Face aux tensions grandissantes, le centre du HCR à Tripoli ferme temporairement ses portes - InfoMigrants
Face aux tensions grandissantes, le centre du HCR à Tripoli ferme temporairement ses portes. Depuis le 4 octobre, le Haut Commissariat des Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés a suspendu ses activités au sein du Community Day Centre (CDC) à Tripoli. Le HCR fait face à une augmentation des arrivées et à une escalade des tensions mettant en cause la « sécurité » du personnel et des migrants.Devant les portes du Community Day Centre (CDC), à Tripoli, les demandeurs d’asiles se pressent, de plus en plus nombreux. Depuis le vendredi 1er octobre, la police libyenne mène une vague d’arrestations inédite de migrants, au nom de la lutte contre le trafic de « stupéfiants, d’alcool et d’armes à feu ». Près de 4000 migrants ont été arrêtés en 48 heures. « C’est parmi les plus importantes arrestations de migrants que nous ayons vues en Libye, ces dernières années », décrit Dax Roque, directeur du Norwegian Refugee Council, auprès de RFI.Ces événements dans la capitale libyenne « ont causé un sentiment de peur et d’alerte parmi les demandeurs d’asile », explique le HCR à InfoMigrants. Depuis, ces derniers ne cesse de « se regrouper devant le CDC pour obtenir de l’aide et des informations ». Dimanche 3 octobre, le HCR a été en mesure de fournir une aide alimentaire, financière et d’hygiène pour les cas individuels les plus urgents.Mais l’organisation s’est vite retrouvée débordée. Le lendemain, lundi 4 octobre, décision a été prise de suspendre, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, les activités du CDC. La raison invoquée est d’abord sécuritaire. Sauf que pour les exilés, les conséquences de cette fermeture sont dramatiques. Khalid*, Syrien de 27 ans, rapporte à InfoMigrants l’inquiétude partagée depuis hier entre exilés, notamment sur un « groupe Facebook pour les migrants ». Présent depuis quatre mois à Tripoli, il témoigne des nombreuses discussions autour des « incidents de sécurité » en ville et de la fermeture du centre. « Malgré les mauvais comportements des employés du centre avec les migrants, c’est le seul endroit où l’on peut aller et poser des questions », juge-t-il. De son côté, le HCR nous assure « travailler à établir le contact avec les groupes d’individus qui demeurent en dehors du CDC pour recueillir leurs données, répondre à l’urgence ou aux cas vulnérables, et fournir des rendez-vous aux cas non-urgents ». Depuis le début de la pandémie de Covid-19, le CDC fonctionnait déjà sur la base de rendez-vous, excepté pour les situations les plus urgentes."Toutes nos lignes téléphoniques sont ouvertes, et des soins médicaux d’urgence peuvent être apportés via des transferts vers des hôpitaux en ambulance", affirme le HCR. Mais il y a un frein : « beaucoup de personnes concernées craignent de dévoiler ainsi leur localisation : elles ont peur d’être ciblées par des arrestations ».Le HCR assure tout faire pour que le CDC puisse « reprendre ses activités dans les plus brefs délais ». Pendant ce temps, les centres de détention libyens sont de plus en plus surpeuplés. L’International Rescue Commitee (IRC) dénombre 5 000 nouvelles personnes placées dans ces centres, depuis le début des arrestations massives le 1er octobre. Ainsi, le plus important, Al Mabani, « compte actuellement plus de 4000 personnes - quatre fois sa capacité officielle », détaille l’organisation dans un communiqué paru ce mercredi 6 octobre. Aux côtés d’autres ONG, elle demande leur libération immédiate .
Parmi les exactions dénoncées par la mission onusienne : des attaques contre des écoles ou des hôpitaux ou encore les violences subies par les migrants.
Des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité ont été commis en Libye depuis 2016, a conclu une #mission d’#enquête d’experts de l’ONU après une enquête sur place, indique l’AFP ce lundi, confirmant des faits dénoncés de longue date.
La mission souligne que « les civils ont payé un lourd tribut » aux #violences qui déchirent la Libye depuis cinq ans, notamment en raison des attaques contre des écoles ou des hôpitaux. « Les #raids_aériens ont tué des dizaines de familles. La destruction d’infrastructures de santé a eu un impact sur l’#accès_aux_soins et les #mines_antipersonnel laissées par des #mercenaires dans des zones résidentielles ont tué et blessé des civils », souligne le rapport.
Par ailleurs, les #migrants sont soumis à toutes sortes de violences « dans les #centres_de_détention et du fait des trafiquants », en tentant de trouver un passage vers l’Europe en Libye, a dénoncé l’un des auteurs de l’enquête. « Notre enquête montre que les #agressions contre les migrants sont commises à une large échelle par des acteurs étatiques et non étatiques, avec un haut degré d’organisation et avec les encouragements de l’Etat - autant d’aspects qui laissent à penser qu’il s’agit de crimes contre l’humanité ».
Les experts soulignent aussi la situation dramatique dans les prisons libyennes, où les détenus sont parfois torturés quotidiennement et les familles empêchées de visiter. La #détention_arbitraire dans des #prisons_secrètes et dans des conditions insupportables est utilisée par l’Etat et les #milices contre tous ceux qui sont perçus comme une menace.
« La violence est utilisée à une telle échelle dans les prisons libyennes et à un tel degré d’organisation que cela peut aussi potentiellement constituer un crime contre l’humanité », a souligné Tracy Robinson.
Les auteurs du rapport notent que la justice libyenne enquête également sur la plupart des cas évoqués par la mission de l’ONU, mais notent que « le processus pour punir les gens coupables de violations ou de #maltraitances est confronté à des défis importants ».
La mission composée de trois experts, Mohamed Auajjar, Chaloka Beyani et Tracy Robinson, a rassemblé des centaines de documents, interviewé 150 personnes et menée l’enquête en Libye même, mais aussi en Tunisie et en Italie.
Cette mission indépendante a toutefois décidé de ne pas publier « la liste des individus et groupes (aussi bien libyens qu’étrangers) qui pourraient être responsables pour les violations, les abus et les crimes commis en Libye depuis 2016 ». « Cette liste confidentielle le restera, jusqu’à ce que se fasse jour le besoin de la publier ou de la partager » avec d’autres instances pouvant demander des comptes aux responsables.
Le rapport doit être présenté au Conseil des droits de l’homme à Genève - la plus haute instance de l’ONU dans ce domaine - le 7 octobre.
Il 19 febbraio sono apparsi in diversi luoghi della Cirenaica sei cartelli che raccontano brevemente l’origine del rione e la sua doppia anima antifascista e anticolonialista. La guerriglia odonomastica è stata realizzata da #Resistenze_in_Cirenaica cantiere culturale nato all’interno del Vag61 che si occupa di memoria storica e anticolonialismo.
