• En Grèce, la gauche convalescente pâtit encore de l’échec de Syriza
    3 AOÛT 2020 PAR ELISA PERRIGUEUR

    Le parti conservateur Nouvelle Démocratie est en position de force. Face à sa politique de plus en plus ferme et à l’ordre néolibéral qu’il met en place à l’issue de la première phase de la crise sanitaire, la gauche a du mal à être entendue.

    Athènes (#Grèce).– #Athènes, fin juillet 2020. Les manifestations sont désormais restreintes, comme le prévoit la loi tout juste adoptée au Parlement. Le gouvernement jugeait que les rassemblements paralysaient l’activité des commerçants, déjà rendue difficile par le #Covid-19. En cette période estivale, les #réfugiés des camps d’identification dits « hotspots » ne sont pas libres de leurs mouvements, car le ministère de l’immigration limite toujours leurs déplacements, officiellement « par mesure de précaution » en raison du virus.

    Deux mois après la fin du #confinement, la droite Nouvelle Démocratie (ND) applique sans obstacle sa politique conservatrice sous le sceau de la loi et l’ordre. Le faible impact sanitaire du coronavirus sert son entreprise. Le parti est plébiscité pour sa bonne gestion au début de la pandémie. 

    En face, l’opposition de #gauche parlementaire, composée de #Syriza, la principale force, des communistes du KKE et des altermondialistes du parti #MeRA_25, critique le manque d’action sociale et les faibles moyens alloués à l’hôpital public durant le confinement. Mais elle a visiblement bien du mal à se faire entendre. 

    « La Grèce vit actuellement dans un espace de non-idée à gauche, constate Filippa Chatzistavrou, politiste de l’université d’Athènes. Le premier ministre Kyriakos Mitsotakis intervient dans l’urgence dans cette crise. Il joue un rôle de pompier globalement apprécié par la société. » Quant aux difficultés de la gauche, elles sont plus anciennes que la pandémie, ajoute-t-elle. « C’est l’échec de Syriza qui a fait perdre espoir à beaucoup de citoyens. » 

    Pour comprendre la désillusion de l’électorat de la gauche grecque, il faut remonter à la « capitulation idéologique », selon l’expression de ses partisans amers. Elle a eu lieu le 13 juillet 2015, lorsque l’ancien premier ministre de gauche radicale Alexis #Tsipras a signé le troisième #mémorandum. Selon le parti Syriza, il s’agissait d’éviter une sortie de la zone #euro

    Les électeurs séduits par son programme anti-#austérité, issus du centre, de l’extrême gauche, voire du mouvement anarchiste, ont alors subi un #choc. Beaucoup parlent toujours de « trahison ». D’autant que quelques jours plus tôt, le 5 juillet 2015, 61,3 % des électeurs avaient exprimé leur refus aux mesures d’austérité des créanciers lors d’un référendum. Sur les murs d’Athènes, quelques tags défraîchis « Oxi » (« Non », en grec) rappellent encore aujourd’hui cette séquence intense pour la gauche grecque. 

    « Je n’étais pas d’accord avec ce mémorandum même si on ne connaît pas les dessous des négociations, il y avait beaucoup de pressions de la part des médias, de l’UE… Le tout sur fond de crise des réfugiés [qui venaient en nombre depuis la Turquie –ndlr]… », se souvient Nikolaos Kourampas, 49 ans, géologue qui partage sa vie entre la Grèce et l’Écosse. Il vote encore Syriza, mais « sans grande conviction ».

    La sanction est tombée cinq ans après le référendum lors des législatives anticipées de juillet 2019, auxquelles seulement 58 % des inscrits ont participé. Syriza a été devancé de huit points par la droite ND qui a obtenu 39,8 % des suffrages. Syriza a remplacé l’ex-parti socialiste Pasok comme principale force d’opposition de gauche au Parlement. L’historique mouvement socialiste s’est, lui, fondu dans une coalition centriste baptisée Kinal.

    « Les électeurs de gauche attendaient de Syriza qu’il revendique une véritable idéologie contre ce système d’austérité, qu’il propose une politique alternative dépassant les ordres néolibéraux des créanciers internationaux, ce que le parti n’a pas fait. Aujourd’hui, ces personnes, traumatisées, ont perdu confiance et ne s’intéressent plus à l’activité parlementaire », décrypte Seraphim Seferiades, directeur d’un laboratoire de recherches sur les politiques contestataires à l’université Panteion, à Athènes. 

    Syriza paie toujours son retournement lors du #référendum de 2015, estime aussi l’Athénien Ramin Bakhtiari, 35 ans, salarié d’une organisation internationale d’aide aux migrants. Lui a voté pour le parti de gauche en 2019, « uniquement pour tenter de barrer la route à la ND, ultralibérale, qui veut transformer la Grèce en hôtel », résume-t-il. Ce dernier apprécie la « ligne sociale » du parti, qui durant son mandat a mis en place une aide humanitaire pour les plus démunis, augmenté le salaire minimum, etc. « Mais il se voulait parti antisystème en 2015, il est devenu un parti systémique », regrette-t-il.

    Syriza s’est en effet transformé au contact du pouvoir entre 2015 et 2019, constate la politiste Filippa Chatzistavrou. « Mais au lieu de renforcer sa présence dans les syndicats [puissants en Grèce – ndlr] ou au niveau local, le mouvement a préféré constituer un cercle de fidèles autour d’Alexis Tsipras et passer à une organisation verticale. »

    Syriza défend désormais sa position de poids au Parlement. « Élu avec 31 % des suffrages, le parti s’est établi comme la force dominante des politiques de gauche et progressiste en Grèce, insiste son porte-parole Alexis Charitsis. Néanmoins, nous sommes ouverts aux critiques. Nous répondons à ceux qui disent à Syriza de “faire plus” avec notre programme déterminé “Restons debout”. » Lancé à la fin du confinement, ce dernier privilégie l’action sociale. 

    Syriza propose entre autres « des aides sans conditions aux entreprises, particulièrement les PME, le soutien financier aux indépendants et aux scientifiques, un salaire minimum pour les plus vulnérables », détaille Alexis Charitsis. « La période actuelle d’instabilité, de désespoir et d’austérité n’est pas le résultat de la pandémie mais de la politique gouvernementale consistant à prioriser les intérêts des oligarques et des grandes sociétés. »

    Mais dans l’hémicycle, aucune alliance ne semble possible face à une droite majoritaire. Le parti communiste #KKE, auquel quelques déçus de Syriza ont donné leur voix en juillet 2019, estime qu’« une grande partie du peuple grec est aux limites de la survie », dénonce l’eurodéputé communiste Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos. « Le résultat d’une gestion du gouvernement grec, avec l’accord des partis politiques bourgeois tels que Syriza, Pasok ou Kinal », ajoute-t-il.

    Ce parti post-stalinien à la culture très militante, qui continuer à placer la lutte des classes au cœur de sa politique, a toujours fait cavalier seul. Le KKE stagne au Parlement avec des scores allant de 5 à 8 % des voix depuis le milieu des années 1990.

    D’autres déçus de Syriza ont donné leur bulletin au jeune parti de gauche radicale MeRA25. Mais son leader, Yanis #Varoufakis, divise. Les critiques jugent l’ancien ministre des finances de Syriza trop « narcissique » ou « provocateur ».

    Dimitri*, trentenaire athénien, admire celui « qui a tenté de négocier un accord juste en 2015 alors que les autres membres de Syriza étaient paniqués [au cours des réunions tendues de l’Eurogroupe pour trouver une solution à la crise de la dette, comme l’ont montré (écouter ici) les enregistrements « Varoufakis Leaks » diffusés sur Mediapart]. » Et d’ajouter : « MeRA25 a un programme clair en cas de prise de pouvoir. »

    Parmi ses propositions figurent la réduction de la TVA de 24 % à 15 ou 18 %, la création d’une taxe spéciale pour les banques ou les étrangers ayant investi dans l’immobilier pour obtenir un « golden visa » [permettant à des ressortissants non européens de s’établir et voyager dans l’UE – ndlr]. 

    En dépit d’une offre politique peu inspirante, la société civile est prête à bouger. Les violences policières de plus en plus visibles, le traitement controversé des réfugiés, les projets jugés anti-écologiques du gouvernement alimentent une résistance sociale. Elle se manifeste chez des mouvements autonomes, des initiatives anarchistes ou anticapitalistes ou de partis extra-parlementaires, à l’origine de manifestations récentes. 

    « Pendant le confinement, nous avons organisé des actions contre le fascisme, en faveur de l’hôpital, plusieurs collectes pour les réfugiés », assure Petros Constantinou, l’un des membres du front extra-parlementaire Antarsya, qui rassemble des organisations trotskistes et anticapitalistes. Ses quelques milliers d’adhérents, favorables entre autres au « Grexit » et à l’effacement de la dette, tentent d’être de toutes ces luttes contre le pouvoir. 

    « Malheureusement, cette gauche extra-parlementaire milite aujourd’hui dans un registre de résistance en proposant des solutions maximalistes [comme la sortie de l’euro ou de l’Otan – ndlr] difficilement applicables dans la conjoncture actuelle, estime la politiste Filippa Chatzistavrou. Ce contre-système attire les jeunes politisés mais n’est qu’un canal de colère. » 

    Ces résistances pourraient permettre à la gauche radicale de se renouveler, pense au contraire l’expert Seraphim Seferiades. « Je ne serai pas surpris qu’un processus de formation d’une force politique composée de plusieurs groupes soit en cours à l’extérieur de l’hémicycle, dit-il. C’est le même schéma qui avait mené dans les années 2000 à la formation de la coalition Syriza. » Ce processus, qui avait pris de court les partis traditionnels, avait abouti en 2015 à l’accession au pouvoir du parti de gauche radicale.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/030820/en-grece-la-gauche-convalescente-patit-encore-de-l-echec-de-syriza

  • Exilé⋅es à la rue. Combien de morts faudra-t-il encore ?

    Le 10 juillet 2020, un exilé soudanais a été retrouvé noyé dans le #canal_Saint-Denis près de #Paris, non loin du #campement où il vivait avec des centaines d’autres.

    Ce n’est pas la première fois et, si l’État et les collectivités locales ne déploient pas les moyens nécessaires au respect des droits fondamentaux des personnes exilé⋅es, ce ne sera certainement pas la dernière fois qu’un tel drame se produit.

    Pourtant, les exilé⋅es, les collectifs et les associations dénoncent depuis des années ces conditions de vie désastreuses, inhumaines et dégradantes auxquelles sont soumises les personnes en procédure d’asile. Régulièrement, ils rappellent à l’État son obligation de leur octroyer un hébergement et celle de mettre à l’abri toute personne en situation de précarité.

    Le 2 juillet 2020, la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme a d’ailleurs condamné la France pour son manque d’assistance aux demandeurs d’asile, contraints de vivre « dans la rue » et « privés de moyens de subsistance », constitutif d’un traitement inhumain et dégradant contraire à l’article 3 de la Convention européenne de sauvegarde des droits de l’Homme et des libertés fondamentales.

    Plus la situation se dégrade, plus la réponse de l’État est grotesque, inaudible et dangereuse.

