• Épisode 4
    Au service des ventes d’armes - Les mémos de la terreur
    Mercredi 24 Novembre 2021
    https://egypt-papers.disclose.ngo/fr/chapter/france-egypte-vente-armes

    Pour assurer des exportations d’armement vers l’Égypte, l’État français a relégué ses diplomates au second plan. Au cœur de cette stratégie mercantile, le ministre de la défense puis des affaires étrangères, Jean-Yves Le Drian, et l’Etat-major des armées. (...)

    Episode 1 : Opération Sirli - Les mémos de la terreur
    ▻►https://seenthis.net/messages/937340

    Episode 2 Les mercenaires du ciel - Les mémos de la terreur
    https://seenthis.net/messages/937425

    Épisode 3 Surveillance made in France - Les mémos de la terreur
    https://seenthis.net/messages/937592

    #FranceEgypte

  • Opération Sirli - Les mémos de la terreur
    https://egypt-papers.disclose.ngo/fr/chapter/operation-sirli

    e projet de la mission Sirli naît le 25 juillet 2015. Ce jour-là, Jean-Yves Le Drian, alors ministre de la défense de François Hollande, s’envole pour Le Caire en compagnie du directeur du renseignement militaire, le général Christophe Gomart. Il y rencontre son homologue égyptien, le ministre Sedki Sobhi dans un contexte « extrêmement favorable (…) reposant sur les récents succès des contrats Rafale et [frégates] FREMM », souligne une note diplomatique obtenue par Disclose – en avril, l’Egypte a acheté 24 avions de chasse Rafale et deux navires de guerre pour un montant de 5,6 milliards d’euros.

  • Australia signs deal with Nauru to keep asylum seeker detention centre open indefinitely

    Australia will continue its policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers indefinitely, with the home affairs minister signing a new agreement with Nauru to maintain “an enduring form” of offshore processing on the island state.Since 2012 – in the second iteration of the policy – all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat seeking protection have faced mandatory indefinite detention and processing offshore.

    There are currently about 108 people held by Australia on Nauru as part of its offshore processing regime. Most have been there more than eight years. About 125 people are still held in Papua New Guinea. No one has been sent offshore since 2014.

    However, Nauru is Australia’s only remaining offshore detention centre.PNG’s Manus Island centre was forced to shut down after it was found to be unconstitutional by the PNG supreme court in 2016. Australia was forced to compensate those who had been illegally detained there, and they were forcibly moved out, mostly to Port Moresby.

    But the Nauru detention facility will remain indefinitely.

    In a statement on Friday, home affairs minister #Karen_Andrews said a new #memorandum_of_understanding with Nauru was a “significant step forwards” for both countries.

    “Australia’s strong and successful border protection policies under #Operation_Sovereign_Borders remain and there is zero chance of settlement in Australia for anyone who arrives illegally by boat,” she said.“Anyone who attempts an illegal maritime journey to Australia will be turned back, or taken to Nauru for processing. They will never settle in Australia.”Nauru president, #Lionel_Aingimea, said the new agreement created an “enduring form” of offshore processing.

    “This takes the regional processing to a new milestone.

    “It is enduring in nature, as such the mechanisms are ready to deal with illegal migrants immediately upon their arrival in Nauru from Australia.”Australia’s offshore processing policy and practices have been consistently criticised by the United Nations, human rights groups, and by refugees themselves.

    The UN has said Australia’s system violates the convention against tortureand the international criminal court’s prosecutor said indefinite detention offshore was “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” and unlawful under international law.

    At least 12 people have died in the camps, including being murdered by guards, through medical neglect and by suicide. Psychiatrists sent to work in the camps have described the conditions as “inherently toxic” and akin to “torture”.In 2016, the Nauru files, published by the Guardian, exposed the Nauru detention centre’s own internal reports of systemic violence, rape, sexual abuse, self-harm and child abuse in offshore detention.

    The decision to extend offshore processing indefinitely has been met with opprobrium from those who were detained there, and refugee advocates who say it is deliberately damaging to those held.

    Myo Win, a human rights activist and Rohingyan refugee from Myanmar, who was formerly detained on Nauru and released in March 2021, said those who remain held within Australia’s regime on Nauru “are just so tired, separated from family, having politics played with their lives, it just makes me so upset”.

    “I am out now and I still cannot live my life on a bridging visa and in lockdown, but it is 10 times better than Nauru. They should not be extending anything, they should be stopping offshore processing now. I am really worried about everyone on Nauru right now, they need to be released.

    ”Jana Favero from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the new memorandum of understanding only extended a “failed system”.“An ‘enduring regional processing capability’ in Nauru means: enduring suffering, enduring family separation, enduring uncertainty, enduring harm and Australia’s enduring shame.

    “The #Morrison government must give the men, women and children impacted by the brutality of #offshore processing a safe and permanent home. Prolonging the failure of #offshore_processing on Nauru and #PNG is not only wrong and inhumane but dangerous.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/24/australia-signs-deal-with-nauru-to-keep-asylum-seeker-detention-centre-

    #Australie #Pacific_solution #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Nauru #externalisation #île #détention #emprisonnement

    • Multibillion-dollar strategy with no end in sight: Australia’s ‘enduring’ offshore processing deal with Nauru

      Late last month, Home Affairs Minister #Karen_Andrews and the president of Nauru, #Lionel_Aingimea, quietly announced they had signed a new agreement to establish an “enduring form” of offshore processing for asylum seekers taken to the Pacific island.

      The text of the new agreement has not been made public. This is unsurprising.

      All the publicly available information indicates Australia’s offshore processing strategy is an ongoing human rights — not to mention financial — disaster.

      The deliberate opaqueness is intended to make it difficult to hold the government to account for these human and other costs. This is, of course, all the more reason to subject the new deal with Nauru to intense scrutiny.
      Policies 20 years in the making

      In order to fully understand the new deal — and the ramifications of it — it is necessary to briefly recount 20 years of history.

      In late August 2001, the Howard government impulsively refused to allow asylum seekers rescued at sea by the Tampa freighter to disembark on Australian soil. This began policy-making on the run and led to the Pacific Solution Mark I.

      The governments of Nauru and Papua New Guinea were persuaded to enter into agreements allowing people attempting to reach Australia by boat to be detained in facilities on their territory while their protection claims were considered by Australian officials.

      By the 2007 election, boat arrivals to Australia had dwindled substantially.

      In February 2008, the newly elected Labor government closed down the facilities in Nauru and PNG. Within a year, boat arrivals had increased dramatically, causing the government to rethink its policy.

      After a couple of false starts, it signed new deals with Nauru and PNG in late 2012. An expert panel had described the new arrangements as a “necessary circuit breaker to the current surge in irregular migration to Australia”.

      This was the Pacific Solution Mark II. In contrast to the first iteration, it provided for boat arrivals taken to Nauru and PNG to have protection claims considered under the laws and procedures of the host country.

      Moreover, the processing facilities were supposedly run by the host countries, though in reality, the Australian government outsourced this to private companies.

      Despite the new arrangements, the boat arrivals continued. And on July 19, 2013, the Rudd government took a hardline stance, announcing any boat arrivals after that date would have “have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees”.
      New draconian changes to the system

      The 1,056 individuals who had been transferred to Nauru or PNG before July 19, 2013 were brought to Australia to be processed.

      PNG agreed that asylum seekers arriving after this date could resettle there, if they were recognised as refugees.

      Nauru made a more equivocal commitment and has thus far only granted 20-year visas to those it recognises as refugees.

      The Coalition then won the September 2013 federal election and implemented the military-led Operation Sovereign Borders policy. This involves turning back boat arrivals to transit countries (like Indonesia), or to their countries of origin.

      The cumulative count of interceptions since then stands at 38 boats carrying 873 people. The most recent interception was in January 2020.

      It should be noted these figures do not include the large number of interceptions undertaken at Australia’s request by transit countries and countries of origin.

      What this means is the mere existence of the offshore processing system — even in the more draconian form in place after July 2013 — has not deterred people from attempting to reach Australia by boat.

      Rather, the attempts have continued, but the interception activities of Australia and other countries have prevented them from succeeding.

      No new asylum seekers in Nauru or PNG since 2014

      Australia acknowledges it has obligations under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees — and other human rights treaties — to refrain from returning people to places where they face the risk of serious harm.

      As a result, those intercepted at sea are given on-water screening interviews for the purpose of identifying those with prima facie protection claims.

      Those individuals are supposed to be taken to Nauru or PNG instead of being turned back or handed back. Concerningly, of the 873 people intercepted since 2013, only two have passed these screenings: both in 2014.

      This means no asylum seekers have been taken to either Nauru or PNG since 2014. Since then, Australia has spent years trying to find resettlement options in third countries for recognised refugees in Nauru and PNG, such as in Cambodia and the US.

      As of April 30, 131 asylum seekers were still in PNG and 109 were in Nauru.

      A boon to the Nauruan government

      Australia has spent billions on Pacific Solution Mark II with no end in sight.

      As well as underwriting all the infrastructure and operational costs of the processing facilities, Australia made it worthwhile for Nauru and PNG to participate in the arrangements.

      For one thing, it promised to ensure spillover benefits for the local economies by, for example, requiring contractors to hire local staff. In fact, in 2019–20, the processing facility in Nauru employed 15% of the country’s entire workforce.

      And from the beginning, Nauru has required every transferee to hold a regional processing centre visa. This is a temporary visa which must be renewed every three months by the Australian government.

      The visa fee each time is A$3,000, so that’s A$12,000 per transferee per year that Australia is required to pay the Nauruan government.

      Where a transferee is found to be a person in need of protection, that visa converts automatically into a temporary settlement visa, which must be renewed every six months. The temporary settlement visa fee is A$3,000 per month — again paid by the Australian government.

      In 2019-20, direct and indirect revenue from the processing facility made up 58% of total Nauruan government revenue. It is no wonder Nauru is on board with making an “enduring form” of offshore processing available to Australia.

      ‘Not to use it, but to be willing to use it’

      In 2016, the PNG Supreme Court ruled the detention of asylum seekers in the offshore processing facility was unconstitutional. Australia and PNG then agreed to close the PNG facility in late 2017 and residents were moved to alternative accommodation. Australia is underwriting the costs.

      Australia decided, however, to maintain a processing facility in Nauru. Senator Jim Molan asked Home Affairs Secretary Michael Pezzullo about this in Senate Estimates in February 2018, saying:

      So it’s more appropriate to say that we are not maintaining Nauru as an offshore processing centre; we are maintaining a relationship with the Nauru government.

      Pezzullo responded,

      the whole purpose is, as you would well recall, in fact not to have to use those facilities. But, as in all deterrents, you need to have an asset that is credible so that you are deterring future eventualities. So the whole point of it is actually not to use it but to be willing to use it.

      This is how we ended up where we are now, with a new deal with the Nauru government for an “enduring” — that is indefinitely maintained — offshore processing capability, at great cost to the Australian people.

      Little has been made public about this new arrangement. We do know in December 2020, the incoming minister for immigration, Alex Hawke, was told the government was undertaking “a major procurement” for “enduring capability services”.

      We also know a budget of A$731.2 million has been appropriated for regional processing in 2021-22.

      Of this, $187 million is for service provider fees and host government costs in PNG. Almost all of the remainder goes to Nauru, to ensure that, beyond hosting its current population of 109 transferees, it “stands ready to receive new arrivals”.

      https://theconversation.com/multibillion-dollar-strategy-with-no-end-in-sight-australias-enduri
      #new_deal

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

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

    Key findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    –-

    Five case studies document that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • La #Guardia_Civil de #Alicante ordena a sus agentes que no compartan información con #Frontex

    Un documento interno insta a no acceder “en ningún caso” a cualquier solicitud de la Agencia Europea de Fronteras

    La Guardia Civil de Alicante se niega a facilitar información de cualquier tipo al equipo que la Agencia Europea de Fronteras (Frontex) tiene desplegado en la provincia en el marco de sus operaciones conjuntas contra la inmigración irregular. Así lo ha hecho constar a todas las unidades de la comandancia de Alicante el teniente coronel #Francisco_Poyato_Sevillano en un oficio al que ha tenido acceso EL PAÍS. Fuentes del instituto armado confirman la veracidad de esta instrucción, pero la achacan a que unos agentes al servicio de la agencia intentaron recabar información directa sin pasar por los canales oficiales y eludiendo el procedimiento establecido de acceso a datos.

    En la circular, el alto mando de la comandancia alicantina se dirige a todas las compañías y unidades a su cargo. “Esta jefatura”, indica, “ha tenido conocimiento de que en la provincia de Alicante existe un equipo desplegado de Frontex compuesto por personal de Policía Nacional”. “Cabe la posibilidad”, continúa Poyato, “de que este equipo pueda dirigirse directamente a alguna de las unidades de esta comandancia solicitando algún tipo de información sobre inmigración irregular, o cualquier otro tipo”. Ante esa eventualidad, prosigue el teniente coronel, “no se accederá en ningún caso a dicha solicitud, debiendo contestarle que no se dispone de autorización para dar ninguna clase de información”. La instrucción señala que cada petición de información será comunicada a la jefatura, la unidad de Operaciones a cuyo frente está Poyato. La circular está firmada y validada el pasado 2 de julio.

    Los rifirrafes entre el personal que trabaja para Frontex y la Guardia Civil no son raros. Suceden a nivel operativo, como en este caso, pero también en los despachos. El pulso constante es un reflejo de las relaciones entre el instituto armado y la Policía Nacional, de donde salen los agentes españoles que sirven a la agencia. Pero es también una muestra de la desconfianza ante un organismo que tiene presupuestados 5.600 millones de euros para los próximos siete años y que busca cada vez más poder.

    Fuentes oficiales de la Guardia Civil aseguran que el “detonante” que motivó esta orden fue “una llamada” en la que agentes de la #Policía_Nacional al servicio de Frontex “pidieron datos que no se pueden facilitar por no estar autorizados”. El equipo de Frontex en Alicante, destino de la ruta migratoria desde #Argelia, es parte de la #Operación_Índalo, una de las tres operaciones de la agencia en España que controla la inmigración irregular a través del Estrecho y el mar Alborán. En esta misión, en teoría, la agencia trabaja conjuntamente con la Guardia Civil y la Policía Nacional. En el marco de esta operación, explican las mismas fuentes, “hay una base de datos en la que los integrantes de ambos cuerpos graban toda la información” recabada, y la llamada de los agentes policiales que trabajan para la agencia se saltó este procedimiento. Después, añaden, tuvo lugar una reunión “en la que se les explicó que el acceso a información se tiene que gestionar a través del centro de control” de Madrid.

    Para la Asociación Unificada de Guardias Civiles (AUGC), se trata de una muestra más del “recelo” y la “falta de colaboración y cooperación” entre las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado. A juicio de AUGC, es “perentoria” la “necesidad de reformar el modelo policial” con el fin de “sincronizar y homogeneizar la cooperación”.

    A principios de este año, Frontex amagó con retirarse de España tras una tensa negociación sobre los términos en los que se renovarían las tres operaciones en las que trabajan cerca de 200 oficiales a sueldo de la agencia. Frontex reclamaba a España mayor control sobre la inteligencia, las investigaciones y el acceso a los datos de carácter personal en las fronteras españolas, algo que los negociadores españoles no ven con buenos ojos. Las fuerzas de seguridad españolas, especialmente la Guardia Civil, no quieren ceder espacios de su competencia y existen recelos acerca de la operatividad, la capacidad y eficiencia de los oficiales la agencia. La pugna se saldó con la aceptación por parte de España de la propuesta de Frontex, pero las tensiones se mantienen.

    La agencia, además, afronta la peor crisis reputacional desde que se creó en 2004. A las críticas que lleva años recibiendo por su opacidad, se ha sumado en los últimos meses las investigaciones por su supuesta colaboración en devoluciones ilegales de inmigrantes en el mar Egeo. También la amonestación del Tribunal de Cuentas de la UE y del Parlamento Europeo por su ineficacia, por las dudas que genera su función operativa y por la falta de transparencia que envuelve a sus cuentas.

    https://elpais.com/espana/2021-07-15/la-guardia-civil-de-alicante-ordena-a-sus-agentes-que-no-compartan-informaci
    #résistance #Espagne #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #gardes-frontière #Méditerranée #Méditerranée_occidentale #données #échange_de_données

    –—

    #Operation_Minerva (#Indalo) :

    The area stretching between Spain and Morocco, known as the Western Mediterranean route, has long been used by migrants. For many years, it has also been the main route used by criminal networks to smuggle narcotics into the EU.

    Frontex supports the national authorities with border control and surveillance, identification and registration and its ships and airplanes contribute to search and rescue operations. The agency has been assisting the Spanish authorities not only at sea, but in various sea ports and at international airports.

    The Western Mediterranean region has also long been a major conduit for drug smugglers seeking to bring hashish, cannabis and cocaine by sea to the lucrative European markets. Frontex vessels and aircraft assist the Spanish authorities to disrupt the drug smuggling operations.

    Frontex currently deploys in Spain more than 180 officers from several European countries who assist with border checks, help register migrants and collect information on criminal smuggling networks, which is shared with national authorities and Europol in support of criminal investigations. They also provide support in identifying vulnerable migrants, such as victims of trafficking, including those in need of international protection. Finally, Frontex also helps Spanish authorities to seize drugs, weapons and cigarettes.

    Officers deployed by Frontex in Spain take part in various joint operations, including three focused on Spain’s sea borders: Hera, Indalo and Minerva.

    https://frontex.europa.eu/we-support/main-operations/operations-minerva-indalo-spain-

  • #Frontex #Zeppelin in trial flights from #Alexandroupoli airport. The militarisation of the #Evros border continues.

    https://twitter.com/lk2015r/status/1415069475238551561

    #Evros #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Grèce #militarisation #militarisation_des_frontières

    –—

    Κάτι τρέχει στον Έβρο

    Τα βλέμματα τράβηξε το λευκό αερόστατο τύπου Zeppelin, όσοι το αντίκρυσαν στον ουρανό της Αλεξανδρούπολης σήμερα το πρωί.

    Από το πρωί πραγματοποιεί το συγκεκριμένο Ζέπελιν δοκιμαστικές πτήσεις στο αεροδρόμιο « Δημόκριτος » και σύντομα θα μπει στη « μάχη » της φύλαξης των συνόρων.

    Tα βλέμματα όσων το αντίκρυσαν στον ουρανό της #Αλεξανδρούπολης τράβηξε το αερόστατο τύπου Zέπελιν το οποίο στέλνει η...

    https://www.e-evros.gr/gr/eidhseis/3/aerostato-zeppelin-ston-oyrano-ths-ale3androypolhs-poia-h-xrhsimothta-toy/post44126

  • #Rwanda_1994

    Rwanda, 1994, entre avril et juillet, 100 jours de génocide...
    Celui que l’on appelle « Le dernier génocide du siècle » s’est déroulé dans un tout petit pays d’Afrique, sous les yeux du monde entier, sous le joug des politiques internationales, et sous les machettes et la haine de toute une partie de la population. Sur environ 7,5 millions de Rwandais d’alors, 1,5 million de personnes ont été exterminées pour le seul fait d’appartenir à la caste « tutsi » (chiffres officiels de 2004) : hommes, femmes, enfants, nouveau-nés, vieillards... De cette tragédie historique, suite à plusieurs années de recherche dont sept mois passés au Rwanda pour récolter des témoignages, les auteurs ont tiré une fiction éprouvante basée sur des faits réels.

    https://www.glenat.com/drugstore/rwanda-1994-integrale-9782356261120
    #BD #bande_dessinée #livre
    #Kigali #Murambi #fosses_communes #Nyagatare #FAR #génocide #Rwanda #France #armée_française #opération_Turquoise #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés #Goma #zone_turquoise #aide_humanitaire #choléra #entraide #eau_potable

    • How Not to Solve the Refugee Crisis

      A case of mistaken identity put the wrong man in jail. Now it highlights the failure of prosecutions to tackle a humanitarian disaster.

      On October 3, 2013, a Sicilian prosecutor named Calogero Ferrara was in his office in the Palace of Justice, in Palermo, when he read a disturbing news story. Before dawn, a fishing trawler carrying more than five hundred East African migrants from Libya had stalled a quarter of a mile from Lampedusa, a tiny island halfway to Sicily. The driver had dipped a cloth in leaking fuel and ignited it, hoping to draw help. But the fire quickly spread, and as passengers rushed away the boat capsized, trapping and killing hundreds of people.

      The Central Mediterranean migration crisis was entering a new phase. Each week, smugglers were cramming hundreds of African migrants into small boats and launching them in the direction of Europe, with little regard for the chances of their making it. Mass drownings had become common. Still, the Lampedusa shipwreck was striking for its scale and its proximity: Italians watched from the cliffs as the coast guard spent a week recovering the corpses.

      As news crews descended on the island, the coffins were laid out in an airplane hangar and topped with roses and Teddy bears. “It shocked me, because, maybe for the first time, they decided to show pictures of the coffins,” Ferrara told me. Italy declared a day of national mourning and started carrying out search-and-rescue operations near Libyan waters.

      Shortly afterward, a group of survivors in Lampedusa attacked a man whom they recognized from the boat, claiming that he had been the driver and that he was affiliated with smugglers in Libya. The incident changed the way that Ferrara thought about the migration crisis. “I went to the chief prosecutor and said, ‘Look, we have three hundred and sixty-eight dead people in territory under our jurisdiction,’ ” Ferrara said. “We spend I don’t know how much energy and resources on a single Mafia hit, where one or two people are killed.” If smuggling networks were structured like the Mafia, Ferrara realized, arresting key bosses could lead to fewer boats and fewer deaths at sea. The issue wasn’t only humanitarian. With each disembarkation, public opinion was hardening against migrants, and the political appetite for accountability for their constant arrivals was growing. Ferrara’s office regarded smugglers in Africa and Europe as a transnational criminal network, and every boat they sent across the Mediterranean as a crime against Italy.

      Ferrara is confident and ambitious, a small man in his forties with brown, curly hair, a short-cropped beard, and a deep, gravelly voice. The walls of his office are hung with tributes to his service and his success. When I met with him, in May, he sat with his feet on his desk, wearing teal-rimmed glasses and smoking a Toscano cigar. Shelves bowed under dozens of binders, each containing thousands of pages of documents—transcripts of wiretaps and witness statements for high-profile criminal cases. In the hall, undercover cops with pistols tucked beneath their T-shirts waited to escort prosecutors wherever they went.

      Sicilian prosecutors are granted tremendous powers, which stem from their reputation as the only thing standing between society and the Cosa Nostra. Beginning in the late nineteen-seventies, the Sicilian Mafia waged a vicious war against the Italian state. Its adherents assassinated journalists, prosecutors, judges, police officers, and politicians, and terrorized their colleagues into submission. As Alexander Stille writes in “Excellent Cadavers,” from 1995, the only way to prove that you weren’t colluding with the Mafia was to be killed by it.