“Il 19 febbraio di 84 anni fa – scrivono – ci fu il massacro di Addis Abeba, uno dei tanti crimini del colonialismo italiano. Una data che in Etiopia è lutto nazionale, ma nel nostro paese che non ha mai fatto i conti con il suo passato, è un giorno qualsiasi. Ma non per tutt*, in molte città si è ricordato Yekatit 12 (l’equivalente del 19 febbraio nel calendario etiope), con azioni di guerriglia odonomastica. In Cirenaica si è voluto ricordare questa giornata, ricordando i crimini del colonialismo italiano, passato e presente, la barbarie del fascismo e la Resistenza che lo ha sconfitto”.
Il rione, costruito a ridosso della guerra italo-turca del 1911-12 che portò alla conquista della Libia, conserva della vecchia odonomastica colonialista solo la sua direttrice principale, via Libia, grazie alla sostituzione nel 1949 della toponomastica originaria con gli eroi della Resistenza (Giuseppe Bentivogli, Sante Vincenzi, Mario Musolesi, Paolo Fabbri, Gianni Palmieri, Massenzio Masia, Ilio Barontini, Gastone Rossi, Francesco Sabatucci).
“In nessun punto della discussione della seduta del consiglio comunale di Bologna del 16 aprile 1949 – scrive, però, Resistenze in Cirenaica -, troverete la critica al colonialismo che oggi siamo in grado di fare. Nondimeno, la decisione fu presa, e su quella decisione oggi noi possiamo fare leva, per andare oltre quelle cautele, quelle circonlocuzioni, quelle frasi pesate col bilancino”.
#guérilla_odonymique #guérilla_toponymique #toponymie #anti-colonialisme #anti-fascisme #Italie #mémoire #Libye #résistance #Bologne #Bologna #Bologna-Portomaggiore #Italie_coloniale #colonialisme_italien
Images postées sur FB sur le site du Ministère de l’intérieur libyen le 12 septembre à 19h10 :
The Life Cycle of the Libyan Coastal Highway: Italian Colonialism, Coloniality, and the Future of Reparative Justice in the Mediterranean
This paper explores the role of the Libyan Coastal Highway across history: originally built by fascist Italy during colonisation, in the postcolonial era Libya demanded Italy commit to the construction of a new motorway as part of the reparation process for its crimes. Only in 2008 was an agreement reached. Through it, Italy used the promise to build a new road as a bargaining‐chip to secure Qaddafi’s cooperation in containing migrant mobility across the Mediterranean. This paper explores the different ways in which the Libyan road has endured as a space and a tool of power by tracing historical and political continuities across time, from colonisation to demands for postcolonial reparations and migration governance. Drawing inspiration from the notion of “coloniality”, the paper investigates the colonial continuum expressed by the Italian/Libyan reparation process, and seeks to posit alternative pathways towards the unresolved question of postcolonial justice around the Mediterranean.
L’article sur le site web de l’éditeur, Antipode:
The Afterlife of Fascist Colonial Architecture: A Critical Manifesto
The listing of the capital of Eritrea Asmara as #UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 has raised a series of contradictory questions around Italian fascist colonial heritage: is the nomination part of the longer path of Eritrea’s decolonization and reappropriation of its colonial history or does this lead to the celebration of modernist architecture and its entanglements with colonialism and fascism? This essay draws inspiration from the case of #Asmara, as a way to stir a debate around the afterlife of colonial fascist architecture, and its critical reuse. By discussing the interrelated concepts of repair, reparations, and prothesis within the debates in heritage studies and to the practices of architectural preservation, this essay claims a space for architectural heritage in the entangled struggles of decolonization and de-fascistization. Moreover, it reads fascism’s architectural heritage—and its histories of dispossession and violence—as part of modernism’s controversial history of segregation that cut across the southern and northern hemispheres. In so doing this essay introduces the concept of de-modernization into the debate around critical architectural preservation as part of a transnational struggle for justice against old and new forms of fascisms and colonialisms.
Per sorvegliare i migranti l’Ue fa affari con i #contractor
- È un’area grigia nel cuore del Mediterraneo, una zona d’ombra dove la parola “sovranità” è soprattutto #business. Produttori di armi e munizioni, mediatori specializzati in sicurezza e fornitura di #contractors, navi cariche di fucili automatici che funzionano come vere e proprie Santa barbara fluttuanti.
– In questa terra di mezzo dove si incontrano trafficanti e governi, i migranti sono prima di tutto un lucroso affare.
- Nel progetto #Rapsody di #Esa, che dovrebbe controllare il Mediterraneo con droni, compare #Sovereign_Global_Uk azienda riconducibile all’imprenditore #Fenech, arrestato per aver violato l’embargo sulla vendita di armi ai libici.
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.
- 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).
#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
Sur le Colonel Mouammar Kadhafi, la troisième théorie universelle et la Jamahiriya libyenne | En dehors de la boîte
Dans un campement bédouin aux abords de Syrte, en juin 1942, un homme est né d’un gardien de chèvres et de chameaux ; son nom est Mouammar Mohammed Abu Minyar al-Kadhafi. Sa tribu, les Qadhadhfa, est d’origine berbère arabisée, bien qu’il ait été affirmé que la grand-mère maternelle de Kadhafi était une femme juive convertie à l’islam. À l’époque de la naissance de Kadhafi, la Libye est régie par un système monarchique rétrograde et injuste, avec le roi corrompu Idris Ier à la tête d’un pays en fait régentée par des sociétés et des intérêts étrangers.
Mediterranean carcerality and acts of escape
In recent years, migrants seeking refuge in Europe have faced capture and containment in the Mediterranean – the result of experimentation by EU institutions and member states.
About two years ago, in June 2019, a group of 75 people found themselves stranded in the central Mediterranean Sea. The migrant group had tried to escape from Libya in order to reach Europe but was adrift at sea after running out of fuel. Monitored by European aerial assets, they saw a vessel on the horizon slowly moving toward them. When they were eventually rescued by the Maridive 601, an offshore supply vessel, they did not know that it would become their floating prison for nearly three weeks. Malta and Italy refused to allocate a port of safety in Europe, and, at first, the Tunisian authorities were equally unwilling to allow them to land.
Over 19 days, the supply vessel turned from a floating refuge into an offshore carceral space in which the situation for the rescued deteriorated over time. Food and water were scarce, untreated injuries worsened, scabies spread, as did the desperation on board. The 75 people, among them 64 Bangladeshi migrants and dozens of minors, staged a protest on board, chanting: “We don’t need food, we don’t want to stay here, we want to go to Europe.”
Reaching Europe, however, seemed increasingly unlikely, with Italy and Malta rejecting any responsibility for their disembarkation. Instead, the Tunisian authorities, the Bangladeshi embassy, and the #International_Organisation_for_Migration (#IOM) arranged not only their landing in Tunisia, but also the removal of most of them to their countries of origin. Shortly after disembarkation in the harbour of Zarzis, dozens of the migrants were taken to the runways of Tunis airport and flown out.