    Quand les personnes exilé⋅es demandent un hébergement, l’État répond en expulsant les campements qui constituent leurs seuls lieux de vie possibles, les dispersent et détruit leurs biens. Que ce soit à Paris, à Aubervilliers, à Calais ou ailleurs, ces opérations s’accompagnent, de surcroît, d’une violence systématique et extrême de la part de la police.

    Pourtant, ces opérations sont inutiles et fragilisent chaque fois davantage la situation des exilé⋅es, déjà contraintes de vivre dans une situation de très grande précarité, « dans la rue, sans ressources, sans accès à des sanitaires, ne disposant d’aucun moyen de subvenir à leurs besoins essentiels et dans l’angoisse permanente d’être attaqués et volés. », ce qui induit des « sentiments de peur, d’angoisse ou d’infériorité propres à conduire au désespoir » (Arrêt CEDH, 2 juillet 2020, N.H. et a. c/ France, §184).

    Par ailleurs, même lorsque l’État français héberge des personnes en procédure d’asile, ce n’est que temporairement. La liste des personnes en attente est longue, de sorte que certaines sont expulsées pour que d’autres puissent, pour quelques jours, être mises à l’abri. En somme, on chasse les uns pour faire de la place aux autres.

    En ne réglant rien, cette situation ubuesque s’inscrit dans la logique de dissuasion qui caractérise depuis de longues années la politique française à l’égard des personnes en demande d’asile. Cette politique ira-t-elle jusqu’à l’annihilation des exilé⋅es, jusqu’à les faire sombrer dans la folie ?

    À ce jour, l’État français est responsable du désespoir, des blessures et des morts des personnes exilé⋅es.

    Cette politique meurtrière doit s’arrêter !

    http://www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6443
    #décès #mort #SDF #asile #migrations #réfugiés #France #hébergement #logement

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Athènes veut des touristes, mais pas de migrants

    La crise sanitaire a permis à Athènes de réformer discrètement la politique d’asile, plus sévère envers les réfugiés. La société civile, anesthésiée après plusieurs mois de confinement, a peu réagi aux mesures, préoccupée par l’avenir économique du pays.

    Athènes (Grèce).– Mohammed Sherif, sa sœur et ses trois neveux se sont habitués au bruit des voitures qui résonne dans leur chambre exiguë. Mais bientôt ces Syriens devront quitter cet immeuble situé aux abords d’un boulevard athénien où s’alignent hauts édifices sans charme, sièges d’entreprises et tours de verre.

    Lorsque le confinement a paralysé la Grèce mi-mars, la famille, originaire de Deir ez-Zor, s’est en effet vu notifier « soudainement, par courrier », son expulsion d’ici fin juillet du logement social qu’elle occupe. « Nous n’avons pas d’argent. Nous allons probablement acheter une tente à 15 euros et la planter dans le coin », lâche, amer, l’homme de 27 ans.

    Comme eux, ils sont près de 11 000 réfugiés pourvus du droit de séjour en Grèce à devoir libérer les appartements financés par la Commission européenne et gérés par le Haut Commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR). Les hébergements seront attribués à des demandeurs d’asile bloqués dans la trentaine de camps de migrants du pays.

    Le système d’asile grec est congestionné. Premier pays d’entrée pour ceux qui veulent rejoindre l’Europe, la Grèce doit gérer 120 000 demandes d’asile et les migrants restent coincés dans des camps parfois surpeuplés, le temps que leur requête soit traitée.

    Car les hébergements sociaux qui pourraient désengorger les structures manquent. Le gouvernement conservateur de Kyriakos Mitsotakis pense avoir trouvé la solution : réduire la durée de passage dans ces lieux, à un mois au lieu de six auparavant. Les organisations de défense des migrants dénoncent, elles, une mesure « dangereuse ».

    Une bonne partie de ces réfugiés, souvent vulnérables et atteints de pathologies, y restaient des mois, parfois des années. Comme la famille Sherif, qui y a passé deux ans et demi. La sœur de Mohammed, aveugle, est totalement dépendante de lui. Ils risquent de se retrouver à la rue, alerte Alkima Alushi, travailleuse sociale chez Arsis, qui octroie les hébergements sociaux, en coordination avec le HCR. D’autant plus qu’« aucun particulier grec ne veut louer son logement à des migrants », précise-t-elle.

    Alkima Alushi a essuyé 60 refus de propriétaires lorsqu’elle a tenté de reloger ces familles. « C’est illégal mais personne ne peut rien dire. Les propriétaires disent qu’ils n’ont pas assez d’argent, alors qu’ils ont des aides d’État [souvent des allocations pour des pathologies ou pour vulnérabilité – ndlr] », insiste-t-elle.

    Le gouvernement les renvoie vers le nouveau programme baptisé « Helios » (« soleil » en grec), géré par l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM). Mais il ne compte que 3 500 places disponibles.

    « Nous sommes isolés. On ne nous pousse pas à apprendre le grec, on ne nous aide pas à chercher un emploi, comme c’est le cas en Allemagne », estime le Syrien Mohammed Sherif, qui n’aspire qu’à se rendre dans ce pays, « où il y a du travail dans les usines ». L’ancien étudiant en droit n’a travaillé que quatre mois depuis son arrivée en 2018 comme jardinier.

    Avant la pandémie, les milliers de réfugiés présents en Grèce avaient en effet déjà des difficultés à trouver un emploi, en raison de la crise. Ceux qui ne parlaient pas grec pouvaient essayer d’être embauchés pour les récoltes de fruits et légumes, sans être déclarés et dans des conditions précaires dénoncées par les ONG. Ceux qui le parlaient espéraient un poste de traducteur ou un emploi saisonnier sur les îles.

    Mais, aujourd’hui, la crise post-Covid-19 précipite la Grèce dans une récession profonde – le Fonds monétaire international prévoit un recul de 10 % du produit intérieur brut (PIB) – et 22 % de la population pourrait se retrouver au chômage.

    Et des organisations comme Arsis sont censées mettre à exécution les nouvelles directives. « Nous ne sommes pas la police, s’énerve la travailleuse sociale Alkima Alushi. Depuis le début de son mandat [en juillet 2019], ce gouvernement essaye de changer notre philosophie : nous sommes travailleurs sociaux, nous sommes là pour aider ces personnes. Mais ces autorités ne veulent pas respecter les droits de l’homme, en mettant ainsi les gens dehors. »

    Cette mesure s’inscrit dans une politique d’exclusion bien plus large, conforme à la réforme du droit d’asile adoptée en novembre, qui prévoit notamment la création de camps de migrants fermés, la réduction des possibilités de faire appel à la suite d’un refus d’asile, l’élargissement de la liste des pays tiers jugés « sûrs », etc. Il s’agit d’envoyer « un message clair » : « Ceux qui savent qu’ils ne peuvent pas obtenir l’asile et entreprendront de venir pour rester dans notre pays seront renvoyés dans leur pays et perdront l’argent investi dans leur voyage », déclarait en novembre le premier ministre Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

    À la fin février 2020, les tensions à la frontière gréco-turque – Ankara ayant annoncé vouloir laisser les migrants rejoindre l’Europe – ont permis à Athènes d’assumer davantage cette logique de durcissement. Au nom de la « protection des frontières », l’armée a été envoyée en renfort. Diverses organisations ont dénoncé des « push back », des renvois de migrants et de réfugiés.

    Elles dénoncent un « deux poids, deux mesures » discriminatoire : d’un côté on déconfine en espérant le retour des touristes, de l’autre on réprime les migrants. Par des communiqués discrets, le ministère de l’immigration a prolongé à plusieurs reprises, au nom de la lutte contre le Covid-19, leurs restrictions de mouvement dans plusieurs camps, au moins jusqu’au 2 août. Pourtant, la majorité des camps n’ont officiellement pas eu de cas détectés.

    L’opinion publique est restée plutôt silencieuse. « Les Grecs sont avant tout préoccupés par l’avenir économique du pays, qui ne s’est pas encore relevé de dix ans d’austérité », note Filippa Chatzistavrou, chercheuse à l’université d’Athènes.

    L’Union européenne, qui a fourni depuis 2015 2,7 milliards d’euros d’aides à la Grèce pour gérer la question migratoire, se fait également discrète. « La Grèce est un État souverain et gère elle-même les conséquences de cette pandémie », a répondu Adalbert Jahnz, porte-parole de la Commission européenne sur les questions de migration.

    Dina Varvaramatou, directrice de l’association Praksis, qui vient en aide aux personnes démunies à Athènes, met pourtant en avant la responsabilité européenne, qui remonte, souligne-t-elle, à l’accord controversé de 2016 entre l’UE et la Turquie pour empêcher les arrivées de réfugiés en Europe. « Cette politique dure est visible dans le pays car nous sommes le premier pays d’arrivée [pour les migrants en Europe – ndlr], et ce gouvernement assume totalement ses positions, décrypte la responsable. La logique est celle du “Stay out, get out” [“restez éloignés, partez” en anglais – ndlr] : on empêche les migrants d’entrer dans le pays et on décourage ceux qui souhaitent s’intégrer, on leur rend la vie difficile. »

    À la frontière maritime avec la Turquie, marine et garde-côtes patrouillent en permanence. Le 30 juin, Athènes a annoncé que le projet de construction d’une barrière flottante de 2,7 kilomètres censée dissuader les migrants au large de Lesbos était entré dans sa phase finale. En cet été 2020, les touristes sont invités à se prélasser sur les plages du pays, les migrants priés de ne pas venir les déranger.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/010820/athenes-veut-des-touristes-mais-pas-de-migrants?xtor=CS7-1047
    #tourisme #migrations #Athènes #Grèce #désirables #indésirables #réfugiés

    • EU: Frontex splashes out: millions of euros for new technology and equipment (19.06.2020)

      The approval of the new #Frontex_Regulation in November 2019 implied an increase of competences, budget and capabilities for the EU’s border agency, which is now equipping itself with increased means to monitor events and developments at the borders and beyond, as well as renewing its IT systems to improve the management of the reams of data to which it will have access.

      In 2020 Frontex’s #budget grew to €420.6 million, an increase of over 34% compared to 2019. The European Commission has proposed that in the next EU budget (formally known as the Multiannual Financial Framework or MFF, covering 2021-27) €11 billion will be made available to the agency, although legal negotiations are ongoing and have hit significant stumbling blocks due to Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and political disagreements.

      Nevertheless, the increase for this year has clearly provided a number of opportunities for Frontex. For instance, it has already agreed contracts worth €28 million for the acquisition of dozens of vehicles equipped with thermal and day cameras, surveillance radar and sensors.

      According to the contract for the provision of Mobile Surveillance Systems, these new tools will be used “for detection, identification and recognising of objects of interest e.g. human beings and/or groups of people, vehicles moving across the border (land and sea), as well as vessels sailing within the coastal areas, and other objects identified as objects of interest”. [1]

      Frontex has also published a call for tenders for Maritime Analysis Tools, worth a total of up to €2.6 million. With this, Frontex seeks to improve access to “big data” for maritime analysis. [2] The objective of deploying these tools is to enhance Frontex’s operational support to EU border, coast guard and law enforcement authorities in “suppressing and preventing, among others, illegal migration and cross-border crime in the maritime domain”.