      In 1980, after it was leaked that Gaetano Costa, the chief prosecutor of Palermo, had signed fifty-five arrest warrants, he was gunned down in the street by the Cosa Nostra. Three years later, his colleague Rocco Chinnici was killed by a car bomb. In response, a small group of magistrates formed an anti-Mafia pool; each member agreed to put his name on every prosecutorial order, so that none could be singled out for assassination. By 1986, the anti-Mafia team was ready to bring charges against four hundred and seventy-five mobsters, in what became known as the “maxi-trial,” the world’s largest Mafia proceeding.

      The trial was held inside a massive bunker in Palermo, constructed for the occasion, whose walls could withstand an attack by rocket-propelled grenades. Led by Giovanni Falcone, the prosecutors secured three hundred and forty-four convictions. A few years after the trial, Falcone took a job in Rome. But on May 23, 1992, as he was returning home to Palermo, the Cosa Nostra detonated half a ton of explosives under the highway near the airport, killing Falcone, his wife, and his police escorts. The explosives, left over from ordnance that was dropped during the Second World War, had been collected by divers from the bottom of the Mediterranean; the blast was so large that it registered on earthquake monitors. Fifty-seven days later, mobsters killed one of the remaining members of the anti-Mafia pool, Falcone’s friend and investigative partner Paolo Borsellino.

      Following these murders, the Italian military dispatched seven thousand troops to Sicily. Prosecutors were now allowed to wiretap anyone suspected of having connections to organized crime. They also had the authority to lead investigations, rather than merely argue the findings in court, and to give Mafia witnesses incentives for coöperation. That year, magistrates in Milan discovered a nationwide corruption system; its exposure led to the dissolution of local councils, the destruction of Italy’s major political parties, and the suicides of a number of businessmen and politicians who had been named for taking bribes. More than half the members of the Italian parliament came under investigation. “The people looked to the prosecutors as the only hope for the country,” a Sicilian journalist told me.

      Shortly after the Lampedusa tragedy, Ferrara, with assistance from the Ministry of Interior, helped organize a team of élite prosecutors and investigators. When investigating organized crime, “for which we are famous in Palermo,” Ferrara said, “you can request wiretappings or interception of live communications with a threshold of evidence that is much lower than for common crimes.” In practice, “it means that when you request of the investigative judge an interception for organized crime, ninety-nine per cent of the time you get it.” Because rescue boats routinely deposit migrants at Sicilian ports, most weeks were marked by the arrivals of more than a thousand potential witnesses. Ferrara’s team started collecting information at disembarkations and migrant-reception centers, and before long they had the phone numbers of drivers, hosts, forgers, and money agents.

      The investigation was named Operation Glauco, for Glaucus, a Greek deity with prophetic powers who came to the rescue of sailors in peril. According to Ferrara, Sicily’s proximity to North Africa enabled his investigators to pick up calls in which both speakers were in Africa. Italian telecommunications companies often serve as a data hub for Internet traffic and calls. “We have conversations in Khartoum passing through Palermo,” he said. By monitoring phone calls, investigators gradually reconstructed an Eritrean network that had smuggled tens of thousands of East Africans to Europe on boats that left from Libya.

      By 2015, the Glauco investigations had resulted in dozens of arrests in Italy, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Most of the suspects were low-level figures who may not have been aware that they were committing a crime by, for example, taking money to drive migrants from a migrant camp in Sicily to a connection house—a temporary shelter, run by smugglers—in Milan.

      But the bosses in Africa seemed untouchable. “In Libya, we know who they are and where they are,” Ferrara said. “But the problem is that you can’t get any kind of coöperation” from local forces. The dragnet indicated that an Eritrean, based in Tripoli, was at the center of the network. He was born in 1981, and his name was Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

      On May 23, 2014, Ferrara’s investigative team started wiretapping Mered’s Libyan number. Mered’s network in Tripoli was linked to recruiters and logisticians in virtually every major population center in East Africa. With each boat’s departure, he earned tens of thousands of dollars. In July, Mered told an associate, in a wiretapped call, that he had smuggled between seven and eight thousand people to Europe. In October, he moved to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, for two months. The Italians found his Facebook page and submitted into evidence a photograph of a dour man wearing a blue shirt and a silver chain with a large crucifix. “This is Medhanie,” a migrant who had briefly worked for him told prosecutors in Rome. “He is a king in Libya. He’s very respected. He’s one of the few—perhaps the only one—who can go out with a cross around his neck.”

      In 2015, a hundred and fifty thousand refugees and migrants crossed from Libya to Europe, and almost three thousand drowned. Each Thursday afternoon, Eritreans tune in to Radio Erena, a Tigrinya-language station, for a show hosted by the Swedish-Eritrean journalist and activist Meron Estefanos. Broadcasting from her kitchen, in Stockholm, she is in touch with hundreds of migrants, activists, and smugglers. Often, when Estefanos criticizes a smuggler, he will call in to her program to complain.

      In February, 2015, Estefanos reported that men who worked for Mered were raping female migrants. Mered called in to deny the rape allegations, but he admitted other bad practices and attempted to justify them. “I asked, ‘Why do you send people without life jackets?’ ” Estefanos said. “And he said, ‘I can’t buy life jackets, because if I buy five hundred life jackets I will be suspected of being a smuggler.’ ” He told Estefanos it was true that people went hungry in his connection house, but that it wasn’t his fault. “My people in Sudan—I tell them to send me five hundred refugees, and they send me two thousand,” he said. “I got groceries for five hundred people, and now I have to make it work!”

      Mered was becoming wealthy, but he wasn’t the kingpin that some considered him to be. In the spring of 2013, after arriving in Libya as a refugee, he negotiated passage to Tripoli by helping smugglers with menial tasks. Then, in June, he began working with a Libyan man named Ali, whose family owned an empty building near the sea, which could be used as a connection house. According to Mered’s clients, he instructed associates in other parts of East Africa to tell migrants that they worked for Abdulrazzak, known among Eritreans as one of the most powerful smugglers. Those who were duped into paying Mered’s team were furious when they reached the connection house and learned that Mered and Ali were not connected to Abdulrazzak, and that they had failed to strike a deal with the men who launched the boats. When the pair eventually arranged their first departure, all three vessels were intercepted before they could leave Libyan waters, and the passengers were jailed.

      By the end of the summer, more than three hundred and fifty migrants were languishing in the connection house. Finally, in September, a fleet of taxis shuttled them to the beach in small groups to board boats. Five days later, the Italian coast guard rescued Mered’s passengers and, therefore, his reputation as a smuggler as well.

      In December, Mered brought hundreds of migrants to the beach, including an Eritrean I’ll call Yonas. “He was sick of Tripoli,” Yonas told me. “He was ready to come with us—to take the sea trip.” But the shores were controlled by Libyans; to them, Mered’s ability to organize payments and speak with East African migrants in Tigrinya was an invaluable part of the business. Ali started shouting at Mered and slapping him. “That’s when I understood that he was not that powerful,” Yonas recalled. “Our lives depended on the Libyans, not on Medhanie. To them, he was no better than any of us—he was just another Eritrean refugee.”

      In April, 2015, the Palermo magistrate’s office issued a warrant for Mered’s arrest. The authorities also released the photograph of him wearing a crucifix, in the hope that someone might give him up. Days later, Mered’s face appeared in numerous European publications.

      News of Mered’s indictment spread quickly in Libya. One night, Mered called Estefanos in a panic. “It’s like a fatwa against me,” he said. “They put my life in danger.” He claimed that, in the days after he was named in the press, he had been kidnapped three times; a Libyan general had negotiated his release. Mered asked Estefanos what would happen to him if he tried to come to Europe to be with his wife, Lidya Tesfu, who had crossed the Mediterranean and given birth to their son in Sweden the previous year. It was as if he hadn’t fully grasped the Italian case against him. Not only did Mered think that the Italians had exaggerated his importance but “he saw himself as a kind of activist, helping people who were desperate,” Estefanos told me.

      Shortly before midnight on June 6, 2015, Mered called Estefanos, sounding drunk or high. “He didn’t want me to ask questions,” she told me. “He said, ‘Just listen.’ ” During the next three hours, Mered detailed his efforts to rescue several Eritrean hostages from the Islamic State, which had established a base in Sirte, Libya. Now, Mered said, he was driving out of Libya, toward the Egyptian border, with four of the women in the back of his truck. As Estefanos remembers it, “Mered said, ‘I’m holding a Kalashnikov and a revolver, to defend myself. If something happens at the Egyptian-Libyan border, I’m not going to surrender. I’m going to kill as many as I can, and die myself. Wish me luck!’ ” He never called again.

      From that point forward, Estefanos occasionally heard from Mered’s associates, some of whom wanted to betray him and take over the business. Mered was photographed at a wedding in Sudan and spotted at a bar in Ethiopia. He posted photos to Facebook from a mall in Dubai. Italian investigators lost track of him. But on January 21, 2016, Ferrara received a detailed note from Roy Godding, an official from Britain’s National Crime Agency, which leads the country’s efforts against organized crime and human trafficking. Godding wrote that the agency was “in possession of credible and sustained evidence” that Mered had a residence in Khartoum, and that he “spends a significant amount of his time in that city.” The N.C.A. believed that Mered would leave soon—possibly by the end of April—and so, Godding wrote, “we have to act quickly.”

      Still, Godding had concerns. In Sudan, people-smuggling can carry a penalty of death, which was abolished in the United Kingdom more than fifty years ago. If the Italian and British governments requested Mered’s capture, Godding said, he should be extradited to Italy, spending “as little time as possible” in Sudanese custody. Although Godding’s sources believed that Mered had “corrupt relationships” with Sudanese authorities, he figured that the N.C.A. and the Palermo magistrate could work through “trusted partners” within the regime. (Sudan’s President has been charged in absentia by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, but the European Union pays his government tens of millions of euros each year to contain migration.)

      Ferrara’s team began drawing up an extradition request. The Palermo magistrate had already started wiretapping Mered’s Sudanese number, and also that of his wife, Tesfu, and his brother Merhawi, who had immigrated to the Netherlands two years earlier. The taps on Mered’s number yielded no results. But, on March 19th, Merhawi mentioned in a call that a man named Filmon had told him that Mered was in Dubai and would probably return to Khartoum soon.

      In mid-May, the N.C.A. informed Ferrara’s team of a new Sudanese telephone number that they suspected was being used by Mered. The Palermo magistrate started wiretapping it immediately. On May 24th, as the Sudanese authorities welcomed European delegates to an international summit on halting migration and human trafficking, the police tracked the location of the phone and made an arrest.

      Two weeks later, the suspect was extradited to Italy on a military jet. The next morning, at a press conference in Palermo, the prosecutors announced that they had captured Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

      Coverage of the arrest ranged from implausible to absurd. The BBC erroneously reported that Mered had presided over a “multibillion-dollar empire.” A British tabloid claimed that he had given millions of dollars to the Islamic State. The N.C.A., which had spent years hunting for Mered, issued a press release incorrectly stating that he was “responsible for the Lampedusa tragedy.” Meanwhile, the Palermo prosecutor’s office reportedly said that Mered had styled himself in the manner of Muammar Qaddafi, and that he was known among smugglers as the General—even though the only reference to that nickname came from a single wiretapped call from 2014 that, according to the official transcript, was conducted “in an ironic tone.” Ferrara boasted that Mered had been “one of the four most important human smugglers in Africa.”

      On June 10th, the suspect was interrogated by three prosecutors from the Palermo magistrate. The chief prosecutor, Francesco Lo Voi, asked if he understood the accusations against him.

      “Why did you tell me that I’m Medhanie Yehdego?” the man replied.

      “Did you understand the accusations against you?” Lo Voi repeated.

      “Yes,” he said. “But why did you tell me that I’m Medhanie Yehdego?”

      “Yeah, apart from the name . . .”

      Lo Voi can’t have been surprised by the suspect’s question. Two days earlier, when the Italians released a video of the man in custody—handcuffed and looking scared, as he descended from the military jet—Estefanos received phone calls from Eritreans on at least four continents. Most were perplexed. “This guy doesn’t even look like him,” an Eritrean refugee who was smuggled from Libya by Mered said. He figured that the Italians had caught Mered but used someone else’s picture from stock footage. For one caller in Khartoum, a woman named Seghen, however, the video solved a mystery: she had been looking for her brother for more than two weeks, and was stunned to see him on television. She said that her brother was more than six years younger than Mered; their only common traits were that they were Eritreans named Medhanie.

      Estefanos told me, “I didn’t know how to contact the Italians, so I contacted Patrick Kingsley,” the Guardian’s migration correspondent, whose editor arranged for him to work with Lorenzo Tondo, a Sicilian journalist in Palermo. That evening, just before sunset, Ferrara received a series of messages from Tondo, on WhatsApp. “Gery, call me—there’s some absurd news going around,” Tondo, who knew Ferrara from previous cases, wrote. “The Guardian just contacted me. They’re saying that, according to some Eritrean sources, the man in custody is not Mered.”

      Ferrara was not deterred, but he was irritated that the Sudanese hadn’t passed along any identification papers or fingerprints. That night, Tondo and Kingsley wrote in the Guardian that Italian and British investigators were “looking into whether the Sudanese had sent them the wrong man.” Soon afterward, one of Ferrara’s superiors informed Tondo that the prosecution office would no longer discuss the arrest. “I’ve decided on a press blackout,” he said.

      In recent years, smuggling trials in Italy have often been shaped more by politics than by the pursuit of truth or justice. As long as Libya is in chaos, there is no way to prevent crowded dinghies from reaching international waters, where most people who aren’t rescued will drown. At disembarkations, police officers sometimes use the threat of arrest to coerce refugees into identifying whichever migrant had been tasked with driving the boat, then charge him as a smuggler. The accused is typically represented by a public defender who doesn’t speak his language or have the time, the resources, or the understanding of the smuggling business to build a credible defense. Those who were driving boats in which people drowned are often charged with manslaughter. Hundreds of migrants have been convicted in this way, giving a veneer of success to an ineffective strategy for slowing migration.

      When the man being held as Mered was assigned state representation, Tondo intervened. “I knew that this guy was not going to be properly defended,” he told me. “And, if there was a chance that he was innocent, it was my duty—not as a journalist but as a human—to help him. So I put the state office in touch with my friend Michele Calantropo,” a defense lawyer who had previously worked on migration issues. For Tondo, the arrangement was also strategic. “The side effect was that now I had an important source of information inside the case,” he said.

      On June 10th, in the interrogation room, the suspect was ordered to provide his personal details. He picked up a pencil and started slowly writing in Tigrinya. For almost two minutes, the only sound was birdsong from an open window. An interpreter read his testimony for the record: “My name is Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, born in Asmara on May 12, 1987.”

      That afternoon, Berhe, Calantropo, and three prosecutors met with a judge. “If you give false testimony regarding your identity, it is a crime in Italy,” the judge warned.

      Berhe testified that he had lived in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. Like many other refugees, he had fled the country during his mandatory military service.

      “So, what kind of work have you done in your life?” the judge asked.

      “I was a carpenter. And I sold milk.”

      “You what?”

      “I sold milk.”

      “Are you married?”

      “No,” Berhe said.

      “Who did you live with in Asmara?”

      “My mom.”

      “O.K., Mr. Medhanie,” the judge said. “I’m now going to read you the, um, the crimes—the things you’re accused of doing.”

      “O.K.”

      The judge spent the next several minutes detailing a complex criminal enterprise that spanned eleven countries and three continents, and involved numerous accomplices, thousands of migrants, and millions of euros in illicit profits. She listed several boatloads of people who had passed through Mered’s connection house and arrived in Italy in 2014. Berhe sat in silence as the interpreter whispered rapidly into his ear. After the judge finished listing the crimes, she asked Berhe, “So, what do you have to say about this?”

      “I didn’t do it,” he replied. “In 2014, I was in Asmara, so those dates don’t even make sense.”

      “And where did you go after you left Asmara?”

      “I went to Ethiopia, where I stayed for three months. And then I went to Sudan.” There, Berhe had failed to find a job, so he lived with several other refugees. Berhe and his sister were supported by sporadic donations of three hundred dollars from a brother who lives in the United States. Berhe had spent the past two and a half weeks in isolation, but his testimony matched the accounts of friends and relatives who had spoken to Estefanos and other members of the press.

      “Listen, I have to ask you something,” the judge said. “Do you even know Medhanie Yehdego Mered?”

      “No,” Berhe replied.

      “I don’t have any more questions,” the judge said. “Anyone else?”

      “Your honor, whatever the facts he just put forward, in reality he is the right defendant,” Claudio Camilleri, one of the prosecutors, said. “He was delivered to us as Mered,” he insisted, pointing to the extradition forms. “You can read it very clearly: ‘Mered.’ ”

      Along with Berhe, the Sudanese government had handed over a cell phone, a small calendar, and some scraps of paper, which it said were the only objects in Berhe’s possession at the time of the arrest. But when the judge asked Berhe if he owned a passport he said yes. “It’s in Sudan,” he said. “They took it. It was in my pocket, but they took it.”

      “Excuse me—at the moment of the arrest, you had your identity documents with you?” she asked.

      “Yes, I had them. But they took my I.D.”

      Berhe told his lawyer that the Sudanese police had beaten him and asked for money. As a jobless refugee, he had nothing to give, so they notified Interpol that they had captured Mered.

      The prosecutors also focussed on his mobile phone, which had been tapped shortly before he was arrested. “The contents of these conversations touched on illicit activities of the sort relevant to this dispute,” Camilleri said. At the time, Berhe’s cousin had been migrating through Libya, en route to Europe, and he had called Berhe to help arrange a payment to the connection man. “So, you know people who are part of the organizations that send migrants,” the judge noted. “Why were they calling you, if you are a milkman?”

      The interrogation continued in this manner, with the authorities regarding as suspicious everything that they didn’t understand about the lives of refugees who travel the perilous routes that they were trying to disrupt. At one point, Berhe found himself explaining the fundamentals of the hawala system—an untraceable money-transfer network built on trust between distant brokers—to a prosecutor who had spent years investigating smugglers whose business depends on it. When Berhe mentioned that one of his friends in Khartoum worked at a bar, the judge heard barche, the Italian word for boats. “He sells boats?” she asked. “No, no,” Berhe said. “He sells fruit juice.”

      The prosecutors also asked Berhe about the names of various suspects in the Glauco investigations. But in most cases they knew only smugglers’ nicknames or first names, many of which are common in Eritrea. Berhe, recognizing some of the names as those of his friends and relatives, began to implicate himself.

      “Mera Merhawi?” a prosecutor asked. Mered’s brother is named Merhawi.

      “Well, Mera is just short for Merhawi,” Berhe explained.

      “O.K., you had a conversation with . . .”

      “Yes! Merhawi is in Libya. He left with my cousin Gherry.”

      Believing that coöperation was the surest path to exoneration, Berhe provided the password for his e-mail and Facebook accounts; it was “Filmon,” the name of one of his friends in Khartoum. The prosecutors seized on this, remembering that Filmon was the name of the person identified in a wiretap of Mered’s brother Merhawi. The prosecution failed to note that Berhe has twelve Filmons among his Facebook friends; Mered has five Filmons among his.

      After the interrogation, the Palermo magistrate ordered a forensic analysis of Berhe’s phone and social-media accounts, to comb the data for inconsistencies. When officers ran everything through the Glauco database, they discovered that one of the scraps of paper submitted by the Sudanese authorities included the phone number of a man named Solomon, who in 2014 had spoken with Mered about hawala payments at least seventy-eight times. They also found that, although Berhe had said that he didn’t know Mered’s wife, Lidya Tesfu, he had once corresponded with her on Facebook. Tesfu told me that she and Berhe had never met. But he had thought that she looked attractive in pictures, and in 2015 he started flirting with her online. She told him that she was married, but he persisted, and so she shut him down, saying, “I don’t need anyone but my husband.” When the prosecutors filed this exchange into evidence, they omitted everything except Tesfu’s final message, creating the opposite impression—that she was married to Berhe and was pining for him.

      Like so many others in Khartoum, Berhe had hoped to make it to Europe. His Internet history included a YouTube video of migrants in the Sahara and a search about the conditions in the Mediterranean. The prosecutors treated this as further evidence that he was a smuggler. Worse, in a text message to his sister, he mentioned a man named Ermias; a smuggler of that name had launched the boat that sunk off the coast of Lampedusa.

      By the end of the interrogation, it hardly mattered whether the man in custody was Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe or Medhanie Yehdego Mered. Berhe was returned to his cell. “The important thing is the evidence, not the identity,” Ferrara told me. “It only matters that you can demonstrate that that evidence led to that person.” The N.C.A. removed from its Web site the announcement of Mered’s arrest. This was the first extradition following a fragile new anti-smuggling partnership between European and East African governments, known as the Khartoum Process. There have been no extraditions since.

      Within the Eritrean community, Estefanos told me, “everyone was, like, ‘What a lucky guy—we went through the Sahara and the Mediterranean, and this guy came by private airplane!’ Everybody thought he would be released in days.” Instead, the judge allowed Berhe’s case to proceed to trial. It was as if the only people who were unwilling to accept his innocence were those in control of his fate. Toward the end of the preliminary hearing, one of the prosecutors had asked Berhe if he had ever been to Libya. In the audio recording, he says “No.” But in the official transcript someone wrote “Yes.”

      Tondo and Kingsley wrote in the Guardian that the trial “risks becoming a major embarrassment for both Italian and British police.” Tondo told me that, the night after the article’s publication, “I got a lot of calls from friends and family members. They were really worried about the consequences of the story.” Tondo’s livelihood relied largely on his relationship with officials at the magistrate’s office, many of whom frequently gave him confidential documents. “That’s something that began during the Mafia wars, when you could not really trust the lawyers who were defending mobsters,” he said. Tondo was thirty-four, with a wife and a two-year-old son; working as a freelancer for Italian and international publications, he rarely earned more than six hundred euros a month. “I survived through journalism awards,” he said. “So what the fuck am I going to do”—drop the story or follow where it led? “Every journalist in Sicily has asked that sort of question. You’re at the point of jeopardizing your career for finding the truth.”

      In Italy, investigative journalists are often wiretapped, followed, and intimidated by the authorities. “The investigative tools that prosecutors use to put pressure on journalists are the same ones that they use to track criminals,” Piero Messina, a Sicilian crime reporter, told me. Two years ago, Messina published a piece, in L’Espresso, alleging that a prominent doctor had made threatening remarks to a public official about the daughter of Paolo Borsellino, one of the anti-Mafia prosecutors who was killed in 1992. Messina was charged with libel, a crime that can carry a prison sentence of six years. According to the Italian press-freedom organization Ossigeno per l’Informazione, in the past five years Italian journalists have faced at least four hundred and thirty-two “specious defamation lawsuits” and an additional thirty-seven “specious lawsuits on the part of magistrates.”

