulement, qu’elle a enregistrés dans sa base de données sous le terme trompeur « dissuasion d’entrée ».

    Lors de trois opérations le navire de guerre allemand de l’OTAN FGS Berlin a été présent sur les lieux.


    voir aussi la vidéo introductive ici : https://vimeo.com/730006259

    #architecture_forensique #mer_Egée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #push-backs #chiffres #statistiques #Grèce #Turquie #refoulements #gardes-côtes #life_rafts #abandon #weaponization #géolocalisation #recoupement_de_l'information #contrôles_frontaliers #base_de_données #cartographie #carte_interactive #visualisation #plateforme


    pour voir la plateforme :

  • Migrants : enquête sur le rôle de l’Europe dans le piège libyen

    Des données de vol obtenues par « Le Monde » révèlent comment l’agence européenne #Frontex encourage les #rapatriements de migrants vers la Libye, malgré les exactions qui y sont régulièrement dénoncées par l’ONU.

    300 kilomètres séparent la Libye de l’île de Lampedusa et de l’Europe. Une traversée de la #Méditerranée périlleuse, que des dizaines de milliers de migrants tentent chaque année. Depuis 2017, lorsqu’ils sont repérés en mer, une partie d’entre eux est rapatriée en Libye, où ils peuvent subir #tortures, #viols et #détentions_illégales. Des #exactions régulièrement dénoncées par les Nations unies.

    L’Union européenne a délégué à la Libye la responsabilité des #sauvetages_en_mer dans une large zone en Méditerranée, et apporte à Tripoli un #soutien_financier et opérationnel. Selon les images et documents collectés par Le Monde, cela n’empêche pas les garde-côtes libyens d’enfreindre régulièrement des règles élémentaires du #droit_international, voire de se rendre coupables de #violences graves.

    Surtout, l’enquête #vidéo du Monde révèle que, malgré son discours officiel, l’agence européenne de gardes-frontières Frontex semble encourager les #rapatriements de migrants en Libye, plutôt que sur les côtes européennes. Les données de vol du drone de Frontex montrent comment l’activité de l’agence européenne se concentre sur la zone où les migrants, une fois détectés, sont rapatriés en Libye. Entre le 1er juin et le 31 juillet 2021, le drone de Frontex a passé 86 % de son temps de vol opérationnel dans cette zone. Sur la même période, à peine plus de la moitié des situations de détresse localisées par l’ONG Alarm Phone y étaient enregistrées.

    #responsabilité #Europe #UE #EU #Union_européenne #Libye #migrations #asile #réfugiés #pull-backs #pullbacks #push-backs #refoulements #frontières #gardes-côtes_libyens

    déjà signalé sur seenthis par @colporteur

  • Si formano a Gaeta le forze d’élite della famigerata Guardia Costiera libica

    Non bastava addestrare in Italia gli equipaggi delle motovedette libiche che sparano sui migranti nel Mediterraneo o li catturano in mare (oltre 15.000 nei primi sette mesi del 2021) per poi deportarli e torturarli nei famigerati centri di detenzione / lager in Libia. Dalla scorsa estate è nella #Scuola_Nautica della #Guardia_di_Finanza di #Gaeta che si “formano” pure le componenti subacquee di nuova costituzione della #Guardia_Costiera e della #General_Administration_for_Coastal_Security (#GACS).

    La presenza a Gaeta delle unità d’élite della #Libyan_Coast_Guard_and_Port_Security (#LCGPS) dipendente dal Ministero della Difesa e della GACS del Ministero dell’Interno è documentata dall’Ufficio Amministrazione - Sezione Acquisti della Guardia di Finanza. Il 18 giugno 2021 l’ente ha autorizzato la spesa per un servizio di interpretariato in lingua araba a favore dei sommozzatori libici “partecipanti al corso di addestramento che inizierà il 21 giugno 2021 presso la Scuola Nautica nell’ambito della Missione bilaterale della Guardia di Finanza in Libia”. Nell’atto amministrativo non vengono fornite informazioni né sul numero degli allievi-sub libici né la durata del corso, il primo di questa tipologia effettuato in Italia.

    Dal 29 agosto al 29 settembre del 2019 ne era stato promosso e finanziato uno simile a #Spalato, in Croazia da #EUNAVFOR_MED (la forza navale europea per le operazioni anti-migranti nel Mediterraneo, meglio nota come #Missione_Irini). Le attività vennero svolte in collaborazione con la Marina militare croate e riguardarono dodici sommozzatori della Guardia costiera e della Marina libica.

    A fine ottobre 2020 un’altra attività addestrativa del personale subacqueo venne condotta in Libia da personale della Marina militare della Turchia, provocando molte gelosie in Italia e finanche le ire dell’(ex) ammiraglio #Giuseppe_De_Giorgi, già comandante della Nato Response Force e Capo di Stato Maggiore della Marina Militare dal 2013 al 2016.

    “In un tweet, la Marina turca riferisce che le operazioni rientrano a pieno nel novero di attività di supporto, consultazione e addestramento militare e di sicurezza incluse nell’accordo raggiunto nel novembre del 2019 tra il GNA tripolino e Ankara: non può sfuggire come questo avvenimento sia un ulteriore affondo turco a nostre spese e l’ennesimo spregio all’Italia”, scrisse l’ammiraglio #De_Giorgi su Difesaonline. “Nelle foto allegate al tweet, infatti, sono presenti le navi che proprio l’Italia nel 2018 aveva donato alla Libia in seguito all’accordo siglato con il primo #Memorandum che avrebbe previsto da parte nostra la presa in carico della collaborazione con la Guardia Costiera libica, non solo per tenere a bada il fenomeno migratorio in generale, ma soprattutto per dare un freno al vergognoso traffico di esseri umani. In particolare, si può vedere la motovedetta #Ubari_660, gemella della #Fezzan_658, entrambe della classe #Corrubia”.

    “Oltre al danno, anche la beffa di veder usare le nostre navi per un addestramento che condurrà un altro Stato, la Turchia”, concluse l’ex Capo di Stato della Marina. “Mentre Erdogan riporta la Tripolitania nella sfera d’influenza ottomana si conferma l’assenteismo italiano conseguenza di una leadership spaesata, impotente, priva di autorevolezza, inadeguata”.

    Le durissime parole dell’ammiraglio De Giorgi hanno colpito in pieno il bersaglio; così dal cappello dell’esecutivo Draghi è uscito bello e pronto per i sommozzatori libici un corso d’addestramento estivo a Gaeta, viaggio, vitto e alloggio, tutto pagato.

    Il personale dell’ultrachiacchierata Guardia costiera della Libia ha iniziato ad addestrarsi presso la Scuola Nautica della Guardia di Finanza nella primavera del 2017. Trentanove militari e tre tutor giunsero in aereo nella base dell’aeronautica di Pratica di Mare (Roma) il 1° aprile e vennero poi addestrati a Gaeta per un mese. “A selezionarli sono stati i vertici della Marina libica tra i 93 militari che hanno superato il primo modulo formativo di 14 settimane, svolto nell’ambito della missione europea Eunavformed, a bordo della nave olandese Rotterdam e della nostra nave San Giorgio”, riportò la redazione di Latina del quotidiano Il Messaggero.

    Nella scuola laziale i libici furono formati prevalentemente alla conduzione delle quattro motovedette della classe “#Bigliani”, già di appartenenza della Guardia di Finanza, donate alla Libia tra il 2009 e il 2010 e successivamente riparate in Italia dopo i danneggiamenti ricevuti nel corso dei bombardamenti NATO del 2011. Le quattro unità, rinominate #Ras_al_Jadar, #Zuwarah, #Sabratha e #Zawia sono quelle poi impiegate per i pattugliamenti delle coste della #Tripolitania e la spietata caccia ai natanti dei migranti in fuga dai conflitti e dalle carestie di Africa e Medio Oriente.

    Per la cronaca, alla cerimonia di chiusura del primo corso di formazione degli equipaggi libici intervenne a Gaeta l’allora ministro dell’Interno #Marco_Minniti. Ai giornalisti, #Minniti annunciò che entro la fine del mese di giugno 2017 il governo italiano avrebbe consegnato alla Libia una decina di motovedette. “Quando il programma di fornitura delle imbarcazioni sarà terminato la Marina libica sarà tra le strutture più importanti dell’Africa settentrionale”, dichiarò con enfasi Marco Minniti. “Lì si dovranno incrementare le azioni congiunte e coordinate per il controllo contro il terrorismo e i trafficanti di esseri umani: missioni cruciali per tutta la comunità internazionale”.

    Un secondo corso di formazione per 19 ufficiali della Guardia costiera libica venne svolto nel giugno 2017 ancora un volta presso la Scuola Nautica della Guardia di Finanza di Gaeta. Nel corso del 2018, con fondi del Ministero dell’Interno vennero svolti invece due corsi della durata ognuno di tre settimane per 28 militari libici, costo giornaliero stimato 606 euro per allievo.

    Nell’ambito del #Sea_Horse_Mediterranean_Project, il progetto UE di “cooperazione e scambio di informazioni nell’area mediterranea tra gli Stati membri dell’Unione di Spagna, Italia, Francia, Malta, Grecia, Cipro e Portogallo e i paesi nordafricani nel quadro di #EUROSUR”, (valore complessivo di 7,1 milioni di euro), la Guardia di Finanza ha concluso uno specifico accordo con la Guardia Civil spagnola, capofila del programma, per erogare sempre nel 2018 un corso di conduzione di unità navali per 63 libici tra guardiacoste del Ministero della Difesa e personale degli Organi per la sicurezza del Ministero dell’Interno.

    Istituzionalmente la Scuola Nautica della Guardia di Finanza di Gaeta provvede alla formazione tecnico-operativa degli allievi finanzieri destinati al contingente mare, nonché all’aggiornamento ed alla specializzazione di ufficiali impiegati nel servizio navale. In passato ha svolto attività di formazione a favore del personale militare e della polizia della Repubblica d’Albania e della Guardia Civil spagnola.

    L’Istituto ha partecipato anche a due missioni internazionali: la prima sul fiume Danubio, nell’ambito dell’embargo introdotto nel maggio 1992 dal Consiglio di Sicurezza dell’ONU contro l’allora esistente Repubblica Federale di Jugoslavia; poi, a fine anni ’90, a Valona (Albania) per fornire assistenza e consulenza ai locali organi polizia nella “lotta ai traffici illeciti”.

    Adesso per la Scuola di Gaeta è scattata l’ora dell’addestramento dei reparti d’élite delle forze navali di Tripoli, sommozzatori in testa.


    –-> Articolo pubblicato in Africa ExPress il 30 novembre 2021, https://www.africa-express.info/2021/11/30/addestrata-in-italia-la-guardia-costiera-libica-accusata-di-crimini

    #Gaeta #formation #gardes-côtes_libyens #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Italie #Libye #frontières #Méditerranée #plongeurs


    Ajouté à la métaiste sur les formations des gardes-côtes lybiens sur le territoire européen :

    ping @isskein

  • L’industrie de la #sécurité tire profit de la crise climatique

    Les pays riches, pires contributeurs au #changement_climatique, dépensent bien plus d’argent à renforcer leurs #frontières qu’à contribuer au #développement des pays pauvres : c’est ce qu’a étudié un rapport du Transnational Institute. Les habitants de ces pays sont pourtant les premières victimes de l’alliance occidentale entre business du #pétrole et de la sécurité.

    Le changement climatique est bon pour le #business. Du moins celui de la sécurité. C’est ce que démontre un #rapport publié ce lundi 25 octobre par l’organisation de recherche et de plaidoyer Transnational Institute. Intitulé « un mur contre le climat », il démontre que les pays les plus riches dépensent bien plus pour renforcer leurs frontières contre les migrants que pour aider les pays pauvres, d’où ils viennent, à affronter la crise climatique.

    Il décortique les #dépenses, dans ces deux domaines, des sept pays riches historiquement les plus émetteurs de gaz à effet de serre que sont les États-Unis, l’Allemagne, la France, le Japon, l’Australie, le Royaume-Uni et le Canada. Ils sont à eux sept responsables de 48 % des émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans le monde. Le Brésil, la Chine et la Russie, qui font partie des dix plus gros émetteurs aujourd’hui, ne sont pas inclus car, s’étant enrichis beaucoup plus récemment, ils ne sont pas considérés comme des responsables historiques.

