• Cassazione, dare i migranti ai guardiacoste di Tripoli è reato

    La consegna di migranti alla guardia costiera libica è reato perché la Libia «non è porto sicuro».

    E’ quanto sancisce una sentenza della Corte di Cassazione che ha reso definitiva la condanna del comandante del rimorchiatore #Asso_28 che il 30 luglio del 2018 soccorse 101 persone nel Mediterraneo centrale e li riportò in Libia consegnandoli alla Guardia costiera di Tripoli. Della sentenza scrive Repubblica.

    Per i supremi giudici favorire le intercettazioni dei guardiacoste di Tripoli rientra nella fattispecie illecita «dell’abbandono in stato di pericolo di persone minori o incapaci e di sbarco e abbandono arbitrario di persone». Nella sentenza viene sostanzialmente sancito che l’episodio del 2018 fu un respingimento collettivo verso un Paese non ritenuto sicuro vietato dalla Convenzione europea per i diritti umani.

    Casarini, dopo Cassazione su migranti pronti a #class_action

    "Con la sentenza della Corte di Cassazione, che ha chiarito in maniera definitiva che la cosiddetta «guardia costiera libica» non può «coordinare» nessun soccorso, perché non è in grado di garantire il rispetto dei diritti umani dei naufraghi, diventa un reato grave anche ordinarci di farlo, come succede adesso. Ora metteremo a punto non solo i ricorsi contro il decreto Piantedosi, che blocca per questo le navi del soccorso civile, ma anche una grande class action contro il governo e il ministro dell’Interno e il memorandum Italia-Libia". E’ quanto afferma Luca Casarini della ong Mediterranea Saving Humans.

    "Dovranno rispondere in tribunale delle loro azioni di finanziamento e complicità nelle catture e deportazioni che avvengono in mare ad opera di una «sedicente» guardia costiera - aggiunge Casarini -, che altro non è che una formazione militare che ha come compito quello di catturare e deportare, non di «mettere in salvo» le donne, gli uomini e i bambini che cercano aiuto. La suprema corte definisce giustamente una gravissima violazione della Convenzione di Ginevra, la deportazione in Libia di migranti e profughi che sono in mare per tentare di fuggire da quell’inferno". Casarini ricorda, inoltre, che di recente la nave Mare Jonio di Mediterranea "di recente è stata colpita dal fermo amministrativo del governo per non aver chiesto alla Libia il porto sicuro. Proporremo a migliaia di cittadini italiani, ad associazioni e ong, di sottoscrivere la «class action», e chiederemo ad un tribunale della Repubblica di portare in giudizio i responsabili politici di questi gravi crimini. Stiamo parlando di decine di migliaia di esseri umani catturati in mare e deportati in Libia, ogni anno, coordinati di fatto da Roma e dall’agenzia europea Frontex.

    E il ministro Piantedosi, proprio ieri, l’ha rivendicato testimoniando al processo a Palermo contro l’allora ministro Salvini. Lui si è costruito un alibi, con la distinzione tra centri di detenzione legali e illegali in Libia, dichiarando che «l’Italia si coordina con le istituzioni libiche che gestiscono campi di detenzione legalmente. Finalmente questo alibi, che è servito fino ad ora a coprire i crimini, è crollato grazie al pronunciamento della Cassazione. Adesso questo ministro deve essere messo sotto processo, perché ha ammesso di avere sistematicamente commesso un reato, gravissimo, che ha causato morte e sofferenze a migliaia di innocenti».

    https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/cronaca/2024/02/17/cassazione-dare-i-migranti-a-guardiacoste-di-tripoli-e-reato_cfcb3461-c654-4f3c

    #justice #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #gardes-côtes_libyens #Libye #jurisprudence #condamnation #externalisation #pull-backs #refoulements #push-backs #cour_de_cassation #cassation #port_sûr

    • Sentenza Cassazione: Consegnare gli immigranti alla guardia costiera libica è reato

      La Libia è un paese canaglia: bocciati Minniti, Conte e Meloni. Dice la sentenza della Cassazione, è noto che in Libia i migranti subiscono vessazioni, violenze e tortura. Quindi è un reato violare la legge internazionale e il codice di navigazione che impongono di portare i naufraghi in un porto sicuro

      Il governo italiano (sia questo in carica sia quelli di centrosinistra che avevano Marco Minniti come ministro dell’interno) potrebbe addirittura finire sotto processo sulla base di una sentenza emessa dalla Corte di Cassazione.

      Dice questa sentenza che la Libia non è un porto sicuro, e che dunque non si possono consegnare alla Libia (o favorire la cattura da parte delle motovedette libiche) le persone salvate da un naufragio.

      Dice la sentenza, è noto che in Libia i migranti subiscono vessazioni, violenze e tortura. Quindi è un reato violare la legge internazionale e il codice di navigazione che impongono di portare i naufraghi in un porto sicuro.

      Che la Libia non fosse un porto sicuro era stranoto. Bastava non leggere i giornali italiani per saperlo. La novità è che questa evidente verità viene ora formalmente affermata con una sentenza della Cassazione che fa giurisprudenza. E che, come è del tutto evidente, mette in discussione gli accordi con la Libia firmati dai governi di centrosinistra e poi confermati dai governi Conte e infine dai governi di centrodestra.

      Accordi che si basarono persino sul finanziamento italiano e sulla consegna di motovedette – realizzate a spese del governo italiano – alle autorità di Tripoli. Ora quegli accordi devono essere immediatamente cancellati e in linea di principio si potrebbe persino ipotizzare l’apertura di processi (se non è scattata la prescrizione) ai responsabili di quegli accordi.

      I reati per i quali la Cassazione con questa sentenza ha confermato la condanna al comandante di una nave che nel luglio del 2018 (governo gialloverde, Salvini ministro dell’Interno) consegnò alla guardia costiera libica 101 naufraghi salvati in mezzo al Mediterraneo sono “abbandono in stato di pericolo di persone minori o incapaci, e di sbarco e abbandono arbitrario di persone”. La Cassazione ha dichiarato formalmente che la Libia non è un porto sicuro.

      Tutta la politica dei respingimenti a questo punto, se dio vuole, salta in aria. La Cassazione ha stabilito che bisogna tornare allo Stato di diritto, a scapito della propaganda politica. E saltano in aria anche i provvedimenti recentemente adottati dalle autorità italiane sulla base del decreto Spazza-naufraghi varato circa un anno fa dal governo Meloni.

      Ancora in queste ore c’è una nave della Ocean Viking che è sotto fermo amministrativo perché accusata di non aver seguito le direttive impartite dalle autorità libiche. Ovviamente dovrà immediatamente essere dissequestrata e forse c’è anche il rischio che chi ha deciso il sequestro finisca sotto processo. Inoltre bisognerà restituire la multa e probabilmente risarcire il danno.

      E quello della Ocean Viking è solo uno di numerosissimi casi. Certo, perché ciò avvenga sarebbe necessaria una assunzione di responsabilità sia da parte del Parlamento sia da parte della magistratura. E le due cose non sono probabilissime.

      https://www.osservatoriorepressione.info/sentenza-cassazione-consegnare-gli-immigranti-alla-guardia

    • Italy’s top court: Handing over migrants to Libyan coast guards is illegal

      Italy’s highest court, the Cassation Court, has ruled that handing over migrants to Libyan coast guards is unlawful because Libya does not represent a safe port. The sentence could have major repercussions.

      Handing over migrants rescued in the Central Mediterranean to Tripoli’s coast guards is unlawful because Libya is not a safe port and it is conduct which goes against the navigation code, the Cassation Court ruled on February 17. The decision upheld the conviction of the captain of the Italian private vessel Asso 28, which, on July 30, 2018, rescued 101 individuals in the central Mediterranean and then handed them over to the Libyan coast guards to be returned to Libya.

      The supreme court judges ruled in sentence number 4557 that facilitating the interception of migrants and refugees by the Libyan coast guards falls under the crime of “abandonment in a state of danger of minors or incapacitated people and arbitrary disembarkation and abandonment of people.” This ruling effectively characterizes the 2018 incident as collective refoulement to a country not considered safe, contravening the European Convention on Human Rights.

      NGOs announce class action lawsuit

      Beyond its political implications, the Cassation’s decision could significantly impact ongoing legal proceedings, including administrative actions. NGOs have announced a class action lawsuit against the government, the interior minister, and the Italy-Libya memorandum.

      The case, which was first examined by the tribunal of Naples, focuses on the intervention of a trawler, a support ship for a platform, to rescue 101 migrants who were on a boat that had departed from Africa’s coast.

      According to investigators, the ship’s commander was asked by personnel on the rig to take on board a Libyan citizen, described as a “Libyan customs official”, who suggested sailing to Libya and disembarking the rescued migrants.

      The supreme court judges said the defendant “omitted to immediately communicate, before starting rescue operations and after completing them, to the centres of coordination and rescue services of Tripoli and to the IMRCC (Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) of Rome, in the absence of a reply by the first,” that the migrants had been rescued and were under his charge.

      The Cassation ruled that, by operating in this way, the commander violated “procedures provided for by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and by the directives of the International Maritime Organization,” thus carrying out a “collective refoulement to a port deemed unsafe like Libya.”

      Furthermore, the Cassation emphasized the commander’s obligation to ascertain whether the migrants wanted to apply for asylum and conduct necessary checks on accompanying minors.
      ’Cassation should not be interpreted ideologically on Libya’, Piantedosi

      “Italy has never coordinated and handed over to Libya migrants rescued in operations coordinated or directly carried out by Italy,” Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said on February 19, when asked to comment the Cassation’s ruling. “That sentence must be read well — sentences should never be interpreted in a political or ideological manner,” he said.

      Piantedosi contextualized the ruling within the circumstances prevailing in Libya at the time, citing efforts to assist Libya with EU cooperation. He highlighted the government’s adherence to principles governing repatriation activities and concluded by saying “there can be no spontaneity” and that “coordination” is essential.

      https://twitter.com/InfoMigrants/status/1759901204501438649?t=ZlLRzR3-jQ0e6-y0Q2GPJA

  • Weaponizing the law against the vulnerable: the case of the #El_Hiblu_3

    In March 2019, three teenagers were rescued from a sinking rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea. Amara was 15 years old and had already travelled from Guinea to Libya before attempting the crossing to Europe. Unknown to him at the time were two other teenagers: Kader was 16, a football enthusiast and from the Ivory Coast; and Abdalla at 19 was also from Guinea and travelling with his wife, Souwa. The three teenagers travelled with 100 other people, and were rescued by an oil tanker, the #El_Hiblu_1, after their boat began to deflate.

    That night, the El Hiblu 1 crew tried to return the travellers to Libya, despite assurances of helping them to reach Europe. In the early hours of the morning, people spotted Tripoli’s coastline and began to protest, terrified at the prospect of being returned to the violence they had known in Libya. Desperation was so high that people were ready to jump overboard. In this tense situation, the first mate called on Amara to translate, having identified him the day before as someone who spoke English. Eventually, the crew also called on the young Kader and Abdalla. The three acted as mediators and translators between frightened travellers and scared crew members.

    The wider group’s protests convinced the captain to change course; he turned the ship north and motored towards Malta. Speaking to the Maltese authorities en route, he claimed his ship was no longer under his control - although testimonies in the subsequent compilation of evidence cast doubt on this claim. Nevertheless, upon arrival in Malta’s Valletta harbour, the three were arrested and immediately charged with nine crimes, including terrorism and confining someone against their will. These charges carry multiple life sentences, and echo the media narrative that took hold before the three even arrived in Malta, a narrative that painted them as pirates and hijackers.

    Abdalla, Amara, and Kader – now also known as the El Hiblu 3 – have never known Malta as free men. Imprisoned for 8 months, initially in the maximum-security wing of the adult prison despite their young age, they were released on bail in November 2019 but required to register with the police every day and restricted in their daily movements. Legal experts and international organisations describe the charges that condition their lives as ‘grossly unjust’, ‘baseless’, and a ‘farce’.

    For almost five years, the three young men have attended court hearings every month. As a whole, the testimonies corroborate what the El Hiblu 3 have always maintained: that they are innocent. Moreover, the compilation of evidence, only the initial stage in the judicial process, has been painfully slow and riddled with failures, silences and erasures. Despite calling numerous people to testify, including crew members and officials from the Armed Forces of Malta, the prosecution failed to call any of the 100 people who travelled with the El Hiblu 3 for two years. They only did so in March 2021 after the defence submitted an application to the court reminding the prosecution of its legal obligation to impartiality and its duty to bring forward all evidence at its disposal. Predictably, many of these key eyewitnesses had already left the island after two years, as secondary movements to other European countries are common.

    Even when a handful were eventually given the opportunity to testify, silencing continued. Requests by some to testify in Bambara, a language widely spoken in West Africa, were denied. Witnesses also questioned the accuracy of the translation occurring in court, with the defence requesting a new translator. Yet, those who did testify confirmed Amara, Abdalla and Kader’s role as translators, and not as ring leaders.

    Over these last years, a vast, transnational solidarity network has developed between local, international and intergovernmental organisations, convinced of the El Hiblu 3’s innocence and motivated by the injustice of pressing such charges against three teenagers. As the compilation of evidence unfolded, anger grew as information emerged that no weapons were found on board and no violence took place, and as people got to know the three. Despite their young age, despite the trial having already stolen much of their youth, they have displayed incredible strength and courage in the face of injustice. They have withstood imprisonment, adhered to strict bail conditions, appeared in court every month, all while building lives in Malta: studying, working, raising children, making friends and building a community.

    As we have explored elsewhere, the solidarity network that has emerged to support and stand with Amara, Abdalla, and Kader reflects a transgressive form of solidarity that resists dominant state narratives and categories, and also creates counter-narratives through direct action. Alongside many protests, concerts, and conferences, the campaign to free the El Hiblu 3 published a book in 2021 which reflects the diverse voices of this network, with central contributions from Abdalla, Amara, and Kader. The El Hiblu case allows us to explore the ways in which transgressive acts—from autonomous migration to solidarity practices that occur at sea and within European territory—connect and challenge our conceptualization of borders, nation-states, and citizenship.

    This case highlights the persistent criminalisation of people on the move in Europe today. The EU and its southern member states have attempted to contain people in Libya: they have turned militias into ‘EU partners’, funded detention centres, and coordinated pushbacks, with complete disregard for severe human rights violations carried out by these actors. In the name of deterrence, people in distress at sea are abandoned and those carrying out search and rescue activities are criminalised. Those who arrive face further punishment. Among other countries, Italy and Greece have used the law to target those they consider ‘boat drivers’. Malta, similarly, has weaponised the law against the El Hiblu 3, using them as political pawns in a spectacle of deterrence. The use of the law, by liberal democratic states, to undermine human rights raises questions of democracy, rule of law, and justice.

    A few weeks ago, in November 2023, the Attorney General issued a bill of indictment formally charging Abdalla, Amara, and Kader with all the original accusations, despite the testimonies heard in the intervening period that point to their innocence and despite condemnation of the judicial process from legal scholars, international organisations and activists. According to Amnesty International, Malta’s Attorney General made the ‘worst possible decision’ when she issued a bill of indictment that could lead to life sentences for the El Hiblu 3. Indeed, many have hailed the three young men as heroes whose mediation helped prevent an illegal pushback to Libya. With countless supporters, in Malta and beyond, we continue to stand with them in their fight for justice.

    https://blogs.law.ox.ac.uk/border-criminologies-blog/blog-post/2024/01/weaponizing-law-against-vulnerable-case-el-hiblu-3
    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #criminalisation #El_Hiblu #Libye #Méditerranée #pull-back #résistance #justice #Malte #Abdalla #Amara #Kader #solidarité #frontières #scafisti #scafista

  • #Frontex and the pirate ship

    The EU’s border agency Frontex and the Maltese government are systematically sharing coordinates of refugee boats trying to escape Libya with a vessel operated by a militia linked to Russia, human trafficking, war crimes and smuggling.

    Tareq Bin Zeyad (TBZ) is one of the most dangerous militia groups in the world. It is run by Saddam Haftar, the powerful son of East Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar. The group has been operating a vessel, also called TBZ, in the Central Mediterranean since May, during which it has intercepted more than 1,000 people at sea off the coasts of Libya and Malta and returned them to Libya.

    Experts say the militia would not have been able to find the refugee boats without help from surveillance planes. We analysed several interceptions carried out by the TBZ boat in Maltese waters. These are known as ‘pullbacks’ and are illegal according to Maritime experts. We found that TBZ receives coordinates from EU planes in three ways:

    – Direct communication through a Frontex mayday alert. On 26 July, a Frontex plane issued a mayday (a radio alert to all vessels within range used in cases of immediate distress) in relation to a refugee boat. TBZ answered within minutes. Frontex only informed the nearby rescue authorities of Italy, Libya and Malta after issuing the mayday. They did not intervene. Frontex admitted the plane had to leave the area after an hour, leaving the fate of the refugees in the hands of a militia. It would take TBZ another six hours to reach the boat and drag people back to Libya.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LE0sq_RKY0&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lighthouserepor

    – Indirect communication through Tripoli. Frontex routinely shares refugee vessel coordinates with the Libyan authorities. In Frontex’s own system, they recorded that on 16 August the coordinates they shared with Tripoli were handed over to TBZ and led to an interception.

    – Direct communication with Malta’s Armed forces. On 2 August, a pilot with a Maltese accent was recorded giving coordinates to TBZ. Hours later, the TBZ vessel was spotted by NGOs near the coordinates. Malta’s armed forces did not deny the incident.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zaFlaXtS4c

    Both Frontex and Malta say their aim when sharing the coordinates is to help people in distress.

    Responding to our questions on the 26 July mayday, Frontex said its experts decided to issue the alert because “the vessel was far away from the shoreline, it was overcrowded, and there was no life-saving equipment visible.”

    However, in all of the cases we analysed there were safer options: merchant ships were sailing nearby -– much closer than the TBZ ship – and NGO vessels or the Maltese or Italian coast guards could have assisted.

    According to international law expert Nora Markard “Frontex should have ensured that someone else took over the rescue after the distress call – for example one of the merchant ships, which would have been on site much faster anyway.”

    Markard added: “Frontex knows that this situation is more of a kidnapping than a rescue. You only have to imagine pirates announcing that they will deal with a distress case. That wouldn’t be right either.”

    The TBZ is described by the EU as a militia group affiliated with warlord Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army in confidential documents obtained by this investigation. We also found confidential reports showing that EU states are aware of the illicit nature of many of TBZ’s activities – including human trafficking. The group was described in an EU report as being supported by Russian private military group PCM-Wagner.

    Frontex declined to comment on whether TBZ was an appropriate partner.
    METHODS

    We obtained confidential EU documents, tracked position data from European surveillance aircraft and cargo ships, monitored social media of militia members on board the TBZ vessel, spoke to insider sources in EU and Libya institutions and reached out to linguistic experts to analyse a radio communication.

    We were able to speak to seven refugees who were dragged back to Libya by the TBZ and gave harrowing accounts of mistreatment.
    STORYLINES

    All the refugees we spoke to reported abuse at the hands of the militia, including torture, forced labour and ransom payment. One of them, Syrian Bassel Nahas*, described a three-week ordeal that he did not think he would survive.

    He said TBZ crew shaved his eyebrows and lashes and mutilated his head. “They beat us until our bodies turned black,” he said. “Then they threw our bodies in the water”.

    Bassel said he and other refugees were left in the Benghazi harbour next to the docked vessel for hours overnight, the salt burning their wounds, before they took him out at 4am and beat him more.

    Finally, Bassel recounts, the armed men made him wear an orange prisoner suit and stand against a wall. They opened fire, laughing as he collapsed. It was only when he regained consciousness and checked his body for blood that he realised the bullets hadn’t hit him.

    A Frontex drone was filming Bassel’s boat while it was intercepted by TBZ several days before, on 18 August. Bassel recounts the moment the militia approached: “We told them to leave us alone, that we had children and women on board. But they accused us of having weapons and drugs and opened fire on our boat.”

    Frontex claims that due to poor visibility on that day “detailed observations were challenging”. The same drone spotted Bassel’s vessel two days before its interception by TBZ and shared coordinates with Malta and Greece.

    Frontex declined to comment on whether its coordinates were used to intercept Bassel’s vessel and on allegations of torture and human rights abuses by TBZ.

    Jamal*, a Syrian from the southwestern province of Deraa, recalls that after being intercepted at sea on 25 May he was taken “to a big prison” where they were beaten “with sticks and iron” and all their belongings – “[their] passports, [their] cell phones” – were confiscated. “There was no water available in the prison. We drank in the bathroom. They fed us rice, soup or pasta in small quantities. We were held for 20 days by the Tariq bin Ziyad brigade,” he said.

    Several people report that they were forced to work to earn their freedom. “What this brigade did to us was not authorised, it was slavery. They sold us to businessmen so that we would work for them for free,” said Hasni, who was intercepted on 7 July by the TBZ.

    https://www.lighthousereports.com/investigation/frontex-and-the-pirate-ship

    #Malte #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #migrations #réfugiés #Russie #Libye #Tareq_Bin_Zeyad (#TBZ) #milices #collaboration #Saddam_Haftar #Khalifa_Haftar #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #pull-backs #sauvetage (well...) #PCM-Wagner #drones

  • Get out ! Zur Situation von Geflüchteten in Bulgarien
    (publié en 2020, ajouté ici pour archivage)

    „Bulgaria is very bad“ ist eine typische Aussage jener, die auf ihrer Flucht bereits etliche Länder durchquert haben. Der vorliegende Bericht geht der Frage nach, warum Bulgarien seit Langem einen extrem schlechten Ruf unter den Geflüchteten genießt.