In a recently published article in the journal Political Geography, I have traced the story of this particular migrant group and their zig-zagging trajectories that led many from remote Bangladeshi villages, via Dubai, Istanbul or Alexandria, to Libya, and eventually onto a supply vessel off the Tunisian coast. Although their situation was certainly unique, it also exemplified the ways in which the Mediterranean has turned into a ‘carceral seascape’, a space where people precariously on the move are to be captured and contained in order to prevent them from reaching European shores.
While forms of migrant capture and containment have, of course, a much longer history in the European context, the past ten years have seen particularly dramatic transformations in the central Mediterranean Sea. When the Arab Uprisings ‘re-opened’ this maritime corridor in and after 2011, crossings started to increase significantly – about 156,000 people crossed to Europe on average every year between 2014 and 2017. Since then, crossings have dropped sharply. The annual average between 2018 and 2020 was around 25,000 people – a figure resembling annual arrivals in the period before the Arab Uprisings.
One significant reason for this steep decrease in arrivals is the refoulement industry that EU institutions and member states have created, together with third-country allies. The capture of people seeking to escape to Europe has become a cruel trade, of which a range of actors profit. Although ‘refouling’ people on the move – thus returning them to places where they are at risk of facing torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment – violates international human rights laws and refugee conventions, these practices have become systemic and largely normalised, not least as the COVID pandemic has come to serve as a suitable justification to deter potential ‘Corona-spreaders’ and keep them contained elsewhere.
That migrants face capture and containment in the Mediterranean is the result of years of experimentation on part of EU institutions and member states. Especially since 2018, Europe has largely withdrawn maritime assets from the deadliest areas but reinforced its aerial presence instead, including through the recent deployment of drones. In this way, European assets do not face the ‘risk’ of being forced into rescue operations any longer but can still monitor the sea from above and guide North African, in particular Libyan, speed boats to chase after escaping migrant boats. In consequence, tens of thousands have faced violent returns to places they sought to flee from.
Just in 2021 alone, about 16,000 people have been caught at sea and forcibly returned to Libya in this way, already more than in the whole of 2020. In mid-June, a ‘push-back by proxy’ occurred, when the merchant vessel Vos Triton handed over 170 migrants to a Libyan coastguard vessel that then returned them to Tripoli, where they were imprisoned in a camp known for its horrendous conditions.
The refoulment industry, and Mediterranean carcerality more generally, are underpinned by a constant flow of finances, technologies, equipment, discourses, and know-how, which entangles European and Libyan actors to a degree that it might make more sense to think of them as a collective Euro-Libyan border force.
To legitimise war-torn and politically divided Libya as a ‘competent’ sovereign actor, able to govern the maritime expanse outside its territorial waters, the European Commission funded, and the Italian coastguard implemented, a feasibility study in 2017 to assess “the Libyan capacity in the area of Search and Rescue” (SAR). Shortly after, the Libyan ‘unity government’ declared its extensive Libyan SAR zone, a zone over which it would hold ‘geographical competence’. When the Libyan authorities briefly suspended the establishment of its SAR zone, given its inability to operate a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), an Italian navy vessel was stationed within Tripoli harbour, carrying out the functions of the Libyan MRCC.
Since 2017, €57.2m from the EU Trust Fund for Africa has funded Libya’s ‘integrated border management’, on top of which hundreds of millions of euros were transferred by EU member states to Libyan authorities through bilateral agreements. Besides such financial support, EU member states have donated speed boats and surveillance technologies to control the Libyan SAR zone while officers from EU military project Operation Sophia and from European Border Agency Frontex have repeatedly provided training to the Libyan coastguards. When out to search for escaping migrants, the Libyan speed boats have relied on Europe’s ‘eyes in the sky’, the aerial assets of Frontex and EU member states. Migrant sightings from the sky would then be relayed to the Libyan assets at sea, also via WhatsApp chats in which Frontex personnel and Libyan officers exchange.
Thinking of the Mediterranean as a carceral space highlights these myriad Euro-Libyan entanglements that often take place with impunity and little public scrutiny. It also shows how maritime carcerality is “often underscored by mobilities”. Indeed, systematic forms of migrant capture depend on the collaboration of a range of mobile actors at sea, on land, and in the sky. Despite their incessant movements and the fact that surveillance and interception operations are predominantly characterised as rescue operations, thousands of people have lost their lives at sea over recent years. Many have been left abandoned even in situations where their whereabouts were long known to European and North African authorities, often in cases when migrant boats were already adrift and thus unable to reach Europe on their own accord.
At the same time, even in the violent and carceral Mediterranean Sea, a range of interventions have occurred that have prevented both deaths at sea and the smooth operation of the refoulment industry. NGO rescuers, activists, fishermen and, at times, merchant vessel crews have conducted mass rescues over recent years, despite being harassed, threatened and criminalised by Euro-Libyan authorities at every turn. Through their presence, they have documented and repeatedly ruptured the operations of the Euro-Libyan border force, shedding light on what is meant to remain hidden.
Maybe most importantly, the Mediterranean’s carceral condition has not erased the possibility of migratory acts of escape. Indeed, tactics of border subversion adapt to changing carceral techniques, with many migrant boats seeking to cross the sea without being detected and to reach European coasts autonomously. As the UNHCR notes in reference to the maritime arrival of 34,000 people in Italy and Malta in 2020: “Only approximately 4,500 of those arriving by sea in 2020 had been rescued by authorities or NGOs on the high seas: the others were intercepted by the authorities close to shore or arrived undetected.”
While most of those stuck on the Maridive supply vessel off Tunisia’s coast in 2019 were returned to countries of origin, some tried to cross again and eventually escaped Mediterranean carcerality. Despite Euro-North African attempts to capture and contain them, they moved on stubbornly, and landed their boats in Lampedusa.
#enfermement #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #expérimentation #OIM #Tunisie #Zarzis #externalisation #migrerrance #carcéralité #refoulement #push-backs #Libye #Vos_Triton #EU_Trust_Fund_for_Africa #Trust_Fund #carceral_space
Le nombre de migrants morts en mer en tentant de rejoindre l’Europe a doublé en un an
Le nombre de migrants ayant péri en mer en tentant de rejoindre l’Europe a plus que doublé cette année, a fait savoir, mercredi 14 juillet, l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), qui appelle les Etats à prendre des mesures urgentes. Selon les statistiques publiées par l’OIM dans un nouveau rapport, au moins 1 146 personnes sont mortes en mer en tentant de rejoindre l’Europe au cours du premier semestre 2021. En 2020, 513 avaient péri au cours de la même période, et 674 en 2019.
