• Is Frontex involved in illegal ’pushbacks’ in the Balkans ?

    Refugees and migrants in Greece trying to reach western Europe have accused EU border protection agency Frontex of taking part in illegal deportations known as “pushbacks.” DW reports.

    Ali al-Ebrahim fled in 2018 from Manbij, a Syrian city that was under Kurdish control, to escape being forced to fight in the conflict.

    Al-Ebrahim, now 22, first tried his luck in Turkey. When he arrived in Antakya, not far from the Syrian border, Turkish authorities took his details and sent him back home without citing any reasons, the young Syrian man says in very good English. He explains that this meant he was banned from legally entering Turkey again for five years.

    Nevertheless, al-Ebrahim decided to try again, this time with the aim of reaching Greece. He managed to make his way to Turkey’s Aegean coastline and eventually reached the Greek island of Leros in a rubber dinghy. When he applied for asylum, however, his application was rejected on the grounds that Turkey was a safe third country.

    But al-Ebrahim was not able to return to Turkey, and certainly not Syria — though this was of no interest to Greek authorities. “The new Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is very strict when it comes to migrants,” he says. “So I decided to go to Albania.”
    Uniforms with the EU flag

    Al-Ebrahim says that in September 2020, he traveled by bus with five others to the northern Greek city of Ioannina, and then walked to the Albanian border without encountering any Greek police.

    But, he says, staff from the EU border protection agency Frontex stopped them in Albania and handed them over to Albanian authorities in the border town of Kakavia. When asked how he knew they were Frontex officials, al-Ebrahim replies, “I could tell from their armbands.”

    Frontex staff wear light-blue armbands with the EU flag on them.
    €5,000 to reach Austria

    Al-Ebrahim says that he and the other migrants asked the Albanian authorities for asylum but were told that the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to file any new asylum applications. They were then just sent back to Greece without the Greek authorities being notified, he says.

    Al-Ebrahim had more luck on the second attempt. He managed to travel to the Albanian capital, Tirana, and then on to Serbia via Kosovo.

    His interview with DW takes place at a refugee camp in the Serbian city of Sombor, near the Hungarian border. Al-Ebrahim says he wants to travel on through Hungary into Austria, but the traffickers charge €5,000 to get as far as the Austrian border.

    Detention instead of asylum

    Hope Barker has heard many similar stories before. She coordinates the project “Wave - Thessaloniki,” which provides migrants traveling the Balkan route with food, medical care and legal advice. Barker tells DW that the northern Greek city was a safe haven until the new conservative government took office in summer 2019.

    In January 2020, a draconian new law came into effect in Greece. According to Barker, it allows authorities to detain asylum seekers for up to 18 months without reviewing their cases — and detention can then be extended for another 18 months.

    “So you can be held in detention for three years without any action on your case if you ask for asylum,” says Baker.

    Pushbacks by Frontex?

    Baker tells DW that the illegal deportation of migrants, known as “pushbacks,” happen both at the borders and further inland. Migrants trying to reach western Europe avoid any contact with Greek authorities.

    Refugee aid organizations say there have been “lots of pushbacks” at the border with North Macedonia and Albania. Baker says that witnesses have reported hearing those involved speaking German, for example, and seeing the EU insignia on their blue armbands.

    Frontex rejects allegations

    Baker says that it is, nonetheless, difficult to prove pushbacks at the Greek border because of the confusing situation, but she adds that they know that Frontex is active in Albania and that there are pushbacks on a daily basis across the River Evros that flows through Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and forms a large part of the border. “We know that pushbacks are happening daily. So, to think that they don’t know or are not at all involved in those practices seems beyond belief,” says Baker.

    A Frontex spokesman told DW that the agency had investigated some of the allegations and “found no credible evidence to support any of them.”

    Frontex added that its staff was bound by a code of conduct, which explicitly calls for the “prevention of refoulement and the upholding of human rights, all in line with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

    “We are fully committed to protecting fundamental rights,” it added.

    Border protection from beyond the EU

    So why does the European border protection agency protect an external border of the European Union from the Albanian side? “The main aim of the operation is to support border control, help tackle irregular migration, as well as cross-border crime, including migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and terrorism, and identify possible risks and threats related to security,” said Frontex to DW.

    Frontex also said that cooperation with countries in the western Balkans was one of its priorities. “The agency supports them in complying with EU standards and best practices in border management and security,” the spokesman said.

    Yet it is worthwhile taking a look at another part of Greece’s border. While military and police officers are omnipresent at the Greek-Turkish border and are supported by Frontex staff, you seldom encounter any uniforms in the mountains between Greece and Albania. As a result, this route is regarded as safe by refugees and migrants who want to travel onward to western Europe via Greece.

    The route west

    Many migrants travel from Thessaloniki to the picturesque town of Kastoria, about 30 kilometers outside Albania. “There, the police pick us up from the bus and take us to the Albanian border,” Zakarias tells DW at the Wave Center in Thessaloniki. He is Moroccan and arrived in Greece via Turkey.

    But at this point, these are just rumors.

    That afternoon the men get on the bus. Another Moroccan man, 46-year-old Saleh Rosa, is among them. He has been in Greece for a year and was homeless for a long time in Thessaloniki. “Greece is a good country, but I cannot live here,” Rosa tells DW. He aims to reach western Europe via Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and then Hungary.

    Ominous police checks

    Police stop the bus shortly before its arrival in Kastoria. There is a parked police car with uniformed officers. Two men in plain clothes board the bus, claiming to be police. Without showing any ID, they target the foreigners, detaining Saleh, Zakarias and their companions.

    At around 11pm that same evening, the migrants send a WhatsApp message and their Google coordinates. They say that the men in plainclothes have taken them to a place some 15 kilometers from the Albanian border, but within Greece. Later in the Albanian capital, Tirana, DW met with Rosa again, who stresses that his papers were not checked in Greece.

    Conflicting accounts

    When asked by DW, Greek police authorities confirmed the existence of the plain-clothed officers and the roadside check. But then their account diverges from that of the two men. Police said they wanted to check if the migrants were legally permitted to be in Greece and they were released once this was confirmed.

    But the migrants say that Saleh Rosa was the only one with the papers to stay in Greece legally and that the other men were unregistered. Moreover, there is a curfew in Greece because of COVID-19. You are only allowed to travel from one district to another in exceptional cases. Even if they had been carrying papers, the men should have been fined.

    The police refused to comment on that.

    https://www.dw.com/en/is-frontex-involved-in-illegal-pushbacks-in-the-balkans/a-56141370

    #Frontex #Balkans #route_des_balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #Albanie #Serbie #Kosovo #Sombor #Hongrie #Macédoine_du_Nord #Evros #Grèce

    –---

    voir aussi les accusations envers Frontex de refoulement en #Mer_Egée :
    Migrations : l’agence européenne #Frontex mise en cause pour des #refoulements en mer
    https://seenthis.net/messages/882952

  • ITALY : UPTICK IN CHAIN-REMOVALS

    While the exact number of persons arriving via the Slovenian-Italian border is unknown, there has been a sharp rise since April (http://www.regioni.it/dalleregioni/2020/11/09/friuli-venezia-giulia-immigrazione-fedriga-ripensare-politiche-di-controllo-) of people entering Italy from the Balkan route. Not only in Trieste, but also around the province of #Udine, arrivals have increased compared to last year. In Udine, around 100 people (https://www.ansa.it/friuliveneziagiulia/notizie/2020/11/30/migranti-oltre-cento-persone-rintracciate-nelludinese_9fdae48d-8174-4ea1-b221-8) were identified in one day. This has been met with a huge rise in chain pushbacks, initiated by Italian authorities via readmissions to Slovenia. From January to October 2020, 1321 people (https://www.rainews.it/tgr/fvg/articoli/2020/11/fvg-massimiliano-fedriga-migranti-arrivi-emergenza-98da1880-455e-4c59-9dc9-6) have been returned via the informal readmissions agreement, representing a fivefold increase when compared with the statistics from 2019.

    In this context, civil society groups highlight that “the returns are being carried out so quickly there is no way Italian authorities are implementing a full legal process at the border to determine if someone is in need of international protection.” The pushbacks to Slovenia appear to be indiscriminate. According to Gianfranco Schiavone (https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/11/17/europe-italy-bosnia-slovenia-migration-pushbacks-expulsion), from ASGI (Associazione per gli studi giuridici sullʼim-migrazione), “[they] have involved everybody, regardless of nationality,” he said. “They pushed back Afghans, Syrians, people from Iraq, people in clear need of protection.” As stated by Anna Brambilla, lawyer at ASGI, the Italian Ministry of the Interior (https://altreconomia.it/richiedenti-asilo-respinti-al-confine-tra-italia-e-slovenia-la-storia-d):
    “confirmed that people who have expressed a desire to apply for international protection are readmitted to Slovenia and that readmissions are carried out without delivering any provision relating to the readmission itself.”

    Crucially, the well publicised nature of chain removals from Slovenia, and onwards through Croatia, mean the authorities are aware of the violent sequence they are enter-ing people into, and thus complicit within this #violence.

    But instead of dealing with this deficit in adherence to international asylum law, in recent months Italian authorities have only sought to adapt border controls to apprehend more people. Border checks are now focusing on trucks, cars and smaller border crossings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu4es3xXVc8&feature=youtu.be

    ), rather than focusing solely on the military patrols of the forested area. This fits into a strategy of heightened control, pioneered by the Governor of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region Massimiliano Fedriga who hopes to deploy more detection equipment at the border. The aim is to choke off any onward transit beyond the first 10km of Italian territory, and therefore apply the fast tracked process of readmission to the maximum number of new arrivals.

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/wp-content/uploads/BVMN-November-Report.pdf

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #refoulements #push-backs #Italie #Slovénie #droit_d'asile #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #10_km #refoulements_en_chaîne

    –—

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur la création de #zones_frontalières (au lieu de lignes de frontière) en vue de refoulements :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/795053

    • Schiavone: «#Lamorgese ammetta che l’Italia sta facendo respingimenti illegali»

      «Le riammissioni informali dei richiedenti asilo non hanno alcuna base giuridica», spiega Gianfranco Schiavone, del direttivo dell’Asgi, Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’immigrazione. Nel 2020 sono state riammesse in Slovenia 1301 persone. «Sostenere, come ha fatto la ministra dell’interno Lamorgese durante l’interrogazione del deputato di Leu, Erasmo Palazzotto, che la Slovenia e soprattutto la Croazia siano “Paesi sicuri” nonostante le prove schiaccianti della violenza esercitata dalla polizia croata sulle persone in transito, ha dell’incredibile, un’affermazione indecorosa»

      Quelle che il governo italiano chiama “riammissioni” in realtà altro non sono che respingimenti illegali dei profughi che arrivano dalla Rotta Balcanica a Trieste e Gorizia. Pakistani, iracheni, afghani, e talvolta anche siriani che avrebbero diritto di chiedere asilo nel nostro Paese ma neanche mettono piede sul suolo italiano che già sono in marcia per fare forzatamente la Rotta Balcanica al contrario: all’Italia alla Slovenia, dalla Slovenia alla Croazia, dalla Croazia alla Bosnia.

      Lo scorso 13 gennaio il deputato di Leu, Erasmo Palazzotto durante la sua interrogazione ha ricordato alla ministra dell’Interno Lamorgese quanto sia disumano quello che sta succedendo in Bosnia, alle porte dell’Europa e di come testimoni il fallimento dell’Unione nella gestione dei flussi migratori sottolinenando che "Il nostro Paese deve sospendere le riammissioni informali verso la Slovenia e porre la questione in sede di Consiglio Europeo per gestire in maniera umana questo fenomeno. Va messa la parola fine a questa barbarie”. Ma Lamorgese sembra ancora continuare a non curarsi di quello che avviene dentro i nostri confini. Nel 2020 sono state respinte illegalmente in Slovenia 1301 persone.

      «Quello che succede al confine italiano sono veri e propri respingimenti illegali», spiega Gianfranco Schiavone, del direttivo di Asgi, Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione. «Anche nel 2018 si erano registrati casi di respingimenti illegittimi ma in numero contenuto. Allora la risposta fu principalmente quella di negare i fatti. In ogni caso, oggi, il fenomeno dei respingimenti illegali è aumentato enormemente in termini di quantità ma soprattutto nella loro rivendicazione ideologica. Mentre in passato la giustificazione poggiava sulla tesi che non si trattasse di richiedenti asilo oggi si tende a giustificare (pur usando volutamente un linguaggio ambiguo) che si possono respingere anche i richiedenti perchè la domanda di asilo si può fare in Slovenia».

      Stando a quanto ha affermato la ministra le riammissioni sono possibili in virtù dell’accordo bilaterale firmato dai due Paesi, Italia e Slovenia, nel 1996. Si tratta di “riammissioni” effettuate non in ragione del ripristino dei controlli alle frontiere interne, mai formalmente avvenuto, ma in applicazione dell’Accordo bilaterale fra il Governo della Repubblica italiana e il Governo della Repubblica di Slovenia sulla riammissione delle persone alla frontiera, firmato a Roma il 3 settembre 1996, che contiene previsioni finalizzate a favorire la riammissione sul territorio dei due Stati sia di cittadini di uno dei due Stati contraenti sia cittadini di Stati terzi.

      «In primis», spiega Schiavone, «occorre rilevare come tale accordo risulti illegittimo per contrarietà al sistema costituzionale interno italiano e per violazione di normative interne. È infatti dubbia la legittimità nell’ordinamento italiano dell’Accordo bilaterale fra il Governo della Repubblica italiana e il Governo della Repubblica di Slovenia e di ogni altro analogo tipo di accordi intergovernativi per due ordini di ragioni: nonostante abbiano infatti una chiara natura politica, essi non sono stati ratificati con legge di autorizzazione alla ratifica ai sensi dell’art. 80 Cost.;in quanto accordi intergovernativi stipulati in forma semplificata, in ogni caso essi non possono prevedere modifiche alle leggi vigenti in Italia (altro caso in cui l’art. 80 Cost. prevede la preventiva legge di autorizzazione alla ratifica) e dunque essi neppure possono derogare alle norme di fonte primaria dell’ordinamento giuridico italiano. In ogni caso, anche volendo prescindere da ogni ulteriore valutazione sui profili di illegittimità dell’Accordo di riammissione è pacifico che ne è esclusa appunto l’applicazione ai rifugiati riconosciuti ai sensi della Convenzione di Ginevra (all’epoca la nozione di protezione sussidiaria ancora non esisteva) come chiaramente enunciato all’articolo 2 del medesimo Accordo. Del tutto priva di pregio sotto il profilo dell’analisi giuridica sarebbe l’obiezione in base alla quale l’accordo fa riferimento ai rifugiati e non ai richiedenti asilo giacché come è noto, il riconoscimento dello status di rifugiato (e di protezione sussidiaria) è un procedimento di riconoscimento di un diritto soggettivo perfetto i cui presupposti che lo straniero chiede appunto di accertare. Non v’è pertanto alcuna possibilità di distinguere in modo arbitrario tra richiedenti protezione e rifugiati riconosciuti dovendosi comunque garantire in ogni caso l’accesso alla procedura di asilo allo straniero che appunto chiede il riconoscimento dello status di rifugiato. A chiudere del tutto l’argomento sotto il profilo giuridico, è il noto Regolamento Dublino III che prevede che ogni domanda di asilo sia registrata alla frontiera o all’interno dello Stato nel quale il migrante si trova. Una successiva complessa procedura stabilita se il Paese competente ad esaminare la domanda è eventualmente diverso da quello nel quale il migrante ha chiesto asilo e in ogni caso il Regolamento esclude tassativamente che si possano effettuare riammissioni o respingimenti di alcun genere nel paese UE confinante solo perchè il richiedente proviene da lì. Anzi, il Regolamento è nato in primo luogo per evitare rimpalli di frontiera tra uno stato e l’altro. Violare, come sta avvenendo, questa fondamentale procedura, significa scardinare il Regolamento e in ultima analisi, il sistema europeo di asilo. È come se fossimo tornati indietro di trent’anni, a prima del 1990».

      Inoltre secondo la ministra "la Slovenia aderisce alla Convenzione di Ginevra e che la stessa Slovenia, come la Croazia sono considerati Paesi sicuri sul piano del rispetto dei diritti umani e delle convenzioni internazionali. Pertanto le riammissioni avvengono verso uno stato europeo, la Slovenia, dove vigono normative internazionali analoghe a quelle del nostro paese”.

      «Lamorgese», continua Schiavone, «ha fatto una figura veramente imbarazzante che ricade sul nostro Paese. Bisogna avere il coraggio di ammettere che abbiamo fatto una cosa illegale riammettendo i richiedenti asilo in Slovenia e da là, attraverso una collaudata catena, in Crozia e infine in Bosnia. E anche se nell’audizione dice tre parole, solo un piccolo inciso, sul fatto che non possono essere riamessi i migranti che hanno fatto richiesta d’asilo, nei fatti la sostanza non cambia. Infine sostenere che la Slovenia e soprattutto la Croazia siano “Paesi sicuri” nonostante le prove schiaccianti della violenza esercitata dalla polizia croata sulle persone in transito ha dell’incredibile. Un ministro non può permettersi di dire che quelli sono Paesi sicuri, perchè per i migranti della Rotta Balcanica non lo sono. E alla domanda “come finirà la questione?” La ministra non è stata in grado di formulare nessuna risposta chiara sul fatto che verrà posta fine alla pratica delle riammissioni dei richiedenti. Ed è forse questa la cosa più grave».

      http://www.vita.it/it/article/2021/01/18/schiavone-lamorgese-ammetta-che-litalia-sta-facendo-respingimenti-ille/158020

  • Rapporti di monitoraggio

    Sin dal 2016 il progetto ha pubblicato report di approfondimento giuridico sulle situazioni di violazione riscontrate presso le diverse frontiere oggetto delle attività di monitoraggio. Ciascun report affronta questioni ed aspetti contingenti e particolarmente interessanti al fine di sviluppare azioni di contenzioso strategico.

    Elenco dei rapporti pubblicati in ordine cronologico:

    “Le riammissioni di cittadini stranieri a Ventimiglia (giugno 2015): profili di illegittimità“

    Il report è stato redatto nel giugno del 2015 è costituisce una prima analisi delle principali criticità riscontrabili alla frontiera italo-francese verosimilmente sulla base dell’Accordo bilaterale fra il Governo della Repubblica italiana e il Governo della Repubblica francese sulla cooperazione transfrontaliera in materia di polizia e dogana (Accordo di Chambery)
    #Vintimille #Ventimiglia #frontière_sud-alpine #Alpes #Menton #accord_bilatéral #Accord_de_Chambéry #réadmissions

    Ajouté à la #métaliste de liens autour d’#accords_de_réadmission entre pays européens...
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091
    Et plus précisément ici:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091#message887941

    –---

    “Le riammissioni di cittadini stranieri alla frontiera di Chiasso: profili di illegittimità”

    Il report è stato redatto nell’estate del 2016 per evidenziare la situazione critica che si era venuta a creare in seguito al massiccio afflusso di cittadini stranieri in Italia attraverso la rotta balcanica scatenata dalla crisi siriana. La frontiera italo-svizzera è stata particolarmente interessata da numerosi tentativi di attraversamento del confine nei pressi di Como e il presente documento fornisce una analisi giuridica delle criticità riscontrate.

    Ajouté à la #métaliste de liens autour d’#accords_de_réadmission entre pays européens...
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091
    Et plus précisément ici:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091#message887940

    –-----

    “Lungo la rotta del Brennero”

    Il report, redatto con la collaborazione della associazione Antenne Migranti e il contributo della fondazione Alex Langer nel 2017, analizza le dinamiche della frontiera altoatesina e sviluppa una parte di approfondimento sulle violazioni relative al diritto all’accoglienza per richiedenti asilo e minori, alle violazioni all’accesso alla procedura di asilo e ad una analisi delle modalità di attuazione delle riammissioni alla frontiera.

    #Brenner #Autriche

    –---

    “Attività di monitoraggio ai confini interni italiani – Periodo giugno 2018 – giugno 2019”

    Report analitico che riporta i dati raccolti e le prassi di interesse alle frontiere italo-francesi, italo-svizzere, italo-austriache e italo slovene. Contiene inoltre un approfondimento sui trasferimenti di cittadini di paesi terzi dalle zone di frontiera indicate all’#hotspot di #Taranto e centri di accoglienza del sud Italia.

    #Italie_du_Sud

    –------

    “Report interno sopralluogo Bosnia 27-31 ottobre 2019”

    Report descrittivo a seguito del sopralluogo effettuato da soci coinvolti nel progetto Medea dal 27 al 31 ottobre sulla condizione delle persone in transito in Bosnia. Il rapporto si concentra sulla descrizione delle strutture di accoglienza presenti nel paese, sull’accesso alla procedura di protezione internazionale e sulle strategie di intervento future.

    #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine

    –---

    “Report attività frontiere interne terrestri, porti adriatici e Bosnia”

    Rapporto di analisi dettagliata sulle progettualità sviluppate nel corso del periodo luglio 2019 – luglio 2020 sulle diverse frontiere coinvolte (in particolare la frontiera italo-francese, italo-slovena, la frontiera adriatica e le frontiere coinvolte nella rotta balcanica). Le novità progettuali più interessanti riguardano proprio l’espansione delle progettualità rivolte ai paesi della rotta balcanica e alla Grecia coinvolta nelle riammissioni dall’Italia. Nel periodo ad oggetto del rapporto il lavoro ha avuto un focus principale legato ad iniziative di monitoraggio, costituzione della rete ed azioni di advocacy.

    #Slovénie #mer_Adriatique #Adriatique

    https://medea.asgi.it/rapporti

    #rapport #monitoring #medea #ASGI
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières
    #frontières_internes #frontières_intérieures #Balkans #route_des_balkans

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • La via della vergogna Sulla rotta balcanica delle migrazioni

    Il viaggio disperato lungo la rotta dei Balcani, tra violenze e torture inaudite da parte della polizia Centinaia di profughi con diritto alla protezione respinti dall’Italia

    È la schiena curva e livida dei respinti a dire le sprangate. Sono le gambe sanguinanti a raccontare la disperata corsa giù dal valico. A piedi nudi, con le caviglie spezzate dalle bastonate e i cani dell’esercito croato che azzannano gli ultimi della fila. È l’umiliato silenzio di alcuni ragazzi visitati dai medici volontari nel campo bosniaco di #Bihac per le cure e il referto: stuprati e seviziati dalla polizia con dei rami raccolti nella boscaglia. I meno sfortunati se la sono cavata con il marchio di una spranga incandescente, a perenne memoria dell’ingresso indesiderato nell’Unione Europea.

    Gli orrori avvengono alla luce del sole. Affinché gli altri, i recidivi degli attraversamenti e quelli che dalle retrovie attendono notizie, battano in ritirata. Velika Kladuša e il valico della paura. Di qua è Croazia, Europa. Di la è Bosnia, fuori dalla cortina Ue. Di qua si proclamano i diritti, ma si usa il bastone. Oramai tra i profughi della rotta balcanica lo sanno tutti che con gli agenti sloveni e gli sbirri croati non si scherza.

    «Siamo stati consegnati dalla polizia slovena alla polizia croata. Siamo stati picchiati, bastonati, ci hanno tolto le scarpe, preso i soldi e i telefoni. Poi ci hanno spinto fino al confine con la Bosnia, a piedi scalzi. Tanti piangevano per il dolore e per essere stati respinti». Sono le parole di chi aveva finalmente visto i cartelli stradali in italiano, ma è stato rimandato indietro, lungo una filiera del respingimento come non se ne vedeva dalla guerra nella ex Jugoslavia. Certi metodi non sembrano poi cambiati di molto.

    Tre Paesi e tre trattamenti. I militari italiani non alzano le mani, ma sono al corrente di cosa accadrà una volta rimandati indietro i migranti intercettati a Trieste come a Gorizia. Più si torna al punto di partenza, e peggio andranno le cose. Le testimonianze consegnate ad Avvenire dai profughi, dalle organizzazioni umanitarie, dai gruppi di avvocati lungo tutta la rotta balcanica, sembrano arrivare da un’altra epoca.

    Le foto non mentono. Un uomo si è visto quasi strappare il tendine del ginocchio destro da uno dei mastini delle guardie di confine croate. Quasi tutti hanno il torso attraversato da ematomi, cicatrici, escoriazioni. C’è chi adesso è immobile nella tendopoli di Bihac con la gamba ingessata, chi con il volto completamente bendato, ragazzini con le braccia bloccate dai tutori in attesa che le ossa tornino al loro posto. I segni degli scarponi schiacciati contro la faccia, le costole incrinate, i calci sui genitali. Un ragazzo pachistano mostra una profonda e larga ferita sul naso, il cuoio capelluto malridotto, mentre un infermiere volontario gli pratica le quotidiane medicazioni. Un afghano appena maggiorenne ha l’orecchio destro interamente ricucito con i punti a zigzag. Centinaia raccontano di essere stati allontanati dal suolo italiano.

    Una pratica, quella dei respingimenti a ritroso dal confine triestino fino agli accampamenti nel fango della Bosnia, non più episodica. «Solo nei primi otto mesi del 2020 sono state riammesse alla frontiera italo-slovena oltre 900 persone, con una eccezionale impennata nel trimestre estivo, periodo nel quale il fenomeno era già noto al mondo politico che è però rimasto del tutto inerte », lamenta Gianfranco Schiavone, triestino e vicepresidente di Asgi, l’associazione di giuristi specializzati nei diritti umani. «Tra le cittadinanze degli stranieri riammessi in Slovenia il primo posto va agli afghani (811 persone), seguiti da pachistani, iracheni, iraniani, siriani e altre nazionalità, la maggior parte delle quali – precisa Schiavone – relative a Paesi da cui provengono persone con diritto alla protezione ». A ridosso del territorio italiano arriva in realtà solo chi riesce a sfuggire alla caccia all’uomo fino ai tornanti che precedono la prima bandiera tricolore. Per lasciarsi alle spalle quei trecento chilometri da Bihac a Trieste possono volerci due settimane.

    Secondo il Danish Refugee Council, che nei Paesi coinvolti ha inviato numerosi osservatori incaricati di raccogliere testimonianze dirette, nel 2019 sono tornate nel solo campo di bosniaco di Bihac 14.444 persone, 1.646 solo nel giugno di quest’anno.

    I dati a uso interno del Viminale e visionati da Avvenire confermano l’incremento delle “restituzioni” direttamente alla polizia slovena. Nel secondo semestre del 2019 le riammissioni attive verso Zagabria sono state 107: 39 da Gorizia e 78 da Trieste. Il resto, circa 800 casi, si concentra tutto nel 2020. Il “Border violence monitoring”, una rete che riunisce lungo tutta la dorsale balcanica una dozzina di organizzazioni, tra cui medici legali e avvocati, ha documentato con criteri legali (testimonianze, foto, referti medici) 904 casi di violazione dei diritti umani. Lungo i sentieri sul Carso, tra i cespugli nei fitti boschi in cima ai dirupi, si trovano i tesserini identificativi rilasciati con i timbri dell’Alto commissariato Onu per i rifugiati o dall’Agenzia Onu per le migrazioni. I migranti li abbandonano lì. Testimoniano di come a decine avessero ottenuto la registrazione nei campi allestiti a ridosso del confine balcanico dell’Unione Europea.

    Quel documento, che un tempo sarebbe stato considerato un prezioso salvacondotto per invocare poi la protezione internazionale, oggi può essere una condanna. Perché averlo addosso conferma di provenire dalla Bosnia e dunque facilita la “riconsegna” alla polizia slovena. Anche per questo lo chiamano “game”.

    Un “gioco” puoi vincere una domanda d’asilo in Italia o in un’altro Paese dell’Ue, o un’altra tornata nell’inferno dei respingimenti. «Quando eravamo nascosti in mezzo ai boschi, la polizia slovena – racconta un altro dei respinti – era anche accompagnata dai cani. Qualcuno si era accucciato nel bosco e non era stato inizialmente visto, ma quattro o cinque cani li hanno scovati e quando hanno provato a scappare sono stati rincorsi dai cani e catturati».

    https://www.avvenire.it/attualita/pagine/lorrore-alle-porte-delleuropa

    #photographie #témoignage #images #violence #violences #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #torture #Croatie #game #the_game #viols #Velika_Kladuša #Velika_Kladusa #Bosnie #Slovénie #refoulements_en_chaîne #push-backs #refoulements #réadmission #chiens

    • Violenza sui migranti, in un video le prove dalla Croazia

      Impugnano una spranga da cui pende una corda. Stanno per spaccare ginocchia, frustare sulla schiena, lanciare sassi mirando alla testa dei profughi. Sono soldati croati...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tacXXCD8UL8&feature=emb_logo

      Non è per il freddo delle gelate balcaniche che gli uomini appostati nella radura indossano un passamontagna. Il branco è lì per un’imboscata. Impugnano una spranga da cui pende una corda. Stanno per spaccare ginocchia, frustare sulla schiena, lanciare sassi mirando alla testa dei profughi. Sono soldati croati. E stavolta Zagabria non potrà più dire che non ci sono prove.

      Ora c’è un video che conferma le accuse di questi anni. Nei giorni scorsi, dopo la ricostruzione di Avvenire e la pubblicazione di immagini e testimonianze di alcune tra le migliaia di persone seviziate dai gendarmi, era intervenuta la commissaria agli Affari Interni dell’Ue, Ylva Johansson. «Abbiamo sentito di respingimenti dagli Stati membri e non è accettabile». Nessun accenno, però, alla violenza. Il governo di Zagabria, infatti, ha sempre respinto le accuse dei profughi respinti a catena da Italia, Slovenia e Croazia. «Nonostante i report lo Stato croato ha negato, mettendo in dubbio la credibilità dei migranti, degli attivisti e dei giornalisti – ricordano i legali del “Border violence monitoring” – citando la mancanza di prove fotografiche». Ora quelle prove ci sono.

      I fotogrammi e i video raccolti sul campo non lasciano spazio a dubbi. La frusta schiocca i primi colpi. Un uomo viene atterrato dopo che l’aggressore lo ha quasi azzoppato. Neanche il tempo di stramazzare tra i rovi che viene centrato in pieno volto. Poco distante, in un fossato che segna il confine con la Bosnia Erzegovina, altri due uomini a volto coperto, entrambi con divise blu scure, afferrano dei grossi sassi e li scagliano contro alcuni ragazzi che corrono per riguadagnare il confine bosniaco, a meno di 30 metri, dove gli aggressori croati sanno di non potere addentrarsi.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtEDbuDbqzU&feature=youtu.be

      Le sequenze sono raccapriccianti. Le urla spezzano il fiato. I militari infieriscono ripetutamente su persone inermi. A tutti sono state tolte le scarpe, i telefoni, il denaro, gli zainetti con gli unici ricordi delle propRie origini. Un uomo piange. Il volto gonfio, una gamba dolorante, alcune ferite alla testa, il labbro superiore sanguinante. Nella sua lingua biascica la più universale delle invocazioni: «Mamma mia».

      Le immagini,che risalgono alla fine di marzo, sono state analizzate per mesi da legali e periti di vari Paesi per conto del “Border violence monitoring”, il network di organizzazioni di volontariato attivo in tutti i Balcani. Nel video integrale (sintetizzato da Avvenire in una versione di 4 minuti in questo articolo) si possono vedere i filmati con le ricostruzioni forensi. Oltre alle identità dei feriti è stato possibile riconoscere anche i corpi di appartenenza dei picchiatori: guardie di confine, nuclei speciali della polizia e militari dell’esercito.

      Le forze di sicurezza, come sempre, avevano pensato a impedire che le testimonianze potessero trovare riscontri fotografici. Questa volta, però, un ragazzo afghano è riuscito a beffarli. Poco prima del respingimento altri agenti in un posto di polizia avevano rubato denaro, telefoni ed effetti personali. Con le scarpe e i vestiti avevano fatto un falò. Nella concitazione, da uno degli zainetti è scivolato un telefono. Il ragazzo ha fatto in tempo a nasconderlo nelle mutande. Per consegnarci le immagini della vergogna all’interno dell’Unone europea.

      Dopo una corsa disperata, inseguito dalle sprangate e dalle scudisciate, una volta superato il fossato ha riacceso il cellulare danneggiato durante l’aggressione. C’era ancora abbastanza batteria. Si sente anche la sua voce mentre non riesce a tener ferme le mani: «Mi fa male una gamba, ho troppo dolore». Un altro accanto a lui comprende l’importanza di quegli istanti: «Ti tengo io, devi continuare a riprendere».

      Pochi giorni prima The Guardian aveva pubblicato un inchiesta di Lorenzo Tondo: la polizia croata veniva accusata di segnare i migranti islamici con una croce sulla testa, ma ancora una volta Zagabria aveva negato.

      Le riammissioni a catena, con cui dal confine italo–sloveno «si deportano illegalmente i rifugiati fino in Bosnia, hanno l’effetto di esporre le persone a condizioni inumane e a un rischio di morte: vanno pertanto immediatamente fermate», chiede il Consorzio italiano di solidarietà (Ics). Anche in Bosnia vengono denunciati episodi di violenza ed uso eccessivo della forza da parte della polizia.

      L’11 dicembre, sei giorni dopo la pubblicazione della prima puntata dell’inchiesta di Avvenire (LEGGI QUI), è intervenuta la Commissaria ai diritti umani del Consiglio d’Europa, il consesso che ha dato vita alla Corte europea dei diritti dell’Uomo. In una lettera la bosniaca Dunja Mijatovic parla delle «segnalazioni di gruppi di vigilantes locali che attaccano i migranti e distruggono i loro beni personali», esprimendo preoccupazione «per le segnalazioni di attacchi e minacce contro i difensori dei diritti umani che aiutano i migranti, tra cui una campagna diffamatoria e minacce di morte».

      E non sarà certo la prima neve a fermare le traversate.

      Ieri la polizia serba ha bloccato 300 persone in due distinte operazioni: 170 sono stati trovati nella zona di Kikinda, lungo un sentiero sul confine con la Romania; altri 140 sono stati vicino al valico di Horgos, alla frontiera con l’Ungheria. Sperano così di aggirare la sbirraglia.

      Nicola Bay, direttore in Bosnia del “Danish refugee council” spiega di avere identificato con la sua organizzazione «14.500 casi di respingimenti dalla Croazia alla Bosnia dall’inizio del 2020. Nel solo mese di ottobre, i casi sono stati 1.934, tra cui 189 episodi in cui migranti sono stati soggetti a brutale violenza, e in due episodi anche violenza sessuale, da parte di uomini in uniformi nere, con i volti mascherati». Perciò «non è accettabile che i respingimenti violenti siano utilizzati, di fatto, come strumento per il controllo dei confini dagli stati europei. È giunto il momento di esigere, da parte della Commissione Europea e degli stati membri della Ue, inclusa l’Italia, il pieno rispetto delle più basilari norme del diritto comunitario e internazionale».

      E non è escluso che grazie a queste immagini si apra finalmente una inchiesta giudiziaria per individuare i responsabili, i loro superiori e fermare i crimini contro gli esseri umani commessi nell’Unione Europea.

      https://www.avvenire.it/attualita/pagine/torture-su-migranti-al-confine-tra-croazia-e-bosnia-vide-scavo

    • L’inchiesta. Abusi sui migranti della rotta balcanica, scende in campo l’Ue

      Dopo le denunce su violenze e respingimenti, l’Agenzia Ue per i diritti umani: monitorare i comportamenti della polizia. Zagabria: violenze presunte. A Trieste con i volontari che curano le ferite

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

      La lavanda dei piedi comincia all’ora del vespro. È il quotidiano rito dei volontari che ogni sera, nel piccolo parco tra la stazione e il vecchio porto, dai loro zaini da studente estraggono garze, cerotti, unguenti. Passano da lì gli impavidi del game, i superstiti della roulette russa dei respingimenti a catena, e a bastonate, verso la Bosnia. Cacciati fuori dai confini Ue.

      Dopo le nuove denunce di queste settimane, qualcosa tra Bruxelles e Zagabria si muove. L’agenzia Ue per i diritti fondamentali è pronta a monitorare i comportamenti delle polizie lungo i confini. Ma manca una data per l’avvio del piano di prevenzione degli abusi.

      Pochi giorni fa a Bruxelles hanno chiuso un rapporto che racconta di vicende sfuggite alle principali cronache internazionali. Sono ancora in corso le indagini per episodi ch si ripetono da anni senza che mai si arrivi a individuare delle responsabilità. Nel novembre 2017 «una bambina afghana di sei anni, Madina Hosseini, è stata uccisa da un treno in transito al confine tra Croazia e Serbia» si legge nel dossier, che precisa: «Secondo il rapporto del difensore civico croato, Madina e la sua famiglia erano arrivate in Croazia e avevano chiesto asilo, quando è stato detto loro di tornare in Serbia». Una violazione delle norme sul diritto d’asilo finita in dramma. La famiglia è stata trasferita «in un veicolo della polizia vicino alla ferrovia e istruita a seguire i binari fino alla Serbia. Poco dopo, la bambina di sei anni è stata uccisa da un treno». D allora non molto è cambiato in meglio.

      Da Kabul a Trieste sono 4mila chilometri. Da qui il villaggio di casa è lontano, la guerra anche. C’è chi l’ultimo tratto lo ha percorso cinque volte. Perché acciuffato dagli agenti sloveni, infine riportato in Bosnia dopo una lezione della polizia croata. E c’è chi a Trieste invece c’era quasi arrivato, ma è stato colto dalla polizia italiana sulla fascia di confine, e poco dopo «riammesso» in Slovenia, come prevede un vecchio accordo tra Roma e Lubiana siglato quando implodeva la ex Jugoslavia.

      Scarpe sfondate, vestiti rotti, le caviglie gonfie e gli occhi troppo stanchi di chi l’ultima volta che s’è accucciato su un materasso era in un qualche posto di polizia. Per Gianfranco Schiavone, vicepresidente dell’Associazione per gli studi giuridici sull’immigrazione (Asgi), è più che «anomalo che la riammissione possa avvenire senza l’emanazione di un provvedimento amministrativo». Anche perché «è indiscutibile che l’azione posta in essere dalla pubblica sicurezza attraverso l’accompagnamento forzato in Slovenia produce effetti rilevantissimi – aggiunge – sulla situazione giuridica dei soggetti interessati».

      Ricacciati indietro senza neanche poter presentare la domanda di protezione, molti passano per le mani delle guardie croate. Anche qui, però, il compatto muro di omertà tra uomini in divisa comincia a incrinarsi. La diffusione di immagini e filmati che documentano la presenza di gendarmi tra i picchiatori di migranti sta convincendo diversi agenti a denunciare anche i loro superiori. Gli ordini, infatti, arrivano dall’alto. Il merito è dell’Ufficio per la protezione dei diritti umani di Zagabria, dotato di poteri investigativi che stanno aprendo la strada a indagini della magistratura, garantendo l’anonimato ai poliziotti che collaborano con le indagini. Il ministero dell’Interno di Zagabria respinge le accuse arrivate nelle ultime settimane da testate come Der Spiegel, The Guardian e Avvenire, riguardo le violenze commesse dalle autorità lungo i confini. Foto e filmati mostrano uomini in divisa armati di spranghe e fruste. «Non si può confermare con certezza che siano membri regolari della polizia croata», si legge in una nota. «La polizia croata protegge il confine dalla migrazione illegale, lo protegge dalle azioni illegali e dai pericoli – aggiunge – che possono portare con sé persone senza documenti e senza identità, e lo fa per fornire pace e sicurezza al popolo croato». Tuttavia «non tolleriamo alcuna violenza nella protezione delle frontiere né (la violenza) è parte integrante delle nostre azioni». Riguardo al filmato e alla ricostruzione di Border Violence Monitoring «concludiamo che non abbiamo registrato azioni in base alla data e al luogo dichiarati nell’annuncio». Quali indagini siano state condotte non è però dato saperlo. «Controlleremo accuratamente i presunti eventi».

      Mentre dal Carso i primi refoli della sera si scontrano con quelli che soffiano dal mare, i volontari appostati nei dintorni della statua della principessa Sissi si preparano a un’altra serata con dolori da alleviare e lamenti da ascoltare. Lorena Fornasier, 67 anni, psicoterapeuta, e suo marito Gian Andrea Franchi, 83 anni, professore di filosofia in pensione, passano spesso di qua. Raccolgono quelli messi peggio. Lo fanno da anni, senza clamore, e si devono a loro le prime denunce sui maltrattamenti subiti dove finiscono i Balcani e comincia la Mitteleuropa.

      «Bisogna portare in tribunale dei casi individuali con l’intento di definire un precedente che sia valido per tutti, per attivare dei cambiamenti normativi che permettano un maggiore rispetto dei diritti fondamentali», osserva Giulia Spagna, direttrice per l’Italia del Danish refugee council, le cui squadre continuano a raccogliere prove di abusi lungo tutta la dorsale balcanica. «Da una parte – aggiunge – si devono offrire soluzioni concrete alle persone che hanno subito soprusi, attraverso supporto legale, oltre che medico e psicologico. Dall’altra usare questi episodi per influenzare le politiche europee e nazionali».

      https://www.avvenire.it/attualita/pagine/a-trieste-tra-chi-cura-le-ferite-reportage-migranti

  • Video Documents Illegal Refugee Pushbacks in Croatia

    For years, asylum-seekers have been claiming abuse at the hands of Croatian border police, with some reporting beatings, electric shocks and even having their toenails torn out. For the first time, videos in combination with reporting by DER SPIEGEL have confirmed some of these reports.

    Ibrahim had a hunch he knew what was coming when the Croatian police car stopped. The young Pakistani had set off from Kashmir two years earlier to reach Europe. But now, on a cold day at the end of March, the Croatian police dragged him and the other refugees out of the vehicle, Ibrahim recalls. More security forces were waiting outside. They wore black balaclavas to hide their faces.

    The men forced the refugees to take off their jackets, shoes and pants, and one by one, the hooded men lined up. One of the men in masks grabbed Ibrahim by the neck and dragged him toward the river, according to his recollection. The others beat him, aiming at Ibrahim’s back, arms and legs. "They were beating me like crazy,” he says. Out of fear, he asked that he not be identified by his last name in this article.

    Ibrahim recalls a long, thick branch that hurt especially bad when he was hit with it. Three other refugees say they were beaten with a metal rod and with a sling that had a heavy object attached to the end of it.

    The beatings lasted only a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity to Ibrahim. The hooded men pushed him down to the Glina River, the natural border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the village of Poljana. The river is only a few meters wide there. "Fast, jump,” one of the masked men shouted in English, says Ibrahim. “Go back Bosnia!”

    The European Union closed the Balkan route to migrants in 2016, after it had already been used in previous months by hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and other countries as they made their way to Western Europe. Thousands of refugees have been camping in the forest and in old war ruins in northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina ever since. On the other side of the border, Croatian officials with night-vision goggles and firearms patrol the border. But that doesn’t stop the refugees from setting off each night. They have a name for their dangerous attempt to get past the border guards: "The Game.”

    Asylum seekers have been reporting for years of abuse at the hands of Croatian police and of being forced back to Bosnia. Photos from aid organizations show refugees with bleeding lacerations, broken arms, knocked-out teeth and dark red marks on their backs. Asylum-seekers speak of torture with stun guns, sexual abuse and even torn-out toenails. The focus of their reports is always the same: Masked police officers.
    Beatings Instead of Hearings

    NGOs, doctors and even the United Nations Refugee Agency have collected thousands of such testimonies. Sometimes, skin color alone is enough to become a target of the security forces. In winter 2019, Croatian border guards illegally deported two Nigerian table-tennis players who were only trying to take part in a university championship.

    Pushbacks, as they are called, violate not only Croatian asylum law but also European law and the Geneva Convention on Refugees. They make a mockery of the right to apply for asylum. Instead of being given a hearing, asylum-seekers are beaten.

    The Croatian authorities deny that officers use force at the border or that they illegally drag asylum seekers back across the border. The government has simply ignored video clips showing security forces leading asylum-seekers to the border. Government officials also claim that refugees have simply invented claims of violence. Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman recently said that his country denies "all accusations of incorrect behavior at the border.”

    But Ibrahim’s case makes Croatia’s claims of innocence all the more difficult to uphold.

    DER SPIEGEL spent months investigating his case together with the media organization Lighthouse Reports. The reporters spoke with three refugees who were traveling with Ibrahim. To the extent possible, they reconstructed the route they took. The refugees’ reports can only be partly independently verified, but their geodata does corroborate their statements. There is also a video that the NGO No Name Kitchen obtained when interviewing the refugees. DER SPIEGEL and Lighthouse Reports were able to verify its authenticity.

    The reporting clearly shows that it is not only in Greece that refugees are being pushed back forcibly. On the Bosnian-Croatian border, masked men are beating up refugees. The images reveal a disturbing level of violence that is increasingly becoming the norm at the EU’s external borders.

    Ibrahim, for his part, had already failed to get past the Croatian security forces dozens of times, but in March things went better than usual. He and three other migrants described to DER SPIEGEL how they, together with around 50 other refugees, some of them underage, set off that day for the EU. The men crossed the border near Šturlić, a village in Bosnia, before walking through the wilderness of the Croatian forests. It was cold, and at night they slept in cheap sleeping bags.