    Hierzu wird kenntnisreich die massive Gewalt nachgezeichnet, die Bulgarien im Zuge sogenannter „Push-Backs“ anwendet. Auch auf die intensive Kooperation mit der Türkei beim Schutz der gemeinsamen Grenze wird eingegangen. Da die Inhaftierung von Geflüchteten in Bulgarien obligatorisch ist, werden überdies die rechtlichen Hintergründe hierfür und die miserablen Haftbedingungen beschrieben. Weiterhin wird das bulgarische Asylsystem thematisiert und auf die besondere Situation von Geflüchteten eingegangen, die im Rahmen der Dublin-Verordnung nach Bulgarien abgeschoben wurden. Das bulgarische Integrationskonzept, das faktisch nur auf dem Papier existiert, wird ebenfalls beleuchtet.

    https://bordermonitoring.eu/berichte/2020-get-out
    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #rapport #Bulgarie #push-backs #refoulements #pull-backs #violence #morts_aux_frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #milices #extrême_droite #enfermement #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #droit_d'asile #encampement #camps

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

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

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

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

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

      Avec :

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

      https://www.radiofrance.fr/franceculture/podcasts/lsd-la-serie-documentaire/des-benevoles-dans-les-airs-face-a-l-agence-europeenne-de-garde-frontier
      #frontières #sauvetage_en_mer #sauvetage #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #gardes-côtes_libyens #pull-backs #solidarité

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Avec :

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

      https://www.radiofrance.fr/franceculture/podcasts/lsd-la-serie-documentaire/de-l-apprentissage-a-l-expulsion-4412030
      #travail #sans-papiers

    • Épisode 3/4 : #Femmes migrantes invisibles

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

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

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

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

      Avec

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

      https://www.radiofrance.fr/franceculture/podcasts/lsd-la-serie-documentaire/femmes-migrantes-invisibles-6230660
      #femmes_migrantes #invisibilisation

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

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

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

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

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

      Avec :

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

      https://www.radiofrance.fr/franceculture/podcasts/lsd-la-serie-documentaire/une-famille-afghane-en-touraine-6456038
      #réfugiés_syriens

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

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

    The letter (pdf) states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More surveillance, new law

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

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

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

    Deportation cooperation

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

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

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

    More funds

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

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

    https://www.statewatch.org/news/2023/october/eu-to-step-up-support-for-human-rights-abuses-in-north-africa

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

    ping @isskein @_kg_ @karine4

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

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

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

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

      Nouveaux « #partenariats sur mesure »

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

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

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

      Mettre l’accent sur les retours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2023/10/26/crise-migratoire-le-bilan-mitige-des-accords-passes-par-l-union-europeenne-p

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

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

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

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

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

      Abuse and impunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Anti-smuggling conference

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

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

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

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

      Additional support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Ongoing support to Libya

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2023/november/eu-planning-new-anti-migration-deals-with-egypt-and-tunisia-unrepentant-

      en italien:
      Statewatch. Mentre continua il sostegno alla Libia, l’UE sta pianificando nuovi accordi anti-migrazione con Egitto e Tunisia
      https://www.meltingpot.org/2023/11/statewatch-mentre-continua-il-sostegno-alla-libia-lue-sta-pianificando-n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Paris-Le Caire, une relation particulière

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://orientxxi.info/magazine/accord-migratoire-avec-l-egypte-des-navires-francais-en-eaux-troubles,68

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    https://euromedrights.org/publication/leaked-letter-on-intended-cyprus-lebanon-joint-border-controls-increa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Des interceptions impossibles sans renseignements extérieurs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2022/11/23/enquete-comment-des-appareils-de-surveillance-de-frontex-sont-utilises-par-l
    #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Méditerranée #Libye #mer_Méditerranée #pull-backs #pull-back #push-backs

    • Airborne Complicity – Frontex Aerial Surveillance Enables Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Pattern analysis

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

      Statistical analysis

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

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

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

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

      Read the full statistical analysis here
      Conclusion

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

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

       

      https://www.borderforensics.org/investigations/airborne-complicity
      #surveillance_aérienne #drones

  • EU’s Drone Is Another Threat to Migrants and Refugees

    Frontex Aerial Surveillance Facilitates Return to Abuse in Libya

    “We didn’t know it was the Libyans until the boat got close enough and we could see the flag. At that point we started to scream and cry. One man tried to jump into the sea and we had to stop him. We fought off as much as we could to not be taken back, but we couldn’t do anything about it,” Dawit told us. It was July 30, 2021, and Dawit, from Eritrea, his wife, and young daughter were trying to seek refuge in Europe.

    Instead, they were among the more than 32,450 people intercepted by Libyan forces last year and hauled back to arbitrary detention and abuse in Libya.

    Despite overwhelming evidence of torture and exploitation of migrants and refugees in Libya – crimes against humanity, according to the United Nations – over the last few years the European Union has propped up Libyan forces’ efforts to intercept the boats. It has withdrawn its own vessels and installed a network of aerial assets run by private companies. Since May 2021, the EU border agency Frontex has deployed a drone out of Malta, and its flight patterns show the crucial role it plays in detecting boats close to Libyan coasts. Frontex gives the information from the drone to coastal authorities, including Libya.

    Frontex claims the surveillance is to aid rescue, but the information facilitates interceptions and returns to Libya. The day Dawit and his family were caught at sea, Libyan forces intercepted at least two other boats and took at least 228 people back to Libya. One of those boats was intercepted in international waters, inside the Maltese search-and-rescue area. The drone’s flight path suggests it was monitoring the boat’s trajectory, but Frontex never informed the nearby nongovernmental Sea-Watch rescue vessel.

    Human Rights Watch and Border Forensics, a nonprofit that uses innovative visual and spatial analysis to investigate border violence, are examining how the shift from sea to air surveillance contributes to the cycle of extreme abuse in Libya. Frontex’s lack of transparency – they have rejected ours and Sea-Watch’s requests for information about their activities on July 30, 2021 – leaves many questions about their role unanswered.

    Dawit and others panicked when they saw the Libyan boat because they knew what awaited upon return. He and his family ended up in prison for almost two months, released only after paying US$1,800. They are still in Libya, hoping for a chance to reach safety in a country that respects their rights and dignity.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/01/eus-drone-another-threat-migrants-and-refugees
    #Frontex #surveillance_aérienne #Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #drones #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #push-backs #pull-backs #refoulements #Libye #interception

    • Libia: il drone anti-migranti di Frontex

      Frontex, la controversa agenzia di sorveglianza delle frontiere esterne dell’Unione europea, pur avendo smesso la vigilanza marittima delle coste, attraverso l’utilizzo di un drone, sta aiutando la guardia costiera libica a intercettare i barconi dei migranti e rifugiati che tentano di raggiungere le coste italiane. I migranti, perlopiù provenienti dall’Africa subsahariana, sono così ricondotti in Libia dove sono sfruttati e sottoposti a gravi abusi.

      Lo denuncia l’organizzazione internazionale Human Rights Watch. È dal maggio del 2021 che Frontex ha dislocato un drone a Malta: secondo l’ong i piani di volo dimostrerebbero che il velivolo ha un ruolo cruciale nell’individuazione dei battelli in prossimità delle coste libiche; Frontex trasmette infatti i dati raccolti dal drone alle autorità libiche.

      L’agenzia europea sostiene che l’utilizzo del drone ha lo scopo di aiutare il salvataggio dei barconi in difficoltà, ma Human Rights Watch ribatte che questa attività manca di «trasparenza». Il rapporto vuole sottolineare che all’Europa non può bastare che i migranti non arrivino sulle sue coste. E non può nemmeno fingere di non sapere qual è la situazione in Libia.

      L’instabilità politica che caratterizza la Libia dalla caduta di Gheddafi nel 2011 ha fatto del paese nordafricano una via privilegiata per decine di migliaia di migranti che cercano di raggiungere l’Europa attraverso le coste italiane che distano circa 300 km da quelle libiche. Non pochi di questi migranti sono bloccati in Libia, vivono in condizioni deprecabili e in balia di trafficanti di esseri umani.

      https://www.nigrizia.it/notizia/libia-il-drone-anti-migranti-di-frontex

  • Libia, così i gruppi armati controllano il territorio e la tratta dei migranti

    L’organizzazione Libyan Crimes Watch ha confermato che lo scorso 14 gennaio, 3 marocchini sono stati torturati e uccisi nel centro di detenzione ad Al Mayah, nella parte occidentale di Tripoli.
    Un rapporto militare confidenziale distribuito ai funzionari dell’Ue lo scorso gennaio e ottenuto da Domani, conferma la visione dell’Unione europea nel continuare supportare la guardia costiera e la marina libica nonostante il trattamento riservato ai migranti
    Il rapporto compilato dal contrammiraglio della Marina italiana Stefano Turchetto, comandante dell’operazione militare dell’Unione europea nel Mediterraneo (Eunavfor, Med Irini), riconosce inoltre «l’uso eccessivo della forza» da parte delle autorità libiche, aggiungendo che la formazione dell’Ue «non è più completamente seguita».

    L’article est en #paywall, mais une carte intéressante a été publiée sur twitter:


    https://twitter.com/saracreta/status/1490308670957268994

    https://www.editorialedomani.it/politica/mondo/libia-gruppi-armati-migranti-rapporto-contrammiraglio-stefano-turch

    #cartographie #visualisation #pull-backs #push-backs #Libye #Méditerranée #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières

    ping @isskein @reka

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

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

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

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

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

    https://www.lemonde.fr/international/video/2021/10/31/migrants-enquete-sur-le-role-de-l-europe-dans-le-piege-libyen_6100475_3210.h
    #responsabilité #Europe #UE #EU #Union_européenne #Libye #migrations #asile #réfugiés #pull-backs #pullbacks #push-backs #refoulements #frontières #gardes-côtes_libyens

    déjà signalé sur seenthis par @colporteur
    https://seenthis.net/messages/934958

  • Fossil fuel giant #Shell and EU maritime authorities accused of complicity in Mediterranean refugee ‘pullback’

    Banksy-funded rescue ship #Louise_Michel carries 31 refugees as Tunisian Navy sends 70 to its ‘unsafe’ country

    EUROPEAN maritime authorities and fossil fuel giant Shell were accused of complicity in the sending of about 70 refugees to an unsafe country today.

    Civilian rescuers on board the Louise Michel, a rescue ship part-funded by the elusive British artist Banksy, saved the lives of about 101 people within Malta‘s search-and-rescue (SAR) zone in the central Mediterranean on Monday night.

    It was the Seabird, a reconnaissance plane operated by rescuers Sea-Watch, that first spotted the refugees in distress, and passed their position onto the Louise Michael.

    The Louise Michel’s crew managed to bring 31 refugees aboard their vessel, but the remaining 70 or so others climbed onto the nearby Miskar offshore gas platform, which Shell operates on behalf of the Tunisian government.

    The Louise Michel warned on social media this morning that the refugees on the platform had been waiting there for over 14 hours and that the Maltese authorities, who are legally responsible for coordinating their rescue, were refusing to communicate.

    The Tunisian navy arrived on scene later in the afternoon and took the 70 refugees from the platform to Tunisia, a move Louise Michel and many of the other NGO refugee rescuers condemned as a “#pullback,” the unlawful return of refugees to an unsafe place.

    “We witnessed an illegal pullback of around 70 people by several Tunisian Navy vessels from the Shell platform,” a crew member aboard the Louise Michel told The Civil Fleet today.

    “We strongly condemn this violation of human rights and maritime law of which European authorities and Shell are complicit in.”

    Jacob Berkson, an activist with the distress hotline organisation Alarm Phone, described the Tunisian and Maltese authorities’ actions as an “egregious breach” of the refugee conventions.

    “It is to be hoped that they [the refugees] have not been returned to the hell of Libya, but nor can Tunisia be assumed to be a safe third country. It was on Malta to rescue these people,” Mr Berkman told The Civil Fleet today.

    “In any sane world, the Armed Forces of Malta would intervene swiftly and professionally to rescue people in distress, irrespective of why they took to sea in the first place.

    “Of course, in any sane world, it would be rare that people seeking refuge needed rescuing because they would be travelling on a well maintained, commercial vessel to a country of their choice.”

    Shell’s Tunisian arm said: “[We] can confirm that on January 3 2022 at 8pm (Tunis time), a boat carrying people reached our offshore platform. They were assisted and provided with water, food and dry clothes.

    “Shell had informed the Tunisian authorities and worked closely with them to ensure the safety of people on board the boat. They have since been safely transferred to the Tunisian navy vessel on January 4.”

    https://thecivilfleet.wordpress.com/2022/01/04/fossil-fuel-giant-shell-and-eu-maritime-authorities-accused

    #pull-backs #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Méditerranée #Shell #Plate-forme_pétrolière #plateforme_pétrolière #mer_Méditerranée #Tunisie #SAR

    j’ajoute aussi #push-backs #refoulements —> même si techniquement il s’agit de pull-backs, mais pour avoir plus de chances de le retrouver dans le futur...

  • Le #sauvetage_en_mer au défi de la sécurisation des #frontières : le cas de la #Manche

    Cinq ans après le démantèlement de la « Jungle », en octobre 2016, Calais se trouve, une fois encore, au centre de l’attention politique et médiatique, en France et au Royaume-Uni. À l’aune de l’essor des traversées sur des petites embarcations surchargées, le terme de « crise » a fait sa réapparition. Si ces embarcations ne sont pas pour autant devenues l’unique mode d’accès à l’Angleterre, comme l’a sombrement rappelé le décès de Yasser, jeune soudanais mort après avoir été percuté par un camion, la maritimisation des migrations dans cette zone de l’Europe suscite de vives réactions.

    Jusqu’à présent, le sauvetage rapide des embarcations en difficulté demeure la norme en Manche. Pourra-t-il le rester, dans un contexte européen de sécurisation des frontières ?
    Faire frontière

    « Rendre la Manche impraticable pour les traversées de petites embarcations » : telle est l’intention de Priti Patel, Ministre de l’Intérieur du Royaume-Uni. Afin de préserver la vie humaine, l’enjeu serait de réaffirmer l’existence des frontières, de dissuader les entrées irrégulières en les criminalisant.

    Le projet de loi Nationality and Borders de la ministre prévoit ainsi que les entrées irrégulières, par embarcation par exemple, soient passibles de quatre ans d’emprisonnement.

    Malgré tout, les traversées continuent à augmenter : durant le mois de septembre 2021, ce sont 4 638 personnes qui ont réussi à traverser la Manche, sur quelque 160 embarcations surchargées. À la fin de ce même mois, le nombre de personnes arrivées par bateau sur les côtes anglaises depuis le début de l’année 2021 a déjà atteint le double du total de l’année précédente. Au-delà de cette hausse rapide, les zones de départ des traversées semblent, en 2021, s’être davantage étalées le long du littoral, comme en témoignent les interventions de secours au nord de Dieppe, dans la baie de Somme, ou autour du Touquet, entre autres.
    Pourquoi ce mode de franchissement s’est-il tant intensifié, depuis fin 2018 ? Pour les acteurs associatifs locaux, comme pour le gouvernement français, la sécurisation progressivement mise en place dans le Calaisis – largement financée par le Royaume-Uni, qui investit depuis plusieurs années dans ce contrôle aux frontières extra-territorialisé – est en partie responsable.
    Une « scène de théâtre politique idéale »

    À Calais, les accès aux ports, au site de l’Eurotunnel et à la rocade sont clôturés, hérissés de barbelés et vidéosurveillés. Et depuis 2019, un équipement high-tech est déployé pour surveiller cette partie du littoral : les patrouilles sont dotées de drones à caméras thermiques, de lunettes infrarouges, de remorques éclairantes… Ce renforcement des moyens de surveillance rend plus difficiles, d’une part, les passages clandestins par camions et ferries, et d’autre part, toute forme de départ de Calais.

    Paradoxalement, ces mesures de sécurisation destinées à faire disparaître les traversées irrégulières ont participé à une visibilité accrue des passages de frontière : contrairement aux passages en ferries et camions, les arrivées en embarcations de plus en plus surchargées se déroulent à ciel ouvert.

    Investi par des groupes et individus prônant, les uns le rejet des personnes arrivant, les autres des voies de passage sûres, le littoral britannique réincarne une « scène de théâtre politique idéale ». Et face aux arrivées qui se multiplient, la promesse du Brexit de « reprendre le contrôle des frontières » est mise à l’épreuve.

    Ainsi, les récents exercices de refoulement (push-backs) pratiqués par les forces frontalières britanniques, documentés et diffusés sur les réseaux sociaux par l’association Channel Rescue, semblent être un énième ressort de spectacularisation d’une frontière qui se veut ferme, et fermée.
    Des sauvetages aux « push-backs » et « pull-backs » ?

    Repousser des embarcations précaires et non adaptées à la navigation en Manche mettrait gravement en danger les personnes à bord. De plus, les sauvetages des embarcations de personnes migrantes (qui pour certaines, souhaitent demander l’asile) sont régis par un double cadre légal rendant les refoulements difficilement justifiables juridiquement.

    Ces interventions sont régulées à la fois par des accords bilatéraux – le Manche Plan de 1978 prévoit les procédures de coopération lors des opérations SAR (search and rescue) – et par des conventions internationales, qui affirment d’une part l’obligation de porter assistance aux personnes en danger en mer, et d’autre part la responsabilité des États côtiers dans la coordination des interventions de sauvetage.

    Et si, en mer, le droit des personnes réfugiées évolue dans un « vacuum juridique », les demandeurs d’asile se trouvant sous la juridiction d’un État sont, selon la CEDH et l’arrêt Hirsi Jamaa, protégés contre tout refoulement. Ainsi, en cas de sinistre impliquant des personnes migrantes dans les eaux territoriales françaises ou britanniques, les pays sont tenus de coordonner des sauvetages en faisant appel aux moyens maritimes disponibles, et ne peuvent procéder à des refoulements collectifs.

    Pour comprendre la multiplicité des acteurs impliqués dans les sauvetages en Manche, l’exemple d’une intervention, le 24 septembre, est édifiant. L’association Utopia 56, présente à Calais depuis 2016, reçoit, dans la nuit, un appel d’un bateau « sur le point de couler ». « Une soixantaine de personnes » serait à bord, à proximité de Dunkerque. Informé, le CROSS Gris-Nez engage les navires de la Douane, des Affaires maritimes, de la station SNSM de Dunkerque, mais également un hélicoptère de l’Armée belge : plusieurs personnes sont tombées à la mer. Certaines rejoignent les côtes par leurs propres moyens, tandis que deux sont hélitreuillées.

    C’est finalement le moyen britannique qui porte assistance aux personnes restées à bord de l’embarcation, qui a continué sa trajectoire. Ainsi, une unique embarcation a transporté des personnes dont certaines ont réussi et d’autres ont échoué à traverser. L’intervention déclenchée a par ailleurs mobilisé des acteurs d’organisations différentes, de trois pays.
    Un rôle ambivalent

    Parmi ces acteurs, l’un occupe une position particulière : la Société nationale de sauvetage en mer (SNSM) qui, contrairement à ce que son nom pourrait indiquer, ne dépend pas directement de ministères nationaux. Alors que les navires de la Douane, de la Marine et de la Gendarmerie nationale mènent des actions de surveillance, qui peuvent se transformer en sauvetage en cas de péril imminent, l’intervention de la SNSM, association composée de bénévoles mais reconnue d’utilité publique et assurant une mission de service public, est strictement limitée aux sauvetages.

    Or, les bénévoles voient dans certaines de leurs interventions une participation aux « opérations de police en mer », comme l’a expliqué récemment à la revue Le Chasse-Marée le président de la station dunkerquoise. Certains des bénévoles des stations de Berck-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, Gravelines et Dunkerque affirmaient ainsi au magazine Sauvetage la position ambivalente des équipiers, face à des personnes migrantes pour lesquelles un sauvetage dans les eaux françaises correspond aussi à un échec de leur tentative de traversée.

    Ces bénévoles pourraient-ils être amenés à terme, à réaliser des actions d’empêchement des traversées, en retenant les bateaux du côté des eaux territoriales françaises (pull-backs) ? Sous pression britannique, les moyens maritimes français ont-ils vocation à réaliser des interceptions telles que le font déjà certains pays voisins de l’Europe ?
    La Manche dans l’Europe

    Il est en effet difficile de s’intéresser aux enjeux du sauvetage en Manche sans les resituer dans le contexte européen de politique migratoire. D’autant plus que des liens directs entre les situations à Calais et en Mer Méditerranée sont établis par les responsables politiques eux-mêmes : en 2014, le Premier ministre français rapportait ainsi que les sauvetages en Méditerranée avaient contribué à créer des « points de fixation » dans le nord de la France.

    En 2019, le ministre de l’Intérieur énonçait en retour que si la France laissait des campements s’installer, des « migrants irréguliers » seraient attirés sur le littoral français. Tour à tour, les actions de la France et des pays européens sont ainsi présentées comme pouvant créer des « appels d’air ».

    Ces liens se retrouvent également dans les partages de pratiques et de moyens : Gérald Darmanin a promis l’intervention en Manche de moyens aériens de Frontex, l’agence européenne de garde-côtes, objet de nombreuses controverses, d’ici « la fin de l’année ». Son homologue britannique s’est quant à elle récemment rendue en Grèce pour discuter de « défis communs » et observer les méthodes de prévention des traversées mises en œuvre.
    Des perspectives d’évolution inquiétantes

    D’un point de vue comparatif, la situation en Mer Égée est particulièrement intéressante. Comme en Manche, les traversées entre la Grèce et la Turquie se déroulent dans les eaux territoriales de deux pays considérés comme sûrs, sur des distances relativement peu étendues. Mais alors que Priti Patel explore des solutions pour garantir l’immunité des forces frontalières en cas de décès de personnes migrantes en mer, il apparaît crucial d’alerter sur une transposition en Manche du recours systématique à la violence qui a pu être observé en Mer Égée.

    De nombreux rapports, de médias et d’ONG documentent depuis plusieurs mois les refoulements menés par les garde-côtes turques, grecs et européens. Refoulements réalisés dans l’illégalité, parfois par des personnes masquées, et accompagnés de démonstrations de force violentes et humiliantes (voir le rapport de l’ONG Mare Liberum).

    Dans un contexte de violence systématisée, comment le rôle des bénévoles de la SNSM pourrait-il évoluer ? De l’autre côté de la Méditerranée, le cas des garde-côtes espagnols montre comment en quelques années, une institution civile, non-militarisée, la SASEMAR, a pu être contrainte à passer d’une mission de sauvetage à une logique de gestion des frontières.

    Comme l’écrit la chercheuse Luna Vives, les contentieux politiques autour de la Manche et du sauvetage confirment le rôle des frontières en tant qu’« espace critique de ré-articulation de la souveraineté ». Ceci aux dépens des acteurs associatifs locaux, mais surtout des personnes tentant les traversées. Ainsi, il semble que nous assistions ici à un tournant. En dépit du droit international et dans un objectif de performance de frontières fermes, les actions de sauvetage en Manche risquent de ne plus être considérées comme un devoir, mais comme un « acte de charité », susceptible d’être suspendu.

    https://theconversation.com/le-sauvetage-en-mer-au-defi-de-la-securisation-des-frontieres-le-ca
    #La_Manche #UK #Angleterre #France #sécurité #contrôles_frontaliers
    #migrations #asile #réfugiés

    via @isskein

  • 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

  • What happens to migrants forcibly returned to Libya?

    ‘These are people going missing by the hundreds.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Off the radar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “We were treated like animals.”

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

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

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

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

    Growing pressure on EU to change tack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/08/05/missing-migrants-Libya-forced-returns-Mediterranean

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

    ping @isskein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Uncharted territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Closing the gap?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/analysis/2020/08/10/Libya-migrant-abuses-EU-legal-battle

      #justice

  • *La Marine teste l’utilisation de NETS pour piéger les migrants dans la Manche alors que des nombres record traversent illégalement*

    - Des navires militaires ont travaillé avec la UK Border Force pour essayer des tactiques en mai et juin
    - Priti Patel a révélé le stratagème en accusant Paris de la crise actuelle
    – Plus de 2 750 personnes auraient atteint le Royaume-Uni outre-Manche cette année

    La #Royal_Navy a testé l’utilisation de filets pour arrêter les migrants dans la Manche, a révélé hier #Priti_Patel.

    Des navires militaires ont travaillé avec la #UK_Border_Force en mai et juin, essayant des #tactiques pour se déployer contre de petits bateaux traversant la France.

    La ministre de l’Intérieur a fait la divulgation alors qu’elle reprochait à Paris de ne pas avoir maîtrisé la crise des migrants.