      Moreover, the system should be capable of delivering analysis and identification of high-risk threats following the collection and storage of “big data”. It is not clear how much human input and monitoring there will be of the identification of risks. The call for tenders says the winning bidder should have been announced in May, but there is no public information on the chosen company so far.

      As part of a 12-month pilot project to examine how maritime analysis tools could “support multipurpose operational response,” Frontex previously engaged the services of the Tel Aviv-based company Windward Ltd, which claims to fuse “maritime data and artificial intelligence… to provide the right insights, with the right context, at the right time.” [3] Windward, whose current chairman is John Browne, the former CEO of the multinational oil company BP, received €783,000 for its work. [4]

      As the agency’s gathering and processing of data increases, it also aims to improve and develop its own internal IT systems, through a two-year project worth €34 million. This will establish a set of “framework contracts”. Through these, each time the agency seeks a new IT service or system, companies selected to participate in the framework contracts will submit bids for the work. [5]

      The agency is also seeking a ’Software Solution for EBCG [European Border and Coast Guard] Team Members to Access to Schengen Information System’, through a contract worth up to €5 million. [6] The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the EU’s largest database, enabling cooperation between authorities working in the fields of police, border control and customs of all the Schengen states (26 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and its legal bases were recently reformed to include new types of alert and categories of data. [7]

      This software will give Frontex officials direct access to certain data within the SIS. Currently, they have to request access via national border guards in the country in which they are operating. This would give complete autonomy to Frontex officials to consult the SIS whilst undertaking operations, shortening the length of the procedure. [8]

      With the legal basis for increasing Frontex’s powers in place, the process to build up its personnel, material and surveillance capacities continues, with significant financial implications.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/june/eu-frontex-splashes-out-millions-of-euros-for-new-technology-and-equipme

      #technologie #équipement #Multiannual_Financial_Framework #MFF #surveillance #Mobile_Surveillance_Systems #Maritime_Analysis_Tools #données #big_data #mer #Windward_Ltd #Israël #John_Browne #BP #complexe_militaro-industriel #Software_Solution_for_EBCG_Team_Members_to_Access_to_Schengen_Information_System #SIS #Schengen_Information_System

    • EU : Guns, guards and guidelines : reinforcement of Frontex runs into problems (26.05.2020)

      An internal report circulated by Frontex to EU government delegations highlights a series of issues in implementing the agency’s new legislation. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency is urging swift action to implement the mandate and is pressing ahead with the recruitment of its new ‘standing corps’. However, there are legal problems with the acquisition, registration, storage and transport of weapons. The agency is also calling for derogations from EU rules on staff disciplinary measures in relation to the use of force; and wants an extended set of privileges and immunities. Furthermore, it is assisting with “voluntary return” despite this activity appearing to fall outside of its legal mandate.

      State-of-play report

      At the end of April 2020, Frontex circulated a report to EU government delegations in the Council outlining the state of play of the implementation of its new Regulation (“EBCG 2.0 Regulation”, in the agency and Commission’s words), especially relating to “current challenges”.[1] Presumably, this refers to the outbreak of a pandemic, though the report also acknowledges challenges created by the legal ambiguities contained in the Regulation itself, in particular with regard to the acquisition of weapons, supervisory and disciplinary mechanisms, legal privileges and immunities and involvement in “voluntary return” operations.

      The path set out in the report is that the “operational autonomy of the agency will gradually increase towards 2027” until it is a “fully-fledged and reliable partner” to EU and Schengen states. It acknowledges the impacts of unforeseen world events on the EU’s forthcoming budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework, MFF) for 2021-27, and hints at the impact this will have on Frontex’s own budget and objectives. Nevertheless, the agency is still determined to “continue increasing the capabilities” of the agency, including its acquisition of new equipment and employment of new staff for its standing corps.

      The main issues covered by the report are: Frontex’s new standing corps of staff, executive powers and the use of force, fundamental rights and data protection, and the integration into Frontex of EUROSUR, the European Border Surveillance System.

      The new standing corps

      Recruitment

      A new standing corps of 10,000 Frontex staff by 2024 is to be, in the words of the agency, its “biggest game changer”.[2] The report notes that the establishment of the standing corps has been heavily affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. According to the report, 7,238 individuals had applied to join the standing corps before the outbreak of the pandemic. 5,482 of these – over 75% – were assessed by the agency as eligible, with a final 304 passing the entire selection process to be on the “reserve lists”.[3]

      Despite interruptions to the recruitment procedure following worldwide lockdown measures, interviews for Category 1 staff – permanent Frontex staff members to be deployed on operations – were resumed via video by the end of April. 80 candidates were shortlisted for the first week, and Frontex aims to interview 1,000 people in total. Despite this adaptation, successful candidates will have to wait for Frontex’s contractor to re-open in order to carry out medical tests, an obligatory requirement for the standing corps.[4]

      In 2020, Frontex joined the European Defence Agency’s Satellite Communications (SatCom) and Communications and Information System (CIS) services in order to ensure ICT support for the standing corps in operation as of 2021.[5] The EDA describes SatCom and CIS as “fundamental for Communication, Command and Control in military operations… [enabling] EU Commanders to connect forces in remote areas with HQs and capitals and to manage the forces missions and tasks”.[6]

      Training

      The basic training programme, endorsed by the management board in October 2019, is designed for Category 1 staff. It includes specific training in interoperability and “harmonisation with member states”. The actual syllabus, content and materials for this basic training were developed by March 2020; Statewatch has made a request for access to these documents, which is currently pending with the Frontex Transparency Office. This process has also been affected by the novel coronavirus, though the report insists that “no delay is foreseen in the availability of the specialised profile related training of the standing corps”.

      Use of force

      The state-of-play-report acknowledges a number of legal ambiguities surrounding some of the more controversial powers outlined in Frontex’s 2019 Regulation, highlighting perhaps that political ambition, rather than serious consideration and assessment, propelled the legislation, overtaking adequate procedure and oversight. The incentive to enact the legislation within a short timeframe is cited as a reason that no impact assessment was carried out on the proposed recast to the agency’s mandate. This draft was rushed through negotiations and approved in an unprecedented six-month period, and the details lost in its wake are now coming to light.

      Article 82 of the 2019 Regulation refers to the use of force and carriage of weapons by Frontex staff, while a supervisory mechanism for the use of force by statutory staff is established by Article 55. This says:

      “On the basis of a proposal from the executive director, the management board shall: (a) establish an appropriate supervisory mechanism to monitor the application of the provisions on use of force by statutory staff, including rules on reporting and specific measures, such as those of a disciplinary nature, with regard to the use of force during deployments”[7]

      The agency’s management board is expected to make a decision about this supervisory mechanism, including specific measures and reporting, by the end of June 2020.

      The state-of-play report posits that the legal terms of Article 55 are inconsistent with the standard rules on administrative enquiries and disciplinary measures concerning EU staff.[8] These outline, inter alia, that a dedicated disciplinary board will be established in each institution including at least one member from outside the institution, that this board must be independent and its proceedings secret. Frontex insists that its staff will be a special case as the “first uniformed service of the EU”, and will therefore require “special arrangements or derogations to the Staff Regulations” to comply with the “totally different nature of tasks and risks associated with their deployments”.[9]

      What is particularly astounding about Frontex demanding special treatment for oversight, particularly on use of force and weapons is that, as the report acknowledges, the agency cannot yet legally store or transport any weapons it acquires.

      Regarding service weapons and “non-lethal equipment”,[10] legal analysis by “external experts and a regulatory law firm” concluded that the 2019 Regulation does not provide a legal basis for acquiring, registering, storing or transporting weapons in Poland, where the agency’s headquarters is located. Frontex has applied to the Commission for clarity on how to proceed, says the report. Frontex declined to comment on the status of this consultation and any indications of the next steps the agency will take. A Commission spokesperson stated only that it had recently received the agency’s enquiry and “is analysing the request and the applicable legal framework in the view of replying to the EBCGA”, without expanding further.

      Until Frontex has the legal basis to do so, it cannot launch a tender for firearms and “non-lethal equipment” (which includes batons, pepper spray and handcuffs). However, the report implies the agency is ready to do so as soon as it receives the green light. Technical specifications are currently being finalised for “non-lethal equipment” and Frontex still plans to complete acquisition by the end of the year.

      Privileges and immunities

      The agency is also seeking special treatment with regard to the legal privileges and immunities it and its officials enjoy. Article 96 of the 2019 Regulation outlines the privileges and immunities of Frontex officers, stating:

      “Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union annexed to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to the TFEU shall apply to the Agency and its statutory staff.” [11]

      However, Frontex notes that the Protocol does not apply to non-EU states, nor does it “offer a full protection, or take into account a need for the inviolability of assets owned by Frontex (service vehicles, vessels, aircraft)”.[12] Frontex is increasingly involved in operations taking place on non-EU territory. For instance, the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states, primarily in the Western Balkans, concerning Frontex activities in those countries. To launch operations under these agreements, Frontex will (or, in the case of Albania, already has) agree on operational plans with each state, under which Frontex staff can use executive powers.[13] The agency therefore seeks an “EU-level status of forces agreement… to account for the partial absence of rules”.

      Law enforcement

      To implement its enhanced functions regarding cross-border crime, Frontex will continue to participate in Europol’s four-year policy cycle addressing “serious international and organised crime”.[14] The agency is also developing a pilot project, “Investigation Support Activities- Cross Border Crime” (ISA-CBC), addressing drug trafficking and terrorism.

      Fundamental rights and data protection

      The ‘EBCG 2.0 Regulation’ requires several changes to fundamental rights measures by the agency, which, aside from some vague “legal analyses” seem to be undergoing development with only internal oversight.

      Firstly, to facilitate adequate independence of the Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), special rules have to be established. The FRO was introduced under Frontex’s 2016 Regulation, but has since then been understaffed and underfunded by the agency.[15] The 2019 Regulation obliges the agency to ensure “sufficient and adequate human and financial resources” for the office, as well as 40 fundamental rights monitors.[16] These standing corps staff members will be responsible for monitoring compliance with fundamental rights standards, providing advice and assistance on the agency’s plans and activities, and will visit and evaluate operations, including acting as forced return monitors.[17]

      During negotiations over the proposed Regulation 2.0, MEPs introduced extended powers for the Fundamental Rights Officer themselves. The FRO was previously responsible for contributing to Frontex’s fundamental rights strategy and monitoring its compliance with and promotion of fundamental rights. Now, they will be able to monitor compliance by conducting investigations; offering advice where deemed necessary or upon request of the agency; providing opinions on operational plans, pilot projects and technical assistance; and carrying out on-the-spot visits. The executive director is now obliged to respond “as to how concerns regarding possible violations of fundamental rights… have been addressed,” and the management board “shall ensure that action is taken with regard to recommendations of the fundamental rights officer.” [18] The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation.