    2,3 fois plus de dollars pour repousser les migrants que pour le climat

    Pour les États étudiés, les auteurs ont regardé leur contribution au « #financement_climatique » : prévu par les négociations internationales sur le climat, il s’agit de fonds que les pays riches s’engagent à verser aux pays dits en développement pour les aider à faire face à la crise climatique. Ils ont ensuite traqué les sommes allouées par chaque pays aux contrôles frontaliers et migratoires. Résultat : entre 2013 et 2018, ces sept pays ont en moyenne dépensé chaque année au moins 2,3 fois plus pour repousser les migrants (33,1 milliards de dollars) que pour contribuer au financement climatique (14,4 milliards de dollars). Et encore, les auteurs du rapport signalent que les pays riches ont tendance à surestimer les sommes allouées au financement climatique.

    Une disproportion encore plus criante quand on regarde en détail. Le Canada a dépensé 15 fois plus, l’Australie 13,5 fois plus, les États-Unis 10,9 fois plus. À noter que ces derniers sont en valeur absolue les plus dépensiers, ils ont à eux seuls mis 19,6 milliards dans la sécurité de leurs frontières sur la période, soit 59 % de la somme totale allouée par les sept pays réunis.

    Le cas des pays européens est moins explicite. La France pourrait avoir l’air de bon élève. A priori, elle dépense moins dans les contrôles aux frontières (1 milliard) que dans le financement climatique (1,6 milliard). Idem pour l’Allemagne (3,4 milliards dans la militarisation des frontières contre 4,4 milliards dans le financement climatique). Mais ce serait oublier qu’une grande partie des dépenses sécuritaires est déportée au niveau de l’Union européenne et de l’agence de contrôle des frontières Frontex. Celle-ci a vu son budget exploser, avec une augmentation de 2 763 % entre 2006 et 2021.

    Cet argent est très concrètement dépensé dans diverses #technologies#caméras, #drones, systèmes d’#identification_biométriques, et dans l’embauche de #gardes-frontières et de #gardes-côtes. « Il y a aussi une #externalisation, avec par exemple l’Union européenne qui conclue des accords avec les pays d’Afrique du Nord et des régimes totalitaires, pour qu’ils empêchent les migrants d’arriver jusqu’à leurs frontières », décrit Nick Buxton, un des auteurs du rapport interrogé par Reporterre. Ces partenariats contribuent à la multiplication des murs anti-migrants partout dans le monde. « La plupart des grands constructeurs de murs du monde ont reçu une aide des programmes d’externalisation de l’Union européenne ou des États-Unis (ou des deux, dans le cas de la Jordanie, du Maroc et de la Turquie) », pointe le rapport.

    L’édification de ces murs empêche-t-elle les pays riches de voir le drame qui se déroule derrière ? À travers divers exemples, les auteurs tentent de montrer l’injustice de la situation : en Somalie, à la suite d’une catastrophe climatique en 2020, un million de personnes ont dû se déplacer. Pourtant, le pays n’est responsable que « de 0,00027 % du total des émissions depuis 1850. » Au Guatemala, l’ouragan Eta ainsi que les inondations fin 2020 ont provoqué le déplacement de 339 000 personnes. Le pays « a été responsable de seulement 0,026 % des émissions de gaz à effet de serre ». Nombre de ces migrants Guatémaltèques tentent désormais d’atteindre les États-Unis, responsables à eux seuls de 30,1 % des émissions depuis 1850.

    Pourtant, parmi les pays riches, « les stratégies nationales de #sécurité_climatique, depuis le début des années 2000, ont massivement présenté les migrants comme des « menaces » et non comme les victimes d’une injustice », indique la synthèse du rapport. Le 11 septembre 2001, en particulier, a accéléré la tendance. Qui s’est maintenue : les budgets de militarisation des frontières ont augmenté de 29 % entre 2013 et 2018. Une orientation politique mais aussi financière, donc, saluée par l’industrie de la sécurité et des frontières.
    Taux de croissance annuel : 5,8 %

    « Des prévisions de 2019 de ResearchAndMarkets.com annonçaient que le marché de la sécurité intérieure des États allait passer de 431 milliards de dollars en 2018 à 606 milliards en 2024, avec un taux de croissance annuel de 5,8 % », indique le rapport. Une des raisons majeures invoquée étant « l’augmentation des catastrophes naturelles liées au changement climatique ». Il cite également la sixième entreprise mondiale en termes de vente de matériel militaire, Raytheon. Pour elle, l’augmentation de la demande pour ses « produits et services militaires […] est le résultat du changement climatique ».

    Transnational Institute, qui travaille sur cette industrie depuis un certain temps, a ainsi calculé qu’aux États-Unis, entre 2008 et 2020, les administrations de l’immigration et des frontières « ont passé plus de 105 000 contrats d’une valeur de 55 milliards de dollars avec des entreprises privées. » Si le mur de Trump a défrayé la chronique, « Biden n’est pas mieux », avertit Nick Buxton. « Pour financer sa campagne, il a reçu plus d’argent de l’industrie de la sécurité des frontières que Trump. »

    L’Union européenne aussi a droit à son lobbying. « Ces entreprises sont présentes dans des groupes de travail de haut niveau, avec des officiels de l’UE. Ils se rencontrent aussi dans les salons comme celui de Milipol », décrit Nick Buxton.

    #Pétrole et sécurité partagent « le même intérêt à ne pas lutter contre le changement climatique »

    Le rapport souligne également les liens de cette industrie de la sécurité avec celle du pétrole. En résumé, il décrit comment les majors du pétrole sécurisent leurs installations en faisant appel aux géants de la sécurité. Mais il souligne aussi que les conseils d’administration des entreprises des deux secteurs ont beaucoup de membres en commun. Des liens concrets qui illustrent, selon Nick Buxton, le fait que « ces deux secteurs ont le même intérêt à ne pas lutter contre le changement climatique. L’industrie pétrolière car cela va à l’encontre de son business model. L’industrie de la sécurité car l’instabilité provoquée par la crise climatique lui apporte des bénéfices. »

    Autant d’argent dépensé à protéger les énergies fossiles et à refouler les migrants, qui « ne fait que maintenir et générer d’immenses souffrances inutiles » dénonce le rapport. Les pays riches avaient promis d’atteindre 100 milliards de financements climatiques annuels pour les pays en développement d’ici 2020. En 2019, ils n’en étaient qu’à 79,6 milliards selon l’OCDE. Et encore, ce chiffre est très surévalué, estime l’ONG Oxfam, qui en déduisant les prêts et les surévaluations aboutit à environ trois fois moins. C’est cette estimation que les experts du Transnational Institute ont adoptée.

    « Il est évident que les pays les plus riches n’assument pas du tout leur responsabilité dans la crise climatique », conclut donc le rapport. Il prône des investissements dans la lutte contre le changement climatique, et des aides pour que les pays les plus pauvres puissent gérer dignement les populations contraintes de se déplacer. À l’inverse, le choix de la militarisation est « une stratégie vouée à l’échec, même du point de vue de l’intérêt personnel des pays les plus riches, car elle accélère les processus d’instabilité et de migration induite par le climat dont ils s’alarment. »


    #complexe_militaro-industriel #climat


    déjà signalé ici par @kassem

    • Global Climate Wall. How the world’s wealthiest nations prioritise borders over climate action

      This report finds that the world’s biggest emitters of green house gases are spending, on average, 2.3 times as much on arming their borders as they are on climate finance. This figure is as high as 15 times as much for the worst offenders. This “Global Climate Wall” aims to seal off powerful countries from migrants, rather than addressing the causes of displacement.

      Executive summary

      The world’s wealthiest countries have chosen how they approach global climate action – by militarising their borders. As this report clearly shows, these countries – which are historically the most responsible for the climate crisis – spend more on arming their borders to keep migrants out than on tackling the crisis that forces people from their homes in the first place.

      This is a global trend, but seven countries in particular – responsible for 48% of the world’s historic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – collectively spent at least twice as much on border and immigration enforcement (more than $33.1 billion) as on climate finance ($14.4 billion) between 2013 and 2018.

      These countries have built a ‘Climate Wall’ to keep out the consequences of climate change, in which the bricks come from two distinct but related dynamics: first, a failure to provide the promised climate finance that could help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change; and second, a militarised response to migration that expands border and surveillance infrastructure. This provides booming profits for a border security industry but untold suffering for refugees and migrants who make increasingly dangerous – and frequently deadly – journeys to seek safety in a climate-changed world.
      Key findings:

      Climate-induced migration is now a reality

      - Climate change is increasingly a factor behind displacement and migration. This may be because of a particular catastrophic event, such as a hurricane or a flash flood, but also when the cumulative impacts of drought or sea-level rise, for example, gradually make an area uninhabitable and force entire communities to relocate.
      – The majority of people who become displaced, whether climate-induced or not, remain in their own country, but a number will cross international borders and this is likely to increase as climate-change impacts on entire regions and ecosystems.
      – Climate-induced migration takes place disproportionately in low-income countries and intersects with and accelerates with many other causes for displacement. It is shaped by the systemic injustice that creates the situations of vulnerability, violence, precarity and weak social structures that force people to leave their homes.

      Rich countries spend more on militarising their borders than on providing climate finance to enable the poorest countries to help migrants

      – Seven of the biggest emitters of GHGs – the United States, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia – collectively spent at least twice as much on border and immigration enforcement (more than $33.1 billion) as on climate finance ($14.4 billion) between 2013 and 2018.1
      - Canada spent 15 times more ($1.5 billion compared to around $100 million); Australia 13 times more ($2.7 billion compared to $200 million); the US almost 11 times more ($19.6 billion compared to $1.8 billion); and the UK nearly two times more ($2.7 billion compared to $1.4 billion).
      - Border spending by the seven biggest GHG emitters rose by 29% between 2013 and 2018. In the US, spending on border and immigration enforcement tripled between 2003 and 2021. In Europe, the budget for the European Union (EU) border agency, Frontex, has increased by a whopping 2763% since its founding in 2006 up to 2021.
      - This militarisation of borders is partly rooted in national climate security strategies that since the early 2000s have overwhelmingly painted migrants as ‘threats’ rather than victims of injustice. The border security industry has helped promote this process through well-oiled political lobbying, leading to ever more contracts for the border industry and increasingly hostile environments for refugees and migrants.
      - Climate finance could help mitigate the impacts of climate change and help countries adapt to this reality, including supporting people who need to relocate or to migrate abroad. Yet the richest countries have failed even to keep their pledges of meagre $100 billion a year in climate finance. The latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported $79.6 billion in total climate finance in 2019, but according to research published by Oxfam International, once over-reporting, and loans rather than grants are taken into account, the true volume of climate finance may be less than half of what is reported by developed countries.
      – Countries with the highest historic emissions are fortifying their borders, while those with lowest are the hardest hit by population displacement. Somalia, for example, is responsible for 0.00027% of total emissions since 1850 but had more than one million people (6% of the population) displaced by a climate-related disaster in 2020.

      The border security industry is profiteering from climate change

      - The border security industry is already profiting from the increased spending on border and immigration enforcement and expects even more profits from anticipated instability due to climate change. A 2019 forecast by ResearchAndMarkets.com predicted that the Global Homeland Security and Public Safety Market would grow from $431 billion in 2018 to $606 billion in 2024, and a 5.8% annual growth rate. According to the report, one factor driving this is ‘climate warming-related natural disasters growth’.
      – Top border contractors boast of the potential to increase their revenue from climate change. Raytheon says ‘demand for its military products and services as security concerns may arise as results of droughts, floods, and storm events occur as a result of climate change’. Cobham, a British company that markets surveillance systems and is one of the main contractors for Australia’s border security, says that ‘changes to countries [sic] resources and habitability could increase the need for border surveillance due to population migration’.
      – As TNI has detailed in many other reports in its Border Wars series,2 the border security industry lobbies and advocates for border militarisation and profits from its expansion.

      The border security industry also provides security to the oil industry that is one of main contributors to the climate crisis and even sit on each other’s executive boards

      - The world’s 10 largest fossil fuel firms also contract the services of the same firms that dominate border security contracts. Chevron (ranked the world’s number 2) contracts with Cobham, G4S, Indra, Leonardo, Thales; Exxon Mobil (ranking 4) with Airbus, Damen, General Dynamics, L3Harris, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin; BP (6) with Airbus, G4S, Indra, Lockheed Martin, Palantir, Thales; and Royal Dutch Shell (7) with Airbus, Boeing, Damen, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Thales, G4S.
      – Exxon Mobil, for example, contracted L3Harris (one of the top 14 US border contractors) to provide ‘maritime domain awareness’ of its drilling in the Niger delta in Nigeria, a region which has suffered tremendous population displacement due to environmental contamination. BP has contracted with Palantir, a company that controversially provides surveillance software to agencies like the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to develop a ‘repository of all operated wells historical and real time drilling data’. Border contractor G4S has a relatively long history of protecting oil pipelines, including the Dakota Access pipeline in the US.
      - The synergy between fossil fuel companies and top border security contractors is also seen by the fact that executives from each sector sit on each other’s boards. At Chevron, for example, the former CEO and Chairman of Northrop Grumman, Ronald D. Sugar and Lockheed Martin’s former CEO Marilyn Hewson are on its board. The Italian oil and gas company ENI has Nathalie Tocci on its board, previously a Special Advisor to EU High Representative Mogherini from 2015 to 2019, who helped draft the EU Global Strategy that led to expanding the externalisation of EU borders to third countries.