    Plus de 2 750 clandestins auraient atteint le Royaume-Uni de l’autre côté de la Manche cette année, dont 90 non encore confirmés qui ont atterri à Douvres hier.

    Ce chiffre se compare à seulement 1 850 au cours de l’année dernière. Dimanche, il y a eu un record de 180, entassés à bord de 15 dériveurs.

    Plus de 2 750 clandestins auraient atteint le Royaume-Uni de l’autre côté de la Manche cette année, dont 90 non encore confirmés qui ont atterri à #Douvres hier

    Les #chiffres montent en flèche malgré la promesse de Miss Patel, faite en octobre, qu’elle aurait pratiquement éliminé les passages de la Manche maintenant.

    Hier, elle a déclaré qu’elle s’efforçait de persuader les Français de « montrer leur volonté » et de permettre le retour des arrivées.

    Mlle Patel a affirmé que les #lois_maritimes_internationales autorisaient le Royaume-Uni à empêcher les bateaux de migrants d’atteindre le sol britannique, mais que Paris interprétait les règles différemment.

    « Je pense qu’il pourrait y avoir des mesures d’application plus strictes du côté français », a déclaré hier Mme Patel aux députés.

    « Je cherche à apporter des changements. Nous avons un problème majeur, majeur avec ces petits bateaux. Nous cherchons fondamentalement à changer les modes de travail en France.

    « J’ai eu des discussions très, très – je pense qu’il est juste de dire – difficiles avec mon homologue français, même en ce qui concerne les #interceptions en mer, car actuellement les autorités françaises n’interceptent pas les bateaux.

    « Et j’entends par là même des bateaux qui ne sont qu’à 250 mètres environ des côtes françaises.

    « Une grande partie de cela est régie par le #droit_maritime et les interprétations des autorités françaises de ce qu’elles peuvent et ne peuvent pas faire. »

    Elle a confirmé que les #navires_de_patrouille français n’interviendront pour arrêter les bateaux de migrants que s’ils sont en train de couler – et non pour empêcher les traversées illégales.

    Au sujet de la participation de la Marine, Mlle Patel a déclaré à la commission des affaires intérieures de la Chambre des communes : « Nous avons mené une série d’#exercices_dans_l’eau en mer impliquant une gamme d’#actifs_maritimes, y compris militaires.

    La ministre de l’Intérieur, photographiée hier, a fait la divulgation alors qu’elle reprochait à Paris de ne pas avoir maîtrisé la crise des migrants

    « Nous pouvons renforcer #Border_Force et montrer comment nous pouvons prendre des bateaux en toute sécurité et les renvoyer en France.

    « C’est effectivement le dialogue que nous entamons actuellement avec les Français pour savoir comment ils peuvent travailler avec nous et montrer leur volonté. Parce que cela ne sert à rien de leur pays.

    Tim Loughton, un député conservateur du comité, a demandé au ministre de l’Intérieur : « Pouvez-vous confirmer que vous pensez que les Français ont le pouvoir – qu’ils prétendent ne pas avoir – d’intercepter des bateaux en mer ? »

    Elle a répondu : ‘Absolument raison. Et c’est ce que nous nous efforçons de réaliser jusqu’au partage des #conseils_juridiques en matière de droit maritime. À travers la pandémie où le temps a été favorable, nous avons vu une augmentation des chiffres et nous devons mettre un terme à cette route.

    « Nous voulons rompre cette route, nous voulons rendre cela #non_viable. La seule façon d’y parvenir est d’intercepter et de renvoyer les bateaux en France. »

    Le ministre français de l’Intérieur, Gerald Darmanin, qui a été nommé il y a seulement dix jours, se rendra à Douvres le mois prochain pour voir l’impact des bateaux de migrants sur la communauté locale.

    « Le ministre de l’Intérieur est de plus en plus frustré par la partie française, mais nous avons de nouveaux espoirs que le nouveau ministre de l’Intérieur voudra régler ce problème », a déclaré une source de Whitehall.

    Hier, neuf passagers clandestins érythréens ont été découverts à l’arrière d’un camion lors d’un service Welcome Break sur la M40. La police a été appelée après que des témoins ont vu des mouvements à l’arrière du camion stationné dans l’Oxfordshire.

    https://www.fr24news.com/fr/a/2020/07/la-marine-teste-lutilisation-de-nets-pour-pieger-les-migrants-dans-la-manc
    #frontières #militarisation_des_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #armée #NETS #Manche #La_Manche #France #UK #Angleterre #pull-back #pull-backs

    #via @FilippoFurri

  • The business of building walls

    Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is once again known for its border walls. This time Europe is divided not so much by ideology as by perceived fear of refugees and migrants, some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

    Who killed the dream of a more open Europe? What gave rise to this new era of walls? There are clearly many reasons – the increasing displacement of people by conflict, repression and impoverishment, the rise of security politics in the wake of 9/11, the economic and social insecurity felt across Europe after the 2008 financial crisis – to name a few. But one group has by far the most to gain from the rise of new walls – the businesses that build them. Their influence in shaping a world of walls needs much deeper examination.

    This report explores the business of building walls, which has both fuelled and benefited from a massive expansion of public spending on border security by the European Union (EU) and its member states. Some of the corporate beneficiaries are also global players, tapping into a global market for border security estimated to be worth approximately €17.5 billion in 2018, with annual growth of at least 8% expected in coming years.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAuv1QyP8l0&feature=emb_logo

    It is important to look both beyond and behind Europe’s walls and fencing, because the real barriers to contemporary migration are not so much the fencing, but the vast array of technology that underpins it, from the radar systems to the drones to the surveillance cameras to the biometric fingerprinting systems. Similarly, some of Europe’s most dangerous walls are not even physical or on land. The ships, aircrafts and drones used to patrol the Mediterranean have created a maritime wall and a graveyard for the thousands of migrants and refugees who have no legal passage to safety or to exercise their right to seek asylum.

    This renders meaningless the European Commission’s publicized statements that it does not fund walls and fences. Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein, for example, rejecting Hungary’s request to reimburse half the costs of the fences built on its borders with Croatia and Serbia, said: ‘We do support border management measures at external borders. These can be surveillance measures. They can be border control equipment...But fences, we do not finance’. In other words, the Commission is willing to pay for anything that fortifies a border as long as it is not seen to be building the walls themselves.

    This report is a sequel to Building Walls – Fear and securitization in the European Union, co-published in 2018 with Centre Delàs and Stop Wapenhandel, which first measured and identified the walls that criss-cross Europe. This new report focuses on the businesses that have profited from three different kinds of wall in Europe:

    The construction companies contracted to build the land walls built by EU member states and the Schengen Area together with the security and technology companies that provide the necessary accompanying technology, equipment and services;

    The shipping and arms companies that provide the ships, aircraft, helicopters, drones that underpin Europe’s maritime walls seeking to control migratory flows in the Mediterranean, including Frontex operations, Operation Sophia and Italian operation Mare Nostrum;
    And the IT and security companies contracted to develop, run, expand and maintain EU’s systems that monitor the movement of people – such as SIS II (Schengen Information System) and EES (Entry/Exit Scheme) – which underpin Europe’s virtual walls.

    Booming budgets

    The flow of money from taxpayers to wall-builders has been highly lucrative and constantly growing. The report finds that companies have reaped the profits from at least €900 million spent by EU countries on land walls and fences since the end of the Cold War. The partial data (in scope and years) means actual costs will be at least €1 billion. In addition, companies that provide technology and services that accompany walls have also benefited from some of the steady stream of funding from the EU – in particular the External Borders Fund (€1.7 billion, 2007-2013) and the Internal Security Fund – Borders Fund (€2.76 billion, 2014-2020).

    EU spending on maritime walls has totalled at least €676.4 million between 2006 to 2017 (including €534 million spent by Frontex, €28.4 million spent by the EU on Operation Sophia and €114 million spent by Italy on Operation Mare Nostrum) and would be much more if you include all the operations by Mediterranean country coastguards. Total spending on Europe’s virtual wall equalled at least €999.4m between 2000 and 2019. (All these estimates are partial ones because walls are funded by many different funding mechanisms and due to lack of data transparency).

    This boom in border budgets is set to grow. Under its budget for the next EU budget cycle (2021–2027) the European Commission has earmarked €8.02 billion to its Integrated Border Management Fund (2021-2027), €11.27bn to Frontex (of which €2.2 billion will be used for acquiring, maintaining and operating air, sea and land assets) and at least €1.9 billion total spending (2000-2027) on its identity databases and Eurosur (the European Border Surveillance System).
    The big arm industry players

    Three giant European military and security companies in particular play a critical role in Europe’s many types of borders. These are Thales, Leonardo and Airbus.

    Thales is a French arms and security company, with a significant presence in the Netherlands, that produces radar and sensor systems, used by many ships in border security. Thales systems, were used, for example, by Dutch and Portuguese ships deployed in Frontex operations. Thales also produces maritime surveillance systems for drones and is working on developing border surveillance infrastructure for Eurosur, researching how to track and control refugees before they reach Europe by using smartphone apps, as well as exploring the use of High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) for border security, for the European Space Agency and Frontex. Thales currently provides the security system for the highly militarised port in Calais. Its acquisition in 2019 of Gemalto, a large (biometric) identity security company, makes it a significant player in the development and maintenance of EU’s virtual walls. It has participated in 27 EU research projects on border security.
    Italian arms company Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica or Leonardo-Finmeccanica) is a leading supplier of helicopters for border security, used by Italy in the Mare Nostrum, Hera and Sophia operations. It has also been one of the main providers of UAVs (or drones) for Europe’s borders, awarded a €67.1 million contract in 2017 by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to supply them for EU coast-guard agencies. Leonardo was also a member of a consortium, awarded €142.1 million in 2019 to implement and maintain EU’s virtual walls, namely its EES. It jointly owns Telespazio with Thales, involved in EU satellite observation projects (REACT and Copernicus) used for border surveillance. Leonardo has participated in 24 EU research projects on border security and control, including the development of Eurosur.
    Pan-European arms giant Airbus is a key supplier of helicopters used in patrolling maritime and some land borders, deployed by Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, including in maritime Operations Sophia, Poseidon and Triton. Airbus and its subsidiaries have participated in at least 13 EU-funded border security research projects including OCEAN2020, PERSEUS and LOBOS.
    The significant role of these arms companies is not surprising. As Border Wars (2016), showed these companies through their membership of the lobby groups – European Organisation for Security (EOS) and the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) – have played a significant role in influencing the direction of EU border policy. Perversely, these firms are also among the top four biggest European arms dealers to the Middle East and North Africa, thus contributing to the conflicts that cause forced migration.

    Indra has been another significant corporate player in border control in Spain and the Mediterranean. It won a series of contracts to fortify Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco). Indra also developed the SIVE border control system (with radar, sensors and vision systems), which is in place on most of Spain’s borders, as well as in Portugal and Romania. In July 2018 it won a €10 million contract to manage SIVE at several locations for two years. Indra is very active in lobbying the EU and is a major beneficiary of EU research funding, coordinating the PERSEUS project to further develop Eurosur and the Seahorse Network, a network between police forces in Mediterranean countries (both in Europe and Africa) to stop migration.

    Israeli arms firms are also notable winners of EU border contracts. In 2018, Frontex selected the Heron drone from Israel Aerospace Industries for pilot-testing surveillance flights in the Mediterranean. In 2015, Israeli firm Elbit sold six of its Hermes UAVs to the Switzerland’s Border Guard, in a controversial €230 million deal. It has since signed a UAV contract with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), as a subcontractor for the Portuguese company CEIIA (2018), as well as contracts to supply technology for three patrol vessels for the Hellenic Coast Guard (2019).
    Land wall contractors

    Most of the walls and fences that have been rapidly erected across Europe have been built by national construction companies, but one European company has dominated the field: European Security Fencing, a Spanish producer of razor wire, in particular a coiled wire known as concertinas. It is most known for the razor wire on the fences around Ceuta and Melilla. It also delivered the razor wire for the fence on the border between Hungary and Serbia, and its concertinas were installed on the borders between Bulgaria and Turkey and Austria and Slovenia, as well as at Calais, and for a few days on the border between Hungary and Slovenia before being removed. Given its long-term market monopoly, its concertinas are very likely used at other borders in Europe.

    Other contractors providing both walls and associated technology include DAT-CON (Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Moldova, Slovenia and Ukraine), Geo Alpinbau (Austria/Slovenia), Indra, Dragados, Ferrovial, Proyectos Y Tecnología Sallén and Eulen (Spain/Morocco), Patstroy Bourgas, Infra Expert, Patengineeringstroy, Geostroy Engineering, Metallic-Ivan Mihaylov and Indra (Bulgaria/Turkey), Nordecon and Defendec (Estonia/Russia), DAK Acélszerkezeti Kft and SIA Ceļu būvniecības sabiedrība IGATE (Latvia/Russia), Gintrėja (Lithuania/Russia), Minis and Legi-SGS(Slovenia/Croatia), Groupe CW, Jackson’s Fencing, Sorhea, Vinci/Eurovia and Zaun Ltd (France/UK).

    In many cases, the actual costs of the walls and associated technologies exceed original estimates. There have also been many allegations and legal charges of corruption, in some cases because projects were given to corporate friends of government officials. In Slovenia, for example, accusations of corruption concerning the border wall contract have led to a continuing three-year legal battle for access to documents that has reached the Supreme Court. Despite this, the EU’s External Borders Fund has been a critical financial supporter of technological infrastructure and services in many of the member states’ border operations. In Macedonia, for example, the EU has provided €9 million for patrol vehicles, night-vision cameras, heartbeat detectors and technical support for border guards to help it manage its southern border.
    Maritime wall profiteers

    The data about which ships, helicopters and aircraft are used in Europe’s maritime operations is not transparent and therefore it is difficult to get a full picture. Our research shows, however, that the key corporations involved include the European arms giants Airbus and Leonardo, as well as large shipbuilding companies including Dutch Damen and Italian Fincantieri.

    Damen’s patrol vessels have been used for border operations by Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK as well as in key Frontex operations (Poseidon, Triton and Themis), Operation Sophia and in supporting NATO’s role in Operation Poseidon. Outside Europe, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey use Damen vessels for border security, often in cooperation with the EU or its member states. Turkey’s €20 million purchase of six Damen vessels for its coast guard in 2006, for example, was financed through the EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), intended for peace-building and conflict prevention.

    The sale of Damen vessels to Libya unveils the potential troubling human costs of this corporate trade. In 2012, Damen supplied four patrol vessels to the Libyan Coast Guard, sold as civil equipment in order to avoid a Dutch arms export license. Researchers have since found out, however, that the ships were not only sold with mounting points for weapons, but were then armed and used to stop refugee boats. Several incidents involving these ships have been reported, including one where some 20 or 30 refugees drowned. Damen has refused to comment, saying it had agreed with the Libyan government not to disclose information about the ships.

    In addition to Damen, many national shipbuilders play a significant role in maritime operations as they were invariably prioritised by the countries contributing to each Frontex or other Mediterranean operation. Hence, all the ships Italy contributed to Operation Sophia were built by Fincantieri, while all Spanish ships come from Navantia and its predecessors. Similarly, France purchases from DCN/DCNS, now Naval Group, and all German ships were built by several German shipyards (Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft, HDW, Lürssen Gruppe). Other companies in Frontex operations have included Greek company, Motomarine Shipyards, which produced the Panther 57 Fast Patrol Boats used by the Hellenic Coast Guard, Hellenic Shipyards and Israel Shipyards.

    Austrian company Schiebel is a significant player in maritime aerial surveillance through its supply of S-100 drones. In November 2018, EMSA selected the company for a €24 million maritime surveillance contract for a range of operations including border security. Since 2017, Schiebel has also won contracts from Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The company has a controversial record, with its drones sold to a number of countries experiencing armed conflict or governed by repressive regimes such as Libya, Myanmar, the UAE and Yemen.

    Finland and the Netherlands deployed Dornier aircraft to Operation Hermes and Operation Poseidon respectively, and to Operation Triton. Dornier is now part of the US subsidiary of the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. CAE Aviation (Luxembourg), DEA Aviation (UK) and EASP Air (Netherlands) have all received contracts for aircraft surveillance work for Frontex. Airbus, French Dassault Aviation, Leonardo and US Lockheed Martin were the most important suppliers of aircraft used in Operation Sophia.

    The EU and its member states defend their maritime operations by publicising their role in rescuing refugees at sea, but this is not their primary goal, as Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri made clear in April 2015, saying that Frontex has no mandate for ‘proactive search-and-rescue action[s]’ and that saving lives should not be a priority. The thwarting and criminalisation of NGO rescue operations in the Mediterranean and the frequent reports of violence and illegal refoulement of refugees, also demonstrates why these maritime operations should be considered more like walls than humanitarian missions.
    Virtual walls

    The major EU contracts for the virtual walls have largely gone to two companies, sometimes as leaders of a consortium. Sopra Steria is the main contractor for the development and maintenance of the Visa Information System (VIS), Schengen Information System (SIS II) and European Dactyloscopy (Eurodac), while GMV has secured a string of contracts for Eurosur. The systems they build help control, monitor and surveil people’s movements across Europe and increasingly beyond.

    Sopra Steria is a French technology consultancy firm that has to date won EU contracts worth a total value of over €150 million. For some of these large contracts Sopra Steria joined consortiums with HP Belgium, Bull and 3M Belgium. Despite considerable business, Sopra Steria has faced considerable criticism for its poor record on delivering projects on time and on budget. Its launch of SIS II was constantly delayed, forcing the Commission to extend contracts and increase budgets. Similarly, Sopra Steria was involved in another consortium, the Trusted Borders consortium, contracted to deliver the UK e-Borders programme, which was eventually terminated in 2010 after constant delays and failure to deliver. Yet it continues to win contracts, in part because it has secured a near-monopoly of knowledge and access to EU officials. The central role that Sopra Steria plays in developing these EU biometric systems has also had a spin-off effect in securing other national contracts, including with Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and Slovenia GMV, a Spanish technology company, has received a succession of large contracts for Eurosur, ever since its testing phase in 2010, worth at least €25 million. It also provides technology to the Spanish Guardia Civil, such as control centres for its Integrated System of External Vigilance (SIVE) border security system as well as software development services to Frontex. It has participated in at least ten EU-funded research projects on border security.

    Most of the large contracts for the virtual walls that did not go to consortia including Sopra Steria were awarded by eu-LISA (European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice) to consortia comprising computer and technology companies including Accenture, Atos Belgium and Morpho (later renamed Idema).
    Lobbying

    As research in our Border Wars series has consistently shown, through effective lobbying, the military and security industry has been very influential in shaping the discourse of EU security and military policies. The industry has succeeded in positioning itself as the experts on border security, pushing the underlying narrative that migration is first and foremost a security threat, to be combatted by security and military means. With this premise, it creates a continuous demand for the ever-expanding catalogue of equipment and services the industry supplies for border security and control.

    Many of the companies listed here, particularly the large arms companies, are involved in the European Organisation for Security (EOS), the most important lobby group on border security. Many of the IT security firms that build EU’s virtual walls are members of the European Biometrics Association (EAB). EOS has an ‘Integrated Border Security Working Group’ to ‘facilitate the development and uptake of better technology solutions for border security both at border checkpoints, and along maritime and land borders’. The working group is chaired by Giorgio Gulienetti of the Italian arms company Leonardo, with Isto Mattila (Laurea University of Applied Science) and Peter Smallridge of Gemalto, a digital security company recently acquired by Thales.

    Company lobbyists and representatives of these lobby organisations regularly meet with EU institutions, including the European Commission, are part of official advisory committees, publish influential proposals, organise meetings between industry, policy-makers and executives and also meet at the plethora of military and security fairs, conferences and seminars. Airbus, Leonardo and Thales together with EOS held 226 registered lobbying meetings with the European Commission between 2014 and 2019. In these meetings representatives of the industry position themselves as the experts on border security, presenting their goods and services as the solution for ‘security threats’ caused by immigration. In 2017, the same group of companies and EOS spent up to €2.65 million on lobbying.

    A similar close relationship can be seen on virtual walls, with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission arguing openly for public policy to foster the ‘emergence of a vibrant European biometrics industry’.
    A deadly trade and a choice

    The conclusion of this survey of the business of building walls is clear. A Europe full of walls has proved to be very good for the bottom line of a wide range of corporations including arms, security, IT, shipping and construction companies. The EU’s planned budgets for border security for the next decade show it is also a business that will continue to boom.

    This is also a deadly business. The heavy militarisation of Europe’s borders on land and at sea has led refugees and migrants to follow far more hazardous routes and has trapped others in desperate conditions in neighbouring countries like Libya. Many deaths are not recorded, but those that are tracked in the Mediterranean show that the proportion of those who drown trying to reach Europe continues to increase each year.

    This is not an inevitable state of affairs. It is both the result of policy decisions made by the EU and its member states, and corporate decisions to profit from these policies. In a rare principled stand, German razor wire manufacturer Mutanox in 2015 stated it would not sell its product to the Hungarian government arguing: ‘Razor wire is designed to prevent criminal acts, like a burglary. Fleeing children and adults are not criminals’. It is time for other European politicians and business leaders to recognise the same truth: that building walls against the world’s most vulnerable people violates human rights and is an immoral act that history will judge harshly. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is time for Europe to bring down its new walls.

    https://www.tni.org/en/businessbuildingwalls

    #business #murs #barrières_frontalières #militarisation_des_frontières #visualisation #Europe #UE #EU #complexe_militaro-industriel #Airbus #Leonardo #Thales #Indra #Israel_Aerospace_Industries #Elbit #European_Security_Fencing #DAT-CON #Geo_Alpinbau #Dragados #Ferrovial, #Proyectos_Y_Tecnología_Sallén #Eulen #Patstroy_Bourgas #Infra_Expert #Patengineeringstroy #Geostroy_Engineering #Metallic-Ivan_Mihaylov #Nordecon #Defendec #DAK_Acélszerkezeti_Kft #SIA_Ceļu_būvniecības_sabiedrība_IGATE #Gintrėja #Minis #Legi-SGS #Groupe_CW #Jackson’s_Fencing #Sorhea #Vinci #Eurovia #Zaun_Ltd #Damen #Fincantieri #Frontex #Damen #Turquie #Instrument_contributing_to_Stability_and_Peace (#IcSP) #Libye #exernalisation #Operation_Sophia #Navantia #Naval_Group #Flensburger_Schiffbau-Gesellschaft #HDW #Lürssen_Gruppe #Motomarine_Shipyards #Panther_57 #Hellenic_Shipyards #Israel_Shipyards #Schiebel #Dornier #Operation_Hermes #CAE_Aviation #DEA_Aviation #EASP_Air #French_Dassault_Aviation #US_Lockheed_Martin #murs_virtuels #Sopra_Steria #Visa_Information_System (#VIS) #données #Schengen_Information_System (#SIS_II) #European_Dactyloscopy (#Eurodac) #GMV #Eurosur #HP_Belgium #Bull #3M_Belgium #Trusted_Borders_consortium #économie #biométrie #Integrated_System_of_External_Vigilance (#SIVE) #eu-LISA #Accenture #Atos_Belgium #Morpho #Idema #lobby #European_Organisation_for_Security (#EOS) #European_Biometrics_Association (#EAB) #Integrated_Border_Security_Working_Group #Giorgio_Gulienetti #Isto_Mattila #Peter_Smallridge #Gemalto #murs_terrestres #murs_maritimes #coût #chiffres #statistiques #Joint_Research_Centre_of_the_European_Commission #Mutanox #High-Altitude_Pseudo-Satellites (#HAPS)

    Pour télécharger le #rapport :


    https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/business_of_building_walls_-_full_report.pdf

    déjà signalé par @odilon ici :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/809783
    Je le remets ici avec des mots clé de plus

    ping @daphne @marty @isskein @karine4

    • La costruzione di muri: un business

      Trent’anni dopo la caduta del Muro di Berlino, l’Europa fa parlare di sé ancora una volta per i suoi muri di frontiera. Questa volta non è tanto l’ideologia che la divide, quanto la paura di rifugiati e migranti, alcune tra le persone più vulnerabili al mondo.