      The state-of-play report says that “legal analyses and exchanges” are ongoing, and will inform an eventual management board decision, but no timeline for this is offered. [19] The agency will also need to adapt its much criticised individual complaints mechanism to fit the requirements of the 2019 Regulation; executive director Fabrice Leggeri’s first-draft decision on this process is currently undergoing internal consultations. Even the explicit requirement set out in the 2019 Regulation for an “independent and effective” complaints mechanism,[20] does not meet minimum standards to qualify as an effective remedy, which include institutional independence, accessibility in practice, and capacity to carry out thorough and prompt investigations.[21]

      Frontex has entered into a service level agreement (SLA) with the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) for support in establishing and training the team of fundamental rights monitors introduced by the 2019 Regulation. These monitors are to be statutory staff of the agency and will assess fundamental rights compliance of operational activities, advising, assisting and contributing to “the promotion of fundamental rights”.[22] The scope and objectives for this team were finalised at the end of March this year, and the agency will establish the team by the end of the year. Statewatch has requested clarification as to what is to be included in the team’s scope and objectives, pending with the Frontex Transparency Office.

      Regarding data protection, the agency plans a package of implementing rules (covering issues ranging from the position of data protection officer to the restriction of rights for returnees and restrictions under administrative data processing) to be implemented throughout 2020.[23] The management board will review a first draft of the implementing rules on the data protection officer in the second quarter of 2020.

      Returns

      The European Return and Reintegration Network (ERRIN) – a network of 15 European states and the Commission facilitating cooperation over return operations “as part of the EU efforts to manage migration” – is to be handed over to Frontex. [24] A handover plan is currently under the final stage of review; it reportedly outlines the scoping of activities and details of “which groups of returnees will be eligible for Frontex assistance in the future”.[25] A request from Statewatch to Frontex for comment on what assistance will be provided by the agency to such returnees was unanswered at the time of publication.

      Since the entry into force of its new mandate, Frontex has also been providing technical assistance for so-called voluntary returns, with the first two such operations carried out on scheduled flights (as opposed to charter flights) in February 2020. A total of 28 people were returned by mid-April, despite the fact that there is no legal clarity over what the definition “voluntary return” actually refers to, as the state-of-play report also explains:

      “The terminology of voluntary return was introduced in the Regulation without providing any definition thereof. This terminology (voluntary departure vs voluntary return) is moreover not in line with the terminology used in the Return Directive (EBCG 2.0 refers to the definition of returns provided for in the Return Directive. The Return Directive, however, does not cover voluntary returns; a voluntary return is not a return within the meaning of the Return Directive). Further elaboration is needed.”[26]

      On top of requiring “further clarification”, if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate. Statewatch has launched an investigation into the agency’s activities relating to voluntary returns, to outline the number of such operations to date, their country of return and country of destination.

      Frontex is currently developing a module dedicated to voluntary returns by charter flight for its FAR (Frontex Application for Returns) platform (part of its return case management system). On top of the technical support delivered by the agency, Frontex also foresees the provision of on-the-ground support from Frontex representatives or a “return counsellor”, who will form part of the dedicated return teams planned for the standing corps from 2021.[27]

      Frontex has updated its return case management system (RECAMAS), an online platform for member state authorities and Frontex to communicate and plan return operations, to manage an increased scope. The state-of-play report implies that this includes detail on post-return activities in a new “post-return module”, indicating that Frontex is acting on commitments to expand its activity in this area. According to the agency’s roadmap on implementing the 2019 Regulation, an action plan on how the agency will provide post-return support to people (Article 48(1), 2019 Regulation) will be written by the third quarter of 2020.[28]

      In its closing paragraph, related to the budgetary impact of COVID-19 regarding return operations, the agency notes that although activities will resume once aerial transportation restrictions are eased, “the agency will not be able to provide what has been initially intended, undermining the concept of the EBCG as a whole”.[29]

      EUROSUR

      The Commission is leading progress on adopting the implementing act for the integration of EUROSUR into Frontex, which will define the implementation of new aerial surveillance,[30] expected by the end of the year.[31] Frontex is discussing new working arrangements with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). The development by Frontex of the surveillance project’s communications network will require significant budgetary investment, as the agency plans to maintain the current system ahead of its planned replacement in 2025.[32] This investment is projected despite the agency’s recognition of the economic impact of Covid-19 on member states, and the consequent adjustments to the MFF 2021-27.

      Summary

      Drafted and published as the world responds to an unprecedented pandemic, the “current challenges” referred to in the report appear, on first read, to refer to the budgetary and staffing implications of global shut down. However, the report maintains throughout that the agency’s determination to expand, in terms of powers as well as staffing, will not be stalled despite delays and budgeting adjustments. Indeed, it is implied more than once that the “current challenges” necessitate more than ever that these powers be assumed. The true challenges, from the agency’s point of view, stem from the fact that its current mandate was rushed through negotiations in six months, leading to legal ambiguities that leave it unable to acquire or transport weapons and in a tricky relationship with the EU protocol on privileges and immunities when operating in third countries. Given the violence that so frequently accompanies border control operations in the EU, it will come as a relief to many that Frontex is having difficulties acquiring its own weaponry. However, it is far from reassuring that the introduction of new measures on fundamental rights and accountability are being carried out internally and remain unavailable for public scrutiny.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Note: this article was updated on 26 May 2020 to include the European Commission’s response to Statewatch’s enquiries.

      It was updated on 1 July with some minor corrections:

      “the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states... under which” replaces “the agency has entered into working agreements with Balkan states, under which”
      “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in any detail in the Regulation beyond monitoring the agency’s ’compliance with fundamental rights, including by conducting investigations’” replaces “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation”
      “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it further exposes the haste with which legislation written to deny entry into the EU and facilitate expulsions was drafted” replaces “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate”

      Endnotes

      [1] Frontex, ‘State of play of the implementation of the EBCG 2.0 Regulation in view of current challenges’, 27 April 2020, contained in Council document 7607/20, LIMITE, 20 April 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/may/eu-council-frontex-ECBG-state-of-play-7607-20.pdf

      [2] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [3] Section 1.1, state of play report

      [4] Jane Kilpatrick, ‘Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards’, Statewatch Analysis, March 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-355-frontex-recruitment-standing-corps.pdf

      [5] Section 7.1, state of play report

      [6] EDA, ‘EU SatCom Market’, https://www.eda.europa.eu/what-we-do/activities/activities-search/eu-satcom-market

      [7] Article 55(5)(a), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex 2019 Regulation), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [8] Pursuant to Annex IX of the EU Staff Regulations, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:01962R0031-20140501

      [9] Chapter III, state of play report

      [10] Section 2.5, state of play report

      [11] Protocol (No 7), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2016.202.01.0001.01.ENG#d1e3363-201-1

      [12] Chapter III, state of play report

      [13] ‘Border externalisation: Agreements on Frontex operations in Serbia and Montenegro heading for parliamentary approval’, Statewatch News, 11 March 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/frontex-status-agreements.htm

      [14] Europol, ‘EU policy cycle – EMPACT’, https://www.europol.europa.eu/empact

      [15] ‘NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex’s respect for fundamental rights’, Statewatch News, 5 March 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/fx-consultative-forum-rep.htm; ‘Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations’, Statewatch News, 21 May 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/may/eu-frontex-fr-rep.htm

      [16] Article 110(6), Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [17] Article 110, 2019 Regulation

      [18] Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [19] Section 8, state of play report

      [20] Article 111(1), 2019 Regulation

      [21] Sergio Carrera and Marco Stefan, ‘Complaint Mechanisms in Border Management and Expulsion Operations in Europe: Effective Remedies for Victims of Human Rights Violations?’, CEPS, 2018, https://www.ceps.eu/system/files/Complaint%20Mechanisms_A4.pdf

      [22] Article 110(1), 2019 Regulation

      [23] Section 9, state of play report

      [24] ERRIN, https://returnnetwork.eu

      [25] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [26] Chapter III, state of play report

      [27] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [28] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [29] State of play report, p. 19

      [30] Matthias Monroy, ‘Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders’, Statewatch Analysis, February 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-354-frontex-drones.pdf

      [31] Section 4, state of play report

      [32] Section 7.2, state of play report
      Next article >

      Mediterranean: As the fiction of a Libyan search and rescue zone begins to crumble, EU states use the coronavirus pandemic to declare themselves unsafe

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/eu-guns-guards-and-guidelines-reinforcement-of-frontex-runs-into-problem

      #EBCG_2.0_Regulation #European_Defence_Agency’s_Satellite_Communications (#SatCom) #Communications_and_Information_System (#CIS) #immunité #droits_fondamentaux #droits_humains #Fundamental_Rights_Officer (#FRO) #European_Return_and_Reintegration_Network (#ERRIN) #renvois #expulsions #réintégration #Directive_Retour #FAR (#Frontex_Application_for_Returns) #RECAMAS #EUROSUR #European_Aviation_Safety_Agency (#EASA) #European_Organisation_for_the_Safety_of_Air_Navigation (#EUROCONTROL)

    • Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards

      On 4 January 2020 the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) adopted a decision on the profiles of the staff required for the new “standing corps”, which is ultimately supposed to be staffed by 10,000 officials. [1] The decision ushers in a new wave of recruitment for the agency. Applicants will be put through six months of training before deployment, after rigorous medical testing.

      What is the standing corps?

      The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps is the new, and according to Frontex, first ever, EU uniformed service, available “at any time…to support Member States facing challenges at their external borders”.[2] Frontex’s Programming Document for the 2018-2020 period describes the standing corps as the agency’s “biggest game changer”, requiring “an unprecedented scale of staff recruitment”.[3]

      The standing corps will be made up of four categories of Frontex operational staff:

      Frontex statutory staff deployed in operational areas and staff responsible for the functioning of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) Central Unit[4];
      Long-term staff seconded from member states;
      Staff from member states who can be immediately deployed on short-term secondment to Frontex; and

      A reserve of staff from member states for rapid border interventions.

      These border guards will be “trained by the best and equipped with the latest technology has to offer”.[5] As well as wearing EU uniforms, they will be authorised to carry weapons and will have executive powers: they will be able to verify individuals’ identity and nationality and permit or refuse entry into the EU.

      The decision made this January is limited to the definition of profiles and requirements for the operational staff that are to be recruited. The Management Board (MB) will have to adopt a new decision by March this year to set out the numbers of staff needed per profile, the requirements for individuals holding those positions, and the number of staff needed for the following year based on expected operational needs. This process will be repeated annually.[6] The MB can then further specify how many staff each member state should contribute to these profiles, and establish multi-annual plans for member state contributions and recruitment for Frontex statutory staff. Projections for these contributions are made in Annexes II – IV of the 2019 Regulation, though a September Mission Statement by new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urges the recruitment of 10,000 border guards by 2024, indicating that member states might be meeting their contribution commitments much sooner than 2027.[7]

      The standing corps of Frontex staff will have an array of executive powers and responsibilities. As well as being able to verify identity and nationality and refuse or permit entry into the EU, they will be able to consult various EU databases to fulfil operational aims, and may also be authorised by host states to consult national databases. According to the MB Decision, “all members of the Standing Corps are to be able to identify persons in need of international protection and persons in a vulnerable situation, including unaccompanied minors, and refer them to the competent authorities”. Training on international and EU law on fundamental rights and international protection, as well as guidelines on the identification and referral of persons in need of international protection, will be mandatory for all standing corps staff members.

      The size of the standing corps

      The following table, taken from the 2019 Regulation, outlines the ambitions for growth of Frontex’s standing corps. However, as noted, the political ambition is to reach the 10,000 total by 2024.

      –-> voir le tableau sur le site de statewatch!