      This nexus of power, wealth and collusion between fossil fuel firms and the border security industry shows how climate inaction and militarised responses to its consequences increasingly work hand in hand. Both industries profit as ever more resources are diverted towards dealing with the consequences of climate change rather than tackling its root causes. This comes at a terrible human cost. It can be seen in the rising death toll of refugees, deplorable conditions in many refugee camps and detention centres, violent pushbacks from European countries, particularly those bordering the Mediterranean, and from the US, in countless cases of unnecessary suffering and brutality. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) calculates that 41,000 migrants died between 2014 and 2020, although this is widely accepted to be a significant underestimate given that many lives are lost at sea and in remote deserts as migrants and refugees take increasingly dangerous routes to safety.

      The prioritisation of militarised borders over climate finance ultimately threatens to worsen the climate crisis for humanity. Without sufficient investment to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, the crisis will wreak even more human devastation and uproot more lives. But, as this report concludes, government spending is a political choice, meaning that different choices are possible. Investing in climate mitigation in the poorest and most vulnerable countries can support a transition to clean energy – and, alongside deep emission cuts by the biggest polluting nations – give the world a chance to keep temperatures below 1.5°C increase since 1850, or pre-industrial levels. Supporting people forced to leave their homes with the resources and infrastructure to rebuild their lives in new locations can help them adapt to climate change and to live in dignity. Migration, if adequately supported, can be an important means of climate adaptation.

      Treating migration positively requires a change of direction and greatly increased climate finance, good public policy and international cooperation, but most importantly it is the only morally just path to support those suffering a crisis they played no part in creating.


  • Smoking guns. How European arms exports are forcing millions from their homes

    The #nexus between the arms trade and forced displacement is rarely explored and the role of European arms trade policies that facilitate gross human rights violations in third countries is often absent from displacement and migration studies. This report joins the dots between Europe’s arms trade and forced displacement and migration.

    Key findings

    - Arms and military equipment manufactured and licensed in Europe and sold to third countries provokes forced displacement and migration. This arms trade is motivated by how highly lucrative the industry is and current control and monitoring mechanisms facilitate rather than curtail problematic licensing and exportation.

    – The arms trade is political and is driven by profit but is under-regulated. Although other sectors, such as food and agriculture, do not undermine the fundamental right to life and other human rights in the same way that the arms trade does, they are far more stringently regulated.

    - It is possible to methodically trace arms, military equipment and technology, from the point of origin and export to where these were eventually used, and document their devastating impact on the local population. The report confirms beyond any reasonable doubt that European arms are directly used not to defend populations or to enhance local or regional security as is often claimed, but to destabilise entire countries and regions.

    - The arms industry is involved in clear violations of non-transfer clauses and end user agreements (EUAs) despite a supposedly robust system of controls. The evidence shows that once arms are traded, and although they may be traced, it is virtually impossible to control how they may eventually be used. Furthermore, although importing countries were known to have breached EUAs, EU member states continued to sell them arms and military equipment.

    - Regardless of whether arms were exported to official state security forces or were eventually used by non-state armed actors, or whether EUAs and other control mechanisms were respected, the result was the same – European arms were used in military operations that led to destabilisation and resulting forced displacement and migration. The destabilisation, facilitated by arms supplied by Europe, then contributed to Europe hugely expanding its border security apparatus to respond to the apparent threat posed by refugees attempting to arrive and seek asylum.

    - European countries are among the top exporters of lethal arms equipment worldwide, comprising approximately 26% of global arms exports since 2015. The top five European arms exporters are France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – together accounting for 22% of global arms exports in the 2016–2020 period.

    - Arms exports from Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania have soared in recent years, a large proportion of which is exported to West Asian countries. For example, before 2012, Croatia exported ammunition worth less than €1 million a year, but with the start of the Syrian war this surged every year to reach €82 million in 2016. The European Parliament called on Bulgaria and Romania to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the US (if there was a risk that these arms may be diverted), so far to no avail.

    – In Syria an estimated 13 million people need humanitarian assistance and more than half of the population remains displaced from their homes – including 6.6 million refugees living in neighbouring countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, who subsequently attempt to flee to Europe in a reverse movement to the arms that displaced them. Another 6.7 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside Syria.


    Five case studies document that:

    Italian T-129 ATAK helicopter components were exported to Turkey and used in 2018 and 2019 in two attacks in the district of Afrin in Northern Syria as part of Operation Olive Branch and in Operation Peace Spring on the Turkish–Syrian border. According to UN figures, 98,000 people were displaced during the Afrin offensive between January and March 2018, while 180,000, of whom 80,000 were children, were displaced, in October 2019 as a result of Operation Peace Spring.

    Bulgaria exported missile tubes and rockets to Saudi Arabia and the US, which eventually ended up in the hands of IS fighters in Iraq. The equipment was diverted and used in Ramadi and the surrounding region, where the International Organisation for Migration reported that from April 2015, following the outbreak of the Ramadi crisis, over half a million people were displaced from Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital city, while 85,470 were displaced specifically from Ramadi City between November 2015 and February 2016. Around 80% of all housing in Ramadi was severely damaged after the offensive. In 2017 another missile tube originating in Bulgaria was found to have been used by IS forces in the town of Bartella, located to the east of Mosul. At least 200,000 people from minority groups were displaced from the greater Mosul area between 2014 and January 2017. By July 2019, over two years after military operations had ended in Mosul, there were still over 300,000 people displaced from the city.

    British, French, and German components and production capacity, including missiles, missile batteries, and a bomb rack, were exported to Turkey, where they were mounted on Turkish-made drones and exported to Azerbaijan. These same drones, loaded with European-manufactured arms components, were used in the 44-day conflict in Naghorno- Karabakh, which provoked the forced displacement of half of the region’s Armenian population – approximately 90,000 people.

    Between 2012 and 2015 Bulgaria exported assault rifles, large-calibre artillery systems, light machine guns, hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) national police and military. The conflict in DRC is one of the world’s longest, yet Europe continues to supply arms that are used to perpetrate gross human rights violations. In 2017, Serbia exported 920 assault rifles and 114 light machine guns that were originally manufactured in Bulgaria. That same year, 2,166,000 people were forcibly displaced, making it one of the worst since the conflict began. Specifically, Bulgarian weapons were in use in North Kivu in 2017 coinciding with the forced displacement of 523,000 people.

    At least four Italian Bigliani-class patrol boats were donated to Libya and used by its coastguard to forcibly pull back and detain migrants who were fleeing its shores. In 2019, the Libyan coastguard mounted a machine gun on at least one of these boats and used it in the internal conflict against the Libyan National Army. Many of those fleeing Libya had most likely already fled other conflicts in other African and West Asian countries that may have purchased or were in receipt of European arms, so that at each step along their journey from displacement to migration, the European arms trade is making massive profits by firstly displacing them, and then later deterring and pushing them back.

    The arms companies we identified in these case studies include: Airbus (Franco-German), ARSENAL (Bulgaria), BAE Systems (UK), Baykar Makina (Turkey), EDO MBM (UK), Intermarine (Italy), Kintex (Bulgaria), Leonardo (Italy), Roketsan (Turkey), SB Aerospatiale (France), TDW (Germany), Turkish Aerospace Industry (Turkey), and Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi ЕAD (Bulgaria).

    #rapport #tni
    #armes #commerce_d'armes #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Europe #armée #militaire #industrie_de_l'armement #droits_humains #droits_fondamentaux #France #Allemagne #Italie #UK #Angleterre #Espagne #Bulgarie #Croatie #Roumanie #Arabie_Saoudite #Syrie #T-129_ATAK #Turquie #Operation_Olive_Branch #Operation_Peace_Spring #Irak #Ramadi #Bartella #Azerbaïjan #arméniens #Congo #RDC #République_démocratique_du_Congo #Serbie #Kivu #Nord_Kivu #Bigliani #Libye #gardes-côtes_libyiens #complexe_militaro-industriel
    #Airbus #ARSENAL #BAE_Systems #Baykar_Makina #EDO_MBM #Intermarine #Kintex #Leonardo #Roketsan #SB_Aerospatiale #TDW #Turkish_Aerospace_Industry #Vazovski_Mashinostroitelni_Zavodi_ЕAD


    Crescono di mezzo milione di euro i finanziamenti destinati al blocco dei flussi migratori: passati da 10 milioni nel 2020 a 10,5 nel 2021. In totale 32,6 milioni destinati alla Guardia Costiera libica dal 2017.
    Impennata delle risorse destinate alle missioni navali che non prevedono il salvataggio dei migranti in mare. Dall’inizio dell’anno, oltre 720 vittime lungo la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale, almeno 7.135 dalla firma dell’accordo tra Italia e Libia. Oltre 13 mila i migranti riportati in Libia.

    Continuano ad aumentare gli stanziamenti italiani alla Guardia Costiera libica. Il Governo ha infatti deciso di destinare 500 mila euro in più nel 2021 per sostenerne le attività, per un totale di 32,6 milioni di euro spesi dal 2017, anno dell’accordo Italia-Libia. Sale anche a 960 milioni il costo sostenuto dai contribuenti italiani per le missioni navali nel Mediterraneo, (nessuna delle quali ha compiti di ricerca e soccorso in mare) e nel paese nord africano, con un aumento di 17 milioni rispetto al 2020 per la missione Mare Sicuro e 15 milioni per Irini.

    Tutto ciò, nonostante si continui a morire lungo la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale – con oltre 720 vittime dall’inizio dell’anno – e siano oramai ben note le modalità di intervento della cosiddetta Guardia Costiera libica, come testimoniato dal video diffuso in questi giorni da Sea-Watch.

    È l’allarme lanciato da Oxfam, alla vigilia del dibattito parlamentare sul rinnovo delle missioni militari italiane. In un anno che vede il record di persone intercettate e riportate in Libia: più di 13.000. Dato che non ha suggerito evidentemente al Governo, né una profonda riflessione sul destino dei migranti, tra cui donne e bambini, che una volta rientrati nel paese nord-africano sono destinati ad essere vittime di abusi e torture sistematiche dalle quali stavano scappando, finendo nei centri di detenzione ufficiali e in altri luoghi di prigionia clandestini. Né tantomeno si è attuata una revisione dello stesso accordo con le autorità libiche, nonostante numerose inchieste e testimonianze abbiano confermato il coinvolgimento della Guardia Costiera libica nel traffico di esseri umani.

    “Mentre lungo la rotta del Mediterraneo centrale si continua a morire, come dimostrano i continui naufragi di queste settimane, con l’ennesima tragedia avvenuta a Lampedusa pochi giorni fa, – sottolinea Paolo Pezzati, policy advisor per le emergenze umanitarie di Oxfam Italia – il Governo Draghi sta agendo in perfetta continuità con gli esecutivi precedenti sulle politiche migratorie, come dimostrano anche le recenti richieste al Consiglio europeo per un maggior coinvolgimento dell’Unione nel rafforzamento degli accordi con le autorità libiche. In sostanza si va avanti nella stessa direzione, in un paese dove “l’industria del contrabbando e tratta” è stata in parte convertita in “industria della detenzione” con abusi e violenze oramai note a tutti, anche grazie a questo considerevole flusso di denaro”.

    L’appello all’Italia

    “A pochi giorni dalla discussione parlamentare sul rinnovo delle missioni militari italiane all’estero, – conclude Pezzati – chiediamo perciò ai partiti di maggioranza di interrompere immediatamente gli stanziamenti per il 2021 diretti alla Guardia Costiera libica, che solo quest’anno ha intercettato e riportato in un paese non sicuro il triplo dei migranti, rispetto allo stesso periodo dello scorso anno. Assieme è necessaria una revisione delle missioni che contengono iniziative legate alla sua formazione e al suo supporto. Quello che serve è un cambio deciso di approccio, una gestione diretta dei flussi e non la mera chiusura delle frontiere delegata a paesi come la Libia o la Turchia”.