" Les organisations civiles de recherche et de sauvetage ont continué à se heurter à des obstacles importants, la majorité de leurs bateaux étant bloqués dans les ports européens en raison de saisies administratives et de procédures pénales et administratives en cours contre les membres d’équipage », constate le rapport. L’OIM note également que l’augmentation du nombre de morts est constatée à un moment où les interceptions d’embarcations transportant des migrants au large des côtes nord-africaines sont en hausse.
Depuis des années, l’Italie et l’Union européenne financent, entraînent et équipent les gardes-côtes libyens pour qu’ils empêchent les passeurs de convoyer en Europe des migrants et réfugiés à bord d’embarcations de fortune. En outre, un navire de la marine italienne ancré à Tripoli leur fournit une assistance technique. Les gardes-côtes font pourtant face à de multiples accusations de mauvais traitements envers des demandeurs d’asile, conduisant nombre d’ONG à dénoncer cette politique. En vertu du droit maritime international, les personnes secourues en mer devraient être débarquées dans un port sûr. Et l’ONU ne considère pas la Libye comme un port sûr.
« L’OIM réitère l’appel lancé aux Etats pour qu’ils prennent des mesures urgentes et proactives afin de réduire les pertes de vies sur les routes migratoires maritimes vers l’Europe et qu’ils respectent leurs obligations en vertu du droit international », a déclaré le directeur général de l’OIM, Antonio Vitorino, cité dans un communiqué. « L’augmentation des efforts de recherche et de sauvetage, la mise en place de mécanismes de débarquement prévisibles et la garantie d’un accès à des voies de migration sûres et légales sont des étapes-clés pour atteindre cet objectif. »Au cours des six premiers mois de l’année, la majorité des décès ont été enregistrés en mer Méditerranée (896), ce qui représente une augmentation de 130 % par rapport à la même période en 2020. La plupart des migrants sont morts en Méditerranée centrale (741), régulièrement décrite par les organismes humanitaires comme la route migratoire la plus dangereuse au monde, suivie de la Méditerranée orientale (149). Six ont péri en voulant rejoindre par mer la Grèce depuis la Turquie.Pendant cette même période, au moins 250 migrants ont péri en mer durant leur tentative de traversée vers les îles Canaries, situées dans l’océan Atlantique. Toutefois, ces chiffres sont certainement bien inférieurs à la réalité, souligne l’OIM, qui fait valoir que « des centaines de cas de naufrages invisibles » sont signalés par des ONG qui sont en contact direct avec les personnes à bord ou avec leurs familles.
Le rapport montre une augmentation pour la deuxième année d’affilée des opérations maritimes menées par les Etats d’Afrique du Nord le long de la route de la Méditerranée centrale. Selon l’OIM, plus de 31 500 personnes ont été interceptées ou secourues par les autorités nord-africaines au cours du premier semestre, contre 23 117 au cours des six premiers mois de 2020. Ce type d’opérations menées au large des côtes tunisiennes a augmenté de 90 % au cours du premier semestre par rapport à la même période l’an dernier. En outre, plus de 15 300 personnes ont été renvoyées en Libye au cours des six premiers mois de 2021, soit près de trois fois plus qu’à la même période en 2020 (5 476). Pour l’OIM, cette situation est « préoccupante étant donné que les migrants qui sont renvoyés en Libye sont soumis à des détentions arbitraires, des extorsions, des disparitions et des actes de torture ».
L’Afrique face au Covid-19 : en Tunisie, « le système de santé s’effondre »
L’Afrique face au Covid-19 : en Tunisie, « le système de santé s’effondre »
La situation sanitaire est « catastrophique » en Tunisie, qui enregistre ces dernières semaines un nombre record de contaminations au Covid-19, a annoncé, jeudi 8 juillet, Nissaf Ben Alaya, la porte-parole du ministère de la santé, reconnaissant que « le système sanitaire du pays s’est malheureusement effondré ». Selon Mme Ben Alaya, qui s’exprimait lors d’un entretien accordé à une radio tunisienne, il est désormais difficile de trouver un lit disponible ou d’avoir la quantité nécessaire d’oxygène dans les hôpitaux du pays : « Si nous n’unissons pas nos efforts, la catastrophe [sanitaire] va empirer. »
Les hôpitaux tunisiens connaissent depuis deux semaines un important afflux de patients durant cette vague de propagation du coronavirus qui atteint des niveaux inédits. Mardi, la Tunisie a enregistré 9 823 cas (dont 134 décès) en une journée, des chiffres jamais atteints depuis mars 2020, alors que le pays voit se propager les variants Alpha et Bêta. Au total ont été recensés 473 229 cas de contamination au Covid-19, dont 15 861 décès, pour environ 12 millions d’habitants. Sur plus 3 millions de personnes inscrites pour se faire vacciner, seulement 608 332 ont reçu les deux doses.
Face à la situation, la Libye voisine a décidé jeudi de fermer ses frontières et de suspendre les vols avec la Tunisie pour une semaine. Les autorités tunisiennes ont, elles, ordonné le confinement de la population dans six gouvernorats, dont Tunis et sa banlieue, jusqu’au 31 juillet et l’interdiction des déplacements entre régions.
MIGRANTI : “AUMENTANO DI NUOVO I FONDI ITALIANI ALLA GUARDIA COSTIERA LIBICA”
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”.
“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”.
La Malédiction du #pétrole
Le pétrole est devenu indispensable à l’économie mondiale, c’est sa plus grande richesse, mais aussi sa plus grande malédiction. Retraçant l’histoire de ce paradoxe les auteurs se penchent avec acuité sur le sujet.
Depuis près d’un siècle et demi, l’or noir a été le moteur de la croissance et la source des plus grands malheurs. Combien de temps cet état va-t-il durer alors que même la catastrophe écologique du réchauffement climatique ne semble pas peser dans la décision de s’en passer ? Mais à quand remonte cette course à l’abîme ? C’est ce que les auteurs entreprennent de raconter.