      Category 2 staff – those on long term secondment from member states – will join Frontex from 2021, according to the 2019 Regulation.[8] It is foreseen that Germany will contribute the most staff, with 61 expected in 2021, increasing year-by-year to 225 by 2027. Other high contributors are France and Italy (170 and 125 by 2027, respectively).

      The lowest contributors will be Iceland (expected to contribute between one and two people a year from 2021 to 2027), Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Liechtenstein is not contributing personnel but will contribute “through proportional financial support”.

      For short-term secondments from member states, projections follow a very similar pattern. Germany will contribute 540 staff in 2021, increasing to 827 in 2027; Italy’s contribution will increase from 300 in 2021 to 458 in 2027; and France’s from 408 in 2021 to 624 in 2027. Most states will be making less than 100 staff available for short-term secondment in 2021.

      What are the profiles?

      The MB Decision outlines 12 profiles to be made available to Frontex, ranging from Border Guard Officer and Crew Member, to Cross Border Crime Detection Officer and Return Specialist. A full list is contained in the Decision.[9] All profiles will be fulfilled by an official of the competent authority of a member state (MS) or Schengen Associated Country (SAC), or by a member of Frontex’s own statutory staff.

      Tasks to be carried out by these officials include:

      border checks and surveillance;
      interviewing, debriefing* and screening arrivals and registering fingerprints;
      supporting the collection, assessment, analysis and distribution of information with EU member and non-member states;
      verifying travel documents;
      escorting individuals being deported on Frontex return operations;
      operating data systems and platforms; and
      offering cultural mediation

      *Debriefing consists of informal interviews with migrants to collect information for risk analyses on irregular migration and other cross-border crime and the profiling of irregular migrants to identify “modus operandi and migration trends used by irregular migrants and facilitators/criminal networks”. Guidelines written by Frontex in 2012 instructed border guards to target vulnerable individuals for “debriefing”, not in order to streamline safeguarding or protection measures, but for intelligence-gathering - “such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences,” said an internal document.[10] It is unknown whether those instructions are still in place.

      Recruitment for the profiles

      Certain profiles are expected to “apply self-safety and security practice”, and to have “the capacity to work under pressure and face emotional events with composure”. Relevant profiles (e.g. crew member) are required to be able to perform search and rescue activities in distress situations at sea borders.

      Frontex published a call for tender on 27 December for the provision of medical services for pre-recruitment examinations, in line with the plan to start recruiting operational staff in early 2020. The documents accompanying the tender reveal additional criteria for officials that will be granted executive powers (Frontex category “A2”) compared to those staff stationed primarily at the agency’s Warsaw headquarters (“A1”). Those criteria come in the form of more stringent medical testing.

      The differences in medical screening for category A1 and A2 staff lie primarily in additional toxicology screening and psychiatric and psychological consultations. [11] The additional psychiatric attention allotted for operational staff “is performed to check the predisposition for people to work in arduous, hazardous conditions, exposed to stress, conflict situations, changing rapidly environment, coping with people being in dramatic, injure or death exposed situations”.[12]

      Both A1 and A2 category provisional recruits will be asked to disclose if they have ever suffered from a sexually transmitted disease or “genital organ disease”, as well as depression, nervous or mental disorders, among a long list of other ailments. As well as disclosing any medication they take, recruits must also state if they are taking oral contraceptives (though there is no question about hormonal contraceptives that are not taken orally). Women are also asked to give the date of their last period on the pre-appointment questionnaire.

      “Never touch yourself with gloves”

      Frontex training materials on forced return operations obtained by Statewatch in 2019 acknowledge the likelihood of psychological stress among staff, among other health risks. (One recommendation contained in the documents is to “never touch yourself with gloves”). Citing “dissonance within the team, long hours with no rest, group dynamic, improvisation and different languages” among factors behind psychological stress, the training materials on medical precautionary measures for deportation escort officers also refer to post-traumatic stress disorder, the lack of an area to retreat to and body clock disruption as exacerbating risks. The document suggests a high likelihood that Frontex return escorts will witness poverty, “agony”, “chaos”, violence, boredom, and will have to deal with vulnerable persons.[13]

      For fundamental rights monitors (officials deployed to monitor fundamental rights compliance during deportations, who can be either Frontex staff or national officials), the training materials obtained by Statewatch focus on the self-control of emotions, rather than emotional care. Strategies recommended include talking to somebody, seeking professional help, and “informing yourself of any other option offered”. The documents suggest that it is an individual’s responsibility to prevent emotional responses to stressful situations having an impact on operations, and to organise their own supervision and professional help. There is no obvious focus on how traumatic responses of Frontex staff could affect those coming into contact with them at an external border or during a deportation. [14]

      The materials obtained by Statewatch also give some indication of the fundamental rights training imparted to those acting as deportation ‘escorts’ and fundamental rights monitors. The intended outcomes for a training session in Athens that took place in March 2019 included “adapt FR [fundamental rights] in a readmission operation (explain it with examples)” and “should be able to describe Non Refoulement principle” (in the document, ‘Session Fundamental rights’ is followed by ‘Session Velcro handcuffs’).[15] The content of the fundamental rights training that will be offered to Frontex’s new recruits is currently unknown.

      Fit for service?

      The agency anticipates that most staff will be recruited from March to June 2020, involving the medical examination of up to 700 applicants in this period. According to Frontex’s website, the agency has already received over 7,000 applications for the 700 new European Border Guard Officer positions.[16] Successful candidates will undergo six months of training before deployment in 2021. Apparently then, the posts are a popular career option, despite the seemingly invasive medical tests (especially for sexually active women). Why, for instance, is it important to Frontex to know about oral hormonal contraception, or about sexually transmitted infections?

      When asked by Statewatch if Frontex provides in-house psychological and emotional support, an agency press officer stated: “When it comes to psychological and emotional support, Frontex is increasing awareness and personal resilience of the officers taking part in our operations through education and training activities.” A ‘Frontex Mental Health Strategy’ from 2018 proposed the establishment of “a network of experts-psychologists” to act as an advisory body, as well as creating “online self-care tools”, a “psychological hot-line”, and a space for peer support with participation of psychologists (according to risk assessment) during operations.[17]

      One year later, Frontex, EASO and Europol jointly produced a brochure for staff deployed on operations, entitled ‘Occupational Health and Safety – Deployment Information’, which offers a series of recommendations to staff, placing the responsibility to “come to the deployment in good mental shape” and “learn how to manage stress and how to deal with anger” more firmly on the individual than the agency.[18] According to this document, officers who need additional support must disclose this by requesting it from their supervisor, while “a helpline or psychologist on-site may be available, depending on location”.

      Frontex anticipates this recruitment drive to be “game changing”. Indeed, the Commission is relying upon it to reach its ambitions for the agency’s independence and efficiency. The inclusion of mandatory training in fundamental rights in the six-month introductory education is obviously a welcome step. Whether lessons learned in a classroom will be the first thing that comes to the minds of officials deployed on border control or deportation operations remains to be seen.

      Unmanaged responses to emotional stress can include burnout, compassion-fatigue and indirect trauma, which can in turn decrease a person’s ability to cope with adverse circumstance, and increase the risk of violence.[19] Therefore, aside from the agency’s responsibility as an employer to safeguard the health of its staff, its approach to internal psychological care will affect not only the border guards themselves, but the people that they routinely come into contact with at borders and during return operations, many of whom themselves will have experienced trauma.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Endnotes

      [1] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [2] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [3] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [4] The ETIAS Central Unit will be responsible for processing the majority of applications for ‘travel authorisations’ received when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System comes into use, in theory in late 2022. Citizens who do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for authorisation to travel to the Schengen area.

      [5] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [6] Article 54(4), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [7] ‘European Commission 2020 Work Programme: An ambitious roadmap for a Union that strives for more’, 29 January 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_124; “Mission letter” from Ursula von der Leyen to Ylva Johnsson, 10 September 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/mission-letter-ylva-johansson_en.pdf

      [8] Annex II, 2019 Regulation

      [9] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [10] ‘Press release: EU border agency targeted “isolated or mistreated” individuals for questioning’, Statewatch News, 16 February 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/feb/eu-frontex-op-hera-debriefing-pr.htm

      [11] ‘Provision of Medical Services – Pre-Recruitment Examination’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-documents.html?cftId=5841

      [12] ‘Provision of medical services – pre-recruitment examination, Terms of Reference - Annex II to invitation to tender no Frontex/OP/1491/2019/KM’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-document.html?docId=65398

      [13] Frontex training presentation, ‘Medical precautionary measures for escort officers’, undated, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-presentation-medical-precautionary-measures-deportation-escor

      [14] Ibid.

      [15] Frontex, document listing course learning outcomes from deportation escorts’ training, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-deportation-escorts-training-course-learning-outcomes.pdf

      [16] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [17] Frontex, ‘Frontex mental health strategy’, 20 February 2018, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/89c168fe-e14b-11e7-9749-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

      [18] EASO, Europol and Frontex, ‘Occupational health and safety’, 12 August 2019, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/17cc07e0-bd88-11e9-9d01-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-103142015

      [19] Trauma Treatment International, ‘A different approach for victims of trauma’, https://www.tt-intl.org/#our-work-section

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/frontex-launches-game-changing-recruitment-drive-for-standing-corps-of-b
      #gardes_frontières #staff #corps_des_gardes-frontières

    • Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders (27.02.2020)

      Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

      It is not easy to obtain majorities for legislation in the European Union in the area of migration - unless it is a matter of upgrading the EU’s external borders. While the reform of a common EU asylum system has been on hold for years, the European Commission, Parliament and Council agreed to reshape the border agency Frontex with unusual haste shortly before last year’s parliamentary elections. A new Regulation has been in force since December 2019,[1] under which Frontex intends to build up a “standing corps” of 10,000 uniformed officials by 2027. They can be deployed not just at the EU’s external borders, but in ‘third countries’ as well.

      In this way, Frontex will become a “European border police force” with powers that were previously reserved for the member states alone. The core of the new Regulation includes the procurement of the agency’s own equipment. The Multiannual Financial Framework, in which the EU determines the distribution of its financial resources from 2021 until 2027, has not yet been decided. According to current plans, however, at least €6 billion are reserved for Frontex in the seven-year budget. The intention is for Frontex to spend a large part of the money, over €2 billion, on aircraft, ships and vehicles.[2]

      Frontex seeks company for drone flights

      The upgrade plans include the stationing of large drones in the central and eastern Mediterranean. For this purpose, Frontex is looking for a private partner to operate flights off Malta, Italy or Greece. A corresponding tender ended in December[3] and the selection process is currently underway. The unmanned missions could then begin already in spring. Frontex estimates the total cost of these missions at €50 million. The contract has a term of two years and can be extended twice for one year at a time.

      Frontex wants drones of the so-called MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class. Their flight duration should be at least 20 hours. The requirements include the ability to fly in all weather conditions and at day and night. It is also planned to operate in airspace where civil aircraft are in service. For surveillance missions, the drones should carry electro-optical cameras, thermal imaging cameras and so-called “daylight spotter” systems that independently detect moving targets and keep them in focus. Other equipment includes systems for locating mobile and satellite telephones. The drones will also be able to receive signals from emergency call transmitters sewn into modern life jackets.