      At a court hearing, Messina was presented with transcripts of his private phone calls. “When a journalist discovers that he’s under investigation in this way, he can’t work anymore” without compromising his sources, Messina told me. Police surveillance units sometimes park outside his house and monitor his movements. “They fucked my career,” he said.

      Messina’s trial is ongoing, and he is struggling to stay afloat. A few months ago, La Repubblica paid him seven euros for a twelve-hundred-word article on North Korean spies operating in Rome. “The pay is so low that it’s suicide to do investigative work,” he told me. “This is how information in Italy is being killed. You lose the aspiration to do your job. I know a lot of journalists who became chefs.”

      Prosecutors have wide latitude to investigate possible crimes, even if nothing has been reported to the police, and they are required to formally register an investigation only when they are ready to press charges. In a recent essay, Michele Caianiello, a criminal-law professor at the University of Bologna, wrote that the capacity to investigate people before any crime is discovered “makes it extremely complicated to check ex post facto if the prosecutor, negligently or maliciously, did not record in the register the name of the possible suspect”—meaning that, in practice, prosecutors can investigate their perceived opponents indefinitely, without telling anyone.

      In 2013, the Italian government requested telephone data from Vodafone more than six hundred thousand times. That year, Italian courts ordered almost half a million live interceptions. Although wiretaps are supposed to be approved by a judge, there are ways to circumvent the rules. One method is to include the unofficial target’s phone number in a large pool of numbers—perhaps a set of forty disposable phones that have suspected links to a Mafia boss. “It’s a legitimate investigation, but you throw in the number of someone who shouldn’t be in it,” an Italian police-intelligence official told me. “They do this all the time.”

      Tondo continued reporting on the Medhanie trial, embarrassing the prosecutors every few weeks with new stories showing that the wrong man might be in jail. At one of Berhe’s hearings, a man wearing a black jacket and hat followed Tondo around the courthouse, taking pictures of him with a cell phone. Tondo confronted the stranger, pulling out his own phone and photographing him in return, and was startled when the man addressed him by name. After the incident, Tondo drafted a formal complaint, but he was advised by a contact in the military police not to submit it; if he filed a request to know whether he was under investigation, the prosecutors would be notified of his inquiry but would almost certainly not have to respond to it. “In an organized-crime case, you can investigate completely secretly for years,” Ferrara told me. “You never inform them.” A few months later, the man with the black hat took the witness stand; he was an investigative police officer.

      Tondo makes a significant portion of his income working as a fixer for international publications. I met him last September, four months after Berhe’s arrest, when I hired him to help me with a story about underage Nigerian girls who are trafficked to Europe for sex work. We went to the Palermo magistrate to collect some documents on Nigerian crime, and entered the office of Maurizio Scalia, the deputy chief prosecutor. “Pardon me, Dr. Scalia,” Tondo said. He began to introduce me, but Scalia remained focussed on him. “You’ve got balls, coming in here,” he said.

      This spring, a Times reporter contacted Ferrara for a potential story about migration. Ferrara, who knew that she was working with Tondo on another story, threatened the paper, telling her, “If Lorenzo Tondo gets a byline with you, the New York Times is finished with the Palermo magistrate.” (Ferrara denies saying this.)

      One afternoon in Palermo, I had lunch with Francesco Viviano, a sixty-eight-year-old Sicilian investigative reporter who says that he has been wiretapped, searched, or interrogated by the authorities “eighty or ninety times.” After decades of reporting on the ways in which the Mafia influences Sicilian life, Viviano has little patience for anti-Mafia crusaders who exploit the Cosa Nostra’s historic reputation in order to buoy their own. “The Mafia isn’t completely finished, but it has been destroyed,” he said. “It exists at around ten or twenty per cent of its former power. But if you ask the magistrates they say, ‘No, it’s at two hundred per cent,’ ” to frame the public perception of their work as heroic. He listed several public figures whose anti-Mafia stances disguised privately unscrupulous behavior. “They think they’re Falcone and Borsellino,” he said. In recent decades, Palermo’s anti-Mafia division has served as a pipeline to positions in Italian and European politics.

      In December, 2014, Sergio Lari, a magistrate from the Sicilian hill town of Caltanissetta, who had worked with Falcone and Borsellino and solved Borsellino’s murder, was nominated for the position of chief prosecutor in Palermo. But Francesco Lo Voi, a less experienced candidate, was named to the office.

      The following year, Lari began investigating a used-car dealership in southern Sicily. He discovered that its vehicles were coming from a dealership in Palermo that had been seized by the state for having links to the Mafia. Lari informed Lo Voi’s office, which started wiretapping the relevant suspects and learned that the scheme led back to a judge working inside the Palermo magistrate: Silvana Saguto, the head of the office for seized Mafia assets.

      “Judge Saguto was considered the Falcone for Mafia seizures,” Lari told me. “She was in all the papers. She stood out as a kind of heroine.” Lari’s team started wiretapping Saguto’s line. Saguto was tipped off, and she and her associates stopped talking on the phone. “At this point, I had to make a really painful decision,” Lari said. “I had to send in my guys in disguise, in the middle of the night, into the Palermo Palace of Justice, to bug the offices of magistrates. This was something that had never been done in Italy.” Lari and his team uncovered a vast corruption scheme, which resulted in at least twenty indictments. Among the suspects are five judges, an anti-Mafia prosecutor, and an officer in Italy’s Investigative Anti-Mafia Directorate. Saguto was charged with seizing businesses under dubious circumstances, appointing relatives to serve as administrators, and pocketing the businesses’ earnings or distributing them among colleagues, family, and friends. In one instance, according to Lari’s twelve-hundred-page indictment, Saguto used stolen Mafia assets to pay off her son’s professor to give him passing grades. (Saguto has denied all accusations; her lawyers have said that she has “never taken a euro.”)

      Lari refused to talk to me about other prosecutors in the Palermo magistrate’s office, but the police-intelligence official told me that “at least half of them can’t say they didn’t know” about the scheme. Lari said that Saguto was running “an anti-Mafia mafia” out of her office at the Palace of Justice.

      Except for Lari, every prosecutor who worked with Falcone and Borsellino has either retired or died. The Saguto investigation made Lari “many enemies” in Sicilian judicial and political circles, he said. “Before, the mafiosi hated me. Now it’s the anti-mafiosi. One day, you’ll find me dead in the street, and no one will tell you who did it.”

      The investigations of the Palermo magistrate didn’t prevent its prosecutors from interfering with Calantropo’s preparations for Berhe’s defense. A week after the preliminary hearing, he applied for permission from a local prefecture to conduct interviews inside a migrant-reception center in the town of Siculiana, near Agrigento, where he hoped to find Eritreans who would testify that Berhe wasn’t Mered. Days later, Ferrara, Scalia, and Camilleri wrote a letter to the prefecture, instructing its officers to report back on whom Calantropo talked to. Calantropo, after hearing that the Eritreans had been moved to another camp, decided not to go.

      “It’s not legal for them to monitor the defense lawyer,” Calantropo said. “But if you observe his witnesses then you observe the lawyer.” Calantropo is calm and patient, but, like many Sicilians, he has become so cynical about institutional corruption and dubious judicial practices that he is sometimes inclined to read conspiracy into what may be coincidence. “I can’t be sure that they are investigating me,” he told me, raising an eyebrow and tilting his head in a cartoonish performance of skepticism. “But, I have to tell you, they’re not exactly leaving me alone to do my job.”

      Last summer, Meron Estefanos brought Yonas and another Eritrean refugee, named Ambes, from Sweden to Palermo. Both men had lived in Mered’s connection house in Tripoli in 2013. After they gave witness statements to Calantropo, saying that they had been smuggled by Mered and had never seen the man who was on trial, Tondo contacted Scalia and Ferrara. “I was begging them to meet our sources,” Tondo recalled. “But they told us, ‘We already got Mered. He’s in jail.’ ” (Estefanos, Calantropo, Yonas, and Ambes remember Tondo’s calls; Ferrara says that they didn’t happen.)

      Although Mered is reputed to have sent more than thirteen thousand Eritreans to Italy, the prosecutors seem to have made no real effort to speak with any of his clients. The Glauco investigations and prosecutions were carried out almost entirely by wiretapping calls, which allowed officials to build a web of remote contacts but provided almost no context or details about the suspects’ lives—especially the face-to-face transactions that largely make up the smuggling business. As a result, Ali, Mered’s Libyan boss, is hardly mentioned in the Glauco documents. When asked about him, Ferrara said that he didn’t know who he was. Ambes showed me a photograph that he had taken of Ali on his phone.

      After Yonas and Ambes returned to Sweden, the Palermo magistrate asked police to look into them. E.U. law requires that asylum claims be processed in the first country of entry, but after disembarking in Sicily both men had continued north, to Sweden, before giving their fingerprints and their names to the authorities. Investigating them had the effect of scaring off other Eritreans who might have come forward. “I don’t believe that they are out there to get the truth,” Estefanos said, of the Italian prosecutors. “They would rather prosecute an innocent person than admit that they were wrong.”

      Calantropo submitted into evidence Berhe’s baptism certificate, which he received from his family; photos of Berhe as a child; Berhe’s secondary-school report card; Berhe’s exam registration in seven subjects, with an attached photograph; and a scan of Berhe’s government-issued I.D. card. Berhe’s family members also submitted documents verifying their own identities.

      Other documents established Berhe’s whereabouts. His graduation bulletin shows that in 2010, while Mered was smuggling migrants through Sinai, he was completing his studies at a vocational school in Eritrea. An official form from the Ministry of Health says that in early 2013—while Mered was known to be in Libya—Berhe was treated for an injury he sustained in a “machine accident,” while working as a carpenter. The owner of Thomas Gezae Dairy Farming, in Asmara, wrote a letter attesting that, from May, 2013, until November, 2014—when Mered was running the connection house in Tripoli—Berhe was a manager of sales and distribution. Gezae wrote, “Our company wishes him good luck in his future endeavors.”

      Last fall, one of Berhe’s sisters travelled to the prison from Norway, where she has asylum, to visit him and introduce him to her newborn son. But she was denied entry. Only family members can visit inmates, and although her last name is also Berhe, the prison had him registered as Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

      Last December, the government of Eritrea sent a letter to Calantropo, confirming that the man in custody was Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe. “It’s very strange that the European police never asked the Eritrean government for the identity card of Medhanie Yehdego Mered,” Calantropo said. (Ferrara said that Italy did not have a legal-assistance treaty with Eritrea.) When I asked Calantropo why he didn’t do that himself, he replied, “I represent Berhe. I can only ask on behalf of my client.”

      The prosecution has not produced a single witness who claims that Berhe is Mered. Instead, Ferrara has tried to prove that Mered uses numerous aliases, one of which may be Berhe.

      A few years ago, Ferrara turned a low-level Eritrean smuggler named Nuredine Atta into a state witness. After he agreed to testify, “we put him under protection, exactly like Mafia cases,” and reduced his sentence by half, Ferrara said. Long before Berhe’s arrest, Atta was shown the photograph of Medhanie Yehdego Mered wearing a cross. He said that he recalled seeing the man on a beach in Sicily in 2014, and that someone had told him that the man’s name was Habtega Ashgedom. In court, he couldn’t keep his story straight. In a separate smuggling investigation, prosecutors in Rome discounted Atta’s testimony about Mered as unreliable.

      After the extradition, Atta was shown a photo of Berhe. “I don’t recognize him,” he said. Later, on the witness stand, he testified that he was pretty sure he’d seen a photo of Berhe at a wedding in Khartoum, in 2013—contradicting Berhe’s claim that he had been selling milk in Asmara at the time. Berhe’s family, however, produced a marriage certificate and photographs, proving that the wedding had been in 2015, in keeping with the time line that Berhe had laid out. In court, Ferrara treated the fact that Atta didn’t know Mered or Berhe as a reason to believe that they might be the same person.

      Ferrara is also trying to link Berhe’s voice to wiretaps of Mered. The prosecution had Berhe read phrases transcribed from Mered’s calls, which they asked a forensic technician named Marco Zonaro to compare with the voice from the calls. Zonaro used software called Nuance Forensics 9.2. But, because it didn’t have settings for Tigrinya, he carried out the analysis with Egyptian Arabic, which uses a different alphabet and sounds nothing like Tigrinya. Zonaro wrote that Egyptian Arabic was “the closest geographical reference population” to Eritrea. The tests showed wildly inconsistent results. Zonaro missed several consecutive hearings; when he showed up, earlier this month, Ferrara pleaded with the judge to refer the case to a different court, meaning that Zonaro didn’t end up testifying, and that the trial will begin from scratch in September.

      Many of the wiretapped phone calls that were submitted into evidence raise questions about the limits of Italian jurisdiction. According to Gioacchino Genchi, one of Italy’s foremost experts on intercepted calls and data traffic, the technological options available to prosecutors far exceed the legal ones. When both callers are foreign and not on Italian soil, and they aren’t plotting crimes against Italy, the contents of the calls should not be used in court. “But in trafficking cases there are contradictory verdicts,” he said. “Most of the time, the defense lawyers don’t know how to handle it.” Genchi compared prosecutorial abuses of international wiretaps to fishing techniques. “When you use a trawling net, you catch everything,” including protected species, he said. “But, if the fish ends up in your net, you take it, you refrigerate it, and you eat it.”

      On May 16th, having found the number and the address of Lidya Tesfu, Mered’s wife, in Italian court documents, I met her at a café in Sweden. She told me that she doesn’t know where her husband is, but he calls her once a month, from a blocked number. “He follows the case,” she said. “I keep telling him we have to stop this: ‘You have to contact the Italians.’ ” I asked Tesfu to urge her husband to speak with me. Earlier this month, he called.

      In the course of three hours, speaking through an interpreter, Mered detailed his activities, his business woes, and—with some careful omissions—his whereabouts during the past seven years. His version of events fits with what I learned about him from his former clients, from his wife, and from what was both present in and curiously missing from the Italian court documents—though he quibbled over details that hurt his pride (that Ali had slapped him) or could potentially hurt him legally (that he was ever armed).

      Mered told me that in December, 2015, he was jailed under a different name for using a forged Eritrean passport. He wouldn’t specify what country he was in, but his brother’s wiretapped call—the one that referred to Mered’s pending return from Dubai—suggests that he was probably caught in the United Arab Emirates. Six months later, when Berhe was arrested in Khartoum, Mered learned of his own supposed extradition to Italy from rumors circulating in prison. In August, 2016, one of Mered’s associates managed to spring him from jail, by presenting the authorities in that country with another fake passport, showing a different nationality—most likely Ugandan—and arranging Mered’s repatriation to his supposed country of origin. His time in prison explains why the Italian wiretaps on his Sudanese number picked up nothing in the months before Berhe was arrested; it also explains why, when the Italians asked Facebook to turn over Mered’s log-in data, there was a gap during that period.

      To the Italians, Mered was only ever a trophy. Across Africa and the Middle East, the demand for smugglers is greater than ever, as tens of millions of people flee war, starvation, and oppression. For people living in transit countries—the drivers, the fixers, the translators, the guards, the shopkeepers, the hawala brokers, the bookkeepers, the police officers, the checkpoint runners, the bandits—business has never been more profitable. Last year, with Mered out of the trade, a hundred and eighty thousand refugees and migrants reached Italy by sea, almost all of them leaving from the beaches near Tripoli. This year, the number of arrivals is expected to surpass two hundred thousand.

      In our call, Mered expressed astonishment at how poorly the Italians understood the forces driving his enterprise. There is no code of honor among smugglers, no Mafia-like hierarchy to disrupt—only money, movement, risk, and death. “One day, if I get caught, the truth will come out,” he said. “These European governments—their technology is so good, but they know nothing.”

      Thirteen months after the extradition, Berhe is still on trial. At a hearing in May, he sat behind a glass cage, clutching a small plastic crucifix. Three judges sat at the bench, murmuring to one another from behind a stack of papers that mostly obscured their faces. Apart from Tondo, the only Italian journalists in the room were a reporter and an editor from MeridioNews, a small, independent Sicilian Web site; major Italian outlets have largely ignored the trial or written credulously about the prosecution’s claims.

      A judicial official asked, for the record, whether the defendant Medhanie Yehdego Mered was present. Calantropo noted that, in fact, he was not, but it was easier to move forward if everyone pretended that he was. The prosecution’s witness, a police officer involved in the extradition, didn’t show up, and for the next hour nothing happened. The lawyers checked Facebook on their phones. Finally, the session was adjourned. Berhe, who had waited a month for the hearing, was led away in tears.

      https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/how-not-to-solve-the-refugee-crisis

      #Operation_Glauco #Glauco #opération_glauco #Mered_Medhanie

    • Italy Imprisons Refugees Who Were Forced to Pilot Smuggling Boats At Gunpoint

      The Italian press cheer these operations as a key part of the fight against illegal immigration, lionizing figures like #Carlo_Parini, a former mafia investigator who is now a top anti-human trafficking police officer in Italy. Parini leads a squad of judicial police in the province of Siracusa in eastern Sicily, one of several working under different provincial prosecutors, and his aggressive style has earned him the nickname “the smuggler hunter.”

      There is only one problem: the vast majority of people arrested and convicted by these police are not smugglers. Almost 1400 people are currently being held in Italian prisons merely for driving a rubber boat or holding a compass. Most of them paid smugglers in Libya for passage to Europe and were forced to pilot the boat, often at gunpoint.

      https://theintercept.com/2017/09/16/italy-imprisons-refugees-who-were-forced-to-pilot-smuggling-boats-at-g

      #Usaineu_Joof

    • A Palerme, le procès d’un Erythréen tourne à l’absurde

      La justice italienne s’acharne contre Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre, accusé d’être un cruel trafiquant d’êtres humains, alors que tout indique qu’il y a erreur sur la personne.


      http://mobile.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2018/01/23/a-palerme-le-proces-d-un-erythreen-tourne-a-l-absurde_5245779_3212.ht

    • People smuggler who Italians claim to have jailed is living freely in Uganda

      One of the world’s most wanted people smugglers, who Italian prosecutors claim to have in jail in Sicily, is living freely in Uganda and spending his substantial earnings in nightclubs, according to multiple witnesses.

      https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/apr/11/medhanie-yehdego-mered-people-smuggler-italians-claim-jailed-seen-ugand

      Lien pour voir le documentaire, en suédois (avec sous-titres en anglais) :
      https://www.svtplay.se/video/17635602/uppdrag-granskning/uppdrag-granskning-sasong-19-avsnitt-13?start=auto&tab=2018

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

      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.

      https://seenthis.net/messages/913769

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tragedy and Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Our Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    State of Necessity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NGOs in the Crosshairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Same Uniforms, Same Ships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Result of Mere Chance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @karine4 @isskein @rhoumour

  • Aux États-Unis, des migrantes dénoncent des opérations gynécologiques non consenties
    https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/video-aux-etats-unis-des-migrantes-denoncent-des-operations-g

    Plus de quarante #migrantes affirment avoir subi, sans leur consentement, des #opérations_gynécologiques inutilement invasives, alors qu’elles étaient retenues dans un centre de #détention pour immigrés aux États-Unis. C’est le cas de Wendy Dowe, qui témoigne devant les caméras de la BBC.

    #paywall

  • Inde : les villages sans utérus

    C’est l’un des secrets les mieux gardés de l’Inde rurale. Un mal invisible qui ronge le #corps de milliers de femmes dans le sous-continent.

    Alors que le taux d’hystérectomie est de 2/1000 en Occident, il atteint 17/1000 en Inde, et surtout jusqu’à 350/1000 dans l’Etat du Maharashtra à l’Ouest du pays, la « Sugar Belt ».

    Premier producteur de sucre au monde, l’Inde compte environ 1,5 million d’Indiens qui convergent, après la mousson, dans les champs de cannes à sucre. Parmi ces forçats, la moitié sont des femmes issues des castes les plus basses de la société indienne.

    Ces femmes, qui ont déjà donné naissance à plusieurs enfants et pour qui les #règles sont un fardeau, se laissent facilement convaincre de la nécessité de l’opération, sans connaître les #risques pour leur #santé et sans comprendre que ces actes médicaux ne sont absolument pas nécessaires. Pas de jour de #congé, pas de #couverture_sociale, encore moins de #convalescence : après une #opération coûteuse entièrement à leur charge – entre 250 et 500 euros – ces #ouvrières_agricoles retournent, mutilées, dans les champs de canne à sucre pour rembourser leur #dette, à la merci de l’avidité des barons du sucre.

    https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/100785-000-A/inde-les-villages-sans-uterus

    #Inde #canne_à_sucre #plantations #saisonniers #saisonnières #travail #femmes #hystérectomie #mukadam #exploitation #coupeuses_de_canne_à_sucre #santé_mentale #hormones #ménopause #cliniques_privées #industrie_du_sucre #industrie_sucrière #hygiène #ruralité #mutilation
    #vidéo #documentaire #film_documentaire #menstruations

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

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

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

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

    Influencia en África

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Traduction:

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

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

  • Les faux comptes #Twitter pro-Barkhane - Par Maurice Midena | Arrêt sur images
    https://www.arretsurimages.net/articles/les-faux-comptes-anti-fake-news-de-barkhane

    En janvier 2020, les dirigeants du #G5 Sahel et de la #France se sont réunis lors du sommet de Pau pour redéfinir le cadre de leur coopération dans la lutte contre l’État islamique dans le Sahara. Alors que la présence militaire française était vivement critiquée au Sahel par les populations locales, une cellule de cyber-activistes a œuvré sur Twitter pour améliorer l’image de Barkhane en ligne, en marge du sommet palois. S’y mêlent des « vrais » comptes et des alias montés de toute pièce. Ainsi que des articles signés par de prétendus journalistes dans des médias africains. Selon les informations d’ASI, une agence de communication parisienne, Concerto, influente en Afrique, est derrière cette opération. L’état-major de l’armée française nie « tout lien contractuel » avec Concerto. Concerto dément avoir coordonné les faux comptes et affirme qu’ASI est l’objet d’une manipulation.

    [...]

    ASI a pu consulter des documents qui nous ont permis d’identifier une de ces « #usines_à_trolls » constituées en faveur de l’action française dans le Sahel. Une cellule de #cyber-activistes a ainsi été formée en Côte d’Ivoire, et a été coordonnée par une agence de communication parisienne, #Concerto. Cette cellule a œuvré de décembre 2019 à janvier 2020 en marge du sommet de Pau, qui réunissait la France et les dirigeants du #G5_Sahel (Mauritanie, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tchad et Niger) en janvier 2020, afin de « redéfinir » l’action conjointe des armées française et locales dans le cadre de l’opération Barkhane. Cette opération d’e-activisme, intitulée « opération Terre-Sainte » par Concerto, avait pour but de mener une campagne anti fake news sur Twitter et Facebook, en faveur des #opérations militaires françaises dans le Sahel.