#Caucase #Russie #Frères_Nobel #raffinerie #Branobel #Bakou #pipeline #steam-tanker #marée_noire #Rotschild #puits_de_pétrole #mer_Noire #Batoumi #Bnito #puits_de_Bibi-Heybat #histoire #compagnie_pétrolière #Mer_Caspienne #industrie_pétrolière #Pennsylvanie #Edwin_Drake #potion_Drake #Oil_Creek #Pithole #Devil_Bill #John_Davison_Rockfeller #Rockfeller #Standard_Oil_Company #7_soeurs #John_Rockfeller #Cleveland #raffinage #Massacre_de_Cleveland #Sumatra #Staline #Koba #grèves #Royal_Dutch_Shell #industrie_automobile #OPEP #moteur_à_explosion #Jamais_contente #Henry_Ford #Ford #Ford_Motor_Company #moteur_électrique #General_Motors #Ford_T #Detroit #USA #Etats-Unis #Indonésie #colonialisme #essence #énergie #progrès #Esso #Stocony #Socal #Gulf_oil #Texaco #Anglo-persian_oil #William_Knox_d'Arey #Perse #Plaine_du_Naphte #guerre #comité_des_vaisseaux_terrestres #tank #Irak #Compagnie_française_des_pétroles (#CFP) #Total #accords_Sykes-Picot #Moyen-Orient #simple_ligne_de_sable #désert_arabique #Rub_al-khali #Standard_oil_of_California #Ras_Tanura #Harry_St_John_Bridger_Philby #Sheikh_Abdullah #Quart_vide #Kim_Philby #Philby #Arabie_Saoudite #Saoud #WWI #WWII #première_guerre_mondiale #seconde_guerre_mondiale #Canal_de_Suez #Red_Bell_Express #Pacte_de_Quincy #Algérie #Sahara_algérien #extractivisme #CIA #Saddam_Hussein #Arabian_American_oil_company (#ARAMCO) #Ghawar #combine_en_or #Venezuela #optimisation_fiscale #Iran #ENI #Libye #Italie #Pier_Paolo_Pasolini #Enrico_Mattei #guerre_du_Kippour #choc_pétrolier #Conférence_de_Bagdad (1960) #Juan_Pablo_Pérez_Alfonzo #Abdullah_al-Tariki #King_Hubbert #Trente_Glorieuses #premier_choc_pétrolier #Exxon_Mobile #BP-Amoco #pétrole_de_schiste #plateformes_offshore #groupe_Carlyle #Carlyle #schiste #fisc
La question migratoire revient au Conseil européen
La question migratoire revient au Conseil européen. La proposition d’un « pacte global pour la migration » présentée par la Commission en septembre 2020, reste bloquée, même si les Vingt-sept se sont mis d’accord sur certains aspects du projet, comme l’Agence européenne sur l’asile. La discussion entre les chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement de l’Union européenne, réunis en sommet jeudi 24 et vendredi 25 juin, promettait, selon leur entourage, d’être rapide mais elle traduit, en tout cas, l’inquiétude des uns et des autres. Alors que la météo s’améliore et que la pandémie du Covid-19 recule, le dossier de la migration revient, en effet, au premier plan. En Italie, en Grèce, en Espagne, mais aussi en Lituanie qui a vu arriver récemment, à sa frontière avec la Biélorussie, quelque 400 réfugiés, irakiens, syriens et afghans notamment. « Ce n’est pas beaucoup, mais ça change la perception de l’est sur les sujets migratoires », confie-t-on à la Commission.
Selon les dernières données de l’agence Frontex, les tentatives de franchissement sont partout à la hausse par rapport à 2020, sauf en Méditerranée orientale (6 215 depuis le début de 2021, soit - 47 %). Elles ont augmenté de 151 % en Méditerranée centrale (15 717) et de 104 % (14 723) dans les Balkans occidentaux.
Privilège abonnés Les pays d’immigration secondaire, comme la France ou l’Allemagne, qui reprochent toujours à l’Italie ou à la Grèce de ne pas contrôler suffisamment leurs frontières s’inquiètent aussi. « Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait le moindre progrès en Italie pour l’instant », insiste un diplomate d’un pays du nord.
En Allemagne, on redoute que la question ne vienne polluer la campagne électorale en vue du scrutin législatif de septembre. « Le pays enregistre en ce moment un peu moins de 400 demandeurs d’asile par jour, comme avant le Covid », indique une source. La chancelière Angela Merkel a échangé sur le sujet avec le président Emmanuel Macron, qu’elle recevait à dîner vendredi 18 juin, et avec Mario Draghi, le président du Conseil italien, qui s’est rendu à Berlin lundi. A cette occasion, la chancelière a souligné la nécessité de maintenir une coopération étroite avec la Turquie. Pour le premier ministre italien, le sujet est politiquement inflammable et il avait tiré la sonnette d’alarme les 24 et 25 mai, lors de la précédente rencontre entre les Vingt-Sept. « On a mis le sujet à l’ordre du jour par correction pour Draghi, mais il ne faut pas en attendre trop », confie toutefois une source à Bruxelles.
La proposition d’un « pacte global pour la migration » présentée par la Commission en septembre 2020, reste bloquée, même si les Vingt-sept se sont mis d’accord sur certains aspects du projet, comme l’Agence européenne sur l’asile. La présidence portugaise de l’Union ne comptait pas faire de ce thème une priorité. Quant à la Slovénie, qui lui succédera le 1er juillet, elle est désormais rangée, avec la Hongrie et ses partenaires du Groupe de Visegrad, dans le camp des opposants à une politique coordonnée et solidaire. Entre les Européens de l’Est qui refusent de prendre leur part du fardeau et les pays du Sud qui ne veulent pas assumer seuls la responsabilité de l’accueil des migrants, le débat semble inextricable. Pendant ce temps, l’Europe forteresse se constitue, la Grèce construit un mur aux allures trumpiennes sur la frontière avec la Turquie, les refoulements illégaux de demandeurs d’asile se multiplient et tant le Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés que l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations lancent un avertissement : la détérioration constante des conditions de vie des migrants en Libye, couplée au retour du beau temps, pourrait entraîner de nouvelles vagues migratoires. D’autant que les canaux légaux promis par les Européens restent une autre chimère.
L’International Rescue Committee insiste de son côté sur les conditions de détention « horribles » dans des centres de détention libyens en proie à la violence, ce qui ne peut qu’inciter des migrants à tenter des traversées qui ont déjà entraîné la mort de plus de 500 personnes cette année. Faute d’accord possible sur le pacte et les sujets qui divisent, les dirigeants tenteront au moins d’avancer sur ceux qui feraient consensus. En l’occurrence, le renouvellement de l’accord de coopération conclu avec la Turquie en 2016. La Commission aimerait que les Etats membres participent au financement de la « facilité » mise en place pour aider financièrement Ankara à accueillir et à gérer les réfugiés, comme ils l’ont fait en 2015 et 2016 (à hauteur de la moitié du total de 6 milliards d’euros).
Les Vingt-sept ne le voient pas de cet œil. « Le budget pluriannuel de l’Union européenne vient d’être renouvelé [pour la période 2021-2027], il y a de l’argent et donc il n’y a aucune raison que les Etats membres mettent de nouveau au pot », confie un diplomate. Ursula von der Leyen, la présidente de la Commission, a annoncé, mardi 22 juin, qu’elle ferait une proposition aux Vingt-sept à l’occasion du Conseil. Elle se verra peut-être objecter que les politiques d’asile, de migration et de contrôle des frontières disposeront, pour la période 2021-2027, d’un budget de 18 milliards qui vient d’être adopté par le Conseil. Le principe du renforcement de la coopération avec les pays tiers, et notamment la Libye et la Tunisie, semble, lui, entériné, avec un budget d’un milliard par an. « Il s’agit de mettre en place des leviers, c’est-à-dire conditionner nos financements ou la délivrance de visas à la coopération avec les pays tiers », résume un diplomate. Paris et Rome se sont entendus sur une liste d’actions à négocier avec des pays tiers – lutte contre les trafiquants, le retour des déboutés du droit d’asile, le « traitement des causes du départ ». Ils tentent de rallier d’autres pays à ce projet, évoqué, comme d’autres, depuis un long moment.
