• 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...

  • 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