    #gardes-côtes_libyens #Libye #Italie #financement #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #budget #2021 #2020

  • 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.


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

    ping @isskein @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_ @i_s_

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

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

      Frontex, c’est quoi ?

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

      Nouvelles accusations

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

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

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

      Une politique migratoire trop stricte de l’UE ?

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • 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.”


    #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

  • Immigration Enforcement and the Afterlife of the Slave Ship

    Coast Guard techniques for blocking Haitian asylum seekers have their roots in the slave trade. Understanding these connections can help us disentangle immigration policy from white nationalism.

    Around midnight in May 2004, somewhere in the Windward Passage, one of the Haitian asylum seekers trapped on the flight deck of the U.S. Coast Guard’s USCGC Gallatin had had enough.

    He arose and pointed to the moon, whispering in hushed tones. The rest of the Haitians, asleep or pretending to be asleep, initially took little notice. That changed when he began to scream. The cadence of his words became erratic, furious—insurgent. After ripping his shirt into tatters, he gestured wildly at the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) watchstanders on duty.

    I was one of them.

    His eyes fixed upon mine. And he slowly advanced toward my position.

    I stood fast, enraptured by his lone defiance, his desperate rage. Who could blame him? Confinement on this sunbaked, congested, malodorous flight deck would drive anyone crazy—there were nearly 300 people packed together in a living space approximately 65 feet long and 35 feet wide. We had snatched him and his compatriots from their overloaded sailing vessel back in April. They had endured week after week without news about the status of their asylum claims, about what lay in store for them.

    Then I got scared. I considered the distinct possibility that, to this guy, I was no longer me, but a nameless uniform, an avatar of U.S. sovereignty: a body to annihilate, a barrier to freedom. I had rehearsed in my mind how such a contingency might play out. We were armed only with nonlethal weapons—batons and pepper spray. The Haitians outnumbered us 40 to 1. Was I ready? I had never been in a real fight before. Now a few of the Haitian men were standing alert. Were they simply curious? Was this their plan all along? What if the women and children joined them?

    Lucky for me, one of the meanest devils on the watch intervened on my behalf. He charged toward us, stepping upon any Haitians who failed to clear a path. After a brief hand-to-hand struggle, he subdued the would-be rebel, hauled him down to the fantail, and slammed his head against the deck. Blood ran from his face. Some of the Haitians congregated on the edge of the flight deck to spectate. We fastened the guy’s wrists with zip ties and ordered the witnesses to disperse. The tension in his body gradually dissipated.

    After fifteen minutes, the devil leaned down to him. “Are you done? Done making trouble?” His silence signified compliance.

    Soon after, the Haitians were transferred to the custody of the Haitian Coast Guard. When we arrived in the harbor of Port-au-Prince, thick plumes of black smoke rose from the landscape. We were witnessing the aftermath of the CIA-orchestrated February coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the subsequent invasion of the country by U.S. Marines under the auspices of international “peacekeeping.” Haiti was at war.

    None of that mattered. Every request for asylum lodged from our boat had been rejected. Every person returned to Haiti. No exceptions.

    The Gallatin left the harbor. I said goodbye to Port-au-Prince. My first patrol was over.

    Out at sea, I smoked for hours on the fantail, lingering upon my memories of the past months. I tried to imagine how the Haitians would remember their doomed voyage, their detention aboard the Gallatin, their encounters with us—with me. A disquieting intuition repeated in my head: the USCG cutter, the Haitians’ sailing vessel, and European slave ships represented a triad of homologous instances in which people of African descent have suffered involuntary concentration in small spaces upon the Atlantic. I dreaded that I was in closer proximity to the enslavers of the past, and to the cops and jailors of the present, than I ever would be to those Haitians.

    So, that night, with the butt of my last cigarette, I committed to cast my memories of the Haitians overboard. In the depths of some unmarked swath of the Windward Passage, I prayed, no one, including me, would ever find them again.

    In basic training, every recruit is disciplined to imagine how the USCG is like every other branch of the military, save one principle: we exist to save lives, and it is harder to save lives than to take them. I was never a very good sailor, but I took this principle seriously. At least in the USCG, I thought, I could evade the worst cruelties of the new War on Terror.

    Perhaps I should have done more research on the USCG’s undeclared long war against Haitian asylum seekers, in order to appreciate precisely what the oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” would demand of me. This war had long preceded my term of enlistment. It arguably began in 1804, when the United States refused to acknowledge the newly liberated Haiti as a sovereign nation and did everything it could to insulate its slaving society from the shock waves of Haiti’s radical interpretation of universal freedom. But in our present day, it began in earnest with President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12324 of 1981, also called the Haitian Migrant Interdiction Operation (HMIO), which exclusively tasked the USCG to “interdict” Haitian asylum seekers attempting to enter the United States by sea routes on unauthorized sailing vessels. Such people were already beginning to be derogatorily referred to as “boat people,” a term then borrowed (less derogatorily) into Haitian Kreyòl as botpippel.

    The enforcement of the HMIO and its subsequent incarnations lies almost entirely within the jurisdiction of federal police power acting under the authority of the executive branch’s immigration and border enforcement powers. It does not take place between nations at enmity with one another, but between vastly unequal yet allied powers. Its strategic end is to create a kind of naval blockade, a fluid maritime border around Haiti, which remains under ever-present threat of invasion by a coalition of U.S. and foreign military forces.

    Adding to its asymmetry, the “enemies” to be vanquished on the battlefield are also unconventional: they are not agents of a state, but rather noncombatant individuals who are, in one sense or another, simply acting to save their own lives. During their incarceration aboard USCG cutters, they automatically bear the legal status of “economic migrant,” a person whom authorities deem to be fleeing poverty alone and therefore by definition ineligible for asylum. The meaning of this category is defined solely by reference to its dialectical negation, the “political refugee,” a person whom authorities may (or may not) deem to have a legible asylum claim because they are fleeing state persecution on the basis of race, creed, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. These abstractions are historical artifacts of a half-baked, all-encompassing theory of preemptive deterrence: unless USCG patrols are used to place Haiti under a naval blockade, and unless botpippel are invariably denied asylum, the United States will become flooded with criminals and people who have no means of supporting themselves. By 2003 John Ashcroft and the Bush administration upped the ante, decrying botpippel to be vectors of terrorism. On January 11, 2018, President Donald Trump, during efforts to justify ending nearly all immigration and asylum, described Haiti (which he grouped with African nations) as a “shithole country” where, as he asserted several months prior, “all have AIDS.”

    Haiti is now facing another such crisis. Its president, Jovenel Moïse, having already suspended nearly all elected government save himself, refused to step down at the end of his term on February 7, 2021, despite widespread protests that have shuttered the country. Moïse’s administration is currently being propped up by criminal syndicates, but they are slipping his grasp, and kidnapping for money is now so prevalent that people are terrified to leave their homes. So far, the Biden administration’s response has not been encouraging: though it has instructed ICE to temporarily halt deportations to Haiti, naval blockades remain in force, and the U.S. State Department has expressed the opinion that Moïse should remain in office for at least another year, enforcing the sense that Haiti is once again a U.S. client state.

    With regard to the Coast Guard’s longstanding orders to block Haitians seeking asylum, the modality of killing is not straightforward, but it is intentional. It consists of snatching the Haitian enemy from their vessel, forcing them to subsist in a state of bare life, and finally abandoning them in their home country at gunpoint. Of course, many may survive the ordeal and may even attempt another journey. But especially during acute phases of armed conflict and catastrophe, it is just as likely that—whether at the behest of starvation, disease, or violence—a return to Haiti is a death sentence.

    This banal form of murder is analogous to what Ruth Wilson Gilmore offers as her definition of racism in Golden Gulag (2007): “the state sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death.” Based on the extant documentary record, I estimate that the USCG has interdicted at least 120,000 botpippel since the HMIO of 1981 took effect. Those who fell prey to an untimely demise following deportation died because the United States, though repeatedly responsible for undermining Haitian democracy and economic stability, nonetheless refuses to acknowledge that these actions have made Haiti, for many, mortally unsafe. The true death toll will never be known. Countless botpippel have simply disappeared at sea, plunged into a gigantic watery necropolis.

    Since 2004 U.S. officials have brought their forms of border policing strategies and tactics against Haitians to bear on land-based immigration and refugee policies against non-white asylum seekers. One of the most significant technical innovations of enforcement against Haitians was the realization that by detaining them exclusively within a maritime environment, the United States could summarily classify all of them as economic migrants—whose claims for asylum de facto have no standing—and prevent them from lodging claims as political refugees, which are the only claims with any hope of success. They were thus proactively disabled from advancing a request for asylum in a U.S. federal court, with all claims instead evaluated by an INS-designated official aboard the USCG vessel. The New York Times recently reported that, since late 2009, similar techniques have been adopted by Customs and Border Control agents patrolling sea routes along the California coast, which has resulted in a notable escalation of CBP naval patrols and aerial surveillance of the region. And in fact, the USCG has cooperatively supported these efforts by sharing its infrastructure—ports, cutters, and aircraft—and its personnel with CBP. All of this has been with the aim of making sure that asylum seekers never make it to the United States, whether by land or by sea.

    The Trump administration made the most significant use of this set of innovations to date, insisting that asylum claims must be made from camps on the Mexican side of the U.S. border—and therefore automatically invalid by virtue of being limited to the status of economic migrant. Thus, hundreds of thousands of non-white asylum seekers fleeing material precariousness, yes, but also the threat of violence in the Global South are, and will continue to be, caught in carceral webs composed of ICE/CBP goon squads, ruthless INS officials, and perilous tent cities, not to mention the prison guards employed at one of the numerous semi-secret migrant detention centers operating upon U.S. soil for those few who make it across.

    From the perspective of Haitian immigrants and botpippel, this is nothing new. Thousands of their compatriots have already served time at infamous extrajudicial sites such as the Krome detention center in Miami (1980–present), Guantanamo Bay (1991–93), and, most often, the flight decks of USCG cutters. They know that the USCG has long scoured the Windward Passage for Haitians in particular, just as ICE/CBP goon squads now patrol U.S. deserts, highways, and city streets for the undocumented. And they know that Trump’s fantasy of building a “Great Wall” on the U.S.–Mexico border is not so farfetched, because the USCG continues to enforce a maritime one around Haiti.

    The Biden administration has inherited this war and its prisoners, with thousands remaining stuck in legal limbo while hoping—in most cases, without hope—that their asylum claims will advance. Opening alternative paths to citizenship and declaring an indefinite moratorium on deportations would serve as foundations for more sweeping reforms in the future. But the core challenge in this political moment is to envision nothing less than the total decriminalization and demilitarization of immigration law enforcement.

    Botpippel are not the first undocumented people of African descent to have been policed by U.S. naval forces. The legal architecture through which the USCG legitimates the indefinite detention and expulsion of Haitian asylum seekers reaches back to U.S. efforts to suppress the African slave trade, outlawed by Congress in 1807, though domestic slaveholding would continue, and indeed its trade would be not only safeguarded but bolstered by this act.

    This marked a decisive turning point in the history of maritime policing vis-à-vis immigration. Per the Slave Trade Acts of 1794 and 1800, the United States already claimed jurisdiction over U.S. citizens and U.S. vessels engaged in the slave trade within U.S. territorial borders (contemporaneously understood as extending three nautical miles into the ocean). By 1808, however, the United States sought to extend its jurisdiction over the sea itself. Slaver vessels operating around “any river, port, bay, or harbor . . . within the jurisdictional limits of the United States” as well as “on the high seas” were deemed illegal and subject to seizure without compensation. The actual physical distance from U.S. soil that these terms referred to was left purposefully vague. To board a given vessel, a Revenue Cutter captain only had to suspect, rather than conclusively determine, that that vessel eventually intended to offload “international” (i.e., non-native) enslaved people into the United States. The 1819 iteration of the law further stipulated that U.S. jurisdiction included “Africa, or elsewhere.” Hence, in theory, after 1819, the scope of U.S. maritime police operations was simply every maritime space on the globe.

    Revenue Cutter Service captains turned the lack of any description in the 1808 law or its successive iterations about what should be done with temporarily masterless slaves into an advantage. They did what they would have done to any fugitive Black person at the time: indefinitely detain them until higher authorities determined their status, and thereby foreclose the possibility of local Black people conspiring to shuttle them to freedom. During confinement, captured Africans were compelled to perform labor as if they were slaves. For instance, those captured from the Spanish-flagged Antelope (1820) spent seven years toiling at a military fort in Savannah, Georgia, as well as on the local U.S. marshal’s plantation. As wards of the state, they were human only insofar as U.S. officials had a duty to force them to remain alive. Of those “rescued” from the Antelope, 120 ultimately died in captivity and 2 went missing. Following litigation, 39 survivors were sold to U.S. slaveowners to compensate Spanish and Portuguese claimants who had stakes in the Antelope and her enslaved cargo. Per the designs of the American Colonization Society, the remaining 120 Africans were freed upon condition that they be immediately deported to New Georgia, Liberia.