      Riassunto del rapporto «The Business of Building Walls» [1]:

      Chi ha ucciso il sogno di un’Europa più aperta? Cosa ha dato inizio a questa nuova era dei muri?
      Ci sono evidentemente molte ragioni: il crescente spostamento di persone a causa di conflitti, repressione e impoverimento, l’ascesa di politiche securitarie sulla scia dell’11 settembre, l’insicurezza economica e sociale percepita in Europa dopo la crisi finanziaria del 2008, solo per nominarne alcune. Tuttavia, c’è un gruppo che ha di gran lunga da guadagnare da questo innalzamento di nuovi muri: le imprese che li costruiscono. La loro influenza nel dare forma ad un mondo di muri necessita di un esame più profondo.

      Questo rapporto esplora il business della costruzione di muri, che è stato alimentato e ha beneficiato di un aumento considerevole della spesa pubblica dedicata alla sicurezza delle frontiere dall’Unione Europea (EU) e dai suoi Stati membri. Alcune imprese beneficiarie sono delle multinazionali che approfittano di un mercato globale per la sicurezza delle frontiere che si stima valere approssimativamente 17,5 miliardi di euro nel 2018, con una crescita annuale prevista almeno dell’8% nei prossimi anni.

      È importante guardare sia oltre che dietro i muri e le barriere d’Europa, perché i reali ostacoli alla migrazione contemporanea non sono tanto le recinzioni, quanto la vasta gamma di tecnologie che vi è alla base, dai sistemi radar ai droni, dalle telecamere di sorveglianza ai sistemi biometrici di rilevamento delle impronte digitali. Allo stesso modo, alcuni tra i più pericolosi muri d’Europa non sono nemmeno fisici o sulla terraferma. Le navi, gli aerei e i droni usati per pattugliare il Mediterraneo hanno creato un muro marittimo e un cimitero per i migliaia di migranti e di rifugiati che non hanno un passaggio legale verso la salvezza o per esercitare il loro diritto di asilo.

      Tutto ciò rende insignificanti le dichiarazioni della Commissione Europea secondo le quali essa non finanzierebbe i muri e le recinzioni. Il portavoce della Commissione, Alexander Winterstein, per esempio, nel rifiutare la richiesta dell’Ungheria di rimborsare la metà dei costi delle recinzioni costruite sul suo confine con la Croazia e la Serbia, ha affermato: “Noi sosteniamo le misure di gestione delle frontiere presso i confini esterni. Queste possono consistere in misure di sorveglianza o in equipaggiamento di controllo delle frontiere... . Ma le recinzioni, quelle non le finanziamo”. In altre parole, la Commissione è disposta a pagare per qualunque cosa che fortifichi un confine fintanto che ciò non sia visto come propriamente costruire dei muri.

      Questo rapporto è il seguito di “Building Walls - Fear and securitizazion in the Euopean Union”, co-pubblicato nel 2018 con Centre Delàs e Stop Wapenhandel, che per primi hanno misurato e identificato i muri che attraversano l’Europa.

      Questo nuovo rapporto si focalizza sulle imprese che hanno tratto profitto dai tre differenti tipi di muro in Europa:
      – Le imprese di costruzione ingaggiate per costruire i muri fisici costruiti dagli Stati membri UE e dall’Area Schengen in collaborazione con le imprese esperte in sicurezza e tecnologia che provvedono le tecnologie, l’equipaggiamento e i servizi associati;
      – le imprese di trasporto marittimo e di armamenti che forniscono le navi, gli aerei, gli elicotteri e i droni che costituiscono i muri marittimi dell’Europa per tentare di controllare i flussi migratori nel Mediterraneo, in particolare le operazioni di Frontex, l’operazione Sophia e l’operazione italiana Mare Nostrum;
      – e le imprese specializzate in informatica e in sicurezza incaricate di sviluppare, eseguire, estendere e mantenere i sistemi dell’UE che controllano i movimento delle persone, quali SIS II (Schengen Information System) e EES (Entry/Exii Scheme), che costituiscono i muri virtuali dell’Europa.
      Dei budget fiorenti

      Il flusso di denaro dai contribuenti ai costruttori di muri è stato estremamente lucrativo e non cessa di aumentare. Il report rivela che dalla fine della guerra fredda, le imprese hanno raccolto i profitti di almeno 900 milioni di euro di spese dei paesi dell’UE per i muri fisici e per le recinzioni. Con i dati parziali (sia nella portata e che negli anni), i costi reali raggiungerebbero almeno 1 miliardo di euro. Inoltre, le imprese che forniscono la tecnologia e i servizi che accompagnano i muri hanno ugualmente beneficiato di un flusso costante di finanziamenti da parte dell’UE, in particolare i Fondi per le frontiere esterne (1,7 miliardi di euro, 2007-2013) e i Fondi per la sicurezza interna - Fondi per le Frontiere (2,76 miliardi di euro, 2014-2020).

      Le spese dell’UE per i muri marittimi hanno raggiunto almeno 676,4 milioni di euro tra il 2006 e il 2017 (di cui 534 milioni sono stati spesi da Frontex, 28 milioni dall’UE nell’operazione Sophia e 114 milioni dall’Italia nell’operazione Mare Nostrum) e sarebbero molto superiori se si includessero tutte le operazioni delle guardie costiera nazionali nel Mediterraneo.

      Questa esplosione dei budget per le frontiere ha le condizioni per proseguire. Nel quadro del suo budget per il prossimo ciclo di bilancio dell’Unione Europea (2021-2027), la Commissione europea ha attribuito 8,02 miliardi di euro al suo fondo di gestione integrata delle frontiere (2021-2027), 11,27 miliardi a Frontex (dei quali 2,2 miliardi saranno utilizzati per l’acquisizione, il mantenimento e l’utilizzo di mezzi aerei, marittimi e terrestri) e almeno 1,9 miliardi di euro di spese totali (2000-2027) alle sue banche dati di identificazione e a Eurosur (il sistemo europeo di sorveglianza delle frontiere).
      I principali attori del settore degli armamenti

      Tre giganti europei del settore della difesa e della sicurezza giocano un ruolo cruciale nei differenti tipi di frontiere d’Europa: Thales, Leonardo e Airbus.

      – Thales è un’impresa francese specializzata negli armamenti e nella sicurezza, con una presenza significativa nei Paesi Bassi, che produce sistemi radar e sensori utilizzati da numerose navi della sicurezza frontaliera. I sistemi Thales, per esempio, sono stati utilizzati dalle navi olandesi e portoghesi impiegate nelle operazioni di Frontex.
      Thales produce ugualmente sistemi di sorveglianza marittima per droni e lavora attualmente per sviluppare una infrastruttura di sorveglianza delle frontiere per Eurosus, che permetta di seguire e controllare i rifugiati prima che raggiungano l’Europa con l’aiuto di applicazioni per Smartphone, e studia ugualmente l’utilizzo di “High Altitude Pseudo-Satellites - HAPS” per la sicurezza delle frontiere, per l’Agenzia spaziale europea e Frontex. Thales fornisce attualmente il sistema di sicurezza del porto altamente militarizzato di Calais.
      Con l’acquisto nel 2019 di Gemalto, multinazionale specializzata nella sicurezza e identità (biometrica), Thales diventa un attore importante nello sviluppo e nel mantenimento dei muri virtuali dell’UE. L’impresa ha partecipato a 27 progetti di ricerca dell’UE sulla sicurezza delle frontiere.

      – La società di armamenti italiana Leonardo (originariamente Finmeccanica o Leonardo-Finmeccanica) è uno dei principali fornitori di elicotteri per la sicurezza delle frontiere, utilizzati dalle operazioni Mare Nostrum, Hera e Sophia in Italia. Ha ugualmente fatto parte dei principali fornitori di UAV (o droni), ottenendo un contratto di 67,1 milioni di euro nel 2017 con l’EMSA (Agenzia europea per la sicurezza marittima) per fornire le agenzie di guardia costiera dell’UE.
      Leonardo faceva ugualmente parte di un consorzio che si è visto attribuire un contratto di 142,1 milioni di euro nel 2019 per attuare e assicurare il mantenimento dei muri virtuali dell’UE, ossia il Sistema di entrata/uscita (EES). La società detiene, con Thales, Telespazio, che partecipa ai progetti di osservazione dai satelliti dell’UE (React e Copernicus) utilizzati per controllare le frontiere. Leonardo ha partecipato a 24 progetti di ricerca dell’UE sulla sicurezza e il controllo delle frontiere, tra cui lo sviluppo di Eurosur.

      – Il gigante degli armamenti pan-europei Airbus è un importante fornitore di elicotteri utilizzati nella sorveglianza delle frontiere marittime e di alcune frontiere terrestri, impiegati da Belgio, Francia, Germania, Grecia, Italia, Lituania e Spagna, in particolare nelle operazioni marittime Sophia, Poseidon e Triton. Airbus e le sue filiali hanno partecipato almeno a 13 progetti di ricerca sulla sicurezza delle frontiere finanziati dall’UE, tra cui OCEAN2020, PERSEUS e LOBOS.

      Il ruolo chiave di queste società di armamenti in realtà non è sorprendente. Come è stato dimostrato da “Border Wars” (2016), queste imprese, in quanto appartenenti a lobby come EOS (Organizzazione europea per la sicurezza) e ASD (Associazione delle industrie aerospaziali e della difesa in Europa), hanno ampiamente contribuito a influenzare l’orientamento della politica delle frontiere dell’UE. Paradossalmente, questi stessi marchi fanno ugualmente parte dei quattro più grandi venditori europei di armi al Medio Oriente e all’Africa del Nord, contribuendo così ad alimentare i conflitti all’origine di queste migrazioni forzate.

      Allo stesso modo Indra gioca un ruolo non indifferente nel controllo delle frontiere in Spagna e nel Mediterraneo. L’impresa ha ottenuto una serie di contratti per fortificare Ceuta e Melilla (enclavi spagnole nel Nord del Marocco). Indra ha ugualmente sviluppato il sistema di controllo delle frontiere SIVE (con sistemi radar, di sensori e visivi) che è installato nella maggior parte delle frontiere della Spagna, così come in Portogallo e in Romania. Nel luglio 2018, Indra ha ottenuto un contratto di 10 milioni di euro per assicurare la gestione di SIVE su più siti per due anni. L’impresa è molto attiva nel fare lobby presso l’UE. È ugualmente una dei grandi beneficiari dei finanziamenti per la ricerca dell’UE, che assicurano il coordinamento del progetto PERSEUS per lo sviluppo di Eurosur e il Seahorse Network, la rete di scambio di informazioni tra le forze di polizia dei paesi mediterranei (in Europa e in Africa) per fermare le migrazioni.

      Le società di armamenti israeliane hanno anch’esse ottenuto numerosi contratti nel quadro della sicurezza delle frontiere in UE. Nel 2018, Frontex ha selezionato il drone Heron delle Israel Aerospace Industries per i voli di sorveglianza degli esperimenti pilota nel Mediterraneo. Nel 2015, la società israeliana Elbit Systems ha venduto sei dei suoi droni Hermes al Corpo di guardie di frontiera svizzero, nel quadro di un contratto controverso di 230 milioni di euro. Ha anche firmato in seguito un contratto per droni con l’EMSA (Agenzia europea per la sicurezza marittima), in quanto subappaltatore della società portoghese CEIIA (2018), così come dei contratti per equipaggiare tre navi di pattugliamento per la Hellenic Coast Guard (2019).
      Gli appaltatori dei muri fisici

      La maggioranza di muri e recinzioni che sono stati rapidamente eretti attraverso l’Europa, sono stati costruiti da società di BTP nazionali/società nazionali di costruzioni, ma un’impresa europea ha dominato nel mercato: la European Security Fencing, un produttore spagnolo di filo spinato, in particolare di un filo a spirale chiamato “concertina”. È famosa per aver fornito i fili spinati delle recinzioni che circondano Ceuta e Melilla. L’impresa ha ugualmente dotato di fili spinati le frontiere tra l’Ungheria e la Serbia, e i suoi fili spinati “concertina” sono stati installati alle frontiere tra Bulgaria e Turchia e tra l’Austria e la Slovenia, così come a Calais e, per qualche giorno, alla frontiera tra Ungheria e Slovenia, prima di essere ritirati. Dato che essi detengono il monopolio sul mercato da un po’ di tempo a questa parte, è probabile che i fili spinati “concertina” siano stati utilizzati presso altre frontiere in Europa.

      Tra le altre imprese che hanno fornito i muri e le tecnologie ad essi associate, si trova DAT-CON (Croazia, Cipro, Macedonia, Moldavia, Slovenia e Ucraina), Geo Alpinbau (Austria/Slovenia), Indra, Dragados, Ferrovial, Proyectos Y Tecnología Sallén e Eulen (Spagna/Marocco), Patstroy Bourgas, Infra Expert, Patengineeringstroy, Geostroy Engineering, Metallic-Ivan Mihaylov et Indra (Bulgaria/Turchia), Nordecon e Defendec (Estonia/Russia), DAK Acélszerkezeti Kft e SIA Ceļu būvniecības sabiedrība IGATE (Lettonia/Russia), Gintrėja (Lituania/Russi), Minis e Legi-SGS (Slovenia/Croazia), Groupe CW, Jackson’s Fencing, Sorhea, Vinci/Eurovia e Zaun Ltd (Francia/Regno Unito).

      I costi reali dei muri e delle tecnologie associate superano spesso le stime originali. Numerose accuse e denunce per corruzione sono state allo stesso modo formulate, in certi casi perché i progetti erano stati attribuiti a delle imprese che appartenevano ad amici di alti funzionari. In Slovenia, per esempio, accuse di corruzione riguardanti un contratto per la costruzione di muri alle frontiere hanno portato a tre anni di battaglie legali per avere accesso ai documenti; la questione è passata poi alla Corte suprema.

      Malgrado tutto ciò, il Fondo europeo per le frontiere esterne ha sostenuto finanziariamente le infrastrutture e i servizi tecnologici di numerose operazioni alle frontiere degli Stati membri. In Macedonia, per esempio, l’UE ha versato 9 milioni di euro per finanziare dei veicoli di pattugliamento, delle telecamere a visione notturna, dei rivelatori di battito cardiaco e sostegno tecnico alle guardie di frontiera nell’aiuto della gestione della sua frontiera meridionale.
      Gli speculatori dei muri marittimi

      I dati che permettono di determinare quali imbarcazioni, elicotteri e aerei sono utilizzati nelle operazioni marittime in Europa mancano di trasparenza. È dunque difficile recuperare tutte le informazioni. Le nostre ricerche mostrano comunque che tra le principali società implicate figurano i giganti europei degli armamenti Airbus e Leonardo, così come grandi imprese di costruzione navale come l’olandese Damen e l’italiana Fincantieri.

      Le imbarcazioni di pattugliamento di Damen sono servite per delle operazioni frontaliere portate avanti da Albania, Belgio, Bulgaria, Portogallo, Paesi Bassi, Romania, Svezia e Regno Unito, così come per le vaste operazioni di Frontex (Poseidon, Triton e Themis), per l’operazione Sophia e hanno ugualmente sostento la NATO nell’operazione Poseidon.

      Al di fuori dell’Europa, la Libia, il Marocco, la Tunisia e la Turchia utilizzano delle imbarcazioni Damen per la sicurezza delle frontiere, spesso in collaborazione con l’UE o i suoi Stati membri. Per esempio, le sei navi Damen che la Turchia ha comprato per la sua guardia costiera nel 2006, per un totale di 20 milioni di euro, sono state finanziate attraverso lo strumento europeo che contribuirebbe alla stabilità e alla pace (IcSP), destinato a mantenere la pace e a prevenire i conflitti.

      La vendita di imbarcazioni Damen alla Libia mette in evidenza l’inquietante costo umano di questo commercio. Nel 2012, Damen ha fornito quattro imbarcazioni di pattugliamento alla guardia costiera libica, che sono state vendute come equipaggiamento civile col fine di evitare la licenza di esportazione di armi nei Paesi Bassi. I ricercatori hanno poi scoperto che non solo le imbarcazioni erano state vendute con dei punti di fissaggio per le armi, ma che erano state in seguito armate ed utilizzate per fermare le imbarcazioni di rifugiati. Numerosi incidenti che hanno implicato queste imbarcazioni sono stati segnalati, tra i quali l’annegamento di 20 o 30 rifugiati. Damen si è rifiutata di commentare, dichiarando di aver convenuto col governo libico di non divulgare alcuna informazione riguardante le imbarcazioni.

      Numerosi costruttori navali nazionali, oltre a Damen, giocano un ruolo determinante nelle operizioni marittime poiché sono sistematicamente scelti con priorità dai paesi partecipanti a ogni operazione di Frontex o ad altre operazioni nel Mediterraneo. Tutte le imbarcazioni fornite dall’Italia all’operazione Sophia sono state costruite da Fincantieri e tutte quelle spagnole sono fornite da Navantia e dai suoi predecessori. Allo stesso modo, la Francia si rifornisce da DCN/DCNS, ormai Naval Group, e tutte le imbarcazioni tedesche sono state costruite da diversi cantieri navali tedeschi (Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft, HDW, Lürssen Gruppe). Altre imprese hanno partecipato alle operazioni di Frontex, tra cui la società greca Motomarine Shipyards, che ha prodotto i pattugliatori rapidi Panther 57 utilizzati dalla guardia costiera greca, così come la Hellenic Shipyards e la Israel Shipyards.

      La società austriaca Schiebel, che fornisce i droni S-100, gioca un ruolo importante nella sorveglianza aerea delle attività marittime. Nel novembre 2018, è stata selezionata dall’EMSA per un contratto di sorveglianza marittima di 24 milioni di euro riguardante differenti operazioni che includevano la sicurezza delle frontiere. Dal 2017, Schiebel ha ugualmente ottenuto dei contratti con la Croazia, la Danimarca, l’Islanda, l’Italia, il Portogallo e la Spagna. L’impresa ha un passato controverso: ha venduto dei droni a numerosi paesi in conflitto armato o governati da regimi repressivi come la Libia, il Myanmar, gli Emirati Arabi Uniti e lo Yemen.

      La Finlandia e i Paesi Bassi hanno impiegato degli aerei Dornier rispettivamente nel quadro delle operazioni Hermès, Poseidon e Triton. Dornier appartiene ormai alla filiale americana della società di armamenti israeliana Elbit Systems.
      CAE Aviation (Lussemburgo), DEA Aviation (Regno Unito) e EASP Air (Paesi Bassi) hanno tutte ottenuto dei contratti di sorveglianza aerea per Frontex.
      Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Leonardo e l’americana Lockheed Martin hanno fornito il più grande numero di aerei utilizzati per l’operazione Sophia.

      L’UE e i suoi Stati membri difendono le loro operazioni marittime pubblicizzando il loro ruolo nel salvataggio dei rifugiati in mare. Ma non è questo il loro obiettivo principale, come sottolinea il direttore di Frontex Fabrice Leggeri nell’aprile 2015, dichiarando che “le azioni volontarie di ricerca e salvataggio” non fanno parte del mandato affidato a Frontex, e che salvare delle vite non dovrebbe essere una priorità. La criminalizzazione delle operazioni di salvataggio da parte delle ONG, gli ostacoli che esse incontrano, così come la violenza e i respingimenti illegali dei rifugiati, spesso denunciati, illustrano bene il fatto che queste operazioni marittime sono volte soprattutto a costituire muri piuttosto che missioni umanitarie.
      I muri virtuali

      I principali contratti dell’UE legati ai muri virtuali sono stati affidati a due imprese, a volte in quanto leader di un consorzio.
      Sopra Steria è il partner principale per lo sviluppo e il mantenimento del Sistema d’informazione dei visti (SIV), del Sistema di informazione Schengen (SIS II) e di Eurodac (European Dactyloscopy) e GMV ha firmato una serie di contratti per Eurosur. I sistemi che essi concepiscono permettono di controllare e di sorvegliare i movimenti delle persone attraverso l’Europa e, sempre più spesso, al di là delle sue frontiere.

      Sopra Steria è un’impresa francese di servizi per consultazioni in tecnologia che ha, ad oggi, ottenuto dei contratti con l’UE per un valore totale di più di 150 milioni di euro. Nel quadro di alcuni di questi grossi contratti, Sopra Steria ha formato dei consorzi con HP Belgio, Bull e 3M Belgio.

      Malgrado l’ampiezza di questi mercati, Sopra Steria ha ricevuto importanti critiche per la sua mancanza di rigore nel rispetto delle tempistiche e dei budget. Il lancio di SIS II è stato costantemente ritardato, costringendo la Commissione a prolungare i contratti e ad aumentare i budget. Sopra Steria aveva ugualmente fatto parte di un altro consorzio, Trusted Borders, impegnato nello sviluppo del programma e-Borders nel Regno Unito. Quest’ultimo è terminato nel 2010 dopo un accumulo di ritardi e di mancate consegne. Tuttavia, la società ha continuato a ottenere contratti, a causa del suo quasi monopolio di conoscenze e di relazioni con i rappresentanti dell’UE. Il ruolo centrale di Sopra Steria nello sviluppo dei sistemi biometrici dell’UE ha ugualmente portato alla firma di altri contratti nazionali con, tra gli altri, il Belgio, la Bulgaria, la Repubblica ceca, la Finlandia, la Francia, la Germania, la Romania e la Slovenia.

      GMV, un’impresa tecnologica spagnola, ha concluso una serie di grossi contratti per Eurosur, dopo la sua fase sperimentale nel 2010, per almeno 25 milioni di euro. Essa rifornisce ugualmente di tecnologie la Guardia Civil spagnola, tecnologie quali, ad esempio, i centri di controllo del suo Sistema integrato di sorveglianza esterna (SIVE), sistema di sicurezza delle frontiere, così come rifornisce di servizi di sviluppo logistico Frontex. L’impresa ha partecipato ad almeno dieci progetti di ricerca finanziati dall’UE sulla sicurezza delle frontiere.