#Tripoli (Libye) : l’ancien QG de Kadhafi est squatté depuis près de dix ans
Note de Squat !net : Une fois n’est pas coutume, du fait du peu d’informations directes que nous avons en provenance de #Libye, nous reprenons ici un article issu de la presse francophone mainstream. L’ancien QG de Kadhafi, squatté par des dizaines de familles AFP | Dimanche 20 juin 2021 Tombé en ruine après la chute du […]
“En mer, pas de taxis” : le SOS de la Méditerranée avec Roberto Saviano et Sophie Beau
Interview de l’écrivain et journaliste Roberto Saviano à propos de la question des migrants et de leur sauvetage en Méditerranée. Avec en particulier la question de l’intérêt des partis à poursuivre (et durcir !) des politiques ayant un coût humain aussi effroyable...
Pour la première fois, des drones auraient attaqué des humains de leur propre initiative
D’après un rapport des Nations unies publié en mars dernier, des #attaques de #drones sans aucune intervention humaine ont été recensées en #Libye. On ne sait pas s’il y a eu des victimes, mais cet événement prouverait que les tentatives de réguler les #robots_tueurs ont déjà un train de retard.
Attention néanmoins, l’expression propre initiative est peut-être mal choisie, ces drones étaient programmés pour attaquer sans ordre explicite humain, ils n’ont pas soudain décidé de changer leur doctrine.
Logistics convoys and retreating HAF were subsequently hunted down and
remotely engaged by the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or the lethal autonomous
weapons systems such as the STM Kargu-2 (see annex 30) and other loitering munitions.
The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without
requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true “fire,
forget and find” capability.
Revealed: 2,000 refugee deaths linked to illegal EU pushbacks
A Guardian analysis finds EU countries used brutal tactics to stop nearly 40,000 asylum seekers crossing borders
EU member states have used illegal operations to push back at least 40,000 asylum seekers from Europe’s borders during the pandemic, methods being linked to the death of more than 2,000 people, the Guardian can reveal.
In one of the biggest mass expulsions in decades, European countries, supported by EU’s border agency #Frontex, has systematically pushed back refugees, including children fleeing from wars, in their thousands, using illegal tactics ranging from assault to brutality during detention or transportation.
The Guardian’s analysis is based on reports released by UN agencies, combined with a database of incidents collected by non-governmental organisations. According to charities, with the onset of Covid-19, the regularity and brutality of pushback practices has grown.
“Recent reports suggest an increase of deaths of migrants attempting to reach Europe and, at the same time, an increase of the collaboration between EU countries with non-EU countries such as Libya, which has led to the failure of several rescue operations,’’ said one of Italy’s leading human rights and immigration experts, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, professor of asylum law at the University of Palermo. ‘’In this context, deaths at sea since the beginning of the pandemic are directly or indirectly linked to the EU approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe and the increasing externalisation of migration control to countries such as Libya.’’
The findings come as the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, Olaf, has launched an investigation into Frontex (▻https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/20/eu-migration-chief-urges-frontex-to-clarify-pushback-allegations) over allegations of harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations aimed at stopping asylum seekers from reaching EU shores.
According to the International Organization for Migration (▻https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals), in 2020 almost 100,000 immigrants arrived in Europe by sea and by land compared with nearly 130,000 in 2019 and 190,000 in 2017.
Since January 2020, despite the drop in numbers, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Spain have accelerated their hardline migration agenda. Since the introduction of partial or complete border closures to halt the outbreak of coronavirus, these countries have paid non-EU states and enlisted private vessels to intercept boats in distress at sea and push back passengers into detention centres. There have been repeated reports of people being beaten, robbed, stripped naked at frontiers or left at sea.
In 2020 Croatia, whose police patrol the EU’s longest external border, have intensified systemic violence and pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) recorded nearly 18,000 migrants pushed back by Croatia since the start of the pandemic. Over the last year and a half, the Guardian has collected testimonies of migrants who have allegedly been whipped, robbed, sexually abused and stripped naked (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/21/croatian-police-accused-of-sickening-assaults-on-migrants-on-balkans-tr) by members of the Croatian police. Some migrants said they were spray-painted with red crosses on their heads by officers who said the treatment was the “cure against coronavirus” (▻https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/28/they-made-crosses-on-our-heads-refugees-report-abuse-by-croatian-police).
According to an annual report released on Tuesday by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) (►https://www.borderviolence.eu/annual-torture-report-2020), a coalition of 13 NGOs documenting illegal pushbacks in the western Balkans, abuse and disproportionate force was present in nearly 90% of testimonies in 2020 collected from Croatia, a 10% increase on 2019.
In April, the Guardian revealed how a woman from Afghanistan was allegedly sexually abused (▻https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/07/croatian-border-police-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-afghan-migrant) and held at knifepoint by a Croatian border police officer during a search of migrants on the border with Bosnia.
“Despite the European Commission’s engagement with Croatian authorities in recent months, we have seen virtually no progress, neither on investigations of the actual reports, nor on the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms,” said Nicola Bay, DRC country director for Bosnia. “Every single pushback represents a violation of international and EU law – whether it involves violence or not.”
Since January 2020, Greece has pushed back about 6,230 asylum seekers from its shores, according to data from BVMN. The report stated that in 89% of the pushbacks, “BVMN has observed the disproportionate and excessive use of force. This alarming number shows that the use of force in an abusive, and therefore illicit, way has become a normality […]
“Extremely cruel examples of police violence documented in 2020 included prolonged excessive beatings (often on naked bodies), water immersion, the physical abuse of women and children, the use of metal rods to inflict injury.”
In testimonies, people described how their hands were tied to the bars of cells and helmets put on their heads before beatings to avoid visible bruising.
A lawsuit filed against the Greek state in April at the European court of human rights (►https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea) accused Athens of abandoning dozens of migrants in life rafts at sea, after some had been beaten. The case claims that Greek patrol boats towed migrants back to Turkish waters and abandoned them at sea without food, water, lifejackets or any means to call for help.
BVMN said: “Whether it be using the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown to serve as a cover for pushbacks, fashioning open-air prisons, or preventing boats from entering Greek waters by firing warning shots toward boats, the evidence indicates the persistent refusal to uphold democratic values, human rights and international and European law.”