      However, the Frontex drones will not be used primarily for sea rescue operations, but to improve capacities against unwanted migration. This assumption is also confirmed by the German non-governmental organisation Sea-Watch, which has been providing assistance in the central Mediterranean with various ships since 2015. “Frontex is not concerned with saving lives,” says Ruben Neugebauer of Sea-Watch. “While air surveillance is being expanded with aircraft and drones, ships urgently needed for rescue operations have been withdrawn”. Sea-Watch demands that situation pictures of EU drones are also made available to private organisations for sea rescue.

      Aircraft from arms companies

      Frontex has very specific ideas for its own drones, which is why there are only a few suppliers worldwide that can be called into question. The Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1, which Frontex tested for several months on the Greek island of Crete[4] and which is also flown by the German Bundeswehr, is one of them. As set out by Frontex in its invitation to tender, the Heron 1, with a payload of around 250 kilograms, can carry all the surveillance equipment that the agency intends to deploy over the Mediterranean. Also amongst those likely to be interested in the Frontex contract is the US company General Atomics, which has been building drones of the Predator series for 20 years. Recently, it presented a new Predator model in Greece under the name SeaGuardian, for maritime observation.[5] It is equipped with a maritime surveillance radar and a system for receiving position data from larger ships, thus fulfilling one of Frontex’s essential requirements.

      General Atomics may have a competitive advantage, as its Predator drones have several years’ operational experience in the Mediterranean. In addition to Frontex, the European Union has been active in the central Mediterranean with EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. In March 2019, Italy’s then-interior minister Matteo Salvini pushed through the decision to operate the EU mission from the air alone. Since then, two unarmed Predator drones operated by the Italian military have been flying for EUNAVFOR MED for 60 hours per month. Officially, the drones are to observe from the air whether the training of the Libyan coast guard has been successful and whether these navy personnel use their knowledge accordingly. Presumably, however, the Predators are primarily pursuing the mission’s goal to “combat human smuggling” by spying on the Libyan coast. It is likely that the new Operation EU Active Surveillance, which will use military assets from EU member states to try to enforce the UN arms embargo placed on Libya,[6] will continue to patrol with Italian drones off the coast in North Africa.

      Three EU maritime surveillance agencies

      In addition to Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) are also investing in maritime surveillance using drones. Together, the three agencies coordinate some 300 civil and military authorities in EU member states.[7] Their tasks include border, fisheries and customs control, law enforcement and environmental protection.

      In 2017, Frontex and EMSA signed an agreement to benefit from joint reconnaissance capabilities, with EFCA also involved.[8] At the time, EMSA conducted tests with drones of various sizes, but now the drones’ flights are part of its regular services. The offer is not only open to EU Member States, as Iceland was the first to take advantage of it. Since summer 2019, a long-range Hermes 900 drone built by the Israeli company Elbit Systems has been flying from Iceland’s Egilsstaðir airport. The flights are intended to cover more than half of the island state’s exclusive economic zone and to detect “suspicious activities and potential hazards”.[9]

      The Hermes 900 was also developed for the military; the Israeli army first deployed it in the Gaza Strip in 2014. The Times of Israel puts the cost of the operating contract with EMSA at €59 million,[10] with a term of two years, which can be extended for another two years. The agency did not conclude the contract directly with the Israeli arms company, but through the Portuguese firm CeiiA. The contract covers the stationing, control and mission control of the drones.

      New interested parties for drone flights

      At the request of the German MEP Özlem Demirel (from the party Die Linke), the European Commission has published a list of countries that also want to use EMSA drones.[11] According to this list, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and also Greece have requested unmanned flights for pollution monitoring this year, while Bulgaria and Spain want to use them for general maritime surveillance. Until Frontex has its own drones, EMSA is flying its drones for the border agency on Crete. As in Iceland, this is the long-range drone Hermes 900, but according to Greek media reports it crashed on 8 January during take-off.[12] Possible causes are a malfunction of the propulsion system or human error. The aircraft is said to have been considerably damaged.

      Authorities from France and Great Britain have also ordered unmanned maritime surveillance from EMSA. Nothing is yet known about the exact intended location, but it is presumably the English Channel. There, the British coast guard is already observing border traffic with larger drones built by the Tekever arms company from Portugal.[13] The government in London wants to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel. The drones take off from the airport in the small town of Lydd and monitor the approximately 50-kilometre-long and 30-kilometre-wide Strait of Dover. Great Britain has also delivered several quadcopters to France to try to detect potential migrants in French territorial waters. According to the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais, eight gendarmes have been trained to control the small drones[14].

      Information to non-EU countries

      The images taken by EMSA drones are evaluated by the competent national coastguards. A livestream also sends them to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw.[15] There they are fed into the EUROSUR border surveillance system. This is operated by Frontex and networks the surveillance installations of all EU member states that have an external border. The data from EUROSUR and the national border control centres form the ‘Common Pre-frontier Intelligence Picture’,[16] referring to the area of interest of Frontex, which extends far into the African continent. Surveillance data is used to detect and prevent migration movements at an early stage.

      Once the providing company has been selected, the new Frontex drones are also to fly for EUROSUR. According to the invitation to tender, they are to operate in the eastern and central Mediterranean within a radius of up to 250 nautical miles (463 kilometres). This would enable them to carry out reconnaissance in the “pre-frontier” area off Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Within the framework of EUROSUR, Frontex shares the recorded data with other European users via a ‘Remote Information Portal’, as the call for tender explains. The border agency has long been able to cooperate with third countries and the information collected can therefore also be made available to authorities in North Africa. However, in order to share general information on surveillance of the Mediterranean Sea with a non-EU state, Frontex must first conclude a working agreement with the corresponding government.[17]

      It is already possible, however, to provide countries such as Libya with the coordinates of refugee boats. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that the nearest Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) must be informed of actual or suspected emergencies. With EU funding, Italy has been building such a centre in Tripoli for the last two years.[18] It is operated by the military coast guard, but so far has no significant equipment of its own.

      The EU military mission “EUNAVFOR MED” was cooperating more extensively with the Libyan coast guard. For communication with European naval authorities, Libya is the first third country to be connected to European surveillance systems via the “Seahorse Mediterranean” network[19]. Information handed over to the Libyan authorities might also include information that was collected with the Italian military ‘Predator’ drones.

      Reconnaissance generated with unmanned aerial surveillance is also given to the MRCC in Turkey. This was seen in a pilot project last summer, when the border agency tested an unmanned aerostat with the Greek coast guard off the island of Samos.[20] Attached to a 1,000 metre-long cable, the airship was used in the Frontex operation ‘Poseidon’ in the eastern Mediterranean. The 35-meter-long zeppelin comes from the French manufacturer A-NSE.[21] The company specializes in civil and military aerial observation. According to the Greek Marine Ministry, the equipment included a radar, a thermal imaging camera and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the tracking of larger ships. The recorded videos were received and evaluated by a situation centre supplied by the Portuguese National Guard. If a detected refugee boat was still in Turkish territorial waters, the Greek coast guard informed the Turkish authorities. This pilot project in the Aegean Sea was the first use of an airship by Frontex. The participants deployed comparatively large numbers of personnel for the short mission. Pictures taken by the Greek coastguard show more than 40 people.

      Drones enable ‘pull-backs’

      Human rights organisations accuse EUNAVFOR MED and Frontex of passing on information to neighbouring countries leading to rejections (so-called ‘push-backs’) in violation of international law. People must not be returned to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. Frontex does not itself return refugees in distress who were discovered at sea via aerial surveillance, but leaves the task to the Libyan or Turkish authorities. Regarding Libya, the Agency since 2017 provided notice of at least 42 vessels in distress to Libyan authorities.[22]

      Private rescue organisations therefore speak of so-called ‘pull-backs’, but these are also prohibited, as the Israeli human rights lawyer Omer Shatz argues: “Communicating the location of civilians fleeing war to a consortium of militias and instructing them to intercept and forcibly transfer them back to the place they fled from, trigger both state responsibility of all EU members and individual criminal liability of hundreds involved.” Together with his colleague Juan Branco, Shatz is suing those responsible for the European Union and its agencies before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Soon they intend to publish individual cases and the names of the people accused.

      Matthias Monroy

      An earlier version of this article first appeared in the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique: ‘Drohnen für Frontex Statt sich auf die Rettung von Bootsflüchtlingen im Mittelmeer zu konzentrieren, baut die EU die Luftüberwachung’.

      Note: this article was corrected on 6 March to clarify a point regarding cooperation between Frontex and non-EU states.

      Endnotes

      [1] Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard, https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-33-2019-INIT/en/pdf

      [2] European Commission, ‘A strengthened and fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard’, 12 September 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-factsheet-coast-guard_en.pdf

      [3] ‘Poland-Warsaw: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for Medium Altitude Long Endurance Maritime Aerial Surveillance’, https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:490010-2019:TEXT:EN:HTML&tabId=1

      [4] IAI, ‘IAI AND AIRBUS MARITIME HERON UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEM (UAS) SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED 200 FLIGHT HOURS IN CIVILIAN EUROPEAN AIRSPACE FOR FRONTEX’, 24 October 2018, https://www.iai.co.il/iai-and-airbus-maritime-heron-unmanned-aerial-system-uas-successfully-complet

      [5] ‘ European Maritime Flight Demonstrations’, General Atomics, http://www.ga-asi.com/european-maritime-demo

      [6] ‘EU agrees to deploy warships to enforce Libya arms embargo’, The Guardian, 17 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/17/eu-agrees-deploy-warships-enforce-libya-arms-embargo

      [7] EMSA, ‘Heads of EMSA and Frontex meet to discuss cooperation on European coast guard functions’, 3 April 2019, http://www.emsa.europa.eu/news-a-press-centre/external-news/item/3499-heads-of-emsa-and-frontex-meet-to-discuss-cooperation-on-european-c

      [8] Frontex, ‘Frontex, EMSA and EFCA strengthen cooperation on coast guard functions’, 23 March 2017, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-emsa-and-efca-strengthen-cooperation-on-coast-guard-functions

      [9] Elbit Systems, ‘Elbit Systems Commenced the Operation of the Maritime UAS Patrol Service to European Union Countries’, 18 June 2019, https://elbitsystems.com/pr-new/elbit-systems-commenced-the-operation-of-the-maritime-uas-patrol-servi

      [10] ‘Elbit wins drone contract for up to $68m to help monitor Europe coast’, The Times of Israel, 1 November 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/elbit-wins-drone-contract-for-up-to-68m-to-help-monitor-europe-coast

      [11] ‘Answer given by Ms Bulc on behalf of the European Commission’, https://netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2019/12/E-2946_191_Finalised_reply_Annex1_EN_V1.pdf

      [12] ‘Το drone της FRONTEX έπεσε, οι μετανάστες έρχονται’, Proto Thema, 27 January 2020, https://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/968869/to-drone-tis-frontex-epese-oi-metanastes-erhodai

      [13] Morgan Meaker, ‘Here’s proof the UK is using drones to patrol the English Channel’, Wired, 10 January 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-drones-migrants-english-channel

      [14] ‘Littoral: Les drones pour lutter contre les traversées de migrants sont opérationnels’, La Voix du Nord, 26 March 2019, https://www.lavoixdunord.fr/557951/article/2019-03-26/les-drones-pour-lutter-contre-les-traversees-de-migrants-sont-operation

      [15] ‘Frontex report on the functioning of Eurosur – Part I’, Council document 6215/18, 15 February 2018, http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6215-2018-INIT/en/pdf

      [16] European Commission, ‘Eurosur’, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/eurosur_en

      [17] Legal reforms have also given Frontex the power to operate on the territory of non-EU states, subject to the conclusion of a status agreement between the EU and the country in question. The 2016 Frontex Regulation allowed such cooperation with states that share a border with the EU; the 2019 Frontex Regulation extends this to any non-EU state.