      La maggior parte dei grossi contratti riguardanti i muri virtuali che non sono stati conclusi con consorzi di cui facesse parte Sopra Steria, sono stati attribuiti da eu-LISA (l’Agenzia europea per la gestione operazionale dei sistemi di informazione su vasta scale in seno allo spazio di libertà, di sicurezza e di giustizia) a dei consorzi di imprese specializzate nell’informazione e nelle nuove tecnologie, tra questi: Accenture, Atos Belgium e Morpho (rinominato Idemia).
      Lobby

      Come testimonia il nostro report “Border Wars”, il settore della difesa e della sicurezza, grazie ad una lobbying efficace, ha un’influenza considerabile nell’elaborazione delle politiche di difesa e di sicurezza dell’UE. Le imprese di questo settore industriale sono riuscite a posizionarsi come esperti della sicurezza delle frontiere, portando avanti il loro discorso secondo il quale la migrazione è prima di tutto una minaccia per la sicurezza che deve essere combattuta tramite mezzi militari e securitari. Questo crea così una domanda continua del catalogo sempre più fornito di equipaggiamenti e servizi che esse forniscono per la sicurezza e il controllo delle frontiere.

      Un numero alto di imprese che abbiamo nominato, in particolare le grandi società di armamenti, fanno parte dell’EOS (Organizzazione europea per la sicurezza), il più importante gruppo di pressione sulla sicurezza delle frontiere.

      Molte imprese informatiche che hanno concepito i muri virtuali dell’UE sono membri dell’EAB (Associazione Europea per la Biometria). L’EOS ha un “Gruppo di lavoro sulla sicurezza integrata delle frontiere” per “permettere lo sviluppo e l’adozione delle migliori soluzioni tecnologiche per la sicurezza delle frontiere sia ai checkpoint che lungo le frontiere marittime e terrestri”.
      Il gruppo di lavoro è presieduto da Giorgio Gulienetti, della società di armi italiana Leonardo, Isto Mattila (diplomato all’università di scienze applicate) e Peter Smallridge di Gemalto, multinazionale specializzata nella sicurezza numerica, recentemente acquisita da Thales.

      I lobbisti di imprese e i rappresentanti di questi gruppi di pressione incontrano regolarmente le istituzioni dell’UE, tra cui la Commissione europea, nel quadro di comitati di consiglio ufficiali, pubblicano proposte influenti, organizzano incontri tra il settore industriale, i policy-makers e i dirigenti e si ritrovano allo stesso modo in tutti i saloni, le conferenze e i seminari sulla difesa e la sicurezza.

      Airbus, Leonardo e Thales e l’EOS hanno anche assistito a 226 riunioni ufficiali di lobby con la Commissione europea tra il 2014 e il 2019. In queste riunioni, i rappresentanti del settore si presentano come esperti della sicurezza delle frontiere, e propongono i loro prodotti e servizi come soluzione alle “minacce alla sicurezza” costituite dall’immigrazione. Nel 2017, queste stesse imprese e l’EOS hanno speso fino a 2,56 milioni di euro in lobbying.

      Si constata una relazione simile per quanto riguarda i muri virtuali: il Centro comune della ricerca della Commissione europea domanda apertamente che le politiche pubbliche favoriscano “l’emergenza di una industria biometrica europea dinamica”.
      Un business mortale, una scelta

      La conclusione di questa inchiesta sul business dell’innalzamento di muri è chiara: la presenza di un’Europa piena di muri si rivela molto fruttuosa per una larga fetta di imprese del settore degli armamenti, della difesa, dell’informatica, del trasporto marittimo e delle imprese di costruzioni. I budget che l’UE ha pianificato per la sicurezza delle frontiere nei prossimi dieci anni mostrano che si tratta di un commercio che continua a prosperare.

      Si tratta altresì di un commercio mortale. A causa della vasta militarizzazione delle frontiere dell’Europa sulla terraferma e in mare, i rifugiati e i migranti intraprendono dei percorsi molto più pericolosi e alcuni si trovano anche intrappolati in terribili condizioni in paesi limitrofi come la Libia. Non vengono registrate tutte le morti, ma quelle che sono registrate nel Mediterraneo mostrano che il numero di migranti che annegano provando a raggiungere l’Europa continua ad aumentare ogni anno.

      Questo stato di cose non è inevitabile. È il risultato sia di decisioni politiche prese dall’UE e dai suoi Stati membri, sia dalle decisioni delle imprese di trarre profitto da queste politiche. Sono rare le imprese che prendono posizione, come il produttore tedesco di filo spinato Mutinox che ha dichiarato nel 2015 che non avrebbe venduto i suoi prodotti al governo ungherese per il seguente motivo: “I fili spinati sono concepiti per impedire atti criminali, come il furto. Dei rifugiati, bambini e adulti, non sono dei criminali”.

      È tempo che altri politici e capi d’impresa riconoscano questa stessa verità: erigere muri contro le popolazioni più vulnerabili viola i diritti umani e costituisce un atto immorale che sarà evidentemente condannato dalla storia.

      Trent’anni dopo la caduta del muro di Berlino, è tempo che l’Europa abbatta i suoi nuovi muri.

      https://www.meltingpot.org/La-costruzione-di-muri-un-business.html

    • How the arms industry drives Fortress Europe’s expansion

      In recent years, rising calls for deterrence have intensified the physical violence migrants face at the EU border. The externalization of the border through deals with sending and transit countries signals the expansion of this securitization process. Financial gains by international arms firms in this militarization trend form an obstacle for policy change.

      In March, April, and May of this year, multiple European countries deployed military forces to their national borders. This was done to assist with controls and patrols in the wake of border closures and other movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 crisis. Poland deployed 1,460 soldiers to the border to support the Border Guard and police as part of a larger military operation in reaction to Covid-19. And the Portuguese police used military drones as a complement to their land border checks. According to overviews from NATO, the Czech Republic, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands (military police), Slovakia, and Slovenia all stationed armed forces at their national borders.

      While some of these deployments have been or will be rolled back as the Corona crisis dies down, they are not exceptional developments. Rather, using armed forces for border security and control has been a common occurrence at EU external borders since the so-called refugee crisis of 2015. They are part of the continuing militarisation of European border and migration policies, which is known to put refugees at risk but is increasingly being expanded to third party countries. Successful lobbying from the military and security industry has been an important driver for these policies, from which large European arms companies have benefited.

      The militarization of borders happens when EU member states send armies to border regions, as they did in Operation Sophia off the Libyan coast. This was the first outright EU military mission to stop migration. But border militarization also includes the use of military equipment for migration control, such as helicopters and patrol vessels, as well as the the EU-wide surveillance system Eurosur, which connects surveillance data from all individual member states. Furthermore, EU countries now have over 1,000 kilometers of walls and fences on their borders. These are rigged with surveillance, monitoring, and detection technologies, and accompanied by an increasing use of drones and other autonomous systems. The EU also funds a constant stream of Research & Technology (R&T) projects to develop new technologies and services to monitor and manage migration.

      This process has been going on for decades. The Schengen Agreement of 1985, and the subsequent creation of the Schengen Area, which coupled the opening of the internal EU borders with robust control at the external borders, can be seen as a starting point for these developments. After 2011, when the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ led to fears of mass migration to Europe, and especially since the ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015, the EU accelerated the boosting and militarising of border security, enormously. Since then, stopping migration has been at the top of the EU agenda.

      An increasingly important part of the process of border militarization isn’t happening at the European borders, but far beyond them. The EU and its member states are incentivizing third party countries to help stop migrants long before they reach Europe. This externalising of borders has taken many forms, from expanding the goals of EUCAP missions in Mali and Niger to include the prevention of irregular migration, to funding and training the Libyan Coast Guard to return refugees back to torture and starvation in the infamous detention centers in Libya. It also includes the donation of border security equipment, for example from Germany to Tunisia, and funding for purchases, such as Turkey’s acquisition of coast guard vessels to strengthen its operational capacities.

      Next to the direct consequences of European border externalisation efforts, these policies cause and worsen problems in the third party countries concerned: diverting development funds and priorities, ruining migration-based economies, and strengthening authoritarian regimes such as those in Chad, Belarus, Eritrea, and Sudan by providing funding, training and equipment to their military and security forces. Precisely these state organs are most responsible for repression and abuses of human rights. All this feeds drivers of migration, including violence, repression, and unemployment. As such, it is almost a guarantee for more refugees in the future.

      EU border security agency Frontex has also extended its operations into non-EU-countries. Ongoing negotiations and conclusions of agreements with Balkan countries resulted in the first operation in Albania having started in May 2019. And this is only a small part of Frontex’ expanding role in recent years. In response to the ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015, the European Commission launched a series of proposals that saw large increases in the powers of the agency, including giving member states binding advice to boost their border security, and giving Frontex the right to intervene in member states’ affairs (even without their consent) by decision of the Commission or Council.

      These proposals also included the creation of a 10,000 person strong standing corps of border guards and a budget to buy or lease its own equipment. Concretely, Frontex started with a budget of €6 million in 2005, which grew to €143 million in 2015. This was then quickly increased again from €239 million in 2016 to €460 million in 2020. The enormous expansion of EU border security and control has been accompanied by rapidly increasing budgets in general. In recent years, billions of euros have been spent on fortifying borders, setting up biometric databases, increasing surveillance capacities, and paying non-EU-countries to play their parts in this expansion process.

      Negotiations about the next seven-year-budget for the EU, the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, are still ongoing. In the European Commission’s latest proposal, which is clearly positioned as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fund for strengthening member states’ border security, the Integrated Border Management Fund, has been allotted €12.5 billion. Its predecessors, the External Borders Fund (2007-2013) and the Internal Security Fund – Borders (2014-2020), had much smaller budgets: €1.76 billion and €2.70 billion, respectively. For Frontex, €7.5 billion is reserved, with €2.2 billion earmarked for purchasing or leasing equipment such as helicopters, drones, and patrol vessels. These huge budget increases are exemplary of the priority the EU attaches to stopping migration.

      The narrative underlying these policies and budget growths is the perception of migration as a threat; a security problem. As researcher, Ainhoa Ruiz (Centre Delàs) writes, “the securitisation process also includes militarisation,” because “the prevailing paradigm for providing security is based on military principles: the use of force and coercion, more weapons equating to more security, and the achievement of security by eliminating threats.”

      This narrative hasn’t come out of the blue. It is pushed by right wing politicians and often followed by centrist and leftist parties afraid of losing voters. Importantly, it is also promoted by an extensive and successful industrial lobby. According to Martin Lemberg-Pedersen (Assistant Professor in Global Refugee Studies, Aalborg University), arms companies “establish themselves as experts on border security, and use this position to frame immigration to Europe as leading to evermore security threats in need of evermore advanced [security] products.” The narrative of migration as a security problem thus sets the stage for militaries, and the security companies behind the commercial arms lobby, to offer their goods and services as the solution. The range of militarization policies mentioned so far reflects the broad adoption of this narrative.

      The lobby organizations of large European military and security companies regularly interact with the European Commission and EU border agencies. They have meetings, organise roundtables, and see each other at military and security fairs and conferences. Industry representatives also take part in official advisory groups, are invited to present new arms and technologies, and write policy proposals. These proposals can sometimes be so influential that they are adopted as policy, almost unamended.

      This happened, for instance, when the the Commission decided to open up the Instrument contributing to Security and Peace, a fund meant for peace-building and conflict prevention. The fund’s terms were expanded to cover provision of third party countries with non-lethal security equipment, for example, for border security purposes. The new policy document for this turned out to be a step-by-step reproduction of an earlier proposal from lobby organisation, Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD). Yet, perhaps the most far-reaching success of this kind is the expansion of Frontex, itself, into a European Border Guard. Years before it actually happened, the industry had already been pushing for this outcome.

      The same companies that are at the forefront of the border security and control lobby are, not surprisingly, also the big winners of EU and member states’ contracts in these areas. These include three of the largest European (and global) arms companies, namely, Airbus (Paneuropean), Leonardo (Italy) and Thales (France). These companies are active in many aspects of the border security and control market. Airbus’ and Leonardo’s main product in this field are helicopters, with EU funds paying for many purchases by EU and third countries. Thales provides radar, for example, for border patrol vessels, and is heavily involved in biometric and digital identification, especially after having acquired market leader, Gemalto, last year.

      These three companies are the main beneficiaries of the European anti-migration obsession. At the same time, these very three companies also contribute to new migration streams to Europe’s shores through their trade in arms. They are responsible for significant parts of Europe’s arms exports to countries at war, and they provide the arms used by parties in internal armed conflicts, by human rights violators, and by repressive regimes. These are the forces fueling the reasons for which people are forced to flee in the first place.

      Many other military and security companies also earn up to hundreds of millions of euros from large border security and control projects oriented around logistics and transport. Dutch shipbuilder Damen provided not only many southern European countries with border patrol vessels, but also controversially sold those to Libya and Turkey, among others. Its ships have also been used in Frontex operations, in Operation Sophia, and on the Channel between Calais and Dover.

      The Spanish company, European Security Fencing, provided razor wire for the fences around the Spanish enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, in Morocco, as well as the fence at Calais and the fences on the borders of Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), and Greece leased border surveillance drones from Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). These are Israeli military companies that routinely promote their products as ‘combat-proven’ or ‘battlefield tested’ against Palestinians.

      Civipol, a French public-private company owned by the state, and several large arms producers (including Thales, Airbus, and Safran), run a string of EU-/member state-funded border security projects in third party countries. This includes setting up fingerprint databases of the whole populations of Mali and Senegal, which facilitates identification and deportation of their nationals from Europe. These are just a few examples of the companies that benefit from the billions of euros that the EU and its member states spend on a broad range of purchases and projects in their bid to stop migration.

      The numbers of forcibly displaced people in the world grew to a staggering 79.5 million by the end of last year. Instead of helping to eliminate the root causes of migration, EU border and migration policies, as well as its arms exports to the rest of the world, are bound to lead to more refugees in the future. The consequences of these policies have already been devastating. As experts in the field of migration have repeatedly warned, the militarisation of borders primarily pushes migrants to take alternative migration routes that are often more dangerous and involve the risks of relying on criminal smuggling networks. The Mediterranean Sea has become a sad witness of this, turning into a graveyard for a growing percentage of refugees trying to cross it.

      The EU approach to border security doesn’t stand on its own. Many other countries, in particular Western ones and those with authoritarian leaders, follow the same narrative and policies. Governments all over the world, but particularly those in the US, Australia, and Europe, continue to spend billions of euros on border security and control equipment and services. And they plan to increase budgets even more in the coming years. For military and security companies, this is good news; the global border security market is expected to grow by over 7% annually for the next five years to a total of $65 billion in 2025. It looks like they will belong to the very few winners of increasingly restrictive policies targeting vulnerable people on the run.

      https://crisismag.net/2020/06/27/how-the-arms-industry-drives-fortress-europes-expansion
      #industrie_militaire #covid-19 #coronavirus #frontières_extérieures #Operation_Sophia #Eurosur #surveillance #drones #technologie #EUCAP #externalisation #Albanie #budget #Integrated_Border_Management_Fund #menace #lobby_industriel #Instrument_contributing_to_Security_and_Peace #conflits #paix #prévention_de_conflits #Aerospace_and_Defence_Industries_Association_of_Europe (#ASD) #Airbus #Leonardo #Thales #hélicoptères #radar #biométrie #identification_digitale #Gemalto #commerce_d'armes #armement #Damen #European_Security_Fencing #barbelé #European_Maritime_Safety_Agency (#EMSA) #Elbit #Israel_Aerospace_Industries (#IAI) #Civipol #Safran #base_de_données

      –—

      Pour @etraces :

      Civipol, a French public-private company owned by the state, and several large arms producers (including Thales, Airbus, and Safran), run a string of EU-/member state-funded border security projects in third party countries. This includes setting up fingerprint databases of the whole populations of Mali and Senegal, which facilitates identification and deportation of their nationals from Europe

    • GUARDING THE FORTRESS. The role of Frontex in the militarisation and securitisation of migration flows in the European Union

      The report focuses on 19 Frontex operations run by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (hereafter Frontex) to explore how the agency is militarising borders and criminalising migrants, undermining fundamental rights to freedom of movement and the right to asylum.

      This report is set in a wider context in which more than 70.8 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced, according to the 2018 figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (UNHCR, 2019). Some of these have reached the borders of the European Union (EU), seeking protection and asylum, but instead have encountered policy responses that mostly aim to halt and intercept migration flows, against the background of securitisation policies in which the governments of EU Member States see migration as a threat. One of the responses to address migration flows is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (hereafter Frontex), established in 2004 as the EU body in charge of guarding what many have called ‘Fortress Europe’, and whose practices have helped to consolidate the criminalisation of migrants and the securitisation of their movements.

      The report focuses on analysing the tools deployed by Fortress Europe, in this case through Frontex, to prevent the freedom of movement and the right to asylum, from its creation in 2004 to the present day.

      The sources used to write this report were from the EU and Frontex, based on its budgets and annual reports. The analysis focused on the Frontex regulations, the language used and its meaning, as well as the budgetary trends, identifying the most significant items – namely, the joint operations and migrant-return operations.

      A table was compiled of all the joint operations mentioned in the annual reports since the Agency was established in 2005 up to 2018 (see annexes). The joint operations were found on government websites but were not mentioned in the Frontex annual reports. Of these operations, we analysed those of the longest duration, or that have showed recent signs of becoming long-term operations. The joint operations are analysed in terms of their objectives, area of action, the mandates of the personnel deployed, and their most noteworthy characteristics.

      Basically, the research sought to answer the following questions: What policies are being implemented in border areas and in what context? How does Frontex act in response to migration movements? A second objective was to analyse how Frontex securitises the movement of refugees and other migrants, with the aim of contributing to the analysis of the process of border militarisation and the security policies applied to non-EU migrants by the EU and its Member States.

      https://www.tni.org/en/guarding-the-fortress

      Pour télécharger le rapport_
      https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/informe40_eng_ok.pdf

      #rapport #TNI #Transnational_institute

    • #Frontex aircraft : Below the radar against international law

      For three years, Frontex has been chartering small aircraft for the surveillance of the EU’s external borders. First Italy was thus supported, then Croatia followed. Frontex keeps the planes details secret, and the companies also switch off the transponders for position display during operations.

      The European Commission does not want to make public which private surveillance planes Frontex uses in the Mediterranean. In the non-public answer to a parliamentary question, the EU border agency writes that the information on the aircraft is „commercially confidential“ as it contains „personal data and sensitive operational information“.

      Frontex offers EU member states the option of monitoring their external borders using aircraft. For this „Frontex Aerial Surveillance Service“ (FASS), Frontex charters twin-engined airplanes from European companies. Italy first made use of the service in 2017, followed a year later by Croatia. In 2018, Frontex carried out at least 1,800 flight hours under the FASS, no figures are yet available for 2019.

      Air service to be supplemented with #drones

      The FASS flights are carried out under the umbrella of „Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance“, which includes satellite surveillance as well as drones. Before the end of this year, the border agency plans to station large drones in the Mediterranean for up to four years. The situation pictures of the European Union’s „pre-frontier area“ are fed into the surveillance system EUROSUR, whose headquarter is located at Frontex in Warsaw. The national EUROSUR contact points, for example in Spain, Portugal and Italy, also receive this information.

      In addition to private charter planes, Frontex also uses aircraft and helicopters provided by EU Member States, in the central Mediterranean via the „Themis“ mission. The EU Commission also keeps the call signs of the state aircraft operating there secret. They would be considered „sensitive operational information“ and could not be disclosed to MEPs.

      Previously, the FOIA platform „Frag den Staat“ („Ask the State“) had also tried to find out details about the sea and air capacities of the member states in „Themis“. Frontex refused to provide any information on this matter. „Frag den Staat“ lost a case against Frontex before the European Court of Justice and is now to pay 23,700 Euros to the agency for legal fees.

      Real-time tracking with FlightAware

      The confidentiality of Frontex comes as a surprise, because companies that monitor the Mediterranean for the agency are known through a tender. Frontex has signed framework contracts with the Spanish arms group Indra as well as the charter companies CAE Aviation (Canada), Diamond-Executive Aviation (Great Britain) and EASP Air (Netherlands). Frontex is spending up to 14.5 million euros each on the contracts.

      Finally, online service providers such as FlightAware can also be used to draw conclusions about which private and state airplanes are flying for Frontex in the Mediterranean. For real-time positioning, the providers use data from ADS-B transponders, which all larger aircraft must have installed. A worldwide community of non-commercial trackers receives this geodata and feeds it into the Internet. In this way, for example, Italian journalist Sergio Scandura documents practically all movements of Frontex aerial assets in the central Mediterranean.

      Among the aircraft tracked this way are the twin-engined „DA-42“, „DA-62“ and „Beech 350“ of Diamond-Executive Aviation, which patrol the Mediterranean Sea on behalf of Frontex as „Osprey1“, „Osprey3“ and „Tasty“, in former times also „Osprey2“ and „Eagle1“. They are all operated by Diamond-Executive Aviation and take off and land at airports in Malta and Sicily.

      „Push-backs“ become „pull-backs“

      In accordance with the Geneva Convention on Refugees, the EU Border Agency may not return people to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. Libya is not a safe haven; this assessment has been reiterated on several occasions by the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, among others.

      Because these „push-backs“ are prohibited, Frontex has since 2017 been helping with so-called „pull-backs“ by bringing refugees back to Libya by the Libyan coast guard rather than by EU units. With the „Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance“, Frontex is de facto conducting air reconnaissance for Libya. By November 2019, the EU border agency had notified Libyan authorities about refugee boats on the high seas in at least 42 cases.

      Many international law experts consider this practice illegal. Since Libya would not be able to track down the refugees without the help of Frontex, the agency must take responsibility for the refoulements. The lawyers Omer Shatz and Juan Branco therefore want to sue responsibles of the European Union before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

      Frontex watches refugees drown

      This is probably the reason why Frontex disguises the exact location of its air surveillance. Private maritime rescue organisations have repeatedly pointed out that Frontex aircrafts occasionally switch off their transponders so that they cannot be tracked via ADS-B. In the answer now available, this is confirmed by the EU Commission. According to this, the visibility of the aircraft would disclose „sensitive operational information“ and, in combination with other kinds of information, „undermine“ the operational objectives.

      The German Ministry of the Interior had already made similar comments on the Federal Police’s assets in Frontex missions, according to which „general tracking“ of their routes in real time would „endanger the success of the mission“.

      However, Frontex claims it did not issue instructions to online service providers to block the real-time position display of its planes, as journalist Scandura described. Nonetheless, the existing concealment of the operations only allows the conclusion that Frontex does not want to be controlled when the deployed aircraft watch refugees drown and Italy and Malta, as neighbouring EU member states, do not provide any assistance.

      https://digit.site36.net/2020/06/11/frontex-aircraft-blind-flight-against-international-law
      #avions #Italie #Croatie #confidentialité #transparence #Frontex_Aerial_Surveillance_Service (#FASS) #Multipurpose_Aerial_Surveillance #satellites #Méditerranée #Thermis #information_sensible #Indra #CAE_Aviation #Diamond-Executive_Aviation #EASP_Air #FlightAware #ADS-B #DA-42 #DA-62 #Beech_350 #Osprey1 #Osprey3 #Tasty #Osprey2 #Eagle1 #Malte #Sicile #pull-back #push-back #refoulement #Sergio_Scandura

    • Walls Must Fall: Ending the deadly politics of border militarisation - webinar recording
      This webinar explored the trajectory and globalization of border militarization and anti-migrant racism across the world, the history, ideologies and actors that have shaped it, the pillars and policies that underpin the border industrial complex, the resistance of migrants, refugees and activists, and the shifting dynamics within this pandemic.