    After around seven days, the group reached the Kulpa River, which borders Slovenia, and the migrants spent the night there. They ate the last of their supplies, they recall, and finally waded through the river on their way to Western Europe. The group stopped in a patch of forest above the Slovenian village Kočevje. Smugglers were supposed to meet them there to take the men to Italy, but nobody showed up. "We held out for three or four days without food or anything to drink,” says Ibrahim. But then they finally gave up.

    Slovenian police intercepted the refugees as they left their hiding place. The refugees say the officers took them to a police station, questioned each individually and took photos and fingerprints. The migrants claim that each of them asked to be allowed to file an asylum application. But the answer they received, they say, was clear: “No asylum. You’re going back to Bosnia.”
    "I Have Never Been So Scared in My Life"

    When contacted by DER SPIEGEL, the Slovenian police confirmed that they had apprehended the refugees. They deny, however, that Ibrahim asked to apply for asylum, so they handed the men over to the Croatian authorities as part of a return agreement. Both the Croatian and the Slovenian officials certified the handover with their signatures.

    Things moved quickly once the they were in the hands of the Croatian police. The men say the officers drove the group to the border river, where the men wearing the balaclavas were already waiting for them. "I have never been so scared in my life,” says Ibrahim.

    The refugees’ geodata, stored in a Google Maps account, supports their statements. It includes data geolocating the group in Croatia and Slovenia. Shaky mobile phone images provide even more evidence. One of the refugees says that the images only exist because he was able to hide his mobile phone in his underwear.

    DER SPIEGEL

    The images show Ibrahim standing on the Bosnian side of the river, in wet pants and no shoes. The young Pakistani can be see crying, his face twisted in agony. "I have such pain in my leg!” he whimpers. Another refugee whose clothes are wet and also doesn’t have any shoes, can be seen supporting him.

    Four men can be seen in the background on Croatian soil with blue and olive-green clothing reminiscent of uniforms. Three are seen putting on black masks. The men carry a long pole with them, as well as a stick with rope that has a heavy object attached to it. One of the men can be seen wielding the homemade weapon.

    The hooded men lead another group of people to the border river. They beat one of the migrants with a stick or a pole. They then chase another a few seconds later, running toward the border. "Fuck your mother” rings out across the river.

    The metadata show that the video was taken on the afternoon of March 23. The buildings in the background prove that the events unfolded near Poljana on the Bosnian-Croatian border. The masked men can’t be clearly identified in the images. However, their presence at the closely guarded border suggests that the men are part of the Croatian security forces. It’s unlikely that masked men could operate in broad daylight without the knowledge of the authorities.

    "Some of the uniforms visible in the video seem to be all mixed up,” says Ranko Ostojić, a politician with the center-left social democrats in Croatia. He says he suspects the men in question are retired police officers who are now part of the reserves. "They used to be allowed to keep their uniforms, and now they are apparently carrying out pushbacks.”

    Ostojić was once Croatia’s director of police and interior minister. He spent years chairing the Domestic Affairs Committee in the Croatian national parliament. "The pushbacks are systematic,” he says. "Based on my experience, I am convinced that they are at least tolerated by the government.”

    When contacted by DER SPIEGEL, officials at the Croatian Interior Ministry said in a statement that they have no records of any operations on the date and location in question. They said they could not comment on the events described without further details. Croatia offers asylum seekers the opportunity to apply for asylum, the statement says, and goes on to claim that NGO reports on injured migrants almost completely ignore the conflicts between migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ministry claims that the migrants are injured in accidents or that they inflict injuries on each other and then blame Croatian border police.

    When Bosnian Milo Gujić hears shots or screams from the woods below his barn, he knows they are coming again. A short time later, bleeding, crying and half-naked men show up in his yard. Sometimes, he says, it happens daily.
    Fear of Retaliation

    Gujić and his wife have been experiencing the brutality of the Croatian border police up close for years now. Their property is located only a few hundred meters away from the EU’s external border. Gujić, who has a wiry build, has asked that we not use his real name for this story. He is afraid that Croatian security forces might retaliate against him.

    In March, Gujić opened up his home to Ibrahim and his companions. Gujic says he found the men standing at his door trembling and sobbing. When shown the video, he immediately recognizes them. He built a fire for them and brought dry clothes and food. "When I took the clothes off one of them, I saw his back. It looked like someone had stuck an iron bar into a fire and then hit him with it. That’s how deep red the marks from the blows were.”

    The Glina River along the border is a popular place for pushbacks. It is easily accessible from the Croatian side and only sparsely populated on the Bosnian side. Gujić says the Croatians recently paved the gravel road leading to the border, an omen, he believes, that the half-naked, injured men will keep coming. Gujić can’t understand the violence: “You don’t even hurt animals like that.”

    The EU pays Croatia millions of euros to secure the border. Croatia is also slated to join the Schengen Area soon, meaning its borders with other members of the area will no longer by controlled. Once that happens, the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina will become one of those places where decisions are made on how many asylum-seekers are actually allowed to reach Western Europe.

    In October 2019, the European Commission gave Croatia a positive evaluation in its progress toward accession into the Schengen Area, but said it would have to continue its work on "management of the external borders.” All Schengen member states must approve any country’s accession. But already, the Croatian government is effectively acting as one of Europe’s gatekeepers.

    So far, the EU has largely ignored these obvious violations of human rights. In Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel have openly praised the work of the Croatian border police. EU border management agency Frontex, which monitors the border from the air, has reported hundreds of illegal border crossings, but no human rights violations.

    "The EU is turning a blind eye to pushbacks,” says former Croatian Interior Minister Ostojić. He says it appears EU officials don’t seem to care whether the border police act in accordance with international law. And their silence merely encourages the Croatian government.

    "The images are the clearest evidence yet that Croatia engages in violent pushbacks,” says Hanaa Hakiki, a lawyer with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a Berlin-based human rights organization that provides support to refugees facing court proceedings. She notes that the deportations did not take place at official border crossings and that some of the weapons used by the masked men were homemade. "In light of these terrible images, the EU should take immediate action,” she says.
    Schengen As a Means of Pressure?

    Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs responsible for EU borders, sent a letter to the Croatian Ministry of the Interior at the end of October and urged that the reports be investigated. “If proven true, what is shown there is of course unacceptable,” she now says after viewing the images. “People cannot be beaten up at the border. There must be consequences.”

    Meanwhile, the EU’s ombudswoman has also opened a probe. But real pressure on Croatia would probably only arise if the pushbacks were to put Croatia’s Schengen accession into question. “Violence at the border cannot continue,” Johansson says. “This will not help Croatia in its efforts to join the Schengen Area.”

    In the end, Ibrahim finally managed to win the "Game.” After another attempt, he managed to make it to Italy. He is currently living in a housing project in the north of the country and he was able to apply for asylum.

    But the months spent on the Croatian border took a massive toll on him. When he looks at the videos of himself on the Croatian border today, he bursts out in tears. He says he still suffers from headaches and the pain in his knee is also getting worse, especially now that the weather is getting colder. At night, he says, he sometimes has nightmares about the beatings by the Croatian policemen. One time, his roommates told him the next morning that he had been calling out for help. Again.

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/croatia-video-documents-illegal-refugee-pushbacks-a-294b128d-4840-4d6b-9e96-

    #Croatie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #violence #asile #migrations #réfugiés #push-backs #refoulements #frontières #Bosnie #Glina_river #Kulpa #Kulpa_river #Slovénie #Kolpa_river #frontière_sud-alpine #Kupa_river #rivière #Kočevje #Kocevje #Poljana #témoignage

  • Europe’s chain of migrant expulsion, from Italy to Bosnia

    ‘They pushed back Afghans, Syrians, people from Iraq, people in clear need of protection.’

    Italian authorities are drawing criticism from legal advocacy groups for returning asylum seekers and migrants across Italy’s northeastern land border to Slovenia, triggering a series of often violent pushbacks through the Balkans and out of the European Union.

    Several asylum seekers told The New Humanitarian that after being returned to Slovenia they were pushed back to Croatia, another EU member state. In turn, the Croatian authorities – accused of using systematic violence and abuse against migrants – expelled them to Bosnia, which is outside the EU.

    “Generally, in two days, the person disappears from Italy and appears again in Bosnia,” Gianfranco Schiavone, a legal expert at the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration, or ASGI, an Italian NGO that provides legal aid to migrants and asylum seekers, told TNH.

    Advocacy groups say the returns are illegal because they block people from requesting asylum in Italy, and ultimately end with them being expelled from the EU without due process.

    The Balkans serve as a key part of the migration route from Turkey and Greece to Western and Northern Europe, and the UN’s migration agency, IOM, estimates that nearly 22,000* asylum seekers and migrants are currently stranded in the region.

    The allegations of illegal returns from Italy come amidst increased scrutiny by watchdog groups, and growing concern on the part of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, over reports of widespread and frequently violent pushbacks at EU borders, especially in Greece and Croatia.

    Pushbacks violate EU law and are prohibited by the European Convention on Human Rights.

    In July, Italy’s Interior Ministry told the Italian Parliament in a letter that the returns are taking place under a longstanding agreement between Italy and Slovenia and are within the bounds of the law because Slovenia is also an EU member state. Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese later backtracked on the position, saying that only irregular migrants were being returned – not asylum seekers.

    At the end of October, the governor of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, the Italian region bordering Slovenia, said 1,321 people had been returned to Slovenia this year. Last year, just 250 people were returned between January and September, according to the interior ministry.

    Civil society groups say the returns are being carried out so quickly there is no way Italian authorities are implementing a full legal process at the border to determine if someone is in need of international protection.

    “Under European law, [police are required to accept] asylum applications made on the border,” Schiavone said.

    Such returns are not new, but began to take place in larger numbers following an uptick in arrivals in Friuli Venezia-Giulia from Slovenia as the first round of coronavirus lockdowns ended in the spring.

    These arrivals fed into a charged political environment in Italy over migration during the pandemic and led Italy to increase its military presence along the Slovenian border to help “fight illegal migration”.

    In the first 10 months of 2020, local authorities in Friuli Venezia-Giulia counted 4,500 arrivals. By comparison, nearly 28,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived In Italy by sea so far this year.

    But it is difficult to know exactly how many people enter from Slovenia because local officials and international organisations do not regularly publish comprehensive data on land arrivals to Italy, and those crossing the border often try to steer clear of authorities to avoid being pushed back or having their fingerprints taken, which would subject them to the Dublin Protocol, requiring them to apply for asylum in the first EU country they entered.

    Much of the migration activity since May has been taking place in the city of Trieste – just four kilometres from the Slovenian border – and in the surrounding countryside.

    Trieste is a key transit point, and a destination that many migrants and asylum seekers see as offering some respite after the long and often dangerous trek through the mountainous Balkans.

    Those who reach Trieste without being returned are often in poor physical condition and find little official support.

    “Both the services and the response provided to people who arrive is not the most adequate. More should be done,” Chiara Cardoletti, the UN refugee agency’s representative in Italy, said following a visit to Trieste in October, adding: “Coronavirus is complicating the situation."
    The pushback chain

    Asylum seekers and migrants have nicknamed the journey across the Balkans “the game”, because to reach Italy they have to try over and over again, facing pushbacks and violence at each border along the way.

    For many, “the game” – if they are successful – sees them end up under the arches of an old, abandoned building close to Trieste’s train station.

    When TNH visited in October, voices echoed inside. Around 30 people – all recently arrived from Slovenia – were taking shelter on a rainy morning surrounded by worn out children’s shoes, piles of discarded clothes, rotting foam mattresses, and torn backpacks.

    Most were young men in their teens and early twenties from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Like others before them, they were resting for a couple of days before continuing on – they hoped – to Milan, France, or elsewhere in Europe.

    After crossing from Turkey to Greece, they had all reached a bottleneck in Bihać, a town in Bosnia close to the Croatian border where people often become stuck as they try repeatedly to enter the EU. Once they cross the border, it takes up to 20 days through the mountains of Croatia and Slovenia to reach Italy. Many paid thousands of dollars to smugglers to assist them along the way, but ended up with no food for days and only rainwater to drink. Most could barely walk on their battered feet.

    Umar, a 20-year-old from Pakistan who preferred not to use his real name, said he had tried to cross the Balkans nine times before landing up in Trieste. He said he had made it to Italy once before, in May.

    “[The] police caught us and put us somewhere in a [camouflage] tent with many people,” Umar said. “They took our fingerprints. I told the police we are staying here in Italy. We showed our foot injuries, but they said, ‘There is no camp. Go back’.”

    Umar said the Italian authorities handed him over the next morning to the Slovenian police, who passed the group he was with on to the Croatian police, who then put them in a small van and deposited them near the border with Bosnia. “There was no air inside,” he recalled. “The weather was hot.”

    Now back in Italy, Umar planned to travel further inland to the city of Udine, about 65 kilometres from Trieste, to apply for asylum. He was afraid to present himself to authorities in Trieste, believing it was too close to the border and that he might be pushed back again.

    Others in Trieste shared similar stories of reaching Italy on previous attempts only to end up back in Bosnia after being pushed back from one country to the next.

    Muhammed, a 21-year-old also from Pakistan, said he reached Italy on his third attempt crossing the Balkans, and he was taken to the same tent. “There was a translator, who told us, ‘you guys will be staying here in Italy’,” Muhammed said. “Despite that, we were pushed back.”

    Muhammed then described how the Slovenian authorities pushed his group back to Croatia. “The police in Croatia kicked us, punched us,” he recalled. “They… took our money and left us on the Bosnia border.”

    After making it back to Italy again on his fourth attempt, Muhammed said he had now managed to apply for asylum in Trieste.
    ‘It had become systematic’

    The pushbacks from Italy to Slovenia appear to be indiscriminate, according to Schiavone, from ASGI. “[They] have involved everybody, regardless of nationality,” he said. “They pushed back Afghans, Syrians, people from Iraq, people in clear need of protection.”

    Schiavone said the removal procedures appeared to be informal and people are not given the chance to apply for asylum before being returned to Slovenia.

    A spokesperson for the border police in Gorizia, an Italian border town in Friuli Venezia-Giulia, told TNH in a statement that the department was operating in accordance with Ministry of Interior directives, and that people belonging to “‘protected categories’ such as unaccompanied children and pregnant women or, in general, anyone in need of medical assistance”, were excluded from returns. “To safeguard each migrant’s individual circumstances, interviews take place with an interpreter… and multilingual information brochures are handed out,” the spokesperson added.

    The asylum seekers in Trieste told TNH that authorities took their fingerprints and gave them a slip of paper before sending them back to Slovenia.

    “It had become systematic,” Marco Albanese, the supervisor of a migration reception centre in Italy close to the Slovenian border, told TNH. “They were pushing back people who were unable to walk.”

    Those who are intercepted but not pushed back spend a quarantine period at a camp in the countryside before being transferred to a reception centre. Others manage to evade the authorities altogether.

    The job of providing basic services to asylum seekers and migrants not in the official system largely falls to volunteer groups.

    The square outside Trieste’s train station begins to fill with asylum seekers and migrants around 6 in the evening. The night TNH visited, around 30 to 40 people came in small groups, milled around, and sat on benches. Many had no shoes and their badly swollen feet were covered with blisters and cuts.

    Volunteers served hot meals and handed out warm clothes, and young doctors and nurses from an organisation called Strada Si.Cura – a play on the Italian words for safe streets and healing – checked people’s temperatures, performed basic medical screenings, and attended to injuries.

    Sharif, a 16-year-old Afghan whose name has been changed to protect his identity – waited in line to show an infected blister on his foot to one of the medical volunteers. He spent two years in Bosnia and said he was pushed back 15 or 16 times before finally reaching Trieste. Like nearly everyone, he had a story about Croatian police violence, recalling how he was stripped naked, beaten with a stick, and abandoned near the border with Bosnia.

    The thoughts of some in the square turned to people they had met along the way who hadn’t made it to Italy and now face harsh winters somewhere in the Balkans.

    “In our group, there were 80 people,” said Sami, a 23-year-old from Pakistan. “Other people [had] a lot of injuries, a lot of problems… So they stay in the forests in Croatia, in Slovenia, near Bosnia because the way is so hard.”

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/11/17/europe-italy-bosnia-slovenia-migration-pushbacks-expulsion

    #expulsions #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #route_des_Balkans #Italie #Bosnie #Slovénie #Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #push-backs #frontière_sud-alpine #Croatie #Game #The_Game

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • “They punched me because I asked to stop the hot air - pushback from Trieste to Bihac”

      Date and time: September 16, 2020 01:00
      Location: San Dorligo della Valle, TS, Italy
      Coordinates: 45.607175981734, 13.85383960105
      Push-back from: Croatia, Italy, Slovenia
      Push-back to: Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia
      Demographics: 6 person(s), age: 25-35 , from: Bangladesh, Algeria
      Minors involved? No
      Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, dog attacks, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
      Police involved: Italian Army officers, one army van and one army car; several Italian police officers, one police van; several Slovenian police officers, one police van and several Croatian police officers (masked), one german shepard,, one police van.
      Taken to a police station?: yes
      Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
      Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
      Reported by: Anonymous Partner

      Original Report

      The respondent, an Algerian man, left the city of Bihac (BiH) on 2nd September, 2020 in a group with five other Algerians, aged between 22 and 30 years old. After 12 days of travel they arrived in Trieste (ITA). They entered into Italy near the municipality of San Dorligo della Valle (45.607871, 13.857776), in the early morning on the 14th September. While the group was walking along a the SP12B road, they were tracked down by a military convoy, composed of a car and a van. The three military officers onboard stopped them at the side of the road and called the Italian police, who arrived shortly after with a van.

      The captured group were then transferred with the van to a police station in Fernetti [exact location], a site with a military tent erected for identification procedures of people on the move and asylum seekers. The respondent claims that he found himself together with many around 60 other people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in addition to a person from Morocco. Many of the people held at the site, according to him, were minors or had been fingerprinted previously in Greece.

      The people detained in the tent were seperated by nationality. Each person of the transit group was questioned and processed individually in a separate, smaller tent, described as a small silo, the others had to wait in a small room which he describes as a “prison-room”. Personal data was gathered, fingerprints were recorded and photos of their faces were taken. The respondent clearly expressed the will to seek asylum in Italy.

      The assigned translator for the respondent and his group, of Moroccan origin, was already attending to one person from Morocco who was present when they arrived. The respondent overheard the translator suggesting to this person that he should declare himself as a minor. The police officers also searched him and confiscated his phone, a power bank and a watch, which were put inside a plastic bag. After that, the respondent had to sign 3 different documents, one of them – an identification and domicile paper – hidden and preserved by the respondent.

      When they deport you, they make you sign this paper so that they can say you accept it. And of course, you sign it. who care about you? They just say: ‘sign’ and you sign, because you don’t have power and there is no one listening to you.”

      The captured transit group remained in the police station from 08:00 until 17:00. The food was distributed collectively and due to a massive amount of people, some were left without. At some point the respondent requested to go to the
      toilet and he was taken outside, which allowed him to understand the area where he was. The respondent saw a reception center in front of him.

      At the end of the identification procedure, the police took five of the Algerians from the transit group. The sixth person was taken away however, the respondent stating this was because he had been fingerprinted in Greece. Some other Moroccans who were present in the tent were also kept there, which the respondent suggests was due to help from the translator in assisting their access to asylum.

      “Translator plays a big role. Maybe 80%”

      The remaining five people from Algeria were put inside a van. The respondent claims that he clearly saw the officers carrying the bag with his personal items, which he thought they would return to him once left at the next destination. The vehicle did not have either windows or light and the respondent described experiencing difficulties to breath during the ride. At this point the people-on-the-move received a small bottle of water and a small cracker for the first time since the apprehension.

      “They play with you. You just think just when is it finish.”

      Once they were sitting inside the van, the group realized that they were about to be deported to Slovenia and they asked what was going on. The police officers reassured them that they would stay in Trieste. The van then moved on: inside it was very hot and from the ventilation came out hot air. The respondent knocked on a window to attract the attention of the agents, who stopped the van, got out of the vehicle and opened the hatch to ask for explanations of why they were knocking on the window.

      There was a squabble, and one of the two officers punched the respondent, but was immediately stopped by his colleague who invited him to calm down. After the incident, they continued to drive and they arrived in an area, which was described as a road border crossing (likely Pesek-Kozina) between Italy and Slovenia. There, the group found a Slovenian police van with police officers waiting for them. They were transferred very quickly from the Italian police van to the Slovenian van: according to the respondent, officers were looking around with circumspection, as if they were worried about being noticed during the operation ongoing.

      Once the captured transit group were transferred to the Slovenian police van, they were taken in a police station, in Kozina, Slovenia. Here the respondent asked for his personal belongings, but the Slovenian police replied that the Italian police had not given them anything. The respondent doesn’t know if his belongings were kept by the Italian police officers or if the Slovenian police officers lied to him, keeping his belongings.

      In the station in Kozina, the officers took the prints of their thumbs of both hands, and realized that the respondent was already registered in the police database, due to previous entrance he had made into Slovenia (on this occasion he had also signed some documents). Later on, the group was transferred from Kozina to Ljubljana for a Covid-19 screening. After that, they returned to Kozina, where
      they spent the night detained. They stayed in this this location for what the respondent estimated to be a whole night. During this detention the group members could use the toilet and were handed another small bottle of water but were not provided with any food.

      The next morning (15th September) the group were transferred to Croatia, through the Socerga/Pozane border crossing. Here the Slovenian police photographed the documents that they had signed and threw them away in the garbage, before giving the group over to the regular Croatian police. The respondent, also in this occasion, managed to hide one Italian document, putting it inside his underwear (see previous photograph).

      The respondent identified the van that they were put in afterwards to be a Croatian police vehicle. Concerning the ride to Croatia he described that the driver was driving very bumpy, braking very sharply at any given moment.

      “you know, they really try to make you hate yourself. For what you have done and so you never try again to cross border to Croatia.”

      “If they deport you in the day you stay in the police car all day till it gets night. If they deport you in the night, they let you go directly.”

      In Croatia they had to wait for 15 hours, from 10:00 to 01:00 the next day (16th September) in the van. During this time they were not provided with any food or water and just left alone in the car. While they were waiting several other people-on-the-move were brought into the van by Croatian police officers, including a Bangladeshi man. Finally, at around 01:00 two Croatian police officers drove the van to the border of Bosnian territory, about 10 kilometers out of Bihac.

      When they arrived to this location, the respondent described that a Croatian officer wearing a dark uniform and a black ski-mask with a big German Shepherd told them to leave the van and line up in a file. The group-members were then told to get undressed to their boxers and a T-shirt. The officer took all of the clothes in a bin bag and set them on fire. Another officer was waiting behind the wheel of the vehicle during the procedure. The men then had to line up in a row, crowded closely together. The policeman yelled: “haide, go,go,go,go” and let the dog off the leash, which immediately snapped at the arm of the man in the last position in the row. The other men were able to run away in this way, but the last one apparently received a severe wound in his arm. The respondent then walked another 24 hours back to Velika Kladusa, where he started his journey.

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/violence-reports/deport-from-trieste

  • Interior aplicará las devoluciones en caliente por el aval del Constitucional

    El Tribunal Constitucional respaldará en el pleno que se inicia mañana las devoluciones en caliente o rechazos en frontera regulados en la Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana que aprobó el Gobierno del PP en 2015. El Ministerio del Interior aplicará esta medida pese a que los dos partidos que forman el Gobierno la rechazaban. El PSOE recurrió la ley ante el Constitucional por entender que “vulneraba el derecho de los inmigrantes a la tutela judicial efectiva”. Unidas Podemos prometió impulsar la derogación de la Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana, conocida como ley mordaza, para prohibir las devoluciones en caliente.

    El Gobierno quiere esperar a conocer la redacción final de la sentencia al tratarse de un asunto muy delicado que ya enfrentó a los dos socios, PSOE y Unidas Podemos. Fuentes del Ministerio del Interior sostienen que las sentencias del Constitucional están para cumplirse y, por tanto, se seguirá aplicando esta medida con normalidad. Estas fuentes recuerdan, además, que el fallo llega avalado por un pronunciamiento similar del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos. “La política migratoria”, señalan en Interior, “es comunitaria y, por tanto, es difícil adoptar una medida sin contar con el consenso europeo”. La medida a la que se refieren sería una reforma legal para prohibir las devoluciones en caliente, algo que no parece entrar en la agenda del Ejecutivo.

    Fuentes de la dirección de Unidas Podemos admiten que para ellos es un tema “muy importante” pero no han tomado una decisión sobre cómo responderán a un fallo del Constitucional que todavía no conocen. En el pasado hubo enfrentamientos entre el ministro del Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, y Pablo Iglesias por este asunto. El acuerdo al que llegaron fue esperar a la sentencia. Una vez publicada, solo quedaría el margen de cambiar la ley. Pero Interior prefiere aplicar el fallo sin más.

    El Constitucional avalará en su pleno de esta semana las expulsiones en caliente con algunas excepciones que afectan a los menores y personas o colectivos vulnerables. El texto ha sido acordado en una comisión compuesta por tres magistrados: Ricardo Enríquez, Antonio Narváez y Juan Antonio Xiol. Los dos primeros pertenecen al sector conservador, mayoritario, y el tercero, al progresista. El pacto alcanzado supone un giro radical respecto al texto que había elaborado el anterior encargado de la ponencia, Fernando Valdés, quien renunció a su puesto en el tribunal el mes pasado tras ser procesado por el Supremo por un supuesto delito de maltrato en el ámbito familiar.

    Lo que proponía Valdés en su proyecto de sentencia era que solo se consideraran legales las expulsiones en caliente cuando las personas afectadas hubieran entrado en España mediante un asalto masivo y de forma violenta. Valdés entendía que esta era la lectura más correcta de la sentencia dictada en febrero pasado por el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos. Ese fallo dio un aval al Estado español respecto a las devoluciones en caliente al considerar que las autoridades de Melilla no violaron la legalidad cuando acordaron la expulsión inmediata de dos inmigrantes de Mali y Costa de Marfil que saltaron la valla fronteriza en agosto de 2014.

    La sentencia pactada en la comisión tendrá un amplio respaldo en el pleno del Constitucional, según fuentes del tribunal. Hasta ahora, lo había impedido la persistencia de Valdés en defender que se pusieran condiciones a estas devoluciones. De hecho, en junio pasado se discutió un proyecto de sentencia que fue rechazado al entender la mayoría conservadora que el fallo de Estrasburgo no requería que solo pudieran acordarse legalmente las devoluciones en caliente para los asaltos masivos y violentos a las vallas de Ceuta o Melilla. De ahí que se formara una comisión paritaria entre conservadores y progresistas de la que, aparte de los tres mencionados, formó parte el propio Valdés hasta su renuncia.

    Al producirse la dimisión de este magistrado, el asunto quedó formalmente asignado al presidente del tribunal, Juan José González Rivas, quien como ponente de la resolución asumiría el criterio de la comisión. Ahora bien, este punto fue incluido a mediados de la semana pasada, mediante una adición al orden de día del próximo pleno, ya sobrecargado de materias. Ello provocó gran malestar en un sector minoritario del Constitucional, opuesto a debatir con prisas los aspectos más sensibles de la Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana, entre ellos el de los derechos de los inmigrantes.

    Dos factores han influido en las prisas con las que ahora se quiere ventilar un recurso que lleva cinco años pendiente. En primer lugar, el consenso existente sobre la cuestión. El tribunal no quiso hincarle el diente al asunto hasta que se pronunciara Estrasburgo, pero desde febrero, en que falló el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos, hubiera podido abordarlo. La urgencia que se quiere dar a este fallo deriva del interés del presidente del tribunal por dejar despejado el asunto antes de la posible renovación de los mandatos caducados en la institución, entre ellos el de la propia presidencia.
    Dos décadas de rechazos en frontera

    Las devoluciones en caliente llevan realizándose desde que se concluyó la construcción de las vallas de Ceuta y Melilla a finales de los años noventa. Al principio, las fuerzas de seguridad lo ocultaban, pero esta práctica comenzó a ser ampliamente documentada por diversas ONG a partir de 2002. Desde que el Gobierno de Mariano Rajoy las amparó con la Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana de 2015, tanto el PSOE como Unidas Podemos han prometido desde la oposición que acabarían con ellas, pero la realidad es que se han mantenido independientemente del color de quien gobierne.

    La sentencia del 20 de febrero del Tribunal de Estrasburgo, en la que se absolvía a España de haber vulnerado los derechos de dos migrantes cuando fueron entregados a las autoridades marroquíes inmediatamente después de saltar la valla de Melilla en agosto de 2014, generó las primeras tensiones en el Gobierno de coalición apenas seis semanas después de conformarse.

    El ministro del Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, recibió con agrado la decisión que justificaba la devolución en el uso de la violencia de los inmigrantes y ya sugirió que la aplicaría, una postura que generó malestar entre los miembros de Unidas Podemos. “Elogiar sentencias que avalan la violación de derechos humanos no solo es lo contrario a lo que figura en el acuerdo de coalición, es además lo contrario de lo que desean la inmensa mayoría de los votantes del PSOE y de Unidas Podemos”, afirmaron entonces a EL PAÍS fuentes del grupo parlamentario de la formación. La polémica, sin embargo, acabó enterrada rápidamente por otras batallas y la emergencia sanitaria.

    Las entradas irregulares por tierra a Ceuta y Melilla (que incluyen los saltos, pero también otras vías como el ingreso con documentación falsa o escondidos en vehículos) apenas superan este año las 1.500 personas (la inmensa mayoría en Melilla) frente a las casi 5.000 del año anterior, según datos del Ministerio del Interior. La caída en picado de los intentos de colarse en ambas ciudades autónomas responde a las restricciones de movimientos y el cierre de fronteras impuesto por la pandemia. El foco se ha desviado de las vallas, pero las devoluciones se han seguido realizando, según el veterano activista de Melilla, José Palazón, fundador de la ONG Prodein.

    “No ha habido un cambio en la forma de actuación. Ni antes, ni después de la sentencia. En un intento de salto, los que pillan entre vallas han continuado siendo devueltos en caliente a Marruecos”, mantiene Palazón. “Lo conocemos por declaraciones de los que entran o por testimonios de los propios afectados, pero no son expulsiones documentadas”. Desde Ceuta, fuentes de la Guardia Civil, afirman que con la pandemia han dejado de detectarse movimientos de subsaharianos en torno a la valla, por lo que no se han ejecutado devoluciones.

    https://elpais.com/espana/2020-11-15/interior-aplicara-las-devoluciones-en-caliente-por-el-aval-del-constituciona
    #Ceuta #Melilla #Espagne #frontières #devoluciones_en_caliente #push-backs #renvois #expulsions #refoulements #Maroc #justice

    –---

    FR : « Lors de la session plénière qui commence demain, la #Cour_constitutionnelle appuiera les #refoulements_express à la frontière régis par la loi de sécurité citoyenne que le gouvernement du PP a adoptée en 2015. Le ministère de l’intérieur appliquera cette mesure bien que les deux partis qui forment le gouvernement l’aient rejetée ».

    –--------

    Sur les « devoluciones en caliente » (https://seenthis.net/tag/devoluciones_en_caliente)
    https://seenthis.net/tag/devoluciones_en_caliente

    ping @isskein

  • Pushed back and abandoned on island in middle of Evros

    Outrageous incident occurring right now on the #Evros border right now: 70 lives at risk, including many children and at least one pregnant woman.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fm3HxAtHzU&feature=emb_logo

    An outrageous incident is occurring on the Evros border right now: 70 lives at risk, including many children and at least one pregnant woman!

    Three days ago, 60 people were pushed back from Greece to an island on Evros and have been stuck there since with nothing. The day before their pushback, they had been detained and denied food and water. 10 more were pushed back yesterday. Now 70 lives are at risk!

    The water level of Evros would permit them to cross by foot, but the border forces on both sides prevent them, including, as they tell us, with the use of live ammunition.

    This is not the first time Greece has pushed people back to this island. In May, an unaccompanied minor disappeared and is presumed dead after he contacted his mother one last time from that same island. In July, another group reported to Josoor that they had been abandoned on that island.

    This incident is happening in Turkish territory because these people were pushed back by the authorities of an EU member state. Furthermore Frontex, the EUs Border and Coast Guard Agency, has a liaison office in Turkey and the Evros river is a Frontex operational area. We therefore alerted Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and Frontex about the situation, urging them to intervene immediately to the best of their ability.

    https://www.josoor.net/post/breaking-pushed-back-and-abandoned-on-island-in-middle-of-evros

    #Evros #île #îles #push-backs #refoulements #abandon #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Grèce #Turquie #rivière

    voir aussi:
    https://twitter.com/JosoorNet/status/1326606458214096896

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Inquiry launched into EU commission’s protection of migrants at Croatia border

    Investigation follows allegations of brutal pushbacks of refugees into Bosnia and lack of monitoring of border police

    An official inquiry has been launched into the European commission’s alleged failure to protect the rights of migrants and refugees said to have been robbed and abused by police at Croatia’s borders.

    The EU ombudsman is investigating the potential complicity of the EU’s executive branch in the maladministration of funds that should have been spent on supervising the behaviour of border officers working at the scene of some of the violence.

    There have been multiple allegations of aggressive pushbacks of migrants and refugees by Croatian police on the country’s border with Bosnia, including an incident in which a migrant was shot.

    Croatia has repeatedly denied allegations of violence by its border patrol and in October said it would launch an investigation with the goal of removing any doubt about police conduct.

    In June, the Guardian revealed that the commission had withheld from MEPs details of the Croatian government’s failure to spend EU money committed to the supervision the police officers on the border. One European commission official privately warned that disclosure of the underspend “will for sure be seen as a ‘scandal’”.

    The revelation highlighted the Croatian government’s human rights record and the apparent willingness of the EU’s executive branch to cover for Zagreb’s failure.

    Croatia is seeking to enter the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone – a move that requires compliance with European human rights standards.

    The ombudsman’s inquiry has been launched in response to a complaint by Amnesty International whose European institutions director Eve Geddie said: “Over the years, Amnesty and other organisations have documented numerous violations, including beatings and torture of migrants and asylum-seekers by Croatian police, whose salaries may have been paid for by EU funds.

    “Today’s announcement of an inquiry by the EU ombudsman into how the commission allowed the funds to continue to be used without ensuring compliance with human rights is a significant first step towards addressing these flagrant abuses and providing accountability.

    “By continuing to fund border operations and giving a green light for Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area, the commission abdicated its responsibilities to monitor how EU assistance is used and sent a dangerous signal that blatant human rights violations can continue with no questions asked.”

    The establishment of supervisory mechanisms to ensure the humane treatment of migrants at the border had been a condition of a €6.8m (£6.1m) cash injection announced in December 2018 to strengthen Croatia’s borders with non-EU countries.

    The mechanism was publicised by the European commission as a way to “ensure that all measures applied at the EU external borders are proportionate and are in full compliance with fundamental rights and EU asylum laws”.

    Croatian ministers claimed last year that the funds had been handed over to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Croatian Law Centre to establish the supervisory mechanism.

    But both organisations subsequently denied receiving the money. In January this year, the commission was asked by Clare Daly, an Irish MEP in the Independents 4 Change party, to account for the discrepancy.

    A commission official responded that the UNHCR and Croatian Law Centre had established the monitoring mechanism but from “their own funds” to ensure independence from the government.

    He added: “Hopefully [this] clarifies this matter once and for all”.

    But both organisations denied being involved in any monitoring project, clarifying that they had only been engaged in an earlier initiative involving the examination of police files.

    Beyond the apparent inaccuracy of the response to Daly, internal emails suggest the full facts of the “underspending” – as its known to the commission – were also withheld from MEPs.

    The European commission failed to inform Daly that the Croatian government had decided to ringfence only €102,000 of the €300,000 provided for the monitoring mechanism and that ultimately only €84,672 was actually spent: €17,469.87 was given to the interior ministry and €59,637.91 went to NGOs. A roundtable conference accounted for €1,703.16.

    “While we know that there has been underspending on the €300,000 … we thought that around €240,000 were nevertheless spent in the context of the monitoring mechanism,” an EU official wrote while discussing how to deal with the MEP’s questions. “Having spent only €102,000, will for sure be seen as a ‘scandal’.”

    In response to questions by this newspaper at the time, a spokesman for the commission said they had not provided the full information to MEPs as they had an “incomplete” account.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/nov/10/inquiry-launched-into-eu-commissions-protection-of-migrants-at-croatia-

    #enquête #commission_européenne #Croatie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #route_des_balkans #violence #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #Bosnie #police #violences_policières

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • At the same conference, Birte Schorpion of the Danish Refugee Council presented the findings of border monitoring by the Danish Refugee Council on pushbacks and human rights violations, focusing on serious human rights violations of refugees and other migrants registered over the past 16 days at the borders of Croatia with Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the testimonies of doctors who intervened after the pushbacks and confirmed the serious injuries. Out of 75 cases recorded in the period from 12 to 16 October, 52 people needed medical aid and four were visibly underage. Additionally, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has published its monthly reports (https://drc.ngo/our-work/where-we-work/europe/bosnia-and-herzegovina) on the violent and illegal pushbacks of refugees and other migrants from Croatian territory. Since December 2019, the DRC has recorded 14,090 pushbacks, and in recent months there has been a rise in the number of pushbacks accompanied by violence, torture, confiscation and destruction of personal belongings. Out of 1,659 documented pushbacks last month, 84% included the destruction of personal belongings, 72% degrading treatment and 60% physical violence. These alarming figures are just one more thing in a series of reasons demonstrating the importance and urgency of establishing an independent border control mechanism!

    Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 04.11.2020

    #Croatie #Bosnie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #push-backs #refoulements #frontière #route_des_balkans #Balkans #violence
    ping @karine4

  • Migrations : l’agence européenne #Frontex mise en cause pour des #refoulements en mer

    Des investigations menées par plusieurs médias dénoncent les pratiques illégales des #gardes-frontières_grecs impliquant parfois l’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières.

    Une enquête de plusieurs médias, dont le magazine allemand Spiegel, affirme que Frontex, l’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières, est impliquée dans plusieurs incidents de refoulement en mer de bateaux de demandeurs d’asile traversant la mer Egée entre la Turquie et la Grèce.

    Les investigations menées « montrent pour la première fois que les responsables de Frontex sont conscients des pratiques illégales des gardes-frontières grecs – et sont en partie impliqués dans les refoulements eux-mêmes », écrit le Spiegel dans un article disponible en ligne samedi 24 octobre.
    Les journalistes assurent avoir documenté six cas survenus depuis avril en mer Egée dans lesquels des équipes de Frontex ont au minimum assisté sans réagir à des refoulements vers la Turquie de bateaux de réfugiés se trouvant dans les eaux grecques, une pratique illégale. Dans un cas, en juin, une vidéo montre un navire de Frontex bloquant un bateau de réfugiés, puis, dans une autre scène enregistrée, passant devant le bateau de réfugiés à grande vitesse avant de quitter les lieux.

    Des dizaines de vidéos, d’images satellites, de récits comparés

    Outre le Spiegel, les recherches ont été menées par un magazine de la chaîne allemande ARD, le collectif de journalistes Lighthouse Reports, la plate-forme d’investigations Bellingcat et la chaîne de télévision japonaise TV Asahi. Les auteurs expliquent avoir comparé des « dizaines » de vidéos, d’images satellites, de récits de témoins oculaires, dont des réfugiés et des employés de Frontex. L’agence européenne de surveillance des frontières a engagé plus de 600 agents en Grèce, une des portes d’entrée de l’Union européenne, ainsi que des bateaux, des drones et des avions, selon l’article.

    Frontex n’a pas commenté les cas précis soulevés par la recherche, explique le Spiegel, mais a déclaré que ses agents étaient liés par un code de conduite en matière de droits de l’homme et respectaient l’interdiction des refoulements. Sans mentionner l’article, Frontex a annoncé vendredi soir sur son compte Twitter avoir été « en contact avec les autorités grecques à propos d’incidents en mer ces derniers mois » et qu’Athènes avait ouvert une « enquête interne ». Frontex agit « dans le respect des droits fondamentaux et de la loi internationale », souligne l’agence sur Twitter.
    Le gouvernement conservateur grec a toujours rejeté les allégations de refoulements illégaux à ses frontières dont font régulièrement état plusieurs organisations non gouvernementales.

    https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/10/24/migrations-l-agence-europeenne-frontex-mise-en-cause-pour-des-refoulements-e
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #Mer_Egée #Grèce #Turquie

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Frontex at Fault : European Border Force Complicit in ‘Illegal’ Pushbacks

      Vessels from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, have been complicit in maritime “pushback” operations to drive away refugees and migrants attempting to enter the European Union via Greek waters, a joint investigation by Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi has found.

      Open source data suggests Frontex assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea, were present at another and have been in the vicinity of four more since March.

      Although Frontex assets were not at the immediate scene of those latter four incidents, the signature of a pushback is distinctive, and would likely have been visible on radar, with visual tools common on such vessels or to the naked eye.

      The Greek Coast Guard (HCG) has long been accused of illegal pushbacks.

      These are described by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a legal and educational non-profit, as incidents where refugees and migrants are forced back over a border without consideration of individual circumstances and without any possibility to apply for asylum or to put forward arguments against the measures taken.

      In the Aegean Sea, pushbacks generally occur in two ways. The first type is the most common: Dinghies travelling from Turkey to Greece are blocked from landing on Greek soil by the HCG. This could mean either physically blocking the dinghy until it runs out of fuel, or disabling the engine. After the engine no longer works the dinghy can then either be pushed back into Turkish territorial water with waves, or towed if the wind is not favourable.

      The second type of pushback is employed when people have managed to land on Greek soil. In this case they are detained, placed in a liferaft with no means of propulsion, towed into the middle of the Aegean Sea and then abandoned.

      Pushbacks will often result in standoffs between the HCG and Turkish Coast Guard (TCG), both of which will standby, refusing to aid dinghies in distress and carrying out unsafe manoeuvres around them.

      The role of Frontex assets in such incidents, however, has never been recorded before.

      Dana Schmalz, an international law expert at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg said the incidents highlighted in this investigation were likely “illegal” and “violate the prohibition of refoulement and maritime law.” The prohibition of refoulement refers to rules banning the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers and is described by the UN Refugee Agency as a “rule of customary international law.”

      Schmalz added that if Frontex personnel stopped an overcrowded dinghy of the type seen in footage documented during this investigation, they would be obliged to rescue its occupants immediately. “If they don’t do that, even make waves [or] instead drive away and then let the Greeks do the dirty work – then they are involved in the illegal pushback.”

      Despite being presented with numerous examples of the practice, a spokesperson for the Greek Maritime Ministry Greek denied claims of pushbacks, describing allegations of illegal actions relating to the incidents documented in this article as “tendentious.” They added that HCG officers act in compliance with the country’s international obligations.

      Frontex said that the host states it works with have the final say in how operations on its territory or search and rescue zone are carried out. However, it added that Frontex had notified HCG which confirmed an internal inquiry had been launched into each of the reported incidents. Yet Frontex did not say when it notified HCG or when the inquiry had begun.

      On July 24, the director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, told the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) at the European Parliament that the agency had observed and recorded just a single incident which may have been a pushback in the Aegean.

      Our investigation — which looked at the presence of Frontex assets in the Aegean Sea and observed their movements over many months — appears to contradict that assertion.

      This was despite the difficulty in tracking many Frontex assets because their transponder information was either not registered, not turned on, or was out of range. As such, we were only able to view a snapshot of Frontex operations.

      Frontex, an agency of the European Union, is tasked with border control of the Schengen Area. Its activities in the Aegean are called Operation Poseidon.
      How we Recorded Pushbacks: Identification of Assets

      There were two main steps to establishing that Frontex had participated in pushback operations. The first was to identify what assets had been deployed in Operation Poseidon. The second was to establish whether these assets had participated in pushback operations.

      The first step was carried out using open sources. These included social media posts, vessel tracking sites and information published by Frontex itself. We were also able to establish the number of personnel and assets present in the operational area thanks to questions asked in the European Parliament.

      According to this response, Operation Poseidon has 185 personnel, one offshore patrol vessel (OPV), eight coastal patrol boats (CPB), one coastal patrol vessel (CPV), four thermal vision vehicles (TVV) and three patrol cars.

      There is also a “Rapid Border Intervention”, which contains additional assets on top of those dedicated to Operation Poseidon. This includes 74 personnel, two CPBs, two CPVs, one helicopter and three TVVs.

      In total we used open sources to identify 22 assets, including vessels, helicopters and planes, which operated in the Aegean during 2020. Although this is more than the total given in the answer to parliamentary questions above, some of these assets were rotating in or out of theater.
      Tracking Assets

      Some assets featured regularly on the open source record. For example, Romanian and Bulgarian vessels regularly transit through the Bosphorus strait, where there is an active ship-spotting community. As such it was possible to identify their operational rotations, including vessels heading to and returning from deployments roughly every three months. However, other assets were more difficult to track, and their presence on the open source record consisted of a single image or video.


      https://twitter.com/YorukIsik/status/1262417193083510784

      In order to track these assets and identify if they had participated in pushbacks, we required far more data than was available on social media. As such, we turned to AIS and transponder data, publicly available information about the location of particular ships or aircraft, available through sites such as Marine Traffic or Flight Radar 24.