      [18] ‘Helping the Libyan Coast Guard to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre’, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-000547_EN.html

      [19] Matthias Monroy, ‘EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean’, 7 July 2018, https://digit.site36.net/2018/07/03/eu-funds-the-sacking-of-rescue-ships-in-the-mediterranean

      [20] Frontex, ‘Frontex begins testing use of aerostat for border surveillance’, 31 July 2019, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-begins-testing-use-of-aerostat-for-border-surveillance-ur33N8

      [21] ‘Answer given by Ms Johansson on behalf of the European Commission’, 7 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002529-ASW_EN.html

      [22] ‘Answer given by Vice-President Borrell on behalf of the European Commission’, 8 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002654-ASW_EN.html

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/drones-for-frontex-unmanned-migration-control-at-europe-s-borders

      #drones

    • Monitoring “secondary movements” and “hotspots”: Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency (16.12.2019)

      The EU’s border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on “secondary movements” and the “hotspots” within the EU. The intention is to ensure “situational awareness” and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

      The establishment of a new ’standing corps’ of 10,000 border guards to be commanded by EU border agency Frontex has generated significant public and press attention in recent months. However, the new rules governing Frontex[1] include a number of other significant developments - including a mandate for the surveillance of migratory movements and migration “hotspots” within the EU.

      Previously, the agency’s surveillance role has been restricted to the external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or “selected third-country ports.”[2] New legal provisions mean it will now be able to gather data on the movement of people within the EU. While this is only supposed to deal with “trends, volumes and routes,” rather than personal data, it is intended to inform operational activity within the EU.

      This may mean an increase in operations against ‘unauthorised’ migrants, bringing with it risks for fundamental rights such as the possibility of racial profiling, detention, violence and the denial of access to asylum procedures. At the same time, in a context where internal borders have been reintroduced by numerous Schengen states over the last five years due to increased migration, it may be that he agency’s new role contributes to a further prolongation of internal border controls.

      From external to internal surveillance

      Frontex was initially established with the primary goals of assisting in the surveillance and control of the external borders of the EU. Over the years it has obtained increasing powers to conduct surveillance of those borders in order to identify potential ’threats’.

      The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) has a key role in this task, taking data from a variety of sources, including satellites, sensors, drones, ships, vehicles and other means operated both by national authorities and the agency itself. EUROSUR was formally established by legislation approved in 2013, although the system was developed and in use long before it was subject to a legal framework.[3]

      The new Frontex Regulation incorporates and updates the provisions of the 2013 EUROSUR Regulation. It maintains existing requirements for the agency to establish a “situational picture” of the EU’s external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or the ports of non-EU states – which is then distributed to the EU’s member states in order to inform operational activities.[4]

      The new rules also provide a mandate for reporting on “unauthorised secondary movements” and goings-on in the “hotspots”. The Commission’s proposal for the new Frontex Regulation was not accompanied by an impact assessment, which would have set out the reasoning and justifications for these new powers. The proposal merely pointed out that the new rules would “evolve” the scope of EUROSUR, to make it possible to “prevent secondary movements”.[5] As the European Data Protection Supervisor remarked, the lack of an impact assessment made it impossible: “to fully assess and verify its attended benefits and impact, notably on fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy and to the protection of personal data.”[6]

      The term “secondary movements” is not defined in the Regulation, but is generally used to refer to journeys between EU member states undertaken without permission, in particular by undocumented migrants and applicants for internal protection. Regarding the “hotspots” – established and operated by EU and national authorities in Italy and Greece – the Regulation provides a definition,[7] but little clarity on precisely what information will be gathered.

      Legal provisions

      A quick glance at Section 3 of the new Regulation, dealing with EUROSUR, gives little indication that the system will now be used for internal surveillance. The formal scope of EUROSUR is concerned with the external borders and border crossing points:

      “EUROSUR shall be used for border checks at authorised border crossing points and for external land, sea and air border surveillance, including the monitoring, detection, identification, tracking, prevention and interception of unauthorised border crossings for the purpose of detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime and contributing to ensuring the protection and saving the lives of migrants.”

      However, the subsequent section of the Regulation (on ‘situational awareness’) makes clear the agency’s new internal role. Article 24 sets out the components of the “situational pictures” that will be visible in EUROSUR. There are three types – national situational pictures, the European situational picture and specific situational pictures. All of these should consist of an events layer, an operational layer and an analysis layer. The first of these layers should contain (emphasis added in all quotes):

      “…events and incidents related to unauthorised border crossings and cross-border crime and, where available, information on unauthorised secondary movements, for the purpose of understanding migratory trends, volume and routes.”

      Article 26, dealing with the European situational picture, states:

      “The Agency shall establish and maintain a European situational picture in order to provide the national coordination centres and the Commission with effective, accurate and timely information and analysis, covering the external borders, the pre-frontier area and unauthorised secondary movements.”

      The events layer of that picture should include “information relating to… incidents in the operational area of a joint operation or rapid intervention coordinated by the Agency, or in a hotspot.”[8] In a similar vein:

      “The operational layer of the European situational picture shall contain information on the joint operations and rapid interventions coordinated by the Agency and on hotspots, and shall include the mission statements, locations, status, duration, information on the Member States and other actors involved, daily and weekly situational reports, statistical data and information packages for the media.”[9]

      Article 28, dealing with ‘EUROSUR Fusion Services’, says that Frontex will provide national authorities with information on the external borders and pre-frontier area that may be derived from, amongst other things, the monitoring of “migratory flows towards and within the Union in terms of trends, volume and routes.”

      Sources of data

      The “situational pictures” compiled by Frontex and distributed via EUROSUR are made up of data gathered from a host of different sources. For the national situational picture, these are:

      national border surveillance systems;
      stationary and mobile sensors operated by national border agencies;
      border surveillance patrols and “other monitoring missions”;
      local, regional and other coordination centres;
      other national authorities and systems, such as immigration liaison officers, operational centres and contact points;
      border checks;
      Frontex;
      other member states’ national coordination centres;
      third countries’ authorities;
      ship reporting systems;
      other relevant European and international organisations; and
      other sources.[10]

      For the European situational picture, the sources of data are:

      national coordination centres;
      national situational pictures;
      immigration liaison officers;
      Frontex, including reports form its liaison officers;
      Union delegations and EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions;
      other relevant Union bodies, offices and agencies and international organisations; and
      third countries’ authorities.[11]

      The EUROSUR handbook – which will presumably be redrafted to take into account the new legislation – provides more detail about what each of these categories may include.[12]

      Exactly how this melange of different data will be used to report on secondary movements is currently unknown. However, in accordance with Article 24 of the new Regulation:

      “The Commission shall adopt an implementing act laying down the details of the information layers of the situational pictures and the rules for the establishment of specific situational pictures. The implementing act shall specify the type of information to be provided, the entities responsible for collecting, processing, archiving and transmitting specific information, the maximum time limits for reporting, the data security and data protection rules and related quality control mechanisms.” [13]

      This implementing act will specify precisely how EUROSUR will report on “secondary movements”.[14] According to a ‘roadmap’ setting out plans for the implementation of the new Regulation, this implementing act should have been drawn up in the last quarter of 2020 by a newly-established European Border and Coast Guard Committee sitting within the Commission. However, that Committee does not yet appear to have held any meetings.[15]

      Operational activities at the internal borders

      Boosting Frontex’s operational role is one of the major purposes of the new Regulation, although it makes clear that the internal surveillance role “should not lead to operational activities of the Agency at the internal borders of the Member States.” Rather, internal surveillance should “contribute to the monitoring by the Agency of migratory flows towards and within the Union for the purpose of risk analysis and situational awareness.” The purpose is to inform operational activity by national authorities.

      In recent years Schengen member states have reintroduced border controls for significant periods in the name of ensuring internal security and combating irregular migration. An article in Deutsche Welle recently highlighted:

      “When increasing numbers of refugees started arriving in the European Union in 2015, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Hungary quickly reintroduced controls, citing a “continuous big influx of persons seeking international protection.” This was the first time that migration had been mentioned as a reason for reintroducing border controls.

      Soon after, six Schengen members reintroduced controls for extended periods. Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway cited migration as a reason. France, as the sixth country, first introduced border checks after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, citing terrorist threats. Now, four years later, all six countries still have controls in place. On November 12, they are scheduled to extend them for another six months.”[16]

      These long-term extensions of internal border controls are illegal (the upper limit is supposed to be two years; discussions on changes to the rules governing the reintroduction of internal border controls in the Schengen area are ongoing).[17] A European Parliament resolution from May 2018 stated that “many of the prolongations are not in line with the existing rules as to their extensions, necessity or proportionality and are therefore unlawful.”[18] Yves Pascou, a researcher for the European Policy Centre, told Deutsche Welle that: “"We are in an entirely political situation now, not a legal one, and not one grounded in facts.”

      A European Parliament study published in 2016 highlighted that:

      “there has been a noticeable lack of detail and evidence given by the concerned EU Member States [those which reintroduced internal border controls]. For example, there have been no statistics on the numbers of people crossing borders and seeking asylum, or assessment of the extent to which reintroducing border checks complies with the principles of proportionality and necessity.”[19]

      One purpose of Frontex’s new internal surveillance powers is to provide such evidence (albeit in the ideologically-skewed form of ‘risk analysis’) on the situation within the EU. Whether the information provided will be of interest to national authorities is another question. Nevertheless, it would be a significant irony if the provision of that information were to contribute to the further maintenance of internal borders in the Schengen area.

      At the same time, there is a more pressing concern related to these new powers. Many discussions on the reintroduction of internal borders revolve around the fact that it is contrary to the idea, spirit (and in these cases, the law) of the Schengen area. What appears to have been totally overlooked is the effect the reintroduction of internal borders may have on non-EU nationals or ethnic minority citizens of the EU. One does not have to cross an internal Schengen frontier too many times to notice patterns in the appearance of the people who are hauled off trains and buses by border guards, but personal anecdotes are not the same thing as empirical investigation. If Frontex’s new powers are intended to inform operational activity by the member states at the internal borders of the EU, then the potential effects on fundamental rights must be taken into consideration and should be the subject of investigation by journalists, officials, politicians and researchers.

      Chris Jones

      Endnotes

      [1] The new Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU in mid-November: Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [2] Article 12, ‘Common application of surveillance tools’, Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013R1052

      [3] According to Frontex, the Eurosur Network first came into use in December 2011 and in March 2012 was first used to “exchange operational information”. The Regulation governing the system came into force in October 2013 (see footnote 2). See: Charles Heller and Chris Jones, ‘Eurosur: saving lives or reinforcing deadly borders?’, Statewatch Journal, vol. 23 no. 3/4, February 2014, http://database.statewatch.org/article.asp?aid=33156

      [4] Recital 34, 2019 Regulation: “EUROSUR should provide an exhaustive situational picture not only at the external borders but also within the Schengen area and in the pre-frontier area. It should cover land, sea and air border surveillance and border checks.”