      - #Harsha_Walia, author of Undoing Border Imperialism (2013)
      - #Jille_Belisario, Transnational Migrant Platform-Europe (TMP-E)
      - #Todd_Miller, author of Empire of Borders (2020), Storming the Wall (2019) and TNI’s report More than A Wall (2019)
      - #Kavita_Krishnan, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA).
      https://www.tni.org/en/article/walls-must-fall
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8B-cJ2bTi8&feature=emb_logo

      #conférence #webinar

    • Le business meurtrier des frontières

      Le 21ème siècle sera-t-il celui des barrières ? Probable, au rythme où les frontières nationales se renforcent. Dans un livre riche et documenté, publié aux éditions Syllepse, le géographe Stéphane Rosière dresse un indispensable état des lieux.

      Une nuit du mois de juin, dans un centre de rétention de l’île de Rhodes, la police grecque vient chercher une vingtaine de migrant·e·s, dont deux bébés. Après un trajet en bus, elle abandonne le groupe dans un canot de sauvetage sans moteur, au milieu des eaux territoriales turques. En août, le New York Times publie une enquête révélant que cette pratique, avec la combinaison de l’arrivée aux affaires du premier ministre conservateur Kyriakos Mitsotakis et de la diffusion de la pandémie de Covid-19, est devenue courante depuis mars.

      Illégales au regard du droit international, ces expulsions illustrent surtout le durcissement constant de la politique migratoire de l’Europe depuis 20 ans. Elles témoignent aussi d’un processus mondial de « pixellisation » des frontières : celles-ci ne se réduisent pas à des lignes mais à un ensemble de points plus ou moins en amont ou en aval (ports, aéroports, eaux territoriales…), où opèrent les polices frontalières.
      La fin de la fin des frontières

      Plus largement, le récent ouvrage de Stéphane Rosière, Frontières de fer, le cloisonnement du monde, permet de prendre la mesure d’un processus en cours de « rebordering » à travers le monde. À la fois synthèse des recherches récentes sur les frontières et résultats des travaux de l’auteur sur la résurgence de barrières frontalières, le livre est une lecture incontournable sur l’évolution contemporaine des frontières nationales.

      D’autant qu’il n’y a pas si longtemps, la mondialisation semblait promettre l’affaissement des frontières, dans la foulée de la disparition de l’Union soviétique et, corollairement, de la généralisation de l’économie de marché. La Guerre froide terminée annonçait la « fin de l’histoire » et, avec elle, la disparition des limites territoriales héritées de l’époque moderne. Au point de ringardiser, rappelle Stéphane Rosière, les études sur les frontières au sein de la géographie des années 1990, parallèlement au succès d’une valorisation tous azimuts de la mobilité dans le discours politique dominant comme dans les sciences sociales.

      Trente ans après, le monde se réveille avec 25 000 kilomètres de barrières frontalières – record pour l’Inde, avec plus de 3 000 kilomètres de clôtures pour prévenir l’immigration depuis le Bangladesh. Barbelés, murs de briques, caméras, détecteurs de mouvements, grilles électrifiées, les dispositifs de contrôle frontalier fleurissent en continu sur les cinq continents.
      L’âge des « murs anti-pauvres »

      La contradiction n’est qu’apparente. Les barrières du 21e siècle ne ferment pas les frontières mais les cloisonnent – d’où le titre du livre. C’est-à-dire que l’objectif n’est pas de supprimer les flux mondialisés – de personnes et encore moins de marchandises ni de capitaux – mais de les contrôler. Les « teichopolitiques », terme qui recouvre, pour Stéphane Rosière, les politiques de cloisonnement de l’espace, matérialisent un « ordre mondial asymétrique et coercitif », dans lequel on valorise la mobilité des plus riches tout en assignant les populations pauvres à résidence.

      De fait, on observe que les barrières frontalières redoublent des discontinuités économiques majeures. Derrière l’argument de la sécurité, elles visent à contenir les mouvements migratoires des régions les plus pauvres vers des pays mieux lotis économiquement : du Mexique vers les États-Unis, bien sûr, ou de l’Afrique vers l’Europe, mais aussi de l’Irak vers l’Arabie Saoudite ou du Pakistan vers l’Iran.

      Les dispositifs de contrôle frontalier sont des outils parmi d’autres d’une « implacable hiérarchisation » des individus en fonction de leur nationalité. Comme l’a montré le géographe Matthew Sparke à propos de la politique migratoire nord-américaine, la population mondiale se trouve divisée entre une classe hypermobile de citoyen·ne·s « business-class » et une masse entravée de citoyen·ne·s « low-cost ». C’est le sens du « passport index » publié chaque année par le cabinet Henley : alors qu’un passeport japonais ou allemand donne accès à plus de 150 pays, ce chiffre descend en-dessous de 30 avec un passeport afghan ou syrien.
      Le business des barrières

      Si les frontières revêtent une dimension économique, c’est aussi parce qu’elles sont un marché juteux. À l’heure où les pays européens ferment des lits d’hôpital faute de moyens, on retiendra ce chiffre ahurissant : entre 2005 et 2016, le budget de Frontex, l’agence en charge du contrôle des frontières de l’Union européenne, est passé de 6,3 à 238,7 millions d’euros. À quoi s’ajoutent les budgets colossaux débloqués pour construire et entretenir les barrières – budgets entourés d’opacité et sur lesquels, témoigne l’auteur, il est particulièrement difficile d’enquêter, faute d’obtenir… des fonds publics.

      L’argent public alimente ainsi une « teichoéconomie » dont les principaux bénéficiaires sont des entreprises du BTP et de la sécurité européennes, nord-américaines, israéliennes et, de plus en plus, indiennes ou saoudiennes. Ce complexe sécuritaro-industriel, identifié par Julien Saada, commercialise des dispositifs de surveillance toujours plus sophistiqués et prospère au rythme de l’inflation de barrières entre pays, mais aussi entre quartiers urbains.

      Un business d’autant plus florissant qu’il s’auto-entretient, dès lors que les mêmes entreprises vendent des armes. On sait que les ventes d’armes, alimentant les guerres, stimulent les migrations : un « cercle vertueux » s’enclenche pour les entreprises du secteur, appelées à la rescousse pour contenir des mouvements de population qu’elles participent à encourager.
      « Mourir aux frontières »

      Bénéfices juteux, profits politiques, les barrières font des heureux. Elles tuent aussi et l’ouvrage de Stéphane Rosière se termine sur un décompte macabre. C’est, dit-il, une « guerre migratoire » qui est en cours. Guerre asymétrique, elle oppose la police armée des puissances économiques à des groupes le plus souvent désarmés, venant de périphéries dominées économiquement et dont on entend contrôler la mobilité. Au nom de la souveraineté des États, cette guerre fait plusieurs milliers de victimes par an et la moindre des choses est de « prendre la pleine mesure de la létalité contemporaine aux frontières ».

      Sur le blog :

      – Une synthèse sur les murs frontaliers : http://geographiesenmouvement.blogs.liberation.fr/2019/01/28/lamour-des-murs

      – Le compte rendu d’un autre livre incontournable sur les frontières : http://geographiesenmouvement.blogs.liberation.fr/2019/08/03/frontieres-en-mouvement

      – Une synthèse sur les barricades à l’échelle intraurbaine : http://geographiesenmouvement.blogs.liberation.fr/2020/10/21/gated-communities-le-paradis-entre-quatre-murs

      http://geographiesenmouvement.blogs.liberation.fr/2020/11/05/le-business-meurtrier-des-frontieres

    • How Private Security Firms Profit Off the Refugee Crisis

      The UK has pumped money to corporations turning #Calais into a bleak fortress.

      Tall white fences lined with barbed wire – welcome to Calais. The city in northern France is an obligatory stop for anyone trying to reach the UK across the channel. But some travellers are more welcome than others, and in recent decades, a slew of private security companies have profited millions of pounds off a very expensive – an unattractive – operation to keep migrants from crossing.

      Every year, thousands of passengers and lorries take the ferry at the Port of Calais-Fréthun, a trading route heavily relied upon by the UK for imports. But the entrance to the port looks more like a maximum-security prison than your typical EU border. Even before Brexit, the UK was never part of the Schengen area, which allows EU residents to move freely across 26 countries. For decades, Britain has strictly controlled its southern border in an attempt to stop migrants and asylum seekers from entering.

      As early as 2000, the Port of Calais was surrounded by a 2.8 metre-high fence to prevent people from jumping into lorries waiting at the ferry departure point. In 1999, the Red Cross set up a refugee camp in the nearby town of Sangatte which quickly became overcrowded. The UK pushed for it to be closed in 2002 and then negotiated a treaty with France to regulate migration between the two countries.

      The 2003 Le Toquet Treaty allowed the UK to check travellers on French soil before their arrival, and France to do the same on UK soil. Although the deal looks fair on paper, in practice it unduly burdens French authorities, as there are more unauthorised migrants trying to reach the UK from France than vice versa.

      The treaty effectively moved the UK border onto French territory, but people still need to cross the channel to request asylum. That’s why thousands of refugees from conflict zones like Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia have found themselves stranded in Calais, waiting for a chance to cross illegally – often in search of family members who’ve already made it to the UK. Many end up paying people smugglers to hide them in lorries or help them cross by boat.

      These underlying issues came to a head during the Syrian crisis, when refugees began camping out near Calais in 2014. The so-called Calais Jungle became infamous for its squalid conditions, and at its peak, hosted more than 7,000 people. They were all relocated to other centres in France before the camp was bulldozed in 2016. That same year, the UK also decided to build a €2.7 million border wall in Calais to block access to the port from the camp, but the project wasn’t completed until after the camp was cleared, attracting a fair deal of criticism. Between 2015 and 2018, the UK spent over €110 million on border security in France, only to top it up with over €56 million more in 2018.

      But much of this public money actually flows into the accounts of private corporations, hired to build and maintain the high-tech fences and conduct security checks. According to a 2020 report by the NGO Care4Calais, there are more than 40 private security companies working in the city. One of the biggest, Eamus Cork Solutions (ECS), was founded by a former Calais police officer in 2004 and is reported to have benefited at least €30 million from various contracts as of 2016.

      Stéphane Rosière, a geography professor at the University of Reims, wrote his book Iron Borders (only available in French) about the many border walls erected around the world. Rosière calls this the “security-industrial” complex – private firms that have largely replaced the traditional military-industrial sector in Europe since WW2.

      “These companies are getting rich by making security systems adaptable to all types of customers – individuals, companies or states,” he said. According to Rosière, three-quarters of the world’s border security barriers were built in the 21st century.

      Brigitte, a pensioner living close to the former site of the Calais Jungle, has seen her town change drastically over the past two decades. “Everything is cordoned off with wire mesh," she said. "I have the before and after photos, and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s just wire, wire, wire.” For the past 15 years, Brigitte has been opening her garage door for asylum seekers to stop by for a cup of tea and charge their phones and laptops, earning her the nickname "Mama Charge”.

      “For a while, the purpose of these fences and barriers was to stop people from crossing,” said François Guennoc, president of L’Auberge des Migrants, an NGO helping displaced migrants in Calais.

      Migrants have still been desperate enough to try their luck. “They risked a lot to get into the port area, and many of them came back bruised and battered,” Guennoc said. Today, walls and fences are mainly being built to deter people from settling in new camps near Calais after being evicted.

      In the city centre, all public squares have been fenced off. The city’s bridges have been fitted with blue lights and even with randomly-placed bike racks, so people won’t sleep under them.

      “They’ve also been cutting down trees for some time now,” said Brigitte, pointing to a patch near her home that was once woods. Guennoc said the authorities are now placing large rocks in areas where NGOs distribute meals and warm clothes, to prevent displaced people from receiving the donations. “The objective of the measures now is also to make the NGOs’ work more difficult,” he said.

      According to the NGO Refugee Rights Europe, about 1,500 men, women and minors were living in makeshift camps in and around Calais as of April 2020. In July 2020, French police raided a camp of over 500 people, destroying residents’ tents and belongings, in the largest operation since the Calais Jungle was cleared. An investigation by Slate found that smaller camps are cleared almost every day by the French police, even in the middle of winter. NGOs keep providing new tents and basic necessities to displaced residents, but they are frustrated by the waste of resources. The organisations are also concerned about COVID-19 outbreaks in the camps.

      As VICE World News has previously reported, the crackdown is only pushing people to take more desperate measures to get into the UK. Boat crossings reached record-highs in 2020, and four people have died since August 2020 while trying to cross, by land and sea. “When you create an obstacle, people find a way to get around it,” Guennoc said. “If they build a wall all the way along the coast to prevent boat departures, people will go to Normandy – and that has already started.” Crossing the open sea puts migrants at even greater risk.

      Rosière agrees security measures are only further endangering migrants.“All locks eventually open, no matter how complex they may be. It’s just a matter of time.”

      He believes the only parties who stand to profit from the status quo are criminal organisations and private security firms: “At the end of the day, this a messed-up use of public money.”

      https://www.vice.com/en/article/wx8yax/how-private-security-firms-profit-off-the-refugee-crisis

      En français:
      À Calais, la ville s’emmure
      https://www.vice.com/fr/article/wx8yax/a-calais-la-ville-semmure

    • Financing Border Wars. The border industry, its financiers and human rights

      This report seeks to explore and highlight the extent of today’s global border security industry, by focusing on the most important geographical markets—Australia, Europe, USA—listing the human rights violations and risks involved in each sector of the industry, profiling important corporate players and putting a spotlight on the key investors in each company.

      Executive summary

      Migration will be one of the defining human rights issues of the 21st century. The growing pressures to migrate combined with the increasingly militarised state security response will only exacerbate an already desperate situation for refugees and migrants. Refugees already live in a world where human rights are systematically denied. So as the climate crisis deepens and intersects with other economic and political crises, forcing more people from their homes, and as states retreat to ever more authoritarian security-based responses, the situation for upholding and supporting migrants’ rights looks ever bleaker.

      States, most of all those in the richest countries, bear the ultimate responsibility to uphold the human rights of refugees and migrants recognised under International Human Rights Law. Yet corporations are also deeply implicated. It is their finance, their products, their services, their infrastructure that underpins the structures of state migration and border control. In some cases, they are directly involved in human rights violations themselves; in other cases they are indirectly involved as they facilitate the system that systematically denies refugees and migrants their rights. Most of all, through their lobbying, involvement in government ‘expert’ groups, revolving doors with state agencies, it becomes clear that corporations are not just accidental beneficiaries of the militarisation of borders. Rather they actively shape the policies from which they profit and therefore share responsibility for the human rights violations that result.

      This state-corporate fusion is best described as a Border Industrial Complex, drawing on former US President Eisenhower’s warning of the dangers of a Military-Industrial Complex. Indeed it is noticeable that many of the leading border industries today are also military companies, seeking to diversify their security products to a rapidly expanding new market.

      This report seeks to explore and highlight the extent of today’s global border security industry, by focusing on the most important geographical markets—Australia, Europe, USA—listing the human rights violations and risks involved in each sector of the industry, profiling important corporate players and putting a spotlight on the key investors in each company.
      A booming industry

      The border industry is experiencing spectacular growth, seemingly immune to austerity or economic downturns. Market research agencies predict annual growth of the border security market of between 7.2% and 8.6%, reaching a total of $65–68 billion by 2025. The largest expansion is in the global Biometrics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) markets. Markets and Markets forecasts the biometric systems market to double from $33 billion in 2019 to $65.3 billion by 2024—of which biometrics for migration purposes will be a significant sector. It says that the AI market will equal US$190.61 billion by 2025.

      The report investigates five key sectors of the expanding industry: border security (including monitoring, surveillance, walls and fences), biometrics and smart borders, migrant detention, deportation, and audit and consultancy services. From these sectors, it profiles 23 corporations as significant actors: Accenture, Airbus, Booz Allen Hamilton, Classic Air Charter, Cobham, CoreCivic, Deloitte, Elbit, Eurasylum, G4S, GEO Group, IBM, IDEMIA, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Mitie, Palantir, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Serco, Sopra Steria, Thales, Thomson Reuters, Unisys.

      – The border security and control field, the technological infrastructure of security and surveillance at the border, is led by US, Australian, European and Israeli firms including Airbus, Elbit, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Leonardo and Thales— all of which are among the world’s major arms sellers. They benefit not only from border contracts within the EU, US, and Australia but also increasingly from border externalisation programmes funded by these same countries. Jean Pierre Talamoni, head of sales and marketing at Airbus Defence and Space (ADS), said in 2016 that he estimates that two thirds of new military market opportunities over the next 10 years will be in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Companies are also trying to muscle in on providing the personnel to staff these walls, including border guards.

      - The Smart Borders sector encompasses the use of a broad range of (newer) technologies, including biometrics (such as fingerprints and iris-scans), AI and phone and social media tracking. The goal is to speed up processes for national citizens and other acceptable travellers and stop or deport unwanted migrants through the use of more sophisticated IT and biometric systems. Key corporations include large IT companies, such as IBM and Unisys, and multinational services company Accenture for whom migration is part of their extensive portfolio, as well as small firms, such as IDEMIA and Palantir Technologies, for whom migration-related work is central. The French public–private company Civipol, co-owned by the state and several large French arms companies, is another key player, selected to set up fingerprint databases of the whole population of Mali and Senegal.

      – Deportation. With the exception of the UK and the US, it is uncommon to privatise deportation. The UK has hired British company Mitie for its whole deportation process, while Classic Air Charter dominates in the US. Almost all major commercial airlines, however, are also involved in deportations. Newsweek reported, for example, that in the US, 93% of the 1,386 ICE deportation flights to Latin American countries on commercial airlines in 2019 were facilitated by United Airlines (677), American Airlines (345) and Delta Airlines (266).

      - Detention. The Global Detention Project lists over 1,350 migrant detention centres worldwide, of which over 400 are located in Europe, almost 200 in the US and nine in Australia. In many EU countries, the state manages detention centres, while in other countries (e.g. Australia, UK, USA) there are completely privatised prisons. Many other countries have a mix of public and private involvement, such as state facilities with private guards. Australia outsourced refugee detention to camps outside its territories. Australian service companies Broadspectrum and Canstruct International managed the detention centres, while the private security companies G4S, Paladin Solutions and Wilson Security were contracted for security services, including providing guards. Migrant detention in third countries is also an increasingly important part of EU migration policy, with the EU funding construction of migrant detention centres in ten non-EU countries.

      - Advisory and audit services are a more hidden part of public policies and practices, but can be influential in shaping new policies. A striking example is Civipol, which in 2003 wrote a study on maritime borders for the European Commission, which adopted its key policy recommendations in October 2003 and in later policy documents despite its derogatory language against refugees. Civipol’s study also laid foundations for later measures on border externalisation, including elements of the migration deal with Turkey and the EU’s Operation Sophia. Since 2003 Civipol has received funding for a large number of migration-related projects, especially in African countries. Between 2015 and 2017, it was the fourth most-funded organisation under the EU Trust Fund. Other prominent corporations in this sector include Eurasylum, as well as major international consultancy firms, particularly Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers, for which migration-related work is part of their expansive portfolio.

      Financing the industry

      The markets for military and border control procurement are characterized by massively capital intensive investments and contracts, which would not be possible without the involvement of financial actors. Using data from marketscreener.com, the report shows that the world’s largest investment companies are also among the major shareholders in the border industry.

      – The Vanguard Group owns shares in 15 of the 17 companies, including over 15% of the shares of CoreCivic and GEO Group that manage private prisons and detention facilities.

      - Other important investors are Blackrock, which is a major shareholder in 11 companies, Capital Research and Management (part of the Capital Group), with shares in arms giants Airbus and Lockheed Martin, and State Street Global Advisors (SsgA), which owns over 15% of Lockheed Martin shares and is also a major shareholder in six other companies.

      - Although these giant asset management firms dominate, two of the profiled companies, Cobham and IDEMIA, are currently owned by the private equity firm Advent International. Advent specialises in buyouts and restructuring, and it seems likely that it will attempt to split up Cobham in the hope of making a profit by selling on the component companies to other owners.

      - In addition, three large European arms companies, Airbus, Thales and Leonardo, active in the border security market, are partly owned by the governments of the countries where they are headquartered.

      In all cases, therefore, the financing depends on our money. In the case of state ownership, through our taxes, and in terms of asset management funds, through the way individual savings, pension funds, insurance companies and university endowments are directly invested in these companies via the giant Asset Management Funds. This financing means that the border industry survives on at least the tacit approved use of the public’s funds which makes it vulnerable to social pressure as the human rights costs of the industry become ever more clear.
      Human rights and the border industry

      Universal human rights apply to every single human being, including refugees and migrants. While the International Bill of Human Rights provides the foundation, including defining universal rights that are important in the context of migration, such as the right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to freedom from torture or cruel or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, and freedom from discrimination, there are other instruments such as the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention or Geneva Convention) of 1951 that are also relevant. There are also regional agreements, including the Organisation of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that play a role relevant to the countries that have ratified them.

      Yet despite these important and legally binding human rights agreements, the human rights situation for refugees and migrants has become ever more desperate. States frequently deny their rights under international law, such as the right to seek asylum or non-refoulement principles, or more general rights such as the freedom from torture, cruel or inhumane treatment. There is a gap with regard to effective legal means or grievance mechanisms to counter this or to legally enforce or hold to account states that fail to implement instruments such as the UDHR and the Refugee Convention of 1951. A Permanent Peoples Tribunal in 2019 even concluded that ‘taken together, the immigration and asylum policies and practices of the EU and its Member States constitute a total denial of the fundamental rights of people and migrants, and are veritable crimes against humanity’. A similar conclusion can be made of the US and Australian border and immigration regime.

      The increased militarisation of border security worldwide and state-sanctioned hostility toward migrants has had a deeply detrimental impact on the human rights of refugees and migrants.

      – Increased border security has led to direct violence against refugees, pushbacks with the risk of returning people to unsafe countries and inhumane circumstances (contravening the principle of non-refoulement), and a disturbing rise in avoidable deaths, as countries close off certain migration routes, forcing migrants to look for other, often more dangerous, alternatives and pushing them into the arms of criminal smuggling networks.

      – The increased use of autonomous systems of border security such as drones threaten new dangers related to human rights. There is already evidence that they push migrants to take more dangerous routes, but there is also concern that there is a gradual trend towards weaponized systems that will further threaten migrants’ lives.

      – The rise in deportations has threatened fundamental human rights including the right to family unity, the right to seek asylum, the right to humane treatment in detention, the right to due process, and the rights of children’. There have been many instances of violence in the course of deportations, sometimes resulting in death or permanent harm, against desperate people who try to do everything to prevent being deported. Moreover, deportations often return refugees to unsafe countries, where they face violence, persecution, discrimination and poverty.

      - The widespread detention of migrants also fundamentally undermines their human rights . There have been many reports of violence and neglect by guards and prison authorities, limited access to adequate legal and medical support, a lack of decent food, overcrowding and poor and unhealthy conditions. Privatisation of detention exacerbates these problems, because companies benefit from locking up a growing number of migrants and minimising costs.