    [...]

    Outre les manifestations à Bamako, des étudiants nigériens ont déchiré un drapeau français en décembre 2019. Cette animosité n’est pas seulement le fait des citoyens lambda : elle circule également dans le plus hautes sphères. En juin 2019, le ministre de la Défense du #Burkina Faso, Chériff Sy, se déclarait « étonné » que la France n’ait pas réussi à « éradiquer cette bande de terroristes » et se demandait si elle n’avait pas « d’autres priorités », comme le racontait Jeune Afrique dans une longue enquête sur le sentiment anti-français dans le #Sahel.

    https://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/863817/politique/a-bas-la-france-enquete-sur-le-sentiment-anti-francais-en-afrique

  • #Genève : Vers une #carte_d’identification_universelle en Ville ?

    Une #motion demande à l’exécutif de la Ville d’étudier la création d’un document permettant l’accès à tous les services municipaux, quel que soit le statut légal.

    Après Zurich et La Chaux-de-Fonds, la Ville de Genève se lancera-t-elle dans la création d’un document d’identification communale ? Ce projet, déjà adopté dans la capitale économique suisse et que la Métropole horlogère a mis à l’étude la semaine dernière, vise à élaborer une carte accessible à tous les habitants, quel que soit leur statut légal, pour pouvoir bénéficier de l’ensemble des services municipaux. Une motion déposée par le conseiller municipal socialiste Pascal Holenweg au début du mois demande au Conseil administratif de se pencher sur la question.

    Cette carte « permettrait un accès facilité aux soins, à l’inscription dans des #services_municipaux ainsi qu’aux lieux culturels, sportifs, sociaux, le cas échéant à partir d’un guichet unique les rassemblant tous », explique le texte. « L’initiative part du constat qu’une partie de la population rencontre des difficultés à accéder aux #services offerts par la Ville, que ce soit faute de #statut_légal, d’#adresse ou de #papiers_d’identité, affirme Pascal Holenweg.
    Sur l’exemple d’autres villes, en Suisse mais aussi aux Etats-Unis, nous proposons d’étudier la possibilité d’établir un #document_d’identification – et non pas d’identité, ce qui est de
    compétence fédérale – et d’#accès_universel aux prestations municipales, qui pourrait servir à tous les habitants, comme carte d’accès aux piscines, aux bibliothèques, etc. »

    Le MCG opposé

    Autre avantage avancé par Pascal Holenweg : « Si la Ville décidait de rendre payants aux habitants d’autres communes les services qu’elle propose actuellement gratuitement à tout le canton ou d’instaurer des tarifs différenciés, cette carte permettrait aux habitants de la
    commune de bénéficier de la gratuité ou de tarifs réduits. »

    La proposition devrait être soutenue par la gauche, majoritaire au Conseil municipal, comme l’espère #Pascal_Holenweg, mais elle ne rencontre en tout cas pas l’adhésion du Mouvement citoyens genevois (MCG). « Le sujet avait déjà fait l’objet de discussions par le passé. Au MCG, nous sommes contre, explique Daniel Sormanni, chef de groupe au délibératif municipal. Ce n’est pas vraiment une pièce d’identité mais ça y ressemble. C’est surtout destiné aux clandestins, avec l’argument d’améliorer leur accès aux services municipaux. En réalité, ils l’ont déjà. Je ne vois donc pas l’utilité. Et puis ça donnerait un faux sentiment de légitimité à des gens qui ne devraient pas être sur notre territoire. » Du côté de la conseillère municipale démocrate-chrétienne Alia Chaker Mangeat, on attend d’en savoir plus. « Je ne suis pas opposée au principe, mais j’aimerais qu’on étudie en commission l’apport réel d’un tel outil », affirme-t-elle.

    Le maire favorable

    Si la motion passe la rampe du délibératif, elle obtiendra une oreille attentive de la part de l’exécutif communal. Collaborateur personnel de Sami Kanaan, Félicien Mazzola affirme en effet que « le maire est favorable au projet ». « La Ville s’était déjà intéressée à la question il y
    a quelques années, poursuit-il, quand New York a développé sa City Card. Puis Zurich a lancé sa propre carte destinée aux sans-papiers. De notre côté, nous avons approché les associations qui travaillent avec eux, pour connaître les besoins. Après l’#opération_Papyrus, qui a permis un grand nombre de régularisations, une carte spécifique pour les sans-papiers n’apparaissait pas vraiment appropriée. »

    En revanche, une carte universelle, qui permette l’accès à l’ensemble des services municipaux et aux démarches en ligne pour tous les habitants, quel que soit leur statut, et réduisant ainsi les risques de traçage des sans-papiers, se révèle très intéressante, explique Félicien Mazzola.

    https://lecourrier.ch/2021/02/26/vers-une-carte-didentification-universelle-en-ville
    #ville-refuge #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Suisse #citoyenneté #citoyenneté_urbaine

    Genève après :
    #Berne : https://seenthis.net/messages/801885
    #Zurich : https://seenthis.net/messages/889029
    #La_Chaux-de-Fonds : https://seenthis.net/messages/896514

    –—

    Ajouté au fil de discussion sur les cartes d’identification universelle en Suisse :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/801885

    ... qui, lui-même, est ajouté à la métaliste sur les villes-refuge :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/759145#message801886

  • « On a beaucoup parlé ces derniers jours de la prestation de #Gabriel_Attal, le porte-parole du gouvernement sur #Twitch dans "#SansFiltre" C’est encore un exemple intéressant à regarder dans le détail sur la confusion des genres entre #compol et #compublique à l’œuvre en ce moment. »

    Cette émission, qui a réuni des influenceurs a été tournée à l’Elysée. Réalisation soignée, au moins trois caméras dont une en travelling, régie vidéo et son en direct, décor lumineux, outils de streaming. Avec salaires, prestas, c’est probablement une opération à 5 chiffres.

    Que le gouvernement choisisse de développer son audience et la visibilité de ses actions sur différents médias et réseaux, ça peut se discuter dans la forme, mais sur le fond, c’est une stratégie qui a beaucoup de sens, même si cela a un coût pour la collectivité.

    Mais là j’ai un problème. Regardez bien.
    Vous ne voyez rien ? C’est normal. L’émission n’est accessible ni sur le site du gouvernement, ni sur celui de l’Elysée, ni sur leur compte Youtube ou sur le compte Twitch des institutions qui ont produit ce programme avec des fonds publics.

    On la trouve en revanche sur les comptes personnels de Gabriel Attal sur Youtube et Twitch, où elles lui permettront de développer son audience avec ces contenus.

    Ces comptes personnels ne seront soumis à aucune restriction en période électorale, alors que l’usage des comptes des institutions sera évidemment restreint. La stratégie de l’exécutif est d’utiliser les moyens des institutions pour développer l’audience des comptes personnels.

    On ne mesure pas à quel point, dans la dernière ligne droite avant l’élection, au moment où la communication institutionnelle est encadrée, où les temps de parole dans les médias sont soumis à l’équité, avoir capitalisé sur des outils et des audiences propres est déterminant.

    On assiste en ce moment à un déploiement de buzz, d’#opérations_d'influences à tous les niveaux de l’exécutif, payés sur les #fonds_publics, qui vise à construire cette audience avant les prochaines élections.

    Et ce n’est pas le premier épisode de cette confusion des genres, qui est trop régulière pour ne pas traduire une stratégie :

    LREM poursuit sa démarche partisane d’appropriation propagandiste de la #compublique en utilisant sa charte graphique #compol de parti pour la com’ du gouvernement... https://twitter.com/valeriomotta/status/969507347537252352

    https://twitter.com/valeriomotta/status/1365257336990932992

  • Lettre d’un Tigréen à son pays en guerre

    Alors que la guerre se poursuit au Tigré, ce professeur d’université, originaire de la région, explique comment les divisions ethniques ont eu raison de son sentiment d’appartenance nationale.

    Dans les années 1980, quand j’étais enfant, à Asmara, ville alors éthiopienne [et actuelle capitale de l’Eythrée voisine], mes parents me demandaient souvent ce que je voudrais faire quand je serais grand. Invariablement, je leur répondais que je voulais être pilote de chasse ou général de l’armée de terre. La raison était simple : mon père était soldat dans l’armée éthiopienne sous le régime du Derg [régime socialiste autoritaire à la tête de l’Ethiopie à partir de 1974] et, moi aussi, je voulais tuer les « ennemis » de la nation.

    J’avais grandi en temps de guerre, le bruit des roquettes et des balles constituait la bande-son de ma vie et les médias d’Etat fournissaient le scénario. On m’a appris à voir le conflit de façon manichéenne, avec d’un côté les bons Ethiopiens patriotes et de l’autre les rebelles haineux. En 1991, dans les derniers jours du régime sanglant du Derg, je me revois en train de pleurer, tout en brandissant notre drapeau vert, jaune et rouge.

    Ce que je ne savais pas, c’est que parmi les « ennemis » combattus par mon père, il y avait des cousins à lui et les enfants de nos voisins. La #guerre_civile a rompu les liens sociaux et culturels qu’avaient tissés de nombreux groupes ethniques, dressant souvent les membres de mêmes familles les uns contre les autres. Mon père, de la région du Tigré, avait combattu des membres de sa propre ethnie appartenant au #Front_de_libération_du_peuple_du_Tigré (#TPLF). Pour ma famille, il ne faisait pas bon être à la fois tigréen et éthiopien. Parmi les partisans du régime du #Derg, on se méfiait de nous en raison de notre appartenance ethnique : on nous soupçonnait d’être des agents du TPLF. Parmi les Tigréens, nous étions perçus comme ayant trahi notre peuple en prenant parti pour le gouvernement. Comme des milliers d’autres familles, nous essuyions des insultes de différents camps.

    En 1991, le régime répressif du Derg a été vaincu et le TPLF a pris la tête de l’Ethiopie. Ma famille a quitté Asmara pour Addis Abeba [la capitale éthiopienne], où nous avons vécu dans un camp de réfugiés pendant dix ans.

    Durant les vingt-sept années qui ont suivi, la coalition menée par le TPLF a gouverné le pays. Elle a mis en oeuvre une sorte de #fédéralisme_ethnique qui a favorisé la #conscience_ethnique, au détriment de l’#identité panéthiopienne. Toutefois, avec le temps, la #résistance populaire à la domination tigréenne et à ses pratiques non démocratiques a fait tomber le régime, à la suite de manifestations monstres. En 2018, la coalition au pouvoir a choisi un nouveau dirigeant. #Abiy_Ahmed a promis lors de son investiture de promouvoir la paix, l’espoir et l’unité. Cela n’a pas duré longtemps. Le 4 novembre 2020, Abiy déclarait la guerre au Tigré.

    Le conflit a fait naître une conscience nouvelle de ce que signifie être Tigréen dans la société éthiopienne au sens large. Le gouvernement qualifie sa propre action d’" #opération_de_police " , et non de guerre contre le peuple du Tigré. Pourtant, c’est ainsi que la vivent beaucoup de gens. De nombreux Tigréens soutiennent le TPLF. En outre, dans le cadre de l’actuelle « opération de police » destinée à capturer les principaux dirigeants du parti, des milliers de citoyens lambda ont été tués ou déplacés. Entre-temps, de nombreux « non-Tigréens » ont salué la prise de #Mekele, la capitale du Tigré, et ont gardé le silence quand le gouvernement a empêché des convois d’aide de parvenir à leurs compatriotes. Le #fichage_ethnique et le #harcèlement des Tigréens s’accentuent.

    Devant l’émergence d’une #crise_humanitaire qui touche les Tigréens ordinaires, la volonté délibérée du gouvernement de refuser l’envoi d’aide, le #silence et le soutien de la majorité des Ethiopiens, sapent mon sentiment d’appartenance à l’Ethiopie. Pour moi, l’un des pires aspects de cette situation est que mon père, qui a toujours été fier d’être éthiopien, a une fois de plus été condamné à la souffrance et à l’isolement. Personnellement, il me paraît impossible d’être à la fois tigréen et éthiopien dans le contexte actuel. Le lien que je gardais avec l’Ethiopie semble définitivement rompu.

    https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/recit-lettre-dun-tigreen-son-pays-en-guerre

    #Tigré #guerre #lettre #Soudan

  • #Rwanda : un document prouve l’ordre de la France de laisser s’enfuir les génocidaires

    Juillet 1994. Les principaux membres du gouvernement responsable du #génocide des #Tutsis sont dans une zone contrôlée par l’#armée_française. Leur arrestation est possible et même réclamée. Un document inédit, émanant du cabinet du ministre des affaires étrangères de l’époque, #Alain_Juppé, prouve aujourd’hui que la #France a préféré les laisser partir. Il est signé de l’actuel patron de la DGSE.

    L’#ordre_politique de laisser s’enfuir à l’été #1994 les principaux membres du gouvernement responsable du génocide des Tutsis au Rwanda, alors que leur arrestation était possible et même demandée, a été directement pris par le #gouvernement_français, selon un document inédit émanant du ministère des affaires étrangères.

    Le massacre des Tutsis du Rwanda, dernier génocide du XXe siècle, a fait près d’un million de morts en cent jours, entre avril et juillet 1994.

    Le document, dont Mediapart a pu prendre connaissance, apparaît vingt-cinq ans après les faits comme la pièce manquante de l’un des épisodes les plus sombres de la #responsabilité française dans la tragédie rwandaise.

    Il a été obtenu par le chercheur François Graner, auteur de plusieurs livres sur le Rwanda et membre de l’association Survie, qui a récemment pu accéder à des #archives inexplorées de la présidence Mitterrand grâce à une décision du Conseil d’État. La plus haute juridiction administrative a mis fin, en juin dernier, à des années d’entraves orchestrées par les gardiens de la mémoire de l’ancien chef de l’État et de la politique de la France durant le génocide des Tutsis.

    Le document en question est un télégramme « confidentiel diplomatie » émis le 15 juillet 1994 par le cabinet du ministre des affaires étrangères de l’époque, Alain Juppé, aujourd’hui membre du Conseil constitutionnel, et adressé à l’ambassadeur #Yannick_Gérard, alors représentant du Quai d’Orsay auprès des militaires français envoyés au Rwanda dans le cadre de l’#opération_Turquoise.

    L’ambassadeur Gérard avait réclamé le jour même des « instructions claires » du gouvernement (pour lui et pour l’armée française) afin de procéder sur place à l’#arrestation des autorités qui, écrivait-il dans un télégramme, « portent une lourde responsabilité dans le génocide ». Le fait est que les principaux membres du gouvernement génocidaire, au premier rang desquels son président, #Théodore_Sindikubwabo, se trouvaient alors dans une zone intégralement contrôlée par l’armée française, à proximité du Zaïre (aujourd’hui République démocratique du Congo), pays frontalier du Rwanda.

    « Nous n’avons pas d’autre choix, quelles que soient les difficultés, que de les arrêter ou de les mettre immédiatement en résidence surveillée en attendant que les instances judiciaires internationales compétentes se prononcent sur leur cas », soulignait le haut fonctionnaire, conscient d’avoir des génocidaires identifiés à portée de main.

    La réponse du gouvernement français fut pourtant à l’exact opposé de la requête de l’ambassadeur Gérard. Dans le télégramme du 15 juillet, rédigé à 18 h 22 et adressé à « Yannick Gérard seul », le cabinet du ministre Juppé donne ainsi pour instruction de transmettre aux autorités génocidaires « notre souhait qu’elles quittent » la #zone_contrôlée par les forces armées françaises.

    Le message à transmettre semble si délicat que le cabinet Juppé demande à son ambassadeur de ne pas s’entremettre personnellement avec les génocidaires. « Vous pouvez en revanche utiliser tous les canaux indirects et notamment vos contacts africains, en ne vous exposant pas directement », peut-on lire dans le télégramme, qui a d’ailleurs pour titre : « Le département vous autorise à passer notre message de manière indirecte ».

    « Vous soulignerez que la communauté internationale et en particulier les Nations unies devraient très prochainement déterminer la conduite à suivre à l’égard de ces soi-disantes autorités », précise encore le télégramme, qui, insistant de la sorte sur une décision à venir de la communauté internationale, offre un #sauf-conduit au gouvernement génocidaire pour quitter sans la moindre anicroche le territoire sous contrôle français. Et passer au #Zaïre.

    Le document porte la signature « #EMIE ». Il s’agit de #Bernard_Émié, l’actuel directeur de la Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE), l’un des principaux #services_secrets français, qui était à l’époque conseiller d’Alain Juppé au ministère des affaires étrangères, avant de rejoindre l’Élysée sous la présidence de Jacques Chirac.

    Sollicité par Mediapart, Alain Juppé a fait savoir qu’il ne souhaitait pas répondre à nos questions. Également sollicité, Bernard Émié n’a, pour sa part, pas donné suite.

    Un quart de siècle après la tragédie rwandaise, il n’y a aujourd’hui pas de doute sur le fait que la France savait qui étaient les organisateurs et commanditaires du génocide, et où ils se trouvaient. C’est donc en toute connaissance de cause que le gouvernement et l’Élysée les ont laissés filer.

    D’innombrables documents et témoignages, obtenus depuis des années par des historiens, des journalistes ou des juges, ont déjà largement permis de documenter que la France avait connaissance d’un génocide en préparation avant que celui-ci n’ait lieu et qu’elle a maintenu un soutien indéfectible aux autorités en cause quand le pire a commencé.

    Cela est si vrai que le gouvernement génocidaire, constitué au lendemain d’un attentat ayant tué le président #Habyarimana, jugé trop modéré par la frange la plus radicale du pouvoir hutu, a été formé, le 8 avril 1994, dans les locaux mêmes de l’#ambassade de France à Kigali, sous le nom de « #gouvernement_intérimaire_du_Rwanda » (#GIR).

    C’est un certain Théodore #Sindikubwabo, ancien président de l’Assemblée nationale, qui sera choisi pour diriger le pays avant que celui-ci ne s’enfonce dans les ténèbres. Pédiatre de formation, Sindikubwabo est considéré comme l’un des commanditaires du génocide, soupçonné d’avoir personnellement incité aux #massacres – notamment à l’occasion d’un discours retransmis le 19 avril sur Radio Rwanda – et d’avoir démis de leurs fonctions les préfets et autorités qui ne tuaient pas assez.

    Sindikubwabo fait partie des responsables politiques du génocide qui ont pu rallier le Zaïre en juillet 1994 avec l’aval du gouvernement français. Il est mort en 1998 dans des circonstances mal connues et sans jamais avoir été inquiété pour ses crimes.

    L’ordre de Juppé, l’ombre de Védrine

    Il existe dans les archives disponibles la trace d’un contact, en mai 1994, entre Sindikubwabo et le général #Christian_Quesnot, le chef d’état-major particulier du président de la République. Dans une note du 6 mai écrite à l’attention de #François_Mitterrand, après son échange avec le nouveau chef de l’État génocidaire – les massacres ont débuté un mois plus tôt –, le militaire indique que le dignitaire rwandais le « remercie » pour tout ce qu’il a « fait pour le Rwanda ».

    Dans ses commentaires personnels à la fin du document, le général Quesnot préconise alors d’appuyer, même au prix d’une « #stratégie_indirecte », le pouvoir rwandais face aux forces armées tutsies. Le général Quesnot dit, en effet, craindre l’établissement d’un « #Tutsiland » (sic), le tout « avec l’aide anglo-saxonne et la complicité objective de nos faux intellectuels remarquables relais d’un lobby tutsi auquel est également sensible une partie de notre appareil d’État ». Le document est annoté de la main du secrétaire général de la présidence de la République, #Hubert_Védrine, d’un mot : « Signalé ».

    Pourtant, sur le terrain, la diplomatie et les services de renseignements français ne cessent d’accumuler des éléments sur la responsabilité du gouvernement intérimaire dans le génocide.

    Un télégramme « confidentiel diplomatie » daté du 10 juillet 1994 de l’ambassadeur Gérard, également découvert par le chercheur François Graner grâce à la décision du Conseil d’État de juin dernier, évoque même « un témoignage digne de foi qui confirme la responsabilité collective et personnelle des autorités de #Gisenyi [le gouvernement génocidaire – ndlr] dans les massacres ». Le diplomate ajoute que, selon d’autres témoignages « directs et concordants », le président Sindikubwabo a personnellement appelé à plusieurs reprises à « l’élimination totale des Tutsis » et que l’une de ses ministres a, en particulier, réclamé le massacre « des femmes et des enfants ».

    Cinq jours plus tard, c’est donc en parfaite connaissance de cause que l’ambassadeur Gérard demande des « instructions claires » au gouvernement pour pouvoir mettre aux arrêts ou, au moins, en résidence surveillée les génocidaires.

    En vain.

    À Paris, la question de l’arrestation des membres du gouvernement génocidaire a pourtant été source de confusion au sommet de l’État, comme le prouvent plusieurs autres documents.

    Dans les archives de l’Élysée figure notamment la copie d’une dépêche émise depuis Paris, le 15 juillet en fin de matinée, par l’agence de presse Reuters sous un titre éloquent : « Paris prêt à arrêter les membres du gouvernement ». « Les membres du gouvernement intérimaire rwandais […] seront mis aux arrêts s’ils tombent aux mains de soldats de français dans la #zone_humanitaire_protégée par l’opération Turquoise », indiquait l’agence de presse internationale, qui disait tenir ses informations d’une « source autorisée à Paris ».

    Seulement voilà : une annotation manuscrite, inscrite par Hubert Védrine dans la marge de la dépêche imprimée par les services de l’Élysée, montre qu’il n’en était, en réalité, rien. « Lecture du Président : ce n’est pas ce qui a été dit chez le Premier ministre », peut-on lire sous la plume du secrétaire général de l’Élysée.

    Le document du cabinet Juppé sur l’ordre de laisser filer les génocidaires, daté lui aussi du 15 juillet, vient aujourd’hui conforter le soupçon d’un ministre des affaires étrangères, Alain #Juppé, en accord avec la politique élyséenne, bien qu’appartenant à un gouvernement de cohabitation dirigé par #Édouard_Balladur. Ce dernier fera d’ailleurs savoir à ce sujet, en 1998, qu’il « n’était pas question » aux yeux de Mitterrand « de châtier les auteurs hutus du génocide ». « Et il n’était pas question aux miens, ajoutait-il, de permettre à ceux-ci d’aller se mettre à l’abri au Zaïre ».