According to UNHCR data, since the start of the pandemic, Libyan authorities – with Italian support since 2017, when Rome ceded responsibility (▻https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/23/mother-and-child-drown-after-being-abandoned-off-libya-says-ngo) for overseeing Mediterranean rescue operations to Libya – intercepted and pushed back to Tripoli about 15,500 asylum seekers. The controversial strategy has caused the forced return of thousands to Libyan detention centres where, according to first hand reports, they face torture. Hundreds have drowned when neither Libya nor Italy intervened.
“In 2020 this practice continued, with an increasingly important role being played by Frontex planes, sighting boats at sea and communicating their position to the Libyan coastguard,” said Matteo de Bellis, migration researcher at Amnesty International. “So, while Italy at some point even used the pandemic as an excuse to declare that its ports were not safe for the disembarkation of people rescued at sea, it had no problem with the Libyan coastguard returning people to Tripoli. Even when this was under shelling or when hundreds were forcibly disappeared immediately after disembarkation.”
In April, Italy and Libya were accused of deliberately ignoring a mayday call (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) from a migrant boat in distress in Libyan waters, as waves reached six metres. A few hours later, an NGO rescue boat discovered dozens of bodies (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) floating in the waves. That day 130 migrants were lost at sea.
In April, in a joint investigation with the Italian Rai News and the newspaper Domani, the Guardian saw documents from Italian prosecutors detailing conversations between two commanders of the Libyan coastguard and an Italian coastguard officer in Rome. The transcripts appeared to expose the non-responsive behaviour (▻https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/16/wiretaps-migrant-boats-italy-libya-coastguard-mediterranean) of the Libyan officers and their struggling to answer the distress calls which resulted in hundreds of deaths. At least five NGO boats remain blocked in Italian ports as authorities claim administrative reasons for holding them.
“Push- and pull-back operations have become routine, as have forms of maritime abandonment where hundreds were left to drown,’’ said a spokesperson at Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress at sea. ‘’We have documented so many shipwrecks that were never officially accounted for, and so we know that the real death toll is much higher. In many of the cases, European coastguards have refused to respond – they rather chose to let people drown or to intercept them back to the place they had risked their lives to escape from. Even if all European authorities try to reject responsibility, we know that the mass dying is a direct result of both their actions and inactions. These deaths are on Europe.’’
Malta, which declared its ports closed early last year, citing the pandemic, has continued to push back hundreds of migrants using two strategies: enlisting private vessels to intercept asylum seekers and force them back to Libya or turning them away with directions to Italy (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/20/we-give-you-30-minutes-malta-turns-migrant-boat-away-with-directions-to).
“Between 2014 and 2017, Malta was able to count on Italy to take responsibility for coordinating rescues and allowing disembarkations,” said De Bellis. “But when Italy and the EU withdrew their ships from the central Mediterranean, to leave it in Libya’s hands, they left Malta more exposed. In response, from early 2020 the Maltese government used tactics to avoid assisting refugees and migrants in danger at sea, including arranging unlawful pushbacks to Libya by private fishing boats, diverting boats rather than rescuing them, illegally detaining hundreds of people on ill-equipped ferries off Malta’s waters, and signing a new agreement with Libya to prevent people from reaching Malta.”
Last May, a series of voice messages obtained by the Guardian (▻https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/19/exclusive-12-die-as-malta-uses-private-ships-to-push-migrants-back-to-l) confirmed the Maltese government’s strategy to use private vessels, acting at the behest of its armed forces, to intercept crossings and return refugees to Libyan detention centres.
In February 2020, the European court of human rights was accused of “completely ignoring the reality” after it ruled Spain did not violate the prohibition of collective expulsion (▻https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/european-court-under-fire-backing-spain-express-deportations), as asylum applications could be made at the official border crossing point. Relying on this judgment, Spain’s constitutional court upheld “border rejections” provided certain safeguards apply.
Last week, the bodies of 24 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were found by Spain’s maritime rescue (▻https://apnews.com/article/atlantic-ocean-canary-islands-coronavirus-pandemic-africa-migration-5ab68371. They are believed to have died of dehydration while attempting to reach the Canary Islands. In 2020, according to the UNHCR, 788 migrants died trying to reach Spain (▻https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/esp).
Frontex said they couldn’t comment on the total figures without knowing the details of each case, but said various authorities took action to respond to the dinghy that sunk off the coast of Libya (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) in April, resulting in the deaths of 130 people.
“The Italian rescue centre asked Frontex to fly over the area. It’s easy to forget, but the central Mediterranean is massive and it’s not easy or fast to get from one place to another, especially in poor weather. After reaching the area where the boat was suspected to be, they located it after some time and alerted all of the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres (MRCCs) in the area. They also issued a mayday call to all boats in the area (Ocean Viking was too far away to receive it).”
He said the Italian MRCC, asked by the Libyan MRCC, dispatched three merchant vessels in the area to assist. Poor weather made this difficult. “In the meantime, the Frontex plane was running out of fuel and had to return to base. Another plane took off the next morning when the weather allowed, again with the same worries about the safety of the crew.
“All authorities, certainly Frontex, did all that was humanly possible under the circumstances.”
He added that, according to media reports, there was a Libyan coast guard vessel in the area, but it was engaged in another rescue operation.
L’OIM fournit une aide au retour à 160 migrants bangladais depuis la Libye | Organisation internationale pour les migrations
Dhaka - En étroite coordination avec le gouvernement du Bangladesh, l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) a facilité le retour en toute sécurité de 160 migrants bangladais bloqués en Libye grâce à son programme de retour humanitaire volontaire.L’avion a quitté Benghazi, en Libye, le 4 mai et a atterri en toute sécurité à l’aéroport international Hazrat Shajalal de Dhaka le lendemain. Les migrants étaient bloqués en Libye en raison de la COVID-19 et de la situation difficile en matière de sécurité dans le pays. L’OIM a œuvré en étroite collaboration avec les autorités libyennes et l’Ambassade du Bangladesh en Libye pour aider ces personnes à rentrer chez elles. Avant le départ, les migrants ont subi des examens de santé et l’OIM leur a fourni une aide au transport avant le départ, des services de conseil et un examen de protection. Ils ont également reçu des équipements de protection individuelle (EPI) et ont passé des tests de COVID-19 (PCR) avant d’entamer leur retour au Bangladesh.
« La pandémie de COVID-19 en Libye a déclenché une série d’événements qui a conduit à une perte importante des moyens de subsistance pour des milliers de migrants. Le programme de retour humanitaire volontaire de l’OIM est la seule voie sûre et régulière pour les migrants qui veulent quitter la Libye et rentrer chez eux de manière sûre, régulière et digne », a déclaré Federico Soda, chef de mission de l’OIM en Libye. « Ces opérations sont compliquées et rendues possibles par la collaboration tripartite entre l’OIM, l’ambassade du Bangladesh en Libye et les autorités libyennes à Benghazi. Cette collaboration est soutenue financièrement par l’Union européenne. »
A Dhaka, les responsables du gouvernement bangladais et le personnel de l’OIM ont accueilli et aidé les migrants à l’aéroport international Hazrat Shahjalal, où ils ont reçu une aide en espèces pour leur transport ultérieur vers leurs destinations respectives.