      – The building of major migration databases such as EU’s Eurodac and SIS II, VIS gives rise to a range of human rights concerns, including issues of privacy, civil liberties, bias leading to discrimination—worsened by AI processes -, and misuse of collected information. Migrants are already subject to unprecedented levels of surveillance, and are often now treated as guinea pigs where even more intrusive technologies such as facial recognition and social media tracking are tried out without migrants consent.

      The trend towards externalisation of migration policies raises new concerns as it seeks to put the human costs of border militarisation beyond the border and out of public sight. This has led to the EU, US and Australia all cooperating with authoritarian regimes to try and prevent migrants from even getting close to their borders. Moreover as countries donate money, equipment or training to security forces in authoritarian regimes, they end up expanding and strengthening their capacities which leads to a rise in human rights violations more broadly. Nowhere are the human rights consequences of border externalisation policies clearer than in the case of Libya, where the EU and individual member states (in particular Italy and Malta) funding, training and cooperation with security forces and militias have led to violence at the borders, murder, disappearances, rape, enslavement and abuse of migrants in the country and torture in detention centres.

      The 23 corporations profiled in this report have all been involved in or connected to policies and practices that have come under fire because of violations of the human rights of refugees and migrants. As mentioned earlier, sometimes the companies are directly responsible for human rights violations or concerns. In other cases, they are indirectly responsible through their contribution to a border infrastructure that denies human rights and through lobbying to influence policy-making to prioritize militarized responses to migration. 11 of the companies profiled publicly proclaim their commitment to human rights as signatories to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), but as these are weak voluntary codes this has not led to noticeable changes in their business operations related to migration.

      The most prominent examples of direct human rights abuses come from the corporations involved in detention and deportation. Classic Air Charter, Cobham, CoreCivic, Eurasylum, G4S, GEO Group, Mitie and Serco all have faced allegations of violence and abuse by their staff towards migrants. G4S has been one of the companies most often in the spotlight. In 2017, not only were assaults by its staff on migrants at the Brook House immigration removal centre in the UK broadcast by the BBC, but it was also hit with a class suit in Australia by almost 2,000 people who are or were detained at the externalised detention centre on Manus Island, because of physical and psychological injuries as a result of harsh treatment and dangerous conditions. The company eventually settled the case for A$70 million (about $53 million) in the largest-ever human rights class-action settlement. G4S has also faced allegations related to its involvement in deportations.

      The other companies listed all play a pivotal role in the border infrastructure that denies refugees’ human rights. Airbus P-3 Orion surveillance planes of the Australian Air Force, for example, play a part in the highly controversial maritime wall that prevents migrants arriving by boat and leads to their detention in terrible conditions offshore. Lockheed Martin is a leading supplier of border security on the US-Mexico border. Leonardo is one of the main suppliers of drones for Europe’s borders. Thales produces the radar and sensor systems, critical to patrolling the Mediterrean. Elbit Systems provides surveillance technologies to both the EU and US, marketed on their success as technologies used in the separation wall in the Palestinian occupied territories. Accenture, IDEMIA and Sopra Steria manage many border biometric projects. Deloitte has been one of the key consulting companies to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency since 2003, while PriceWaterhouseCoopers provides similar consultancy services to Frontex and the Australian border forces. IBM, Palantir and UNISYS provide the IT infrastructure that underpins the border and immigration apparatus.
      Time to divest

      The report concludes by calling for campaigns to divest from the border industry. There is a long history of campaigns and movements that call for divestment from industries that support human rights violations—from the campaigns to divest from Apartheid South Africa to more recent campaigns to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The border industry has become an equally morally toxic asset for any financial institution, given the litany of human rights abuses tied to it and the likelihood they will intensify in years to come.

      There are already examples of existing campaigns targeting particular border industries that have borne fruit. A spotlight on US migrant detention, as part of former President Trump’s anti- immigration policies, contributed to six large US banks (Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo) publicly announcing that they would not provide new financing to the private prison industry. The two largest public US pension funds, CalSTRS and CalPERS, also decided to divest from the same two companies. Geo Group acknowledged that these acts of ‘public resistance’ hit the company financially, criticising the banks as ‘clearly bow[ing] down to a small group of activists protesting and conducting targeted social media campaigns’.

      Every company involved or accused of human rights violations either denies them or says that they are atypical exceptions to corporate behavior. This report shows however that a militarised border regime built on exclusion will always be a violent apparatus that perpetuates human rights violations. It is a regime that every day locks up refugees in intolerable conditions, separates families causing untold trauma and heartbreak, and causes a devastating death toll as refugees are forced to take unimaginable dangerous journeys because the alternatives are worse. However well-intentioned, any industry that provides services and products for this border regime will bear responsibility for its human consequences and its human rights violations, and over time will suffer their own serious reputational costs for their involvement in this immoral industry. On the other hand, a widespread exodus of the leading corporations on which the border regime depends could force states to change course, and to embrace a politics that protects and upholds the rights of refugees and migrants. Worldwide, social movements and the public are starting to wake up to the human costs of border militarisation and demanding a fundamental change. It is time now for the border industry and their financiers to make a choice.

      https://www.tni.org/en/financingborderwars

      #TNI #rapport
      #industrie_frontalière #militarisation_des_frontières #biométrie #Intelligence_artificielle #AI #IA

      #Accenture #Airbus #Booz_Allen_Hamilton #Classic_Air_Charter #Cobham #CoreCivic #Deloitte #Elbit #Eurasylum #G4S #GEO_Group #IBM #IDEMIA #Leonardo #Lockheed_Martin #Mitie #Palantir #PricewaterhouseCoopers #Serco #Sopra_Steria #Thales #Thomson_Reuters #Unisys
      #contrôles_frontaliers #surveillance #technologie #Jean-Pierre_Talamoni #Airbus_Defence_and_Space (#ADS) #smart_borders #frontières_intelligentes #iris #empreintes_digitales #réseaux_sociaux #IT #Civipol #Mali #Sénégal #renvois #expulsions #déportations #Mitie #Classic_Air_Charter #compagnies_aériennes #United_Airlines #ICE #American_Airlines #Delta_Airlines #rétention #détention_administrative #privatisation #Broadspectrum #Canstruct_International #Paladin_Solutions #Wilson_Security #Operation_Sophia #EU_Trust_Fund #Trust_Fund #externalisation #Eurasylum #Deloitte #PricewaterhouseCoopers #Vanguard_Group #CoreCivic #Blackrock #investisseurs #investissement #Capital_Research_and_Management #Capital_Group #Lockheed_Martin #State_Street_Global_Advisors (#SsgA) #Cobham #IDEMIA #Advent_International #droits_humains #VIS #SIS_II #P-3_Orion #Accenture #Sopra_Steria #Frontex #Australie

    • Outsourcing oppression. How Europe externalises migrant detention beyond its shores

      This report seeks to address the gap and join the dots between Europe’s outsourcing of migrant detention to third countries and the notorious conditions within the migrant detention centres. In a nutshell, Europe calls the shots on migrant detention beyond its shores but is rarely held to account for the deeply oppressive consequences, including arbitrary detention, torture, forced disappearance, violence, sexual violence, and death.

      Key findings

      – The European Union (EU), and its member states, externalise detention to third countries as part of a strategy to keep migrants out at all costs. This leads to migrants being detained and subjected to gross human rights violations in transit countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, West Asia and Africa.

      – Candidate countries wishing to join the EU are obligated to detain migrants and stop them from crossing into the EU as a prerequisite for accession to the Union. Funding is made available through pre-accession agreements specifically for the purpose of detaining migrants.

      – Beyond EU candidate countries, this report identifies 22 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and West Asia where the EU and its member states fund the construction of detention centres, detention related activities such as trainings, or advocate for detention in other ways such as through aggressively pushing for detention legislation or agreeing to relax visa requirements for nationals of these countries in exchange for increased migrant detention.

      - The main goal of detention externalisation is to pre-empt migrants from reaching the external borders of the EU by turning third countries into border outposts. In many cases this involves the EU and its member states propping up and maintaining authoritarian regimes.

      – Europe is in effect following the ‘Australian model’ that has been highly criticised by UN experts and human rights organisations for the torturous conditions inside detention centres. Nevertheless, Europe continues to advance a system that mirrors Australia’s outsourced model, focusing not on guaranteeing the rights of migrants, but instead on deterring and pushing back would-be asylum seekers at all costs.

      - Human rights are systematically violated in detention centres directly and indirectly funded by the EU and its member states, including cases of torture, arbitrary and prolonged detention, sexual violence, no access to legal recourse, humanitarian assistance, or asylum procedures, the detention of victims of trafficking, and many other serious violations in which Europe is implicated.

      - Particularly horrendous is the case of Libya, which continues to receive financial and political support from Europe despite mounting evidence of brutality, enslavement, torture, forced disappearance and death. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), implement EU policies in Libya and, according to aid officials, actively whitewash the consequences of European policies to safeguard substantial EU funding.

      - Not only does the EU deport and push back migrants to unsafe third countries, it actively finances and coercively pushes for their detention in these countries. Often they have no choice but to sign ‘voluntary’ agreements to be returned to their countries of origin as the only means of getting out of torturous detention facilities.

      - The EU implements a carrot and stick approach, in particular in its dealings with Africa, prolonging colonialist dynamics and uneven power structures – in Niger, for example, the EU pushed for legislation on detention, in exchange for development aid funding.

      – The EU envisages a greater role for migrant detention in third countries going forward, as was evidenced in the European Commission’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      - The EU acts on the premise of containment and deterrence, namely, that if migrants seeking to reach Europe are intercepted and detained along that journey, they will be deterred from making the journey in the first place. This approach completely misses the point that people migrate to survive, often fleeing war and other forms of violence. The EU continues to overlook the structural reasons behind why people flee and the EU’s own role in provoking such migration.

      – The border industrial complex profits from the increased securitisation of borders. Far from being passive spectators, the military and security industry is actively involved in shaping EU border policies by positioning themselves as experts on the issue. We can already see a trend of privatising migrant detention, paralleling what is happening in prison systems worldwide.

      https://www.tni.org/en/outsourcingoppression

      pour télécharger le rapport :
      https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/outsourcingoppression-report-tni.pdf

      #externalisation #rétention #détention #détention_arbitraire #violence #disparitions #disparitions_forcées #violence #violence_sexuelle #morts #mort #décès #Afrique #Europe_de_l'Est #Balkans #Asie #modèle_australien #EU #UE #Union_européenne #torture #Libye #droits_humains #droits_fondamentaux #HCR #UNHCR #OIM #IOM #dissuasion #privatisation

    • Fortress Europe: the millions spent on military-grade tech to deter refugees

      We map out the rising number of #high-tech surveillance and deterrent systems facing asylum seekers along EU borders.

      From military-grade drones to sensor systems and experimental technology, the EU and its members have spent hundreds of millions of euros over the past decade on technologies to track down and keep at bay the refugees on its borders.

      Poland’s border with Belarus is becoming the latest frontline for this technology, with the country approving last month a €350m (£300m) wall with advanced cameras and motion sensors.

      The Guardian has mapped out the result of the EU’s investment: a digital wall on the harsh sea, forest and mountain frontiers, and a technological playground for military and tech companies repurposing products for new markets.

      The EU is central to the push towards using technology on its borders, whether it has been bought by the EU’s border force, Frontex, or financed for member states through EU sources, such as its internal security fund or Horizon 2020, a project to drive innovation.

      In 2018, the EU predicted that the European security market would grow to €128bn (£108bn) by 2020. Beneficiaries are arms and tech companies who heavily courted the EU, raising the concerns of campaigners and MEPs.

      “In effect, none of this stops people from crossing; having drones or helicopters doesn’t stop people from crossing, you just see people taking more risky ways,” says Jack Sapoch, formerly with Border Violence Monitoring Network. “This is a history that’s so long, as security increases on one section of the border, movement continues in another section.”

      Petra Molnar, who runs the migration and technology monitor at Refugee Law Lab, says the EU’s reliance on these companies to develop “hare-brained ideas” into tech for use on its borders is inappropriate.

      “They rely on the private sector to create these toys for them. But there’s very little regulation,” she says. “Some sort of tech bro is having a field day with this.”

      “For me, what’s really sad is that it’s almost a done deal that all this money is being spent on camps, enclosures, surveillance, drones.”

      Air Surveillance

      Refugees and migrants trying to enter the EU by land or sea are watched from the air. Border officers use drones and helicopters in the Balkans, while Greece has airships on its border with Turkey. The most expensive tool is the long-endurance Heron drone operating over the Mediterranean.

      Frontex awarded a €100m (£91m) contract last year for the Heron and Hermes drones made by two Israeli arms companies, both of which had been used by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip. Capable of flying for more than 30 hours and at heights of 10,000 metres (30,000 feet), the drones beam almost real-time feeds back to Frontex’s HQ in Warsaw.

      Missions mostly start from Malta, focusing on the Libyan search and rescue zone – where the Libyan coastguard will perform “pull backs” when informed by EU forces of boats trying to cross the Mediterranean.

      German MEP Özlem Demirel is campaigning against the EU’s use of drones and links to arms companies, which she says has turned migration into a security issue.

      “The arms industries are saying: ‘This is a security problem, so buy my weapons, buy my drones, buy my surveillance system,’” says Demirel.

      “The EU is always talking about values like human rights, [speaking out] against violations but … week-by-week we see more people dying and we have to question if the EU is breaking its values,” she says.

      Sensors and cameras

      EU air assets are accompanied on the ground by sensors and specialised cameras that border authorities throughout Europe use to spot movement and find people in hiding. They include mobile radars and thermal cameras mounted on vehicles, as well as heartbeat detectors and CO2 monitors used to detect signs of people concealed inside vehicles.

      Greece deploys thermal cameras and sensors along its land border with Turkey, monitoring the feeds from operations centres, such as in Nea Vyssa, near the meeting of the Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian borders. Along the same stretch, in June, Greece deployed a vehicle-mounted sound cannon that blasts “deafening” bursts of up to 162 decibels to force people to turn back.

      Poland is hoping to emulate Greece in response to the crisis on its border with Belarus. In October, its parliament approved a €350m wall that will stretch along half the border and reach up to 5.5 metres (18 feet), equipped with motion detectors and thermal cameras.

      Surveillance centres

      In September, Greece opened a refugee camp on the island of Samos that has been described as prison-like. The €38m (£32m) facility for 3,000 asylum seekers has military-grade fencing and #CCTV to track people’s movements. Access is controlled by fingerprint, turnstiles and X-rays. A private security company and 50 uniformed officers monitor the camp. It is the first of five that Greece has planned; two more opened in November.

      https://twitter.com/_PMolnar/status/1465224733771939841

      At the same time, Greece opened a new surveillance centre on Samos, capable of viewing video feeds from the country’s 35 refugee camps from a wall of monitors. Greece says the “smart” software helps to alert camps of emergencies.

      Artificial intelligence

      The EU spent €4.5m (£3.8m) on a three-year trial of artificial intelligence-powered lie detectors in Greece, Hungary and Latvia. A machine scans refugees and migrants’ facial expressions as they answer questions it poses, deciding whether they have lied and passing the information on to a border officer.

      The last trial finished in late 2019 and was hailed as a success by the EU but academics have called it pseudoscience, arguing that the “micro-expressions” the software analyses cannot be reliably used to judge whether someone is lying. The software is the subject of a court case taken by MEP Patrick Breyer to the European court of justice in Luxembourg, arguing that there should be more public scrutiny of such technology. A decision is expected on 15 December.

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/dec/06/fortress-europe-the-millions-spent-on-military-grade-tech-to-deter-refu

  • Malte permet à des garde-côtes libyens d’entrer dans sa zone de sauvetage pour intercepter des migrants

    Une embarcation de migrants a été interceptée vendredi dernier dans la zone de recherche et de sauvetage maltaise par une patrouille de garde-côtes libyens. Les 50 personnes qui se trouvaient à bord ont été ramenées en Libye. Pour la première fois, Alarm phone a pu documenter cette violation du #droit_maritime_international. Le HCR a ouvert une #enquête.

    L’agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) a annoncé mardi 22 octobre l’ouverture d’une enquête après que les autorités maltaises ont laissé des garde-côtes libyens intercepter une embarcation de migrants en détresse qui se trouvait dans la zone de recherche et de sauvetage (SAR) maltaise.

    Alarm phone, une organisation qui permet aux bateaux de migrants en difficultés de demander de l’aide, a retracé mercredi 23 octobre, dans un communiqué, le déroulé des événements qui ont conduit à l’emprisonnement des 50 migrants dans le centre de #Tarik_al_Sika, à #Tripoli.

    Tout commence le vendredi 18 octobre, en début d’après-midi, quand Alarm phone reçoit un appel de détresse d’un bateau surchargé. Environ 50 personnes, dont des femmes et des enfants, se trouvent à bord de ce rafiot en bois. Les coordonnées GPS que les migrants envoient à Alarm Phone indiquent qu’ils se trouvent dans la SAR zone maltaise.

    La plateforme téléphonique transmet alors la position de l’embarcation aux centres de coordination des secours en mer de Malte (#RCC) et de Rome (#MRCC). Malte ne tarde pas à répondre : “Nous avons reçu votre email. Nous nous occupons de tout", indique un officier maltais.

    Enfermement à Tripoli

    Dans les heures qui suivent, Alarm phone tente de garder le contact avec le RCC de Malte et le MRCC de Rome mais ne reçoit plus de réponse. À bord, les migrants donnent de nouvelles coordonnées GPS à l’organisation : ils se trouvent toujours dans la SAR zone maltaise. Le dernier contact entre Alarm phone et l’embarcation a lieu à 17h40.

    Quelques heures plus tard, le #PB_Fezzan, un navire appartenant aux garde-côtes libyens, a intercepté l’embarcation de migrants dans la zone de recherche et sauvetage de Malte. Les équipes d’Alarm phone apprennent, par un officier du RCC de Malte, qu’un hélicoptère des Forces armées maltaises avait été impliqué dans l’opération, en "supervisant la situation depuis les airs".

    Le PB Fezzan est ensuite rentré à Tripoli avec les migrants à son bord. Tous ont été placés dans le centre de détention de Tarik al Sika.

    Violation des conventions internationales et du principe de non-refoulement

    En ne portant pas secours à cette embarcation, le RCC de Malte a violé à la fois le droit de la mer et le principe de non-refoulement établi dans la Convention européenne des droits de l’Homme et celle relative au statut international de réfugiés.

    Le HCR a ouvert une enquête afin de déterminer pour quelles raisons Malte n’a pas porté secours à l’embarcation, a indiqué mardi Vincent Cochetel, l’envoyé spécial du HCR pour la Méditerranée centrale, à l’agence Associated press (AP).

    Selon lui, "des preuves existent que Malte a demandé à des garde-côtes libyens d’intervenir" dans sa propre zone de recherche et sauvetage le 18 octobre. "Le problème est que les migrants ont été débarqués en Libye. Il ne fait aucun doute qu’il s’agit d’une violation des lois maritimes. Il est clair que la Libye n’est pas un port sûr", a-t-il ajouté.

    Vincent Cochetel a également affirmé qu’il ne s’agissait pas de la première fois que Malte se rendait coupable d’une telle non-assistance.

    "Malte est particulièrement peu coopérant"

    Contacté par InfoMigrants, Maurice Stierl, membre d’Alarm phone, rappelle qu’il n’est pas rare que les garde-côtes européens ne remplissent pas leurs obligations. "Ce cas est particulièrement dramatique mais ce n’est pas une surprise pour nous tant nous avons vu [des autorités européennes] se dérober à leurs responsabilités", assure-t-il.

    "Malte est particulièrement peu coopérant ces dernières semaines. Quand nous les appelons, soit ils sont injoignables, soit ils ne nous communiquent pas d’informations sur les modalités de la mission de sauvetage qu’ils vont lancer", s’agace l’activiste.

    Malte n’est pas le seul pays européen à rechigner à secourir des migrants en Méditerranée centrale, précise Maurice Stierl. "Nous avons aussi eu de mauvaises expériences avec d’autres États membres dont le MRCC de Rome […] C’est un problème européen."

    https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1187265157937991680?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E11

    https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/20377/malte-permet-a-des-garde-cotes-libyens-d-entrer-dans-sa-zone-de-sauvet
    #migrations #réfugiés #zone_SAR #SAR #gardes-côtes_libyens #sauvetage #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Méditerranée #pull-back #Mer_Méditerranée

  • In sette mesi di “buio informativo” sulle partenze di #migranti dalla Libia, possiamo essere certi che almeno 6.400 persone siano partite.

    Di queste, almeno 1.300 sono partite tra gennaio e febbraio scorsi.

    Il 75% di loro è stato intercettato dalla Guardia costiera libica.

    https://twitter.com/emmevilla/status/1107725189771657217

    Source des données :
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ncHxOHIx4ptt4YFXgGi9TIbwd53HaR3oFbrfBm67ak4/edit

    #statistiques #Méditerranée #Libye #gardes-côtes_libyens #frontières #asile #migrations #mer_Méditerranée #départs #chiffres #pull-back #refoulement #2016 #2017 #2018 #mourir_en_mer #morts #décès #mortalité #traversées

    • Nei primi quattro mesi del 2019, per ogni 8 migranti partiti dalla Libia, 1 è morto. E più l’Europa cede il controllo dei salvataggi alla Guardia costiera libica, più aumenta il rischio di morte in mare.

      All data to replicate these and other figures is publicly available at this link:
      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ncHxOHIx4ptt4YFXgGi9TIbwd53HaR3oFbrfBm67ak4/edit#gid=0

      Traduction en anglais :

      THE VANISHING LIBYAN COAST GUARD. In the first four months of 2019, for every 8 #migrants who departed from #Libya-n shores, 1 died or went missing. And the more Europe delegated search and rescue to the Libyan Coast Guard, the more the risk of death at sea has risen.

      https://twitter.com/emmevilla/status/1126062971321561088
      #2019

    • I morti nel Mediterraneo

      Da qualche giorno si è scatenato un grottesco scontro sul numero dei #migranti morti nel Mediterraneo a seguito delle dichiarazioni del Ministro Salvini che difendendo la sua politica anti-sbarchi ha incautamente affermato: “Nel 2019 si sono avuti solo due morti nel Mediterraneo”. In un tweet successivo poi il ministro ha pubblicato, a sostegno delle sue tesi, una tabella con dati UNHCR riguardanti i cadaveri recuperati e i migranti morti/dispersi nel Mediterraneo negli ultimi 5 anni. Da questa tabella si capisce subito che nei primi 4 mesi del 2019 i morti e dispersi nel Mediterraneo non sono 2 ma 402, mentre il numero di 2 è riferito ai cadaveri recuperati. La tabella di Salvini presenta poi altre inesattezze, dal momento che compara impropriamente i dati dei primi 4 mesi del 2019 con i dati sui dodici mesi dei quattro anni precedenti. Inoltre, i dati menzionati dal ministro si riferiscono alle morti in tutto il Mediterraneo, dalla coste turche a quelle spagnole, mentre i dati che avrebbe dovuto citare, eventualmente imputabili alle sue politiche, sono quelli relativi al solo Mediterraneo centrale. Ci sembra questo un esempio evidente di come anche i numeri e i dati possano essere manipolati per sostenere le tesi più improbabili.