    C’est pourtant exactement ce qui s’est passé, et ce, sur ordre de son propre ministre Alain Juppé. Sur le terrain, l’#exfiltration est pilotée par le lieutenant-colonel #Jacques_Hogard, qui commande le groupement Sud-Turquoise au Rwanda, formé de troupes de la #Légion_étrangère.

    Dans un supplément spécial consacré aux opérations au Rwanda, la revue militaire Képi blanc a résumé des années plus tard la situation dans un style d’une raideur militaire qui ne fait guère dans la contorsion : « L’#EMT [#état-major_tactique] provoque et organise l’#évacuation du gouvernement de transition rwandais vers le Zaïre. »

    Le lieutenant-colonel #Hogard confirmera lui-même à plusieurs occasions les faits, notamment au journaliste David Servenay et à l’universitaire Gabriel Périès, auteurs du livre Une guerre noire (La Découverte). Dans cet ouvrage, le militaire raconte être allé voir en ces termes son homologue zaïrois pour lui parler des génocidaires qu’il s’apprêtait à laisser partir : « Vous ne fermez pas les #frontières, vous les laissez poreuses, je ne veux pas que vous empêchiez ces gens-là de partir, le Zaïre est grand, ils n’ont que ça pour partir. »

    Dès le 16 juillet, c’est-à-dire au lendemain du télégramme envoyé par le cabinet Juppé, le lieutenant-colonel Hogard rencontre le chef de l’État du Rwanda pour lui faire savoir que lui et ses hommes doivent – et peuvent – partir dans les vingt-quatre heures. Et c’est ainsi que la France escorte du Rwanda à la frontière zaïroise parmi les principaux responsables politiques du génocide.

    Un militaire de l’opération Turquoise, Guillaume Ancel, a raconté des années plus tard dans un livre (Rwanda, la fin du silence, éditions Belles Lettres) avoir vu le lieutenant-colonel Hogard quelque temps après cette scène. « Certes, il est convaincu que ce n’est pas notre rôle de rendre justice, mais escorter poliment des décideurs qui ont de terribles responsabilités dans les massacres et “du sang jusqu’au cou” le tourmente. Il aurait pu les arrêter, il aurait même pu les neutraliser, mais ses ordres ne lui laissaient pas le choix », a-t-il témoigné.

    Un document déclassifié de l’état-major de l’armée française confirme que les membres du gouvernement génocidaire « ont franchi la frontière rwando-zaïroise » le 17 juillet en fin de journée, « l’option clairement avouée étant de replier également le reste des #FAR [#forces_armées_du_gouvernement – ndlr] avec leur armement au Zaïre, afin de poursuivre la #résistance depuis ce pays ».

    En un mot : que les génocidaires soient à l’abri pour que le sang, lui, continue de couler.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/140221/rwanda-un-document-prouve-l-ordre-de-la-france-de-laisser-s-enfuir-les-gen
    #génocide #Quesnot #Balladur #Edouard_Balladur

    signalé par @arno : je mets ici le texte complet

    • Une guerre noire. Enquête sur les origines du génocide rwandais (1959-1994)

      Au printemps 1994, au Rwanda, près d’un million de personnes ont été exterminées en quelques semaines. À un rythme trois fois plus élevé que le génocide des juifs d’Europe. Comment un tel crime de masse a-t-il été rendu possible ? Quelle est la responsabilité des grandes puissances occidentales et de la France, surtout, si proche des génocidaires ? Après quatre ans d’enquête, dans les archives du monde entier, sur le terrain, auprès des militaires français, rwandais et belges, à interroger diplomates et politiques, Gabriel Périès et David Servenay tentent de répondre à ces questions. À l’aide de témoignages inédits et de documents confidentiels, ils lèvent le voile sur l’une des origines secrètes du génocide rwandais : la doctrine française de la « guerre révolutionnaire ». Des opérations clandestines menées dans le « pré carré » au moment de la décolonisation, en passant par le trouble jeu du général De Gaulle, ils établissent la généalogie de ce qui fut pendant des décennies un véritable savoir-faire de l’armée française. Formalisé pendant la guerre d’Indochine et appliqué en Algérie, il a largement inspiré les dispositifs répressifs mis en place dans un grand nombre d’États africains… dont le Rwanda des années 1960. Et ce n’est pas le fruit du hasard si l’un des meilleurs élèves africains de la « guerre révolutionnaire » perpétra, plus de trois décennies plus tard, le dernier génocide du XXe siècle : hiérarchies politico-militaires parallèles, gardes présidentielles transformées en escadrons de la mort, action psychologique, quadrillage administratif et militaire des populations formèrent un système efficace susceptible de mobiliser toute une société au service du projet exterminateur de ses dirigeants. Cette histoire inconnue éclaire d’un jour nouveau la responsabilité de l’État français dans le génocide rwandais.

      https://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/une_guerre_noire-9782707149145

      #livre #Gabriel_PÉRIÈS #David_SERVENAY

    • Rwanda, la fin du silence. #Témoignage d’un officier français

      Au lourd secret qui entoure le véritable rôle de la France et de son armée lors du génocide des Tutsi au Rwanda, #Guillaume_Ancel oppose la vérité de ses carnets de terrain, témoignage des missions auxquelles il a participé durant l’opération Turquoise. La fin du silence est aussi le récit du combat mené par cet ancien officier pour faire savoir ce qui s’est réellement passé durant cet été 1994 et « rendre hommage, dignement, aux centaines de milliers de victimes rwandaises que nous n’avons pas su empêcher. »
      Officier de la Force d’action rapide, détaché au sein d’une unité de la Légion étrangère, le capitaine Ancel mène avec ses hommes des opérations d’extraction de personnes menacées. Sous couvert d’une opération humanitaire destinée à mettre fin aux massacres, cet officier comprend vite que la France soutient le gouvernement génocidaire rwandais dont elle a formé l’armée. Il décrit les errements de l’armée française, ballotée au gré de décisions politiques dont les motivations sont toujours tenues secrètes, les archives officielles restant inaccessibles. Ce témoignage dévoile également certains épisodes méconnus de cette opération « #humanitaire » durant laquelle l’armée française a tué. Parfois pour défendre, parfois pour des raisons moins avouables.

      https://www.lesbelleslettres.com/livre/3565-rwanda-la-fin-du-silence
      #opération_humanitaire

  • #Frontex suspend ses #opérations en Hongrie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein @_kg_ @rhoumour @karine4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The two sides of TUI : crisis-hit holiday giant turned deportation specialist

    2020 was a rough year for the tourism industry, with businesses worldwide cancelling holidays and laying off staff. Yet one company has been weathering the storm with particular ruthlessness: the Anglo-German giant TUI.

    TUI (Touristik Union International) has been called the world’s biggest holiday company. While its core business is selling full-package holidays to British and German families, 2020 saw it taking on a new sideline: running deportation charter flights for the UK Home Office. In this report we look at how:

    - TUI has become the main airline carrying out charter deportation flights for the UK Home Office. In November 2020 alone it conducted nine mass deportations to 19 destinations as part of Operation Sillath, and its deportation flights continue in 2021.
    - TUI lost over €3 billion last year. But the money was made up in bailouts from the German government, totalling over €4 billion.
    – TUI’s top owner is oligarch Alexey Mordashov, Russia’s fourth richest billionaire who made his fortune in the “Katastroika” of post-Soviet asset sell-offs. His family holding company made over €100 million in dividends from TUI in 2019.
    – In 2020, TUI cut 23,000 jobs, or 32% of its global workforce. But it carried on paying out fat salaries to its bosses – the executive board waived just 5% of their basic pay, with CEO Fritz Joussen pocketing €1.7 million.
    – Other cost-cutting measures included delaying payments of over €50m owed to hotels in Greece and Spain.
    - TUI is accused of using its tourist industry muscle to pressure the Greek government into dropping COVID quarantine requirements last Summer, just before the tourist influx contributed to a “second wave” of infections.
    – It is also accused of pressuring hotels in the Canary Islands to stop hosting migrants arriving on wooden boats, fearing it would damage the islands’ image in the eyes of TUI customers.

    TUI: from heavy industry to holiday giant

    Calling itself the ‘world’s leading tourism group’, TUI has 277 direct and indirect subsidiaries. The parent company is TUI AG, listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in Hannover and Berlin.

    TUI describes itself as a ‘vertically-integrated’ tourism business. That means it covers all aspects of a holiday: it can take care of bookings, provide the planes to get there, accommodate guests in hotels and cruises, and connect them with ‘experiences’ such as museum vists, performances and excursions. Recent company strategy buzz highlights the use of digitalisation – ‘driving customers’ into buying more services via its apps and online platforms. Where it can’t do everything in-house, TUI also uses other airlines and works extensively with independent hotels.

    TUI’s major assets are:

    - Hotels. By September 2020 the company ran over 400 hotels, the most profitable of which is the RIU chain, a company jointly owned by the Mallorca-based RIU family.
    - Cruises. TUI owns three cruise companies – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Marella Cruises – which between them operate 17 vessels.
    - Airlines. TUI has five airlines with a total fleet of 137 aircraft. 56 of these are operated by its biggest airline, the British company TUI Airways. Collectively, the airlines under the group are the seventh largest in Europe.

    TUI also runs the TUI Care Foundation, its vehicle for green PR, based in the Hague.

    The company has a long history dating back to 1923 – though it is barely recognisable from its earlier embodiment as the energy, mining and metalworking group Preussag, originally set up by the German state of Prussia. Described by some as the “heavy industrial arm” of the Nazi economy, Preussag was just one of many German industrial firms which benefited from forced labour under the Third Reich. It transformed itself into a tourism business only in 1997, and completed a long string of acquisitions to become the behemoth it is today – including acquiring leading British travel agents Thomson in 2000 and First Choice Holidays in 2007.

    TUI holidaymakers are mostly families from the UK and Germany, with an average ticket for a family of four costing €3,500 . The top five destinations as of Easter 2019 were, in order: Spain, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Cape Verde.

    The UK branch – including TUI Airways, which is responsible for the deportations – is run out of Wigmore House, next to Luton Airport in Bedfordshire. The UK managing director is Andrew “Andy” Flintham. Flintham has been with TUI for over 15 years, and previously worked for British Airways and Ford.

    Dawn Wilson is the managing director of TUI Airways. and head of airline operations on the TUI aviation board, overseeing all five of TUI’s airlines. Wilson is also a director of TUI UK. Originally from Cleethorpes, Wilson’s career in the industry began as cabin crew in the 80s, before rising up the ranks of Britannia Airways. Britannia’s parent company Thomson was acquired by TUI in 2000.
    TUI’s crisis measures: mass job losses, deportations, and more

    Before the pandemic TUI was a success story, drawing 23 million people a year to sun, sea, snow or sights. In 2019, TUI was riding high following the collapse of its key UK competitor, Thomas Cook. It branched out by adding 21 more aircraft to its fleet and picking up a number of its rival’s former contracts, notably in Turkey. TUI’s extensive work in Turkey has recently made it a target of the Boycott Turkey campaign in solidarity with the Kurdish people. The one bum note had been the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX airliners, after two crashes involving the aircraft forced the worldwide withdrawal of these planes. Despite that, the company made close to €19 billion in revenues in 2019, and a profit of over €500 million. Most of that profit was handed straight to shareholders, with over €400 million in dividends. (See: Annual Report 2019). And the future looked good, with record bookings for 2020.

    Then came COVID-19. By the end of the 2020 financial year, travel closures had resulted in losses of €3 billion for TUI, and a net debt of €4.2bn. To stay afloat, the company has managed to pull in handouts from the German state, as well as backing from its largest shareholder, the Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov. It has also turned to a number of controversial business practices: from mass job losses to becoming Brexit Britain’s main deportation profiteer.

    Here we look at some of what TUI got up to in the last year.
    Government bailouts

    Had it been left to the free market, TUI might well have gone bust. Fortunately for TUI’s investors, the German government rode to the rescue. In total, the state – working together with some banks and private investors – has provided TUI with €4.8bn in bailout funds to see it through COVID-19.

    The vast bulk of this money, €4.3 billion to date, has come from German taxpayers. TUI received a €1.8 rescue loan from state development bank KsF in April 2020, followed by another €1.2 billion package in August. The third bailout, agreed in December 2020, totalled €1.8 billion. €1.3 billion of this was more government money – from the German Economic Support Fund (WSF) as well as KsF.

    While some was a straight loan, portions came as a “silent participation” convertible into shares in the company – that is, the state has the option to become a major TUI shareholder. The deal also involved the government having two seats on TUI’s supervisory board. The German state is now intimately involved in TUI’s business.

    The other €500m was raised by issuing new shares to private investors. TUI’s largest owner, Alexey Mordashov, agreed to take any of these not bought by others – potentially increasing his stake in the company from 25% to as much as 36% (see below).
    Slashing jobs

    Alongside bail-outs, another key part of TUI’s response to the COVID crisis has been to hit the staff. Back in May 2020 there was widespread media coverage when TUI announced it would make 8,000 job cuts globally. Then in July 2020, the company announced it would close 166 of its 516 travel agencies in the UK and Ireland at a cost of 900 jobs.

    But these announcements turned out to be just the beginning. In the 2020 Annual Report, published in December 2020, TUI quietly announced that it had in fact cut 23,143 jobs – that is 32% of its total staff.

    Particularly hard hit were hotel staff, whose numbers fell by over 13,000, 46% of the total. The workforce of TUI’s excursions and activities division, TUI Musement, was cut in half with almost 5,000 job losses (Annual Report, p88). And these figures do not include staff for TUI Cruises (JV), a joint venture company whose employees are mainly hired through agencies on temporary contracts.

    Home Office deportation airline of choice

    TUI is not known to have been previously involved in deportations from the UK, Germany or any other country. But since August 2020, its UK subsidiary TUI Airways has suddenly become the UK’s top deportation airline. It carried out the vast majority of mass deportation charter flights from the UK between August and December 2020, and continues to do so in January 2021.

    This included many of the rush of pre-Brexit “Operation Sillath” deportations to European countries before the New Year – where the Home Office pushed to expel as many refugees as possible under the Dublin Regulation before it crashed out of this EU agreement. But it also works further afield: TUI carried out all charter deportations from the UK in November, including one to Ghana and Nigeria.

    Because of this, TUI looked a likely candidate to be operating the so-called ‘Jamaica 50’ flight on 2 December, and was one of a number of possible airlines targeted by a social media campaign. However, the company eventually clarified it would not be doing the flight – Privilege Style, whom Corporate Watch recently reported on, turned out to be the operator. It is unclear whether or not TUI had originally been booked and pulled out after succumbing to public pressure.
    No hospitality in the Canary Islands

    The company’s disregard for the lives of refugees is not limited to deportation deals. In the Canary Islands, a local mayor revealed that TUI (along with British airline Jet2) had warned hotels not to provide emergency shelter to migrants, threatening it would not ‘send tourists’ if they did.

    Record numbers of African migrants arrived on wooden boats to the islands in 2020, and some have been accomodated in the hotels at the state’s expense. Nearly 2,170 migrants died trying to reach Spain that year, the majority en-route to the Canaries. The islands had seen a dramatic fall in holidaymakers due to the pandemic, and many hotel rooms would have sat empty, making TUI’s threats all the more callous.
    Pushing back against Greek COVID-19 measures

    TUI has been pressing destination countries to reopen to tourists following the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has become a particular issue in Greece, now the company‘s number one destination where TUI has been accused of exerting pressure on the government to relax anti-COVID measures last Summer.

    According to a report in German newspaper BILD (see also report in English here), TUI threatened to cancel all its trips to the country unless the government dropped quarantine regulations for tourists. The threat was reportedly made in negotiations with the Greek tourism minister, who then rushed to call the Prime Minister, who backed down and rewrote the Government’s COVID-19 plans.

    Greece had been viewed as a rare success story of the pandemic, with the virus having largely been contained for months – until early August, a few weeks after it welcomed back tourists. Some have blamed the country’s “second wave” of COVID-19 infections on the government’s “gamble of opening up to tourists”.

    Leaving hotels in the lurch

    Despite having pushed destination countries to increase their COVID-19 exposure risks by encouraging tourism, the company then refused to pay hoteliers in Greece and Spain millions of euros owed to them for the summer season. Contractual changes introduced by TUI forced hotels to wait until March 2021 for three-quarters of the money owed. In Greece, where the company works with over 2,000 hotels, the sum owed is said to be around €50m, with individual hotels reportedly owed hundreds of thousands of euros. This money is essential to many businesses’ survival through the low season.

    TUI’s actions are perhaps all the more galling in light of the enormous government bailouts the company received. In the company’s 2020 Annual Report, amid sweeping redundancies and failure to pay hoteliers, CEO Fritz Joussen had the arrogance to claim that “TUI plays a stabilising role in Southern Europe, and in Northern Africa too, with investment, infrastructure and jobs.”
    Rolling in it: who gains

    The supposed rationale for government COVID bail-outs, in Germany as elsewhere, is to keep the economy turning and secure jobs. But that can’t mean much to the third of its work force TUI has sacked. If not the workers, who does benefit from Germany funneling cash into the holiday giant?

    TUI’s bailout deals with the German government forbade it from paying a dividend to shareholders in 2020. Although in previous years the company operated a very high dividend policy indeed: in 2018 it handed over €381 million, or 47% of its total profit, to its shareholders. They did even better in 2019, pocketing €423 million – or no less than 80% of company profits. They will no doubt be hoping that the money will roll in again once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

    Meanwhile, it appears that the crisis barely touched TUI’s executives and directors. According to the 2020 Annual Report (page 130), the company’s executives agreed to a “voluntary waiver of 30% of their fixed remuneration for the months of April and May 2020”. That is: just a portion of their salary, for just two months. This added up to a drop of just 5% in executive salaries over the year compared with 2019.

    Again: this was during a year where 32% of TUI staff were laid off, and the company lost over €3 billion.

    In a further great show of sacrifice, the Annual Report explains that “none of the members of the Executive Board has made use of their right to reimbursement of holiday trips which they are entitled to according to their service agreements.” TUI is infamous for granting its executives paid holidays “without any limitation as to type of holiday, category or price” as an executive perk (page 126).

    After his 5% pay cut, CEO Fritz Joussen still made €1,709,600 last year: a basic salary of €1.08 million, plus another €628,000 in “pension contributions and service costs” including a chauffeur driven car allowance.

    The next highest paid was none other than “labour director” Dr Elke Eller with €1.04 million. The other four members of the executive board all received over €800,000.

    The top dogs

    Who are these handsomely paid titans of the holiday industry? TUI’s CEO is Friedrich “Fritz” Joussen, based in Germany. Originally hired by TUI as a consultant, Joussen has a background in the German mobile phone industry and was head of Vodafone Germany. The slick CEO can regularly be found giving presentations about the TUI ‘ecosystem’ and the importance of digitisation. Besides his salary, Joussen also benefits from a considerable shareholding accrued through annual bonuses.

    Overseeing Joussen’s executive team is the Supervisory Board, chaired by the Walrus-moustachioed Dr. Dieter Zetsche, or ‘Dr. Z’, who made his fortune in the management of Daimler AG (the car giant that also owns Mercedes–Benz, and formerly, Chrysler ). Since leaving that company in 2019, Zetsche has reportedly been enjoying a Daimler pension package of at least €4,250 a day. TUI topped him up with a small fee of €389,500 for his board duties in 2020 (Annual Report p140).

    With his notable moustache, Dr. Z is a stand-out character in the mostly drab world of German corporate executives, known for fronting one of Daimler’s US ad campaigns in a “buffoon tycoon” character. At the height of the Refugee Summer of 2015, Dr. Dieter Zetsche abruptly interrupted his Frankfurt Motor Show speech on the future of the car industry to discuss the desperate situation facing Syrian refugees.

    He said at the time: “Anybody who knows the past isn’t allowed to turn refugees away. Anybody who sees the present can’t turn them away. Anybody who thinks about the future will not turn them away.” Five years later, with TUI the UK’s top deportation profiteer, this sentiment seems to have been forgotten.

    Another key figure on the Supervisory Board is Deputy Chair Peter Long. Long is a veteran of the travel industry, having been CEO of First Choice, which subsequently merged with TUI. He is credited with pioneering Turkey as an industry destination.

    Long is a controversial figure who has previously been accused of ‘overboarding’, i.e. sitting on the directors’ boards of too many companies. Described as a “serial part timer”, he was executive chairman of Countrywide PLC, the UK’s largest estate agency group, but stepped down in late November 2020 after apparently ruffling shareholders’ feathers over a move that would have given control of the company to a private equity firm. In 2018, Countrywide was forced to abandon attempts to give bosses – including himself – shares worth more than £20m. Long also previously stepped down as chairman of Royal Mail after similarly losing shareholder support over enormous executive pay packages. In his former role as as head of TUI Travel, he was among the UK’s top five highest earning CEOs, with a salary of £13.3 million for the year 2014 -15.

    The man with the money: Alexey Mordashov

    But all the above are paupers compared to TUI’s most powerful board member and top shareholder: Alexey Mordashov, a Russian oligarch who is reportedly the country’s fourth richest billionaire, with a fortune of over $23 billion. His family holding company is TUI’s main owner with up to 36% of company shares.

    Mordashov’s stake in TUI is held through a Cyprus-registered holding company called Unifirm.

    In 2019, Mordashov transferred 65% of his shares in Unifirm to KN-Holding, a Russian company owned jointly by his two sons, Kirill and Nikita, then aged 18 and 19. However, Russian media report that after the younger son Nikita was kicked out of university in 2020, he was sent to the army, and his shares transferred to Kirill.

    It may not be massive money to Mordashov, but his family company have certainly done well out of TUI. In 2019 TUI paid out €423 million in dividends to its shareholders, no less than 80% of total profits. At the time Unifirm owned one quarter (24.95%) of TUI. That means the Mordashovs will have received over €100 million on their investment in TUI just in that one year.

    “Steel king” Alexey Mordashov’s rise to the height of the global mega-rich began with a typical post-Soviet privatisation story. Born in 1965, the son of steel workers, he studied economics and accountancy and by 1992 was finance director of a steel plant in his hometown of Cherepovets. In the early and mid-1990s, the great Russian “Katastroika” sell-off of state assets saw steel mill and other workers handed shares in the former collective enterprises. In the midst of an economic collapse, workers sold on their shares to pay food and heating bills, while the likes of Mordashov built up massive asset portfolios quick and cheap. In the next privatisation phase, the budding oligarchs were handed whole industries through rigged auctions.

    Mordashov turned his steel plant holdings into a company called Severstal, now among the world’s largest steel firms. He then expanded Severstal into Severgroup, a conglomerate with holdings in everything from airports to goldmines (Nordgold) to supermarkets (Lenta), to mobile phone networks (Tele2 Russia), as well as the local hockey team Severstal Cherepovets. Vladimir Lukin, Mordashov’s legal adviser at Severgroup, is also a member of the TUI Supervisory Board.