      Many of the assets we identified either did not have their information publicly listed, or appeared to only turn on their transponders under certain circumstances, such as when in port. This made them extremely difficult to track. However, some assets did have their transponders on. We began to collect this data, buying additional, more granular data from ship and flight tracking companies on dates when pushbacks had been reported.

      We combined this tracking data with our own database of reported pushbacks, which we obtained through both public reports and information collected by NGOs such as Consolidated Rescue Group (CRG), Monitoring Rescue Cell (MRC) and Alarm Phone, who track these events. These included the coordinates of reported pushback events, frequently sent by the occupants of the dinghies. By overlaying these datasets we identified multiple pushback incidents in which Frontex assets were in the vicinity. Once we had identified these priority incidents we could then examine the specifics of what had happened.
      Incidents

      Using this data we identified six pushback incidents since March in which Frontex assets were either in the vicinity or participated directly. We have separated these into four “proximity incidents,” where Frontex assets were within five kilometers of the incident, and two “confirmed incidents,” where we can be certain that Frontex were present at the site of pushbacks themselves.
      Proximity Incidents

      April 28-29: In an incident we have previously reported, a group of refugees and migrants made landfall on Samos. They claim they were then detained, placed in a life-raft without any means of propulsion and towed into the middle of the Mycale Strait. A surveillance plane overflew the area twice while this pushback took place.

      June 4: Two dinghies were reported to have been pushed back from Northern Lesbos. Portuguese vessel Nortada appears to have been present around 15 kilometers from the first incident and just over one kilometer away from the second.

      June 5: A dinghy was reported to have been pushed back from Northern Lesbos. Portuguese vessel Nortada was approximately two to three kilometers away.

      August 19: A dinghy was reported to have been pushed back from Northern Lesbos. Portuguese vessel Molivos was five kilometers away and appears to have changed course and headed towards the pushback before its transponder either lost signal or was turned off.

      In these cases, Frontex assets were recorded as being within a certain range, rather than participating directly. Their exact knowledge of what was happening at these distances is difficult to confirm. Operation Poseidon’s mission includes a significant number of tasks requiring surveillance, and its assets are able to use both radar and visual tools, such as low-light or infrared cameras, to observe the environment around them.

      For example, we know that the Molivos is equipped with an FLIR camera similar to this one seen on another Portuguese Frontex vessel. This model is capable of x36 magnification, with low light and infrared cameras.

      The boats that migrants use to make this crossing are very basic, inflatable rubber dinghies several meters long with a single outboard motor. Due to their construction, it is unlikely that these boats would be visible on radar. However, pushbacks don’t just involve a single dinghy. By their definition they must involve at least one other vessel. From images and videos of pushbacks we have reviewed, it is clear that they often involve multiple ships from both the Greek and Turkish coast guards.

      As stated above, ships from both Greece and Turkey will frequently attempt to push the dinghies across the sea border using waves. These vessels manoeuvre in a circular pattern at a relatively high speed close to the dinghy. This manoeuvre is not only dangerous because of the risk of collision, the waves it generates also represent a threat to the overcrowded and often fragile dinghies.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8BdEHtBWp4&feature=emb_logo

      As such, although a dinghy itself may not show up on radar, the signature of a pushback would. Multiple large and small vessels from both TCG and HCG, some of which are carrying out unusual manoeuvres in order to create waves, would be very difficult to miss. Indeed you can even see this kind of event from space.

      There’s also the matter of visual range. The same factors that make a pushback visible on radar will also make it visible to the eye or other visual systems such as surveillance cameras. Even at a range of a few kilometers in calm seas and good conditions, a dinghy would likely be visible, although exact details such as the nature of its passengers might not be. The other aspects of pushbacks which we have already described would also certainly be visible.

      The case of the April 28-29 pushback is a good illustration of surveillance assets passing very close to the results of a pushback.
      April 28

      In an incident previously covered by Bellingcat, a group of 22 migrants who landed on Samos were detained by Greek law enforcement. They were then placed on a life raft without any means of propulsion, and towed into the middle of the Mycale Strait by the Greek coast guard. In response to our request for comment at the time, the Greek government denied these people had ever reached Greek territory, despite witness statements, images, and videos showing this had in fact happened.

      As the life raft was floating in the strait, a private sureveillance plane passed over the area twice at 5,000 feet, once at 02:41 AM and once at 03:18 AM. This plane, G-WKTH, belongs to DEA Aviation, which provides aerial surveillance services to Frontex. In a promotional video from Frontex, it is claimed these feeds are live-streamed back to the Frontex HQ in Warsaw

      The plane is reportedly equipped with an MX-15 camera, which has both low-light and infrared sensors. Considering this plane is specifically employed for aerial surveillance, it would be surprising if it did not identify the life raft full of people and, according to one member of this group, the presence of Greek and later Turkish vessels.

      Indeed, the Frontex executive director’s response to the LIBE committee of the European Parliament indicates this may have been the incident Frontex reported as having seen. In this reply a “Serious Incident Report (‘SIR’) was created based on a sighting of an incident by aerial surveillance where people were transferred on a rubber boat from a vessel and later on rescued by Turkish authorities.
      Active incidents

      In two cases on June 8 and August 15, it seems certain that Frontex was aware of pushbacks as they took place. Indeed, on June 8, it appears that a Frontex vessel participated in a pushback, physically blocking a dinghy from reaching Greek territory.

      We will first address the incident on August 15, where a Frontext vessel was present at the scene of a pushback, before examining the June 8, where a Frontex asset appears to have participated in a pushback.
      August 15

      On the morning of August 15 there were reports of a confrontation between the Greek and Turkish coast guards. As well as multiple photos posted to social media by locals, this was also reported as a pushback by CRG, MRC, Alarm Phone and Aegean Boat Report.

      CRG and MRC also posted videos from people on this dinghy, with CRG’s video showing an engine without a starter cord, claiming it had been taken by the Greek Coast Guard. In the videos, the dinghy is surrounded by vessels from both the Greek and Turkish coast guards. We have previously noted that disabling the motor of dinghies is a tactic that has reportedly been used by the Greek Coast Guard.

      Most of the images of this incident are taken from a distance, making identification of the vessels difficult. However, we were also sent an image of this confrontation that is very clear. In this image we can clearly see the presence of MAI1102, a Romanian border forces vessel which had just arrived in theater.

      The metadata of this image is consistent with the date and time of this incident. Indeed, the ships can be seen arrayed in almost exactly the same manner in a video filmed by the people on the boat.

      Although it is not possible to be certain of exactly how far away MAI1102 is from this pushback, we can see that it is certainly within visual range of the confrontation and the dinghy itself.
      June 8

      On the morning of June 8 a pushback was reported to have taken place, again off the north-east coast of Lesbos. The Turkish coast guard reported it rescued 47 migrants after a pushback by the Greek Coast Guard that day. Footage published by Anadolu Agency appeared to show the Romanian Frontex vessel MAI1103 blocking a dinghy.

      We investigated this incident further, obtaining other videos from the TCG, as well as tracking data of vessels that appeared to be in the vicinity at the time, such as the NATO ship, Berlin. Using these sources we were able to reconstruct what happened.

      After initially trying to cross under the cover of darkness, the dinghy was intercepted and physically blocked from proceeding by MAI1103 early in the morning.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoNJXY3pa_U&feature=emb_logo

      We can see the exact time and a set of coordinates in one of the videos we obtained.

      We plotted the coordinates visible on the screen as they changed. It became clear these were not the location of the vessel with the camera, but rather the location of the dinghy and MAI1103.

      We can visually confirm the general location by comparing a panoramic view that is visible in one of the videos against the appearance of the landscape from the coordinates which appear on the camera feed.

      We can now start to build a picture of what happened that morning.

      We can see that the dinghy was extremely close to MAI1103, and is being physically blocked by the ship. Indeed the two vessels are close enough that it appears that personnel on MAI1103 are communicating with people in the dinghy.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qD_I--2LPA&feature=emb_logo

      At one point MAI1103 makes a pass close to the dinghy at enough speed to generate waves, a maneuver that previously only HCG and TCG have been seen making. It is especially dangerous due to the overloaded and unseaworthy nature of the dinghies.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUm1_e2R6A&feature=emb_logo

      Eventually HCG vessels arrive and MAI1103 leaves, resulting in a standoff between the TCG and HCG. This lasted several hours and gradually moved to the north-west, observed by the NATO ship Berlin.

      During this period the dinghy was approached at least twice by a rigid-hulled inflatable boat 060 (RHIB) from the HCG.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WODSvxnmoc&feature=emb_logo

      In what appears to be the final segment of video taken at about 09:30 AM we see the TCG radar screen, which can be exactly matched with the Turkish coast. This radar screen matches perfectly with the location and heading of the Berlin at this time, as we can see by overlaying a plot of the Berlin’s course with the radar screen.

      As well as matching the movement of vessels to AIS data, we can further verify that these videos are from the same incident by examining the passengers in the dinghy. We can see that in the earliest videos, showing the MAI1103 with the dinghy, there is clearly a person wearing a white hood, alongside someone who appears to be wearing a reddish top. The presence of these passengers helps to verify that all these videos are indeed from the same incident on June 8.

      In the final stage of the pushback at 10:30 AM it is possible to see the Portuguese Frontex vessel Nortada within 5 km with both AIS data and on the TCG radar screen. The Nortada had been in that vicinity since at least 09:11 AM that morning. Although it may not have been able to pick up this dinghy on its radar, it would have certainly been within visual range of the larger ships surrounding it. After the pushback, the Nortada continued its patrol off North Lesbos.

      Conclusion

      Over the course of this investigation we collected a huge amount of information on Frontex activities in the Aegean Sea. Most of Frontex’s assets were impossible to track because their transponder information was either not registered, not turned on, or was out of range. As such, we were only able to view a snapshot of Frontex operations.

      Despite this limited view, we still managed to identify multiple instances in which Frontex was either present at pushbacks, or close enough to be able to understand what was taking place. In at least one incident it appears that a Frontex vessel actively participated in a pushback. It is possible that there are other incidents we have not been able to capture.

      In a statement provided in response to this investigation, Frontex stated that it applies “the highest standards of border control to its operations” and that its officers are bound by a code of conduct that looks to prevent refoulement and to uphold human rights.

      The statement continued that Frontex’s executive director had notified the HGC regarding all reported incidents and that Greek authorities confirmed that an internal inquiry had been launched.

      A spokesperson for the Greek Maritime Ministry said the actions of HCG officers were “carried out in full compliance with the country’s international obligations, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.”

      The spokesperson added that thousands of migrants had been rescued throughout the refugee crisis of recent years by the HCG, that allegations of illegality were “tendentious” and that the “operation practices of the Greek authorities have never included such [illegal] actions.”

      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2020/10/23/frontex-at-fault-european-border-force-complicit-in-illegal-pushbacks

      #forensic_architecture #architecture_forensique

    • EU Border Agency Frontex Complicit in Greek Refugee Pushback Campaign

      Greek border guards have been forcing large numbers of refugees back to sea in pushback operations that violate international law. #DER_SPIEGEL and its reporting partners have learned that the European Union is also complicit in the highly controversial practice.

      Jouma al-Badi thought he was safe when he first set foot on European soil on April 28. Together with 21 other refugees, he had been taken in a rubber dinghy from Turkey to the Greek island of Samos. The young Syrian planned to apply for political asylum. He documented his arrival in videos. Local residents also remember the refugees.

      Greek security forces captured the migrants. Under international law, it is their duty to give the new arrivals a hearing and field their applications for asylum. Instead, according to al-Badi, the officers dragged them back out to sea and released them on an inflatable rubber raft. Videos obtained by DER SPIEGEL also show him on the raft.

      For an entire night and a morning, Greek border guards kept pushing the men and women away as their raft floated around in circles. The Turkish coast guard filmed the maneuver.

      An aircraft used by the European border protection agency Frontex also passed over the refugees. The crew of the surveillance plane, with the registration identifier "G-WKTH,” were part of a European Union operation in Greece. The plane twice flew over the Strait of Mykali, where al-Badi and the other migrants were located. According to flight data that has been viewed by DER SPIEGEL, the first flight happened at 2:41 a.m. and the second at 3:18 a.m.

      The plane’s crew has a standard MX-15 camera on board with an infrared sensor and a sensor for poor lighting conditions. Even at night, the sensors are capable of detecting small objects on the water. According to a Frontex promotional video, the camera images are streamed live to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. But Frontex didn’t send any help.

      The waves struck the Syrian in the face. He eventually ran out of strength and thought he was going to die.

      The Greek government denies it conducted pushbacks of refugees to Turkey, even though DER SPIEGEL and other media have fully documented several of these operations, known as pushbacks. Greek border guards are growing increasingly ruthless. As in the case of al-Badi, they are now pushing even refugees who have reached the Greek isles back to sea in operations that are illegal under international law.

      Frontex officials have publicly claimed that they know nothing about pushbacks by Greek border guards. The agency has 600 employees deployed in Greece as well as ships, drones and aircraft.

      Together with Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat, "Report Mainz” — a program on ARD, the German public broadcaster — and Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi, DER SPIEGEL spent several months reporting in the Aegean Sea region. The reporters tracked the positions of Frontex units and compared them with position data from pushbacks recorded by NGOs and migrants. They interviewed witnesses, refugees and Frontex staff. They viewed internal documents and dozens of videos and satellite photos.

      Their research proves for the first time that Frontex officials know about the Greek border guards’ illegal practices – and that the agency itself is at times involved in the pushbacks. Breaking the law has become an everyday occurrence at Europe’s borders, and the EU is allowing it to happen.

      Samira Mohammad could already see Lesbos when the men with the masks arrived. The Syrian woman, who does not want to provide her real name, is 45 years old. That morning of August 15, she was sitting in a rubber dinghy with dozens of other people. She recalls how Greek border guards tried in vain to stop the arrivals and how they steered toward the boat repeatedly and pushed it back toward Turkey multiple times. She says the Turkish coast guard held them off. Locals even have a name for the cynical game: "Greek water polo.”

      Mohammad claims the Greek officials took their gasoline and destroyed the engine. And that masked Greek border guards then boarded the dinghy. Several refugees claim that they forced the migrants to tie the shaky rubber dinghy to a speedboat at gunpoint. The border guards then towed the boat toward Turkey. Videos corroborate the statements made by the refugees, and the destroyed engine is clearly visible.

      Mohammad said she was scared to death during those moments. Her entire family had been onboard, including her pregnant daughter-in-law, who was later hospitalized with severe bleeding.

      The maneuver off the coast of Lesbos lasted hours, and the Turkish Navy didn’t rescue the refugees until noon.

      A Romanian Frontex boat was also on site that morning. The MAI 1102 was located only a few hundred meters away from the refugee boat. The boat can be clearly identified in a photo. A German navy ship on a NATO mission that observed the incident reported it to the German government. It also stated that Frontex people had been present. This is documented in an internal paper that has been obtained by DER SPIEGEL. Nevertheless, this pushback has never been revealed publicly before now.

      On June 8, Frontex officials went one step further, with the MAI 1103, a ship also flying the Romanian flag. It directly blocked a refugee boat. The incident can be seen in several videos recorded by the Turkish coast guard and verified by DER SPIEGEL. It shows officials standing on the deck, where they are obviously communicating with the refugees floating in the water in front of them.

      Later, the MAI 1103 passes the refugees traveling at high speed, with waves beating against the boat. The Romanian officials then withdrew and the Greek coast guard took over the operation.

      "These pushbacks violate the ban on collective expulsions and international maritime law,” says Dana Schmalz, an expert on international law at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. She notes that if Frontex officials stopped a completely overcrowded inflatable boat, they would be required to rescue the people immediately. "If they don’t do that and even make waves instead, only to drive away and let the Greeks do the dirty work, then they are still involved in the illegal pushback,” she says.

      Reporting by DER SPIEGEL and its partners found that a Frontex surveillance plane or Portuguese or Romanian Frontex ships were near at least six pushbacks in the area since April. The number of undetected cases could actually be much higher.

      The vast majority of Frontex vessels patrol the Aegean Sea with their AIS transponders switched off or untraceable in order to prevent giving away their positions. Their presence can only be verified with difficulty through videos and photos.

      When contacted for comment by DER SPIEGEL, Frontex did not deny the individual incidents, instead stating that the officials protected the fundamental rights of migrants and respected their right to non-refoulement. It further stated that the incidents that had been reported were forwarded to the Greek coast guard, which opened an investigation into the matter. The Greek government gave a blanket denial to the allegations, saying that it complies with the law and does not carry out illegal deportations.

      Under Frontex’s statutes, police officers are required to file so-called Serious Incident Reports to document violations of the law. But people familiar with the situation say that fewer and fewer of these reports are getting filed. The sources said the Frontex border guards, who are sent to Greece from all over Europe, frown upon such reports because they cause trouble for the host country.

      https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-border-agency-frontex-complicit-in-greek-refugee-pushback-campaign-a-4b6c

      –---

      en allemand :
      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-frontex-in-griechenland-in-illegale-pushbacks-verwickelt-a-0000

    • Bruxelles veut des explications de Frontex, accusée de procéder à des refoulements illégaux de migrants

      La #Commission_européenne a sollicité une réunion extraordinaire urgente du conseil d’administration de Frontex, l’agence européenne pour la protection des frontières, mise en cause pour des refoulements illégaux de migrants en mer Égée. Un article d’Euroefe.

      « Après s’être coordonnés avec la présidente de la Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, mes services ont demandé, au nom de la Commission, la convocation d’une réunion extraordinaire du conseil d’administration de Frontex le 10 novembre pour discuter des incidents présumés de refoulement en Grèce et de la protection des droits fondamentaux », a écrit Ylva Johansson, la commissaire chargée des migrations, dans un tweet.

      D’après des enquêtes menées par différents médias, Frontex aurait procédé à des refoulements illégaux de migrants en mer Égée, à la frontière entre la Turquie et la Grèce. Et ce à au moins six reprises.

      L’hebdomadaire allemand Der Spiegel a révélé le 23 octobre qu’il avait enquêté sur ces incidents en collaboration avec les médias numériques néerlandais Lighthouse Reports et britannique Bellingcat, ainsi qu’avec deux chaînes de télévision, l’Allemande ARD et la Japonaise Asahi.

      Ces médias disposent de films montrant comment, depuis le mois d’avril, des agents de Frontex ont procédé à ce que l’on appelle des « pushbacks » (refoulements) de migrants pour les empêcher d’atteindre le sol européen, une pratique illégale.

      Une vidéo montre comment un bateau de l’agence européenne bloque le passage d’une embarcation occupée par des migrants, avant de les dépasser à grande vitesse, provoquant ainsi de grosses vagues. Par la suite, les garde-côtes grecs obligent la barque à faire demi-tour vers la Turquie.

      De son côté, Frontex a nié les accusations et assuré au Spiegel que ses agents protégeaient les droits fondamentaux des migrants et respectaient le droit au non-refoulement.

      Le gouvernement grec a également nié catégoriquement ces accusations.

      https://www.euractiv.fr/section/migrations/news/bruxelles-veut-des-explications-de-frontex-accusee-de-proceder-a-des-refoulements-illegaux-de-migrants/?_ga=2.223583131.1633915392.1603989521-379746837.1590938192

    • Greek coast guard performed huge pushback involving 197 people and 7 life rafts!

      A boat carrying 197 people tried to cross from Turkey to Italy on Tuesday, but got in to bad weather and sat course towards Crete. Close to the south shore of Crete they had engine problems and the Greek Coast Guard was alerted 09.00.
      The coast guard divided the people on two coast guard vessels, 121 men and boys on one vessel and 76 people, families on the other. Reports from the refugees clearly states that some of them where abuse while onboard the HCG vessel, footage and video testimony has been provided. Most of their phones was confiscated by the Greek coast guard, but a few managed to hide their phones, and was able to send out distress messages.
      The first group containing the 121 males was forced in to 3 life rafts before first light on Wednesday the 21th just north of Rhodes, and found and picked up by Turkish coast guard 08.50 south of Marmaris.
      The second group with the families, 76 people, was put in 4 life rafts around noon north west of Simi, drifting for hours and not picked up by Turkish coast guard before 17.30 south west of Datça.
      This shows that the Greek coast guard is determined to prevent anyone to reach Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution.
      This is by far the largest pushback Aegean Boat Report has been able to document, but I guess nothing is a surprise anymore. No measures have been taken by the EU to try to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even do they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.

      https://www.facebook.com/AegeanBoatReport/posts/951612422028529

    • Έστειλαν πίσω 200 πρόσφυγες γιατί ήταν… τζιχαντιστές

      Τεκμηριωμένη καταγγελία για τη μεγαλύτερη ώς τώρα καταγεγραμμένη επαναπροώθηση προσφύγων από το Λιμενικό προς την Τουρκία με μεγάλη και κρυφή επιχείρηση του Λιμενικού εν μέσω σφοδρής κακοκαιρίας νότια της Κρήτης ● Έντεχνη προσπάθεια οι 200 άνθρωποι, μεταξύ αυτών και γυναικόπαιδα, να εμφανιστούν ως… ισλαμιστές τρομοκράτες.

      Ακόμα μια καταγγελία για βίαιες επαναπροωθήσεις προσφύγων από το Λιμενικό έρχεται στο φως τις τελευταίες ημέρες, την ίδια στιγμή που η κυβέρνηση πανηγυρίζει για τη μείωση των προσφυγικών ροών προς τα νησιά, χωρίς όμως να εξηγεί πώς έχει επιτευχθεί η μείωση αυτή.

      Η υπόθεση αφορά πλοιάριο με περίπου 200 ανθρώπους που έφτασαν στα ανοιχτά της Κρήτης, προερχόμενοι από Τουρκία και με τελικό προορισμό την Ιταλία. Στη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση υπάρχει μια περίεργη αλληλουχία γεγονότων και « ειδήσεων » τόσο στα κρητικά όσο και τα κεντρικά ΜΜΕ. Το πρωί της Τρίτης 20 Οκτωβρίου σε όλα τα ηλεκτρονικά ΜΜΕ της Κρήτης μεταδίδεται η είδηση για « κινητοποίηση του Λιμενικού » για σκάφος με 200 μετανάστες στη θαλάσσια περιοχή νότια της νήσου Χρυσής (Γαϊδουρονήσι), στην Ιεράπετρα. Το προηγούμενο βράδυ η Κρήτη είχε χτυπηθεί σφοδρά από την κακοκαιρία και το πρωί τα βλέμματα όλων ήταν στις εκτεταμένες καταστροφές που προκάλεσε το χαλάζι σε καλλιέργειες και υποδομές, κυρίως στην ανατολική πλευρά του νησιού. Την ίδια κακοκαιρία προφανώς αντιμετώπισαν και οι 200 επιβαίνοντες στο σκάφος, μεταξύ των οποίων υπήρχαν γυναίκες και παιδιά.

      Στις πρώτες αναφορές και σε ερωτήσεις δημοσιογράφων προς το Λιμεναρχείο Ιεράπετρας γινόταν λόγος για « αδυναμία του Λιμενικού να εντοπίσει το πλοιάριο », ωστόσο δινόταν η πληροφορία πως τα σκάφη θα έμεναν στα ανοιχτά λόγω της κακοκαιρίας και για την περίπτωση που χρειαστεί, να παράσχουν βοήθεια αν εντοπίσουν τους πρόσφυγες. Λίγες ώρες αργότερα η είδηση εξαφανίστηκε από τα ΜΜΕ και δημιουργήθηκε η εντύπωση πως τα σκάφη του Λιμενικού δεν βρήκαν ποτέ το πλοιάριο με τους πρόσφυγες.
      Τους βρήκαν ;

      Ωστόσο τα πράγματα φαίνεται πως έγιναν διαφορετικά. Τέσσερις μέρες μετά, η οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report, η οποία και στο παρελθόν έχει αποκαλύψει παράνομες επιχειρήσεις επαναπροώθησης λέμβων με μετανάστες προς την Τουρκία από τις ελληνικές αρχές και τη Frontex, καταγγέλλει πως το Λιμενικό όχι μόνο βρήκε τους πρόσφυγες στα ανοιχτά της Κρήτης αλλά προχώρησε και με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες στην επαναπροώθησή τους στην Τουρκία. Η οργάνωση καταγγέλλει πως η ελληνική Ακτοφυλακή εντόπισε τους πρόσφυγες στις 9 το πρωί της Τρίτης (όπως δηλαδή μετέδιδαν αρχικά και τα κρητικά ΜΜΕ). Στη συνέχεια, πάντα σύμφωνα με την καταγγελία, οι άνδρες του Λιμενικού επιβίβασαν τους 197 πρόσφυγες σε δύο επιχειρησιακά σκάφη χωρίζοντάς τους σε δύο ομάδες. Στην πρώτη ομάδα μπήκαν 121 άνδρες και αγόρια, ενώ στη δεύτερη μπήκαν οικογένειες με γυναίκες και παιδιά, συνολικά 76 άτομα. Και οι δύο ομάδες, πάντα σύμφωνα με την καταγγελία, μεταφέρθηκαν στη θαλάσσια περιοχή βόρεια της Ρόδου, όπου και εξαναγκάστηκαν με τη βία να επιβιβαστούν σε συνολικά επτά θαλάσσιες σωστικές σχεδίες αφού προηγουμένως τους είχαν αφαιρεθεί όλα τα κινητά τηλέφωνα. Και οι επτά σχεδίες « σπρώχτηκαν » προς τις ακτές της Τουρκίας, εν μέσω κακοκαιρίας και κατά παράβαση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και του δίκαιου της θάλασσας.

      Στιγμιότυπα από την επαναπροώθηση των προσφύγων (Φωτογραφίες από την οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report).


      Οι τρεις πρώτες σχεδίες, με 121 άτομα, εξωθήθηκαν τα ξημερώματα της Τετάρτης 21/10 προς την περιοχή της Μαρμαρίδας, όπου και εντοπίστηκαν από το τουρκικό Λιμενικό που τους περισυνέλεξε. Το δεύτερο γκρουπ, όπου βρίσκονταν οι γυναίκες και τα παιδιά, εξαναγκάστηκε να επιβιβαστεί σε τέσσερις σωστικές σχεδίες και επαναπροωθήθηκε προς την Τουρκία από τη θαλάσσια περιοχή δυτικά της Σύμης, το μεσημέρι της Τετάρτης. Τους περισυνέλεξε το τουρκικό Λιμενικό το απόγευμα της ίδιας μέρας στην περιοχή νοτιοδυτικά της πόλης Ντάκτα. Οπως αναφέρουν μάλιστα κάποιοι από τους επιβαίνοντες, χτυπήθηκαν από τους Ελληνες λιμενικούς, ενώ υπάρχει και σχετικό φωτογραφικό υλικό που τραβήχτηκε μετά την περισυλλογή τους από τις τουρκικές αρχές. Σε μία από τις φωτογραφίες φαίνεται ένας άνθρωπος με μώλωπες στην κοιλιά και με γύψο σε σημεία και των δύο χεριών του.


      Πρωτοσέλιδο

      Την ίδια μέρα, πάντως, που έγινε η καταγγελία από την Aegean Boat Report (το Σάββατο) η εφημερίδα « ΤΑ ΝΕΑ » κυκλοφορούσε με τίτλο « Προετοιμαστείτε για Τζιχαντιστές », αναφερόμενη στο μήνυμα που, σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες της εφημερίδας, έστειλε σε Ελλάδα και Κύπρο ο Αιγύπτιος πρόεδρος Αλ Σίσι κατά την τριμερή συνάντηση που πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Λευκωσία. Το μήνυμα υποτίθεται πως αφορούσε τις πληροφορίες που έχει η Αίγυπτος για τις κινήσεις του Ερντογάν και το πώς χρησιμοποιεί τον ισλαμιστικό παράγοντα. Σε κάποια κρητικά ΜΜΕ οι δύο υποθέσεις δεν άργησαν να συνδεθούν με αναφορές για το… περίεργο σκάφος στο οποίο, σύμφωνα με τα δημοσιεύματα, επέβαιναν « άτομα εμφανιζόμενα ως μετανάστες » και το οποίο, σύμφωνα με τις διοχετευμένες πληροφορίες, έχει κινητοποιήσει όχι μόνο το Λιμενικό αλλά και τον Στρατό, την ΕΥΠ ακόμα και ξένες μυστικές υπηρεσίες !

      Όπως αποκαλύπτεται, πάντως, οι επικίνδυνοι « τζιχαντιστές », τόσο οι άνδρες όσο και τα γυναικόπαιδα, είχαν ήδη από την Τετάρτη επαναπροωθηθεί παράνομα στην Τουρκία. Η Οργάνωση Aegean Boat Report αναφέρει πως αυτή είναι η μεγαλύτερη περίπτωση « pushback » που καταφέρνει να καταγράψει και τονίζει πως η Ευρωπαϊκή Ενωση δεν έχει επιβάλει ακόμα καμία κύρωση στην Ελλάδα για τις παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις, παρά τα ακλόνητα στοιχεία που έχουν τεθεί στη διάθεση των ευρωπαϊκών αρχών.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/efkriti/koinonia/265835_esteilan-piso-200-prosfyges-giati-itan-tzihantistes

    • Greece’s coast guard accused of mass migrant pushbacks

      An NGO, the #Aegean_Boat_Report (ABR), has accused the Greek coast guard of pushing back 197 migrants at sea last week.

      Greek coast guards have been accused by the NGO Aegean Boat Report (ABR) of performing illegal pushbacks involving 197 people and seven life rafts off the coast of the island of Crete in the Southern Aegean.

      A boat carrying 197 people was on its way trying to cross from Turkey to Italy on October 20 but ran into bad weather and changed course towards Crete, the NGO said.

      Close to the south shore of Crete, the vessel reported engine problems and, according to the Norwegian organization, the Greek coast guard was alerted at 9 am.

      ’’The Greek coast guard divided the people into two groups onto two coast guard vessels, 121 men and boys on one vessel, and 76 people, mostly families, on the other.

      Abuse on board

      Reports from the refugees clearly state that some of them were abused while onboard the Hellenic coast guard vessel, with footage and video testimony being provided,’’ said ABR via a media statement.

      According to ABR, the first group with the 121 men and boys were forced into three life rafts in the early hours of Wednesday, October 21 just north of Rhodes, before being found and picked up by the Turkish coast guard at 8:50 am south of Marmaris.

      The second group of 76 people, made up of families, were put into four life rafts at around noon north-west of the islands of Simi, drifting for hours and not picked up by Turkish coast guards before 5:30 pm south-west of Data.

      ’Largest pushback’ ABR has documented

      ’’This shows that the Greek coast guard is determined to prevent anyone from reaching Greek soil, no matter the consequences or potential harm they may inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution’’, added ABR.

      ’’This is by far the largest pushback Aegean Boat Report has been able to document, but I guess nothing is a surprise anymore. No measures have been taken by the EU to try to stop this illegal practice by the Greek government, even if they have received overwhelming amounts of evidence.’’

      29 NGOs and humanitarian groups sent an open letter to Parliament Last week’s incidents were reported after an appeal was launched by several prominent NGOs and humanitarian groups earlier this month on the topic of illegal pushbacks.

      A total of 29 organizations sent an open letter to Parliament urging it to investigate reports of illegal pushbacks at the country’s land and sea borders with neighboring Turkey.

      The letter called on the Greek Parliament to ’’immediately conduct an effective, transparent and impartial investigation into allegations that personnel from the Coast Guard, the Greek Police and the Greek Army, sometimes in close cooperation with masked men in uniform, have engaged in such actions, which are not only illegal but also endanger the lives and safety of displaced people."

      Tensions on migration in Greece

      Tensions on the migrant issue in Greece continue to run high following September’s fires which destroyed the controversial Moria open camp on Lesbos, and widespread lockdowns at refugee camps across the country following outbreaks of coronavirus cases.

      The reports of pushbacks taking place have prompted action from humanitarian rights groups, with the joint-appeal calling for disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as deemed appropriate, “on anyone in uniform who are found to have participated in such illegal activities, but also for their superiors who are responsible for the administration of these bodies.”

      “The investigation should establish the identity and relationship of the masked men and other unidentified officers to law enforcement, and take steps to hold them to account.”

      State pushes ahead with migrant camps

      Meanwhile, in related developments, the government is pressing ahead with plans to create more secure and strictly controlled ’’closed’’ migrant reception centers on the Aegean islands.

      With the COVID-19 pandemic creating further challenges and complications for the operation of existing camps, most of which are under lockdown due to positive cases of the virus, the state is aiming to build new ’’permanent’’ structures, starting with one on Lesbos.

      The situation on Lesbos is the primary concern right now, as the current temporary facility which was hastily set up in the Kara Tepe area on the coast after Moria was burned down, has already flooded twice with the first rainfalls of the season.

      Lesbos Mayor Stratis Kytelis met with government officials in Athens last week to discuss the location of a new permanent facility on the island, although the plans are being met with resistance from local community groups.Greece’s health authorities, meanwhile, are also conducting regular COVID-19 tests at migrant camps on the Aegean islands to ensure that any outbreak is quickly contained.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/28139/greece-s-coast-guard-accused-of-mass-migrant-pushbacks

    • Frontex sous pression après des accusations de refoulement de migrants aux portes de la Grèce

      C’est une première : mardi 10 novembre, le conseil d’administration de l’Agence européenne des garde-frontières et de garde-côtes Frontex devra examiner des accusations de refoulements illégaux (ou « pushbacks ») de migrants en mer Egée. Elles ont été portées contre Frontex par un groupe de médias. En octobre, le site d’investigation Bellingcat et le magazine Der Spiegel notamment, avaient rapporté, images et témoignages à l’appui, six épisodes au cours desquels des embarcations avaient été bloquées, contrairement aux règles internationales sur le non-refoulement.

      Celles-ci stipulent que des personnes ne peuvent être renvoyées vers un pays, avant un examen de leur situation, si leur existence est en danger en raison de leur race, leur religion, leur nationalité ou leur appartenance à un groupe social ou politique.

      Il aura apparemment fallu une intervention ferme de la Commission européenne pour que la direction de Frontex, devenue le premier corps en uniforme et la plus importante agence de l’Union avec un budget de quelque 500 millions d’euros, accepte de convoquer un conseil extraordinaire. Dans un premier temps, elle s’était contentée d’affirmer, le 24 octobre, qu’elle respectait la loi internationale et était en contact avec la Grèce, qui devait ouvrir « une enquête interne ».
      Enquête interne

      « Si l’agence est impliquée dans de telles actions, c’est totalement inacceptable », déclarait pour sa part la commissaire à la migration, Ylva Johansson, le 26 octobre. Le lendemain, Frontex promettait une enquête interne et, même si elle n’exerce pas une tutelle directe sur l’agence, la Commission obtenait la convocation d’une réunion. A charge pour Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur français, de fournir des explications détaillées.

      « La Grèce ne participe pas à des refoulements, a affirmé de son côté le ministre grec des migrations, Notis Mitarachi. Nous gardons nos frontières en respectant le droit international et nous continuons à sauver des centaines de migrants tous les jours en Méditerranée », a-t-il précisé.

      Athènes fait face depuis des mois à de nombreuses accusations de refoulement en mer Egée et à la frontière terrestre avec la Turquie, dans l’Evros. Le 14 août déjà, le New York Times avait affirmé que les gardes-côtes grecs avaient abandonné en « pleine mer » des canots remplis de migrants. Interviewé par CNN, le premier ministre conservateur Kyriakos Mitsotakis avait démenti : « Cela n’est jamais arrivé. Nous sommes les victimes d’une vaste campagne de désinformation », suggérant que les journalistes avaient interrogé principalement des sources turques voulant décrédibiliser les autorités grecques.

      Depuis l’envoi par la Turquie de milliers de réfugiés à la frontière terrestre de l’Evros, en mars, Athènes a toujours assuré vouloir « protéger ses frontières » qui sont aussi celles de l’Europe et faire face à « une menace ». Le gouvernement a renforcé le contrôle des frontières en embauchant notamment du personnel supplémentaire. Entre avril et juillet, les arrivées à Lesbos ont diminué de 85 % par rapport à l’année dernière, selon le ministère des migrations.
      Des « abus sont trop nombreux pour être ignorés »

      Pour de nombreuses ONG présentes sur le terrain, cette diminution spectaculaire est le résultat de « pushbacks ». Selon Human Rights Watch, « les preuves et les rapports décrivant les abus sont trop nombreux pour être ignorés ». L’organisation dit avoir interrogé des victimes et des témoins qui décrivent comment les garde-côtes grecs, la police, et des hommes masqués et vêtus d’habits sombres ont effectué depuis les îles de Rhodes, de Samos et Simi, des refoulements illégaux de personnes sur de petits canots gonflables.

      A la fin août, le Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) de l’ONU se disait « inquiet de l’augmentation des publications depuis mars 2020 attestant de refoulements illégaux ». « Le HCR a reçu des rapports et des témoignages de personnes abandonnées en pleine mer pendant un long moment, souvent sur des rafiots surpeuplés », précisait le communiqué.

      L’Observatoire grec des accords d’Helsinki a déjà déposé une plainte auprès de la Cour suprême grecque pour le refoulement de plus de 1 300 personnes en s’appuyant sur les témoignages recueillis par plusieurs ONG. En septembre, 29 organisations de défense des droits de l’homme ont par ailleurs adressé une lettre au premier ministre et au parlement grecs pour réclamer une enquête. Leur courrier est encore sans réponse alors que 35 membres d’ONG font, eux, l’objet d’une investigation : ils sont suspectés d’avoir renseigné des migrants sur les positions des gardes-côtes ainsi que des passeurs sur des lieux d’accostage. Ces humanitaires travaillent pour des organisations qui ont dénoncé avec le plus de véhémence les refoulements vers la Turquie par les gardes-côtes grecs.

      Frontex, qui a engagé en Grèce quelque six cents agents dotés de divers moyens de surveillance, a déjà fait l’objet d’autres accusations mais affirme à chaque fois respecter un code de conduite qui prohibe strictement les refoulements. La communication très cadenassée de l’agence ne détaille toutefois pas comment les contrôles sont vraiment exercés. L’action du service interne chargé de contrôler le respect des droits fondamentaux reste également nébuleuse. Une situation déplorée par le HCR, membre du forum consultatif chargé de conseiller l’agence européenne dans son action.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/11/05/frontex-sous-pression-apres-des-accusations-de-refoulement-de-migrants-aux-p

    • EU: Probe Frontex Complicity in Border Abuses. Ensure Independent and Effective Investigation

      The top governing body of the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) should urgently establish an independent inquiry into allegations of its involvement in unlawful operations to stop migrants from reaching the European Union (EU), Human Rights Watch said today.

      The agency’s board will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 10, 2020. Frontex should also address serious and persistent violations by border and law enforcement officers of the countries where it operates.

      “The fact that Frontex may have become complicit in abuses at Greece’s borders is extremely serious,” said Eva Cossé, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Management Board of Frontex should quickly open an inquiry into Frontex involvement in – or actions to disregard or cover up – abuses against people seeking protection from conflicts and persecution.”

      On October 23, a group of media outlets published a detailed investigative report alleging Frontex involvement in pushback operations at the Greek-Turkish maritime border, in the Aegean Sea. The reports said that asylum seekers and migrants were prevented from reaching EU soil or were forced out of EU waters. Such pushbacks violate international law, Human Rights Watch said.

      EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on October 28 that she had asked, in coordination with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “to convene an urgent extraordinary Frontex Management Board meeting on 10 November, to discuss alleged push-back incidents in Greece and fundamental rights protection.”

      Frontex’s mandate obliges officers and the officers of member states deployed to respect fundamental rights, but the agency has been under heavy criticism for the shortcomings of its internal monitoring and accountability mechanisms. On October 27, Frontex announced an internal inquiry into the incidents reported by the media.

      In recent years, nongovernmental groups and media outlets have consistently reported the unlawful return, including through pushbacks, of groups and individuals from Greece to Turkey, by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men who appear to be working in tandem with border enforcement officials.

      Since Frontex deployed officers along the full length of the Turkey-Greece land border in March, Human Rights Watch has documented that Greek law enforcement officers routinely summarily returned asylum seekers and migrants through the land border with Turkey. Human Rights Watch found that officers in some cases used violence and often confiscated and destroyed migrants’ belongings.

      Greek authorities have said that police officers wearing dark blue uniforms work at police stations. Border patrol police officers wear military camouflage uniforms. Frontex guards wear their national uniforms, with a blue armband with the EU flag.

      In July, Human Rights Watch documented collective expulsions, through the Evros river land border, of asylum seekers rounded up from deep inside Greece.

      In a June 19 response to questions posed by Human Rights Watch, Frontex wrote that no abuses against migrants by Greek border guards or by police or border guards of other EU member states deployed under Frontex had been reported to Frontex. It said that Frontex does not have the authority to investigate allegations of abuse by EU member states’ police or border guards deployed in Greece. It said that such investigations are conducted by the competent national authorities.

      In June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it was deeply concerned about persistent reports of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, in some cases violent, at Greece’s border with Turkey. In August, the UN Refugee Agency flagged concerns over the increasing number of credible reports of pushbacks at Greece’s land and sea borders.

      In May 2019, Frontex told Human Rights Watch that it had not detected any human rights violations or pushbacks during its operational presence at Croatia’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite consistent evidence of brutal pushbacks, reports from international and regional organizations, and the confirmation by Croatian officials that such abuses were taking place.

      Under the Frontex mandate, its executive director has the authority to, and should, withdraw financing, and suspend or terminate its activities if there are serious violations of fundamental rights related to its activities. The executive director is also expected to take into account information provided by relevant international organizations.

      On July 6, during a debate at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on fundamental rights at the Greek border, Johansson said that pushbacks by Greek border guards should be investigated. In its new Pact on Migration and Asylum, presented on September 23, the European Commission recommended to member states to set up an independent monitoring mechanism, amid increased allegations of abuse at the EU’s external borders.

      Members of the Frontex Management Board should set up an independent, prompt, effective, transparent, and impartial investigation into allegations that officers deployed by Frontex were involved in unlawful operations of pushbacks of asylum seekers. Any officer found to have engaged in such illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers and officials who have command responsibility over such forces, should be subject to disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as applicable.

      The investigation should also identify whether Frontex failed to report or otherwise address allegations of serious fundamental rights violations committed by law enforcement or border officers of the member state hosting operations.

      “An EU agency with a clear mandate to act in compliance with fundamental rights has the responsibility to do everything possible to prevent such severe violations,” Cossé said. “If Frontex not only turned a blind eye to abuses committed under its sight, or worse, directly took part in them, it becomes every EU member state’s responsibility.”

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/11/09/eu-probe-frontex-complicity-border-abuses

    • Frontex calls for committee to consider questions related to sea surveillance

      Today, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has called for the creation of an evaluation committee to consider legal questions related to the Agency’s surveillance of external sea borders and accommodating the concerns raised by Member States about “hybrid threats” affecting their national security at external borders where the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will deploy its standing corps.

      Under the Frontex proposal, the committee would be coordinated by the European Commission with the participation of Member States on a volunteer basis. It would address various questions, in particular those related to Regulation 2014/656 in the light of the current operational situation.

      Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri also expressed the Agency’s continued commitment to highest standards of protection of fundamental rights.

      “Any allegation of misconduct or infringement of international treaties or fundamental rights in the framework of joint operations coordinated by Frontex is treated with grave concern and carefully investigated,” said Fabrice Leggeri.

      “I am committed to reinforce the office of the Fundamental Rights Officer and to gradually increase its budget,” he added.

      Leggeri also proposed that the Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer to play a bigger role in raising awareness of the operational officers on the legal requirements that they need to apply on everyday basis in the field.

      “This could apply not only to the Frontex-deployed staff, but also to the staff of the International Coordination Centres, who often play an essential part in deciding to react to complicated events,” Leggeri said.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-calls-for-committee-to-consider-questions-related-to-sea-surv

    • #Ombudsman opens inquiry to assess European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) ‘#Complaints_Mechanism’

      European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has opened an inquiry to look into how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) deals with alleged breaches of fundamental rights. In particular, the investigation will assess the effectiveness and transparency of Frontex’s Complaints Mechanism for those who believe their rights have been violated in the context of Frontex border operations, as well as the role and independence of Frontex’s ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’.

      In 2013, as part of a previous inquiry, the Ombudsman recommended that Frontex set up an individual complaints mechanism, and that its Fundamental Rights Officer be in charge of the mechanism. Since then, such a mechanism was put in place and further developed, with a view to providing safeguards for fundamental rights in the context of Frontex’s expanding mandate, as well as ensuring increased accountability and redress for those impacted by its actions.

      This inquiry focuses on whether the Complaints Mechanism and the Fundamental Rights Officer are truly empowered to deal with the issues faced by migrants and asylum seekers who feel their rights have been violated under Frontex operations.