    This anti-Black martial abolitionism was therefore a project framed around the unification of two countervailing tendencies. While white planters consistently pushed to extend racial slavery into the southern and western frontiers, white northern financiers and abolitionists were in favor of creating the most propitious conditions for the expansion of free white settlements throughout America’s urban and rural milieus. Black people were deemed unfit for freedom not only because of their supposed inborn asocial traits, but because their presence imperiled the possibility for white freedom. To actualize Thomas Jefferson’s “Empire of Liberty,” the United States required immigration policies that foreshortened Black peoples’ capacities for social reproduction and thereby re-whitened America.

    This political aim was later extended in legislation passed on February 19, 1862, which authorized President Abraham Lincoln—who intended to solve the contradictions that led to the Civil War by sending every Black person in America back to Africa—to use U.S. naval forces to capture, detain, and deport undocumented people of East Asian/Chinese descent (“coolies”) while at sea. Henceforth, “the free and voluntary emigration of any Chinese subject” to the U.S. was proscribed unless a ship captain possessed documents certified by a consular agent residing at the foreign port of departure. At the time, the principal means for Chinese emigrants to obtain authorization would have been at behest of some corporation seeking expendable, non-white laborers contractually bound to work to death in mines and on railroads on the western frontiers—Native American lands stolen through imperialist warfare. White settlers presupposed that these Asians’ residency was provisional and temporary—and then Congress codified that principle into law in 1870, decreeing that every person of East Asian/Chinese descent, anywhere in the world, was ineligible for U.S. citizenship.

    Twelve years later, An Act to Regulate Immigration (1882) played upon the notion that non-white immigration caused public disorder. Through the use of color-blind legal language, Section 2 of this law specified that the United States must only accept immigrants who were conclusively not “convict[s], lunatic[s], idiot[s], or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” The burden of proof lay on non-white immigrants to prove how their racial backgrounds were not already prima facie evidence for these conditions. Section 4 also stipulated that “all foreign convicts except those convicted of political offenses, upon arrival, shall be sent back to the nations to which they belong and from whence they came.” By which means a non-white person could demonstrate the “political” character of a given conviction were cleverly left undefined.

    It was not a giant leap of imagination for the United States to apply these precedents to the maritime policing of Haitian asylum seekers in the 1980s. Nor should we be surprised that the logic of anti-Black martial abolitionism shapes present-day U.S. immigration policy.

    Political philosopher Peter Hallward estimates that paramilitary death squads executed at least a thousand supporters of Lavalas, President Aristide’s party, in the weeks following Aristide’s exile from Haiti on February 29, 2004. The first kanntè (Haitian sailing vessel) the Gallatin sighted one morning in early April had likely departed shortly thereafter.

    The first people from our ship that the Haitians met were members of the boarding team, armed with pistols, M-16s, shotguns, and zip ties. Their goal was to compel the hundred or so aboard the kanntè to surrender their vessel and allow us to deposit them on the flight deck of our ship. Negotiations can take hours. It is not uncommon for some to jump overboard, rather than allow boarding to occur uninhibited. If immediate acquiescence is not obtained, we will maneuver ourselves such that any further movement would cause the small boat to “ram” the Gallatin—an attack on a U.S. military vessel.

    On the Gallatin, we waited for uptake, outfitted with facemasks and rubber gloves. One at a time, we aided the Haitian adults to make the final step from the small boat to the deck of the cutter. We frisked them for weapons and then marched them to the fantail to undergo initial processing. Most of them appeared exhausted and confused—but compliant. Some may have already been in fear for their lives. One night aboard the USCGC Dallas, which hovered in Port-au-Prince Bay as a deportation coordination outpost and as a temporary detention site for Haitians awaiting immediate transfer to Haitian Coast Guard authorities, my friend and his shipmates asked their Kreyòl interpreter how he managed to obtain compliance from the botpippel. “I tell them you will hurt or kill them if they do not obey,” he joked, “so, of course, they listen.”

    Boarding all the Haitians took from midday until midnight. One of the last ones I helped aboard, a man dressed in a suit two sizes too large, looked into my eyes and smiled. He gently wept, clasped my hand tightly, and embraced me. I quickly pushed him off and pointed to the processing station at the fantail, leading him by the wrist to join the others. He stopped crying.

    Three things happened at the processing station. First, Haitians deposited the last of their belongings with the interpreter, ostensibly for safekeeping. Who knows if anyone got their things back. Second, a Kreyòl translator and one of the officers gave them a cursory interview about their asylum claims, all the while surrounded by armed sentries, as well as other Haitians who might pass that intelligence onto narcotics smugglers, paramilitary gangs, or state officials back in Haiti. Lastly, they received a rapid, half-assed medical examination—conducted in English. So long as they nodded, or remained silent, they passed each test and were shuffled up to the flight deck.

    We retired for the night after the boarding team set fire to the kanntè as a hazard to navigation. The Haitians probably didn’t know that this was the reason we unceremoniously torched their last hope for escape before their very eyes.

    About a week later, we found another kanntè packed with around seventy Haitians and repeated the process. Another USCG cutter transferred a hundred more over to the Gallatin. Our flight deck was reaching full capacity.

    We arrived at one kanntè too late. It had capsized. Pieces of the shattered mast and little bits of clothing and rubbish were floating around the hull. No survivors. How long had it been? Sharks were spotted circling at a short depth below the vessel.

    The Gallatin’s commanders emphasized that our mission was, at its core, humanitarian in nature. We were duty-bound to provide freshwater, food, and critical medical care. During their time aboard, Haitians would be treated as detainees and were not to be treated, or referred to, as prisoners. The use of force was circumscribed within clear rules of engagement. The Haitians were not in any way to be harmed or killed unless they directly threatened the ship or its sailors. Unnecessary violence against them could precipitate an internal review, solicit undue international criticism, and imperil the deportationist efficiency of INS officials. We were told that our batons and pepper spray were precautionary, primarily symbolic.

    It sounded like all I had to do was stand there and not screw anything up.

    Over the course of several watches, I concluded that, in fact, our job was also to relocate several crucial features of the abysmal living conditions that obtained on the kanntè onto the Gallatin’s flight deck. Though the flight deck was 80 feet by 43 feet, we blocked the edges to facilitate the crew’s movement and to create a buffer between us and the Haitians. Taking this into account, their living space was closer to 65 feet by 35 feet. For a prison population of 300 Haitians, each individual would have had only 7 feet 7 inches square to lie down and stand up. On the diagram of the eighteenth-century British slaver Brooks, the enslaved were each allocated approximately 6 feet 10 inches square, scarcely less than on the Gallatin. (Historian Marcus Rediker thinks that the Brooks diagram probably overstates the amount of space the enslaved were given.)

    Although some cutters will drape tarps over the flight deck to shield the Haitians from the unmediated effects of the sun, the Gallatin provided no such shelter. We permitted them to shower, once, in saltwater, without soap. The stench on the flight deck took on a sweet, fetid tinge.

    The only place they could go to achieve a modicum of solitude and to escape the stench was the makeshift metal toilet on the fantail. (On slave ships, solitude was found by secreting away to a hidden compartment or small boat to die alone; the “necessary tubs” that held human excrement were contained in the slave holds below deck.) They were permitted to use the toilet one at a time in the case of adults, and two at a time in the case of children and the elderly. For what was supposed to be no longer than five minutes, they had an opportunity to stretch, relax, and breathe fresh sea air. Nevertheless, these moments of respite took place under observation by the watchstander stationed at the toilet, not to mention the numerous Haitian onlookers at the rear of the flight deck.

    Despite our commanders’ reticence on the matter, the ever-present fear of revolt hovered underneath the surface of our standing orders. We were to ensure order and discipline through counterinsurgency protocols and techniques of incarceration that one might find in any U.S. prison. The military imperative aboard the Gallatin was to produce a sense of radical uncertainty and temporal disorientation in the Haitians, such that they maintain hope for an asylum claim that had already been rejected.

    In this context, there were four overlapping components to the security watch.

    The first component of the ship’s securitization was constant surveillance. We were not supposed to take our eyes off the Haitians for one moment. During the watch, we would regularly survey the flight deck for any signs of general unrest, conspiracy, or organized protest. Any minor infraction could later contribute to the eruption of a larger riot, and thus needed to be quickly identified and neutralized. We also had to observe their behavior for indications that one of them intended to jump overboard or harm another Haitian. All that said, we found a used condom one day. Surveillance is never total.

    The second was the limitation we placed on communication. We shrouded all USCG practices in a fog of secrecy. Conversing with the Haitians through anything other than hand signals and basic verbal commands was forbidden; physical contact was kept at bare minimum. Nonofficial speech among the watch was proscribed. Watchstanders were stripped of their identity, save their uniform, from which our nametags were removed. It was critical that botpippel forever be unable to identify us.

    Secrecy preemptively disabled the Haitians from collectively piecing together fragments of information about where our vessel had been, where it was now, and where it was going. Officially, the concern was that they might exploit the situation to gather intelligence about our patrol routes and pass this information to human or narcotics smugglers. We militated against their mapping out how the ship operated, its layout and complement, where living spaces and the armory were located, and so on. These were standard tactics aboard slaver vessels. As freed slave and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano observed, “When the ship we were in had got in all her cargo . . . we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the vessel.”

    On the Gallatin, the command also strove to maintain strict control over the narrative. They blocked sailors’ access to the open Internet and censored letters from home that contained news of global or domestic politics (and even just bad personal news). Knowledge of whether a particular asylum claim had failed or succeeded was hidden from all. A watchstander harboring political solidarity with—as opposed to mere empathy and pity for—the Haitians might compromise operational capacities, good judgment, and core loyalty to the USCG.

    Our third securitization strategy was to produce false knowledge of the future. The Haitians were led to believe that they were merely waiting aboard the ship because their asylum claims were still being vigorously debated by diplomatic entities in Washington. Their continued compliance was predicated on this differential of knowledge. They could not realize that they were moving in circles, being returned slowly to Haiti. If they lost all hope, we presumed they would eventually resist their intolerable conditions through violent means.

    Hence, our fourth securitization measure: USCG personnel were permitted to inflict several limited forms of physical and symbolic violence against the Haitians, not only in response to perceived noncompliance, but also as a means of averting the need to inflict even greater violence in the future.

    If it were not classified as a matter of national security, we might have a better grasp of how many times such instances occur aboard USCG vessels. I open this essay with a story of how we subdued and punished one person for resisting the rules. But it is known that punishment is sometimes inflicted on entire groups. A telling example took place on January 30, 1989, when the USCG captured the Dieu Devant with 147 Haitians aboard. One of them, Fitzroy Joseph, later reported in congressional hearings that, after they expressed a fear of being killed if returned to Haiti, USCG personnel “began wrestling with the Haitians and hitting their hands with their flashlights.” This was followed by threats to release pepper spray. Marie Julie Pierre, Joseph’s wife, corroborated his testimony, adding:

    [We were] asked at once if we feared returning to Haiti and everyone said yes we did. We said ‘down with Avril, up with Bush.’ We were threatened with tear gas but they didn’t use it. Many people were crying because they were so afraid. [Ti Jak] was hit by the officers because he didn’t want to go back. They handcuffed him. The Coast Guard grabbed others by the neck and forced them to go to the biggest boat. My older brother was also hit and treated like a chicken as they pulled him by the neck.

    Counterintuitively, our nonlethal weapons functioned as more efficient instruments of counterinsurgency than lethal weapons. Brandishing firearms might exacerbate an already tense situation in which the Haitians outnumbered the entire ship’s complement. It could also provide an opportunity for the Haitians to seize and turn our own guns against us (or one another). In contrast, losing a baton and a can of pepper spray represented a relatively minor threat to the ship’s overall security. In the event of an actual riot, the command could always mobilize armed reinforcements. From the perspective of the command, then, the first responders on watch were, to some extent, expendable. Nevertheless, sentries bearing firearms were on deck when we approached Haiti and prepared for final deportation. That is, the precise moment the Haitians realized their fate.