    Business media paint Mordashov as less flamboyant than your average oligarch. His new megayacht Nord, built in Germany and registered in the Cayman Islands, is only 142 metres long – 20 metres shorter than Roman Abramovitch’s Eclipse.

    In December 2020, TUI declared that Unifirm owned 25% of its shares. But the number will have increased in TUI’s third bail-out deal in January: as well as more money from the German government and its banks, Unifirm agreed to inject more cash into the company in return for boosting its ownership, buying up new shares to a maximum of 36%. The exact current holding has not yet been announced.

    TUI’s increasing control by Mordashov was approved by the German financial regulator Bafin, which stepped in to exempt him from a rule that would have required Unifirm to bid for a full majority of the shares once it held more than 30%.
    Other shareholders

    Unifirm is the only shareholder with over 10% of TUI shares. Some way behind, Egyptian hotel-owning businessman called Hamed El Chiaty has a stake of just over 5%, via the Cyprus-based DH Deutsche Holdings. But most of TUI’s shares are owned in smaller chunks by the usual suspects: the global investment funds and banks that own the majority of the world’s assets.

    In December 2020 these funds each had over 1%: UK investor Standard Life Aberdeen; giant US-based fund Vanguard; Canada’s state pension system; and Norges Bank, which manages the oil-rich national wealth fund of Norway. Two other major investment funds, Pioneer and BlackRock, had around 0.5% each. (NB: these numbers may have changed after the new January share sale.)

    TUI can’t take its reputation for granted

    A company of TUI’s size backed by the German government and a Russian billionaire may seem impervious to criticism. On the other hand, unlike more specialist charter airlines, it is very much a public facing business, relying above all on the custom of North European families. The endless stream of negative reviews left by disgruntled customers following cancelled TUI holidays in 2020 have already tarnished its image.

    In a sign of just how worried the company may be about its reputation, it put out a tender in the autumn for a new PR agency to take care of “relaunching the brand into the post-Covid world”. This was ultimately awarded to the US firm Leo Burnett. If outrage at the UK’s deportation push keeps up, TUI might well need to pay attention to online campaigns or demonstrations at its travel agents.

    Another vulnerability the company has itself identified is political instability in destination countries, as evidenced by TUI’s nervousness over migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands. Here too, its image is being harmed by actions such as exerting pressure on the Greek government to relax COVID measures, and its treatment of independent hotels. TUI cannot take public support for granted in top destinations such as Greece and Spain, where campaigning at its resorts could play a role in shifting company policy.

    https://corporatewatch.org/the-two-sides-of-tui-crisis-hit-holiday-giant-turned-deportation-spe

    #renvois #expulsions #tourisme #TUI #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Allemagne #privatisation #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #UK #Angleterre #Touristik_Union_International #compagnie_aérienne #avions #Operation_Sillath #Alexey_Mordashov #Fritz_Joussen #Canaries #îles_Canaries #Preussag #Wigmore_House #Flintham #Andrew_Flintham #Andy_Flintham #Dawn_Wilson #pandémie #coronavirus #covid-19 #KsF #German_Economic_Support_Fund (#WSF) #chômage #licenciements #TUI_Musement #charter #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #Ghana #Nigeria #Jamaica_50 #Jet2 #hôtels #Elke_Eller #Dieter_Zetsche #Peter_Long #Severstal #Severgroup #Nordgold #Lenta #Tele2_Russia #Unifirm #Hamed_El_Chiaty #DH_Deutsche_Holdings #multinationales #Standard_Life_Aberdeen #Vanguard #Norges_Bank #Pioneer #BlackRock #Leo_Burnett

    ping @karine4 @isskein @reka

  • #Frontex to expand cooperation with Operation #IRINI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein @karine4 @etraces

  • La fantaisie des Dieux. #Rwanda 1994

    Une BD reportage sur le génocide des tutsis au Rwanda.

    Il n’y avait plus de mots. Juste ce silence. Épais, lourd. C’était un génocide, celui des Tutsis du Rwanda, le troisième du XXe siècle.

    Il faisait beau, il faisait chaud. Nous avions pénétré le monde du grand secret.

    Sur les collines de Bisesero, des instituteurs tuaient leurs élèves, des policiers menaient la battue. C’était la « grande moisson ».

    François Mitterrand niait « le crime des crimes ». Comment raconter ?

    http://www.arenes.fr/livre/la-fantaisie-des-dieux
    #BD #livre

    #génocide #crime_contre_l'humanité #France #François_Mitterrand #Mitterrand #silence #Opération_Turquoise #opération_humanitaire #extermination #Home_Saint-Jean #folie #organisation #déni #folie_raisonnée #Bisesero #Kibuye #Nyagurati #violence #guerre #guerre_civile #histoire

  • Cast away : the UK’s rushed charter flights to deport Channel crossers

    Warning: this document contains accounts of violence, attempted suicides and self harm.

    The British government has vowed to clamp down on migrants crossing the Channel in small boats, responding as ever to a tabloid media panic. One part of its strategy is a new wave of mass deportations: charter flights, specifically targeting channel-crossers, to France, Germany and Spain.

    There have been two flights so far, on the 12 and 26 August. The next one is planned for 3 September. The two recent flights stopped in both Germany (Duesseldorf) and France (Toulouse on the 12, Clermont-Ferrand on the 26). Another flight was planned to Spain on 27 August – but this was cancelled after lawyers managed to get everyone off the flight.

    Carried out in a rush by a panicked Home Office, these mass deportations have been particularly brutal, and may have involved serious legal irregularities. This report summarises what we know so far after talking to a number of the people deported and from other sources. It covers:

    The context: Calais boat crossings and the UK-France deal to stop them.

    In the UK: Yarl’s Wood repurposed as Channel-crosser processing centre; Britannia Hotels; Brook House detention centre as brutal as ever.

    The flights: detailed timeline of the 26 August charter to Dusseldorf and Clermont-Ferrand.

    Who’s on the flight: refugees including underage minors and torture survivors.

    Dumped on arrival: people arriving in Germany and France given no opportunity to claim asylum, served with immediate expulsion papers.

    The legalities: use of the Dublin III regulation to evade responsibility for refugees.

    Is it illegal?: rushed process leads to numerous irregularities.

    “that night, eight people cut themselves”

    “That night before the flight (25 August), when we were locked in our rooms and I heard that I had lost my appeal, I was desperate. I started to cut myself. I wasn’t the only one. Eight people self-harmed or tried to kill themselves rather than be taken on that plane. One guy threw a kettle of boiling water on himself. One man tried to hang himself with the cable of the TV in his room. Three of us were taken to hospital, but sent back to the detention centre after a few hours. The other five they just took to healthcare [the clinic in Brook House] and bandaged up. About 5 in the morning they came to my room, guards with riot shields. On the way to the van, they led me through a kind of corridor which was full of people – guards, managers, officials from the Home Office. They all watched while a doctor examined me, then the doctor said – ‘yes, he’s fit to fly’. On the plane later I saw one guy hurt really badly, fresh blood on his head and on his clothes. He hadn’t just tried to stop the ticket, he really wanted to kill himself. He was taken to Germany.”

    Testimony of a deported person.

    The context: boats and deals

    Since the 1990s, tens of thousands of people fleeing war, repression and poverty have crossed the “short straits” between Calais and Dover. Until 2018, people without papers attempting to cross the Channel did so mainly by getting into lorries or on trains through the Channel Tunnel. Security systems around the lorry parks, tunnel and highway were escalated massively following the eviction of the big Jungle in 2016. This forced people into seeking other, ever more dangerous, routes – including crossing one of the world’s busiest waterways in small boats. Around 300 people took this route in 2018, a further 2000 in 2019 – and reportedly more than 5,000 people already by August 2020.

    These crossings have been seized on by the UK media in their latest fit of xenophobic scaremongering. The pattern is all too familiar since the Sangatte camp of 1999: right-wing media outlets (most infamously the Daily Mail, but also others) push-out stories about dangerous “illegals” swarming across the Channel; the British government responds with clampdown promises.

    Further stoked by Brexit, recent measures have included:

    Home Secretary Priti Patel announcing a new “Fairer Borders” asylum and immigration law that she promises will “send the left into meltdown”.

    A formal request from the Home Office to the Royal Navy to assist in turning back migrants crossing by boat (although this would be illegal).

    Negotiations with the French government, leading to the announcement on 13 August of a “joint operational plan” aimed at “completely cutting this route.”

    The appointment of a “Clandestine Channel Threat Commander” to oversee operations on both sides of the Channel.

    The concrete measures are still emerging, but notable developments so far include:

    Further UK payments to France to increase security – reportedly France demanded £30 million.

    French warships from the Naval base at Cherbourg patrolling off the coast of Calais and Dunkirk.

    UK Border Force Cutters and Coastal Patrol Vessels patrolling the British side, supported by flights from Royal Air Force surveillance planes.

    The new charter flight deportation programme — reportedly named “Operation Sillath” by the Home Office.

    For the moment, at least, the governments are respecting their minimal legal obligations to protect life at sea. And there has not been evidence of illegal “push backs” or “pull backs”: where the British “push” or the French “pull” boats back across the border line by force. When these boats are intercepted in French waters the travellers are taken back to France. If they make it into UK waters, Border Force pick them up and disembark them at Dover. They are then able to claim asylum in the UK.

    There is no legal difference in claiming asylum after arriving by boat, on a plane, or any other way. However, these small boat crossers have been singled out by the government to be processed in a special way seemingly designed to deny them the right to asylum in the UK.

    Once people are safely on shore the second part of Priti Patel’s strategy to make this route unviable kicks in: systematically obstruct their asylum claims and, where possible, deport them to France or other European countries. In practice, there is no way the Home Office can deport everyone who makes it across. Rather, as with the vast majority of immigration policy, the aim is to display toughness with a spectacle of enforcement – not only in an attempt to deter other arrivals, but perhaps, above all else, to play to key media audiences.

    This is where the new wave of charter flights come in. Deportations require cooperation from the destination country, and the first flight took place on 12 August in the midst of the Franco-British negotiations. Most recently, the flights have fed a new media spectacle in the UK: the Home Office attacking “activist lawyers” for doing their job and challenging major legal flaws in these rushed removals.

    The Home Office has tried to present these deportation flights as a strong immediate response to the Channel crossings. The message is: if you make it across, you’ll be back again within days. Again, this is more spectacle than reality. All the people we know of on the flights were in the UK for several months before being deported.

    In the UK: Yarl’s Wood repurposed

    Once on shore people are taken to one of two places: either the Kent Intake Unit, which is a Home Office holding facility (i.e., a small prefab cell complex) in the Eastern Docks of Dover Port; or the Dover police station. This police stations seems increasingly to be the main location, as the small “intake unit” is often at capacity. There used to be a detention centre in Dover where new arrivals were held, notorious for its run-down state, but this was closed in October 2015.

    People are typically held in the police station for no more than a day. The next destination is usually Yarl’s Wood, the Bedfordshire detention centre run by Serco. This was, until recently, a longer term detention centre holding mainly women. However, on 18 August the Home Office announced Yarl’s Wood been repurposed as a “Short Term Holding Facility” (SHTF) specifically to process people who have crossed the Channel. People stay usually just a few days – the legal maximum stay for a “short term” facility is seven days.

    Yarl’s Wood has a normal capacity of 410 prisoners. According to sources at Yarl’s Wood:

    “last week it was almost full with over 350 people detained. A few days later this number
    had fallen to 150, showing how quickly people are moving through the centre. As of Tuesday 25th of August there was no one in the centre at all! It seems likely that numbers will fluctuate in line with Channel crossings.”

    The same source adds:

    “There is a concern about access to legal aid in Yarl’s Wood. Short Term Holding Facility regulations do not require legal advice to be available on site (in Manchester, for example, there are no duty lawyers). Apparently the rota for duty lawyers is continuing at Yarl’s Wood for the time being. But the speed with which people are being processed now means that it is practically impossible to sign up and get a meeting with the duty solicitor before being moved out.”

    The Home Office conducts people’s initial asylum screening interviews whilst they are at Yarl’s Wood. Sometimes these are done in person, or sometimes by phone.

    This is a crucial point, as this first interview decides many people’s chance of claiming asylum in the UK. The Home Office uses information from this interview to deport the Channel crossers to France and Germany under the Dublin III regulation. This is EU legislation which allows governments to pass on responsibility for assessing someone’s asylum claim to another state. That is: the UK doesn’t even begin to look at people’s asylum cases.

    From what we have seen, many of these Dublin III assessments were made in a rushed and irregular way. They often used only weak circumstantial evidence. Few people had any chance to access legal advice, or even interpreters to explain the process.

    We discuss Dublin III and these issues below in the Legal Framework section.
    In the UK: Britain’s worst hotels

    From Yarl’s Wood, people we spoke to were given immigration bail and sent to asylum accommodation. In the first instance this currently means a cheap hotel. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Home Office ordered its asylum contractors (Mears, Serco) to shut their usual initial asylum accommodation and move people into hotels. It is not clear why this decision was made, as numerous accounts suggest the hotels are much worse as possible COVID incubators. The results of this policy have already proved fatal – we refer to the death of Adnan Olbeh in a Glasgow hotel in April.

    Perhaps the government is trying to prop up chains such as Britannia Hotels, judged for seven years running “Britain’s worst hotel chain” by consumer magazine Which?. Several people on the flights were kept in Britannia hotels. The company’s main owner, multi-millionaire Alex Langsam, was dubbed the “asylum king” by British media after winning previous asylum contracts with his slum housing sideline.

    Some of the deportees we spoke to stayed in hotel accommodation for several weeks before being moved into normal “asylum dispersal” accommodation – shared houses in the cheapest parts of cities far from London. Others were picked up for deportation directly from the hotels.

    In both cases, the usual procedure is a morning raid: Immigration Enforcement squads grab people from their beds around dawn. As people are in collaborating hotels or assigned houses, they are easy to find and arrest when next on the list for deportation.

    After arrest, people were taken to the main detention centres near Heathrow (Colnbrook and Harmondsworth) or Gatwick (particularly Brook House). Some stopped first at a police station or Short Term Holding Facility for some hours or days.

    All the people we spoke to eventually ended up in Brook House, one of the two Gatwick centres.
    “they came with the shields”

    “One night in Brook House, after someone cut himself, they locked everyone in. One man panicked and started shouting asking the guards please open the door. But he didn’t speak much English, he was shouting in Arabic. He said – ‘if you don’t open the door I will boil water in my kettle and throw it on my face.’ But they didn’t understand him, they thought he was threatening them, saying he would throw it at them. So they came with the shields, took him out of his room and put him into a solitary cell. When they put him in there they kicked him and beat him, they said ‘don’t threaten us again’.” Testimony of a deported person.

    Brook House

    Brook House remains notorious, after exposure by a whistleblower of routine brutality and humiliation by guards then working for G4S. The contract has since been taken over by Mitie’s prison division – branded as “Care and Custody, a Mitie company”. Presumably, many of the same guards simply transferred over.

    In any case, according to what we heard from the deported people, nothing much has changed in Brook House – viciousness and violence from guards remains the norm. The stories included here give just a few examples. See recent detainee testimonies on the Detained Voices blog for much more.
    “they only care that you don’t die in front of them”

    “I was in my room in Brook House on my own for 12 days, I couldn’t eat or drink, just kept thinking, thinking about my situation. I called for the doctors maybe ten times. They did come a couple of times, they took my blood, but they didn’t do anything else. They don’t care about your health or your mental health. They are just scared you will die there. They don’t care what happens to you just so long as you don’t die in front of their eyes. It doesn’t matter if you die somewhere else.” Testimony of a deported person.
    Preparing the flights

    The Home Office issues papers called “Removal Directions” (RDs) to those they intend to deport. These specify the destination and day of the flight. People already in detention should be given at least 72 hours notice, including two working days, which allows them to make final appeals.

    See the Right to Remain toolkit for detailed information on notice periods and appeal procedures.

    All UK deportation flights, both tickets on normal scheduled flights and chartered planes, are booked by a private contractor called Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). The main airline used by the Home Office for charter flights is a charter company called Titan Airways.

    See this 2018 Corporate Watch report for detailed information on charter flight procedures and the companies involved. And this 2020 update on deportations overall.

    On the 12 August flight, legal challenges managed to get 19 people with Removal Directions off the plane. However, the Home Office then substituted 14 different people who were on a “reserve list”. Lawyers suspect that these 14 people did not have sufficient access to legal representation before their flight which is why they were able to be removed.

    Of the 19 people whose lawyers successfully challenged their attempted deportation, 12 would be deported on the next charter flight on 26 August. 6 were flown to Dusseldorf in Germany, and 6 to Clermont-Ferrand in France.

    Another flight was scheduled for the 27 August to Spain. However, lawyers managed to get everyone taken off, and the Home Office cancelled the flight. A Whitehall source was quoted as saying “there was 100% legal attrition rate on the flight due to unprecedented and organised casework barriers sprung on the government by three law firms.” It is suspected that the Home Office will continue their efforts to deport these people on future charter flights.

    Who was deported?

    All the people on the flights were refugees who had claimed asylum in the UK immediately on arrival at Dover. While the tabloids paint deportation flights as carrying “dangerous criminals”, none of these people had any criminal charges.

    They come from countries including Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan and Kuwait. (Ten further Yemenis were due to be on the failed flight to Spain. In June, the UK government said it will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia to use in the bombardment of the country that has cost tens of thousands of lives).

    All have well-founded fears of persecution in their countries of origin, where there have been extensive and well-documented human rights abuses. At least some of the deportees are survivors of torture – and have been documented as such in the Home Office’s own assessments.

    One was a minor under 18 who was age assessed by the Home Office as 25 – despite them being in possession of his passport proving his real age. Unaccompanied minors should not legally be processed under the Dublin III regulation, let alone held in detention and deported.

    Many, if not all, have friends and families in the UK.

    No one had their asylum case assessed – all were removed under the Dublin III procedure (see Legal Framework section below).

    Timeline of the flight on 26 August

    Night of 25 August: Eight people due to be on the flight self-harm or attempt suicide. Others have been on hunger strike for more than a week already. Three are taken to hospital where they are hastily treated before being discharged so they can still be placed on the flight. Another five are simply bandaged up in Brook House’s healthcare facility. (See testimony above.)

    26 August, 4am onwards: Guards come to take deportees from their rooms in Brook House. There are numerous testimonies of violence: three or four guards enter rooms with shields, helmets, and riot gear and beat up prisoners if they show any resistance.

    4am onwards: The injured prisoners are taken by guards to be inspected by a doctor, in a corridor in front of officials, and are certified as “fit to fly”.

    5am onwards: Prisoners are taken one by one to waiting vans. Each is placed in a separate van with four guards. Vans are labelled with the Mitie “Care and Custody” logo. Prisoners are then kept sitting in the vans until everyone is loaded, which takes one to two hours.

    6am onwards: Vans drive from Brook House (near Gatwick Airport) to Stansted Airport. They enter straight into the airport charter flight area. Deportees are taken one by one from the vans and onto Titan’s waiting plane. It is an anonymous looking white Airbus A321-211 without the company’s livery, with the registration G-POWU. They are escorted up the steps with a guard on each side.

    On the plane there are four guards to each person: one seated on each side, one in the seat in front and one behind. Deportees are secured with restraint belts around their waists, so that their arms are handcuffed to the belts on each side. Besides the 12 deportees and 48 guards there are Home Office officials, Mitie managers, and two paramedics on the plane.

    7.48AM (BST): The Titan Airways plane (using flight number ZT311) departs Stansted airport.

    9.44AM (CEST): The flight lands in Dusseldorf. Six people are taken off the plane and are handed over to the German authorities.

    10.46AM (CEST): Titan’s Airbus takes off from Dusseldorf bound for Clermont-Ferrand, France with the remaining deportees.

    11.59AM (CEST): The Titan Airways plane (now with flight number ZT312) touches down at Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne airport and the remaining six deportees are disembarked from the plane and taken into the custody of the Police Aux Frontières (PAF, French border police).

    12:46PM (CEST): The plane leaves Clermont-Ferrand to return to the UK. It first lands in Gatwick, probably so the escorts and other officials get off, before continuing on to Stansted where the pilots finish their day.

    Dumped on arrival: Germany

    What happened to most of the deportees in Germany is not known, although it appears there was no comprehensive intake procedure by the German police. One deportee told us German police on arrival in Dusseldorf gave him a train ticket and told him to go to the asylum office in Berlin. When he arrived there, he was told to go back to his country. He told them he could not and that he had no money to stay in Berlin or travel to another country. The asylum office told him he could sleep on the streets of Berlin.

    Only one man appears to have been arrested on arrival. This was the person who had attempted suicide the night before, cutting his head and neck with razors, and had been bleeding throughout the flight.
    Dumped on arrival: France

    The deportees were taken to Clermont-Ferrand, a city in the middle of France, hundreds of kilometres away from metropolitan centres. Upon arrival they were subjected to a COVID nose swab test and then held by the PAF while French authorities decided their fate.

    Two were released around an hour and a half later with appointments to claim asylum in around one week’s time – in regional Prefectures far from Clermont-Ferrand. They were not offered any accommodation, further legal information, or means to travel to their appointments.

    The next person was released about another hour and a half after them. He was not given an appointment to claim asylum, but just provided with a hotel room for four nights.

    Throughout the rest of the day the three other detainees were taken from the airport to the police station to be fingerprinted. Beginning at 6PM these three began to be freed. The last one was released seven hours after the deportation flight landed. The police had been waiting for the Prefecture to decide whether or not to transfer them to the detention centre (Centre de Rétention Administrative – CRA). We don’t know if a factor in this was that the nearest detention centre, at Lyon, was full up.

    However, these people were not simply set free. They were given expulsion papers ordering them to leave France (OQTF: Obligation de quitter le territoire français), and banning them from returning (IRTF: Interdiction de retour sur le territoire français). These papers allowed them only 48 hours to appeal. The British government has said that people deported on flights to France have the opportunity to claim asylum in France. This is clearly not true.

    In a further bureaucratic contradiction, alongside expulsion papers people were also given orders that they must report to the Clermont-Ferrand police station every day at 10:00AM for the next 45 days (potentially to be arrested and detained at any point). They were told that if they failed to report, the police would consider them on the run.

    The Prefecture also reserved a place in a hotel many kilometres away from the airport for them for four nights, but not any further information or ways to receive food. They were also not provided any way to get to this hotel, and the police would not help them – stating that their duty finished once they gave the deportees their papers.