      In opening the inquiry, the Ombudsman has sent a set of detailed questions to Frontex on the Complaints Mechanism and the Fundamental Rights Officer. She has also informed members of the European Network of Ombudsmen (ENO), with a view to their possible participation in the inquiry, as part of the ENO’s parallel work. This is important, given the role of national authorities in Frontex operations, and the fact that some national ombudsmen are responsible for following up on complaints related to this.

      Among other things, the questions set out by the Ombudsman look at: how and when Frontex will be updating the mechanism to reflect its expanded mandate; what happens to complainants who are faced with forced return while their complaint is still being processed; what appeal possibilities are open to complainants; how Frontex monitors complaints against national authorities; how those who have been affected by Frontex operations but are in non-EU countries can complain about alleged breaches of fundamental rights, including the issue of language; and the role of the Fundamental Rights Officer in this process.

      https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/news-document/en/134739

    • Frontex: Cover-Up and Diversion. Outcomes of and Responses to the Frontex Management Board meeting on 10th November

      An extraordinary meeting took place on Tuesday 10th November, between the EU Commission and Frontex, regarding alleged Frontex involvement in illegal pushbacks in Greece.

      Why did the meeting take place?

      This meeting was called due to an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting the involvement or complicity of Frontex in pushbacks. Reports by Spiegel, Report Mainz, Bellingcat and other international media, including Josoor and other members of the BVMN, had led to this meeting taking place. These investigations show Frontex involvement in at least six pushbacks through, for example, blocking boats and making waves to deter boats from getting any closer to the shore. According to Frontex insiders, mission reports were routinely altered into something more positive, excluding explicit mentions of pushbacks, before being sent to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, Poland.

      We, at the Border Violence Monitoring Network, took advantage of the opportunity presented by the meeting on 10th November by sending a letter of concern to the Executive Director of Frontex and the FRO. This letter included evidence from testimonies, collected by BVMN partners, including Josoor, from people-on-the-move who claim that Frontex personnel were involved or complicit in pushbacks operations at the borders between Greek and Turkey, and Albania and Greece. The letter questioned Frontex’s knowledge and understanding of these allegations, and demanded an investigation into these claims. The letter was also addressed to the EU commissioner of Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and her officer and we hoped this was presented as evidence at the management board meeting on 10th November

      What were the outcomes?

      Johansson remarked on twitter after the meeting:

      “Today’s @Frontex extraordinary management board was a good start to what I want to be a transparent process. The @EU_Commission has asked the Frontex Executive Director to reply to Qs ahead of the next scheduled board meeting (end November).”

      Leggeri, the Executive Director of Frontex, has been ordered by the EU Commission to answer questions concerning these accusations by the end of November. Frontex is yet to comment in detail on the allegations and reported incidents have been forwarded to the Greek coastguard, where also the Greek authorities have refused to comment and denied involvement. Both Frontex and the Greek authorities have launched internal investigations in response to these allegations. Unsurprisingly, after just 48 hours of their investigations, Frontex announced that they were innocent.

      The meeting also included a discussion on whether Frontex should withdraw from missions, such as the one in the Aegean Sea in the event of serious and persistent human rights violations. Such a directive can be found already in Frontex’s regulations. Officials of a few member states vetoed the application of this rule, and Greek representatives in particular were concerned that this could expose the Greek government.

      In the end, a compromise was met. A Frontex statement outlined that a ‘Commission of Inquiry’ will now be made to deal with legal questions concerning operations at sea borders. This will be coordinated by the EU Commission.

      “Any allegation of misconduct or violation of international agreements or fundamental rights within joint operations coordinated by Frontex will be treated with grave concern and investigated closely,” Leggeri said.

      Also, Frontex seeks to strengthen the role of the Fundamental Rights Officer, but experts agree that the internal mechanisms at Frontex are insufficient and therefore see this move as insufficient. As of yesterday, Frontex is advertising for the vacancy of the FRO.

      Members of EU Parliament reactions:

      Tineke Strik (from Netherlands, Green) commented, according to Spiegel, “The announcement did not mention the human rights violations at the border. A committee does not replace a truly independent and transparent investigation. Strik stated “Citizens need to know what has happened and how human rights violations are to be prevented in the future”

      Dietmar Köster (from Germany, SPD) stated, quoted from Tagesschau, "It is a unique cover-up attempt to divert attention from one’s own responsibility and failure to observe human rights”. Köster further stated that Leggeri’s statements showed the arrogance and ignorance of Frontex. “Basic and human rights apply to all. The European Border Management Agency is not exempt from their observance, it is not above the law.”

      An successful outcome: an independent inquiry:

      On the morning of Thursday 12th November, the European Ombudsman tweeted that they would open an inquiry into Frontex, assessing the effectiveness and transparency of their ‘Complaints Mechanism’ and the role and independence of the ‘Fundamental Rights Officer’ (FRO). The latter is especially important as the current ad interim FRO, Annegret Kohler, appointed in 2018, and re-appointed in September 2020, was selected from the Executive Director’s former cabinet, where she was an advisor to the Executive Director. This raises questions about independence and objectivity of the FRO and the FRO’s team to carry out their duties and avoid potential conflicts of interest. Josoor welcomes this investigation.

      https://www.josoor.net/post/frontex-cover-up-and-diversion

    • EU erhöht Druck auf Frontex-Chef

      Die EU-Grenzschutzagentur gerät durch Recherchen des ARD-Magazins Report Mainz und weiterer Medien in Bedrängnis. Heute musste die Frontex-Führung der EU-Kommission zum Thema illegale Pushbacks Rede und Antwort stehen.

      Die Europäische Kommission erwartet Antworten vom Frontex-Chef. Bis Ende November muss sich Fabrice Leggeri zur Verwicklung seiner Grenzschutzagentur in illegale Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen äußern. Das ist das Ergebnis einer Dringlichkeitssitzung des Frontex Management Boards. Das Treffen sei ein guter Anfang gewesen, sie wolle den Prozess transparent gestalten, twitterte die zuständige EU-Kommissarin Ylva Johansson. Leggeri solle bis zur nächsten Zusammenkunft des Management Boards auf die Fragen der Kommission antworten.
      Recherchen bringen Frontex in Bedrängnis

      Johansson hatte das Treffen einberufen, um über eine gemeinsame Recherche des ARD-Magazins Report Mainz, des „Spiegel“ und der Medienorganisationen Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports und tv Asahi zu diskutieren. Die Medien hatten aufgedeckt, dass Frontex-Einheiten in der Ägäis in illegale Zurückweisungen von Flüchtlingen verwickelt sind.

      Seit April waren Frontex-Beamte nachweislich bei mindestens sechs sogenannten Pushbacks in der Nähe. Auf einem Video ist zu sehen, wie ein Frontex-Schiff ein überladenes Flüchtlingsboot zunächst blockiert, die Insassen aber nicht rettet. Stattdessen fahren die Frontex-Beamten mit hohem Tempo an dem Flüchtlingsboot vorbei und verlassen dann den Ort des Geschehens. Vertrauliche Gespräche mit Frontex-Beamten legten zudem nahe, dass diese ihre Berichte schönen, bevor sie an die Zentrale in Warschau geschickt werden.

      Keine Äußerung von Frontex und Griechenland

      Frontex ist auf die Vorwürfe bis heute nicht im Detail eingegangen. Alle gemeldeten Vorfälle seien an die griechische Küstenwache weitergeleitet worden, diese habe eine interne Untersuchung eingeleitet, teilte die Genzschutzagentur in einem Statement mit. Nach der Antwort der griechischen Behörden seien seine Zweifel ausgeräumt, sagte Leggeri zudem in einem Interview.

      Auch die griechischen Behörden hatten sich zu den Pushbacks nicht im Detail äußern wollen. Sie bestreiten die Vorwürfe pauschal, obwohl die ARD, der „Spiegel“ und andere Medien die Pushbacks mehrfach dokumentiert haben. Nach Angaben von Teilnehmern im „Spiegel“ sahen sich vor allem die griechischen Mitglieder des Management Boards bei dem Treffen Fragen ausgesetzt. Diskutiert wurde unter anderem ein Statement, welches betonen sollte, dass Frontex sich bei schwerwiegenden und anhaltenden Menschenrechtsverletzungen von Missionen wie der in der Ägäis zurückziehen muss.

      Griechen haben Angst vor Bloßstellung

      Ein solche Vorschrift findet sich schon jetzt in den Frontex-Regularien. Beamte einiger weniger Mitgliedsstaaten legten ihr Veto dagegen ein, dass die Anwendung dieser Regel nun in den Raum gestellt werden soll. Besonders die griechischen Teilnehmer fürchteten, dass das Statement die griechische Regierung bloßstellen könnte.

      Am Ende einigte man sich auf einen Kompromiss. Es soll ein Komitee geschaffen werden, das sich mit rechtlichen Fragen zu Einsätzen an der Seegrenzen beschäftigt, heißt es in einem Frontex-Statement. Die Kommission solle dem Vorschlag zufolge die Arbeit des Komitees koordinieren, Mitgliedsstaaten könnten sich auf freiwilliger Basis beteiligen. Im Komitee sollen auch die Sorgen einige Mitgliedsstaaten vor „hybriden Bedrohungen“ eine Rolle spielen. Vor allem Griechenland hatte immer wieder davor gewarnt, dass türkische Geheimdienste sich unter die Migranten auf den Inseln mischen könnten.

      Außerdem will Frontex nach eigener Aussage den sogenannten Fundamental Rights Officer stärken. Der Beamte ist bei Frontex dafür zuständig, dass die Grenzschützer die Grundrechte von Schutzsuchenden achten. Allerdings halten Beobachter alle bestehenden internen Überwachungsmechanismen bei Frontex für unzureichend.
      Kritik aus Europaparlament

      Nach den Enthüllungen der ARD und ihrer Recherchepartner hatten mehrere Europaparlamentarier von Leggeri eine vollständige Untersuchung der Vorwürfe gefordert. Die Grünen-EU-Abgeordnete Tineke Strik kritisierte das Frontex-Statement. Die Ankündigung erwähne die Menschenrechtsverletzungen an der Grenze nicht, sagte sie. Ein Komitee ersetze keine wirklich unabhängige und transparente Untersuchung. „Die Bürger müssen erfahren, was geschehen ist und wie Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Zukunft verhindert werden sollen“, so Strik.

      „Das Ganze ist eine große Nebelkerze“, sagte Europaparlamentarier Dietmar Köster von der SPD. „Es ist ein einzigartiger Vertuschungsversuch, von der eigenen Verantwortung und dem Versagen bei der Einhaltung von Menschenrechten abzulenken“,

      https://www.tagesschau.de/investigativ/report-mainz/frontex-pushbacks-103.html

    • EU-Grenzpolizei Frontex: Keine Untersuchung zu Verstößen gegen Menschenrechte

      Im März war die EU-Grenzpolizei Frontex in einen versuchten Verstoß gegen Menschenrechte verwickelt. Wie von uns veröffentlichte Akten zeigen, untersuchte Frontex den Vorfall aber nicht, sondern kehrte ihn unter den Teppich.

      Als ARD, Spiegel und Bellingcat vor drei Wochen aufdeckten, dass die Europäische Grenzpolizei Frontex an illegalen Pushbacks an EU-Grenzen beteiligt ist, versprach der Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri schnell Aufklärung. Die EU-Agentur werde die Vorwürfe untersuchen, nach denen Frontex Geflüchtete völkerrechtswidrig aus der EU abgeschoben hatte.

      „Jeder Vorwurf des Fehlverhaltens oder der Verletzung internationaler Verträge oder Grundrechte im Rahmen gemeinsamer Operationen, die von Frontex koordiniert werden, wird mit großer Besorgnis behandelt und sorgfältig untersucht.“

      Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri (Übersetzung von FragDenStaat)

      Ein interner E-Mail-Verlauf von Frontex, den wir per Informationsfreiheitsanfrage erhalten haben, zeigt jetzt jedoch, dass die EU-Agentur in vergleichbaren Fällen offenbar kein Interesse daran hat, Verstöße gegen Menschenrechte zu untersuchen. EU Observer hatte zunächst darüber berichtet.
      Dänemark widersetzt sich Frontex-Befehlen

      Bereits am 2. März diesen Jahres hatte Frontex in der Nähe der griechischen Insel Kos versucht, ein Boot mit 33 geflüchteten Menschen, die griechische Gewässer erreicht hatten, in die Türkei abzuschieben. Das griechische Frontex-Kommando befahl einem Schiff der Dänischen Marine mit dem Namen „Stela Polaris“, die Geflüchteten nicht an Land zu bringen, sondern wieder in ein Gummiboot zu setzen und aufs offene Meer Richtung Türkei zu schleppen. Der dänische Befehlshaber des Schiffes widersetzte sich dem rechtswidrigen Befehl jedoch und erreichte durch seine dänischen Vorgesetzten, dass er aufgehoben wurde.

      Frontex hatte den Vorgang bisher nie öffentlich zugegeben. Der dazugehörige E-Mail-Verkehr aus der Frontex-Zentrale in Warschau, den wir veröffentlichen, zeigt, dass Pushbacks die Entscheidungsträger um Direktor Fabrice Leggeri kaum interessierten. Erst aus der Presse erfuhr das Hauptquartier überhaupt davon, dass Frontex in einen versuchten Verstoß gegen die Menschenrechte verwickelt war.

      Einen Bericht – intern Serious Incident Report genannt – gab es trotz der Schwere des Vorfalls nicht. Die Frontex-Pressesprecherin forderte deswegen in Erwartung von Presseanfragen am Morgen des 6. März, vier Tage nach dem Vorfall, bei ihren Kolleg:innen einen Bericht zu den Vorfällen an. Am Nachmittag wurde sie informiert, dass es in der Tat einen versuchten Pushback gegeben hatte.

      Menschenrechte geprüft in vier Stunden

      Bemerkenswert ist, wie die Frontex-Zentrale anschließend mit den Informationen umging: Es schloss die Akten. Bereits vier Stunden nach der Meldung über Vorfall kamen die Frontex-Mitarbeiter:innen zu der Einschätzung, der versuchte Pushback sei ein „Einzelfall“. Er wurde noch nicht einmal beim täglichen Treffen der Befehlshabenden in der Frontex-Mission besprochen.

      Weitere Informationen zu dem Vorfall finden sich in den Akten laut Frontex nicht. Die Frontex-Mitarbeiter:innen überprüften nicht die Kommando-Strukturen und prüften nicht, warum es keinen internen Bericht zu dem rechtswidrigen Befehl gab. Sie unternahmen auch sonst keine Versuche, um sicherzustellen, dass Pushbacks durch das Frontex-Kommando nicht mehr vorkommen würden. Im Sommer schließlich gab Frontex-Direktor gegenüber dem Europäischen Parlament zu Protokoll, der versuchte Pushback sei ein „Missverständnis“ gewesen.

      Einige Monate später fanden Journalist:innen Beweise dafür, dass es sich offenbar nicht um einen Einzelfall handelt und Frontex mindestens im Juni an weiteren Pushbacks beteiligt war. Die EU-Agentur hatte offenbar kein Interesse daran, Verstöße gegen Menschenrechte zu unterbinden.

      https://fragdenstaat.de/blog/2020/11/18/frontex-pushbacks-denmark

    • Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee calls on Greece to reform its immigration detention system and stop pushbacks

      In a report published today on a rapid reaction ad hoc visit to Greece in March 2020, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) once again urges the Greek authorities to change their approach towards immigration detention and to ensure that migrants deprived of their liberty are treated both with dignity and humanity.

      The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Greece, which took place from 13 to 17 March 2020, together with the response of the Greek authorities.

      In the report, the CPT acknowledges the significant challenges faced by the Greek authorities in dealing with large numbers of migrants entering the country and that it requires a coordinated European approach. However, this cannot absolve the the Hellenic Republic from their human rights obligations and the duty of care owed to all migrants that the Greek authorities detain.

      The CPT found that the conditions of detention in which migrants were held in certain facilities in the Evros region and on the island of Samos could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment. The report again underlines the structural deficiencies in Greece’s immigration detention policy. Migrants continue to be held in detention centres composed of large barred cells crammed with beds, with poor lighting and ventilation, dilapidated and broken toilets and washrooms, insufficient personal hygiene products and cleaning materials, inadequate food and no access to outdoor daily exercise. Extreme overcrowding in several of the facilities further aggravated the situation. In addition, migrants were not provided with clear information about their situation.

      The CPT once again found that families with children, unaccompanied and separated children and other vulnerable persons (with a physical or mental health illness, or pregnant women) were being detained in such appalling conditions with no appropriate support. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to end the detention of unaccompanied children and of children with their parents in police establishments. Instead, they should be transferred to suitable reception facilities catering to their specific needs.

      The report also highlights that the CPT again received consistent and credible allegations of migrants being pushed back across the Evros River border to Turkey. The Greek authorities should act to prevent such pushbacks. The CPT furthermore raises concerns over acts by the Greek Coast Guard to prevent boats carrying migrants from reaching any Greek island and it questions the role and engagement of FRONTEX in such operations.

      The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to take vigorous steps to stamp out ill-treatment of detained migrants by the police. The report refers to a number of allegations by migrants that they had been ill treated by members of the Hellenic Police and/or Coast Guard either upon apprehension or after being brought to a place of detention. The ill treatment alleged consisted primarily of slaps to the head and kicks and truncheon blows to the body.

      In their response, the Hellenic Police provide information on the steps being taken to improve the conditions of detention for detained migrants. They also state that the alleged practice of pushbacks to the border is unsubstantiated and completely wrong. As regards unaccompanied minors, reference is made to a new strategy to end their detention and to their transfer from reception centres on the islands to safe accommodation facilities on the mainland.

      https://search.coe.int/directorate_of_communications/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680a06bcf

    • Annex to the reply of Fabrice Leggeri to the LIBE Committee

      https://www.tinekestrik.eu/sites/default/files/2020-11/Answers%20to%20the%20questions%20from%20the%20LIBE%20Commitee.pdf

      –---

      Thread sur twitter:

      It looks like Frontex are NOT denying that they may be involved in #pushbacks after all. FL partly evades (’...always committed...’) and partly seems to blame the ’uniqueness’ of operational areas & ’complex geography’ of the Greek and Turkish border for FX being involved in pushbacks.

      –---

      The earlier letter sent to the EP President might offer some clues. I’m not a legal expert, but FL seems to suggest that Art. 6 of Reg. 656/2014 (on interception at sea) needs to be clarified so as to define what constitutes a #pushback. Interesting.
      https://www.tinekestrik.eu/sites/default/files/2020-11/Letter%20to%20EP_Frontex%20maritime%20operations%20at%20EU%20external%20

      –—

      Yet not all pushbacks happen at sea. While the request for interpretation above might mean that FX is looking for a way out re: #pushbacks at the Aegean, what about those at the
      Greek-Turkish land border? I think there’s less concern with #pushbacks at #Evros, though. No videos...

      –---

      Back to the Annex: We know SIRs weren’t submitted as they should. The real question is why. It might be down to officers on the ground lacking in training (they shouldn’t, but...) or not wanting to get their colleagues in trouble (the spirit of camaraderie...).

      –---

      BUT: Today’s Spiegel article refers to a ’Frontex official in charge’ advising a Swedish officer not to submit a SIR. FX management were aware few SIRs being submitted for years. Is it a practice dictated from the top? To avoid having evidence of violations?

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/pushbacks-in-der-aegaeis-wie-frontex-menschenrechtsverletzungen-vertuscht-a-

      –—

      Suspension/non-launch of operations has never happened. The ED didn’t take into account reports by NGOs or human rights bodies when considering the 2016 recommendation to suspend operations in Hungary. He relied on the very low number of SIRs to reject it.
      https://respondmigration.com/wp-blog/fundamental-rights-accountability-transparency-european-governance

      –—

      Same with the 2019 & 2020 recommendations of the FRO to consider suspension of operations in #Evros. As for taking into account media reports ... well, I’d say the reply to the LIBE committee reads like the media accounts are being dismissed.

      https://twitter.com/lk2015r/status/1331662031095787521

    • E.U. Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

      Frontex is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc’s external borders.

      Mounting evidence indicates that the European Union’s border agency has been complicit in Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants to Turkey, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with officials.

      In at least one case, Frontex, as the E.U. border agency is known, is accused of having helped cover up the violations, when a crew said it was discouraged by agency officials from reporting that they had seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.

      The case is currently being investigated by Frontex. But it has fueled suspicions that the agency, newly boosted in its role as upholder of the rule of law at E.U. borders, is not just sporadically aware of such abuses, but that it plays a role in concealing them.

      “We are seeing an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful,” said Gerald Knaus, a migration expert. “This is deeply worrying because it is eroding the refugee convention on the continent on which it was created.”

      Throughout this year, The New York Times and others have reported on growing operations by the Greek Coast Guard to repel migrants from Greek waters back to Turkey, reports the Greek authorities deny amount to breaches of international laws.

      But revelations that Frontex has witnessed pushbacks have thrown the agency into a governance crisis that threatens to further blight the European Union’s liberal values, once again calling into question the bloc’s commitment to upholding its own laws on refugees.

      The cases have also highlighted a conundrum at the core of E.U. ambitions to tighten external borders by pooling resources and involving the bloc in the sensitive, zealously shielded work of sovereign border guards.

      Frontex is the European Union’s best-funded agency, with a budget of over $500 million, and will soon deploy the first uniformed officers in the bloc’s history. It has been built up specifically to help in migrant-rescue operations as the burden of policing Europe’s borders has fallen most heavily on its peripheral states, like Greece.

      It was also intended as a deterrent to the kind of mass arrival of refugees that sowed political crises across Europe after 2015, and fanned nationalist and populist movements.

      Yet Frontex is not empowered to stop national border guards from committing violations, and it is not clear how it can play a role as standard-bearer of E.U. laws when informing on national forces risks the working relationships on which its operations depend.

      Refugee arrivals to the European Union peaked five years ago and have dropped drastically since, but thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, still attempt the crossing. Unlike in the past, Greeks and their government have turned hostile to the new arrivals, exhausted by years in which asylum seekers have been bottled up in overrun camps on Greek islands.

      There is also a growing belief in the Greek and several other European governments that aggression at the borders and poor conditions at migrant camps will make the attempt to reach Europe less attractive for asylum seekers.

      Earlier this year, an analysis by The Times showed that the Greek government had secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, often by sailing them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and abandoning them in flimsy inflatable life rafts in violation of international laws.

      The Greek Coast Guard has rescued thousands of asylum seekers over the years but has become much more aggressive this year, especially as Turkey used migrants to provoke Greece by encouraging them to cross the border.

      The Greek government has denied it is doing anything illegal in repelling migrant boats from its national waters, characterizing the operations as robust border guarding. But Mr. Knaus said “the denials are not serious,” and the practices are effectively happening in the open — under the eyes of E.U. border patrols.

      The documents obtained by The Times describe, in Coast Guard vernacular littered with acronyms, codes, time-stamps and coordinates, a seemingly incessant Ping-Pong of migrant dinghies between Greek and Turkish waters, with Frontex crews on vessels or aircraft in observer status.

      Four officials with direct knowledge of Frontex operations said that agency officials have been discouraging crews from filing reports on pushback incidents, and, in some cases, have stopped initial alerts of violations from being filed as “serious incident reports,” at times after consulting with the Greek authorities.

      They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about losing their jobs, or were not authorized to brief the press.

      The Frontex spokesman, Chris Borowski, said the agency took the reporting of violations very seriously. “Pushbacks are illegal under international law,” Mr. Borowski said.

      In the latest case to come to light, a Swedish Coast Guard crew on deployment under Frontex witnessed a pushback to Turkish waters of a boat full of migrants by the Greek authorities on Oct. 30 off the Greek island of Chios.

      The Swedish crew was later advised by a Frontex officer to not report it, documents reviewed by The Times show. The Swedish representative to the management board of Frontex described the incident, and the suppression of the attempt to report it, at a meeting on Nov. 10 — the first known case of an E.U. member state reporting active interference by Frontex officials.

      The Swedish government did not comment. A spokesman for Frontex said the agency wouldn’t comment because of an “ongoing procedure.”

      Frontex has been working in Greece for more than a decade, providing sea, land and aerial surveillance and rescue capabilities and deploying crews from other member states under its command.

      The details now emerging push the agency deeper into a governance crisis which began in October when a consortium of news organizations, including the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, reported a number of occasions when Frontex crews witnessed pushbacks in Greece.

      The European Commission, which is part of the Frontex oversight system but does not control the agency, pushed for a special inquiry into these allegations and, at an emergency agency board meeting on Nov. 10, asked its leadership to answer detailed questions in writing.

      The answers arrived with a four-day delay, just 15 hours before the start of another meeting to discuss the problems on Wednesday. Yet another emergency meeting has been called in December, mounting pressure on the agency.

      Frontex has promised internal investigations but also quickly dismissed allegations, saying for example, in a letter seen by The Times, that it would look into the Swedish case, but that it had so far found no evidence that it happened.

      How these investigations shake out will matter a great deal for the future of Frontex, which was once little more than a back-office operation in Warsaw but now finds itself on the front lines of the nettlesome issue of migration that has the potency to make or break governments.

      Apart from helping member states with asylum-seeker arrivals, Frontex’s role as an E.U. agency by law is to respect fundamental rights, and bring up human-rights standards across national E.U. border agencies, which often don’t have a strong culture of upholding them.

      But claims that Frontex does not take fundamental rights seriously enough are growing. This year, only one million euros in its budget of 460 million euros — about $548 million — was allocated to rights monitoring.

      The agency was supposed to hire 40 fundamental-rights officers by Dec. 5 but the jobs have not yet been advertised. The agency is currently hiring for their boss, after years of staffing issues around that position. A Frontex spokesman said the delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.

      Documents seen by The Times laid out how in one episode the Greek authorities were consulted before a report was made, and were able to suppress it. On Aug. 10, a German crew deployed by Frontex reported that a Greek Coast Guard vessel “took up border control measures prohibiting the landing to Samos.”

      The expression refers to maneuvering and making waves around a dinghy to repel it. The event was not recorded as a “serious incident,” because, the document said, the Greek Coast Guard argued the activities “do not provide any ground” to initiate such a report.

      Another incident, which a Frontex aerial crew observed and reported in detail to its headquarters, took place on the evening of April 18 to 19 off the coast of Lesbos, and lasted more than five hours.

      A dinghy was detected by the Greek authorities and approximately 20 migrants were rescued and put on board a Greek Coast Guard vessel shortly after midnight, their empty dinghy towed by the Coast Guard toward the island.

      But instead of being taken to shore, at 2:45 a.m., the migrants were put back on their dinghy and tugged to Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, the Frontex aerial crew reported.

      As events unfolded, the Greek command center twice asked the Frontex aircraft to change its flight path, directing it away from the incident.

      “At 03:21 Frontex Surveillance Aircraft communicates that the rubber boat has no engine and it is adrift. Greek assets are departing the area leaving the rubber boat adrift,” the document said.

      The internal Frontex report detailing this incident and categorizing it as a fundamental-rights violation was “dismissed,” the document shows.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/world/europe/frontex-migrants-pushback-greece.html

    • La Grèce fortement soupçonnée de refouler les migrants

      L’agence européenne Frontex, potentiellement impliquée dans les refoulements, mène une enquête interne et doit fournir des explications à la Commission européenne fin novembre. Une plainte a été déposée le 17 novembre auprès du comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU.

      L’étau se resserre autour de la Grèce, de plus en plus fréquemment accusée de refouler les migrants vers la Turquie, aussi bien en mer qu’à terre. Le soupçon n’est pas nouveau, comme l’atteste le terrible récit de Fadi Faj. Ce jeune Syrien de 25 ans est arrivé en 2015 avec l’immense vague de demandeurs d’asile en Allemagne. Berlin lui octroie alors le statut de réfugié et un permis de séjour avec lequel il se rend en Grèce en novembre 2016, à la recherche de son jeune frère de 11 ans dont il a perdu la trace lors de sa traversée de la frontière greco-turque à Evros.

      Fadi Faj est alors arrêté par la police grecque qui lui confisque ses papiers et l’expulse vers la Turquie avec une cinquantaine d’autres demandeurs d’asile. Devenu un sans-papier, il sera à treize reprises repoussé de part et d’autre de la frontière par les forces grecques ou turques. Ayant enfin mis un pied à terre en Grèce en décembre 2017, il y vivra encore deux ans dans le dénuement avant d’obtenir un visa pour regagner l’Allemagne qui lui délivrera un nouveau permis de séjour en mai 2020.

      Une plainte auprès du Comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU

      Ce récit glaçant fait l’objet d’une plainte à l’encontre de la Grèce déposée le 17 novembre auprès du Comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU, par le Global Legal Action Network (Réseau mondial d’action juridique) basé en Irlande et l’ONG grecque HumanRights 360.

      Entre-temps, les cas du même type se sont multipliés. Surtout depuis le printemps dernier, après que le président turc Erdogan a menacé d’ouvrir les frontières et incité les migrants à se diriger vers la Grèce. « J’ai vu de mes yeux vu deux refoulements en mer depuis ma maison sur la côte nord de Lesbos », dénonce ainsi Christina Chatzidaki, une habitante de l’île qui jouxte les côtes turques, et y dirige l’association Siniparxi (Coexistence).

      Alarm phone qui reçoit les appels de détresse des embarcations en mer se déclarait en mai dernier « très préoccupé par la récente augmentation des rapports d’attaques sur les bateaux de migrants ». L’ONG avait alors engrangé les témoignages de survivants de 18 bateaux. « Ils ont fait état d’actions dangereuses, telles que le fait de tourner autour de leurs bateaux et de provoquer des vagues, des menaces avec des armes à feu, le vol de leur essence, la destruction de moteurs et, également, le remorquage de bateaux vers les eaux turques où ils ont été laissés à la dérive », précise l’ONG.
      Intimer la Commission d’agir

      Les dénonciations de pratiques qui violent les droits humains, et contreviennent au droit de la mer et au droit européen n’ont pas cessé par la suite. Le porte-parole du Haut-Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) déclarait le 12 juin dernier : « le HCR a continuellement fait état de ses préoccupations auprès du gouvernement grec et a demandé des enquêtes urgentes sur une série d’incidents présumés ». Il soulignait alors la corrélation entre la forte baisse du nombre d’arrivées de migrants en Grèce et l’augmentation du nombre de refoulements signalés. En 2019, 60 000 personnes avaient débarqué en Grèce par la mer et 15 000 par la terre. En 2020, jusqu’au 22 novembre, ils ne sont plus, respectivement, que 9 400 et 5 400.

      Jusqu’à présent la Grèce a nié ces allégations. « Nous protégeons nos frontières en accord avec les lois internationales et européennes » a encore affirmé le ministre grec de l’immigration Notis Mitarakis le 13 novembre dernier au site Infomigrants. Deux mois auparavant, le 22 septembre, les ONG Oxfam et WeMove adressaient une plainte auprès de la Commission européenne pour l’intimer de mener « une enquête sur les violations systématiques du droit européen concernant le traitement des demandeurs d’asile en Grèce ».
      La possible implication de Frontex

      Enfin, le site d’investigation Bellingcat et le magazine allemand Der Spiegel apportèrent en octobre un coup de grâce supplémentaire, en dénonçant, images à l’appui, le laisser-faire, voire l’implication, de l’agence européenne de surveillance aux frontières Frontex - qui a déployé plus de 600 agents en Grèce - dans six cas documentés de pratique illégale de refoulement.

      Un soupçon repris par le comité contre la torture du Conseil de l’Europe. Dans son rapport publié le 19 novembre, le comité a indiqué « avoir de nouveau reçu des allégations cohérentes et crédibles de migrants repoussés vers la Turquie ».

      Il s’est déclaré « inquiet des actes commis par les garde-côtes grecs pour empêcher les bateaux transportant des migrants d’atteindre les îles grecques » et « s’interroge sur le rôle et l’implication de Frontex dans de telles opérations ».

      Face à une telle avalanche, l’Union européenne pouvait difficilement continuer à se voiler la face. La suédoise Ylva Johansson, commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures a réclamé des explications pour fin novembre à l’agence Frontex, laquelle a indiqué avoir ouvert une enquête interne.

      https://www.la-croix.com/Monde/Grece-fortement-soupconnee-refouler-migrants-2020-11-24-1201126401

    • Refoulements de demandeurs d’asile : le directeur de Frontex interrogé par les députés

      La supposée implication d’agents de Frontex dans les refoulements de demandeurs d’asile à la frontière grecque sera au cœur du débat en commission des libertés civiles mardi.

      Les députés seront en attente de réponses de la part du directeur exécutif de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, Fabrice Leggeri, concernant les incidents révélés récemment par les médias au cours desquels des garde-côtes grecs (avec la connaissance présumée et même l’implication d’agents de Frontex) ont arrêté des migrants qui tentaient d’atteindre les côtes de l’UE et les ont renvoyés dans les eaux turques. Les députés devraient s’enquérir des résultats de l’enquête interne menée par l’Agence européenne de gestion des frontières et de la réunion du conseil d’administration convoquée à la demande de la Commission européenne.

      En octobre dernier, avant les révélations des médias, le forum consultatif de Frontex (qui réunit notamment des représentants du Bureau européen d’appui en matière d’asile (EASO), de l’Agence des droits fondamentaux de l’UE (FRA), du HCR, du Conseil de l’Europe et de l’OIM) avait exprimé son inquiétude dans son rapport annuel. Le forum pointait du doigt l’absence de véritable système de contrôle permettant de prévenir et de traiter les violations potentielles des droits fondamentaux dans les activités de l’Agence.

      Le 6 juillet, au cours d’une précédente réunion de la commission des libertés civiles, Fabrice Leggeri avait assuré aux eurodéputés que Frontex n’était pas impliquée dans les refoulements et avait qualifié l’incident avec l’équipe danoise à bord de l’un des navires de l’Agence de ‘‘malentendu’’.

      DATE : mardi 1er décembre de 13h50 à 14h45

      LIEU : Parlement européen à Bruxelles, bâtiment Antall, salle 4Q2 et à distance

      https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/fr/press-room/20201126IPR92509

    • EU border chief urged to quit over migrant pushback claims

      European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.

      The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”

      The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.

      “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”

      Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn’t be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.

      Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.

      “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. “We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”

      Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly’s political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.

      Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe’s external borders to be clarified.

      “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks,” he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”

      Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.

      He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.

      The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.

      Part of the EU’s migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.

      EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.

      During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report “concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”

      Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/259789/article/ekathimerini/news/eu-border-chief-urged-to-quit-over-migrant-pushback-claims

    • Frontex is taking us to court

      The EU border police Frontex is under fire for its involvement in human rights violations at the EU’s borders. Now, they want to silence those exposing their wrongdoing.

      For many years, we have been fighting to make Frontex, the EU’s border police, more transparent and accountable. We have made public over a thousand of their documents, including those that show the agency has been complicit in human rights violations and violence against migrants at the EU’s borders.

      Frontex is currently under fire for its involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean and for having concealed evidence about these illegal acts. Confronted with such serious accusations, the EU border agency has now chosen to go after those who investigate them: they are taking us to court.

      Frontex has filed a case against us before the General Court of the European Union in order to force us to pay them a large amount of money. Last year, we lost our lawsuit for information about Frontex and now, the agency is demanding from us excessive legal fees. The message is clear: they want to make sure that we never take them to court again.
      Details must remain secret

      For the time being, we will not be able to disclose further details related to the case due to the court’s rules on keeping all information secret while proceedings are ongoing. Back in January, the agency justified their excessive legal fees on their decision to hire expensive private lawyers.

      Frontex, which has a billion-euro budget, making it the best resourced EU agency, employs a well-staffed internal legal department. Both the decision to hire private lawyers and to then claim these costs from civil society are highly unusual in court cases against the EU authorities.
      What happens if Frontex wins?

      If Frontex succeeds, in the future only corporations and the rich will be able to afford legal action against EU authorities. Activists, journalists, NGOs and individuals will not be able to defend human rights before the EU court. Frontex bringing a case like this directly against civil society, let alone winning, discourages others from holding them accountable in the future. It’s this chilling effect that we believe they’re hoping for.

      In the spring, more than 87,000 people petitioned Frontex to withdraw their legal bill. 44 civil society organizations also called on Frontex to retract its demand. Frontex has nonetheless chosen to ignore their voices.

      In recent years, Frontex has experienced an enormous increase of power and resources. Not only is it about to receive € 11 billion under the next EU budget, but it can also now hire its own border guards and buy its own equipment, including aircrafts, ships, drones and weapons.

      Investigating Frontex and holding it accountable is now more important than ever. As recent publications have revealed, the EU border force has been involved in numerous human rights violations at the EU borders.
      What you can do

      Our freedom of information work is financed by individual donations. We will fight in court for a judgement that gives Frontex as little money as possible. If you want to support us in this, we would be very happy to receive a donation. We will use every extra euro for new investigations and legal action against Frontex.

      https://fragdenstaat.de/en/blog/2020/12/02/frontex-costs-court-transparency

    • S&Ds call for Frontex Director to resign

      The S&D Group in the European Parliament today called for the Executive Director of Frontex to resign following months of allegations on the agency’s involvement in illegal practices and violations of fundamental rights.

      In today’s hearing of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE), Director Fabrice Leggeri failed to answer questions relating to the agency’s involvement in pushbacks at the EU’s external borders aimed at preventing asylum-seekers from entering the EU.

      Following the hearing, S&D MEPs concluded Mr Leggeri’s position at the head of Frontex is not sustainable, especially in light of the important role for Frontex in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      Kati Piri, S&D vice-president for migration and LIBE member taking part in the hearing, said

      “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign. After months of the S&D Group calling for explanations, Director Leggeri had the chance to set the record straight. But there are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.

      “Pushbacks are a violation of international law and every single incident must be fully investigated. Do we have the confidence in Frontex to ensure alleged incidents are properly investigated? After today, the answer is no.

      “As long as allegations hang over Frontex, its reputation remains severely damaged and in desperate need of repair. In our view, Director Leggeri is not the right person to fix the damage.”

      Birgit Sippel, S&D LIBE coordinator, added:

      “We have to ask ourselves how we got to the point where we have to rely on journalists and whistle-blowers in Frontex to inform us of instances of fundamental and human rights violations at our borders. This is unacceptable and deeply disturbing, in particular when considering the potentially increased role of Frontex as part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

      “The series of alleged pushbacks and cover-ups from Frontex show that we need a strong and independent border monitoring mechanism to investigate any and all alleged violations of fundamental and human rights and international laws at European borders.

      “Under the 2019 Frontex mandate, the Agency was obliged to have recruited at least 40 Fundamental Rights Monitors by 5 December 2020. It is now clear that Frontex will not even have come close to fulfilling this task, and therefore will not comply with the new mandate. Blaming bureaucratic hurdles for the delay of such an important task is insufficient, while the Commission’s role in this delay requires further examination as well. Mr Leggeri has failed in many of his responsibilities and must bear the consequences of his actions.”

      https://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/newsroom/sds-call-frontex-director-resign

    • E.U. Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

      Frontex is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc’s external borders.

      Mounting evidence indicates that the European Union’s border agency has been complicit in Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants to Turkey, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with officials.

      In at least one case, Frontex, as the E.U. border agency is known, is accused of having helped cover up the violations, when a crew said it was discouraged by agency officials from reporting that they had seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.

      The case is currently being investigated by Frontex. But it has fueled suspicions that the agency, newly boosted in its role as upholder of the rule of law at E.U. borders, is not just sporadically aware of such abuses, but that it plays a role in concealing them.

      “We are seeing an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful,” said Gerald Knaus, a migration expert. “This is deeply worrying because it is eroding the refugee convention on the continent on which it was created.”

      Throughout this year, The New York Times and others have reported on growing operations by the Greek Coast Guard to repel migrants from Greek waters back to Turkey, reports the Greek authorities deny amount to breaches of international laws.

      But revelations that Frontex has witnessed pushbacks have thrown the agency into a governance crisis that threatens to further blight the European Union’s liberal values, once again calling into question the bloc’s commitment to upholding its own laws on refugees.

      The cases have also highlighted a conundrum at the core of E.U. ambitions to tighten external borders by pooling resources and involving the bloc in the sensitive, zealously shielded work of sovereign border guards.

      Frontex is the European Union’s best-funded agency, with a budget of over $500 million, and will soon deploy the first uniformed officers in the bloc’s history. It has been built up specifically to help in migrant-rescue operations as the burden of policing Europe’s borders has fallen most heavily on its peripheral states, like Greece.

      It was also intended as a deterrent to the kind of mass arrival of refugees that sowed political crises across Europe after 2015, and fanned nationalist and populist movements.

      Yet Frontex is not empowered to stop national border guards from committing violations, and it is not clear how it can play a role as standard-bearer of E.U. laws when informing on national forces risks the working relationships on which its operations depend.

      Refugee arrivals to the European Union peaked five years ago and have dropped drastically since, but thousands of asylum seekers, many fleeing the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, still attempt the crossing. Unlike in the past, Greeks and their government have turned hostile to the new arrivals, exhausted by years in which asylum seekers have been bottled up in overrun camps on Greek islands.

      There is also a growing belief in the Greek and several other European governments that aggression at the borders and poor conditions at migrant camps will make the attempt to reach Europe less attractive for asylum seekers.

      Earlier this year, an analysis by The Times showed that the Greek government had secretly expelled more than 1,000 asylum seekers, often by sailing them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and abandoning them in flimsy inflatable life rafts in violation of international laws.

      The Greek Coast Guard has rescued thousands of asylum seekers over the years but has become much more aggressive this year, especially as Turkey used migrants to provoke Greece by encouraging them to cross the border.

      The Greek government has denied it is doing anything illegal in repelling migrant boats from its national waters, characterizing the operations as robust border guarding. But Mr. Knaus said “the denials are not serious,” and the practices are effectively happening in the open — under the eyes of E.U. border patrols.

      The documents obtained by The Times describe, in Coast Guard vernacular littered with acronyms, codes, time-stamps and coordinates, a seemingly incessant Ping-Pong of migrant dinghies between Greek and Turkish waters, with Frontex crews on vessels or aircraft in observer status.

      Four officials with direct knowledge of Frontex operations said that agency officials have been discouraging crews from filing reports on pushback incidents, and, in some cases, have stopped initial alerts of violations from being filed as “serious incident reports,” at times after consulting with the Greek authorities.

      They all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about losing their jobs, or were not authorized to brief the press.

      The Frontex spokesman, Chris Borowski, said the agency took the reporting of violations very seriously. “Pushbacks are illegal under international law,” Mr. Borowski said.

      In the latest case to come to light, a Swedish Coast Guard crew on deployment under Frontex witnessed a pushback to Turkish waters of a boat full of migrants by the Greek authorities on Oct. 30 off the Greek island of Chios.

      The Swedish crew was later advised by a Frontex officer to not report it, documents reviewed by The Times show. The Swedish representative to the management board of Frontex described the incident, and the suppression of the attempt to report it, at a meeting on Nov. 10 — the first known case of an E.U. member state reporting active interference by Frontex officials.

      The Swedish government did not comment. A spokesman for Frontex said the agency wouldn’t comment because of an “ongoing procedure.”

      Frontex has been working in Greece for more than a decade, providing sea, land and aerial surveillance and rescue capabilities and deploying crews from other member states under its command.

      The details now emerging push the agency deeper into a governance crisis which began in October when a consortium of news organizations, including the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, reported a number of occasions when Frontex crews witnessed pushbacks in Greece.

      The European Commission, which is part of the Frontex oversight system but does not control the agency, pushed for a special inquiry into these allegations and, at an emergency agency board meeting on Nov. 10, asked its leadership to answer detailed questions in writing.

      The answers arrived with a four-day delay, just 15 hours before the start of another meeting to discuss the problems on Wednesday. Yet another emergency meeting has been called in December, mounting pressure on the agency.

      Frontex has promised internal investigations but also quickly dismissed allegations, saying for example, in a letter seen by The Times, that it would look into the Swedish case, but that it had so far found no evidence that it happened.

      How these investigations shake out will matter a great deal for the future of Frontex, which was once little more than a back-office operation in Warsaw but now finds itself on the front lines of the nettlesome issue of migration that has the potency to make or break governments.

      Apart from helping member states with asylum-seeker arrivals, Frontex’s role as an E.U. agency by law is to respect fundamental rights, and bring up human-rights standards across national E.U. border agencies, which often don’t have a strong culture of upholding them.

      But claims that Frontex does not take fundamental rights seriously enough are growing. This year, only one million euros in its budget of 460 million euros — about $548 million — was allocated to rights monitoring.

      The agency was supposed to hire 40 fundamental-rights officers by Dec. 5 but the jobs have not yet been advertised. The agency is currently hiring for their boss, after years of staffing issues around that position. A Frontex spokesman said the delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.

      Documents seen by The Times laid out how in one episode the Greek authorities were consulted before a report was made, and were able to suppress it. On Aug. 10, a German crew deployed by Frontex reported that a Greek Coast Guard vessel “took up border control measures prohibiting the landing to Samos.”

      The expression refers to maneuvering and making waves around a dinghy to repel it. The event was not recorded as a “serious incident,” because, the document said, the Greek Coast Guard argued the activities “do not provide any ground” to initiate such a report.

      Another incident, which a Frontex aerial crew observed and reported in detail to its headquarters, took place on the evening of April 18 to 19 off the coast of Lesbos, and lasted more than five hours.