    Like the enslaved Africans captured by the Revenue Cutter Service, botpippel were human to us only insofar as we had to compel them, through the threat or actuality of violence, to remain alive. The Haitians ate our tasteless food and drank our freshwater—otherwise they would starve, or we might beat them for going on a hunger strike. They tended to remain silent and immobile day and night—otherwise they would invite acts of exemplary punishment upon themselves. The practices of confinement on the Gallatin represent a variant of what historian Stephanie Smallwood describes as a kind of “scientific empiricism” that developed aboard slave ships, which “prob[ed] the limits to which it is possible to discipline the body without extinguishing the life within.” Just as contemporary slavers used force to conserve human commodities for sale, so does the USCG use force to produce nominally healthy economic migrants to exchange with Haitian authorities.

    The rational utilization of limited forms of exemplary violence was an integral aspect of this carceral science. Rediker shows how slaver captains understood violence along a continuum that ranged from acceptably severe to unacceptably cruel. Whereas severity was the grounds of proper discipline as such, an act was cruel only if it led “to catastrophic results [and] sparked reactions such as mutiny by sailors or insurrection by slaves.” In turn, minor acts of kindness, such as dispensing better food or allowing slightly more free time to move above deck, were conditioned by these security imperatives. Furthermore, they exerted no appreciable change to the eventuality that the person would be sold to a slaveowner, for kindness was a self-aggrandizing ritual performance of authority that intended to lay bare the crucial imbalance of power relations at hand. This was, Rediker maintains, “as close as the owners ever came to admitting that terror was essential to running a slave ship.”

    The USCG’s undeclared long war against Haitian asylum seekers is but one front of a much longer war against people of African descent in the Americas. The entangled histories of the African slave trade and anti-Black martial abolitionism reveal how this war intimately shaped the foundations and racist intentions that underlay modern U.S. immigration and refugee policy writ large. And the Gallatin, her sailors, and the Haitians who were trapped on the flight deck, are, in some small way, now a part of this history, too.

    The Biden administration has the power to decisively end this war—indeed, every war against non-white asylum seekers. Until then, botpippel will continue to suffer the slave ships that survive into the present.


    #esclavage #héritage #migrations #contrôles_migratoires #Haïti #gardes-côtes #nationalisme_blanc #USA #Etats-Unis #migrations #frontières #asile #réfugiés #USCG #Haitian_Migrant_Interdiction_Operation (#HMIO) #botpippel #boat_people

    #modèle_australien #pacific_solution

    ping @karine4 @isskein @reka

    • Ce décret de #Reagan mentionné dans l’article rappelle farouchement la loi d’#excision_territoriale australienne :

      But in our present day, it began in earnest with President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12324 of 1981, also called the Haitian Migrant Interdiction Operation (HMIO), which exclusively tasked the USCG to “interdict” Haitian asylum seekers attempting to enter the United States by sea routes on unauthorized sailing vessels. Such people were already beginning to be derogatorily referred to as “boat people,” a term then borrowed (less derogatorily) into Haitian Kreyòl as botpippel.

      Excision territoriale australienne :



      Citation tirée du livre de McAdam et Chong : « Refugees : why seeking asylum is legal and Australia’s policies are not » (p.3)

      “Successive governments (aided by much of the media) have exploited public anxieties about border security to create a rhetorical - and, ultimately, legislative - divide between the rights of so-called ’genuine’ refugees, resettled in Australia from camps and settlements abroad, and those arriving spontaneously in Australia by boat.”

  • What happens to migrants forcibly returned to Libya?

    ‘These are people going missing by the hundreds.’

    The killing last week of three young men after they were intercepted at sea by the EU-funded Libyan Coast Guard has thrown the spotlight on the fate of tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers returned to Libya to face detention, abuse and torture by traffickers, or worse.

    The three Sudanese nationals aged between 15 and 18 were shot dead on 28 July, reportedly by members of a militia linked to the Coast Guard as they tried to avoid being detained. They are among more than 6,200 men, women, and children intercepted on the central Mediterranean and returned to Libya this year. Since 2017, that figure is around 40,000.

    Over the last three months, The New Humanitarian has spoken to migrants and Libyan officials, as well as to UN agencies and other aid groups and actors involved, to piece together what is happening to the returnees after they are brought back to shore.

    It has long been difficult to track the whereabouts of migrants and asylum seekers after they are returned to Libya, and for years there have been reports of people going missing or disappearing into unofficial detention centres after disembarking.

    But the UN’s migration agency, IOM, told TNH there has been an uptick in people vanishing off its radar since around December, and it suspects that at least some returnees are being taken to so-called “data-collection and investigation facilities” under the direct control of the Ministry of Interior for the Government of National Accord.

    The GNA, the internationally recognised authority in Libya, is based in the capital, Tripoli, and has been fighting eastern forces commanded by general Khalifa Haftar for 16 months in a series of battles that has developed into a regional proxy war.

    Unlike official detention centres run by the GNA’s Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) – also under the Ministry of the Interior – and its affiliated militias, neither IOM nor the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has access to these data-collection facilities, which are intended for the investigation of smugglers and not for detaining migrants.

    “We have been told that migrants are no longer in these [data-collection] facilities and we wonder if they have been transferred,” Safa Msehli, spokesperson for IOM in Libya, told TNH.

    “These are people going missing by the hundreds. We have also been told – and are hearing reports from community leaders – that people are going missing,” she said. “We feel the worst has happened, and that these locations [data-collection facilities] are being used to smuggle or traffic people.”

    According to IOM, more than half of the over 6,200 people returned to Libya this year – which includes at least 264 women and 202 children – remain unaccounted for after being loaded onto buses and driven away from the disembarkation points on the coast.

    Msehli said some people had been released after they are returned, but that their number was “200 maximum”, and that if others had simply escaped she would have expected them to show up at community centres run by IOM and its local partners – which most haven’t.

    Masoud Abdal Samad, a commander in the Libyan Coast Guard, denied all accusations of trafficking to TNH, even though the UN has sanctioned individuals in the Coast Guard for their involvement in people smuggling and trafficking. He also said he didn’t know where asylum seekers and migrants end up after they are returned to shore. “It’s not my responsibility. It’s DCIM that determines where the migrants go,” he said.

    Neither the head of the DCIM, Al Mabrouk Abdel-Hafez, nor the media officer for the interior ministry, Mohammad Abu Abdallah, responded to requests for comment from TNH. But the Libyan government recently told the Wall Street Journal that all asylum seekers and migrants returned by the Coast Guard are taken to official detention centres.
    ‘I can’t tell you where we take them’

    TNH spoke to four migrants – three of whom were returned by the Libyan Coast Guard and placed in detention, one of them twice. All described a system whereby returned migrants and asylum seekers are being routinely extorted and passed between different militias.

    Contacted via WhatsApp, Yasser, who only gave his first name for fear of retribution for exposing the abuse he suffered, recounted his ordeal in a series of conversations between May and June.

    The final stage of his journey to start a new life in Europe began on a warm September morning in 2019 when he squeezed onto a rubber dinghy along with 120 other people in al-Garabulli, a coastal town near Tripoli. The year before, the 33-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker had escaped from conflict in his village in the Nuba Mountains to search for safety and opportunity.

    By nightfall, those on board the small boat spotted a reconnaissance aircraft, likely dispatched as part of an EU or Italian aerial surveillance mission. It appears the aircraft alerted the Libyan Coast Guard, which soon arrived to drag them onto their boat and back to war-torn Libya.

    Later that day, as the boat approached the port, Yasser overheard a uniformed member of the Coast Guard speaking on the phone. The man said he had around 100 migrants and was willing to sell each one for 500 Libyan dinars ($83).

    “Militias buy and sell us to make a profit in this country,” Yasser told TNH months later, after he escaped. “In their eyes, refugees are just an investment.”

    When Yasser stepped off the Coast Guard boat in Tripoli’s port, he saw dozens of people he presumed were aid workers tending to the injured. He tried to tell them that he and the others were going to be sold to a militia, but the scene was frantic and he said they didn’t listen.

    “Militias buy and sell us to make a profit in this country. In their eyes, refugees are just an investment.”

    Yasser couldn’t recall which organisation the aid workers were from. Whoever was there, they watched Libyan authorities herd Yasser and the other migrants onto a handful of buses and drive them away.

    IOM, or UNHCR, or one of their local partners are usually present at disembarkation points when migrants are returned to shore. The two UN agencies, which receive significant EU funding for their operations in Libya and have been criticised for participating in the system of interception and detention, say they tend to the injured and register asylum seekers. They also said they count the number of people returned from sea and jot down their nationalities and gender.

    But both agencies told TNH they are unable to track where people go next because Libyan authorities do not keep an official database of asylum seekers and migrants intercepted at sea or held in detention centres.

    News footage – and testimonies from migrants and aid workers – shows white buses with DCIM logos frequently pick up those disembarking. TNH also identified a private bus company that DCIM contracts for transportation. The company, called Essahim, imported 130 vehicles from China before beginning operations in September 2019.

    On its Facebook page, Essahim only advertises its shuttle bus services to Misrata airport, in northwest Libya. But a high-level employee, who asked TNH not to disclose his name for fear of reprisal from Libyan authorities, confirmed that the company picks up asylum seekers and migrants from disembarkation points on the shore.

    He said all of Essahim’s buses are equipped with a GPS tracking system to ensure drivers don’t deviate from their route. He also emphasised that the company takes people to “legitimate centres”, but he refused to disclose the locations.

    “You have to ask the government,” he told TNH. “I can’t tell you where we take them. It’s one of the conditions in the contract.”

    Off the radar

    Since Libya’s 2011 revolution, state security forces – such as the Coast Guard and interior ministry units – have mostly consisted of a collection of militias vying for legitimacy and access to sources of revenue.

    Migrant detention centres have been particularly lucrative to control, and even the official ones can be run by whichever local militia or armed group holds sway at a particular time. Those detained are not granted rights or legal processes, and there have been numerous reports of horrific abuse, and deaths from treatable diseases like tuberculosis.

    Facts regarding the number of different detention centres and who controls them are sketchy, especially as they often close and re-open or come under new management, and as territory can change hands between the GNA and forces aligned with Haftar. Both sides have a variety of militias fighting alongside them, and there are splits within the alliances.

    But IOM’s Msehli told TNH that as of 1 August that there are 11 official detention centres run by DCIM, and that she was aware of returned migrants also being taken to what she believes are four different data-collection and investigation facilities – three in Tripoli and one in Zuwara, a coastal city about 100 kilometres west of the capital. The government has not disclosed how many data-collection centres there are or where they are located.

    Beyond the official facilities, there are also numerous makeshift compounds used by smugglers and militias – especially in the south and in the former Muammar Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid – for which there is no data, according to a report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI).

    Yasser told TNH he had no idea if he was in an official DCIM-run detention centre or an unofficial site after he was pulled off the bus that took him to a makeshift prison from the port of Tripoli. Unless UN agencies show up, it is hard for detainees to tell the difference. Conditions are dismal and abuses occur in both locations: In unofficial facilities the extortion of detainees is systematic, while in official centres it tends to be carried out by individual staff members, according to the GI report.

    Between Yasser’s description and information from an aid group that gained access to the facility – but declined to be identified for fear of jeopardising its work – TNH believes Yasser was taken to an informal centre in Tripoli called Shaaria Zawiya, outside the reach of UN agencies. Msehli said IOM believes it is a data-collection and investigation facility.

    During the time Yasser was there, the facility was under the control of a militia commander with a brutal reputation, according to a high-level source from the aid group. The commander was eventually replaced in late 2019, but not before trying to extort hundreds of people, including Yasser.

    Several nights after he arrived at the centre, everyone being held there was ordered to pay a 3,000 Libyan dinar ransom – about $500 on the Libyan black market. The militia separated detainees by nationality and tossed each group a cell phone. They gave one to the Eritreans, one to the Somalis, and one to the Sudanese. The detainees were told to call their families and beg, Yasser recalled.

    Those who couldn’t pay languished in the centre until they were sold for a lower sum to another militia, which would try to extort them for a smaller ransom to earn a profit. This is a widely reported trend all across Libya: Militias sell migrants they can’t extort to make space for new hostages.

    Yasser’s friends and family were too poor to pay for his release, yet he clung to hope that he would somehow escape. He watched as the militia commander beat and intimidated other asylum seekers and migrants in the centre, but he was too scared to intervene. As the weeks passed, he started to believe nobody would find him.

    Then, one day, he saw a couple of aid workers. They came to document the situation and treat the wounded. “The migrants who spoke English whispered for help, but [the aid workers] just kept silent and nodded,” Yasser said.