Les migrants de retour recevront chacun une subvention de réintégration pour les aider à se réinsérer dans leurs communautés. Cette aide à la réintégration est particulièrement importante pour les migrants qui, dans certains cas, ont subi des traumatismes physiques et psychologiques lorsqu’ils étaient bloqués en Libye.« Notre priorité est d’offrir à ceux qui souhaitent rentrer dans leur pays un moyen sûr et digne pour le faire, et de soutenir leur réintégration. Pour ce faire, nous continuons à travailler de manière étroite et constructive avec le gouvernement du Bangladesh, et je les remercie pour leurs efforts continus », a déclaré Giorgi Gigauri, chef de mission de l’OIM au Bangladesh.Selon l’un des migrants de retour, « la vie en Libye était très dangereuse car les affrontements se poursuivaient ; j’ai décidé de rentrer dans mon pays car je ne gagnais pas assez d’argent. C’était très difficile de rester là-bas. »
Le programme de retour humanitaire volontaire de l’OIM est souvent considéré comme une bouée de sauvetage pour les migrants bloqués qui choisissent de rentrer chez eux et de reconstruire leur vie. Depuis 2015, plus de 2 900 migrants bangladais sont rentrés de Libye grâce à ce programme, qui fait partie de l’initiative conjointe UE-OIM pour la protection et la réintégration des migrants, plus vaste.
Plus de 1 400 migrants sont arrivés ce week-end sur l’île italienne de Lampedusa
Plus de 1 400 migrants sont arrivés ce week-end sur l’île italienne de Lampedusa. Ces débarquements ont été dénoncés par Matteo Salvini, le chef de la Ligue. Une ONG a averti que des centaines d’autres personnes étaient en difficulté dans les eaux maltaises.
Plus de 1 400 migrants sont arrivés samedi 8 et dimanche 9 mai à bord d’une quinzaine de bateaux sur la petite île de Lampedusa, dans le sud de l’Italie, ont rapporté les médias. Près de 400 migrants de différentes nationalités, dont vingt-quatre femmes et des enfants, se trouvaient à bord d’un navire qui a été intercepté au large de Lampedusa, ont souligné les agences de presse italiennes. Un autre bateau de 20 mètres de long transportant 325 personnes a été intercepté à quelque 13 km des côtes de cette île, tandis que des centaines d’autres migrants sont arrivés à bord d’embarcations plus petites. Ces débarquements ont été dénoncés par Matteo Salvini, le chef de la Ligue (parti d’extrême droite), qui doit être jugé pour avoir bloqué des migrants en mer en 2019 quand il était ministre de l’intérieur. « Avec des millions d’Italiens en difficulté, nous ne pouvons pas penser à des milliers d’immigrants illégaux », a-t-il déclaré, exigeant une rencontre avec le premier ministre Mario Draghi.
L’organisation non gouvernementale (ONG) Alarm Phone, qui gère une ligne téléphonique d’urgence pour aller au secours des migrants, a lancé un appel à l’aide pour recueillir les passagers de cinq bateaux transportant plus de 400 personnes au large de Malte. « La situation à bord est critique. (…) Un sauvetage est nécessaire maintenant ! », a alerté cette organisation.
Lire aussi « Je brûle ou je me fais brûler » : Adem, 25 ans et déjà quatre tentatives de quitter la Tunisie. Les autorités judiciaires siciliennes ont entre-temps reconduit ce week-end une mesure d’interdiction de toute intervention en mer du navire de sauvetage Sea-Watch 4 d’une ONG allemande, qui avait dû le garder à l’ancre au port de Palerme, en Sicile, pendant six mois, jusqu’en mars, à l’issue d’une inspection ayant permis de trouver trop de gilets de sauvetage à son bord par rapport à sa taille.
Les membres de l’ONG estiment que l’inspection était pour les autorités une manière détournée de bloquer le bâtiment et de l’empêcher de porter secours en mer aux migrants. « Nous espérons que les autorités ne nous empêcheront pas de nous rendre en Méditerranée centrale avec les mêmes accusations absurdes auxquelles nous sommes habitués », a tweeté vendredi Sea-Watch Italy au retour de sa dernière mission.Un autre navire, Sea-Watch 3, avait été bloqué en mars par les garde-côtes au port sicilien d’Augusta, sous prétexte, une nouvelle fois, de problèmes de sécurité.
Malgré la crise sanitaire liée à la pandémie de Covid-19, le mouvement de migration clandestine à partir des pays du Maghreb, notamment de la Tunisie et de la Libye, vers l’Europe s’est poursuivi, notamment à destination de l’Italie, où les migrants espèrent trouver travail et perspectives. Quelque 530 000 migrants ont atteint les côtes italiennes depuis le début de l’année 2015, selon l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), une organisation intergouvernementale ayant son siège à Genève. Entre le 1er janvier et le 21 avril 2021, 8 604 personnes sont arrivées en Italie et 65 à Malte, tandis que 359 ont péri en route, selon l’OIM.
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.https://cdn.prod.www.spiegel.de/images/f6c13dee-8c3c-4722-a201-73928107fe2a_w948_r1.77_fpx57_fpy43.jpg
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.https://cdn.prod.www.spiegel.de/images/1e63870a-96e8-4dca-ad55-dbf5098d84e3_w920_r1.5_fpx35.33_fpy55.01.jpg
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
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.
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.”https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2021/04/GettyImages-493018062.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&q=90#.jpg
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.https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2021/04/GettyImages-470781560.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&q=90#.jpg
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.https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2021/04/GettyImages-898804090.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&q=90#.jpg
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.https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2021/04/GettyImages-1172921544.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&q=90#.jpg
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.https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2021/04/GettyImages-1227828468.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&q=90#.jpg
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
A mettre en lien avec ces fils de discussion :
Intéressante enquête du New Yorker sur l’incarcération d’un jeune érythréen en Italie, accusé à tort de trafic d’êtres humains.
A propos de l’entretien avec Georges Corm publié dans « Contretemps »
L’entretien avec Georges Corm sur « Les révoltes arabes de 2011 au fil de l’histoire », publié sur le site de Contretemps le 25 février dernier , ne manque pas de surprendre. Non pas du fait de ce que Corm dit : on ne pouvait s’attendre à mieux de la part d’un ancien ministre d’un gouvernement libanais politiquement situé dans le camp pro-Assad,
Avec son « LES insurgés » Gilbert Achcar avait malheureusement montré que son sens de la nuance était proprement calamiteux.
« [...] nous devrions exiger que des armes soient livrées ouvertement et massivement aux insurgés, afin que, le plus vite possible, ils n’aient plus besoin d’un soutien militaire étranger direct. »