      A dinghy was detected by the Greek authorities and approximately 20 migrants were rescued and put on board a Greek Coast Guard vessel shortly after midnight, their empty dinghy towed by the Coast Guard toward the island.

      But instead of being taken to shore, at 2:45 a.m., the migrants were put back on their dinghy and tugged to Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, the Frontex aerial crew reported.

      As events unfolded, the Greek command center twice asked the Frontex aircraft to change its flight path, directing it away from the incident.

      “At 03:21 Frontex Surveillance Aircraft communicates that the rubber boat has no engine and it is adrift. Greek assets are departing the area leaving the rubber boat adrift,” the document said.

      The internal Frontex report detailing this incident and categorizing it as a fundamental-rights violation was “dismissed,” the document shows.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/world/europe/frontex-migrants-pushback-greece.html?smid=tw-share

    • #Seehofer deckte offenbar griechische Verbrechen

      Griechische Grenzschützer setzen Flüchtlinge systematisch auf dem Meer aus. Ein internes Dokument legt nun nahe, dass Innenminister #Horst_Seehofer einen Rechtsbruch kaschierte. SPD-Vize Kühnert stellt ihm ein Ultimatum.

      Die Sprecherin von Bundesinnenminister Horst Seehofer war sichtlich nervös, als sie sich Ende November den Fragen der Journalisten stellen musste. Zwei Tage zuvor hatten der SPIEGEL und das ARD-Magazin »Report Mainz« berichtet, dass die Bundespolizei in der Ägäis in eine illegale Zurückweisung von Flüchtlingen verwickelt war. Wiederholt fragten die Journalisten nach. »Ich weiß nicht, wie Sie zu der Einschätzung kommen, dass es sich hierbei um einen illegalen Pushback gehandelt hat«, sagte die Sprecherin schließlich.

      Dabei lagen dem Bundesinnenministerium zu diesem Zeitpunkt längst Informationen vor, die genau darauf hindeuten.

      Im Auftrag der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex patrouillierten die deutschen Einsatzkräfte am 10. August in der Ägäis, nur wenige Hundert Meter von der griechischen Insel Samos entfernt. Dabei entdeckten sie ein Schlauchboot mit 40 Flüchtlingen an Bord. Auftragsgemäß hielten sie es an, allerdings nahmen sie die Menschen auf dem völlig überfüllten Boot nicht an Bord. Stattdessen warteten sie mehr als eine halbe Stunde, bis die griechische Küstenwache das Schlauchboot übernahm.

      Wenig später fanden sich die Flüchtlinge plötzlich in türkischen Gewässern wieder. So beschreiben es interne Dokumente der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex, die dem SPIEGEL vorliegen. Die türkische Küstenwache musste die 40 Migranten später retten. Fotos zeigen Männer, Frauen und kleine Kinder auf dem überfüllten Schlauchboot. Offensichtlich wurden die Menschen von den griechischen Grenzschützern illegal zurückgedrängt.

      Als die griechischen Beamten in den Hafen zurückkehrten, wunderten sich die deutschen Polizisten. Die Küstenwache hatte keine Migranten an Bord und auch kein Schlauchboot im Schlepptau. Die Deutschen meldeten im Anschluss zwar die Details des Einsatzes – aber keine mögliche Menschenrechtsverletzung.
      Was genau haben die Deutschen von diesem illegalen Pushback mitbekommen?

      Bis heute haben die Bundespolizei und das Innenministerium nicht auf die Fragen des SPIEGEL geantwortet. Dabei finden sich die Antworten auf diese Fragen seit Wochen im Intranet der Bundespolizei, also in einem nur für Mitarbeiter zugänglichen Netzwerk. Anhand der elf SPIEGEL-Fragen legte die Bundespolizei-Führung ihre Sicht der Dinge ausführlich dar – noch am Tag der Veröffentlichung des Berichts. Die Fragen waren also längst beantwortet, nur abgeschickt wurden sie nie. Das Innenministerium erklärt das inzwischen auf Anfrage mit einem »Büroversehen«.

      Die Ausführungen im Intranet der Bundespolizei sind politisch heikel. Auf den ersten Blick entlasten sie die deutschen Einsatzkräfte. Wörtlich heißt es, die Bundespolizisten hätten beobachtet, »dass durch die (…) griechischen Einsatzkräfte Migranten physisch an Bord genommen wurden.« Die deutschen Frontex-Beamten konnten also davon ausgehen, dass die Flüchtlinge zunächst in Sicherheit waren. Schließlich wurden sie vor ihren Augen auf ein Schiff der griechischen Küstenwache geholt und trieben nicht mehr in ihrem überfüllten Schlauchboot.

      Warum hat das Innenministerium dieses Detail trotzdem bis heute verschwiegen? Will man im Ministerium die Griechen nicht als Lügner entlarven? Das Flüchtlingsboot, so hatten die griechischen Behörden erklärt, sei beim Anblick der Küstenwache umgekehrt und zurück in türkische Gewässer gefahren.
      Beobachtungen der Deutschen entlarven die Ausrede der Griechen

      Die Beobachtungen der Bundespolizisten widersprechen dieser Darstellung, die Bundespolizei stellt das in ihrem Bericht selbst fest. Wenn die Geflüchteten bereits an Bord des Schiffes der griechischen Küstenwache waren, können sie unmöglich freiwillig auf ihrem Schlauchboot umgekehrt sein. Sollten die Aussagen der Deutschen zutreffen, und davon ist auszugehen, bleibt keine andere vernünftige Erklärung als ein illegaler Pushback der griechischen Küstenwache.

      Horst Seehofer muss sich deshalb die Frage gefallen lassen, warum sein Haus die Verbrechen der griechischen Behörden deckt. Statt aufzuklären, führt er die Öffentlichkeit offenbar in die Irre. So fügt Seehofer sich in das System des Schweigens.

      Seit Juni hat SPIEGEL in gemeinsamen Recherchen mit der Medienorganisation Lighthouse Reports und »Report Mainz« genau dokumentiert, wie die griechischen Pushbacks ablaufen: Die Küstenwache fängt die Migrantinnen und Migranten meist noch auf dem Wasser ab. Manchmal zerstört sie den Außenbordmotor der Schlauchboote, um diese manövrierunfähig zu machen. Dann werden die Schutzsuchenden mit gefährlichen Manövern Richtung Türkei zurückgedrängt. Die Menschen werden auf den Booten oder auf aufblasbaren Rettungsflößen mit Seilen aufs offene Meer gezogen, vom SPIEGEL ausgewertete Videos belegen das.

      Griechische Grenzschützer bedrohen die Geflüchteten mit Waffen, nicht selten fallen Schüsse. Bisweilen schleppen die Beamten sogar Menschen aufs Meer, die es schon auf die griechischen Inseln geschafft haben.

      Auch Frontex-Einheiten stoppen immer wieder Flüchtlingsboote und übergeben sie anschließend an die griechische Küstenwache. Seit Anfang März wird das so gehandhabt. Die Frontex-Einheiten, darunter deutsche Bundespolizisten, unterstehen in der Ägäis der griechischen Küstenwache. Sie werden so zu Gehilfen der Griechen, die bei ihren illegalen Praktiken nicht mal besonders verdeckt vorgehen.

      »Das Innenministerium scheint sich zum Komplizen der Griechen zu machen«, sagt der menschenrechtspolitische Sprecher der Sozialdemokraten, Frank Schwabe. »Dazu müssen sowohl Frontex als auch Innenminister Seehofer dem Bundestag Rede und Antwort stehen.«

      Das Innenministerium teilte auf Anfrage mit, dass eine abschließende Bewertung des Sachverhaltes aufgrund der vorliegenden Informationen nicht möglich sei. Die Bundespolizei habe sich jedenfalls nicht an illegalen Pushbacks beteiligt. Eine vollständige Aufklärung bleibe abzuwarten und Berichte von griechischen Behörden würden nicht kommentiert.

      Die griechischen Behörden bleiben bei ihrer Version der Ereignisse. Das für die Küstenwache zuständige Ministerium teilte mit, der Fahrer der Schlauchbootes sei in Richtung Türkei zurückgefahren, nachdem er die griechische Küstenwache erblickt habe.
      »Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass Seehofer die Regelverstöße der griechischen Küstenwache deckt, weil sie ihm politisch in den Kram passen«

      SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert

      Doch in der Opposition und auch beim eigenen Koalitionspartner ist der Unmut groß. Selbst SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert schaltet sich nun in die Debatte ein. Durch die schriftlich festgehaltenen Erkenntnisse der eigenen Beamten festige sich der Eindruck, dass es in der Ägäis in der Tat zu Pushbacks komme, sagt er. Deshalb müsse Seehofer nun politisch reagieren. »Frontex muss die mutmaßliche griechische Pushback-Praxis endlich effektiv verhindern und die Zugänge zum Asylverfahren sicherstellen«, so Kühnert. »Sollte dies durch die Bundesregierung kurzfristig nicht durchsetzbar sein, muss das deutsche Kontingent unverzüglich aus der Mission abgezogen werden.«

      Kühnert möchte nun von Seehofer »noch in diesem Jahr dargelegt bekommen, wie und bis wann er auf Frontex einwirken wolle, um die Zusammenarbeit mit der griechischen Küstenwache wieder auf eine rechtskonforme Grundlage zu stellen.« Mit seiner Salamitaktik bei der Preisgabe von Informationen werde der Innenminister auch der Fürsorgepflicht gegenüber seinen eigenen Beamten nicht gerecht, mahnt Kühnert. »Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass Seehofer die Regelverstöße der griechischen Küstenwache deckt, weil sie ihm politisch in den Kram passen. Alles daran wäre inakzeptabel.«

      Neben Seehofer gerät auch Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri durch die Beobachtungen der deutschen Polizisten in Erklärungsnot. Bis heute beteuert Leggeri, dass sich seine Grenzschützer nicht an Pushbacks beteiligen oder von ihnen wissen. Daran zweifelt aber inzwischen selbst die EU-Kommission.

      Auf deren Drängen schilderte Leggeri schriftlich die Details des Vorfalls vom 10. August. In seinen Antworten verschwieg aber auch Leggeri, dass die griechische Küstenwache laut den Deutschen die Flüchtlinge bereits an Bord geholt hatten – obwohl er wohl davon hätte wissen müssen. Die Bundespolizei jedenfalls hat auch dieses Detail des Einsatzes nach eigener Aussage an Frontex gemeldet.

      Frontex teilte auf Anfrage mit, wegen der laufenden Untersuchung keine Angaben zum Vorfall machen zu können.

      Für Leggeri ist die Angelegenheit besonders misslich, weil sich in seinen Aussagen ein Muster erkennen lässt: Der Frontex-Direktor täuscht die Öffentlichkeit, um die Pushbacks zu vertuschen. Vor den EU-Parlamentariern verteidigte er sich unlängst mit einer Falschaussage, indem er behauptete, dass der SPIEGEL und seine Recherchepartner sich bei ihren Recherchen zu einem Pushback im April geirrt hätten. Am fraglichen Tag habe es gar keinen Frontex-Aufklärungsflug gegeben, sagte Leggeri. Keine zwei Tage später musste er einräumen, dass das nicht stimmte. Weitere Vorfälle, die Experten als klare Pushbacks werten, erwähnte Leggeri entweder gar nicht oder nur auf Nachfrage in internen Schreiben.
      EU-Kommission rechnet mit Leggeri ab

      Inzwischen wirft auch die EU-Kommission Leggeri »irreführende« Aussagen vor. Das geht aus einem Brief der Kommission an ihn hervor. In dem Streit geht es um die Einstellung von Grundrechtsbeobachtern. Eigentlich hätte Frontex bis zum 5. Dezember 40 Mitarbeiter einstellen müssen, die darauf achten soll, dass die Rechte von Migranten an Europas Grenzen gewahrt werden. Bis heute hat Leggeri allerdings nicht einen solchen Mitarbeiter eingestellt.

      Der Frontex-Direktor macht die Kommission für die Verzögerung verantwortlich, die wiederum gibt Leggeri die Schuld. Leggeris Äußerungen zu dem Thema würden die Kommission »bestürzen« und »beunruhigen« heißt es in dem Brief. Das Schreiben liegt dem SPIEGEL vor, es liest sich wie eine Kampfansage.

      Die Verzögerungen bei den Grundrechtsbeobachtern seien skandalös, sagt die Grünenbundestagsabgeordnete Luise Amtsberg. Die Sache zeige, dass die Grenzschutzagentur den Menschenrechtsschutz schlicht nicht ernst genug nehme. »Die Bundesregierung muss endlich klare Konsequenzen aus den völkerrechtswidrigen Handlungen im Rahmen von Frontex-Missionen ziehen.«

      https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/frontex-skandal-horst-seehofer-deckte-offenbar-griechische-verbrechen-a-bd06

    • Push backs and violations of human rights at sea: a #timeline

      The following timeline provides a non-exhaustive compilation of main reports of push backs and other violations of human rights at the Greek-Turkish sea borders since March 2020, following Greece’s decision to impose a one-month suspension of its asylum procedure in response to declarations by Turkey that it would not prevent refugees from crossing its western borders. On 2 March, the Hellenic Armed Forces began live-fire military exercises along the Aegean, from Samothrace to Kastellorizo.

      Timeline dates refer to the date of publication of reports, separately indicating the date of alleged incidents, where available.

      This timeline solely purports to reproduce material made publicly available by media and civil society organisations and does not amount to an assessment by RSA or PRO ASYL of the allegations contained therein.

      https://rsaegean.org/en/push-backs-and-violations-of-human-rights-at-sea-a-timeline
      #chronologie

    • EU: Frontex director accused of misleading parliament over fundamental rights obligations

      Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri has been accused by a senior European Commission official of making statements “in a misleading manner” at a parliamentary hearing in December, when MEPs questioned him over the agency’s alleged role in pushbacks and the new fundamental rights monitoring framework included in 2019 legislation.

      Bang to rights

      In a letter obtained by Statewatch, Monique Pariat (the Director-General of the Commission’s migration and home affairs department), expresses “dismay” at Leggeri’s appearance before the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) on 1 December and rebukes, in no uncertain terms, the account he provided of the agency’s attempts to implement its new fundamental rights obligations.

      Those obligations include a fully functioning and independent fundamental rights office, an accessible complaints mechanism, and a credible serious incident reporting mechanism – the aim of which is to prevent, or at least ensure the reporting and investigation of, human rights abuses witnessed or committed by officials deployed on Frontex operations.

      A key role is foreseen in all this for the fundamental rights officer (FRO), who is supposed to head a team of at least 40 fundamental rights monitors – all of whom the agency was legally obliged to have recruited by 5 December 2020. However, it failed to do so.

      Blame game

      Leggeri told MEPs that although he personally prioritised the swift recruitment of fundamental rights staff, vacancy notices published by the agency in November 2019 were withdrawn on the request of the Commission, and subsequent delays in agreeing the seniority of the posts meant that vacancy notices were only published again in November 2020.

      Pariat does not dispute these points, but underlines that the Commission was obliged to request the withdrawal of the notices, because the Management Board had not approved them, as required by the 2019 Frontex Regulation. Without that approval, the letter says that “the publication of these vacancies was plain and simply unlawful” (emphasis in original).

      She adds that the Frontex Regulation requires the involvement of the FRO in the appointment of their deputy, but there was no such involvement prior to the 2019 vacancy notice publication. The Commission had to intervene to request removal of the vacancy notices, says Pariat, “to prevent serious irregularities which could jeopardise the well-functioning and the reputation of the Agency.”

      Bad reputation

      The agency’s reputation has nevertheless taken a battering in recent months. Frontex has faced numerous accusations that it either knew of or has been involved in pushbacks at Greece’s sea border with Turkey, leading the Socialists & Democrats – the second-largest group in the European Parliament – to call for Leggeri’s resignation. There are numerous other reports of similar violent incidents in the Balkans involving officials deployed on Frontex missions.

      The EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, has also launched an investigation into the border agency, although the exact reasons for this remain unclear. OLAF’s remit allows it to carry out “administrative investigations for the purpose of fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the Union.”

      Leggeri has said that the agency will be undertaking a thorough investigation into the allegations of pushbacks, although the working group set up to investigate the affair is made up representatives from the agency’s Management Board and does not include the Fundamental Rights Officer or the agency’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights.

      “Active resistance”

      A document cited by Greek newspaper Kathimerini suggests that fundamental rights are not one of Leggeri’s main interests. The document, provided to the paper by someone described as having “knowledge of the inner workings of Frontex,” says Leggeri told agency staff that “reporting pushbacks involving Frontex personnel is not a route to popularity or promotion,” and that the serous incident reporting (SIR) mechanism is “intentionally centralized to be slow, cumbersome and very discreet”.

      According to the paper, the document also says that Leggeri “actively resisted” hiring the 40 fundamental rights officers required by the Frontex Regulation, and told staff at the agency in early 2020 that “it is not a priority.”

      Pariat’s letter suggests that Leggeri himself delayed the procedure for recruiting new fundamental rights staff by five months, because of his “insistence on an arrangement which would not have been compatible with the EBCG [Frontex] Regulation”.

      There was a “surprising reluctance” from the agency to follow the Commission’s advice on implementing the new fundamental rights framework, says Pariat. She argues that “if the Agency had followed the Commission’s timely guidance and suggestions, the main milestones… could have been completed on time.”

      Even though the recruitment procedure is now going ahead, concerns remain. At the LIBE hearing in December, several MEPs questioned whether the staff grade applicable to the 40 posts will confer adequate authority and independence to the fundamental rights officers.

      At the time of publication, Frontex had not responded to a request for comment.

      Documentation

      - European Commission letter to Mr Leggeri, 18 December: Subject: Your letter of 4 December 2020 (ref: CAB/KARO/10563/2020) (pdf): https://www.statewatch.org/media/1708/eu-com-letter-to-frontex-18-12-20.pdf
      – Fabrice Leggeri, Answers to written questions following the LIBE Committee meeting 1 December (pdf) - annex to this letter (pdf): https://www.statewatch.org/media/1709/eu-frontex-written-questions-answers-libe-hearing-1-12-20.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/january/eu-frontex-director-accused-of-misleading-parliament-over-fundamental-ri

    • Refoulements et gestion contestée : la pression s’intensifie sur le patron de Frontex

      Fabrice Leggeri, directeur exécutif de l’agence européenne de protection des frontières, est sous la pression de la Commission et du Parlement.

      Ce n’est pas un appel à la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, directeur exécutif de Frontex, mais cela y ressemble fort. Rencontrant, lundi 18 janvier, plusieurs médias européens, dont Le Monde, Ylva Johansson, commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures et à la migration, a été interrogée sur un éventuel départ du patron français de ce qui est désormais l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes. « Je ne fais pas de commentaire là-dessus. Des procédures ont été lancées, elles ne sont pas terminées. Mais je pense qu’elles doivent l’être », indiquait la commissaire socialiste suédoise.

      Des propos prudents mais qui cachent mal le fait qu’entre la Commission et Frontex le torchon brûle. Pour preuve, une lettre envoyée au siège de l’agence en décembre 2020 par #Monique_Pariat, chef de la direction générale de la migration et des affaires intérieures à Bruxelles. Un long réquisitoire reprochant à M. Leggeri des retards, des carences dans la gestion et des « hésitations incompréhensibles » à suivre les instructions. Voire un #mensonge au sujet du recrutement des personnels qui devaient être chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux au sein de l’Agence.

      Les « procédures » visant M. Leggeri et évoquées par Mme Johansson sont multiples. Et elles visent essentiellement la possible implication de Frontex dans des « pushbacks », des refoulements illégaux de migrants aux frontières de l’Union, avant qu’ils aient pu introduire d’éventuelles demandes d’asile. En octobre 2020, plusieurs médias évoquaient, témoignages et images à l’appui, six cas de refoulements en mer Egée. Avec, notamment, les manœuvres dangereuses d’un navire de Frontex, qui aurait pu entraîner le #naufrage d’une embarcation. La direction de l’Agence démentait à l’époque toute infraction.

      Constitution d’un groupe de travail

      L’Office de lutte antifraude de l’Union a lancé une enquête et, le 7 décembre 2020, les bureaux de M. Leggeri et de son directeur de cabinet ont été perquisitionnés. L’investigation porterait, aussi, sur des faits de #harcèlement et des erreurs de gestion.

      Plusieurs groupes politiques du Parlement européen ont, eux, transmis une longue liste de questions au directeur exécutif après qu’il a été entendu, le 1er décembre 2020, par l’Assemblée. M. Leggeri avait indiqué qu’une #enquête_interne n’avait pas prouvé l’implication de membres de Frontex dans des refoulements illégaux. Peu convaincus, les eurodéputés du groupe socialiste ont exigé sa #démission, d’autres groupes ont réclamé des explications complémentaires.

      Au sein de Frontex même, un #groupe_de_travail avait été constitué en novembre, sur insistance de la Commission. Son rapport devrait être examiné lors d’une réunion du conseil d’administration, mercredi 20 et jeudi 21 janvier. Ce conseil est composé de représentants des pays membres de l’Union et de deux membres de la Commission.

      L’un des principaux reproches adressés à M. Leggeri est qu’il aurait tergiversé pour embaucher la quarantaine de personnes qui, en théorie, auraient dû être à pied d’œuvre dès décembre 2020 pour veiller au respect des droits des migrants et demandeurs d’asile. Dans la lettre de Mme Pariat qu’il a reçue en décembre, le directeur se voit reprocher d’avoir agi « de manière trompeuse » en ne livrant pas les explications correctes aux parlementaires quant à l’absence de ces employés. Mme Johansson pense également que certains des propos qu’il avait tenus n’étaient « pas vrais ».

      Action « illégale »

      La commissaire suédoise n’a, jusqu’ici, pas officiellement retiré sa confiance au directeur. Elle endosse cependant les critiques qui lui sont adressées par sa direction générale, qui évoque encore une action « illégale » de M. Leggeri en 2019, avec la publication de deux vacances de postes dirigeants qui n’avaient pas été approuvées par le conseil d’administration.

      Au Parlement, où la plénière débattait, mardi, du pacte migratoire proposé récemment par la Commission, la tension monte également. Mme Johansson a insisté sur la nécessité pour les pays de l’Union, les candidats à l’adhésion et « les agences européennes aussi » d’adhérer pleinement au respect des #droits_fondamentaux. Et plusieurs députés ont à nouveau mis en cause Frontex, l’élue socialiste bulgare #Elena_Yoncheva jugeant qu’en matière de « pushbacks » l’agence fait désormais « partie du problème, pas de la solution ».

      Une situation embarrassante pour toute l’Union : dotée maintenant d’uniformes, d’armes et d’un budget passé au total à 5,6 milliards d’euros pour la période 2021-2027, l’agence des garde-frontières peut difficilement voir la #légitimité de son principal dirigeant remise en question au plus haut niveau. A ce stade, celui-ci n’a pas réagi officiellement aux accusations qui le visent. Il pourrait le faire prochainement, selon un membre de son entourage.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/01/20/refoulements-et-gestion-contestee-la-pression-s-intensifie-sur-le-patron-de-

    • Le garde-frontière Frontex en pleine tourmente

      Les refoulements aux frontières européennes fragilisent la position du directeur de Frontex, l’agence européenne de garde-frontières. La Commission reproche à Fabrice Leggeri d’avoir ralenti l’embauche d’officiers de contrôle des droits fondamentaux. Son agence est soumise à plusieurs #enquêtes, dont une de l’#office_européen_anti-fraude. Des députés demandent sa #démission.

      Bruxelles (Belgique).– Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur de Frontex, est cerné de toutes parts. Sa position, à la tête de l’agence européenne de garde-côtes et de garde-frontières, est fragilisée suite à de récents scandales concernant des refoulements de demandeurs d’asile vers la Turquie, auxquels aurait participé Frontex. Des députés appellent à sa démission. La médiatrice européenne, #Emily_O’Reilly, a ouvert une #enquête le 11 novembre dernier pour évaluer le fonctionnement du mécanisme de #plainte_interne à Frontex. Même l’office européen de lutte anti-fraude investigue et scrute la gestion de l’agence.

      Le dernier coup de boutoir vient de la #Commission_européenne. Dans une lettre du 18 décembre, la directrice générale chargée des migrations et des affaires intérieures, Monique Pariat, adressait des mots durs à Fabrice Leggeri au sujet d’irrégularités et de retards dans les procédures de recrutement d’un officier des droits fondamentaux, de son adjoint et de 40 contrôleurs des droits fondamentaux, qui devaient faire partie de l’agence le 5 décembre 2020 au plus tard et qui ne sont toujours pas embauchés : « C’est la responsabilité de la Commission […] d’intervenir pour empêcher que des irrégularités sérieuses viennent compromettre le bon fonctionnement et la réputation de l’agence. »

      La réputation de Frontex a pourtant déjà été écornée à de multiples reprises dans le passé, sans que l’exécutif bruxellois s’en émeuve. « Pendant longtemps la Commission a protégé Fabrice Leggeri, commente #Birgit_Sippel, eurodéputée allemande du groupe des socialistes et démocrates. Il semble que le vent tourne, notamment sous la pression du #Parlement_européen. »

      C’est le 23 octobre 2020 que le vent a tourné. Une série de médias européens, dont Der Spiegel et Bellingcat, publiaient alors une enquête fouillée suggérant que l’agence européenne avait, entre mars et août 2020, soit assisté à des refoulements de demandeurs d’asile en mer Égée par des garde-côtes grecs, sans les avoir rapportés, soit participé activement au renvoi de canots vers les côtes turques, alors que les refoulements sont strictement prohibés par le droit international. Le 8 juin, un navire de l’opération « #Poséidon » de Frontex, battant pavillon roumain, aurait même bloqué un canot de migrants avant de contribuer à le repousser.

      Fabrice Leggeri est venu s’expliquer devant le Parlement européen le 1er décembre. Selon lui, l’enquête interne menée par ses services concluait à « l’absence de preuves » de refoulement dans les cas mentionnés par la presse. Il insistait sur le fait que les activités de contrôle aux frontières avaient toujours lieu « à la demande et sous le commandement des autorités nationales », Frontex intervenant en coordination des opérations maritimes, en mobilisant des avions, des navires et des garde-frontières originaires des 27 États membres.

      Ces déclarations élusives ont hérissé de nombreux députés européens. « La façon dont il a répondu à nos questions montre que Fabrice Leggeri ne prend pas vraiment au sérieux ces allégations. Frontex a besoin de changements structurels, et je pense qu’il n’est pas la bonne personne pour les mener », avance Tineke Strik, eurodéputée néerlandaise des Verts.

      De la #gauche_unitaire_européenne (#GUE) au groupe centriste de #Renew, les critiques pleuvent à l’encontre de Fabrice Leggeri, mais l’attitude à adopter crée des divisions. La centriste néerlandaise, #Sophie_In’t_Veld, du groupe Renew, milite pour qu’une commission d’enquête parlementaire soit mise sur pied, « car on parle d’actes criminels ». Avant de réclamer la démission du directeur – qui ne peut être décidée que par le conseil d’administration de Frontex composé des États membres et de la Commission – la députée pense « qu’il faut d’abord faire toute la lumière sur les faits ».

      Au sein du groupe des socialistes et démocrates, des députés veulent aller plus vite. « Pourquoi perdre un an avec une #commission_d’enquête ?, s’interroge #Birgit_Sippel. Les rapports décrivant les violations des droits humains aux frontières sont là. Pour l’instant, Fabrice Leggeri se cache et échappe à ses responsabilités. » Des députés de la GUE comme des #Verts réclament à la fois une commission d’enquête et la #démission du directeur. Quant à la droite, le Parti populaire européen n’a pas encore de position sur ces thèmes, mais voit d’un mauvais œil cette idée de commission d’enquête.

      Le mastodonte sans contrôle

      Pour Yves Pascouau, directeur du programme Europe à l’association Res-Publica, par ailleurs spécialiste des questions migratoires européenne (et élu de la majorité nantaise), « l’augmentation des moyens et des pouvoirs de Frontex ne peut pas se faire sans une augmentation de ses responsabilités ».

      Frontex, au fil des ans, est devenu un mastodonte. En 2012, son budget était de 89,5 millions d’euros. Il est en 2020 de 460 millions. 5,6 milliards d’euros ont été dégagés pour la période 2021-2027. Il s’agit de la plus grosse agence de l’UE qui sera dotée, d’ici 2027, de 10 000 garde-côtes véritablement européens, avec leurs propres uniformes. « Cela permettra d’augmenter la transparence et la responsabilité de Frontex », veut croire une source européenne.

      Aujourd’hui, Frontex se déploie sous commandement des autorités nationales. Mais les agents qui agissent en son nom ne sont pas exempts de responsabilités. Ils ont l’obligation d’envoyer un rapport aux dirigeants de Frontex à chaque incident sérieux auquel ils assistent, y compris lorsque des violations des droits humains sont observées.

      Le Forum consultatif de Frontex, qui réunit des institutions européennes, des organisations internationales et ONG, s’interroge inlassablement sur « l’effectivité » de ce système. En 2018, seuls 3 incidents sérieux relatifs à des violations de droits humains furent comptabilisés par l’agence, et 9 en 2019, sans que l’on sache quel a été le suivi de ces dossiers.

      Quant à l’embauche des milliers de garde-frontières, elle doit être contrebalancée par davantage de contrôles des activités de Frontex. L’officier des droits fondamentaux, son adjoint et sa petite équipe d’au minimum 40 contrôleurs sont considérés comme la clef de voûte de ce système de surveillance du respect des #droits_humains.

      Dans la lettre adressée à Fabrice Leggeri, Monique Pariat regrette qu’au 18 décembre, aucun de ces recrutements n’ait été effectué. Elle pointe la « réticence surprenante de Frontex » à suivre les lignes directrices de la Commission, « ce qui a encore davantage entravé et retardé cet important processus ». La directrice générale dénonce encore la démarche « illégale » du directeur général qui avait publié, en 2019, une première annonce pour le poste d’officier des droits fondamentaux, sans l’accord du conseil d’administration de Frontex qui sera pourtant le supérieur hiérarchique direct de ce futur employé.

      Elle l’accuse encore d’avoir présenté les faits aux eurodéputés « de manière trompeuse ». L’attaque est frontale. Au-delà de l’enjeu institutionnel, Giorgos Kosmopoulos, du bureau européen d’Amnesty International, estime que « l’embauche de contrôleurs des droits fondamentaux n’est pas une mauvaise chose à condition qu’ils aient véritablement les moyens de mener des enquêtes, d’aller sur le terrain ». Et sur le terrain, justement, les refoulements aux frontières de l’Europe sont documentés et très nombreux. En #Grèce, en #Croatie, en #Hongrie.

      En mars 2020, le comité européen pour la prévention de la torture rapportait des allégations « crédibles et consistantes » de refoulements et détentions arbitraires, souvent accompagnées de violences, à la frontière gréco-turque. « On ne parle pas de cas isolés, ajoute Giorgos Kosmopoulos. La pratique est si répandue et généralisée qu’il est impossible que Frontex ne soit pas au courant, vu son implication sur le terrain. »

      Le directeur de Frontex, s’il estime qu’il existe « des violations graves […] des droits fondamentaux » doit mettre un terme à l’activité litigieuse à laquelle participe son agence. « Le directeur doit vérifier la situation sur le terrain et le cas échéant il doit retirer ses équipes pour qu’elles ne soient pas liées à des violations de droits humains, mais ce n’est jamais arrivé », conclut Giorgos Kosmopoulos.

      Dans ce contexte, Tineke Strik pense qu’une démission de Fabrice Leggeri, certes bienvenue, « ne résoudra pas tout. Les problèmes sont structurels. Il faudra lancer une enquête approfondie sur le fonctionnement de Frontex ».

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/210121/le-garde-frontiere-frontex-en-pleine-tourmente?onglet=full

  • Monthly Report BVMN August 2020

    The #Border_Violence_Monitoring_Network (#BVMN) published 34 cases of illegal pushbacks during August, documenting the experience of 692 people whose rights were violated at the European Union’s external border. Volunteers in the field recorded a variety of cruel and abusive acts by officers, representing at least ten different national authorities. This report summarises the data and narrative testimony shared by people-on-the-move, highlighting the depth of violence being carried out in the service of European borders.

    As a network comprised of grassroots organisations active in Greece and the Western Balkans, this report was produced via a joint-effort between Are You Syrious, Mobile Info Team, No Name Kitchen, Rigardu, Josoor, InfoKolpa, Escuela con Alma, Centre for Peace Studies, Mare Liberum, Collective Aid and Fresh Response

    The report analyses among other things:

    - Czech presence in North Macedonian pushbacks
    - Unrest in the #Una-Sana Canton of Bosnia-Herzegovina
    - Continued Greek Maritime Pushbacks
    - Analyzing a summer of Italian pushbacks

    Special focus is given to the Greek context where in the Evros region, field partners collected several testimonies in August which referenced third-country-nationals facilitating pushbacks across the Evros/Meric River on behalf of Greek authorities. Three reports conducted by members of the Border Violence Monitoring Network allude to this practice and anecdotal evidence from the field reinforces these accounts.

    –-

    The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) published 34 cases of illegal pushbacks during August, documenting the experience of 692 people whose rights were violated at the European Union’s external border. Volunteers in the field recorded a variety of cruel and abusive acts by officers, representing at least ten different national authorities. This report summarises the data and narrative testimonies shared by peo-ple-on-the-move, highlighting the depth of violence being carried out in the service of European borders.Special focus is given to the Greek context where testimonies in the Evros allude to the trend of Greek au-thorities using third country nationals to facilitate pushbacks across the Evros/Meric River in the last two months. Reports collected by members of the Border Violence Monitoring Network allude to this practice and anecdotal evidence from the field reinforces these accounts. Further analysis covers the way in which Czech forces have been referenced in testimonies collected from push-backs from North Macedonia to Greece in the last month. Returns from Italy to Bosnia also continue to be legitimized by the Italian state and an analysis of recent reports from these returns is included, as well as an update written by volunteers on the ground in Trieste.In this report, BVMN also discusses several cases of pushbacks across the Aegean sea where the Greek au-thorities continue to use worrying methods to force transit ships back into Turkish waters via life raphs. New developments in both Bosnia’s Una-Sana Canton and Serbia’s #Vojvodina region are also noted, showing the situation on the ground and in the legal realm respectively, as it relates to pushbacks.

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/balkan-region-report-august-2020

    #rapport #push-backs #refoulements #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Italie #Grèce #Mer_Egée #Una #Sana #Bosnie #Bosnie_Herzégovine #Macédoine_du_Nord #frontières #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #Serbie

    ping @karine4 @isskein

    • Policajci iz Virovitice prijavljuju šefa: ‘Ilegalno tjera migrante, tuče se pijan, zataškava obiteljsko nasilje’

      ‘Da bi dobili veću plaću, njegovi miljenici tjeraju migrante iz BiH u Hrvatsku, kako bi ih zatim mogli deportirati’, tvrde naši sugovornici...

      Ovo je naš zapovjednik Andrej Hegediš, kaže jedan od četvorice pripadnika Interventne policije u Policijskoj upravi virovitičko-podravskoj, pokazujući na video-snimku Border Violence Monitoringa, nevladine organizacije koja se zalaže za zaštitu prava migranata. Na tajno snimljenom videu, vide se pripadnici hrvatske policije kako, prema tvrdnjama Border Violence Monitoringa, u šumi kraj Lohova, unutar teritorije Bosne i Hercegove, protjeruju skupinu migranata prema Bihaću.

      Ta snimka prikazana je na više televizija kao jedan od dokaza nehumanog postupanja hrvatske policije prema migrantima, zbog čega su na račun Zagreba stigla i ozbiljna upozorenje iz Bruxellesa. Hrvatski MUP odbacio je takve tvrdnje kao neutemeljene.
      Tvrdnje koje zvuče upravo nevjerojatno

      No, ono što su, vezano uz migrante, Telegramu ispričali pripadnici virovitičke Interventne policije koji su sudjelovali na osiguranju državne granice, zvuči upravo nevjerojatno: “Hrvatska je policija, tvrde naši sugovornici, u nekoliko navrata ulazila na teritorij susjedne BiH da bi odatle potjerala migrante u Hrvatsku, a onda ih deportirala!”

      Zašto bi to radili? Razlog je, kažu virovitički interventni policajci, više nego prozaičan: “boravak na terenu financijski je unosan. Na taj način mjesečno mogu zaraditi nekoliko tisuća kuna više, pa treba dokazati da se na granici nešto radi”, tvrde naši sugovornici. “Tako se migrante prvo iz BiH potjera u Hrvatsku, a zatim natrag. Deportiranje se, naravno, dokumentira video snimkama, kako bi se dokazala nužnost pojačanih policijskih ophodnju iz granicu”, dodaju.
      Iz MUP-a su potvrdili anonimnu predstavku

      Četvorica pripadnika interventne policije s kojima je Telegram razgovarao ovih dana, stoje iza predstavke upućene MUP-u u kojoj iznose brojne optužbe na račun Andreja Hegediša, zapovjednika virovitičke Interventne policije. Iz MUP-a su 3. rujna Telegramu potvrdili da su primili anonimnu predstavku.

      ”Potvrđujemo zaprimanje anonimnih podnesaka te Služba za unutarnju kontrolu u suradnji s policijskim službenicima Ravnateljstva policije i Policijske uprave, sukladno Zakonu o policiji i Pravilniku o načinu rada i postupanja po pritužbama te radu Povjerenstava za rad po pritužbama, provjerava njihovu utemeljenost”, stoji u odgovoru Telegramu.
      Šef policije se napio pa nasrnuo na kolegu

      ”Također vas obavještavamo kako je, nakon provjere navoda iz ranijeg podneska, načelnik Policijske uprave virovitičko-podravske pokrenuo disciplinski postupak pred Odjelom prvostupanjskog disciplinskog sudovanja Službe disciplinskog sudovanja u Osijeku zbog sumnje u počinjene teže povrede službene dužnosti iz čl. 96. stavak 1. točke 7. Zakona o policiji. Navedeni postupak je u tijeku”, napisali su iz MUP-a.

      Kad je riječ o potonjem, radi se o slučaju o kojem je prvi pisao Telegram i koji je do tada javnosti bio nepoznat. Naime, 20. prosinca prošle godine, na božićnom domjenku za čelne ljude Policijske uprave virovitičko-podravske, zapovjednik Interventne jedinice policije, Andrej Hegediš, fizički je nasrnuo na svog kolegu, načelnika Policijske postaje Pitomača, Renata Greguraša. Ali, načelnik virovitičke Policijske uprave, Siniša Knežević, koji je sve to vidio, disciplinski je postupak protiv Hegediša pokrenuo tek tri mjeseca nakon događaja.
      Odlasci u McDonald’s i zubaru u Zagreb

      Dvojica od četvorice Telegramovih sugovornika, bivših i aktivnih pripadnika Interventne policije, kažu da su također bili žrtve Hegediševih nasrtaja i pokušaja fizičkog napada. Neki od njih zbog toga su tražili premještaj. U predstavci koju je Telegram imao prilike vidjeti, navode se i druge pritužbe na njegov rad, a zbog čega je unutarnja kontrola MUP-a prošloga tjedna dva dana provela u Virovitici. No, kako neslužbeno doznajemo, njihov izvještaj ne bi trebao zabrinuti Hegediša. Štoviše, kaže jedan od naših izvora, sada se pokušava istražiti tko su autori anonimne predstavke.

      Jedna od optužbi na koju su se interventni policajci žalili odnosi se, kako tvrde, na zapovjednikovo korištenje službenog automobila u posve privatne svrhe, kao što je odlazak zubaru u Zagreb ili u restoran McDonald’s u Sisak. ”Ako postoji volja, lako je istražiti kako si je zapovjednik Interventne obračunavao prekovremeni rad i u vrijeme kada je već četiri sata bio u Mađarskoj, na privatnom putu prema zračnoj luci u Budimpešti. Treba samo pročešljati popis prekovremenih sati i usporediti to s vremenom kada je napustio granični prijelaz, pa će sve biti jasno. No, bojimo se da u policiji, zbog politike ‘ne talasaj’, za to nitko nema volje”, kažu sugovornici Telegrama iz interventne policije u Virovitici.

      ‘Natjerao me da ostavim ministra i vozim njega’

      Upravo je nevjerojatan podatak kojeg su nam iznijeli, kada je kažu, jedan njihov kolega, morao napustiti osiguranje štićene osobe i uputiti se u Slatinu, gdje zapovjednik Hegediš živi, da bi ga prevezao u bazu, u Viroviticu. Radilo se o osiguranju i obilasku kuće tadašnjeg potpredsjednika Vlade i ministra poljoprivrede, Tomislava Tolušića, kao i nekoliko zgrada u kojima bi znao odsjedati kada dolazi u Viroviticu. Hegediš se na to nije osvrtao, kažu Telegramovi sugovornici, već je policajcu naredio da prekine posao na osiguranju štićene osobe i preveze ga u Viroviticu.

      Detaljno su opisali i navodno samovolju svog zapovjednika Hegediša, zbog čega je nekoliko policajaca zatražilo premještaj. Nabrajaju imena svojih kolega koji su zbog mobinga napustili Interventnu policiju. ”Dok se njegovim poslušnicima i miljenicima sve tolerira, drugima se traži dlaka u jajetu i protiv njih se, i zbog najmanje sitnice, pokreću stegovni postupci”, kažu.
      ‘Miljenici mu pomagali u selidbi, usred radnog vremena’

      Opisuju slučaj, u kojem je nekoliko interventnih policajaca, u radnom vremenu, svom zapovjedniku pomagalo kada je iz jedne kuće selio u drugu. Akciju preseljenja, kažu, vodio je J. J.. No, naročito su ogorčeni na svog kolegu D. S., kojem je Hegediš, kažu, pomogao u zataškavanju obiteljskog nasilja i nedoličnog ponašanja, kada se na području između Kutjeva i Orahovice, u alkoholiziranom stanju, nasilnički ponašao prema supruzi, zaustavio automobil u šumi, ostavio je i otišao.

      Njegova supruga tada je, tvrde, zvala Operativno komunikacijski centar (OKC) u virovitičkoj Policijskoj upravi, prijavila slučaj obiteljskog nasilja, a postupak su proveli policajci iz Orahovice. No, slučaj je zataškan, tvrde sugovornici Telegrama, tako što je Hegediš zatražio da se u tom slučaju ne postupa. Sve, kažu, mogu potvrditi tada dežurni u OKC D. Č. i dežurni u jedinici u Virovitici M. V.. Imena svih osoba čije inicijale navodimo poznata su redakciji.

      ”Našem zapovjedniku unatoč svemu ništa se ne događa i bojimo se da ni dolazak unutarnje kontrole MUP-a neće ništa promijeniti”, kažu sugovornici Telegrama. Zatražili smo i komentar zapovjednika Hegediša, ali nije odgovorio na našu poruku. Kada je Telegram pisao o njegovu fizičkom nasrtaju na načelnika Policijske postaje u Pitomači, također ništa nije htio komentirati. Samo je rekao da kao policijski službenik ne smije javno istupati.

      https://www.telegram.hr/politika-kriminal/policajci-iz-virovitice-prijavljuju-sefa-ilegalno-tjera-migrante-tuce-se-pi

      #Andrej_Hegedis

      –—

      Commentaire reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 29.09.2020

      Telegram, on the other hand, published the testimony of intervention police officers in Virovitica, who identified their chief #Andrej_Hegediš as one of the police officers on a BVMN video about an illegal expulsion published in December 2018. They also claimed that refugees and other migrants were expelled from BiH to Croatia and back. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed to Telegram that it had received an anonymous complaint, and Virovitica police officers accused Hegediš of other violations of police powers, including violence against police officers.

    • Bosnie-Herzégovine : les migrants pris en #otages du mille-feuille institutionnel

      La complexité du système institutionnel bosnien ne joue pas en faveur des réfugiés. Le 30 septembre dernier, les autorités du canton d’#Una-Sava et celles de la municipalité de #Bihać ont pris la décision unilatérale d’évacuer le #camp de #Bira, à la grande surprise du ministère de la Sécurité intérieure. Depuis, tout le monde se refile la patate chaude : que faire de ces centaines de personnes qui dorment tous les soirs dans les rues ?
      Le ton monte entre les représentants du canton d’Una-Sava et ceux de l’État central de Bosnie-Herzégovine. « Ils vont devoir utiliser les infrastructures qui sont à leur disposition, dans leur intérêt et dans celui des habitants du canton d’Una-Sana », a sèchement expliqué Selmo Cikotić, le ministre de la Sécurité intérieur, qui réagissait aux propos de Mustafa Ružnić, le président du canton d’Una-Sana, et à ceux du maire de Bihać, Šuhret Fazlić. Ces derniers avaient déclaré qu’ils ne permettraient pas le retour des migrants à Bira, le centre d’hébergement de Bihać vidé par les autorités cantonales le 30 septembre dernier. Suite à l’intervention de la police, certains exilés avaient été laissés libres de se diriger vers la frontière croate, d’autres avaient été conduits dans le camp de #Lipa, situé à une trentaine de kilomètres de Bihać, et ceux qui voulaient revenir vers Sarajevo avaient été autorisés à acheter des tickets de bus pour la capitale. Le camp de Lipa étant déjà plein, les migrants avaient ensuite été laissés dans les rues, sans aucun abris.