    The aid workers were from the same NGO that identified the data-collection facility to TNH. The aid group said it suspects that Libyan authorities are taking migrants to two other locations in Tripoli after disembarkation: a data-collection and investigation facility in a neighbourhood called Hay al-Andulus, and an abandoned tobacco factory in another Tripoli suburb. “I know the factory exists, but I have no idea how many people are inside,” the source said, adding that the aid group had been unable to negotiate access to either location.

    “We were treated like animals.”

    Msehli confirmed that IOM believes migrants have been taken to both compounds, neither of which are under DCIM control. She added that more migrants are ending up in another unofficial location in Tripoli.

    After languishing for two months, until November, in Shaaria Zawiya, Yasser said he was sold to a militia manning what he thinks was an official detention centre. He assumed the location was official because uniformed UNHCR employees frequently showed up with aid. When UNHCR wasn’t there, the militia still demanded ransoms from the people inside.

    “We were treated like animals,” Yasser said. “But at least when UNHCR visited, the militia fed us more food than usual.”

    Tariq Argaz, the spokesperson for UNHCR in Libya, defended the agency’s aid provision to official facilities like this one, saying: “We are against the detention of refugees, but we have a humanitarian imperative to assist refugees wherever they are, even if it is a detention centre.”

    Growing pressure on EU to change tack

    The surge in disappearances raises further concerns about criminality and human rights abuses occurring within a system of interception and detention by Libyan authorities that the EU and EU member states have funded and supported since 2017.

    The aim of the support is to crack down on smuggling networks, reduce the number of asylum seekers and migrants arriving in Europe, and improve detention conditions in Libya, but critics say it has resulted in tens of thousands of people being returned to indefinite detention and abuse in Libya. There is even less oversight now that asylum seekers and migrants are ending up in data-collection and investigation facilities, beyond the reach of UN agencies.

    The escalating conflict in Libya and the coronavirus crisis have made the humanitarian situation for asylum seekers and migrants in the country “worse than ever”, according to IOM. At the same time, Italy and Malta have further turned their backs on rescuing people at sea. Italy has impounded NGO search and rescue ships, while both countries have repeatedly failed to respond, or responded slowly, to distress calls, and Malta even hired a private fishing vessel to return people rescued at sea to Libya.

    “We believe that people shouldn’t be returned to Libya,” Msehli told TNH. “This is due to the lack of any protection mechanism that the Libyan state takes or is able to take.”

    There are currently estimated to be at least 625,000 migrants in Libya and 47,859 registered asylum seekers and refugees. Of this number, around 1,760 migrants – including 760 registered asylum seekers and refugees – are in the DCIM-run detention centres, according to data from IOM and UNHCR, although IOM’s data only covers eight out of the 11 DCIM facilities.

    The number of detainees in unofficial centres and makeshift compounds is unknown but, based on those unaccounted for and the reported experiences of migrants, could be many times higher. A recent estimate from Liam Kelly, director of the Danish Refugee Council in Libya, suggests as many as 80,000 people have been in them at some point in recent years.

    There remains no clear explanation why some people intercepted attempting the sea journey appear to be being taken to data-collection and investigation facilities, while others end up in official centres. But researchers believe migrants are typically taken to facilities that have space to house new detainees, or other militias may strike a deal to purchase a new group to extort them.

    In a leaked report from last year, the EU acknowledged that the GNA “has not taken steps to improve the situation in the centres”, and that “the government’s reluctance to address the problems raises questions of its own involvement”.

    The UN, human rights groups, researchers, journalists and TNH have noted that there is little distinction between criminal groups, militias, and other entities involved in EU-supported migration control activities under the GNA.

    A report released last week by UNHCR and the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) at the Danish Refugee Council said that migrants being smuggled and trafficked to the Mediterranean coast had identified the primary perpetrators of abuses as state officials and law enforcement.

    Pressure on the EU over its proximity to abuses resulting from the interception and detention of asylum seekers and migrants in Libya is mounting. International human rights lawyers have filed lawsuits to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN human rights committee, and the European Court of Human Rights to attempt to hold the EU accountable.

    Peter Stano, the EU Commission’s official spokesperson for External Affairs, told TNH that the EU doesn’t consider Libya a safe country, but that its priority has always been to stop irregular migration to keep migrants from risking their lives, while protecting the most vulnerable.

    “We have repeated again and again, together with our international partners in the UN and African Union, that arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees in Libya must end, including to Libyan authorities,” he said. “The situation in these centres is unacceptable, and arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees upon disembarkation must stop.”

    For Yasser, it took a war for him to have the opportunity to escape from detention. In January this year, the facility he was in came under heavy fire during a battle in the war for Tripoli. Dozens of migrants, including Yasser, made a run for it.

    He is now living in a crowded house with other Sudanese asylum seekers in the coastal town of Zawiya, and says that returning to the poverty and instability in Sudan is out of the question. With his sights set on Europe, he still intends to cross the Mediterranean, but he’s afraid of being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, trafficked, and extorted all over again.

    “It’s a business,” said Yasser. “Militias pay for your head and then they force you to pay for your freedom.”


    #chronologie #timeline #time-line #migrations #asile #réfugiés #chiffres #statistiques #pull-back #pull-backs #push-backs #refoulements #disparitions #torture #décès #morts #gardes-côtes_libyens #détention #centres_de_détention #milices

    ping @isskein

    • The legal battle to hold the EU to account for Libya migrant abuses

      ‘It’s a well known fact that we’re all struggling here, as human rights practitioners.’

      More than 6,500 asylum seekers and migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard so far this year. Since the EU and Italy began training, funding, equipping, and providing operational assistance to the Libyan Coast Guard in 2017, that number stands at around 40,000 people.

      Critics say European support for these interceptions and returns is one of the most glaring examples of the trade-off being made between upholding human rights – a fundamental EU value – and the EU’s determination to reduce migration to the continent.

      Those intercepted at sea and returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard – predominantly asylum seekers and migrants from East and West Africa – face indefinite detention, extortion, torture, sexual exploitation, and forced labour.

      This year alone, thousands have disappeared beyond the reach of UN agencies after being disembarked. Migration detention in Libya functions as a business that generates revenue for armed groups, some of whom have also pressed asylum seekers and migrants into military activities – a practice that is likely a war crime, according to Human Rights Watch.

      All of this has been well documented and widely known for years, even as the EU and Italy have stepped up their support for the Libyan Coast Guard. Yet despite their key role in empowering the Coast Guard to return people to Libya, international human rights lawyers have struggled to hold the EU and Italy to account. Boxed in by the limitations of international law, lawyers have had to find increasingly innovative legal strategies to try to establish European complicity in the abuses taking place.

      As the EU looks to expand its cooperation with third countries, the outcome of these legal efforts could have broader implications on whether the EU and its member states can be held accountable for the human rights impacts of their external migration policies.

      “Under international law there are rules… prohibiting states to assist other states in the commission of human rights violations,” Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s migration researcher, told The New Humanitarian. “However, those international rules do not have a specific court where you can litigate them, where individuals can have access to remedy.”

      In fact, human rights advocates and lawyers argue that EU and Italian support for the Libyan Coast Guard is designed specifically to avoid legal responsibility.

      “For a European court to have jurisdiction over a particular policy, a European actor must be in control... of a person directly,” said Itamar Mann, an international human rights lawyer. “When a non-European agent takes that control, it’s far from clear that [a] European court has jurisdiction. So there is a kind of accountability gap under international human rights law.”
      ‘The EU is not blameless’

      When Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2017 with Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) “to ensure the reduction of illegal migratory flows”, the agreement carried echoes of an earlier era.

      In 2008, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a friendship treaty with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi that, among other things, committed the two countries to working together to curb irregular migration.

      The following year, Italian patrol boats began intercepting asylum seekers and migrants at sea and returning them to Libya. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights, an international court based in Strasbourg, France – which all EU member states are party to – ruled that the practice violated multiple articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

      The decision, in what is known as the Hirsi case, was based on the idea that Italy had established “extraterritorial jurisdiction” over asylum seekers and migrants when it took them under their control at sea and had violated the principle of non-refoulement – a core element of international refugee law – by forcing them back to a country where they faced human rights abuses.

      Many states that have signed the 1951 refugee convention have integrated the principle of non-refoulement into their domestic law, binding them to protect asylum seekers once they enter a nation’s territory. But there are divergent interpretations of how it applies to state actors in international waters.

      By the time of the Hirsi decision, the practice had already ended and Gaddafi had been toppled from power. The chaos that followed the Libyan uprising in 2011 paved the way for a new era of irregular migration. The number of people crossing the central Meditteranean jumped from an average of tens of thousands per year throughout the late 1990s and 2000s to more than 150,000 per year in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

      Reducing these numbers became a main priority for Italy and the EU, and they kept the lessons of the Hirsi case in mind as they set about designing their policies, according to de Bellis.

      Instead of using European vessels, the EU and Italy focused on “enabling the Libyan authorities to do the dirty job of intercepting people at sea and returning them to Libya”, he said. “By doing so, they would argue that they have not breached international European law because they have never assumed control, and therefore exercised jurisdiction, over the people who have then been subjected to human rights violations [in Libya].”

      The number of people crossing the central Mediterranean has dropped precipitously in recent years as EU policies have hardened, and tens of thousands of people – including those returned by the Coast Guard – are estimated to have passed through formal and informal migration detention centres in Libya, some of them getting stuck for years and many falling victim to extortion and abuse.

      “There is always going to be a debate about, is the EU responsible… [because] it’s really Libya who has done the abuses,” said Carla Ferstman, a human rights law professor at the University of Essex in England. “[But] the EU is not blameless because it can’t pretend that it didn’t know the consequences of what it was going to do.”

      The challenge for human rights lawyers is how to legally establish that blame.
      The accountability gap

      Since 2017, the EU has given more than 91 million euros (about $107 million) to support border management projects in Libya. Much of that money has gone to Italy, which implements the projects and has provided its own funding and at least six patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard.

      One objective of the EU’s funding is to improve the human rights and humanitarian situation in official detention centres. But according to a leaked EU document from 2019, this is something the Libyan government had not been taking steps to do, “raising the question of its own involvement”, according to the document.

      The main goal of the funding is to strengthen the capacity of Libyan authorities to control the country’s borders and intercept asylum seekers and migrants at sea. This aspect of the policy has been effective, according to a September 2019 report by the UN secretary-general.

      “All our action is based on international and European law,” an EU spokesperson told the Guardian newspaper in June. “The European Union dialogue with Libyan authorities focuses on the respect for human rights of migrants and refugees.”

      The EU has legal obligations to ensure that its actions do not violate human rights in both its internal and external policy, according to Ferstman. But when it comes to actions taken outside of Europe, “routes for those affected to complain when their rights are being violated are very, very weak,” she said.

      The EU and its member states are also increasingly relying on informal agreements, such as the Memorandum of Understanding with Libya, in their external migration cooperation.

      “Once the EU makes formal agreements with third states… [it] is more tightly bound to a lot of human rights and refugee commitments,” Raphael Bossong, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, told TNH. “Hence, we see a shift toward less binding or purely informal arrangements.”

      Lawyers and researchers told TNH that the absence of formal agreements, and the combination of EU funding and member state implementation, undermines the standing of the EU Parliament and the Court of Justice, the bloc’s supreme court, to act as watchdogs.

      Efforts to challenge Italy’s role in cooperating with Libya in Italian courts have also so far been unsuccessful.

      “It’s a well known fact that we’re all struggling here, as human rights practitioners… to grapple with the very limited, minimalistic tools we have to address the problem at hand,” said Valentina Azarova, a lawyer and researcher affiliated with the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), a nonprofit organisation that pursues international human rights litigation.

      Uncharted territory

      With no clear path forward, human rights lawyers have ventured into uncharted territory to try to subject EU and Italian cooperation with Libya to legal scrutiny.

      Lawyers called last year for the International Criminal Court to investigate the EU for its alleged complicity in thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean, and legal organisations have filed two separate complaints with the UN Human Rights Committee, which has a quasi-judicial function.

      In November last year, GLAN also submitted a case, called S.S. and others v. Italy, to the European Court of Human Rights that aims to build on the Hirsi decision. The case argues that – through its financial, material, and operational support – Italy assumes “contactless control” over people intercepted by Libyan Coast Guard and therefore establishes jurisdiction over them.

      “Jurisdiction is not only a matter of direct, effective control over bodies,” Mann, who is part of GLAN, said of the case’s argument. “It’s also a matter of substantive control that can be wielded in many different ways.”

      GLAN, along with two Italian legal organisations, also filed a complaint in April to the European Court of Auditors, which is tasked with checking to see if the EU’s budget is implemented correctly and that funds are spent legally.