    “After giving me the expulsion papers the French policeman said ‘Now you can go to England.’” (Testimony of deported person)

    The PAF showed a general disregard for the health and well-being of the deportees who were in the custody throughout the day. One of the deportees had been in a wheel-chair throughout the day and was unable to walk due to the deep lacerations on his feet from self-harming. He was never taken to the hospital, despite the doctor’s recommendation, neither during the custody period nor after his release. In fact, the only reason for the doctor’s visit in the first place was to assess whether he was fit to be detained should the Prefecture decide that. The police kept him in his bloody clothes all day, and when they released him he did not have shoes and could barely walk. No crutches were given, nor did the police offer to help him get to the hotel. He was put out on the street having to carry all of his possessions in a Home Office issue plastic bag.
    “the hardest night of my life”

    “It was the hardest night of my life. My heart break was so great that I seriously thought of suicide. I put the razor in my mouth to swallow it; I saw my whole life pass quickly until the first hours of dawn. The treatment in detention was very bad, humiliating and degrading. I despised myself and felt that my life was destroyed, but it was too precious to lose it easily. I took the razor out from my mouth before I was taken out of the room, where four large-bodied people, wearing armour similar to riot police and carrying protective shields, violently took me to the large hall at the ground floor of the detention centre. I was exhausted, as I had been on hunger strike for several days. In a room next to me, one of the deportees tried to resist and was beaten so severely that blood dripping from his nose. In the big hall, they searched me carefully and took me to a car like a dangerous criminal, two people on my right and left, they drove for about two hours to the airport, there was a big passenger plane on the runway. […] That moment, I saw my dreams, my hopes, shattered in front of me when I entered the plane.”

    Testimony of deported person (from Detained Voices: https://detainedvoices.com/2020/08/27/brook-house-protestor-on-his-deportation-it-was-the-hardest-night-of).

    The Legal Framework: Dublin III

    These deportations are taking place under the Dublin III regulation. This is EU law that determines which European country is responsible for assessing a refugee’s asylum claim. The decision involves a number of criteria, the primary ones being ‘family unity’ and the best interests of children. Another criterion, in the case of people crossing borders without papers, is which country they first entered ‘irregularly’. In the law, this is supposed to be less important than family ties – but it is the most commonly used ground by governments seeking to pass on asylum applicants to other states. All the people we know of on these flights were “Dublined” because the UK claimed they had previously been in France, Germany or Spain.

    (See: House of Commons intro briefing; Right to Remain toolkit section:
    https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/what-is-the-dublin-iii-regulation-will-it-be-affected-by-b
    https://righttoremain.org.uk/toolkit/dublin)

    By invoking the Dublin regulation, the UK evades actually assessing people’s asylum cases. These people were not deported because their asylum claims failed – their cases were simply never considered. The decision to apply Dublin III is made after the initial screening interview (now taking place in Yarl’s Wood). As we saw above, very few people are able to access any legal advice before these interviews are conducted and sometimes they are carried out by telephone or without adequate translation.

    Under Dublin III the UK must make a formal request to the other government it believes is responsible for considering the asylum claim to take the person back, and present evidence as to why that government should accept responsibility. Typically, the evidence provided is the record of the person’s fingerprints registered by another country on the Europe-wide EURODAC database.

    However, in the recent deportation cases the Home Office has not always provided fingerprints but instead relied on weak circumstantial evidence. Some countries have refused this evidence, but others have accepted – notably France.

    There seems to be a pattern in the cases so far where France is accepting Dublin III returns even when other countries have refused. The suspicion is that the French government may have been incentivised to accept ‘take-back’ requests based on very flimsy evidence as part of the recent Franco-British Channel crossing negotiations (France reportedly requested £30m to help Britain make the route ‘unviable’).

    In theory, accepting a Dublin III request means that France (or another country) has taken responsibility to process someone’s asylum claim. In practice, most of the people who arrived at Clermont-Ferrand on 26 August were not given any opportunity to claim asylum – instead they were issued with expulsion papers ordering them to leave France and Europe. They were also only given 48 hours to appeal these expulsions orders without any further legal information; a near impossibility for someone who has just endured a forceful expulsion and may require urgent medical treatment.

    Due to Brexit, the United Kingdom will no longer participate in Dublin III from 31 December 2020. While there are non-EU signatories to the agreement like Switzerland and Norway, it is unclear what arrangements the UK will have after that (as with basically everything else about Brexit). If there is no overall deal, the UK will have to negotiate numerous bilateral agreements with European countries. This pattern of expedited expulsion without a proper screening process established with France could be a taste of things to come.

    Conclusion: rushed – and illegal?

    Charter flight deportations are one of the most obviously brutal tools used by the UK Border Regime. They involve the use of soul-crushing violence by the Home Office and its contractors (Mitie, Titan Airways, Britannia Hotels, and all) against people who have already lived through histories of trauma.

    For these recent deportations of Channel crossers the process seems particularly rushed. People who have risked their lives in the Channel are scooped into a machine designed to deny their asylum rights and expel them ASAP – for the sake of a quick reaction to the latest media panic. New procedures appear to have been introduced off the cuff by Home Office officials and in under-the-table deals with French counterparts.

    As a result of this rush-job, there seem to be numerous irregularities in the process. Some have been already flagged up in the successful legal challenges to the Spanish flight on 27 August. The detention and deportation of boat-crossers may well be largely illegal, and is open to being challenged further on both sides of the Channel.

    Here we recap a few particular issues:

    The highly politicised nature of the expulsion process for small boat crossers means they are being denied access to a fair asylum procedure by the Home Office.

    The deportees include people who are victims of torture and of trafficking, as well as under-aged minors.

    People are being detained, rushed through screening interviews, and “Dublined” without access to legal advice and necessary information.

    In order to avoid considering asylum requests, Britain is applying Dublin III often just using flimsy circumstantial evidence – and France is accepting these requests, perhaps as a result of recent negotiations and financial arrangements.

    Many deportees have family ties in the UK – but the primary Dublin III criterion of ‘family unity’ is ignored.

    In accepting Dublin III requests France is taking legal responsibility for people’s asylum claims. But in fact it has denied people the chance to claim asylum, instead immediately issuing expulsion papers.

    These expulsion papers (‘Order to quit France’ and ‘Ban from returning to France’ or ‘OQTF’ and ‘IRTF’) are issued with only 48 hour appeal windows. This is completely inadequate to ensure a fair procedure – even more so for traumatised people who have just endured detention and deportation, then been dumped in the middle of nowhere in a country where they have no contacts and do not speak the language.

    This completely invalidates the Home Office’s argument that the people it deports will be able to access a fair asylum procedure in France.

    https://corporatewatch.org/cast-away-the-uks-rushed-charter-flights-to-deport-channel-crossers

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #UK #Angleterre #Dublin #expulsions #renvois #Royaume_Uni #vols #charter #France #Allemagne #Espagne #Home_Office #accord #témoignage #violence #Brexit #Priti_Patel #Royal_Navy #plan_opérationnel_conjoint #Manche #Commandant_de_la_menace_clandestine_dans_la_Manche #Cherbourg #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #Calais #Dunkerque #navires #Border_Force_Cutters #avions_de_surveillance #Royal_Air_Force #Opération_Sillath #refoulements #push-backs #Douvres #Kent_Intake_Unit #Yarl’s_Wood #Bedfordshire #Serco #Short_Term_Holding_Facility (#SHTF) #hôtel #Mears #hôtels_Britannia #Alex_Langsam #Immigration_Enforcement_squads #Heathrow #Colnbrook #Harmondsworth #Gatwick #aéroport #Brook_Hous #G4S #Removal_Directions #Carlson_Wagonlit_Travel (#CWT) #privatisation #compagnies_aériennes #Titan_Airways #Clermont-Ferrand #Düsseldorf

    @karine4 —> il y a une section dédiée à l’arrivée des vols charter en France (à Clermont-Ferrand plus précisément) :
    Larguées à destination : la France

    ping @isskein

    • Traduction française :

      S’en débarrasser : le Royaume Uni se précipite pour expulser par vols charters les personnes qui traversent la Manche

      Attention : ce document contient des récits de violence, tentatives de suicide et automutilation.

      Le Royaume Uni s’attache à particulièrement réprimer les migrants traversant la Manche dans de petites embarcations, répondant comme toujours à la panique propagée par les tabloïds britanniques. Une partie de sa stratégie consiste en une nouvelle vague d’expulsions massives : des vols charters, ciblant spécifiquement les personnes traversant la Manche, vers la France, l’Allemagne et l’Espagne.

      Deux vols ont eu lieu jusqu’à présent, les 12 et 26 août. Le prochain est prévu pour le 3 septembre. Les deux vols récents ont fait escale à la fois en Allemagne (Düsseldorf) et en France (Toulouse le 12, Clermont-Ferrand le 26). Un autre vol était prévu pour l’Espagne le 27 août – mais il a été annulé après que les avocat-es aient réussi à faire descendre tout le monde de l’avion.

      Menées à la hâte par un Home Office en panique, ces déportations massives ont été particulièrement brutales, et ont pu impliquer de graves irrégularités juridiques. Ce rapport résume ce que nous savons jusqu’à présent après avoir parlé à un certain nombre de personnes expulsées et à d’autres sources. Il couvre :

      Le contexte : Les traversées en bateau de Calais et l’accord entre le Royaume-Uni et la France pour les faire cesser.
      Au Royaume-Uni : Yarl’s Wood reconverti en centre de traitement de personnes traversant la Manche ; Britannia Hotels ; le centre de détention de Brook House, toujours aussi brutal.
      Les vols : Calendrier détaillé du charter du 26 août vers Düsseldorf et Clermont-Ferrand.
      Qui est à bord du vol : Les personnes réfugiées, y compris des mineurs et des personnes torturées.
      Délaissé à l’arrivée : Les personnes arrivant en Allemagne et en France qui n’ont pas la possibilité de demander l’asile se voient délivrer immédiatement des documents d’expulsion.
      Les questions juridiques : Utilisation du règlement Dublin III pour se soustraire de la responsabilité à l’égard des réfugiés.
      Est-ce illégal ? : la précipitation du processus entraîne de nombreuses irrégularités.

      “cette nuit-là, huit personnes se sont automutilées”

      Cette nuit-là avant le vol (25 août), lorsque nous étions enfermés dans nos chambres et que j’ai appris que j’avais perdu en appel, j’étais désespéré. J’ai commencé à me mutiler. Je n’étais pas le seule. Huit personnes se sont automutilées ou ont tenté de se suicider plutôt que d’être emmenées dans cet avion. Un homme s’est jeté une bouilloire d’eau bouillante sur lui-même. Un homme a essayé de se pendre avec le câble de télé dans sa chambre. Trois d’entre nous ont été emmenés à l’hôpital, mais renvoyés au centre de détention après quelques heures. Les cinq autres ont été emmenés à l’infirmerie de Brook House où on leur a mis des pansements. Vers 5 heures du matin, ils sont venus dans ma chambre, des gardes avec des boucliers anti-émeutes. Sur le chemin pour aller au van, ils m’ont fait traverser une sorte de couloir rempli de gens – gardes, directeurs, fonctionnaires du Home Office. Ils ont tous regardé pendant qu’un médecin m’examinait, puis le médecin a dit : “oui, il est apte à voler”. Dans l’avion, plus tard, j’ai vu un homme très gravement blessé, du sang dégoulinant de sa tête et sur ses vêtements. Il n’avait pas seulement essayé d’arrêter le vol, il voulait vraiment se tuer. Il a été emmené en Allemagne.

      Témoignage d’une personne déportée.

      Le contexte : les bateaux et les accords

      Depuis les années 1990, des dizaines de milliers de personnes fuyant la guerre, la répression et la pauvreté ont franchi le “court détroit” entre Calais et Dover. Jusqu’en 2018, les personnes sans papiers qui tentaient de traverser la Manche le faisaient principalement en montant dans des camions ou des trains passant par le tunnel sous la Manche. Les systèmes de sécurité autour des parkings de camions, du tunnel et de l’autoroute ont été massivement renforcés après l’expulsion de la grande jungle en 2016. Cela a obligé les gens à chercher d’autres itinéraires, toujours plus dangereux, y compris en traversant l’une des voies navigables les plus fréquentées du monde à bord de petits bateaux. Environ 300 personnes ont emprunté cet itinéraire en 2018, 2000 autres en 2019 – et, selon les rapports, plus de 5000 personnes entre janvier et août 2020.

      Ces passages ont été relayés par les médias britanniques lors de leur dernière vague de publications xénophobiques et alarmistes. Le schéma n’est que trop familier depuis le camp Sangatte en 1999 : les médias de droite (le plus célèbre étant le Daily Mail, mais aussi d’autres) diffusent des articles abusifs sur les dangereux “illégaux” qui déferleraient à travers la Manche ; et le gouvernement britannique répond par des promesses de répression.

      Renforcé par le Brexit, les mesures et annonces récentes comprennent :

      Le ministre de l’intérieur, Priti Patel, annonce une nouvelle loi sur l’asile et l’immigration “plus juste” qui, promet-elle, “fera s’effondrer la gauche”.
      Une demande officielle du Home Office à la Royal Navy pour aider à refouler les migrants qui traversent par bateau (bien que cela soit illégal).
      Négociations avec le gouvernement français, qui ont abouti à l’annonce le 13 août d’un “plan opérationnel conjoint” visant “ à couper complètement cette route”.
      La nomination d’un “Commandant de la menace clandestine dans la Manche” pour superviser les opérations des deux côtés de la Manche.

      Les mesures concrètes se font encore attendre, mais les évolutions notables jusqu’à présent sont les suivantes :

      D’autres paiements du Royaume-Uni à la France pour accroître la sécurité – la France aurait demandé 30 millions de livres sterling.
      Des navires de guerre français de la base navale de Cherbourg patrouillant au large des côtes de Calais et de Dunkerque.
      Des Border Force Cutters (navires) et les patrouilleurs côtiers britanniques patrouillant du côté anglais soutenus par des avions de surveillance de la Royal Air Force.
      Le nouveau programme d’expulsion par vol charter – qui aurait été baptisé “Opération Sillath” par le ministère de l’intérieur.

      Pour l’instant, du moins, les gouvernements respectent leurs obligations légales minimales en matière de protection de la vie en mer. Et il n’y a pas eu de preuves de “push backs” (refoulement) ou de “pull backs” illégaux : où, de force, soit des bateaux britanniques “poussent”, soit des bateaux français “tirent” des bateaux vers l’un ou l’autre côté de la frontière. Lorsque ces bateaux sont interceptés dans les eaux françaises, les voyageurs sont ramenés en France. S’ils parviennent à entrer dans les eaux britanniques, la police aux frontières britannique les récupère et les débarque à Douvres. Ils peuvent alors demander l’asile au Royaume-Uni.

      Il n’y a pas de différence juridique entre demander l’asile après être arrivé par bateau, par avion ou de toute autre manière. Cependant, ces personnes traversant par petits bateaux ont été ciblées par le gouvernement pour être traitées d’une manière spéciale, semble-t-il conçue pour leur refuser le droit d’asile au Royaume-Uni.

      Une fois que les personnes sont à terre et en sécurité, le deuxième volet de la stratégie de Priti Patel visant à rendre cette voie non viable entre en jeu : systématiquement faire obstacle à leur demande d’asile et, si possible, les expulser vers la France ou d’autres pays européens. En pratique, il est impossible pour le Home Office d’expulser toutes les personnes qui réussissent à traverser. Il s’agit plutôt, comme dans la grande majorité des politiques d’immigration, de faire preuve de fermeté avec un spectacle de mise en vigueur – non seulement pour tenter de dissuader d’autres arrivant-es, mais peut-être surtout pour se mettre en scène devant les principaux médias.

      C’est là qu’intervient la nouvelle vague de vols charter. Les expulsions nécessitent la coopération du pays de destination, et le premier vol a eu lieu le 12 août en plein milieu des négociations franco-britanniques. Plus récemment, ces vols ont alimenté un nouveau spectacle médiatique au Royaume-Uni : le Home Office s’en prend aux “avocats militants” qui font leur travail en contestant les principales failles juridiques de ces renvois précipités.

      Le Home Office a tenté de présenter ces vols d’expulsion comme une réponse immédiate et forte aux traversées de la Manche. Le message est le suivant : si vous traversez la Manche, vous serez de retour dans les jours qui suivent. Là encore, il s’agit plus de spectacle que de réalité. Toutes les personnes que nous connaissons sur ces vols étaient au Royaume-Uni plusieurs mois avant d’être expulsées.

      Au Royaume-Uni : Yarl’s Wood réaffecté

      Une fois à terre en Angleterre, les personnes sont emmenées à l’un des deux endroits suivants : soit la Kent Intake Unit (Unité d’admission du Kent), qui est un centre de détention du ministère de l’intérieur (c’est-à-dire un petit complexe de cellules préfabriquées) dans les docks à l’est du port de Douvres ; soit le poste de police de Douvres. Ce poste de police semble être de plus en plus l’endroit principal, car la petite “unité d’admission” est souvent pleine. Il y avait autrefois un centre de détention à Douvres où étaient détenus les nouveaux arrivants, qui était connu pour son état de délabrement, mais a été fermé en octobre 2015.

      Les personnes sont généralement détenues au poste de police pendant une journée maximum. La destination suivante est généralement Yarl’s Wood, le centre de détention du Bedfordshire géré par Serco. Il s’agissait, jusqu’à récemment, d’un centre de détention à long terme qui accueillait principalement des femmes. Cependant, le 18 août, le ministère de l’intérieur a annoncé que Yarl’s Wood avait été réaménagé en “centre de détention de courte durée” (Short Term Holding Facility – SHTF) pour traiter spécifiquement les personnes qui ont traversé la Manche. Les personnes ne restent généralement que quelques jours – le séjour maximum légal pour un centre de “courte durée” est de sept jours.

      Yarl’s Wood a une capacité normale de 410 prisonniers. Selon des sources à Yarl’s Wood :

      “La semaine dernière, c’était presque plein avec plus de 350 personnes détenues. Quelques jours plus tard, ce nombre était tombé à 150, ce qui montre la rapidité avec laquelle les gens passent par le centre. Mardi 25 août, il n’y avait plus personne dans le centre ! Il semble probable que les chiffres fluctueront en fonction des traversées de la Manche.”

      La même source ajoute :

      “Il y a des inquiétudes concernant l’accès à l’aide juridique à Yarl’s Wood. La réglementation relative aux centres de détention provisoire n’exige pas que des conseils juridiques soient disponibles sur place (à Manchester, par exemple, il n’y a pas d’avocats de garde). Apparemment, le roulement des avocats de garde se poursuit à Yarl’s Wood pour l’instant. Mais la rapidité avec laquelle les personnes sont traitées maintenant signifie qu’il est pratiquement impossible de s’inscrire et d’obtenir un rendez-vous avec l’avocat de garde avant d’être transféré”.

      Le ministère de l’Intérieur mène les premiers entretiens d’évaluation des demandeurs d’asile pendant qu’ils sont à Yarl’s Wood. Ces entretiens se font parfois en personne, ou parfois par téléphone.

      C’est un moment crucial, car ce premier entretien détermine les chances de nombreuses personnes de demander l’asile au Royaume-Uni. Le ministère de l’intérieur utilise les informations issues de cet entretien pour expulser les personnes qui traversent la Manche vers la France et l’Allemagne en vertu du règlement Dublin III. Il s’agit d’une législation de l’Union Européenne (UE) qui permet aux gouvernements de transférer la responsabilité de l’évaluation de la demande d’asile d’une personne vers un autre État. Autrement dit, le Royaume-Uni ne commence même pas à examiner les demandes d’asile des personnes.

      D’après ce que nous avons vu, beaucoup de ces évaluations de Dublin III ont été faites de manière précipitée et irrégulière. Elles se sont souvent appuyées sur de faibles preuves circonstancielles. Peu de personnes ont eu la possibilité d’obtenir des conseils juridiques, ou même des interprètes pour expliquer le processus.

      Nous abordons Dublin III et les questions soulevées ci-dessous dans la section “Cadre juridique”.
      Au Royaume-Uni : les pires hôtels britanniques

      De Yarl’s Wood, les personnes à qui nous avons parlé ont été libérées sous caution (elles devaient respecter des conditions spécifiques aux personnes immigrées) dans des hébergement pour demandeurs d’asile. Dans un premier temps, cet hébergement signifie un hôtel à bas prix. En raison de l’épidémie du COVID-19, le Home Office a ordonné aux entreprises sous-traitantes (Mears, Serco) qui administrent habituellement les centres d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile de fermer leurs places d’hébergement et d’envoyer les personnes à l’hôtel. Cette décision est loin d’être claire, du fait que de nombreux indicateurs suggèrent que les hôtels sont bien pires en ce qui concerne la propagation du COVID. Le résultat de cette politique s’est déjà avéré fatal – voir la mort d’Adnan Olbeh à l’hôtel Glasgow en avril.

      Peut-être le gouvernement essaie de soutenir des chaînes telles que Britannia Hotels, classée depuis sept ans à la suite comme la “pire chaîne d’hôtel britannique” par le magazine des consommateurs Which ?. Plusieurs personnes envoyées par charter avaient été placées dans des hôtels Britannia. Le principal propriétaire de cette chaîne, le multi-millionnaire Alex Langsam, a été surnommé « le roi de l’asile » par les médias britanniques après avoir remporté précédemment à l’aide de ses taudis d’autres contrats pour l’hébergement des demandeurs d’asile.

      Certaines des personnes déportées à qui nous avons parlé sont restées dans ce genre d’hôtels plusieurs semaines avant d’être envoyées dans des lieux de “dispersion des demandeurs d’asile” – des logements partagés situés dans les quartiers les plus pauvres de villes très éloignées de Londres. D’autres ont été mises dans l’avion directement depuis les hôtels.

      Dans les deux cas, la procédure habituelle est le raid matinal : Des équipes de mise-en-œuvre de l’immigration (Immigration Enforcement squads) arrachent les gens de leur lit à l’aube. Comme les personnes sont dans des hôtels qui collaborent ou assignées à des maisons, il est facile de les trouver et de les arrêter quand elles sont les prochains sur la liste des déportations.

      Après l’arrestation, les personnes ont été amenées aux principaux centres de détention près de Heathrow (Colnbrook et Harmondsworth) ou Gatwick (particulièrement Brook House). Quelques-unes ont d’abord été gardées au commissariat ou en détention pour des séjours de court terme pendant quelques heures ou quelques jours.