      Selon Selmo Cikotić, différentes mesures ont été prises pour fermer définitivement les camps de Bira à Bihać et de #Miral à #Velika_Kladuša. Le ministre peine donc à comprendre le refus des élus locaux de ne pas autoriser le retour temporaire des migrants. « Le plan du ministère de la Sécurité intérieure était en accord avec les institutions internationales et les différentes structures bosniennes », assure-t-il. « Nous avions tout organisé en accord avec la présidence, avec les instances internationales, les lois bosniennes, le conseil municipal de Velika Kladuša, les autorités cantonales et les représentants de l’Union européenne (UE). Le volte-face des autorités cantonales est donc pour moi très surprenant. Le camp de Bira devait de toute façon être fermé d’ici trois à quatre semaines, sans porter préjudice aux migrants ni aux habitants du canton. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi le Premier ministre du canton et le maire de Bihać ont précipité les choses. »

      « Cela fait trois ans que la municipalité est abandonnée à son sort », s’emporte Šuhret Fazlić. « C’est terminé, aucun migrant ne reviendra à Bira et nous appliquerons cette décision par tous les moyens à notre disposition. Je ne fais pas comme s’il n’y avait pas de migrants dans notre région, je dis juste qu’il n’y en aura plus à Bira. Nous avons assuré à ces gens un toit dans le camp de Lipa ». Selon le maire de Bihać, ce centre n’est pas encore plein, mais « la crise de l’accueil des migrants a mis à jour absolument tout ce qui ne fonctionne pas au sein de l’État bosnien ».L’évacuation du camp de Bira a en tout cas provoqué de nombreuses réactions. L’ambassade des États-Unis en Bosnie-Herzégovine, l’Organisation Internationale des Migrations (OIM), les Nations-Unies et Amnesty International sont unanimes : le camp de Bira ne peut être laissé vide, tant que des migrants dorment dans les rues. Dans un communiqué daté du 1er octobre, l’UE a jugé « inacceptable » la décision du canton et de la mairie de Bihać de transférer par la force les migrants vers le camp de Lipa. « L’UE a sans cesse répété que Lipa ne pouvait être qu’une solution temporaire, pendant la pandémie de coronavirus, et que ce centre ne remplissait pas les conditions nécessaires à l’accueil de réfugiés et de migrants, en particulier avec l’arrivée de l’hiver. Jamais Lipa n’a été agréé comme un centre d’accueil », précise le communiqué. Selon Šuhret Fazlić, l’UE menace de sanctions pénales la mairie de Bihać et les autorités du canton d’#Una-Sava.

      Un problème financier ?

      Reste que les désaccords persistent entre les autorités locales et le ministère de la Sécurité intérieure, alors que tous sont sous pression pour trouver rapidement une solution. « Il faut aménager le camp de Lipa », souhaite Šuhret Fazlić. « L’électricité vient d’un groupe électrogène, il faudrait 200 000 euros pour que le camp soit raccordé au réseau. L’eau est puisée dans une source, et provient en partie de notre réseau. Il faudrait 140 000 euros pour avoir assez d’eau, les canalisations existent déjà. Avec un peu moins de 350 000, on pourrait donc assurer les approvisionnements en eau et en électricité. Je ne vois pas pourquoi cela ne serait pas faisable. »

      La municipalité a donné cinq hectares de terre pour construire le camp et a pris en charge, avec l’aide du canton, une partie des frais de fonctionnement, ce que l’UE avait demandé. L’argent de l’État bosnien se fait en revanche attendre, car le Conseil des ministres n’a toujours pris aucune décision en ce qui concerne la fermeture du camp de Bira et l’ouverture de celui de Lipa. Deux millions et demi d’euros prévus pour l’accueil des migrants n’ont donc pas pu être débloqués. Selmo Cikotić estime ainsi que le problème n’est pas financier mais politique.

      Reste que pour l’instant, pas un euro n’a été débloqué pour le financement du camp de Lipa. « La présidence avait décidé de verser 2,5 millions d’euros, mais le Conseil des ministres n’a toujours pas pris la décision d’agréer Lipa comme un centre d’accueil, ni celle de fermer Bira. Je ne sais même pas s’il existe un consensus sur ces questions », s’agace le maire de Bihać.

      La société privée Bira, propriétaire du hangar où ont séjourné les migrants, n’a pas répondu aux questions de Radio Slobodna Evropa sur leur éventuel retour. « Nous ne sommes pas en capacité de vous répondre car le président du conseil d’administration n’est actuellement pas en état d’assurer ses obligations professionnelles. Pour toute précision, adressez-vous à l’OIM », a-t-elle répondu. Le principal actionnaire de Bira a également refusé de fournir des précisions sur la durée du contrat de location du hangar.


      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Bosnie-Herzegovine-migrants-otages-mille-feuille-institutionnel-b

      #Bihac #Velika_Kladusa

    • Croatian police accused of ’sickening’ assaults on migrants on Balkans trail

      Testimony from asylum seekers alleging brutal border pushbacks, including sexual abuse, adds to calls for EU to investigate

      People on the Balkans migrant trail have allegedly been whipped, robbed and, in one case, sexually abused by members of the Croatian police.

      The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has documented a series of brutal pushbacks on the Bosnia-Croatian border involving dozens of asylum seekers between 12 and 16 October.

      The Guardian has obtained photographs and medical reports that support the accounts, described by aid workers as “sickening” and “shocking”.

      “The testimonies collected from victims of pushbacks are horrifying,’’ said Charlotte Slente, DRC secretary general. “More than 75 persons in one week have all independently reported inhumane treatment, savage beatings and even sexual abuse.’’

      According to migrants’ accounts, the pushbacks occurred in Croatian territory over the border from Velika Kladuša in Bosnia, close to Šiljkovača – a tented forest settlement of around 700 refugees and migrants.

      “All of the persons interviewed by DRC bore visible injuries from beatings (bruises and cuts), as a result of alleged Croatian police violence,” reads the DRC report. “According to the statements provided by interviewed victims (with visible evidence of their injuries), pushbacks included brutal and extremely violent behaviour, degrading treatment, and theft and destruction of personal belongings.” One of the testimonies includes a report of serious sexual abuse.

      On 12 October, five Afghans, including two minors, crossed the Croatian border near the #Šturlić settlement. On the same day, near Novo Selo, an uniformed police officer stopped them and then called two more officers. One of the migrants ran, and the other four were detained at a police station. Two days later they were taken to court, where they say they were to “appear as witnesses in the case launched against the fifth member of the group – the one who escaped”, who had been accused of violent behaviour towards police.

      The asylum seekers told the DRC that the original officers then took them “to some unknown location, where they were put in a van in the charge of 10 armed people, dressed in black and with full face balaclavas, army boots and with flashlights on their foreheads”. Their money was taken, their belongings torched and they were ordered to strip to their underwear. The migrants allege that they were forced to lie face down on the ground.

      “One man in black was standing on the victim’s hands, preventing any movements,” reads the report. “Legs were also restrained. Once the person was hampered, the beating started. They were punched, kicked, whipped and beaten.” Medical reports confirm that migrants’ injuries are consistent with the use of a whip.

      One migrant, MK, says at this point he was sexually assaulted by a man using a branch.

      Mustafa Hodžić, a doctor in Velika Kladuša, examined the man. “The patient had wounds all over the back of his body, on his back and legs. I can confirm the signs of clear sexual violence … I have never seen anything like it. Even if it isn’t the first time as a doctor [that] I have seen signs of sexual violence on migrants, which, according the asylum seekers’ accounts, were perpetrated on Croatian territory by Croatian officials dressed in black uniforms.”

      One Pakistani migrant told of being intercepted with two others near Croatia’s Blata railway station. The police allegedly ordered them to strip naked before loading them into a van and taking them to a sort of garage, where five other migrants were waiting to be sent back to Bosnia. Awaiting their arrival were men dressed in black.

      “They started to beat us with batons, and the third one took his mobile phone and took a selfie with us without clothes,” the Pakistani man said. “The first four of us were on the ground, and we lay next to each other, naked and beaten, and the other four were ordered to lie on us, like when trees are stacked, so we lay motionless for 20 minutes. The last one was a minor. He was from the other group; I saw when the police officer ask him where he was from. He tried to say that he is a minor. He was beaten a lot, and when it was his turn to take off his clothes, he was beaten even more.”

      One man added: “A minor from the second group fainted after many blows. His friends took him in their arms, and one of the police officers ordered them to lay him down on the ground. Then they started hitting them with batons. Before the deportation, police told us: ‘We don’t care where you are from or if you will return to Bosnia or to your country, but you will not go to Croatia. Now you have all your arms and legs because we were careful how we hit you. Next time it will be worse’.’’

      Small groups of asylum seekers attempt to cross from Bosnia into Croatia nightly on the migrant trail into western Europe. The EU’s longest internal border, it is patrolled by police armed with truncheons, pistols and night vision goggles. Aid workers, doctors, border guards and UN officials have documented systematic abuse and violence perpetrated along the border stretch for several years.

      Last May, the Guardian documented a case of more than 30 migrants who were allegedly robbed and had their heads spray painted with red crosses by Croatian officers.

      The UNHCR has asked the Croatian government to set up an independent assessment of the border situation.

      The details of the latest pushback are in a report that the DRC has shared with the European commission, which has yet to investigate.

      ‘’The Croatian government and the European commission must act to put a stop to the systematic use of violence,” said Slente. ‘’Treating human beings like this, inflicting severe pain and causing unnecessary suffering, irrespective of their migratory status, cannot and should not be accepted by any European country, or by any EU institution. There is an urgent need to ensure that independent border monitoring mechanisms are in place to prevent these abuses.”

      Croatian police and the ministry of the interior have not responded to requests for comment.

      In June, the Guardian revealed EU officials were accused of an “outrageous cover-up” for withholding evidence of the Croatian government’s failure to supervise border forces. Internal emails showed Brussels officials were fearful of full disclosure of Croatia’s lack of commitment to a monitoring mechanism that EU ministers had agreed to fund.

      In January, a commission official warned a colleague that Croatia’s failure to use money earmarked two years ago for border police “will for sure be seen as a scandal”.

      The recent accusations come as the commission presented its final report on the grant, in which Croatia asserted that the co-financing project had “helped make the implementation of activities of border surveillance more conscientious and of higher quality, with emphasis on the respect of migrants’ rights guaranteed under international, European and national legislation”.

      Regarding allegations of abuse, Croatian authorities stated: “Every single [piece of] information and every single complaint was inspected in the process called internal control. We did not establish that the police officers committed any criminal or disciplinary offence in any of the cases.”

      Clare Daly, an Irish MEP, is among those who have raised concerns in Brussels. “The blood of these people, so horrifically mistreated on the Croatian border, is on the hands of the European commission. They have enabled this violation of fundamental rights by ignoring the facts presented to them by NGOs and MEPs that all was not well. They turned a blind eye time and again, and now these horrible events have occurred again, even worse than before.”

      She added: “The last time such behaviour occurred, the commission rewarded Croatia with an extra grant even bigger than the first one, and said they were happy with how the funds had been spent … when is someone going to be held accountable for these crimes against humanity?”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/21/croatian-police-accused-of-sickening-assaults-on-migrants-on-balkans-tr

      –----

      See the report of Border Violence Monitoring Network (October 21) with photos and videos:
      Croatian authorities leading choreographed violence near #Cetingrad

      In the last fourteen days, BVMN-member No Name Kitchen have collected testimonies alluding to a spike in pushback violence in the Cetingrad area of the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. The veracity of these testimonies is further supplemented with reports from local people and media outlets. The characteristics of this trend in violence have been complex and coordinated assaults by Croatian police, consisting of repetitive baton strikes, lashing and kicking. These tactics leave an indelible mark on returned transit groups, visible in the extensive bruising and lacerations across the legs, torso and upper body of people subject to such violence. First hand testimony of recent pushbacks are examined here, alongside pictures and videos from the HR/BiH border which reveal the deterioration in border violence seen in the last fortnight.


      https://www.borderviolence.eu/15983-2

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6JnnUfpulA&feature=emb_logo

      #Novo_Selo #Sturlic

  • Pubblicato il dossier di RiVolti ai Balcani

    L’obiettivo: rompere il silenzio sulla rotta balcanica, denunciando quanto sta avvenendo in quei luoghi e lanciando chiaro il messaggio che i soggetti vulnerabili del #game” non sono più soli.

    Il report “Rotta Balcanica: i migranti senza diritti nel cuore dell’Europa” della neonata rete “RiVolti ai Balcani” è composta da oltre 36 realtà e singoli impegnati nella difesa dei diritti delle persone e dei principi fondamentali sui quali si basano la Costituzione italiana e le norme europee e internazionali.

    Il report è la prima selezione e analisi ragionata delle principali fonti internazionali sulle violenze nei Balcani che viene pubblicata in Italia. Un capitolo esamina la gravissima situazione dei respingimenti alla frontiera italo-slovena.

    http://www.icsufficiorifugiati.org/la-rotta-balcanica-i-migranti-senza-diritti-nel-cuore-delleurop

    #rapport #rivolti_ai_balcani #ICS #Trieste #Italie #frontière_sud-alpine #Slovénie #push-backs #refoulement #refoulements #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Balkans #route_des_balkans #the_game

    –—

    Fil de discussion commencé en 2018 sur les réadmissions entre Italie et Slovénie :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/733273

    • Riammissioni tra Italia e Slovenia : 32 migranti rimandati di nuovo sulla Rotta

      „Tante sono le persone che il Dipartimento di polizia di #Capodistria ha ricevuto da parte delle autorità italiane. Nel giro di qualche settimana tenteranno nuovamente di passare“

      Continua il fenomeno delle riammissioni di migranti che le autorità italiane riconsegnano alla polizia slovena in base agli accordi firmati tra Roma e Lubiana nel 1996. Nelle ultime 24 ore sono 32 le persone rimandate nel territorio della vicina repubblica. Nel dettaglio, sono 31 cittadini di origine pakistana e una persona proveniente invece dal Marocco. La Rotta balcanica alle spalle di Trieste ha ripreso vigore nelle ultime settimane, con la conferma che arriva dai dati diffusi dal Dipartimento di polizia di Capodistria negli ultimi 10 giorni e dal corposo rintraccio avvenuto due giorni fa nella zona della #val_Rosandra, in comune di #San_Dorligo_della_Valle/Dolina.

      I dati dell’ultimo periodo

      Ai circa 150 migranti rintriaccati dalle autorità slovene negli ultimi giorni, vanno agigunti altri 13 cittadini afghani e quattro nepalesi. Dai campi profughi della Bosnia è iniziata la fase che vede i migranti tentare di passare i confini prima dell’arrivo delle rigide temperature che caratterizzano l’inverno sulla frontiera con la Croazia. Riuscire a farcela prima che cominicino le forti nevicate signfiica non dover aspettare fino a primavera. Nel frattempo, gli addetti ai lavori sono convinti che non passeranno troppe settimane prima che gli stessi migranti riammessi in Slovenia vengano nuovamente rintracciati in territorio italiano.

      https://www.triesteprima.it/cronaca/rotta-balcanica-migranti-slovenia-italia-riammissioni.html

      #accord_de_réadmission #accord_bilatéral #frontières #expulsions #renvois #refoulement #migrations #asile #réfugiés #réadmission

      –—

      ajouté à cette liste sur les accords de réadmission entre pays européens :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/736091

    • "Le riammissioni dei migranti in Slovenia sono illegali", il Tribunale di Roma condanna il Viminale

      Per la prima volta un giudice si pronuncia sulla prassi di riportare indietro i richiedenti asilo in base a un vecchio accordo bilaterale. «Stanno violando la Costituzione e la Carta europea dei diritti fondamentali». L’ordinanza nasce dal ricorso di un 27 enne pakistano

      «La prassi adottata dal ministero dell’Interno in attuazione dell’accordo bilaterale con la Slovenia è illlegittima sotto molteplici profili». Non sono le parole di un’associazione che tutela i diritti dei migranti o di una delle tante ong che denuncia da mesi violenze e soprusi sulla rotta balcanica. Questa volta a dirlo, o meglio, a scriverlo in un’ordinanza a suo modo storica e che farà giurisprudenza, è una giudice della Repubblica. E’ il primo pronunciamento di questo tipo. Un durissimo atto d’accusa che porta l’intestazione del «Tribunale ordinario di Roma - Sezione diritti della persona e immigrazione» e la data del 18 gennaio 2021. Con le riammissioni informali sul confine italo-sloveno, che si tramutano - come documentato di recente anche da Repubblica - in un respingimento a catena fino alla Bosnia, il governo italiano sta violando contemporaneamente la legge italiana, la Costituzione, la Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’Unione Europea e persino lo stesso accordo bilaterale.

      La storia di Mahmood

      L’ordinanza emessa dalla giudice Silvia Albano è l’esito di un procedimento cautelare d’urgenza. Il pakistano Mahmood contro il ministero dell’Interno. Nel ricorso presentato ad ottobre dagli avvocati dell’Associazione studi giuridici sull’immigrazione (Asgi) si chiedeva al Tribunale «di accertare il diritto del signor Mahmood a presentare domanda di protezione internazionale in Italia». La storia di questo 27 enne non è diversa da quella di migliaia di migranti che partecipano al Game, come nei campi profughi della Bosnia è stata beffardamente ribattezzata la pericolosa traversata dei boschi croati e sloveni. A metà del luglio scorso Mahmood raggiunge la frontiera di Trieste dopo il viaggio lungo rotta balcanica durante il quale ha subito violenze e trattamenti inumani, provati da una serie di fotografie che ha messo a disposizione del magistrato. E’ fuggito dal Pakistan «per le persecuzioni a causa del mio orientamento sessuale». Giunto in Italia insieme a un gruppo di connazionali, è rintracciato dagli agenti di frontiera e portato in una stazione di polizia italiana.

      «Minacciato coi bastoni dalla polizia italiana»

      Nel suo ricorso Mahmood sostiene di aver chiesto esplicitamente ai poliziotti l’intenzione di presentare la domanda di protezione internazionale. Richiesta del tutto ignorata. La sua testimonianza, evidentemente ritenuta attendibile dalla giudice Albano, prosegue col racconto di quanto accaduto all’interno e nelle vicinanze della stazione di frontiera. Si legge nell’ordinanza: «Gli erano stati fatti firmare alcuni documenti in italiano, gli erano stati sequestrati i telefoni ed erano stati ammanettati. Poi sono stati caricati su un furgone e portati in una zona collinare e intimati, sotto la minaccia di bastoni, di correre dritti davanti a loro, dando il tempo della conta fino a 5. Dopo circa un chilometro erano stati fermati dagli spari della polizia slovena che li aveva arrestati e caricati su un furgone». Da lì in poi il suo destino del pakistano è segnato: riportato nell’affollato campo bosniaco di Lipa, ha dormito alcune notti in campagna, infine ha trovato rifugio in un rudere a Sarajevo.

      Il Viminale non poteva non sapere

      Secondo il Tribunale di Roma ci sono tre solide ragioni per ritenere illegali le riammissioni in Slovenia. La prima. Avvengono senza che sia rilasciato alcun pezzo di carta legalmente valido. «Il riaccompagnamento forzato - scrive Albano - incide sulla sfera giuridica degli interessati quindi deve essere disposto con un provvedimento amministrativo motivato impugnabile innanzi all’autorità giudiziaria». La seconda attiene al rispetto della Carta dei diritti fondamentali, che impone la necessità di esame individuale delle singole posizioni e vieta espulsioni collettive. E’ uno dei passaggi più significativi dell’ordinanza. «Lo Stato italiano non avrebbe dovuto dare corso ai respingimenti informali. Il ministero era in condizioni di sapere, alla luce dei report delle Ong, delle risoluzioni dell’Alto Commissariato Onu per i rifugiati e delle inchieste dei più importanti organi di stampa internazioanale, che la riammissione in Slovenia avrebbe comportato a sua volta il respingimento in Bosnia nonché che i migranti sarebbero stati soggetti a trattamenti inumani».

      Infine la terza ragione, che sbriciola la posizione ufficiale del Viminale, rappresentata al Parlamento dal sottosegretario Achille Variati durante un question time in cui è stato affermato che le riammissioni si applicano a tutti, anche a chi vuol presentare domanda di asilo. Scrive invece la giudice: «Non si può mai applicare nei confronti di un richiedente asilo senza nemmeno provvedere a raccogliere la sua domanda, con una prassi che viola la normativa interna e sovranazionale e lo stesso contenuto dell’Accordo bilaterale con la Slovenia».

      La condanna

      Per queste tre ragioni, il Viminale è condannato a prendere in esame la domanda di asilo di Mahmood, consentendogli l’immediato ingresso nel territorio italiano, e a pagare le spese legali. E’ la vittoria di Gianfranco Schiavone, componente del direttivo Asgi e presidente del Consorzio italiano di Solidarietà, che da mesi denuncia quanto sta accadendo sul confine italo-sloveno. Nel 2020 le riammissioni informali sono state circa 1.300. E’ la vittoria soprattutto delle due legali che hanno presentato il ricorso e sostenuto la causa, Anna Brambilla e Caterina Bove. «Siamo molto soddisfatte della pronuncia», commenta Brambilla. «Alla luce di questa ordinanza si devono interrompere subito le riammissioni informali in Slovenia perché sia garantito l’accesso al diritto di asilo».

      https://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2021/01/21/news/viminale_condannato_riammissioni_illegali_respingimenti_slovenia_migranti

      #condamnation #justice

    • I respingimenti italiani in Slovenia sono illegittimi. Condannato il ministero dell’Interno

      Per il Tribunale di Roma le “riammissioni” del Viminale a danno dei migranti hanno esposto consapevolmente le persone, tra cui richiedenti asilo, a “trattamenti inumani e degradanti” lungo la rotta balcanica e a “torture” in Croazia. Il caso di un cittadino pachistano respinto a catena in Bosnia. L’avvocata Caterina Bove, co-autrice del ricorso, ricostruisce la vicenda e spiega perché l’ordinanza è importantissima

      I respingimenti voluti dal ministero dell’Interno italiano e praticati con sempre maggior intensità dalla primavera 2020 al confine con la Slovenia sono “illegittimi”, violano obblighi costituzionali e del diritto internazionale, e hanno esposto consapevolmente i migranti in transito lungo la “rotta balcanica”, inclusi i richiedenti asilo, a “trattamenti inumani e degradanti” oltreché a “vere e proprie torture inflitte dalla polizia croata”.

      A cristallizzarlo, demolendo la prassi governativa delle “riammissioni informali” alla frontiera orientale, è il Tribunale ordinario di Roma (Sezione diritti della persona e immigrazione) con un’ordinanza datata 18 gennaio 2021 e giunta a seguito di un ricorso presentato dalle avvocate Caterina Bove e Anna Brambilla (foro di Trieste e Milano, socie Asgi) nell’interesse di un richiedente asilo originario del Pakistan respinto dall’Italia nell’estate 2020 una volta giunto a Trieste e ritrovatosi a Sarajevo a vivere di stenti.

      Le 13 pagine firmate dalla giudice designata Silvia Albano tolgono ogni alibi al Viminale, che nemmeno si era costituito in giudizio, e riconoscono in capo alle “riammissioni informali” attuate in forza di un accordo bilaterale Italia-Slovenia del 1996 la palese violazione, tra le altre fonti, della Costituzione, della Convenzione europea dei diritti dell’uomo e della Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’Unione europea. E non solo quando colpiscono i richiedenti asilo ma tutte le persone giunte al confine italiano.

      Abbiamo chiesto all’avvocata Caterina Bove, co-autrice del ricorso insieme a Brambilla, di spiegarci perché questa ordinanza segna un punto di svolta.

      Avvocata, facciamo un passo indietro e torniamo al luglio 2020. Che cosa è successo a Trieste?
      CB Dopo aver attraversato la “rotta balcanica” con grande sofferenza e aver tentato almeno dieci volte di oltrepassare il confine croato, il nostro assistito, originario del Pakistan, Paese dal quale era fuggito a seguito delle persecuzioni subite a causa del proprio orientamento sessuale e dell’essersi professato ateo, ha raggiunto Trieste nell’estate 2020. Lì, è stato intercettato dalla polizia italiana che lo ha accompagnato in un luogo gestito dalle autorità di frontiera.

      E poi?
      CB Presso quella che noi ipotizziamo si trattasse di una caserma (probabilmente la Fernetti, ndr) il ricorrente ha espresso più volte la volontà di accedere alla procedura di asilo. Invece di indirizzarlo presso le autorità competenti a ricevere la domanda di asilo, è stato fotosegnalato, trattenuto insieme ad altri in maniera informale e senza alcun provvedimento dell’autorità giudiziaria. Gli hanno fatto solo firmare dei documenti scritti in italiano e sequestrato il telefono. Dopodiché lo hanno ammanettato, caricato bruscamente su una camionetta e poi rilasciato su una zona collinare al confine con la Slovenia.

      In Slovenia, scrivete nel ricorso, hanno trascorso una notte senza possibilità di avere accesso ai servizi igienici, cibo o acqua. Quando chiedevano di usare il bagno “gli agenti ridevano e li ignoravano”.
      CB Confermo. Veniamo ora al respingimento a catena in Croazia. Il ricorrente e i suoi compagni vengono scaricati dalla polizia al confine e “accolti” da agenti croati che indossavano magliette blu scuro con pantaloni e stivali neri. I profughi vengono fatti sdraiare a terra e ammanettati dietro la schiena con delle fascette. Vengono presi a calci sulla schiena, colpiti con manganelli avvolti con filo spinato, spruzzati con spray al peperoncino, fatti rincorrere dai cani dopo un conto alla rovescia cadenzato da spari in aria.

      Queste circostanze sono ritenute provate dal Tribunale. In meno di 48 ore dalla riammissione a Trieste il vostro assistito si ritrova in Bosnia.
      CB Il ricorrente ha raggiunto il campo di Lipa, a pochi chilometri da Bihać, che però era saturo. Così ha raggiunto Sarajevo, dove vive attualmente spostandosi tra edifici abbandonati della città. La polizia bosniaca lo sgombera di continuo.

      Come avete fatto a entrare in contatto con lui?
      CB La sua testimonianza è stata prima raccolta dal Border Violence Monitoring Network e poi dal giornalista danese Martin Gottzske per il periodico Informatiòn.

      “La prassi adottata dal ministero dell’Interno in attuazione dell’accordo bilaterale con la Slovenia e anche in danno dell’odierno ricorrente è illegittima sotto molteplici profili”, si legge nell’ordinanza. Possiamo esaminarne alcuni?
      CB Il punto di partenza del giudice è che l’accordo bilaterale firmato nel settembre 1996 non è mai stato ratificato dal Parlamento italiano e ciò comporta che non può prevedere modifiche o derogare alle leggi vigenti in Italia o alle norme dell’Unione europea o derivanti da fonti di diritto internazionale.

      “Sono invece numerose le norme di legge che vengono violate dall’autorità italiana con la prassi dei cosiddetti ‘respingimenti informali in Slovenia’”, continua il Tribunale.
      CB Infatti. La riammissione avviene senza che venga emesso alcun provvedimento amministrativo. Le persone respinte non vengono informate di cosa sta avvenendo nei loro confronti, non ricevono alcun provvedimento amministrativo scritto e motivato e dunque non hanno possibilità di contestare le ragioni della procedura che subiscono, tantomeno di provarla direttamente. Questo viola il loro diritto di difesa e a un ricorso effettivo, diritti tutelati dall’articolo 24 della Costituzione, dall’art. 13 della Convenzione europea dei diritti dell’uomo e dall’art. 47 della Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’Unione europea.

      Dunque è una violazione che non dipende dalla condizione di richiedente asilo.
      CB Esatto, anche qui sta l’importanza del provvedimento e la sua ampia portata. Poi c’è la questione della libertà personale: la persona sottoposta a riammissione si vede ristretta la propria libertà personale senza alcun provvedimento dell’autorità giudiziaria, come invece previsto dall’art. 13 della nostra Costituzione.

      Arriviamo al cuore della decisione. La giudice scrive che “Lo Stato italiano non avrebbe dovuto dare corso ai respingimenti informali in mancanza di garanzie sull’effettivo trattamento che gli stranieri avrebbero ricevuto [in Croazia, ndr] in ordine al rispetto dei loro diritti fondamentali, primi fra tutti il diritto a non subire trattamenti inumani e degradanti e quello di proporre domanda di protezione internazionale”. E aggiunge che il ministero “era in condizioni di sapere” delle “vere e proprie torture inflitte dalla polizia croata”.
      CB È accolta la nostra tesi, fondata su numerosi report, inchieste giornalistiche, denunce circostanziate di autorevoli organizzazioni per i diritti umani.
      La riammissione, anche a prescindere dalla richiesta di asilo, viola l’art. 3 della Convenzione europea dei diritti dell’uomo che reca il divieto di trattamenti inumani e degradanti e l’obbligo di non respingimento in caso lo straniero possa correre il rischio di subire tali trattamenti. Ogni Stato è cioè responsabile anche se non impedisce che questi trattamenti avvengano nel luogo dove la persona è stata allontanata.
      In questo senso è un passaggio molto importante perché allarga la portata della decisione a tutte le persone che arrivano in Italia e che vengono rimandate indietro secondo la procedura descritta.
      È noto il meccanismo di riammissione a catena ed è nota la situazione in Croazia.

      La ministra dell’Interno Luciana Lamorgese, il 13 gennaio 2021, ha ribadito però che Slovenia e Croazia sarebbero “Paesi sicuri”.
      CB Il Tribunale descrive una situazione diversa e ribadisce che la riammissione non può mai essere applicata nei confronti dei richiedenti asilo e di coloro che rischiano di essere sottoposti a trattamenti inumani e degradanti.

      Che cosa succede ora?
      CB Considerato il comportamento illecito delle autorità italiane, il Tribunale fa diretta applicazione dell’art. 10 comma 3 della Costituzione consentendo l’ingresso sul territorio nazionale al ricorrente al fine di presentare la domanda di protezione internazionale, possibilità negatagli al suo arrivo. Non c’è un diritto di accedere al territorio italiano per chiedere asilo “da fuori” però, in base a questa norma come declinata dalla Corte di Cassazione, esiste tale diritto di ingresso se il diritto d’asilo sul territorio è stato negato per un comportamento illecito dell’autorità.
      Quindi il ricorrente dovrà poter fare ingresso il prima possibile per fare domanda di asilo. Spero che possa essergli rilasciato al più presto un visto d’ingresso.

      E per chi è stato respinto in questi mesi? Penso anche ai richiedenti asilo respinti, pratica confermata dal Viminale nell’estate 2020 e recentemente, a parole, “rivista”.
      CB Purtroppo per il passato non sarà facilissimo tutelare le persone respinte attraverso simili ricorsi perché le persone subiscono lungo la rotta la sistematica distruzione dei loro documenti di identità, dei telefonini e delle foto e, anche tenuto conto di come vivono poi in Bosnia, diventa per loro difficile provare quanto subito ma anche provare la propria identità. Per il futuro questa decisione chiarisce l’illegalità delle procedure di riammissione sia nei confronti dei richiedenti asilo sia dei non richiedenti protezione. Deve essere assicurato l’esame individuale delle singole posizioni.

      https://altreconomia.it/i-respingimenti-italiani-in-slovenia-sono-illegittimi-condannato-il-min

  • ’They should have let us die in the water’: desperate Lebanese migrants sent back by Cyprus

    For years, small boats have left northern Lebanon’s coast, packed with desperate migrants hoping to reach European shores. Until recently, they carried mostly Syrian and Palestinian refugees. But with Lebanon in freefall, its citizens have begun joining their ranks in larger numbers.

    Mohammad Ghandour never thought he’d be one of them. But he said Lebanon’s economic crisis, which has crashed the Lebanese pound and left him unable to feed his seven children, gave him no choice.

    “In Lebanon, we are being killed by poverty,” Ghandour told Reuters this week, from his mother’s cramped three-room apartment where he was staying with 12 other family members. He was back in Tripoli, one of Lebanon’s poorest cities, after being sent back by Cyprus.

    “This is worse than war … My children will either die on the streets or become criminals to survive.

    Ghandour, 37, is one of dozens of Lebanese who’ve attempted the journey since late August, when rights groups say a rise in the number of boats leaving Lebanon began. Exact figures are hard to come by, but the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has tracked 21 boats leaving Lebanon between July and Sept. 14. The previous year, there were 17 in total.

    The increase has worried Cypriot authorities, especially given the global pandemic. The island is the closest European Union member state to the Middle East and has seen a gradual rise in arrivals of undocumented migrants and refugees in the past two years, as other routes have become more difficult to cross.

    After 28 hours lost at sea, Ghandour said his boat, carrying his wife, children and other relatives, arrived on a beach near the seaside resort of Larnaca. He said his family was detained in a camp for several days, tested for Covid-19 and prevented from lodging a formal claim for asylum before being sent back to Lebanon.

    “I didn’t think they would send us back,” he said. “They should have just let us die in the water. It’s better than coming back here.”

    Cypriot authorities said about 230 Lebanese and Syrians were sent back to Lebanon by sea in early September. They had arrived in Cyprus on five boats during the previous weeks.

    “Following our government’s orders and after consultations between the two governments (Cyprus and Lebanon) we safely returned them on September 6, 7 and 8,” Stelios Papatheodorou, chief of the Cypriot police, told Reuters.

    He denied accusations that authorities had mistreated them and pushed back their boats.

    “We provided them with food and water and covered all their needs at our own expense,” Papatheodorou said.

    Lebanon’s General Security and Foreign Ministry did not respond to written requests for comment.

    ‘TREATED LIKE DOGS’

    Out of work for three years, Ghandour decided last month to pack up for good and try his luck in Cyprus. He left his apartment, sold his furniture, and had his older sons sell scrap metal to help buy a small boat and supplies for the perilous journey.

    Ghandour was one of four migrants interviewed by Reuters, who said they were swiftly sent back to Lebanon. According to UNHCR, the island has pushed back at least five boats, which carried Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and others.

    “You can’t just summarily send people back without considering their claims fully and fairly,” said Bill Frelick, the director of the refugee and migrant rights division at HRW, who has been monitoring the returns.

    Although Lebanon is not at war and economic hardship is not recognised as grounds for asylum, the multiple crises Lebanon is facing mean some of its nationals and residents could face serious threats, while others could qualify for refugee status on fear-of-persecution grounds, Frelick added.

    In interviews with Reuters, migrants said they told Cypriot authorities they feared violence and instability in Lebanon and did not want to return.

    In August a port blast killed nearly 200.

    Migrants also said they encountered aggressive tactics as they neared Cyprus. Chamseddine Kerdi said his boat, packed with 52 people, was encircled several times and ultimately damaged before being towed to shore by authorities.

    “My daughter begged me not to let them kill us,” Kerdi said.

    Ghandour was not expecting a hostile reception in Cyprus. He had previously tried looking for work in Germany, at the height of the migrant flows to Europe in 2015 and 2016, and said he was greeted with kindness. “This time, they treated us like dogs.”

    Despite this, both Ghandour and Kerdi are adamant they’ll set sail again soon.

    For others, however, their first journey would be their last.

    Mezhar Abdelhamid Mohammad’s son-in-law and nephew left Lebanon 11 days ago in a boat packed with about 50 men, women and children. Adrift for seven days, the boat was eventually rescued by UN peacekeepers off the coast of Lebanon, with only 36 people alive. But the two men weren’t on it.

    A survivor who returned to Lebanon told Mohammad that he had jumped in the water with Mohammad’s relatives to try and find help. They have not been found.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-crisis-migrants-cyprus/they-should-have-let-us-die-in-the-water-desperate-lebanese-migrants-sent-b

    #Chypre #push-backs #refoulement #refoulements #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_libanais #migrants_libanais #Liban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “that night, eight people cut themselves”

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

    Testimony of a deported person.

    The context: boats and deals

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

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

    Further stoked by Brexit, recent measures have included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In the UK: Yarl’s Wood repurposed

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

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

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

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

    The same source adds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brook House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Who was deported?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Timeline of the flight on 26 August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dumped on arrival: Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Legal Framework: Dublin III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Conclusion: rushed – and illegal?

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

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

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

    Here we recap a few particular issues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein

    • Traduction française :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Témoignage d’une personne déportée.

      Le contexte : les bateaux et les accords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Au Royaume-Uni : Yarl’s Wood réaffecté

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

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

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

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

      La même source ajoute :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Brook House

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

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

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

      Préparation des vols

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Qui a été expulsé ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Chronologie du vol du 26 août

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Larguées à destination : l’Allemagne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Le cade légal : Dublin III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Ici, nous résumerons quelques enjeux spécifiques.

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

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

  • "Si un migrant est dans la région de Vintimille, c’est qu’il veut partir"

    À la frontière italo-française, des dizaines de migrants venus de tous horizons sont refoulés chaque jour après avoir tenté de passer en France. Solution de repli pour les refoulés fatigués de ce jeu du chat et de la souris, la ville de Vintimille, située à 10 kilomètres, est devenue ces derniers mois un territoire sans pitié pour les migrants.

    « Comme un ballon de foot »

    Visage masqué et pieds nus, Mohamed Ahmed a les yeux tournés vers la mer. Depuis le muret en pierres sur lequel il est assis à l’ombre des pins, il a une vue imprenable, splendide. La Méditerranée scintillante. La côte vallonnée - italienne d’abord, puis française un peu plus loin. Et la ville de Menton, facilement reconnaissable de l’autre côté de la baie, première cité de l’Hexagone en venant de cette partie de l’Italie. Mais le jeune homme ne semble pas apprécier ce paysage digne d’une carte postale. Il le regarde sans le voir. Bien que proche, Menton, et donc la France, lui est inaccessible.

    Inaccessible car Mohamed Ahmed est un migrant, soudanais, âgé de 25 ans, originaire du Darfour. Il a passé une partie de la nuit à marcher, dans l’espoir de traverser illégalement la frontière. L’autre partie, il l’a passée dans un préfabriqué exigu et sans toit appartenant à la PAF (police aux frontières) de Menton. Le matin venu, il a été remis sur la route avec pour ordre de retourner en Italie à pieds. L’Italie ne veut pourtant pas plus que la France de Mohamed Ahmed. « Je me sens comme un ballon de football sur un terrain entre deux équipes. L’une c’est l’Italie, l’autre c’est la France », dit-il.

    Face aux « difficultés migratoires », les deux pays semblent pourtant faire front commun. Fin juillet, Rome et Paris ont même annoncé la création prochaine d’une brigade conjointe à leur frontière pour lutter contre les filières de passeurs. De quoi compliquer davantage les passages. « Si les gens sont ici, c’est qu’ils veulent partir, ils sont déterminés. La police ne fait que les ralentir et les pousse à prendre plus de risques », regrette Maurizio Marmo, responsable de l’ONG Caritas Vintimille qui vient en aide aux migrants dans cette région italienne. En moyenne, il faut cinq essais à une personne avant de parvenir à passer en France. Mohamed Ahmed est dans la moyenne haute : c’est sa septième tentative en cinq jours. Il y en aura d’autres.

    Depuis la fin du confinement, et la reprise des voyages de migrants qui s’en est suivie, des dizaines de personnes essaient chaque jour de franchir cette frontière dans la région de Vintimille. Les moyens sont divers pour ceux qui ne sont pas conduits dans des véhicules de passeurs : à pieds, il y a le long de la mer - chemin qui n’a ’’quasiment aucune chance’’ étant donné la surveillance policière, glisse le membre d’une association -, les voies de chemins de fer ou, plus risqué, la montagne via un sentier surnommé sans équivoque ’’le passage de la mort’’. Il y a également les trains et les risques d’électrocutions pour ceux qui s’aventurent dessus.

    Chaque jour, aussi, des dizaines de personnes sont interpellées par la police française et sont refoulées. Des « #push-backs » souvent considérés comme illégaux car menés au mépris de l’asile demandé par les intéressés. La PAF de #Menton est d’ailleurs bien connue pour son fonctionnement opaque. Déjà visée par une enquête sur de possibles infractions, cette police avait refusé, en octobre 2019, à une députée le droit de visiter les lieux où sont retenus les migrants.

    Ce jeudi, ils sont une cinquantaine, comme Mohamed Ahmed, à avoir été renvoyés par la police dès le matin, selon un registre tenu par les associations. Un chiffre constant.

    L’apprentissage de la #méfiance

    Sur le bord de la route qui ramène à Vintimille, ville de repli et de transit pour les migrants, des associations ont installé un poste de ravitaillement pour accueillir les refoulés sur le retour. Au frais sous les arbres, du pain, des biscuits, des fruits et des réchauds pour faire du café les attendent. Une infirmière italienne est aussi là pour examiner les éventuelles blessures. Exténués et en sueur après une longue montée, ceux qui arrivent devant cette tablée affichent de larges sourires, agréablement surpris de voir qu’ici, pour une fois, des gens les attendent pour les aider. ’’C’est gratuit, c’est gratuit’’, rassure l’un des participants, les enjoignant à se servir.

    Au soulagement qu’apporte ce réconfort cède toutefois rapidement l’inquiétude. Car beaucoup de ceux présents - pour la plupart très jeunes - semblent dans un état de confusion totale. Faut-il prendre le bus pour se reposer à Vintimille ou retenter sa chance tout de suite ? Quel chemin emprunter ? Est-ce vrai que des militaires se cachent dans les buissons sur le sentier ’’de la mort’’ pour attraper les migrants qui y marchent la nuit ? « Est-ce que je dois dire que je veux demander l’asile en France quand un policier m’interpelle ? Tu peux m’écrire sur un bout de papier comment on dit ça en français ? » Les questions et les regards perdus se bousculent. Le silence tombe aussi soudainement, parfois. Au jeu du chat et de la souris qui se déroule à cette frontière, les grands perdants sont ceux qui ne maîtrisent pas les règles.

    Au point de ravitaillement les migrants peuvent acheter des tickets de bus pour aller Vintimille Crdit InfoMigrants

    « On m’a volé mon sac à dos dans la PAF », lance Nabil Maouche, Algérien de 27 ans, l’air hagard. À l’intérieur se trouvait tout ce qu’il possédait : ses vêtements, 50 euros et, surtout, son téléphone et son chargeur. « Je ne peux plus appeler ma famille », lance le jeune homme qui a embarqué début août depuis les côtes africaines à bord d’un petit bateau de fortune ayant, assure-t-il, réussi à atteindre la Sardaigne. Selon Chiara, membre de l’association italienne Projetto 20k, les pertes d’objets personnels sont monnaie courante durant les nuits au poste : « Les affaires des migrants sont gardées dans un vestiaire dans la PAF, c’est une pièce dans laquelle il y a beaucoup de passage… »

    Binu Lama, Tibétaine de 22 ans, montre pour sa part des documents dont elle peine à comprendre la signification. Un « refus d’entrée » de la police française et un procès verbal des forces de l’ordre italiennes, qui lui ont été délivrés coup sur coup. Elle ne parle ni français, ni italien, ne sait pas ce qu’elle doit en faire. Mais elle jure que, si près du but, cette paperasse ne l’empêchera pas de retenter sa chance dans quelques heures seulement. Accompagnée de son mari et d’un groupe d’amis, elle veut « trouver du travail et envoyer de l’argent à [sa] famille » depuis la France, où elle croit savoir qu’elle pourra obtenir l’asile plus facilement qu’en Italie. « Je ne suis pas découragée et je n’ai pas peur. Je suis habituée maintenant à traverser les frontières », lance celle qui a déjà marché à travers la Turquie, la Grèce, l’Albanie, le Monténégro, la Bosnie, la Croatie et la Slovénie.

    Phénomène vieux de plusieurs années, ces tentatives de passages dans la région de Vintimille ont ceci de nouveau qu’elles rassemblent désormais des personnes aux profils et aux origines plus variés qu’avant. Des Tibétains, par exemple, Jacopo Colomba, représentant de l’ONG We World, n’en avait pas vus dans le coin depuis deux ans. Il y a par ailleurs davantage de migrants désillusionnés par l’Italie « qui veulent tenter leur chance ailleurs », affirme Maurizio Marmo, de Caritas Vintimille. Ils s’ajoutent aux primo-arrivants dans le pays, largement majoritaires parmi ceux qui tentent le passage. Venus de la route des Balkans ou de l’île de Lampedusa dans le but de rejoindre la France ou d’autres pays du nord de l’Europe, ils sont nombreux à expliquer leur désir de quitter la péninsule par le fait qu’ils ne parlent pas italien, qu’ils ne connaissent personne dans ce pays ou, tout simplement, par l’ordre qu’ils ont reçu d’en partir.

    Ce dernier cas de figure est celui de Mohamed Ahmed et de ses deux compagnons de voyage, eux aussi originaires du Darfour. L’un d’eux tchipe lorsqu’on lui demande son prénom, en signe de refus. Il ne le donnera pas. Il tchipe de plus belle, en guise de désapprobation, lorsque son ami accepte, lui, de donner le sien. Le parcours migratoire de ce trentenaire l’a rendu méfiant, sur la défensive. Il ne sait plus qui croire ni à quel sein se vouer. Comme beaucoup de migrants, il a appris la méfiance envers les autorités, envers les journalistes, la méfiance des uns envers les autres.