      The GLAN complaint alleges that funding border management activities in Libya makes the EU and its member states complicit in the human rights abuses taking place there, and is also a misuse of money intended for development purposes – both of which fall afoul of EU budgetary guidelines.

      The complaint asks for the EU funding to be made conditional on the improvement of the situation for asylum seekers and migrants in the country, and for it to be suspended until certain criteria are met, including the release of all refugees and migrants from arbitrary detention, the creation of an asylum system that complies with international standards, and the establishment of an independent, transparent mechanism to monitor and hold state and non-state actors accountable for human rights violations against refugees and migrants.

      The Court of Auditors is not an actual courtroom or a traditional venue for addressing human rights abuses. It is composed of financial experts who conduct an annual audit of the EU budget. The complaint is meant to encourage them to take a specific look at EU funding to Libya, but they aren’t obligated to do so.

      “To use the EU Court of Auditors to get some kind of human rights accountability is an odd thing to do,” said Ferstman, who is not involved in the complaint. “It speaks to the [accountability] gap and the absence of clear approaches.”

      “[Still], it is the institution where this matter needs to be adjudicated, so to speak,” Azarova, who came up with the strategy, added. “They are the experts on questions of EU budget law.”

      Closing the gap?

      If successful, the Court of Auditors complaint could change how EU funding for Libya operates and set a precedent requiring a substantive accounting of how money is being spent and whether it ends up contributing to human rights violations in other EU third-country arrangements, according to Mann. “It will be a blow to the general externalisation pattern,” he said.

      Ferstman cautioned, however, that its impact – at least legally – might not be so concrete. “[The Court of Auditors] can recommend everything that GLAN has put forward, but it will be a recommendation,” she said. “It will not be an order.”

      Instead, the complaint’s more significant impact might be political. “It could put a lot of important arsenal in the hands of the MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] who want to push forward changes,” Ferstman said.

      A European Court of Human Rights decision in favour of the plaintiffs in S.S. and others v Italy could be more decisive. “It would go a long way towards addressing that [accountability] gap, because individuals will be able to challenge European states that encourage and assist other countries to commit human rights violations,” de Bellis said.

      If any or all of the various legal challenges that are currently underway are successful, Bossong, from SWP, doesn’t expect them to put an end to external migration cooperation entirely. “Many [external] cooperations would continue,” he said. “[But] policy-makers and administrators would have to think harder: Where is the line? Where do we cross the line?”

      The Court of Auditors will likely decide whether to review EU funding for border management activities in Libya next year, but the European Court of Human Rights moves slowly, with proceedings generally taking around five years, according to Mann.

      Human rights advocates and lawyers worry that by the time the current legal challenges are concluded, the situation in the Mediterranean will again have evolved. Already, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, states such as Malta and Greece have shifted from empowering third countries to intercept people at sea to carrying out pushbacks directly.

      “What is happening now, particularly in the Aegean, is much more alarming than the facts that generated the Hirsi case in terms of the violence of the actual pushbacks,” Mann said.

      Human rights lawyers are already planning to begin issuing challenges to the new practices. As they do, they are acutely aware of the limitations of the tools available to them. Or, as Azarova put it: “We’re dealing with symptoms. We’re not addressing the pathology.”



  • Portland, ville symbole de la résistance à Trump

    Voilà plus de cinquante jours que les manifestations contre le racisme et les violences policières se succèdent à Portland, la plus grosse ville de l’Oregon. Le récent déploiement de forces spéciales du gouvernement fédéral n’a fait qu’envenimer les choses.


    • Cinquante-deux jours consécutifs de #manifestations. Si la #mobilisation contre les #violences_policières à la suite de la mort de George Floyd a fléchi dans les rues des autres grandes villes et des petites villes américaines, à Portland, dans l’#Oregon, « la détermination des manifestants va croissant », rapporte le New York Times.

      Et pour cause, la ville est devenue un #symbole du #bras_de_fer engagé par Donald Trump pour mettre un terme aux troubles et aux manifestations en déployant des #forces_spéciales de #police_fédérale.

      « Flagrant #abus_de_pouvoir »

      Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche a encore dénoncé sur Twitter ce dimanche 19 juillet les « anarchistes et agitateurs » qu’il considère comme « une #menace_nationale » et qu’il désigne comme responsables du « #chaos et de l’#anarchie » qui règne dans cette ville de la côte Ouest. Or « davantage de manifestants sont sortis dans les rues de Portland pour protester contre la #militarisation du #maintien_de_l'ordre », rendue palpable par le déploiement de forces spéciales de police fédérale dans la ville depuis le début du mois de juillet, souligne le quotidien new-yorkais.

      Dans un second article, le New York Times décrit plus précisément ces forces spéciales de police fédérale : « Des #agents_fédéraux vêtus de tenues camouflage et d’équipements tactiques, usant de #gaz_lacrymogène et de #brutalité, et embarquant à l’occasion des manifestants dans des véhicules banalisés », ce que la gouverneure démocrate de l’Oregon, Kate Brown, a qualifié de « flagrant abus de pouvoir ».

      La procureure générale de l’État a également indiqué que ses services avaient ouvert une #enquête à la suite de #violences sur un manifestant et avaient enregistré une #plainte devant un tribunal local contre les méthodes répressives illégales des agents fédéraux.

      Les agents présents à Portland font partie des « équipes à déploiement rapide mises en place par le ministère de la Sécurité intérieure ». Il s’agit d’une demande expresse du président américain auprès de différentes agences fédérales d’envoyer des renforts pour « protéger les #statues, #monuments et bâtiments fédéraux pendant les manifestations ».

      Tout un symbole

      Ces équipes incluent environ « 2 ?000 hommes issus de la #police_des_frontières, mais aussi du ministère des Transports et des #gardes-côtes qui viennent prêter main-forte au #Federal_Protective_Service », une agence fédérale peu connue chargée de la #protection_des_propriétés du gouvernement fédéral sur tout le territoire américain.

      Ces renforts fédéraux « ont été déployés à #Seattle, à #Washington et à Portland », souligne le New York Times. Depuis, les images chocs, les vidéos amateurs et les témoignages se multiplient sur les réseaux sociaux et dans les médias américains pour dénoncer la violence de la #répression à Portland.

      Parmi les images les plus frappantes qui ont fait le tour de la Toile figure cette vidéo d’un groupe de mères casquées venues protester contre la présence des agents fédéraux aux cris de « Feds stay clear. Moms are here ?! » ("Allez-vous-en les fédéraux, les mères sont là !").

      Ou encore les photos et vidéos de cette manifestante nue exécutant un drôle de ballet devant les forces de l’ordre. Une manifestante anonyme qualifiée par le Los Angeles Times d’"Athéna", en référence à la déesse grecque de la guerre, émergeant « telle une apparition au milieu des nuages de gaz lacrymogène lancé par les agents fédéraux et ne portant rien d’autre qu’un masque et un bonnet noir face à une dizaine d’agents lourdement armés et vêtus de treillis militaire ».

      Le symbole même de la « vulnérabilité humaine » face à une répression disproportionnée.

      #résistance #Trump #USA #Etats-Unis #plainte #Naked_Athena #Athena

      ping @davduf

    • A Portland, la « milice personnelle de Trump » à l’œuvre

      Ils jaillissent de voitures banalisées, vêtus d’uniformes kaki tout neufs dignes de la guerre d’Irak, pour interpeller des manifestants, ou, trop souvent, de simples passants soupçonnés d’être de « dangereux anarchistes ». Une vidéo montre un de leurs commandos maîtriser à dix, avec l’aide d’un chien policier, un tagueur devant la cour de justice fédérale de Portland, Oregon.

      Ces forces de l’ordre inconnues, dénuées du moindre insigne déclinant leur identité ou leur administration d’origine, côtoient depuis près de deux semaines la police de Portland pour disperser les rassemblements de militants Black Lives Matter, toujours actifs depuis la mort de George Floyd. S’ils coordonnent parfois officieusement leurs actions avec les policiers locaux, connus pour leur brutalité, ils ne prennent leurs ordres que de Washington. Essentiellement du Department of Homeland Security, l’administration de la sécurité intérieure fondée après le 11 Septembre, aujourd’hui étroitement contrôlée par Donald Trump en personne – au grand désarroi des autorités locales, qui assurent n’avoir jamais demandé un tel renfort. « Ces dizaines, voire ces centaines d’officiers fédéraux qui débarquent dans notre ville ne font qu’envenimer la situation, a déploré Ted Wheeler, le maire démocrate de Portland. Leur présence ne fait qu’accroître les violences et le vandalisme. »

      Pour toute réponse, Donald Trump a annoncé qu’il entendait poursuivre ces déploiements dans d’autres villes, telles Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphie, Baltimore et Oakland (en Californie), ainsi que…New York, qui ne connaît plus de manifestations d’envergure, pour rétablir l’ordre dans des municipalités « mal dirigées par des Démocrates de gauche ».

      Aucune compétence sur la voie publique

      L’offensive de la Maison Blanche, décrite comme une manifestation d’autoritarisme et une crise constitutionnelle par l’Aclu, importante association de défense des droits civils, provoque un choc dans l’opinion. Révulsée, Nancy Pelosi, la présidente démocrate de la Chambre des représentants, demande le retrait des « troupes d’assaut de Donald Trump ». Tom Ridge, premier directeur du Homeland Security Department entre 2003 et 2005, a pour sa part rappelé que cette agence de l’Etat fédéral n’a pas été conçue « pour servir de milice personnelle à Donald Trump ».

      Le maintien de l’ordre est traditionnellement la responsabilité des autorités locales : des Etats mais plus couramment des maires des villes, des shérifs élus et des dirigeants de comtés. Les forces fédérales, tels le FBI, la Drug Enforcement Administration et les agences de lutte contre l’immigration clandestine, ne sont compétentes que pour les crimes et délits impliquant des mouvements entre plusieurs Etats ou dûment inscrits en raison de leur gravité dans une liste approuvée par le Congrès. Hormis pour la protection des bâtiments fédéraux, un prétexte largement utilisé à Portland, ils n’ont aucune compétence sur la voie publique, alors qu’ils quadrillent la ville impunément sans autorisation des autorités locales.

      Donald Trump, brutalisé par les sondages et en mal de démonstration d’autorité, a fait son miel du slogan de Black Lives Matter « defund the police », soit retirer ses financements à la police. Le mot d’ordre appelait à la fin de la militarisation du maintien de l’ordre local et au rééquilibrage des fonds publics vers les services sociaux ou de prévention de la criminalité. La Maison Blanche y voit l’occasion de se présenter comme la championne de la loi et de l’ordre face au prétendu laxisme des élus démocrates, quitte à attiser les conflits locaux avant les élections de novembre.

      Rempart contre le prétendu chaos

      Le Président n’a eu de cesse, depuis trois ans, de stigmatiser les « villes sanctuaires » qui limitent leur appui à ses campagnes d’arrestation d’immigrants clandestins. Il trouve maintenant une nouvelle occasion de monter sa base électorale, largement rurale, contre les zones urbaines, majoritairement démocrates, et de s’imposer comme un rempart contre le prétendu chaos. Donald Trump avait évoqué Chicago et son taux de criminalité terrible dès son discours inaugural apocalyptique de janvier 2017 pour promettre la fin de ce « massacre américain ». Mais on ignore l’impact qu’aura sa centaine d’enquêteurs fédéraux dans une ville qui a connu 62 attaques armées entre gangs le week-end dernier. Le maire de Detroit, comme celui de Philadelphie, demandent quant à eux poliment d’où le Président tire ses informations sur le désordre et la criminalité locale.

      Plus perfidement, Trump profite de la colère des polices locales, notamment à New York, ou le maire, Bill de Blasio, à réduit le budget du NYPD sous la pression de Black Lives Matter, pour tenter de déstabiliser les élus démocrates au moment où, certes, la criminalité augmente depuis le déconfinement sans pour autant renverser vingt ans de progrès spectaculaires dans la sécurité de la ville.

      Le Président a, de plus, accru son emprise sur les forces fédérales usant non du FBI, qu’il déteste en raison des enquêtes sur sa possible collusion avec Moscou, mais des agences qui lui sont dévouées, comme la police des frontières et l’Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), responsable des arrestations de clandestins. Ces officiers, dénués de toute expérience en matière de contrôle des désordres sur la voie publique, constituent la majorité des troupes en uniforme kaki qui traquent les tagueurs de Portland et pourraient bientôt imposer la marque Trump dans les ghettos du South Side, à Chicago.