      Tous ceux à qui nous avons parlé ont finalement terminé à Brook House, un des deux centres de détention de Gatwick.
      « ils sont venus avec les boucliers »

      Une nuit, à Brook House, après que quelqu’un se soit mutilé, ils ont enfermé tout le monde. Un homme a paniqué et a commencé à crier en demandant aux gardes « S’il vous plaît, ouvrez la porte ». Mais il ne parlait pas bien anglais et criait en arabe. Il a dit : « Si vous n’ouvrez pas la porte je vais faire bouillir de l’eau dans ma bouilloire et me la verser sur le visage ». Mais ils ne l’ont pas compris, ils pensaient qu’il était en train de les menacer et qu’il était en train de dire qu’il allait jeter l’eau bouillante sur eux. Alors ils sont arrivés avec leurs boucliers, ils l’ont jeté hors de sa cellule et ils l’ont mis en isolement. Quand ils l’ont mis là-bas, ils lui ont donné des coups et ils l’ont battu, ils ont dit : « Ne nous menace plus jamais ». (Témoignage d’une personne déportée)

      Brook House

      Brook House reste tristement célèbre après les révélations d’un lanceur d’alerte sur les brutalités quotidiennes et les humiliations commises par les gardes qui travaillent pour G4S. Leur contrat a depuis été repris par la branche emprisonnement de Mitie – dont la devise est « Care and Custody, a Mitie company » (traduction : « Soins et détention, une entreprise Mitie »). Probablement que beaucoup des mêmes gardes sont simplement passés d’une entreprise à l’autre.

      Dans tous les cas, d’après ce que les personnes déportées nous ont dit, pas grand chose n’a changé à Brook House – le vice et la violence des gardes restent la norme. Les histoires rapportées ici en donnent juste quelques exemples. Vous pouvez lire davantage dans les récents témoignages de personnes détenues sur le blog Detained Voices.
      « ils s’assurent juste que tu ne meures pas devant eux »

      J’étais dans ma cellule à Brook House seul depuis 12 jours, je ne pouvais ni manger ni boire, juste penser, penser à ma situation. J’ai demandé un docteur peut-être dix fois. Ils sont venus plusieurs fois, ils ont pris mon sang, mais ils n’ont rien fait d’autre. Ils s’en foutent de ta santé ou de ta santé mentale. Ils ont juste peur que tu meures là. Ils s’en foutent de ce qui t’arrive du moment que tu ne meures pas devant leurs yeux. Et ça n’a pas d’importance pour eux si tu meurs ailleurs.
      Témoignage d’une personne déportée.

      Préparation des vols

      Le Home Office délivre des papiers appelés « Instructions d’expulsion » (« Removal Directions » – Rds) aux personnes qu’ils ont l’intention de déporter. Y sont stipulés la destination et le jour du vol. Les personnes qui sont déjà en détention doivent recevoir ce papier au moins 72 heures à l’avance, incluant deux jours ouvrés, afin de leur permettre de faire un ultime appel de la décision.

      Voir Right to Remain toolkit pour des informations détaillés sur les délais légaux et sur les procédures d’appel.

      Tous les vols de déportation du Royaume Uni, les tickets qu’ils soient pour un avion de ligne régulier ou un vol charter sont réservés via une agence de voyage privée appelée Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). La principale compagnie aérienne utilisée par le Home Office pour les vols charter est la compagnie de charter qui s’appelle Titan Airways.

      Voir 2018 Corporate Watch report pour les informations détaillées sur les procédures de vols charter et les compagnies impliquées. Et la mise-à-jour de 2020 sur les déportations en général.

      Concernant le vol du 12 août, des recours légaux ont réussi à faire sortir 19 personnes de l’avion qui avaient des Instructions d’expulsion ( Rds ). Cependant, le Home Office les a remplacées par 14 autres personnes qui étaient sur la « liste d’attente ». Les avocats suspectent que ces 14 personnes n’ont pas eu suffisamment accès à leur droit à être représentés par un-e avocat-e avant le vol, ce qui a permis qu’elles soient expulsés.

      Parmi les 19 personnes dont les avocat.es ont réussi à empêcher l’expulsion prévue, 12 ont finalement été déportées par le vol charter du 26 août : 6 personnes envoyées à Dusseldorf en Allemagne et 6 autres à Clermont-Ferrand en France.

      Un autre vol a été programmé le 27 août pour l’Espagne. Cependant les avocat-es ont réussi à faire retirer tout le monde, et le Home Office a annulé le vol. L’administration anglaise (Whitehall) a dit dans les médias : “le taux d’attrition juridique a été de 100 % pour ce vol en raison des obstacles sans précédent et organisés que trois cabinets d’avocats ont imposés au gouvernement.” Il y a donc de fortes chances que Home Office mettra tous ses moyens à disposition pour continuer à expulser ces personnes lors de prochains vols charters.

      Qui a été expulsé ?

      L’ensemble des personnes expulsées par avion sont des personnes réfugiées qui ont déposé leur demande d’asile au Royaume-Uni immédiatement après leur arrivée à Dover. La une des médias expose les personnes expulsées comme « de dangereux criminels », mais aucune d’entre elles n’a fait l’objet de poursuites.

      Ils viennent de différents pays dont l’Irak, le Yemen, le Soudan, la Syrie, l’Afghanistan et le Koweit. (Dix autres Yéménis devaient être expulsés par le vol annulé pour l’Espagne. Au mois de juin, le gouvernement du Royaume-Uni a annoncé la reprise des accords commerciaux de vente d’armes avec l’Arabie Saoudite qui les utilise dans des bombardements au Yemen qui ont déjà coûté la vie à des dizaines de milliers de personnes).

      Toutes ces personnes craignent à raison des persécution dans leurs pays d’origine – où les abus des Droits de l’Homme sont nombreux et ont été largement documentés. Au moins plusieurs des personnes expulsées ont survécu à la torture, ce qui a été documenté par le Home Office lui-même lors d’entretiens.

      Parmi eux, un mineur âgé de moins de 18 ans a été enregistré par le Home Office comme ayant 25 ans – alors même qu’ils étaient en possession de son passeport prouvant son âge réel. Les mineurs isolés ne devraient légalement pas être traités avec la procédure Dublin III, et encore moins être placés en détention et être expulsés.

      Beaucoup de ces personnes, si ce ne sont toutes, ont des ami-es et de la famille au Royaume-Uni.

      Aucune de leurs demandes d’asile n’a été évaluée – toutes ont été refusées dans le cadre de la procédure Dublin III (cf. Cadre Légal plus bas).

      Chronologie du vol du 26 août

      Nuit du 25 août : Huit des personnes en attente de leur expulsion se mutilent ou tentent de se suicider. D’autres personnes font une grève de la faim depuis plus d’une semaine. Trois d’entre elles sont amenées à l’hôpital, hâtivement prises en charge pour qu’elles puissent être placées dans l’avion. Cinq autres se sont simplement vus délivrer quelques compresses au service des soins du centre de détention de Brook House. (cf. le témoignage ci-dessus)

      26 août, vers 4 heure du matin : Les gardiens récupèrent les personnes expulsables dans leurs cellules. Il y a de nombreux témoignages de violence : trois ou quatre gardiens en tenue anti-émeute avec casques et boucliers s’introduisent dans les cellules et tabassent les détenus à la moindre résistance.

      vers 4 heure du matin : Les détenus blessés sont amenés par les gardiens pour être examinés par un médecin dans un couloir, face aux fonctionnaires, et sont jugés « apte à prendre l’avion ».

      vers 5 heure du matin : Les détenus sont amenés un par un dans les fourgons. Chacun est placé dans un fourgon séparé, entouré de quatre gardiens. Les fourgons portent le logo de l’entreprise Mitie « Care and Custody ». Les détenus sont gardés dans les fourgons le temps de faire monter tout le monde, ce qui prend une à deux heures.

      vers 6 heure du matin : Les fourgons vont du centre de détention de Brook House (près de l’Aéroport Gatwick) à l’Aéroport Stansted et entrent directement dans la zone réservée aux vols charters. Les détenus sont sortis un par un des fourgons vers l’avion de la compagnie aérienne Titan. Il s’agit d’un avion Airbus A321-211, avec le numéro d’enregistrement G-POWU, au caractère anonyme, qui ne porte aucun signe distinctif de la compagnie aérienne. Les détenus sont escortés en haut des escaliers avec un gardien de chaque côté.

      Dans l’avion quatre gardiens sont assignés à chaque personne : deux de part et d’autre sur les sièges mitoyens, un sur le siège devant et un sur le siège derrière. Les détenus sont maintenus avec une ceinture de restriction au niveau de leur taille à laquelle sont également attachées leurs mains par des menottes. En plus des 12 détenus et 48 gardiens, il y a des fonctionnaires du Home Office, des managers de Mitie, et deux personnels paramédicaux dans l’avion.

      7h58 (BST) : L’avion de la compagnie Titan (dont le numéro de vol est ZT311) décolle de l’Aéroport Stansted.

      9h44 (CEST) : Le vol atterrit à Dusseldorf. Six personnes sont sorties de l’avion, laissées aux mains des autorités allemandes.

      10h46 (CEST) : L’avion Titan décolle de Dusseldorf pour rejoindre Clermont-Ferrand avec le reste des détenus.

      11h59 (CEST) : L’avion (dont le numéro de vol est maintenant ZT312) atterrit à l’Aéroport de Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne et les six autres détenus sont débarqués et amenés aux douanes de la Police Aux Frontières (PAF).

      12h46 (CEST) : L’avion quitte Clermont-Ferrand pour retourner au Royaume-Uni. Il atterrit d’abord à l’Aéroport Gatwick, probablement pour déposer les gardiens et les fonctionnaires, avant de finir sa route à l’Aéroport Stansted où les pilotes achèvent leur journée.

      Larguées à destination : l’Allemagne

      Ce qu’il est arrivé aux personnes expulsées en Allemagne n’est pas connu, même s’il semblerait qu’il n’y ait pas eu de procédure claire engagée par la police allemande. Un des expulsés nous a rapporté qu’à son arrivée à Dusseldorf, la police allemande lui a donné un billet de train en lui disant de se rendre au bureau de la demande d’asile à Berlin. Une fois là-bas, on lui a dit de retourner dans son pays. Ce à quoi il a répondu qu’il ne pouvait pas y retourner et qu’il n’avait pas non plus d’argent pour rester à Berlin ou voyager dans un autre pays. Le bureau de la demande d’asile a répondu qu’il pouvait dormir dans les rues de Berlin.

      Un seul homme a été arrêté à son arrivée. Il s’agit d’une personne qui avait tenté de se suicider la veille en se mutilant à la tête et au coup au rasoir, et qui avait saigné tout au long du vol.
      Larguées à destination : la France

      Les expulsés ont été transportés à Clermont-Ferrand, une ville située au milieu de la France, à des centaines de kilomètres des centres métropolitains. Dès leur arrivée ils ont été testés pour le COVID par voie nasale et retenus par la PAF pendant que les autorités françaises décidaient de leur sort.

      Deux d’entre eux ont été libérés à peu près une heure et demi après, une fois donnés des rendez-vous au cours de la semaine suivante pour faire des demandes d’asile dans des Préfectures de région eloignées de Clermont-Ferrand. Il ne leur a été proposé aucun logement, ni information légale, ni moyen pour se déplacer jusqu’à leurs rendez-vous.

      La personne suivante a été libérée environ une heure et demi après eux. Il ne lui a pas été donné de rendez-vous pour demander l’asile, mais il lui a juste été proposé une chambre d’hotel pour quatre nuits.

      Pendant le reste de la journée, les trois autres détenus ont été emmenés de l’aéroport au commisariat pour prendre leurs empreintes. On a commencé à les libérer à partir de 18h. Le dernier a été libéré sept heures après que le vol de déportation soit arrivé. La police a attendu que la Préfecture décide de les transférer ou non au Centre de Rétention Administrative (CRA). On ne sait pas si la raison à cela était que le centre le plus proche, à Lyon, était plein.

      Cependant, ces personnes n’ont pas été simplement laissées libres. Il leur a été donné des ordres d’expulsion (OQTF : Obligation de quitter le territoire francais) et des interdictions de retour sur le territoire francais (IRTF). Ces document ne leur donnent que48h pour faire appel. Le gouverment britannique a dit que les personnes déportées par avion en France avaient la possibilité de demander l’asile en France. C’est clairement faux.

      Pour aller plus loin dans les contradictions bureaucratique, avec les ordres d’expulsion leurs ont été donnés l’ordre de devoir se présenter à la station de police de Clermont-Ferrand tous les jours à dix heures du matin dans les 45 prochains jours (pour potentiellement y être arrêtés et detenus à ces occasions). Ils leur a été dit que si ils ne s’y présentaient pas la police
      les considèrerait comme en fuite.

      La police a aussi réservé une place dans un hotel à plusieurs kilomètre de l’aéroport pour quatres nuits, mais sans aucune autre information ni aide pour se procurer de quoi s’alimenter. Il ne leur a été fourni aucun moyen de se rendre à cet hôtel et la police a refusé de les aider – disant que leur mission s’arretait à la délivrance de leurs documents d’expulsion.

      Après m’avoir donné les papiers d’expulsion, le policier francais a dit
      ‘Maintenant tu peux aller en Angleterre’.
      Temoignage de la personne expulsée

      La police aux frontières (PAF) a ignoré la question de la santé et du
      bien-être des personnes expulsées qui étaient gardées toute la journée.
      Une des personnes était en chaise roulante toute la journée et était
      incapable de marcher du fait des blessures profondes à son pied, qu’il
      s’était lui même infligées. Il n’a jamais été emmené à l’hôpital malgré les
      recommendations du médecin, ni durant la période de détention, ni après
      sa libération. En fait, la seule raison à la visite du médecin était initialement d’évaluer s’il était en mesure d’être detenu au cas où la Préfecture le déciderait. La police l’a laissé dans ses vêtements souillés de sang toute la journée et quand ils l’ont libéré il n’avait pas eu de chaussures et pouvait à peine marcher. Ni béquilles, ni aide pour rejoindre l’hotel ne lui ont été donnés par la police. Il a été laissé dans la rue, devant porter toutes ses
      affaires dans un sac en plastique du Home Office.
      “La nuit la plus dure de ma vie”

      Ce fut la nuit la plus dure de ma vie. Mon coeur était brisé si fort que j’ai sérieusement pensé au suicide. J’ai mis le rasoir dans ma bouche pour l’avaler ; j’ai vu ma vie entière passer rapidement jusqu’aux premières heures du jour. Le traitement en détention était très mauvais, humiliant et dégradant. Je me suis haï et je sentais que ma vie était détruite mais au même temps elle était trop précieuse pour la perdre si facilement. J’ai recraché le razoir de ma bouche avant d’être sorti de la chambre où quatre personnes à l’allure impossante, portant la même tenue de CRS et des boucliers de protéction, m’ont violemment emmené dans le grand hall au rez-de-chaussée du centre de détention. J’étais épuisé puisque j’avais fait une grève de la faim depuis plusieurs jours. Dans la chambre à côte de moi un des déportés a essayé de resister et a été battu si sévèrement que du sang a coulé de son nez. Dans le grand hall ils m’ont fouillé avec soin et m’ont escorté jusqu’à la voiture comme un dangerux criminel, deux personnes à ma gauche et à ma droite. Ils ont conduit environ deux heures jusqu’à l’aéroport, il y avait un grand avion sur la piste de décollage. […] A ce moment, j’ai vu mes rêves, mes espoirs, brisés devant moi en entrant dans l’avion.
      Temoignage d’une personne déportée (de Detained Voices)

      Le cade légal : Dublin III

      Ces expulsions se déroulent dans le cadre du règlement Dublin III. Il s’agit de la législation déterminant quel pays européen doit évaluer la demande d’asile d’une personne réfugiée. Cette décision implique un certain nombre de critères, l’un des principaux étant le regroupement familial et l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant. Un autre critère, dans le cas des personnes franchissant la frontières sans papiers, est le premier pays dans lequel ils entrent « irrégulièrement ». Dans cette loi, ce critère est supposé être moins important que les attaches familiales. Mais il est communément employé par les gouvernements cherchant à rediriger les demandes d’asile à d’autres Etats. Toutes les personnes que nous connaissions sur ces vols étaient « dublinés » car le Royaume-Uni prétendait qu’ils avaient été en France, en Allemagne ou en Espagne.

      (Voir : briefing à l’introduction du House of Commons ; Home Office staff handbook (manuel du personnel du ministère de l’intérieur ; section Dublin Right to remain .)

      En se référant au règlement Dublin, le Royaume-Uni évite d’examiner les cas de demande d’asile. Ces personnes ne sont pas expulsées parce que leur demande d’asile a été refusée. Leurs demandes ne sont simplement jamais examinées. La décision d’appliquer le règlement Dublin est prise après la premier entretien filmé ( à ce jour, au centre de détention de Yarl’s Wood). Comme nous l’avons vu plus haut, peu de personnes sont dans la capacité d’avoir accès à une assistance juridique avant ces entretiens, quelquefois menés par téléphone et sans traduction adéquate.

      Avec le Dublin III, le Royaume-Uni doit faire la demande formelle au gouvernement qu’il croit responsable d’examiner la demande d’asile, de reprendre le demandeur et de lui présenter la preuve à savoir pourquoi ce gouvernement devrait en accepter la responsabilité. Généralement, la preuve produite est le fichier des empreintes enregistrées par un autre pays sur la base de données EURODAC, à travers toute l’Europe.

      Cependant, lors des récents cas d’expulsion, le Home Office n’a pas toujours produit les empreintes, mais a choisi de se reposer sur de fragiles preuves circonstantielles. Certains pays ont refusé ce type de preuve, d’autres en revanche l’ont accepté, notamment la France.

      Il semble y avoir un mode de fonctionnement récurrent dans ces affaires où la France accepte les retours de Dublin III, quand bien même d’autres pays l’ont refusé. Le gouvernement français pourrait avoir été encouragé à accepter les « reprises/retours » fondés sur des preuves fragiles, dans le cadre des récentes négociations américano-britanniques sur la traversée de la Manche (La France aurait apparemment demandé 30 millions de livres pour aider la Grande-Bretagne à rendre la route non viable.)

      En théorie, accepter une demande Dublin III signifie que la France (ou tout autre pays) a pris la responsabilité de prendre en charge la demande d’asile d’un individu. Dans la pratique, la plupart des individus arrivés à Clermont-Ferrand le 26 août n’ont pas eu l’opportunité de demander l’asile. A la place, des arrêtés d’expulsion leur ont été adressés, leur ordonnant de quitter la France et l’Europe. On ne leur donne que 48h pour faire appel de l’ordre d’expulsion, sans plus d’information sur le dispositif légal. Ce qui apparaît souvent comme quasi impossible pour une personne venant d’endurer une expulsion forcée et qui pourrait nécessiter des soins médicaux urgents.

      Suite au Brexit, le Royaume-Uni ne participera pas plus au Dublin III à partir du 31 décembre 2020. Puisqu’il y a des signataires de cet accord hors Union-Européenne, comme la Suisse et la Norvège, le devenir de ces arrangements est encore flou (comme tout ce qui concerne le Brexit). S’il n’y a d’accord global, le Royaume-Uni devra négocier plusieurs accords bilatéraux avec les pays européens. Le schéma d’expulsion accéléré établi par la France sans processus d’évaluation adéquat de la demande d’asile pourrait être un avant-goût des choses à venir.
      Conclusion : expéditif – et illégal ?

      Évidemment, les expulsions par charter sont l’un des outils les plus manifestement brutaux employés par le régime frontalier du Royaume Uni. Elles impliquent l’emploi d’une violence moralement dévastatrice par le Home Office et ses entrepreneurs ((Mitie, Titan Airways, Britannia Hotels, et les autres) contre des personnes ayant déjà traversé des histoires traumatiques.

      Car les récentes expulsions de ceux qui ont traversé la Manche semblent particulièrement expéditives. Des personnes qui ont risqué le vie dans la Manche sont récupérées par une machine destinée à nier leur droit d’asile et à les expulser aussi vite que possible, pour satisfaire le besoin d’une réaction rapide à la dernière panique médiatique. De nouvelles procédures semblent avoir mises en place spontanément par des officiels du Ministère de l’Intérieur ainsi que des accords officieux avec leurs homologues français.

      En résultat de ce travail bâclé, il semble y avoir un certain nombre d’irrégularités dans la procédure. Certaines ont déjà été signalées dans des recours juridiques efficaces contre le vol vers l’Espagne du 27 août. La détention et l’expulsion des personnes qui ont traversé la Manche en bateau peut avoir été largement illégale et est susceptible d’être remise en cause plus profondément des deux côtés de la Manche.

      Ici, nous résumerons quelques enjeux spécifiques.

      La nature profondément politique du processus d’expulsion pour ces personnes qui ont fait la traversée sur de petits bateaux, ce qui signifie qu’on leur refuse l’accès à une procédure de demande d’asile évaluée par le Home Office.
      Les personnes réfugiées incluent des personnes victimes de torture, de trafic humain, aussi bien que des mineurs.
      Des individus sont détenus, précipités d’entretiens en entretiens, et « dublinés » sans la possibilité d’avoir accès à une assistance juridique et aux informations nécessaires.
      Afin d’éviter d’avoir à considérer des demandes d’asile, la Grande-Bretagne applique le règlement Dublin III, souvent en employant de faibles preuves circonstancielles – et la France accepte ces demandes, peut-être en conséquence des récentes négociations et arrangements financiers.
      De nombreuses personnes expulsées ont des attaches familiales au Royaume-Uni, mais le critère primordial du rapprochement familial du rêglement Dublin III est ignoré
      En acceptant les demandes Dublin, la France prend la responsabilité légale des demandes d’asile. Mais en réalité, elle prive ces personnes de la possibilité de demander l’asile, en leur assignant des papiers d’expulsion.
      Ces papiers d’expulsions (« Obligation de quitter le territoire français » and « Interdiction de retour sur le territoire français » ou OQTF et IRTF) sont assignées et il n’est possible de faire appel que dans les 48 heures qui suivent. C’est inadéquat pour assurer une procédure correcte, à plus forte raison pour des personnes traumatisées, passées par la détention, l’expulsion, larguées au milieu de nulle part, dans un pays où elles n’ont aucun contact et dont elles ne parlent pas la langue.
      Tout cela invalide complètement les arguments du Home Office qui soutient que les personnes qu’il expulse peuvent avoir accès à une procédure de demande d’asile équitable en France.

      https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/sen-debarrasser-le-royaume-uni-se-precipite-pour-

  • #Paris-Milan : Carla extradée, une première lettre
    https://fr.squat.net/2020/08/26/paris-milan-carla-extradee-une-premiere-lettre

    Mardi 25 août 2020, Carla, arrêtée le 26 juillet dernier, a finalement été extradée en #Italie. Elle est désormais incarcérée à la #prison de Vigevano, près de #Milan, en module AS3 (alta sicurezza 3). Cette section d’isolement haute sécurité est initialement réservée aux détenu-es qui sont accusé-es d’appartenir à la mafia. Depuis la fermeture de […]

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