    Et pour cause : cet homme sans nom est allé de mauvaises surprises en désillusions. Comme Mohamed Ahmed, il a fui le Soudan en guerre pour aller travailler en Libye, pays qu’il croyait prospère alors qu’il est en proie au chaos et à la loi du plus fort depuis 2011. Il y restera bloqué deux ans. À leur arrivée à Lampedusa au terme d’une traversée en bateau, les comparses soudanais sont placés en quarantaine pour détecter d’éventuels cas de coronavirus. Cette période censée durer 14 jours sera renouvelée et doublée, sans qu’on leur fournisse la moindre explication. À leur sortie, les autorités italiennes leur ont donné sept jours pour quitter le territoire.

    « À Vintimille, il n’y a plus d’endroit pour les choses intimes »

    Une fois refoulés par les autorités françaises, les migrants n’ont guère d’autres choix que d’aller à Vintimille, cité balnéaire de 24 000 habitants, loin d’être accueillante mais qui a l’avantage de se trouver à seulement 10 kilomètres de la frontière. Dans les rues de la ville, ils sont désoeuvrés. Chaque nuit, les associations dénombrent entre 100 et 200 migrants qui dorment où ils peuvent, gare, plages, arrière des buissons, sans tente. « Regardez comment c’est ici », lance, écœuré, un jeune Tchadien, arrivé depuis seulement trois jours, en pointant le bitume jonché de déchets. « Moi je dors plus bas, près de la rivière. » Il n’est pas le seul : les berges de la rivière Roya, recouvertes de végétation, sont habitées par de nombreux sangliers imposants et peu farouches.

    Le nombre de migrants à la rue à Vintimille représente une situation inhabituelle ces dernières années. Elle résulte, en grande partie, de la fermeture fin juillet d’un camp humanitaire situé en périphérie de la ville et géré par la Croix-Rouge italienne. Cette fermeture décrétée par la préfecture d’Imperia a été un coup dur pour les migrants qui pouvaient, depuis 2016, y faire étape. Les différents bâtiments de ce camp de transit pouvaient accueillir quelque 300 personnes - mais en avait accueillis jusqu’à 750 au plus fort de la crise migratoire. Des sanitaires, des lits, un accès aux soins ainsi qu’à une aide juridique pour ceux qui souhaitaient déposer une demande d’asile en Italie : autant de services qui font désormais partie du passé.

    « On ne comprend pas », lâche simplement Maurizio Marmo. « Depuis deux ans, les choses s’étaient calmées dans la ville. Il n’y avait pas de polémique, pas de controverse. Personne ne réclamait la fermeture de ce camp. Maintenant, voilà le résultat. Tout le monde est perdant, la ville comme les migrants. »

    Alors, qu’est-ce qui explique cette fermeture ? La préfecture est restée silencieuse à nos questions. Selon des associations, les autorités en auraient eu assez du cadre juridique bancal sur lequel avait été ouvert ce camp, unique en son genre dans le nord de l’Italie. D’autres avancent que la tenue prochaine d’élections régionales, fin septembre, aurait motivé cette décision dans l’espoir de glaner les votes de l’électorat anti-migrants. Difficile à savoir. Début septembre, plus d’un mois après sa fermeture, les préfabriqués du « campo » n’étaient en tout cas toujours pas démantelés, permettant à certains de parier sur une réouverture future.

    Toujours est-il qu’en attendant, la vie des migrants s’organise désormais à l’intérieur même de la ville, autour de la Via Tenda. Sur un parking, entre le cimetière et une voie rapide, l’association Kesha Niya distribue de la nourriture et de l’eau les soirs. Les matins, des collations sont servies dans les locaux de Caritas Vintimille, à proximité. Entre les deux, plus grand chose.

    « Les mineurs et les familles n’ont aucun accueil, s’offusque Maurizio Marmo. Les mineurs restent dehors. » En solution d’urgence, l’église San Nicola a récemment accepté, sous l’impulsion de Caritas, d’ouvrir ses portes aux familles le temps de quelques nuits seulement.

    Mais les portes, en général, se ferment davantage qu’elles ne s’ouvrent. « Avant, on louait un local là, près de la rivière, dit Chiara de Projetto 20k. Les migrants pouvaient s’y reposer en sécurité, charger leur téléphone, passer du temps tranquilles pour les choses intimes… Ça marchait bien. Mais le propriétaire a voulu mettre fin à cette location en janvier 2019. Maintenant le lieu est fermé et il n’y a plus d’endroit sécurisé à Vintimille pour ce genre de choses. »

    Même des services aussi essentiels que les douches ne sont plus accessibles aux migrants dans la ville. Les salles de bains de l’association Caritas, seules options, sont fermées pendant la belle saison. « Les douches sont très compliquées à gérer, justifie Maurizio Marmo, alors, l’été, ils vont dans la mer. »

    Abdelkhair a choisi la rivière. Accroupi sous un pont, penché en avant, il lave un t-shirt dans le faible débit de la Roya, asséchée en cette fin d’été. Il en profite pour se mouiller le visage. Originaires du Bangladesh, lui et ses compagnons ne peuvent pas s’attarder ici. « C’est le coin des Somaliens », prévient un autre migrant, qui s’est levé à la hâte du matelas encrassé sur lequel il était allongé à la vue d’un visiteur. Des murmures et des frémissements nous font comprendre que d’autres hommes se cachent tout autour, dans les interstices du pont, d’où dépasse un pan de couette, et dans les buissons. Les sangliers, eux, gambadent en plein jour non loin de là.

    À la recherche des femmes

    Les passeurs, aussi, agissent à découvert dans Vintimille. Dans le centre-ville, il n’est pas rare que des groupes d’hommes, connus pour être là pour du business, rodent autour de la gare. « Quand on les voit se diriger vers les quais, c’est qu’ils ont été prévenus qu’un train arrivait », indique un membre d’une association qui préfère garder l’anonymat.

    Mohamed Sheraz, rencontré en dehors de la ville, est si à l’aise qu’il donne son nom. Âgé de 25 ans, ce réfugié pakistanais en France dit venir en Italie pour « aider ses frères » en parallèle de son travail dans le secteur du bâtiment. En l’occurrence, il « aide » cinq hommes, quatre Pakistanais et un Afghan, moyennant 150 euros par tête. La nuit dernière, les migrants n’en ont pas eu pour leur argent, ce fut un échec.

    Mais d’autres trafics, plus secrets, inquiètent davantage les associations. Parmi les migrants livrés à eux-mêmes, les femmes, particulièrement vulnérables, sont l’objet de plusieurs attentions. « Dans les deux derniers mois, on a pu entrer - brièvement - en contact avec trois femmes, dit Jacopo Colomba, de l’ONG We World. Elles semblaient être contraintes par quelque chose et cherchaient une manière de s’échapper mais des hommes ont interrompu notre conversation. Nous ne les avons pas revues. »

    Grâce à des maraudes hebdomadaires, Jacopo Colomba, qui a rejoint le projet « Hope this helps » financé par le département et la région Ligurie pour documenter ces trafics, estime qu’environ 50 femmes transitent tous les mois par Vintimille. Avant de disparaître, sitôt les pieds posés dans la ville.

    « C’est une dynamique facile à observer, détaille Jacopo Colomba. Des femmes, généralement ivoiriennes [la mafia nigériane, très active il y a quelques années dans la ville, a elle vu son activité baisser, NDLR] arrivent par train de Milan ou de Gêne et sont tout de suite accueillies par une personne de leur nationalité. Elles sont menées près du fleuve. D’autres personnes les attendent et un échange de papiers a lieu. Puis, elles sont conduites dans des maisons, nous ne savons pas où exactement. » L’humanitaire, qui précise avoir prévenu la police mais ne pas savoir si « le mot a circulé », assure que ces femmes sont par la suite intégrées à des réseaux de prostitution en France et notamment à Marseille.

    « Les femmes ne sont pas inexistantes à Vintimille mais elles sont invisibles », affirme pour sa part Adèle, membre de l’association Kesha Niya, durant une distribution de nourriture à laquelle participent uniquement des hommes. « C’est dur de savoir comment elles vont et où elles sont. »

    Auparavant le camp de la Croix-Rouge hébergeait plusieurs d’entre elles. En cela non plus, sa fermeture n’a pas été bénéfique.

    Loin des trafics et des luttes de pouvoir, il reste un lieu à Vintimille où le business est un vilain mot. Le café Hobbit, tenu par la charismatique Delia, engrange même si peu de recettes que le commerce peine à ne pas mettre la clé sous la porte. Car Delia sert boissons et focaccias gratuites aux personnes dans le besoin depuis plusieurs années. Cet élan de générosité, inspiré par l’afflux de migrants dans la ville, a fait fuir les locaux. Eux ne mettent plus les pieds dans « le café des migrants ». « Mon commerce est un désastre », dit Delia, sans songer une seconde à changer de stratégie. Pour la gérante, les passeurs, les migrants laissés à l’abandon, la frontière italo-française et ses contrôles incessants, tout cela s’inscrit dans une même logique, qu’elle refuse de suivre. « Tout dans ce monde est affaire d’argent et de profit. La seule chose qui ne rapporte rien, c’est sauver les êtres humains. »

    https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/webdoc/209/si-un-migrant-est-dans-la-region-de-vintimille-c-est-qu-il-veut-partir

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontière_sud-alpine #Italie #frontières #France #Vintimille #refoulement #refoulements #push-back #café_Hobbit #femmes #SDF #sans-abri #camp_humanitaire #Croix-Rouge #fermeture #Delia

  • Minister : Over 10,000 *migrants stopped from entering Greece*
    –-> sur le choix du mot « migrants », voir ci-dessous...

    Greek authorities have prevented thousands of migrants from entering Greece clandestinely by sea this year despite a recent lack of cooperation from the Turkish coast guard, the country’s shipping minister said Wednesday.

    Giannis Plakiotakis, whose ministry is also in charge of the coast guard, said arrivals were down 84% since March 1, compared to the same period last year, while the reduction in the month of August stood at nearly 95% compared to August 2019.

    “Since the start of the year, the entry of more than 10,000 people has been prevented,” Plakiotakis said during a news conference. In August alone, he said, “we had 68 cases of prevention and we succeeded in 3,000 people not entering our country.”

    This, he said, was achieved despite the Turkish coast guard ignoring appeals by the Greek coast guard to stop migrant boats leaving Turkish waters. He also accused Turkey’s coast guard of actively escorting the boats to the edge of Greek territorial waters.

    “There are cases where (the Turkish coast guard) is accompanying boats with refugees and migrants to our borders and ... trying to create problems,” he said.

    Plakiotakis would not elaborate on how the boats were prevented from entering Greek waters, which also mark the southeastern border of the European Union. But he stressed the coast guard “operates based on international law and international legality, based on the rules of engagement at sea, and ... with complete respect for human dignity and of course for human life.”

    Aid agencies have called on Greek authorities to investigate press reports of alleged pushbacks at sea. Greek officials, including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, have vehemently denied the coast guard engages in the practice, whereby those arriving inside a nation’s territorial waters would be summarily returned without being allowed to apply for asylum.

    The UN refugee agency said on Aug. 21 it was “deeply concerned by an increasing number of credible reports indicating that men, women and children may have been informally returned to Turkey immediately after reaching Greek soil or territorial waters in recent months.”

    The agency called on Greece to “seriously investigate” the reports.

    According to UNHCR figures, nearly 12,000 asylum-seekers have reached Greece this year. The total number of arrivals by sea and land in all of 2019 was about 75,000.

    Some of those who are granted asylum end up sleeping rough in central Athens.

    Plakiotakis said just 316 people entered by sea this July, compared to 5,551 last July, while August saw 455 arrivals, compared to 8,288 in August 2019.

    Greece has increased patrols along the land and sea border with Turkey, particularly after Ankara sent thousands of migrants to the land border in March, saying its own frontier to the European Union was open for anyone wanting to head into the EU.

    Athens has insisted it has the right to protect its borders from people attempting to enter clandestinely. The European border patrol agency Frontex is also assisting in patrolling Greece’s eastern border, with 13 boats, four planes and one helicopter, as well as 650 officers and 72 patrol cars.

    Previous years saw a modicum of cooperation between the Greek and Turkish coast guards. Under a 2016 EU-Turkey deal, Turkish authorities agreed to crack down on migration flows toward Greece, including by stopping boats heading to the Greek islands.

    But Greek authorities say the Turkish coast guard no longer responds to their calls when migrant boats are sighted.

    Greek-Turkish relations have deteriorated dramatically in the past few months, with the two neighbors sending warships to the eastern Mediterranean in an dispute over rights to potential offshore energy resources.

    Greece became the main entry point to the EU for people fleeing war or poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa in 2015, when nearly a million people crossed through the country, most arriving on Greek islands from Turkey.

    The 2016 EU-Turkey deal dramatically reduced the numbers, with Turkey agreeing to crack down on those seeking to leave its shores in return for EU funds to handle the more than 4 million refugees and migrants living there, including more than 3 million Syrians.

    https://apnews.com/fb8fca6e7429c5374187dbed553ee244

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Grèce #chiffres #refoulement

    –—

    Intéressant le choix des #mots du ministre (et de la presse)... on parle de 10’000 #migrants empêchés d’entrer en Grèce, donc sur le sol de l’Union européenne...
    Le choix du mot réfugiés aurait eu un autre impact :
    10’000 réfugiés empêchés d’entrer en Grèce...
    –-> ça serait plus clairement identifié comme un #refoulement, pratique interdite par le #droit_international et par les droits nationaux et de l’UE...
    Après, pas sure que ça aurait plus choqué l’opinion politique ou nos politiciens...

    #vocabulaire #terminologie #presse #choix_des_mots #push-backs #words_matter #wordsmatter

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Ici on parle de #people (#personnes) :

      Greece : 10,000 People Prevented Access, Lockdown Extended, Recognition Rate Increases

      Amid mounting evidence of systematic push-backs from Greece (https://www.borderviolence.eu/15638-2), Shipping Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis states that 10,000 people have been prevented access in 2020. Greek authorities have extended the lockdown of all structures hosting refugees and migrants until 15 September. The first instance recognition rate rises to 69% according to Eurostat.

      Minister Plakiotakis with Greek coast guard under his mandate stated at a news conference on 2 September that arrivals had decreased 84 per cent since 1 March, compared to the same period of 2019, and that the drop in the month of August was 95 per cent compared to August 2019. According to Plakiotakis 10,000 people have been prevented from accessing Greece in 2020 so far but the Minister refused to elaborate on how this had been achieved, stating simply that the Greek coast guard: “operates based on international law and international legality, based on the rules of engagement at sea, and … with complete respect for human dignity and of course for human life”.

      Greek Helsinki Monitor has filed a criminal complaint to the High Court Prosecutor concerning the push back of 1389 people by Greek Coastguard based on evidence from numerous sources including leading international media, IOM, UNHCR, the hotline Alarmphone, Human Rights Watch, Legal Centre Lesvos and Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), who in a press release expresses increasing concern about: “the disappearance and pushbacks of refugees and migrants from humanitarian distribution sites, refugee camps and pre-removal centres in Greece. The illegal pushback and disappearance of refugees and migrants is systematically followed by the statewide dismissal of credible evidence and the perpetual refusal to open a free and fair investigation into the whereabouts of the missing”.

      Following a joint decision by the Ministers of Civil Protection, Health and Immigration and Asylum the lockdown of all structures hosting refugees and migrants has been extended to 15 September. The lockdown, presented as a COVID-19 measure, has been in place since 21 March. The Ministry of Asylum and Migration further announced another round of closures of hotel accommodation facilities for asylum seekers, in Kozani, Edessa, Prespes and Grevena.

      A man recently returned from Athens has tested positive for COVID-19 in the overcrowded Moria camp on Lesbos hosting around 13,000 people under dire, unsanitary conditions. As a reaction the Ministers of Citizen Protection, Health and Immigration and Asylum, has placed the Reception and Identification Center in Moria in complete health exclusion (quarantine) for a total of 14 days. Since March people arriving to Greek island camps are quarantined to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and authorities have advised the residents to wear masks, practise social distancing, wash their hands, disinfect, and self-isolate if they feel unwell. However, according to a representative of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) such measures are “totally unrealistic in Moria,” and “Even if people spend as much time as possible in their tents, they still eat three times a day with thousands of other people. The same goes for the restrooms and showers. It is impossible to avoid the masses.” NGOs have consistently warned of the risks of an outbreak in the Moria camp.

      According to Eurostat figures, over two thirds of first instance decisions (69%) taken by the Greek Asylum Service in 2020 granted international protection. Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) highlights that the figures dispel government statements to the contrary and point to a steady and significant increase in the population of beneficiaries of international protection in Greece, who face severe obstacles to access rights due to the absence of a holistic plan to enable their integration in the country.

      Following relocations to several member states over the summer, 22 unaccompanied children have arrived in Finland with another 28 expected to follow under a Commission scheme originally targeting the relocation of 1600 unaccompanied and vulnerable children.

      https://www.ecre.org/greece-10000-people-prevented-access-lockdown-extended-recognition-rate-increa

  • #CoronaCapitalism and the European #Border_Regime

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect people’s lives all over the world, the violence against migrants and refugees has intensified. This article explores #CoronaCapitalism and the Border Regime in a European context. Corporate Watch uses the term “border regime” as a shorthand to mean all of the many different institutions, people, systems and processes involved in trying to control migrants.

    This article only shares the tip-of-the-iceberg of migrant experiences during the coronavirus pandemic and we know there are many other untold stories. If you would like to share your news or experiences, please contact us.

    Mass Containment Camps

    As the world descended into lockdowns in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, tens of thousands of people have been confined in camps in the Western Balkans and Greece, as well as smaller accommodation centres across Europe. New and existing camps were also essentially locked down and the movement of people in and out of camps began to be heavily controlled by police and/or the military.

    The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) has been trying to track what is happening across the Balkans. They write that in Bosnia-Herzegovina, “more than 5,000 people were detained in existing temporary refugee reception centres. They include about 500 unaccompanied minors and several hundred children with families. Persons in need of special care, patients, victims of torture, members of the LGBTQ population, persons diagnosed with mental disorders, and victims of domestic violence have also been locked down into ‘EU-funded’ camps.” Police officers guard the centres and emergency legislation enables them the right to ‘physically force persons trying to leave the centres to return.’

    120,000 people are locked down in containment camps across Greece and the Greek Islands. Disturbing accounts of refugee camps are ever-present but the pandemic has worsened already unbearable conditions. 17,000 refugees live at Moira Refugee Camp where there are 210 people per toilet and 630 people per shower. Coronavirus, uncertainty over suspended asylum applications and the terrible living conditions are all contributing to escalating violence.

    In detention centres in Drama and Athens in Greece, the BVMN report that, “Respondents describe a lack of basic amenities such as running water, showers, or soap. Cramped and overcrowded conditions, with up to 13 inmates housed in one caravan with one, usually non-functioning, toilet. Requests for better services are met with violence at the hands of officers and riot police. On top of this, there have been complaints that no special precautions for COVID-19 are being taken, residents inside told BVMN reporters that sick individuals are not isolated, and are dismissed as having ‘the flu’.”

    While movement restrictions were lifted for Greek residents on 4th May, lockdown is still extended for all camps and centres across Greece and the Islands. This decision triggered thousands of people to protest in Athens. Emergency legislation adopted at the start of March in Greece effectively suspended the registration of asylum applications and implied immediate deportation for those entering the Greek territory, without registration, to their countries of origin or to Turkey.

    Detention and the deportation regime

    While major country-wide lockdowns are an unusual form of restriction of movement, for decades European states have been locking people seeking safety in detention centres. Immigration Removal Centres are essentially prisons for migrants in which people are locked up without trial or time-limit. In the UK the detention system is mostly run for profit by private companies, as detailed in our UK Border Regime book.

    Despite preparing for a pandemic scenario in January 2020, it took public pressure and legal action before the British government released nearly 1000 people from detention centres. As of the end of May, 368 people were still locked up in the profit-making detention centres and many more are living in ‘accommodation centres’ where they have been unable to access coronavirus testing.

    During the pandemic, people have been revolting in several detention centres across France and Belgium. Residents at a refugee centre in Saxony-Anhalt in Germany went on a hunger strike in April to protest against a lack of disinfectant. Hunger strikes have also taken place at detention centres in Tunisia, Cyprus and France.

    Women in a police holding centre for migrants in Greece went on hunger strike in June. In a statement, they wrote: “We will continue the hunger strike until we are free from this captivity. They will either set us free or we shall die”.

    People staged a rooftop protest at a detention centre in Madrid at the start of the outbreak. This was before all the detention centres in Spain were, for the first time in their history, completely emptied. To put this into context, Spain had 6,473 detainees in 2019. Legal challenges have been leveraging the EU Returns Directive which allows detention pending deportation for up to 18 months, but stipulates that if “a reasonable prospect of removal no longer exists…detention ceases to be justified and the person concerned shall be released immediately”.

    With a worldwide reduction in flights, deportations became unfeasible, however, many are afraid that the deportation machine will restart as things “return to normal”.

    Worsening life in the ‘jungle’

    People living in squats and other improvised accommodation have also faced sweeping operations, with people being rounded up and taken to containment camps.

    For those that remained on the street, pandemic restrictions took their toll. In Greece, movement amidst the pandemic was permitted via letters and text messages. For people who did not have the right paperwork, they were fined 150 euros, sometimes multiple times.

    Similarly, in the French city of Calais, people who did not have the right paperwork were commonly denied access to shops and supermarkets, where they may have previously used the bathrooms or bought food to cook. With many volunteer groups unable to operate due to movement restrictions, the availability of food dramatically reduced overnight. Access to services such as showers, phone charging and healthcare also rapidly reduced.

    People in Calais also faced a rise in evictions: 45 evictions were recorded in the first two weeks of lockdown. These expulsions have continued throughout the pandemic. On Friday 10th July 2020, a major police raid in Calais forced more than 500 people onto buses to be taken to ‘reception centres’ across the region.

    In Amsterdam in the Netherlands, some migrants were forced to live in night shelters and made to leave during the daytime – facing constant risks of contracting COVID-19 and police harassment in the city. They protested “I would stay at home if I had one”.

    Many migrant solidarity groups working on the ground lost huge numbers of volunteers due to travel restrictions and health concerns. Access to material donations such as tents, which are commonly collected at the end of festivals, also reduced. A constant supply of these resources is needed because the police routinely take the migrants’ tents away.

    Militarisation of borders

    The pandemic has seen an increase in military forces at borders and camps, persistent police violence and the suspension of ‘rights’ or legal processes. Using ‘State of Emergency’ legislation, the health crisis has been effectively weaponised.

    In March at the beginning of the pandemic in Europe, FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency deployed an additional 100 guards at the Greek Land Border. This is in addition to the agency’s core of 10,000 officers working around Europe.

    In their 2020 Risk Analysis Report, FRONTEX wrote that “the closing of internal borders is binding border guard personnel, which some border authorities have long stopped planning for”. This illuminates a key complexity in border control. For years, Europe has shifted to policing the wider borders of the Schengen Area. As the virus spread between countries within that area, however, states have tried to shut down their own borders.

    Police forces and militaries have become increasingly mobilised to “protect these national borders”. In Slovenia, this meant the military was granted authority to ‘process civilians’ at the border through the government’s activation of Article 37a of the Defence Act. While in Serbia, the army was deployed around border camps to ensure mass containment. 400 new border guards were also dispatched to the Evros land border between Greece and Turkey in addition to an increase in fencing and surveillance technologies.

    Escalating Police Violence

    Although migrants are no strangers to police brutality, national states of emergency have enabled an escalation in police violence. In mid-April an open letter was published by the Eritrean community of the Calais jungle reporting escalating police brutality. It describes the actions of the CRS police (Compagnies républicaines de sécurité); the general guard of the French police, infamous for riot control and repression:

    “They don’t see us as human beings. They insult us with names such as monkey, bitch etc. And for the past few weeks, they have started to threaten our lives by beating us as soon as the opportunity arises. When for example they found a group of two or three people walking towards the food distribution, or in our tents, when we were sleeping. They accelerate in their vehicles while driving in our direction, as if they wanted to crush us. They also took people with them to places far from Calais, and beat them until they lost consciousness.”

    The statement continues with a chronological list of events whereby people were beaten up, hit, gassed, had their arms broken, and were struck on the head so hard they lost consciousness and were taken to hospital by ambulance.

    With fewer people on the streets during the pandemic, police evictions that were not previously possible due to street-level resistance became successful. This was evidenced in the eviction of the Gini occupation at the Polytechnic University in Exarchia, Greece, a location that the police have not dared enter for decades. Dozens of migrant families were rounded up and taken to a detention centre.

    Violent pushbacks across borders

    There has also been an increase in illegal and violent pushbacks. Pushbacks are the informal expulsion (without due process) of individuals or groups to another country. This commonly involves the violent removal of people across a border.

    For example, on April 22nd in North Macedonia, a group of people from Palestine, Morocco and Egypt were pushed back into Greece. Two men were approached by officers in army uniforms and forced onto a bus where officers began to beat them with batons and guns. So much force was used that one man’s arm was fractured. The other members of the small group were later found and abruptly woken by officers. One man was stamped on and kicked across his body and head. Their shoes were removed and they were told to walk the 2km back to the border where they were met with the other group that had been taken there.

    A group of 16 people in Serbia (including one minor) were told they were being taken to a new camp for COVID prevention. They were then forced into a van and driven for nine hours with no stops, toilet or water. They were released at a remote area of hills and told to leave and cross the border to North Macedonia by the officers with guns. When found attempting to cross again days later they were told by police officers, “Don’t come again, we will kill you”.

    In Croatia, police have also started tagging people that they have pushed back with orange spray paint.

    There are also reports that Greek authorities are pushing people back to Turkey. According to the Border Violence Monitoring Network, many people shared experiences of being beaten, robbed and detained before being driven to the border area where military personnel used boats to return them to Turkey across the Evros river. In mid April in Greece, approximately 50 people were taken from Diavata camp in the morning and removed to a nearby police station where they were ordered to lie on the ground – “Sleep here, don’t move”. They were then beaten with batons. Some were also attacked with electric tasers. They were held overnight in a detention space near the border, and beaten further by Greek military officers. The next day they were boated across the river to Turkey by authorities with military uniforms. Another group were taken to the river in the dark and ordered to strip to their underwear.

    As pushbacks continue, people are forced to take even more dangerous routes. In Romania in mid-April, a group were found drowning in the Danube River after their boat capsized. One person was found dead and eight are still missing, while the survivors suffered from hypothermia.

    Danger at Sea

    During the pandemic, increasing numbers of disturbing accounts have been shared by migrants experiencing violence at sea. Between mid March and mid May, Alarm Phone (a hotline for boat people in distress) received 28 emergency calls from the Aegean Sea.

    On the 29th April, a boat carrying 48 refugees from Afghanistan, Congo and Iran, including 18 children, tried to reach Lesvos Island in the early hours of the day. They were pushed back to Turkish waters:

    “We were very scared. We tried to continue towards Lesvos Island. It was only 20 minutes more driving to reach the Greek coast. The big boat let a highspeed boat down, which hunted us down. There were six masked men in black clothes. They stopped us and made many waves. With a long stick they took away our petrol and they broke our engine. They had guns and knives. Then they threw a rope to us and ordered us to fix it on our boat. Then they started pulling us back towards Turkey. After a while they stopped and cut the rope. They returned to the big boat and took distance from us. It was around 6am.

    Then two other boats of the Greek coastguard arrived which were white and grey and drove very fast towards us, starting to make circles around our boat. They created big waves which were pushing us in the direction of Turkish waters. Our boat was taking in water and the kids were screaming. Our boat started breaking from the bottom. We were taking out the water with our boots. We threw all our belongings in the sea to make our boat lighter. Many of us had no life vests. A pregnant lady fainted. The Greeks continued making waves for a long period. A Turkish coastguard boat arrived and stood aside watching and taking photos and videos for more than six hours. Only after 13:30 o’clock the Turkish coastguard boat finally saved us. We were brought to Çanakalle police station and detained for five days.”

    During two months of lockdown, civil monitoring ships (volunteers who monitor the Aegean sea for migrants arriving via boat) were not permitted. In Italy, ports were closed to rescue ships, with many feared lost at sea as a result. Allegations have also emerged that Greece has been using inflatable rafts to deport asylum seekers. These are rafts without motors or propellers that cannot be steered.

    The Maltese Army also hit the headlines after turning away a boat of migrants by gunpoint and giving them the GPS coordinates for Italy. This is after recent reports of sabotaging migrant vessels, and pushing back migrant boats to Libya resulting in 12 people dying. The Maltese government recently signed a deal with the Libyan government to “to coordinate operations against illegal migration”. This includes training the Libyan coastguards and funding for “reception camps”.

    The threat of the virus and worsening conditions have also contributed to a record number of attempts to cross the Channel. The courage and commitment to overcome borders is inspiring, and more successful crossings have taken place during the pandemic. Between March 23rd (when the UK coronavirus lockdown began) and May 11th at least 853 migrants managed to cross the Channel in dinghies and small boats.

    State Scapegoating and the empowerment of the far right

    Far-right politicians and fascist activists have used the pandemic as an opportunity to push for closed borders.

    The election of a new Far Right government in Slovenia in March brought with it the scapegoating of refugees as coronavirus vectors. News conglomerate, NOVA24, heavily publicised a fake news story that the first COVID-19 patient in Italy was a Pakistani person who came via the Balkan route.

    Meanwhile, Hungary’s Government led by Vicktor Orbán moved to deport resident Iranians after claiming they were responsible for the country’s first coronavirus outbreak.

    In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the populist leader of the opposition Lega party tried to blame the movement of migrants from Africa across the Mediterranean as a “major infection threat” shortly before the country was overwhelmed with the pandemic and its rising death toll.

    The racist scapegoating ignores data that proves that initially the virus was transmited predominatnly by tourists’ and business people’s globe-trotting in the service of global capitalism and the fact that those whose movement is restricted, controlled and perilous, who do not have the power and wealth, are the most likely to suffer from the worst effects of both the virus itself and the shut downs.

    The Aftermath of Asylum suspension

    Access to asylum has drastically shifted across Europe with the suspension of many face-to-face application processing centres and appeal hearings. This ‘legal limbo’ is having a severe impact on people’s lives.

    Many people remain housed in temporary accommodation like hotels while they wait for their claim to be processed. This accommodation is often overcrowded and social-distancing guidelines are impossible to follow there. One asylum seeker in South London even shared to The Guardian how two strangers were made to share his double bed for a week in one room. One of the people was later taken to hospital with coronavirus.

    Closed-conditions at Skellig Accomodation Centre, a former hotel in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, Ireland enabled the rapid spread of the virus between the 100 people living there. Misha, an asylum seeker confined there, said she watched in horror as people started falling sick around her.

    “We were sharing bedrooms with strangers. We were sharing the dining room. We were sharing the salt shakers. We were sharing the lobby. We were sharing everything. And if you looked at the whole situation, you cannot really say that it was fit for purpose.”

    People were ordered to stay inside, and meanwhile coronavirus testing was delayed. Protests took place inside and locals demonstrated in solidarity outside.

    Asylum seekers in Glasgow have been protesting their accommodation conditions provided by the Mears Group, who Corporate Watch profiled in 2019. Mears Group won a £1.15 billion contract to run the refugee accommodation system in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the north of England. Their profiteering, slum landlord conditions and involvement in mass evictions have been met with anger and resistance. The pandemic has only worsened the experiences of people forced to live in Mears’ accommodation through terrible sanitation and medical neglect. Read our 2020 update on the Mears Group here.

    In the UK, the Home Office put a hold on evictions of asylum seekers during lockdown. The Red Cross stated this spared 50,000 people from the threat of losing their accommodation. Campaigners and tenants fear what will happen post-corona and how many people will face destitution when the ban on evictions lifts this August.

    In addition, a face-to-face screening interview is still needed for new asylum claims. This creates an awful choice for asylum seekers between shielding from the virus (and facing destitution) or going to the interviews in order to access emergency asylum support and begin the formal process. While meagre, the £37.75 per week is essential for survival. One of the reasons the Home Office make face-to-face applications compulsory is because of biometric data harvesting e.g. taking fingerprints of asylum seekers. One asylum seeker with serious health problems has had to make three journeys from Glasgow to Liverpool in the midst of the pandemic to submit paperwork.

    Access to food and other support is also very difficult as many centres and support services are closed.

    Barriers to Healthcare

    It is widely recognised that systemic racism has led to the disproportionate deaths of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people throughout the pandemic. Research has shown Black people are four times more likely to die than white people, and Bangladeshi or Pakistani groups are three times more likely. Many people from these communities are migrants, and many work in the National Health Service and social care sector.

    Research by Patients not Passports, Medact, Migrants Organise and the New Economics Foundation has shown that many migrants are avoiding seeking healthcare. 57% of respondents in their research report that they have avoided seeking healthcare because of fears of being charged for NHS care, data sharing and other migration enforcement concerns. Most people are unaware that treatment for coronavirus is exempt from charging. They also often experience additional barriers including the absence of translation and interpretation services, digital exclusions, housing and long distances from care services.

    Undocumented migrants are incredibly precarious. A project worker interviewed for the Patients not Passports Report shared that:

    “One client lived in a care home where she does live-in care and she has been exposed to Corona but has stated that she will not seek treatment and would rather die there than be detained.”

    Elvis, an undocumented migrant from the Philippines, died at home with suspected coronavirus because he was so scared by the hostility of Government policies that he did not seek any help from the NHS.

    For those that do try to access healthcare, issues such as not having enough phone credit or mobile data, not having wifi or laptops for video appointments, and simply not being able to navigate automated telephone and online systems because of language barriers and non-existent or poor translation, are having a very real impact on people’s ability to receive support. Fears of poor treatment because of people’s past experiences of discrimination and racism even if they access the services is another barrier.

    Exploiting Migrant Labour

    The exploitation of migrant labour has always been essential to sustaining capitalist economies. The pandemic generated contradictory responses from politicians and capitalists alike. Germany’s agricultural sector lobbied hard for opening the border after they were closed, leading the country to lift its ban and let in over 80,000 seasonal workers from Eastern Europe. Yet dilapidated living conditions and overcrowding are sparking new COVID-19 outbreaks, such as the 200 workers that contracted the virus at a slaughterhouse in western Germany.

    In mid May, the Italian government passed a law regularising undocumented migrants, whereby undocumented workers have been encouraged to apply for six-month legal residency permits. There are believed to be about 600,000 undocumented workers in Italy but only people doing ‘essential’ work during the pandemic can apply, mostly in the agricultural sector. Thousands of people live in makeshift encampments near fruit and vegetable farms with no access to running water or electricity.

    Working conditions carry risks of violence. On 18 May, five days after Italy’s regularisation law passed, a 33-year old Indian migrant working in a field outside of Rome was fired after asking his employer for a face mask for protection while at work. When the worker requested his daily wage, he was beaten up and thrown in a nearby canal.

    Conclusion

    The coronavirus crisis has exposed and intensified the brutality required to sustain capitalism – from systemic racism, to violent border controls, to slave labour for industrial agriculture, the list goes on. Despite extremely difficult conditions, undocumented migrants have formed strong movements of solidarity and collective struggle in many European countries. From revolts in detention centres to legal actions to empty them, people are continually resisting the border regime. As people reject a ‘return to normal’ post pandemic, the fall of the border regime must be part of a vision for freedom and liberation in a world beyond capitalism.

    https://corporatewatch.org/coronaborderregime
    #capitalisme #covid-19 #coronavirus #frontières #Europe #migrations #violence #asile #réfugiés #camps #camps_de_réfugiés #containment #rétention #campements #technologie #militarisation_des_frontières #Grèce #Turquie #violences_policières #police #refoulements #push-backs #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #santé #accès_aux_soins #travail #exploitation #pandémie #Frontex #confinement #grève_de_la_faim #fermeture_des_frontières

    ping @isskein @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_ @thomas_lacroix

  • Un mur en Serbie...

    Last week, we wrote how Serbian authorities, in complete secrecy, started the construction of a razor-wire fence in the South to prevent the irregular entry of refugees from North Macedonia. The photos which first appeared on the Asylum Protection Center’s (APC) Twitter account show that the fence is being set up from #Presevo to the east, along the border with North Macedonia. It’s worrying how the Serbian local authorities interpret this action as a “one step forward in the Europeanization process” of the country (https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/srbija-dize-zicanu-ogradu-na-granici-sa-severnom-makedonijom/30789825.html). At the same time, Serbian NGOs have registered an increase in number of pushbacks, specifically Asylum Protection Center (APC) is recording an increase in the return of people to North Macedonia.

    Le tweet du Asylum Protection Center:


    https://twitter.com/APC_CZA/status/1293865742153261056

    Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 24.08.2020
    #frontières #murs #barrières_frontalières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #Macédoine #refoulements #push-backs #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    • La Serbie clôture sa frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord

      18 août - 18h30 :

      #clôture métallique sur sa frontière avec la #Macédoine_du_Nord, près de #Preševo. Le maire de cette commune, #Shqiprim_Arifi, a confirmé à Radio Free Europe que la construction de cette clôture faisait partie d’un accord avec l’Union européenne (UE). « Nous pensons que la clôture a pour fonction de sécuriser davantage les frontières des pays extérieurs à l’UE face aux réfugiés, qui vont finir par revenir de manière massive sur la route des Balkans. » Shqiprim Arifi ajoute qu’il a « personnellement de sérieuses réserves » sur cette façon de traiter les réfugiés. Les autorités serbes refusent de communiquer toute information sur cette clôture.

      Source : dernières info du Courrier des Balkans —> https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/les-dernieres-infos-refugies-balkans

    • La barrière frontalière est mentionnée dans cet entretien de #Jasmin_Rexhepi pour le Courrier des Balkans :

      La #Serbie a commencé durant l’été à construire une barrière de barbelés sur sa frontière avec la #Macédoine_du_Nord. Officiellement pour empêcher la propagation de la Covid-19... #Jasmin_Rexhepi, qui préside l’ONG Legis, dénonce la dérive sécuritaire des autocrates balkaniques. Entretien.

      D. Kožul (D.K.) : Que pensez-vous des raisons qui ont poussé la Serbie à construire une barrière à sa frontière avec la Macédoine du Nord ? Officiellement, il s’agit de lutter contre la propagation de l’épidémie de coronavirus. Or, on sait que le nombre de malades est minime chez les réfugiés...

      Jasmin Rexhepi (J.R.) : C’est une mauvaise excuse trouvée par un communicant. On construit des barbelés aux frontières des pays des Balkans depuis 2015. Ils sont posés par des gouvernements ultra-conservateurs, pour des raisons populistes. Les réfugiés ne sont pas une réelle menace sécuritaire pour nos pays en transition, ils ne sont pas plus porteurs du virus que ne le sont nos citoyens, et les barbelés n’ont jamais été efficaces contre les migrations.

      “Faute de pouvoir améliorer la vie de leurs citoyens, les populistes conservateurs se réfugient dans une prétendue défense de la nation contre des ennemis imaginaires.”

      https://seenthis.net/messages/877066

  • No Name Kitchen (https://www.facebook.com/NoNameKitchenBelgrade/posts/1035509443514006) is reporting on a refugee protest against the Slovenian government and police that began on Wednesday within the Detention Center for Foreigners in #Postojna. Dozens of men are currently located there, men who have previously spent months in Velika Kladuša and have suffered police violence and denials of their right to seek asylum. Now in Slovenia, they are detained in an abandoned industrial building in very bad conditions, while the Slovenian police is rejecting their asylum claims and pushing them back in Croatia, violating their human rights and proclaiming them “economic migrants”. Last week we reported on the ruling of the Slovenian Administrative court thematizing the right to seek asylum, for a more detailed analysis of the case in question read the article in Balkan Insight.

    –-> message reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 06.08.2020

    –---

    Texte du post sur FB:

    These images are sent to us showing an ongoing protest within the Detention Center for Foreigners in Postojna, Slovenia and they ask everybody to spread the information.
    These men, many of whom have spent months in #Velika_Kladusa (the city where No Name Kitchen works), in terrible conditions and suffering #violence from #police in every attempt to get to the European Union to seek asylum (and after a long journey that sometimes last year), have arrived to Slovenia only to face more threats of push-backs and arbitrary selection processes.
    They are protesting the news that they will be returned to Croatia in the next days and asked for our help to share this news
    It should be understood that this situation is situated in the midst of a broader reorientation of Slovenia’s push-back processes to Croatia. Increasingly, in the last weeks we have heard of people being taken out of state-run centers and returned to Croatia whereupon they are pushed back to Bosnia. Once again, let’s remember that these processes are illegal according to European legislation. In the video, people clearly shout that they want asylum to show clearly that they are asking for their protection demand to be processed, as it shoud be done by law.
    Our friends and colleagues at Infokolpa
    - based in Slovenia - are working to put together more detailed information about these cases to be shared within the next days. They remind us that for those who succeed in crossing the Schengen border, people find themselves in facilities that are comparable if not worse than camps like #Miral (paid by EU money) in Bosnia.
    Remember that if these people return to Bosnia, they will be locked up there again for who knows how long, and with the possibility of suffering strong violence and robbery every time they decide to try again to reach the European Union to search the asylum that they are asking for now, and that is being denied to them.

    #push-back #push-backs #refoulements #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontière_sud-alpine #Alpes #Slovénie #Croatie #frontières #protestation #résistance #Bosnie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    ping @isskein

  • Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea

    Many Greeks have grown frustrated as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished on Greek islands. Now, evidence shows, a new conservative government has a new method of keeping them out.

    The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts.

    Since March, at least 1,072 asylum seekers have been dropped at sea by Greek officials in at least 31 separate expulsions, according to an analysis of evidence by The New York Times from three independent watchdogs, two academic researchers and the Turkish Coast Guard. The Times interviewed survivors from five of those episodes and reviewed photographic or video evidence from all 31.

    “It was very inhumane,” said Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher, who says masked Greek officials took her and 22 others, including two babies, under cover of darkness from a detention center on the island of Rhodes on July 26 and abandoned them in a rudderless, motorless life raft before they were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.

    “I left Syria for fear of bombing — but when this happened, I wished I’d died under a bomb,” she told The Times.

    Illegal under international law, the expulsions are the most direct and sustained attempt by a European country to block maritime migration using its own forces since the height of the migration crisis in 2015, when Greece was the main thoroughfare for migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe.

    The Greek government denied any illegality.

    “Greek authorities do not engage in clandestine activities,’’ said a government spokesman, Stelios Petsas. “Greece has a proven track record when it comes to observing international law, conventions and protocols. This includes the treatment of refugees and migrants.”

    Since 2015, European countries like Greece and Italy have mainly relied on proxies, like the Turkish and Libyan governments, to head off maritime migration. What is different now is that the Greek government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands, watchdog groups and researchers say.

    ​For example, migrants have been forced onto sometimes leaky life rafts and left to drift at the border between Turkish and Greek waters, while others have been left to drift in their own boats after Greek officials disabled their engines.

    “These pushbacks are totally illegal in all their aspects, in international law and in European law,” said Prof. François Crépeau, an expert on international law and a former United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

    “It is a human rights and humanitarian disaster,” Professor Crépeau added.

    Greeks were once far more understanding of the plight of migrants. But many have grown frustrated and hostile after a half-decade in which other European countries offered Greece only modest assistance as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished in squalid camps on overburdened Greek islands.

    Since the election last year of a new conservative government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece has taken a far harder line against the migrants — often refugees from the war in Syria — who push off Turkish shores for Europe.

    The harsher approach comes as tensions have mounted with Turkey, itself burdened with 3.6 million refugees from the Syrian war, far more than any other nation.

    Greece believes that Turkey has tried to weaponize the migrants to increase pressure on Europe for aid and assistance in the Syrian War. But it has also added pressure on Greece at a time when the two nations and others spar over contested gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean.

    For several days in late February and early March, the Turkish authorities openly bused thousands of migrants to the Greek land border in a bid to set off a confrontation, leading to the shooting of at least one Syrian refugee and the immediate extrajudicial expulsions of hundreds of migrants who made it to Greek territory.

    For years, Greek officials have been accused of intercepting and expelling migrants, on a sporadic and infrequent basis, usually before the migrants manage to land their boats on Greek soil.

    But experts say Greece’s behavior during the pandemic has been far more systematic and coordinated. Hundreds of migrants have been denied the right to seek asylum even after they have landed on Greek soil, and they’ve been forbidden to appeal their expulsion through the legal system.

    “They’ve seized the moment,” Professor Crépeau said of the Greeks. “The coronavirus has provided a window of opportunity to close national borders to whoever they’ve wanted.”

    Emboldened by the lack of sustained criticism from the European Union, where the migration issue has roiled politics, Greece has hardened its approach in the eastern Mediterranean in recent months.