      Ma cosa sta davvero succedendo con le morti nel Mediterraneo? Le cose stanno davvero andando meglio? Per poter cercare di comprendere in maniera obiettiva, è necessario, prima di tutto, analizzare dati credibili. Il numero di cadaveri recuperati in mare non può fornire una stima attendibile di quanto sta accadendo, dal momento che recuperare i corpi dei naufraghi è di per sè già molto complicato, tanto più lo diventa in acque svuotate dalle navi di soccorso, quali sono oggi quelle del Mediterraneo centrale proprio in conseguenza delle misure adottate dal ministro dell’Interno. Se si vuole cercare di fare un’analisi seria, è necessario dunque prendere in considerazione le stime dei morti e dispersi. Questi numeri ci dicono che le vittime nel Mediterraneo centrale sono state, nei primi quattro mesi di ogni anno, 1.936 nel 2015, 966 nel 2016, 1.021 nel 2017, 379 nel 2018 ed infine 257 nel 2019. Ha dunque ragione Salvini? Il numero di morti, peraltro ancora tragicamente alto, sta comunque diminuendo? A nostro avviso assolutamente no, per alcune ragioni.

      Innanzi tutto se andiamo a vedere il numero di migranti sbarcati in Italia nello stesso periodo dei 5 anni vediamo che esso è drasticamente diminuito: 26.228 nel 2015, 27.926 nel 2016, 37.235 nel 2017, 9.467 nel 2018 e 779 nel 2019. Se andiamo poi a vedere il rapporto tra migranti che hanno perso la vita nel cercare di attraversare il Mediterraneo centrale e coloro che sono riusciti effettivamente ad arrivare sulle coste italiane, notiamo che esso è passato da 3 su cento nel 2017 a 32 su cento nel 2019. In altre parole la letalità della traversata, ossia il rischio di perdere la vita, si è più che decuplicato dal 2017 al 2019. Ma c’è un altro fattore, a nostro avviso ancora più importante, che smentisce le affermazioni del ministro Salvini e riguarda proprio la diminuzione del numero degli sbarchi da lui fortemente voluta. In effetti le morti nel Mediterraneo sono solo un aspetto della crisi migratoria che stiamo vivendo. E analizzare solo una parte di una questione complessa come questa, non porta a una verità parziale ma piuttosto a una menzogna completa. Coloro che non riescono più a partire dalle coste libiche rimangono intrappolati nella inaudita violenza di quel paese, presente sia fuori che dentro le miriadi di strutture di detenzione e sequestro per migranti. Che tali centri, formali e informali, siano luoghi di tortura e morte per i migranti è accertato al di là di ogni ragionevole dubbio ed è stato documentato anche dalle migliaia di testimonianze dirette raccolte dagli operatori di Medici per i Diritti Umani (si veda http://esodi.mediciperidirittiumani.org ). Chi si ostina a negare ciò o è ignorante o è in malafede, e se ha responsabilità politiche si assume una grave responsabilità storica. E’ dunque del tutto probabile che i morti in meno nel Mediterraneo vengano oggi controbilanciati da più torture e più morti tra le migliaia di migranti ancora intrappolati in Libia. La situazione non è dunque migliorata in questi mesi per chi ha cuore la dignità e la vita umana ma, se possibile, peggiorata.

      Che fare dunque di fronte alla sfida dell’attuale flusso migratorio (si badi bene, migrazione forzata nella stragrande maggioranza di casi) in arrivo, in particolare, dall’Africa sub-sahariana? La complessità della questione richiede una risposta che va al di là dello scopo di questa breve analisi. Un intervento immediato, a livello multilaterale, è comunque certamente necessario: procedere all’evacuazione verso paesi sicuri, in grado di assicurare protezione internazionale, di tutti i migranti oggi ancora detenuti nei centri di detenzione ufficiali libici. Sarebbe per lo meno un primo passo da parte della comunità internazionale che porta oggi la responsabilità di una pressoché totale indifferenza di fronte a una tragedia che sta segnando il nostro tempo.


      https://mediciperidirittiumani.org/i-morti-nel-mediterraneo

    • Migrazioni, il Mediterraneo sempre più pericoloso per chi fugge via mare

      Lanciata oggi la quarta edizione di «#Fatal_Journeys» (https://publications.iom.int/fr/books/fatal-journeys-volume-4-missing-migrant-children). Nel 2018 è morto in mare un migrante ogni 35. Nel 2017 era uno ogni 50. Sono circa 1.600 i bambini morti nel mondo lungo le rotte migratorie

      https://www.repubblica.it/solidarieta/immigrazione/2019/06/28/news/migrazioni_il_mediterraneo_sempre_piu_pericoloso_per_chi_fugge_via_mare-229866312/?ref=twhs&timestamp=1561731555000

    • Fatal Journeys Volume 4: Missing Migrant Children

      Fatal Journeys Volume 4 focuses on a special theme – missing migrant children – given the growing number of children embarking on journeys that are dangerous and often fatal. Since 2014, IOM has documented more than 32,000 deaths and disappearances during the migration journey worldwide, although the true number of migrant fatalities is unknown, as many deaths go unrecorded. Data on deaths and disappearances of missing migrant children tend to be even more limited. According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, nearly 1,600 children have been reported dead or missing since 2014.

      This report discusses why it is often difficult to find data on missing migrants disaggregated by age. It explores what measures could be taken to improve data on missing migrant children, to help improve policy options and to prevent these tragedies from occurring. The report is a contribution to the joint efforts of UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM, Eurostat and OECD to improve data on migrant and refugee children. Without better data on missing migrants, any policy understanding of children’s migration journeys and the risks and vulnerabilities they face will remain incomplete.


      https://publications.iom.int/fr/books/fatal-journeys-volume-4-missing-migrant-children
      #rapport #OIM #IOM

  • Salvini avverte i migranti : « Più partite più morirete, noi non apriamo i porti »

    Il vicepremier e ministro dell’Interno, Matteo Salvini, h parlato a Mattino 5: «Noi stiamo lavorando in Africa. In Italia è finito il business dei trafficanti e di chi non scappa dalla guerra. I porti italiani sono chiusi»
    "I migranti - ha spiegato - si salvano, come ha fatto la guardia costiera libica, e si riportano indietro, così la gente smetterà di pagare gli #scafisti per un viaggio che non ha futuro. Più persone partono più persone muoiono".


    https://www.globalist.it/news/2019/01/22/salvini-avverte-i-migranti-piu-partite-piu-morirete-noi-non-apriamo-i-port

    Je crois que les limites de l’#indécence ont été atteints...
    #Salvini #Matteo_Salvini #Italie #mots #vocabulaire #terminologie #ports #migrations #catégorisation #tri #réfugiés #ports_fermés #business #trafiquants #passeurs #smugglers #smuggling #gardes-côtes_libyens #pull-back #refoulement #push-back #scafista #mourir_en_mer #mort #Méditerranée #décès #business

  • ‘It’s an Act of Murder’: How Europe Outsources Suffering as Migrants Drown

    This short film, produced by The Times’s Opinion Video team and the research groups #Forensic_Architecture and #Forensic_Oceanography, reconstructs a tragedy at sea that left at least 20 migrants dead. Combining footage from more than 10 cameras, 3-D modeling and interviews with rescuers and survivors, the documentary shows Europe’s role in the migrant crisis at sea.

    On Nov. 6, 2017, at least 20 people trying to reach Europe from Libya drowned in the Mediterranean, foundering next to a sinking raft.

    Not far from the raft was a ship belonging to Sea-Watch, a German humanitarian organization. That ship had enough space on it for everyone who had been aboard the raft. It could have brought them all to the safety of Europe, where they might have had a chance at being granted asylum.

    Instead, 20 people drowned and 47 more were captured by the Libyan Coast Guard, which brought the migrants back to Libya, where they suffered abuse — including rape and torture.

    This confrontation at sea was not a simplistic case of Europe versus Africa, with human rights and rescue on one side and chaos and danger on the other. Rather it’s a case of Europe versus Europe: of volunteers struggling to save lives being undercut by European Union policies that outsource border control responsibilities to the Libyan Coast Guard — with the aim of stemming arrivals on European shores.

    While funding, equipping and directing the Libyan Coast Guard, European governments have stymied the activities of nongovernmental organizations like Sea-Watch, criminalizing them or impounding their ships, or turning away from ports ships carrying survivors.

    More than 14,000 people have died or gone missing while trying to cross the central Mediterranean since 2014. But unlike most of those deaths and drownings, the incident on Nov. 6, 2017, was extensively documented.

    Sea-Watch’s ship and rescue rafts were outfitted with nine cameras, documenting the entire scene in video and audio. The Libyans, too, filmed parts of the incident on their mobile phones.

    The research groups Forensic Architecture and Forensic Oceanography of Goldsmiths, University of London, of which three of us — Mr. Heller, Mr. Pezzani and Mr. Weizman — are a part, combined these video sources with radio recordings, vessel tracking data, witness testimonies and newly obtained official sources to produce a minute-by-minute reconstruction of the facts. Opinion Video at The New York Times built on this work to create the above short documentary, gathering further testimonials by some of the survivors and rescuers who were there.

    This investigation makes a few things clear: European governments are avoiding their legal and moral responsibilities to protect the human rights of people fleeing violence and economic desperation. More worrying, the Libyan Coast Guard partners that Europe is collaborating with are ready to blatantly violate those rights if it allows them to prevent migrants from crossing the sea.

    Stopping Migrants, Whatever the Cost

    To understand the cynicism of Europe’s policies in the Mediterranean, one must understand the legal context. According to a 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, migrants rescued by European civilian or military vessels must be taken to a safe port. Because of the chaotic political situation in Libya and well-documented human rights abuses in detention camps there, that means a European port, often in Italy or Malta.

    But when the Libyan Coast Guard intercepts migrants, even outside Libyan territorial waters, as it did on Nov. 6, the Libyans take them back to detention camps in Libya, which is not subject to European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction.

    For Italy — and Europe — this is an ideal situation. Europe is able to stop people from reaching its shores while washing its hands of any responsibility for their safety.

    This policy can be traced back to February 2017, when Italy and the United Nations-supported Libyan Government of National Accord signed a “memorandum of understanding” that provided a framework for collaboration on development, to fight against “illegal immigration,” human trafficking and the smuggling of contraband. This agreement defines clearly the aim, “to stem the illegal migrants’ flows,” and committed Italy to provide “technical and technological support to the Libyan institutions in charge of the fight against illegal immigration.”

    Libyan Coast Guard members have been trained by the European Union, and the Italian government donated or repaired several patrol boats and supported the establishment of a Libyan search-and-rescue zone. Libyan authorities have since attempted — in defiance of maritime law — to make that zone off-limits to nongovernmental organizations’ rescue vessels. Italian Navy ships, based in Tripoli, have coordinated Libyan Coast Guard efforts.

    Before these arrangements, Libyan actors were able to intercept and return very few migrants leaving from Libyan shores. Now the Libyan Coast Guard is an efficient partner, having intercepted some 20,000 people in 2017 alone.

    The Libyan Coast Guard is efficient when it comes to stopping migrants from reaching Europe. It’s not as good, however, at saving their lives, as the events of Nov. 6 show.

    A Deadly Policy in Action

    That morning the migrant raft had encountered worsening conditions after leaving Tripoli, Libya, over night. Someone onboard used a satellite phone to call the Italian Coast Guard for help.

    Because the Italians were required by law to alert nearby vessels of the sinking raft, they alerted Sea-Watch to its approximate location. But they also requested the intervention of their Libyan counterparts.

    The Libyan Coast Guard vessel that was sent to intervene on that morning, the Ras Jadir, was one of several that had been repaired by Italy and handed back to the Libyans in May of 2017. Eight of the 13 crew members onboard had received training from the European Union anti-smuggling naval program known as Operation Sophia.

    Even so, the Libyans brought the Ras Jadir next to the migrants’ raft, rather than deploying a smaller rescue vessel, as professional rescuers do. This offered no hope of rescuing those who had already fallen overboard and only caused more chaos, during which at least five people died.

    These deaths were not merely a result of a lack of professionalism. Some of the migrants who had been brought aboard the Ras Jadir were so afraid of their fate at the hands of the Libyans that they jumped back into the water to try to reach the European rescuers. As can be seen in the footage, members of the Libyan Coast Guard beat the remaining migrants.

    Sea-Watch’s crew was also attacked by the Libyan Coast Guard, who threatened them and threw hard objects at them to keep them away. This eruption of violence was the result of a clash between the goals of rescue and interception, with the migrants caught in the middle desperately struggling for their lives.

    Apart from those who died during this chaos, more than 15 people had already drowned in the time spent waiting for any rescue vessel to appear.

    There was, however, no shortage of potential rescuers in the area: A Portuguese surveillance plane had located the migrants’ raft after its distress call. An Italian Navy helicopter and a French frigate were nearby and eventually offered some support during the rescue.

    It’s possible that this French ship, deployed as part of Operation Sophia, could have reached the sinking vessel earlier, in time to save more lives — despite our requests, this information has not been disclosed to us. But it remained at a distance throughout the incident and while offering some support, notably refrained from taking migrants onboard who would then have had to have been disembarked on European soil. It’s an example of a hands-off approach that seeks to make Libyan intervention not only possible but also inevitable.

    A Legal Challenge

    On the basis of the forensic reconstruction, the Global Legal Action Network and the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration, with the support of Yale Law School students, have filed a case against Italy at the European Court of Human Rights representing 17 survivors of this incident.

    Those working on the suit, who include two of us — Mr. Mann and Ms. Moreno-Lax — argue that even though Italian or European personnel did not physically intercept the migrants and bring them back to Libya, Italy exercised effective control over the Libyan Coast Guard through mutual agreements, support and on-the-ground coordination. Italy has entrusted the Libyans with a task that Rome knows full well would be illegal if undertaken directly: preventing migrants from seeking protection in Europe by impeding their flight and sending them back to a country where extreme violence and exploitation await.

    We hope this legal complaint will lead the European court to rule that countries cannot subcontract their legal and humanitarian obligations to dubious partners, and that if they do, they retain responsibility for the resulting violations. Such a precedent would force the entire European Union to make sure its cooperation with partners like Libya does not end up denying refugees the right to seek asylum.

    This case is especially important right now. In Italy’s elections in March, the far-right Lega party, which campaigned on radical anti-immigrant rhetoric, took nearly 20 percent of the vote. The party is now part of the governing coalition, of which its leader, Matteo Salvini, is the interior minister.

    His government has doubled down on animosity toward migrants. In June, Italy took the drastic step of turning away a humanitarian vessel from the country’s ports and has been systematically blocking rescued migrants from being disembarked since then, even when they had been assisted by the Italian Coast Guard.

    The Italian crackdown helps explain why seafarers off the Libyan coast have refrained from assisting migrants in distress, leaving them to drift for days. Under the new Italian government, a new batch of patrol boats has been handed over to the Libyan Coast Guard, and the rate of migrants being intercepted and brought back to Libya has increased. All this has made the crossing even more dangerous than before.

    Italy has been seeking to enact a practice that blatantly violates the spirit of the Geneva Convention on refugees, which enshrines the right to seek asylum and prohibits sending people back to countries in which their lives are at risk. A judgment by the European Court sanctioning Italy for this practice would help prevent the outsourcing of border control and human rights violations that may prevent the world’s most disempowered populations from seeking protection and dignity.

    The European Court of Human Rights cannot stand alone as a guardian of fundamental rights. Yet an insistence on its part to uphold the law would both reflect and bolster the movements seeking solidarity with migrants across Europe.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/26/opinion/europe-migrant-crisis-mediterranean-libya.html
    #reconstruction #naufrage #Méditerranée #Charles_Heller #Lorenzo_Pezzani #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mourir_en_mer #ONG #sauvetage #Sea-Watch #gardes-côtes_libyens #Libye #pull-back #refoulement #externalisation #vidéo #responsabilité #Ras_Jadir #Operation_Sophia #CEDH #cour_européenne_des_droits_de_l'homme #justice #droits_humains #droit_à_la_vie

    ping @reka

    • È un omicidio con navi italiane” L’accusa del Nyt

      Video-denuncia contro Roma e l’Ue per un naufragio di un anno fa: botte dei libici ai migranti, 50 morti.

      Patate scagliate addosso ai soccorritori della Sea Watch invece di lanciare giubbotti e salvagente ai naufraghi che stavano annegando. E poi botte ai migranti riusciti a salire sulle motovedette per salvarsi la vita. Ecco i risultati dell’addestramento che l’Italia ha impartito ai libici per far fuori i migranti nel Mediterraneo. È un video pubblicato dal New York Times che parte da una delle più gravi tra le ultime stragi avvenute del Canale di Sicilia, con un commento intitolato: “‘È un omicidio’: come l’Europa esternalizza sofferenza mentre i migranti annegano”.

      Era il 6 novembre 2017 e le operazioni in mare erano gestite dalla guardia costiera libica, in accordo con l’allora ministro dell’Interno, Marco Minniti. Il dettaglio non è secondario, lo stesso video mostra la cerimonia di consegna delle motovedette made in Italy ai partner nordafricani. Una delle imbarcazioni, la 648, la ritroviamo proprio al centro dell’azione dove, quel giorno, cinquanta africani vennero inghiottiti dal mare. Al tempo era consentito alle imbarcazioni di soccorso pattugliare lo specchio di mare a cavallo tra le zone Sar (Search and rescue, ricerca e soccorso) di competenza. Al tempo i porti italiani erano aperti, ma il comportamento dei militari libici già al limite della crudeltà. Il video e le foto scattate dal personale della Sea Watch mostrano scene durissime. Un migrante lasciato annegare senza alcun tentativo da parte dei libici di salvarlo: il corpo disperato annaspa per poi sparire sott’acqua, quando il salvagente viene lanciato è tardi. Botte, calci e pugni a uomini appena saliti a bordo delle motovedette, di una violenza ingiustificabile. Il New York Times va giù duro e nel commento, oltre a stigmatizzare attacca i governi italiani. Dalla prova delle motovedette vendute per far fare ad altri il lavoro sporco, al nuovo governo definito “di ultradestra” che “ha completato la strategia”. Matteo Salvini però non viene nominato. L’Italia, sottolinea il Nyt, ha delegato alle autorità della Tripolitania il pattugliamento delle coste e il recupero di qualsiasi imbarcazione diretta a nord. Nulla di nuovo, visto che la Spagna, guidata dal socialista Sanchez e impegnata sul fronte occidentale con un’ondata migratoria senza precedenti, usa il Marocco per “bonificare” il tratto di mare vicino allo stretto di Gibilterra da gommoni e carrette. Gli organismi europei da una parte stimolano il blocco delle migrazioni verso il continente, eppure dall’altra lo condannano. Per l’episodio del 6 novembre 2017, infatti, la Corte europea dei diritti umani sta trattando il ricorso presentato dall’Asgi (Associazione studi giuridici sull’immigrazione) contro il respingimento collettivo. Sempre l’Asgi ha presentato due ricorsi analoghi per fatti del dicembre 2018 e gennaio 2018; infine altri due, uno sulla cessione delle motovedette e l’altro sull’implementazione dell’accordo Italia-Libia firmato da Minniti.

      https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/premium/articoli/e-un-omicidio-con-navi-italiane-laccusa-del-nyt

    • Comment l’Europe et la Libye laissent mourir les migrants en mer

      Il y a un peu plus d’un an, le 6 novembre 2017, une fragile embarcation sombre en mer avec à son bord 150 migrants partis de Tripoli pour tenter de rejoindre l’Europe. La plupart d’entre eux sont morts. Avec l’aide de Forensic Oceanography – une organisation créée en 2011 pour tenir le compte des morts de migrants en Méditerranée – et de Forensic Architecture – groupe de recherche enquêtant sur les violations des droits de l’homme –, le New York Times a retracé le déroulement de ce drame, dans une enquête vidéo extrêmement documentée.

      Depuis l’accord passé en février 2017 entre la Libye et l’Italie, confiant aux autorités libyennes le soin d’intercepter les migrants dans ses eaux territoriales, le travail des ONG intervenant en mer Méditerranée avec leurs bateaux de sauvetage est devenu extrêmement difficile. Ces dernières subissent les menaces constantes des gardes-côtes libyens, qui, malgré les subventions européennes et les formations qu’ils reçoivent, n’ont pas vraiment pour but de sauver les migrants de la noyade. Ainsi, en fermant les yeux sur les pratiques libyennes régulièrement dénoncées par les ONG, l’Europe contribue à aggraver la situation et précipite les migrants vers la noyade, s’attache à démontrer cette enquête vidéo publiée dans la section Opinions du New York Times. Un document traduit et sous-titré par Courrier international.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/video/enquete-comment-leurope-et-la-libye-laissent-mourir-les-migra

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=dcbh8yJclGI

    • How We Made an Invisible Crisis at Sea Visible

      An ambitious Opinion Video project produced across three continents — in collaboration with a pioneering forensic research group — shines a spotlight on the more than 16,000 migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean since 2014.

      Forensic Oceanography had created a report and a minute-by-minute reconstruction of the episode (http://www.forensic-architecture.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-05-07-FO-Mare-Clausum-full-EN.pdf) intended partly to support a case that was about to be filed on behalf of survivors at the European Court of Human Rights.

      Their reporting was deep, but it was very technical. We wanted to build on the original research to create a short film that would sharpen the story while still embracing complexity.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/reader-center/migrants-mediterranean-sea.html
      #visibilité #invisibilité #in/visiblité #Mare_clausum

  • #métaliste (qui va être un grand chantier, car il y a plein d’information sur seenthis, qu’il faudrait réorganiser) sur :
    #externalisation #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #migrations #réfugiés

    Des liens vers des articles généraux sur l’externalisation des frontières de la part de l’ #UE (#EU) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/569305
    https://seenthis.net/messages/390549
    https://seenthis.net/messages/320101

    Ici une tentative (très mal réussie, car évidement, la divergence entre pratiques et les discours à un moment donné, ça se voit !) de l’UE de faire une brochure pour déconstruire les mythes autour de la migration...
    La question de l’externalisation y est abordée dans différentes parties de la brochure :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/765967

    Petit chapitre/encadré sur l’externalisation des frontières dans l’ouvrage "(Dé)passer la frontière" :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/769367

    Les origines de l’externalisation des contrôles frontaliers (maritimes) : accord #USA-#Haïti de #1981 :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/768694

    L’externalisation des politiques européennes en matière de migration
    https://seenthis.net/messages/787450

    "#Sous-traitance" de la #politique_migratoire en Afrique : l’Europe a-t-elle les mains propres ?
    https://seenthis.net/messages/789048

    Partners in crime ? The impacts of Europe’s outsourced migration controls on peace, stability and rights :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/794636
    #paix #stabilité #droits #Libye #Niger #Turquie

    Proceedings of the conference “Externalisation of borders : detention practices and denial of the right to asylum”
    https://seenthis.net/messages/880193

    Brochure sur l’externalisation des frontières (passamontagna)
    https://seenthis.net/messages/952016