    Migrants landing on the Greek islands from Turkey have frequently been forced onto sometimes leaky, inflatable life rafts, dropped at the boundary between Turkish and Greek waters, and left to drift until being spotted and rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.

    “This practice is totally unprecedented in Greece,” said Niamh Keady-Tabbal, a doctoral researcher at the Irish Center for Human Rights, and one of the first to document the phenomenon.

    “Greek authorities are now weaponizing rescue equipment to illegally expel asylum seekers in a new, violent and highly visible pattern of pushbacks spanning several Aegean Islands,” Ms. Keady-Tabbal said.

    Ms. al-Khatib, who recounted her ordeal for The Times, said she entered Turkey last November with her two sons, 14 and 12, fleeing the advance of the Syrian Army. Her husband, who had entered several weeks earlier, soon died of cancer, Ms. al-Khatib said.

    With few prospects in Turkey, the family tried to reach Greece by boat three times this summer, failing once in May because their smuggler did not show up, and a second time in June after being intercepted in Greek waters and towed back to the Turkish sea border, she said.

    On their third attempt, on July 23 at around 7 a.m., they landed on the Greek island of Rhodes, Ms. al-Khatib said, an account corroborated by four other passengers interviewed by The Times. They were detained by Greek police officers and taken to a small makeshift detention facility after handing over their identification documents.

    Using footage filmed at this site by two passengers, a Times reporter was able to identify the facility’s location beside the island’s main ferry port and visit the camp.

    A Coast Guard officer and an official at the island’s mayoralty both said the site falls under the jurisdiction of the Port Police, an arm of the Hellenic Coast Guard.

    A Palestinian refugee, living in a disused slaughterhouse beside the camp, confirmed that Ms. al-Khatib had been there, recounting how he had spoken to her through the camp’s fence and bought her tablets to treat her hypertension, which Greek officials had refused to supply her.

    On the evening of July 26, Ms. al-Khatib and the other detainees said that police officers had loaded them onto a bus, telling them they were being taken to a camp on another island, and then to Athens.

    Instead, masked Greek officials transferred them to two vessels that ferried them out to sea before dropping them on rafts at the Turkish maritime border, she and other survivors said.

    Amid choppy waves, the group, which included two babies, was forced to drain the raft using their hands as water slopped over the side, they said.

    The group was rescued at 4:30 a.m. by the Turkish Coast Guard, according to a report by the Coast Guard that included a photograph of Ms. al-Khatib as she left the life raft.

    Ms. al-Khatib tried to reach Greece for a fourth time, on Aug. 6, but said her boat was stopped off the island of Lesbos by Greek officials, who removed its fuel and towed it back to Turkish waters.

    Some groups of migrants have been transferred to the life rafts even before landing on Greek soil.

    On May 13, Amjad Naim, a 24-year-old Palestinian law student, was among a group of 30 migrants intercepted by Greek officials as they approached the shores of Samos, a Greek island close to Turkey.

    The migrants were quickly transferred to two small life rafts that began to deflate under the weight of so many people, Mr. Naim said. Transferred to two other rafts, they were then towed back toward Turkey.

    Videos captured by Mr. Naim on his phone show the two rafts being tugged across the sea by a large white vessel. Footage subsequently published by the Turkish Coast Guard shows the same two rafts being rescued by Turkish officials later in the day.

    Migrants have also been left to drift in the boats they arrived on, after Greek officials disabled their engines, survivors and researchers say. And on at least two occasions, migrants have been abandoned on Ciplak, an uninhabited island within Turkish waters, instead of being placed on life rafts.

    “Eventually the Turkish Coast Guard came to fetch us,” said one Palestinian survivor who was among a group abandoned on Ciplak in early July, and who sent videos of their time on the island. A report from the Turkish Coast Guard corroborated his account.

    In parallel, several rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have documented how the Greek authorities have rounded up migrants living legally in Greece and secretly expelled them without legal recourse across the Evros River, which divides mainland Greece from Turkey.

    Feras Fattouh, a 30-year-old Syrian X-ray technician, said he was arrested by the Greek police on July 24 in Igoumenitsa, a port in western Greece. Mr. Fattouh had been living legally in Greece since November 2019 with his wife and son, and showed The Times documents to prove it.

    But after being detained by the police in Igoumenitsa, Mr. Fattouh said, he was robbed and driven about 400 miles east to the Turkish border, before being secretly put on a dinghy with 18 others and sent across the river to Turkey. His wife and son remain in Greece.

    “Syrians are suffering in Turkey,” Mr. Fattouh said. “We’re suffering in Greece. Where are we supposed to go?”

    Ylva Johansson, who oversees migration policy at the European Commission, the civil service for the European Union, said she was concerned by the accusations but had no power to investigate them.

    “We cannot protect our European border by violating European values and by breaching people’s rights,” Ms. Johansson said in an email. “Border control can and must go hand in hand with respect for fundamental rights.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/world/europe/greece-migrants-abandoning-sea.html?searchResultPosition=1

    #Grèce #refoulement #refoulements #expulsions #Evros #îles #Turquie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-back

    –—

    sur les refoulements dans la région de l’Evros (à partir de 2018), voir aussi :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/710720

    • Message de l’Aegean Boat Report, 12.08.2020 :

      57 people that arrived on two boats on Lesvos north yesterday seems to have disappeared, port police on Lesvos claims there was no arrivals.
      First boat arrived on a Korakas, Lesvos north during the night, locals in the area claims to have heard gunshots coming from Korakas. The boat was carrying 24 people, 7 was picked up by police on arrival location, the rest, 17 people managed to flee to the woods in the dark. Later in the day, the rest was found by port police, transported from the area in a minivan. Question is, where did port police take them? They are not registered as arrived anywhere, neither the quarantine camp in the north or south has any new arrivals registered.
      Second boat landed in Gavathas, Lesvos north west before first light, carrying 33 people. Locals in the area reported on the new arrivals, also these people were taken away by port police, nobody has seen them since, they are not registered anywhere on Lesvos.
      Port police on Lesvos claims that there has been no new arrivals at all yesterday in the north, and that anyone saying otherwise is pushing “fake news”. There are no reports in any local newspaper on arrivals from Lesvos north yesterday, only one boat carrying 55 people that landed in Skala Mistegnon last night.
      Aegean Boat Report has received documentation that proves that these people actually arrived, there is no question about it! Videos, pictures and location data proves that they where there, question is where did port police take them, and why are they not registered anywhere?
      Yesterday before sundown Turkish coast guard picked up 57 people from two life rafts drifting outside Bademli, Turkey. From pictures posted by TCG, Aegean Boat Report has identified 4 people that also are in pictures and videos that ABR received from Korakas yesterday morning, the identification is 100%.
      There is no doubt that the people from the two boats that landed on Lesvos north yesterday was illegal deported by the Greek Coast Guard. They where taken from safety on land on Lesvos, and put back in the sea in life rafts, helplessly drifting, what kind of people would put children adrift at sea, how can they sleep at night.. This is not human behavior, not even animals would be this cruel!
      Many of Aegean Boat Report’s followers have in the past asked “what can we do?”, “how can we stop this?”, and the usual reply was, you can spread the news, share the info. It’s obviously not enough, now the gloves are off, it’s time to take action in a more direct way!
      Aegean Boat Report call’s upon all followers to participate, to make your voice heard, together this voice can make a difference! Pick up your phone and call the port authority of Mytilíni, Lesvos, and demand answers! They will deny any involvement in illegal activities, but we know they are lying!
      Port police Mytilini: +30 2251 040827
      (Number is open 24/7)
      We need them to understand that we don’t tolerate this any longer, and that there are many people all over the world that are watching what they are doing. One call will not change anything, but if 100 people call, 1000 people, perhaps they will start to understand that we do not tolerate this any longer!
      To call any public authority number is a common right, without any conditions or clauses, it’s fully legal activity that can be taken by anyone without any legal consequences. ABR has consulted Greek lawyers on the matter, and it’s totally legal. But ABR ask you to stay clear of all Emergancy channel’s, don’t flood European Emergancy numbers, only use numbers provided her!
      Aegean Boat Report will from now on, in every case regarding pushbacks and other illegal activities, publish the Port Police number of the area the incident has taken place, so that people can call to demand answers. The more people that calls these numbers, asking questions, the better. At some point they will understand that we will not stop before they do!
      These violations of international laws and human rights has been going on for to long, blessed and financed by Europe. The presence of NATO and FRONTEX is massive in the Aegean Sea, they all know what is going on every single day, but they do nothing, they just watch.
      It’s time we make them listen, it’s time to step up and demand answers, it’s time for YOU to take action!!
      Call port police of Mytilíni, tell them how you feel, make your voice heard!
      Port police Mytilini: +30 2251 040827
      Please share this post as much as possible!

      https://www.facebook.com/AegeanBoatReport/posts/895342667655505

      #Frontex #OTAN #NATO

  • 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

  • Greece: Investigate Pushbacks, Collective Expulsions

    Greek law enforcement officers have summarily returned asylum seekers and migrants at the land and sea borders with Turkey during the Covid-19 lockdown, Human Rights Watch said today. The officers in some cases used violence against asylum seekers, including some who were deep inside Greek territory, and often confiscated and destroyed the migrants’ belongings.

    In reviewing nine cases, Human Rights Watch found no evidence that the authorities took any precautions to prevent the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to or among the migrants while in their custody. These findings add to growing evidence of abuses collected by nongovernmental groups and media, involving hundreds of people intercepted and pushed back from Greece to Turkey by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men over the last couple of months. Pushbacks violate several human rights norms, including against collective expulsion under the European Convention on Human Rights.

    “Greek authorities did not allow a nationwide lockdown to get in the way of a new wave of collective expulsions, including from deep inside Greek territory, ” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of protecting the most vulnerable people in this time of global crisis, Greek authorities have targeted them in total breach of the right to seek asylum and in disregard for their health.”

    Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 victims and witnesses who described incidents in which the Greek police, the Greek Coast Guard, and unidentified men in black or commando-like uniforms, who appeared to be working in close coordination with uniformed authorities, violently pushed migrants back to Turkey in March and April 2020.

    Six of those interviewed said Greek police officers rounded up people in the Diavata camp for asylum seekers in Thessaloniki, 400 kilometers from the land border with Turkey. This is the first time Human Rights Watch has documented collective expulsions of asylum seekers from deep inside Greece, through the Evros river.

    Six asylum seekers, from Syria, Palestine, and Iran, including a 15-year-old unaccompanied girl from Syria, described three incidents in March and April in which Greek Coast Guard personnel, Greek police, and armed masked men in dark clothing coordinated and carried out summary returns to Turkey from the Greek islands of Rhodes, Samos, and Symi. All of them said they were picked up on the islands soon after they landed, placed on larger Coast Guard boats, and once they were back at the sea border, were forced onto small inflatable rescue rafts, with no motor, and cast adrift near Turkish territorial waters.

    Another asylum seeker described a fourth incident, in which the Greek Coast Guard and unidentified men dressed in dark uniforms wearing balaclavas used dangerous maneuvers to force a boat full of migrants back to Turkey.

    On June 10, the International Organization for Migration reported that they had received allegations of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey and asked Greece to investigate. On June 12, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Greece to investigate multiple reports of pushbacks by Greek authorities at the country’s sea and land borders, possibly returning migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey after they had reached Greek territory or territorial waters.

    In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Greek government instituted nationwide restrictions on public movement from March 13 until early May. Migrants and asylum seekers were locked down in some camps, mainly on the Greek islands, where restrictions on freedom of movement continue, and where the closing of government offices has left them in legal limbo.

    Human Rights Watch sent letters to the Greek police and the Greek Coast Guard on June 29, presenting authorities with a summary of findings but received no response. The Greek Coast Guard indicated they would reply but at the time of publication, we had received no communication.

    Greek judicial authorities should conduct a transparent, thorough, and impartial investigation into allegations that Greek Coast Guard and Greek police personnel are involved in acts that put the lives and safety of migrants and asylum seekers at risk, Human Rights Watch said. Any officer engaged in illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers, should be subject to disciplinary sanctions and, if applicable, criminal prosecution.

    The Greek parliament should urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of collective expulsions, including pushbacks, and violence at the borders, and determine whether they amount to a de facto government policy.

    The Greek Ombudsman, an independent national authority, should examine the issue of summary and collective expulsions, and issue a report with recommendations to the Greek authorities, Human Rights Watch said.

    The European Commission, which provides financial support to the Greek government for migration control, including in the Evros region and the Aegean Sea, should urge Greece to end all summary returns and collective expulsions of asylum seekers to Turkey, press the authorities to investigate allegations of violence, and ensure that none of its funding contributes to violations of fundamental rights and EU laws. The European Commission should also open legal proceedings against Greece for violating EU laws prohibiting collective expulsions.

    On July 6, during a debate at the European Parliament on fundamental rights at the Greek border, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that incidents should be investigated and indicated that the European Commission may consider a new system to monitor and verify reports of pushbacks amid increased allegations of abuse at the EU’s external borders. The Commission should take concrete measures to set up an independent and transparent investigation in consultation with members of civil society, Human Rights Watch said.

    Everyone seeking international protection has a right to apply for asylum and should be given that opportunity.

    Returns should follow a procedure that provides access to effective remedies and safeguards against refoulement – return to a country where they are likely to face persecution – and ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

    “Greece has an obligation to treat everyone humanely and not to return refugees and asylum seekers to persecution, or anyone to the real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment or worse,” said Cossé. “Putting a stop to these dangerous incidents should be a priority for the Greek government and the European Commission as well.”

    For more information and accounts from migrants and asylum seekers, please see below.

    Sea Pushbacks to Turkey

    Between May 29 and June 6, 2020, Human Rights Watch interviewed six men from Iran, Palestine, and Syria, and one 15-year-old unaccompanied girl from Syria, who were in Turkey and who described three incidents in which they said the Greek Coast Guard, Greek police officers, and unidentified men in black or commando-like uniforms coordinated summary returns from Symi, Samos, and Rhodes in March and April. In the fourth incident, the Greek Coast Guard and unidentified men in uniforms wearing balaclavas used dangerous maneuvers to force the boat full of migrants back to Turkey from the Aegean Sea.

    Marwan (a pseudonym), 33, from Syria, said that on March 8, the Greek Coast Guard engaged in life-threatening maneuvers to force the small boat carrying him and 22 other passengers, including women and children, back to Turkey:

    “[W]e saw a Greek Coast Guard boat. It was big and had the Greek flag on it…. They started pushing back our boat, by creating waves in the water making it hard for us to continue…. It was like a battle – like living in Syria, we thought we were going to die.”

    In the three cases involving summary returns of people who had reached land, Greek law enforcement officers apprehended them within hours after they landed, and summarily expelled them to Turkey. All of those interviewed said that they were forced first onto large Coast Guard boats and then onto small inflatable rescue rafts, with no motor, and cast adrift near the Turkish sea border. In all cases, they said the Greek officers stole people’s belongings, including personal identification, bags, and money.

    These findings add to growing evidence of abuses collected by nongovernmental groups, including Alarm Phone and Aegean Boat Report, and the reputable German media outlet Deutsche Welle. Human Rights Watch was able to identify 26 reported incidents published by others, that occurred between March and July, involving at least 855 people. In 2015 Human Rights Watch documented that armed masked men were disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters.

    Karim (a pseudonym), 36, from Syria, said that he arrived by boat to Symi island on March 21, along with approximately 30 other Syrians, including at least 10 children. He said that the Greek police approached the group within hours after they arrived. They explained that they wanted to claim asylum, but the officers detained them at an unofficial port site and summarily returned them to Turkey two days later, he said. They were taken on a military ship to open water, where the asylum seekers – including children and people with disabilities – were violently thrown from the ship’s deck to an inflatable boat:

    [T]hey [Greek police] put us in a military boat and pushed us [from the deck] to a small [inflatable] boat that doesn’t have an engine. They left us on this boat and took all our private stuff, our money, our IDs. We were on the boat and we were dizzy. We were vomiting. They [the Greek Coast Guard] didn’t tell us anything…. [W]e were in the middle of the sea. We called the Turkish Coast Guard. They came and took our boat.

    Karim and his extended family were detained in the Malatya Removal Center in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, and in three other detention centers in Turkey, for seven weeks. They were released on May 7.

    In another incident at the end of March, 17 men and women and an unaccompanied girl from Iran, Palestine, and Syria were intercepted on a highway on the island of Rhodes, an hour after landing and forced back to the shore. They were detained in a tent for two days, without food and water, and then forced onto what they believe was a Greek Coast Guard boat on the third day, then dumped at sea in a small motor-less rescue raft. Human Rights Watch gathered four separate witness statements about the same incident, in which interviewees gave similar accounts. The Turkish Coast Guard rescued them.

    Leila L. (a pseudonym), 15, a Syrian girl traveling alone, said:

    On the third day, it was night, we don’t know what time, they told us to move … they looked like army commandoes and they had weapons with them. There were six of them, wearing masks … they pointed their weapons at us. We were pushed in a horrible way and they pushed our bags in the sea. Before getting on the first boat, they took everything from us – our phones, our IDs, our bags … everything, apart from the clothes we were wearing. We were very scared. Some people were vomiting. Think what you would feel if you’re in the middle of the sea and you don’t know what would happen to you. We stayed between two to three hours [in the sea]. The boat had no engine. It was a rescue boat. It was like a dinghy. After two to three hours, the Turkish Coast Guard drove us to shore.

    In another incident, Hassan (a pseudonym), 29, a Palestinian refugee from Gaza, said that the police apprehended him and his group of approximately 25 people about three hours after they arrived on the island of Samos, during the third week of March. He said the police took them to the shore, where another group of police and Greek Coast Guard officers were waiting:

    The Greek Coast Guard put us in a big boat…. We drove for three hours but then they put us in a small boat. It was like a raft. It was inflatable and had no motor. Like a rescue boat they keep on big boats in case there is an emergency. They left us in the sea alone. There was no food or water. They left us for two nights. We had children with us….

    Hassan said that a Greek Coast Guard boat came back on the third day, threw them a rope, and “drove around for two hours in the sea,” leaving them closer to Turkish waters. The Turkish Coast Guard rescued them.

    Video footage analyzed by Human Rights Watch from an incident that allegedly took place in the sea between Lesbos and Turkey on May 25, shows what appears to be women, men, and children drifting in an orange, tent-like inflatable life raft while three other rafts can be seen in the background. The rafts appear to be manufactured by the Greek company Lalizas, which according to publicly available information is a brand that the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy purchases. The person speaking in the video alleges they were placed on those rafts by the Greek Coast Guard to force them back to Turkey.

    Human Rights Watch contacted the Lalizas company through email with questions on the use of the life rafts by the Greek Coast Guard, but received no response.

    In its June 10 statement, the International Organization for Migration notes that “footage showing the use of marine rescue equipment to expel migrants across the Eastern Aegean Sea are [sic] especially disturbing.”

    Collective Expulsions Across Land Border

    In May, Human Rights Watch interviewed six men from Afghanistan who described five separate incidents in which they were summarily returned from Greece to Turkey in March and April. They gave detailed accounts of the Greek police apprehending them in the Diavata camp, a reception facility in Thessaloniki.

    They said the police took them to what they thought were police stations that they could not always identify or to an unofficial detention site that they said was like a small jail, close to the Greek-Turkish border, robbed them of their personal belongings including their ID, phone, and clothes, and beat them with wooden or metal rods – then summarily expelled them to Turkey.

    In one case, a 19-year-old man from Kapisa, in Afghanistan, gave Human Rights Watch a photo of injuries – red strip-like marks across his back – he said were caused by beatings by people he believed were police officers.

    Reporting by Human Rights Watch and other groups suggests that collective expulsions of people with documents allowing them to be in Greece, from deep inside the mainland, appear to be a new tactic by Greek law enforcement.

    Five of the men had obtained a document from police authorities in Thessaloniki granting the right to remain in Greece for up to 30 days. While the document is formally a deportation order, the person should have the chance to apply for asylum during the 30-day period if they wish to and the document may, under certain circumstances, be renewed.

    The men said they had either not understood their rights or had been unable to apply for asylum, or to renew this document, due to Covid-19 related shutdown of government institutions. They said that before they were returned to Turkey, in the weeks following the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19, they saw Greek police forces visiting the Diavata camp almost daily to identify and return to Turkey residents whose documents had expired.

    Greece suspended the right to lodge asylum applications for those who arrived irregularly between March 1 and 31, following tensions on the Greek-Turkish land borders at the end of February due to a significant and rapid increase in people trying to cross the border. The Emergency Legislative order said that these people were to be returned to their country of origin or transit “without registration.”

    Making the situation worse, the Asylum Service suspended services to the public between March 13 and May 15 to protect against the spread of the Covid-19 virus. During this period, applications for international protection were not registered, interviews were not conducted, and appeals were not registered. The Asylum Service resumed full operations on May 18 but the Greek Council of Refugees, a non-governmental group providing legal assistance to asylum seekers, said that no new asylum applications had been lodged by the end of May with the exception of people under administrative detention.

    Greek law requires authorities to provide for the reception of third-country nationals who are arrested due to unlawful entry or who stay in Greece under conditions that guarantee human rights and dignity in accordance with international standards. During the reception and identification procedure, authorities should provide socio-psychological support and information on the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, including the right to apply for asylum, and refer vulnerable people such as unaccompanied children and victims of torture to social services.

    Mostafa (a pseudonym), 19, from Afghanistan, said that in mid-April, Greek police rounded him up from Diavata camp, took him to a police station near the camp, and then transferred him to another small detention site near the border, where he was detained for a night, then forced onto a boat and expelled to Turkey:

    When they [the police] came to check my papers [at Diavata camp] I told them I couldn’t renew them because the office was closed but they didn’t listen to me…. They didn’t allow us any time. They just took us to the bus and said: “We will take you to renew the papers.” They were beating us the whole time…. [T]hey took us to the police station near the camp, there were more people, 10 people altogether…. [T]hey kept us in the rain for a few hours and then they transferred us to the border. There were two children with us – around 15 or 16 years old….When they took us to the police station, they took my coat, I was just with pants and a t-shirt and then at the border, they took these too. They took everything, my money, ID, phone.

    Mostafa gave the following description of the detention site near the border and the secret expulsion that followed:

    It was like a small police station. There were toilets. There were other migrants there. It was around four and a half hours away from the border. They carried us in a bus like a prison. We stayed in this small jail for one night, no food was given. It was at 10 or 11 o’clock at night when they took us to the border. I crossed with the boat. There were 18 people in one boat. It took six or seven minutes – then we arrived on the Turkish side. [T]he police were standing at the border [on the Greek side] and looking at us.

    Two men giving accounts about two separate incidents, said that the police took them to an unofficial detention site near the border. They described the detention locations as “small jails” and said they were detained there for a day or two.

    Four out of the six asylum seekers said that Greek security forces had abused them, throughout their summary deportation, beating them with heavy metal, plastic, or wooden sticks.

    Mohamed (a pseudonym), 24, from Afghanistan, said:

    They had a stick that all the police have with them…. The stick was made of plastic, but it was very heavy. They had black uniforms. I couldn’t see all of the uniform – I couldn’t see their faces – if I looked up they would beat us. They beat one migrant for five minutes…. There were eight of them – they asked us if we came from Thessaloniki and we said yes and then they started beating us.

    All of those interviewed said the Greek security forces stripped them of their clothes, leaving them in either just their underwear or just a basic layer, and took their possessions, including personal identification documents, money, telephones, and bags before pushing them back to Turkey.

    In a report published in March, Human Rights Watch documented that Greek security forces and unidentified armed men at the Greece-Turkey land border detained, assaulted, sexually assaulted, robbed, and stripped asylum seekers and migrants, then forced them back to Turkey. At the end of June, Greece’s Supreme Court Prosecutor opened a criminal investigation initiated by the Greek Helsinki Monitor, a nongovernmental group, into the pushbacks and violence documented by Human Rights Watch and others, as well as into the shooting and deaths of two people in Evros in March.

    Human Rights Watch documented similar situations in 2008 and 2018. In March 2019, the Public Prosecutor of Orestiada in Evros, initiated an investigation regarding the repeated allegations of systematic violence against migrants and asylum seekers at the Evros river, based on the Human Rights Watch 2018 report, and a report by three nongovernmental groups, including the Greek Council for Refugees.

    Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), a nongovernmental group, has built an extensive database of testimony of people being pushed back from Greece to Turkey over the Evros river. Between March 31 and April 28, BVMN has reported at least 7 incidents involving more than 306 people. Among these cases, at least six people had legal documents regularizing their stay in Greece when they were summarily expelled.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/07/16/greece-investigate-pushbacks-collective-expulsions

    #refoulements_collectifs #migrations #asile #réfugiés #life_rafts #Grèce #refoulement #push-backs #refoulements #frontières

    –—

    sur les #life_rats :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/840285
    #life_raft #liferafts

    • Press Release: New Legal Centre Lesvos report details collective expulsions in the Aegean Sea

      Greek authorities are unlawfully expelling migrants who have arrived in Greece, and abandoning them at sea on motorless, inflatable vessels. In a report released today by Legal Centre Lesvos, testimonies from 30 survivors detail the systematic, unlawful and inherently violent nature of these collective expulsions.

      Since the Greek authorities’ one month suspension of the right to seek asylum on 1 March 2020, the Greek government has adopted various unlawful practices that are openly geared towards the deterrence and violent disruption of migrant crossings, with little regard for its obligations deriving from international law and specifically from the non refoulement principle – and even less for the lives of those seeking sanctuary.

      While collective expulsions from Greece to Turkey are not new, in recent months Greek authorities have been using rescue equipment – namely inflatable, motorless life rafts – in a new type of dystopic expulsion. Migrants are violently transferred from Greek islands, or from the dinghy upon which they are travelling, to such rafts, which are then left adrift in open water.

      In addition to the well-documented practice of non-assistance to migrant dinghies, the Greek authorities have damaged the motor or gasoline tank of migrant dinghies before returning the vessel – and the people on board – to open waters, where they are subsequently abandoned.

      These collective expulsions, happening in the Aegean region, are not isolated events. Direct testimonies from survivors, collected by the Legal Centre Lesvos, demonstrate that they are part of a widespread and systematic practice, with a clear modus operandi implemented across various locations in the Aegean Sea and on the Eastern Aegean islands.
      The information shared with the Legal Centre Lesvos is from 30 survivors, and testimonies from 7 individuals who were in direct contact with survivors, or were witness to, a collective expulsion. These testimonies, related to eight separate collective expulsions, were collected between March and June 2020, directly by the Legal Centre Lesvos.

      Collective expulsions are putting peoples’ lives at risk, are contrary to Greece’ international legal obligations and violate survivors’ fundamental and human rights, including their right to life and the jus cogens prohibitions on torture and refoulement. When carried out as part of a widespread and systematic practice, as documented in our report, these amount to a crime against humanity.

      Collective expulsions should undoubtedly be condemned, in the strongest possible terms; however, this is not sufficient: it is only through the immediate cessation of such illegal practices that the protection of human rights and access to asylum will be restored at the European Union’s external borders.

      Lorraine Leete, attorney and one of the Legal Centre Lesvos’ coordinators, said that:
      “The Greek authorities are abandoning people in open water, on inflatable and motorless life rafts – that are designed for rescue – with no regard for their basic safety, let alone their right to apply for asylum. Such audacious acts show the violence at the core of the European border regime, and the disregard that it has for human life.

      Greek authorities have denied reports of collective expulsions as “fake news”, despite a plethora of undeniable evidence, from survivors and various media outlets. This is untenable: evidence shared with the Legal Centre has shown that collective expulsions are happening in the Aegean sea, with a systematic and widespread modus operandi that amounts to crimes against humanity. They are being carried out in the open, in plain view – if not with the participation – of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex. European Authorities are complicit in these crimes as they have thus far failed to act to prevent further pushbacks, or hold Greek authorities accountable.”

      https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2020/07/13/press-release-new-legal-centre-lesvos-report-details-collective-e

      –---

      Pour télécharger le #rapport:


      http://legalcentrelesvos.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Collective-Expulsions-in-the-Aegean-July-2020-LCL.pdf

      #Mer_Egée #Méditerranée

    • BVMN Visual Investigation: Analysis of Video Footage Showing Involvement of Hellenic Coast Guard in Maritime Pushback

      The following piece is a product of a joint-investigation by Josoor and No Name Kitchen on behalf of the Border Violence Monitoring Network.

      Introduction

      Since the spring, consistent and well-documented reports have shown masked men aggressively pursuing boats full of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea, before either destroying or off-loading the boats and initiating illegal return operations to Turkey.

      One investigation which Josoor contributed to, analyzed a set of materials documenting masked men operating from an inflatable boat off the island of Lesvos in early June. Testimonies recorded on the BVMN database [June 5th; June 3rd] as well as other media reports describe a series of incidents where Hellenic Coast Guard [HCG] vessels approach boats carrying men, women and children in the Aegean between Turkey and Greece and variably drove them back, intimidated them, or destroyed and removed their engines. Several of these operations have been marked by direct physical violence at the hands of the HCG. A more recent report from the New York Times referenced at least 1,072 asylum seekers being abandoned at sea by Greek officials in at least 31 separate expulsions since March.

      The consistency of these reports underscore a broader pattern of maritime pushbacks which, in many ways, mirrors the similarly illegal procedures which have become commonplace throughout Greece and along the Balkan Route.

      Despite numerous witness testimonies of this behavior, direct evidence linking specific Hellenic Coast Guard Vessels to these illegal practices remain sparse. New video evidence obtained by the association Josoor [a BVMN-member based in Turkey] from an incident on July 11th, may provide a crucial new perspective in the analysis of this behavior.

      https://giphy.com/gifs/U6MK9HH9ZdM33U74aA

      In this investigation, we will focus on a series of four videos [Link to videos 1, 2, 3, & 4] filmed on July 11th and obtained on the same day, showing masked men on a medium-sized vessel approaching a dingy filled with women and children. The man who filmed this video sent the materials over to Josoor while still on the dinghy, after this he reported being returned to Turkey and held in detention for a period of two weeks. The purpose of this analysis is to better identify the individuals and the vessel involved in the operation which resulted in the pushback of the group.

      Given the initial lack of a witness testimony for this event [which was unable to be obtained for several weeks due to the respondent’s detention in Turkey], we had limited material to work with. In order to address these shortcomings, we utilized various open-source techniques such as geolocating the video using topographic satellite renders, stitching together the scene with compiled images, and conducting research on the origins of the vessel carrying the masked men.

      Geolocating of the 11 July Incident

      An important part of this investigation was the geolocation of the incident in order to better understand the dynamics at play, and verify the pushback element.

      A useful hint in geolocating these videos was the distinct mountain lines featured in the background in two of the clips. In order to do this, we first isolated the ridge-lines shown in the backgrounds of these two clips by using a photo-stitching technique to produce a panorama of the scene.

      Using Google Earth’s topographic satellite renders of the Aegean Sea around the coastlines of Lesvos, we were then able to geolocate these two clips. In the background of the alleged pushback operation is the shore of Lesvos; Mytilini can be seen in the center right as the populated area in the background of the videos. This indicates that the dinghy was being chased east towards Diliki, Turkey as it was intercepted by the HCG vessel.

      This geolocated area matches with information posted from Turkish Coast Guard of a rescue operation on July 11th at 10:00 am off the coast of Dikili, Turkey. This was their only reported rescue of that day.

      Identification Of HCG Vessel Involved in the July 11th Incident

      The vessel in question’s colour is light grey and features a white and blue striped symbol towards the bow on the starboard side: the symbol of the Hellenic Coast Guard.

      Slightly farther towards the bow of the boat on its starboard side, the lettering marking the vehicle’s identification within the HCG can also be seen: ΛΣ-618

      The boat in question is one of two Faiakas-class fast patrol crafts (FPCs) currently operated by the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) – this one being the ΛΣ-618 and the other being ΛΣ-617. Under a contract awarded by the HCG in April 2014, the Montmontaza-Greben shipyard, located on the island of Korcula, Croatia, was awarded a 13.3 million euro ($15.5 million) contract to supply six of these vessels which are listed as POB-24G.

      The POB-24 vessels are 24.6 meters long, and are equipped with two diesel engines that enable a maximum speed of 30 knots and a range of 400 miles. The vessels are staffed by a crew of seven but can be augmented by up to 25 additional personnel if needed.

      Importantly, the acquisition of these vessels by the HCG was majority financed via the European Commission’s External Borders Fund which provided for 75% of the cost, with the rest consisting of domestic funding. The first of POB-24G vessels, ΛΣ-617, was delivered in February 2015 whereas ΛΣ-618 was launched into service several months later in August 2015. These boats have enhanced the operational capacity of the HCG by relieving pressure from its aging Dilos-Class patrol vessels.

      Identification of the officers present in the 11 July Incident

      While the men seen approaching the dinghy on board the ΛΣ-618 took steps to conceal their identities, context clues within the videos allowed us to draw a better picture of who exactly they were and what their behavior was.

      Six men can be counted standing on board the ΛΣ-618. The men wear dark colored clothing with short-sleeved shirts marked with a logo on their upper right torsos and have either dark colored shorts or long trousers on. All six have their faces covered with either black balaclava masks or neck gaiters – an important point to keep in mind when considering that in June, the Hellenic Coast Guard’s spokesperson stated that “under no circumstances do the officers of the Coast Guard wear full face masks during the performance of their duties”.

      The men in the image above are wearing clothes which share similarities with the uniforms worn by the Hellenic Coast Guard, as the picture below shows.

      The man closest to the bow of the boat holds a weapon which appears to be an FN FAL assault rifle whereas the man second from the stern looks at the group with either a camera or a pair of binoculars. FN-FAL rifles have been carried by Greek government forces since the 1970s, thus falling in line with the scene we are shown in the videos.

      Treatment of the refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on board the dingy

      Our investigation of the events documented in this video, and what happened next to the refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on board the dingy, prioritized a fact-finding search within the clips themselves. On the day of the incident, a Syrian man on board the dinghy sent four videos to Josoor. He claimed to have sent them from the dinghy as they were being approached by the vessels initially and then later after they were cast afloat into Turkish waters.

      In one of the videos, at least 32 people on board the now motorless dingy can be seen floating in largely calm waters. The video shows a largely mixed passenger demographic with the men, women, and children on the boat having a varied representation of skin colors. Turkish Coast Guard records from their single intervention of the coast of Dikili on July 11th reports a group of 40 refugees assisted of which 21 were Syrian, 8 Congolese, 4 Somali,
 3 Central African, 2 Palestinian, 
1 Senegalese, and 1 Eritrean. Accounting for the boat passengers not shown within the video, these numbers correspond with the video footage inside the dinghy.

      Giving his testimony of the event several weeks later to Josoor, the man who filmed these videos described that upon its initial approach of their dinghy, the AE-618 had a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) deployed next to it which approached them. Allegedly, one of the officers spoke in English to a member of the dinghy group, who expressed their intention to claim asylum. The officer responded negatively to this request and told them that because of COVID-19, they would not be allowed to enter the island and had to return to Turkey. The respondent described that at first, the driver of the dinghy did not follow that order and subsequently the officers destroyed the engine of the dinghy and beat its driver with batons. As other group members tried to protect the driver, they were also beaten with batons.


      The officers subsequently dragged them to Turkish waters and then left the group floating there with the broken engine. After spending several more hours in the water, the Turkish Coast Guard arrived at the scene to rescue the passengers aboard the dingy. They took them to a quarantine detention center, from where they were released after 15 days.

      With closer analysis, the video footage is able to corroborate this account. In the final video sent by the Syrian dinghy passenger, the dinghy is shown to be floating quietly in the ocean. There is no indication of the ΛΣ-618 being present at this point and the group inside the dinghy appears uncertain. At one point in the video, the cameraman pans towards the stern of the boat and briefly shows its motor. When comparing a still of the motor in the final video to a still from the dinghy’s motor during its initial flight from the ΛΣ-618, it becomes clear that it was tampered with in the intervening time. Given the many substantiated reports of boat motor destruction at the hands of the HCG, it is most likely that the balaclava-clad men on the ΛΣ-618 destroyed the dinghy’s motor before setting it adrift towards Turkey

      Contextualizing the incident on 11 July

      In contextualizing the incident of 11 July in the broader practices of the HCG in the Aegean, it is important to look at the documented history of aggression of the ΛΣ-618. On March 7th, 2020 the boat ΛΣ-618 was involved in an incident with a Turkish Coast Guard boat wherein the Greek boat entered Turkish waters and was chased in close proximity at high speeds by the Turkish boat. More recently, in the early morning hours of August 15th, the boat was documented participating in an incident along with Nato and Frontex vessels [and several helicopters], blocking a boat carrying women and children from entering into Greek waters.

      Pushbacks in the Aegean Sea have been reported on a daily basis these past few months. Given the persistence of pushbacks in the area as well as the strong presence of Frontex vessels on the Aegean Sea, the tacit support that the European Union lends to the Hellenic Coastguard in these illegal practices must be considered. The EU-funded acquisition of the ΛΣ-618 represents just a portion of the close to 40 million euros which the EU has afforded the HCG to procure new vessels within the last five years. These boats, as it has been shown in this investigation, are being used to illegally push vulnerable people back to Turkish waters – a gross misuse of power.

      https://giphy.com/gifs/J4ClIZSSzrAUjmFySd

      Conclusion

      This investigation began by analysing a series of four videos showing masked men in a vessel approaching a small dinghy filled with refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on the Aegean Sea who later claimed to be pushed back to Turkey from Greek waters. Using Earth Studio and photo-stitching techniques, we were first able to geolocate the video to somewhere on the Aegean between Mytilini, Greece and Diliki, Turkey. We were then able to identify the vessel as the Hellenic Coast Guard’s ΛΣ-618 Faiakas-class fast patrol craft by highlighting the clear HCG emblem visible on its side and it’s ship identification number. This allowed us to make a strong conclusion that the masked men on this boat, who wore uniforms identical to those previously worn by the vessel’s crew-members, were acting in an official capacity. Finally, we were also able to contextualize the ΛΣ-618 documented history of aggressive pursuits of boats carrying refugees and asylum seekers in Greek waters and also highlighted the vessel’s EU-linked acquisition from a Croatian boatbuilder.

      When put together, this analysis clearly links the materials shown in the videos to the well documented trend of maritime push-backs by the HCG in the last months. To be clear, the findings of this investigation directly contradicts the claims of the Hellenic Coast Guard’s spokesperson who recently stated that “under no circumstances do the officers of the Coast Guard wear full face masks during the performance of their duties”. Going even further, this investigation disproves the statement of Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas who told the New York Times in August that “Greek authorities do not engage in clandestine activities.” This investigation also further confirms the conclusion of previous investigations that the Hellenic Coastguard is engaging in pushbacks, casting strong doubt on Prime Minister Mitsotakis statement from August 19 that “it has not happened.”Pushbacks, whether they be on land or on sea, are illegal procedures, emboldened and made more efficient by EU funding mechanisms.

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/bvmn-investigations-analysis-of-video-footage-showing-involvement-of-
      #analyse_visuelle #architecture_forensiques

  • OP-ed : La guerre faite aux migrants à la frontière grecque de l’Europe par #Vicky_Skoumbi

    La #honte de l’Europe : les #hotspots aux îles grecques
    Devant les Centres de Réception et d’Identification des îles grecques, devant cette ‘ignominie à ciel ouvert’ que sont les camps de Moria à Lesbos et de Vathy à Samos, nous sommes à court de mots ; en effet il est presque impossible de trouver des mots suffisamment forts pour dire l’horreur de l’enfermement dans les hot-spots d’hommes, femmes et enfants dans des conditions abjectes. Les hot-spots sont les Centres de Réception et d’Identification (CIR en français, RIC en anglais) qui ont été créés en 2015 à la demande de l’UE en Italie et en Grèce et plus particulièrement dans les îles grecques de Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros et Kos, afin d’identifier et enregistrer les personnes arrivantes. L’approche ‘hot-spots’ introduite par l’UE en mai 2015 était destinée à ‘faciliter’ l’enregistrement des arrivants en vue d’une relocalisation de ceux-ci vers d’autres pays européens que ceux de première entrée en Europe. Force est de constater que, pendant ces cinq années de fonctionnement, ils n’ont servi que le but contraire de celui initialement affiché, à savoir le confinement de personnes par la restriction géographique voire par la détention sur place.

    Actuellement, dans ces camps, des personnes vulnérables, fuyant la guerre et les persécutions, fragilisées par des voyages longs et éprouvants, parmi lesquels se trouvent des victimes de torture ou de naufrage, sont obligées de vivre dans une promiscuité effroyable et dans des conditions inhumaines. En fait, trois quart jusqu’à quatre cinquième des personnes confinées dans les îles grecques appartiennent à des catégories reconnues comme vulnérables, même aux yeux de critères stricts de vulnérabilité établis par l’UE et la législation grecque[1], tandis qu’un tiers des résidents des camps de Moria et de Vathy sont des enfants, qui n’ont aucun accès à un circuit scolaire. Les habitants de ces zones de non-droit que sont les hot-spots, passent leurs journées à attendre dans des files interminables : attendre pour la distribution d’une nourriture souvent avariée, pour aller aux toilettes, pour se laver, pour voir un médecin. Ils sont pris dans un suspens du temps, sans aucune perspective d’avenir de sorte que plusieurs d’entre eux finissent par perdre leurs repères au détriment de leur équilibre mental et de leur santé.

    Déjà avant l’épidémie de Covid 19, plusieurs organismes internationaux comme le UNHCR[2] avaient dénoncé les conditions indignes dans lesquelles étaient obligées de vivre les demandeurs d’asile dans les hot-spots, tandis que des ONG comme MSF[3] et Amnesty International[4] avaient à plusieurs reprises alerté sur le risque que représentent les conditions sanitaires si dégradées, en y pointant une situation propice au déclenchement des épidémies. De son côté, Jean Ziegler, dans son livre réquisitoire sorti en début 2020, désignait le camp de #Moria, le hot-spot de Lesbos, comme la ‘honte de l’Europe’[5].

    Début mars 2020, 43.000 personnes étaient bloquées dans les îles dont 20.000 à Moria et 7.700 à Samos pour une capacité d’accueil de 2.700 et 650 respectivement[6]. Avec les risques particulièrement accrus de contamination, à cause de l’impossibilité de respecter la distanciation sociale et les mesures d’hygiène, on aurait pu s’attendre à ce que des mesures urgentes de décongestion de ces camps soient prises, avec des transferts massifs vers la Grèce continentale et l’installation dans des logements touristiques vides. A vrai dire c’était l’évacuation complète de camps si insalubres qui s’imposait, mais étant donné la difficulté de trouver dans l’immédiat des alternatives d’hébergement pour 43.000 personnes, le transfert au moins des plus vulnérables à des structures plus petites offrant la possibilité d’isolement- comme les hôtels et autres logements touristiques vides dans le continent- aurait été une mesure minimale de protection. Au lieu de cela, le gouvernement Mitsotakis a décidé d’enfermer les résidents des camps dans les îles dans des conditions inhumaines, sans qu’aucune mesure d’amélioration des conditions sanitaires ne soit prévue[7].

    Car, les mesures prises le 17 mars par le gouvernement pour empêcher la propagation du virus dans les camps, consistaient uniquement en une restriction des déplacements au strict minimum nécessaire et même en deça de celui-ci : une seule personne par famille aura désormais le droit de sortir du camp pour faire des courses entre 7 heures et 19 heures, avec une autorisation fournie par la police, le nombre total de personnes ayant droit de sortir par heure restant limité. Parallèlement l’entrée des visiteurs a été interdite et celle des travailleurs humanitaires strictement limitée à ceux assurant des services vitaux. Une mesure supplémentaire qui a largement contribué à la détérioration de la situation des réfugiés dans les camps, a été la décision du ministère d’arrêter de créditer de fonds leur cartes prépayés (cash cards ) afin d’éviter toute sortie des camps, laissant ainsi les résidents des hot-spots dans l’impossibilité de s’approvisionner avec des produits de première nécessité et notamment de produits d’hygiène. Remarquez que ces mesures sont toujours en vigueur pour les hot-spots et toute autre structure accueillant des réfugiés et des migrants en Grèce, en un moment où toute restriction de mouvement a été déjà levée pour la population grecque. En effet, après une énième prolongation du confinement dans les camps, les mesures de restriction de mouvement ont été reconduites jusqu’au 5 juillet, une mesure d’autant plus discriminatoire que depuis cinq semaines déjà les autres habitants du pays ont retrouvé une entière liberté de mouvement. Etant donné qu’aucune donnée sanitaire ne justifie l’enfermement dans les hot-spots où pas un seul cas n’a été détecté, cette extension de restrictions transforme de facto les Centres de Réception et Identification (RIC) dans les îles en centres fermés ou semi-fermés, anticipant ainsi à la création de nouveaux centres fermés, à la place de hot-spots actuels –voir ici et ici. Il est fort à parier que le gouvernement va étendre de prolongation en prolongation le confinement de RIC pendant au moins toute la période touristique, ce qui risque de faire monter encore plus la tension dans les camps jusqu’à un niveau explosif.

    Ainsi les demandeurs d’asile ont été – et continuent toujours à être – obligés de vivre toute la période de l’épidémie, dans une très grande p