      [5] European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Council Joint Action no 98/700/JHA, Regulation (EU) no 1052/2013 and Regulation (EU) no 2016/1624’, COM(2018) 631 final, 12 September 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/sep/eu-com-frontex-proposal-regulation-com-18-631.pdf

      [6] EDPS, ‘Formal comments on the Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard’, 30 November 2018, p. p.2, https://edps.europa.eu/sites/edp/files/publication/18-11-30_comments_proposal_regulation_european_border_coast_guard_en.pdf

      [7] Article 2(23): “‘hotspot area’ means an area created at the request of the host Member State in which the host Member State, the Commission, relevant Union agencies and participating Member States cooperate, with the aim of managing an existing or potential disproportionate migratory challenge characterised by a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving at the external borders”

      [8] Article 26(3)(c), 2019 Regulation

      [9] Article 26(4), 2019 Regulation

      [10] Article 25, 2019 Regulation

      [11] Article 26, 2019 Regulation

      [12] European Commission, ‘Commission Recommendation adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)’, C(2015) 9206 final, 15 December 2015, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/securing-eu-borders/legal-documents/docs/eurosur_handbook_annex_en.pdf

      [13] Article 24(3), 2019 Regulation

      [14] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [15] Documents related to meetings of committees operating under the auspices of the European Commission can be found in the Comitology Register: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regcomitology/index.cfm?do=Search.Search&NewSearch=1

      [16] Kira Schacht, ‘Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement’, DW, 12 November 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/border-checks-in-eu-countries-challenge-schengen-agreement/a-51033603

      [17] European Parliament, ‘Temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders’, https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2017/0245(COD)&l=en

      [18] ‘Report on the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area’, 3 May 2018, para.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2018-0160_EN.html

      [19] Elpseth Guild et al, ‘Internal border controls in the Schengen area: is Schengen crisis-proof?’, European Parliament, June 2016, p.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571356/IPOL_STU(2016)571356_EN.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2019/monitoring-secondary-movements-and-hotspots-frontex-is-now-an-internal-s

      #mouvements_secondaires #hotspot #hotspots

  • Greece’s refugees face healthcare crisis as Lesbos Covid-19 centre closes

    Patients on island camps face long wait for specialist help and mental health services, while in Athens others are left destitute
    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/3d2772106771ac41a4424c0fc1c52f61d01c40b2/0_363_5472_3283/master/5472.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=df484692f169d84d0d8e17

    In a fresh blow to refugees and migrants experiencing dire conditions in Greece, frontline medical charity Médecins San Frontières (MSF) on Thursday announced it has been forced to closed its Covid-19 isolation centre on Lesbos after authorities imposed fines and potential charges.

    From the island of Lesbos to the Greek capital of Athens, asylum seekers and recognised refugees, some with serious medical conditions, are unable to access healthcare or see a doctor as treatments are disrupted by new regulations.

    Asmaan* from Afghanistan is 10. For eight months she has lived in a makeshift tent with her family on the outskirts of the olive grove surrounding the Moria camp on Lesbos. She is one of more than 17,000 asylum seekers and refugees who have been living under lockdown here since 23 March.

    Asmaan is a familiar face at the paediatric clinic run by MSF just outside the main gate. “She was vomiting, shivering through the nights and became apathetic,” said her mother Sharif*. “We really became alarmed when she was bleeding going to the toilet.” Diagnosed with an acute inflammation of her kidney, Asmaan was transferred to the island’s hospital. Sharif said staff wanted to send her daughter to the mainland for treatment. But the family cannot leave Lesbos until their asylum procedure is completed.

    “Only highly severe cases can be transferred to the mainland,” Babis Anitsakis, director of infectious diseases at the hospital in Mytilene, told the Guardian. “This is also the case for the local population.” Such cases often involve a wait of two to three months in the camp before a transfer can be arranged, he said.

    “We are confronted with patients from Moria daily who have sicknesses like tuberculosis or HIV. We are simply not equipped for these treatments. On top of it, we face tremendous translation difficulties. At night the medical staff work with a phone translation app to communicate with the patients, which can be disastrous in an emergency situation.”

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/1875a0bb75e484383197257df58241d8922139b0/58_42_1885_1074/master/1885.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=c80ba861e2d27d0dfcc973

    For Giovanna Scaccabarozzi, a doctor with MSF on Lesbos, Asmaan’s case is typical of a system where refugees and asylum seekers find it increasingly difficult to access proper healthcare, often despite being in desperate need.

    “Even survivors of torture and sexual violence are now left to themselves with no one to talk to and with no possibility to escape the highly re-traumatising space of Moria,” she said. The camp’s lockdown has meant fewer people have been able to attend MSF’s mental health clinic in Mytilene.

    “From five to 10 appointments a day, we are now down to two to three a week in the torture clinic in town,” Scaccabarozzi said. Even when people reach the clinic, “it feels like treating someone with a burn while the person is still standing in the fire”.

    The closure of the Covid-19 isolation unit on Thursday is down to the island’s authorities enforcing planning regulations, MSF said. “We are deeply disappointed that local authorities could not quash these fines and potential charges in the light of the global pandemic, despite some efforts from relevant stakeholders,” said Stephan Oberreit, MSF’s head of mission in Greece. “The public health system on Lesbos would simply be unable to handle the devastation caused by an outbreak in Moria – which is why we stepped in. Today we had to unwillingly close a crucial component of the Covid-19 response for Moria.”

    Athens has become a beacon of hope for those living in the island’s overcrowded camps, but a recent policy change has seen people who arrive in Athens with refugee status left virtually destitute, many with ongoing healthcare issues.

    The changes, which mean cash assistance and accommodation support end a month after refugee status is granted, affect around 11,000 refugees in Greece. MSF told the Guardian it is concerned that a number of patients face eviction and many refugees in Athens are sleeping on the streets as a result.

    Hadla, a 59-year-old from Aleppo who had had multiple heart attacks, died within days of leaving the apartment she shared with her daughter Dalal in Athens. She had been asked to leave repeatedly. “I told them that my mother is terribly ill and showed them the medical files but they told us that they cannot do anything about it and that the decision had come from the ministry,” said Dalal.

    Fearing eviction, Dalal took her mother to Schisto refugee camp on the outskirts of Athens, where her brother was staying. Two days later Hadla had another cardiac arrest and died. Dalal is still in the apartment with the rest of her family but continues to face eviction. “We have nothing and nowhere to go,” she said.

    Kelly Moraiti, a nurse at the MSF daycare centre in Athens, said evictions put patients’ health at risk, particularly those living with diseases such as diabetes. “Someone who is facing a lifelong disease should have uninterrupted permanent access to treatment. They need to have access to a proper diet and a space to store medications, which should not be exposed to the sun; to be homeless with these conditions is extremely dangerous.”

    MSF urgently called on the Greek government and the EU to help house refugees sleeping rough in Athens and to halt evictions of vulnerable people.

    Some of the refugees on the streets of Athens are heavily pregnant women and new mothers as well as survivors of torture and sexual violence. Many have significant health conditions often complicated from their time in camps such as Moria.

    The Greek migration ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

    * Names changed or shortened for privacy reasons

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jul/31/greece-refugee-healthcare-crisis-island-camps-lesbos-moria-coronavirus

    #Lesbos #migrations #covid #coronavirus #centre_covid #asile #réfugiés #Grèce #fermeture #Moria #camps_de_réfugiés #santé_mentale #confinement

    ping @thomas_lacroix

  • Un policier condamné pour violence contre un mineur malien qui se réfugiait en France

    Deux agents de la #police_aux_frontières ont été condamnés à Gap, jeudi, pour « #violence » et « #soustraction_de_fonds ». « Dans un contexte de déni des violences policières par le pouvoir politique […], cette décision est un signal de justice fort », réagit l’avocat du mineur victime.

    Deux agents de la police aux frontières (PAF) ont été condamnés, jeudi 30 juillet, par le tribunal correctionnel de Gap, à de la prison avec sursis pour des faits de « violence commis par une personne dépositaire de l’autorité publique » pour l’un, pour « usage de faux en écriture publique » et « soustraction de biens d’un dépôt public » pour l’autre.

    Les faits remontent à 2018, à une époque où ils étaient basés au poste de Montgenèvre (Hautes-Alpes), au niveau d’un col qu’empruntent de nombreux exilés pour franchir la frontière qui sépare l’Italie de la France. Le premier, un gardien de la paix, est condamné à deux ans de prison avec sursis, 1 000 euros d’amende, et une interdiction d’exercer toute fonction publique pendant cinq ans, pour avoir frappé un mineur malien, Moussa*, qui venait juste d’être refoulé et se plaignait d’un vol d’argent à la PAF. Il devra également verser 900 euros de dommages et intérêts à l’adolescent.

    Le second, un ancien adjoint de sécurité, écope de 18 mois de prison avec sursis, 1 000 euros d’amende et une interdiction d’exercer toute fonction publique pendant cinq ans, pour avoir gardé l’argent d’une contravention après l’avoir annulée, sans explication claire.

    « Cette décision intervient dans un contexte de déni des violences policières par le pouvoir politique et rappelle que nul ne doit échapper à la loi, réagit l’avocat de Moussa*, Me Vincent Brengarth, auprès de Mediapart. Elle est un signal de justice fort à l’adresse des victimes. »

    Nous republions ci-dessous le compte-rendu du procès, qui s’est tenu il y a un mois.

    Gap (Hautes-Alpes).– L’audience était très attendue. Jeudi 2 juillet, deux agents de la police aux frontières (PAF) étaient renvoyés devant le tribunal correctionnel de Gap pour des délits commis au col de Montgenèvre, où des migrants tentent presque tous les jours de rallier Briançon : un gardien de la paix, âgé de 51 ans, était jugé pour des « violences volontaires par personne dépositaire de l’autorité publique » sur un adolescent malien passé en France à l’été 2018, Moussa* ; le second, un adjoint de sécurité dont le contrat n’a pas été renouvelé en 2020, était poursuivi pour « usage de faux » et « soustraction de biens d’un dépôt public », en l’occurrence 90 euros.

    Après cinq longues heures d’audience, le procureur de la République de Gap, Florent Crouhy, a requis à leur encontre respectivement deux ans et 18 mois de prison avec sursis, ainsi que l’interdiction d’exercer une fonction publique pendant cinq ans.

    Au départ, les soupçons d’abus commis à la PAF de Montgenèvre étaient bien plus larges. Depuis des années, non seulement des associations signalaient des récits de violences et de vols commis aux dépens de migrants, mais un réserviste de la PAF avait, lui aussi, tiré la sonnette d’alarme. En janvier 2019, enfin, un rapport du directeur départemental de la police aux frontières remis au procureur de Gap a pointé une série de dysfonctionnements liés à l’interpellation de migrants, dont l’argent disparaissait, ainsi qu’au contrôle d’automobilistes et au détournement de l’argent de contraventions. « À plusieurs reprises, peut-on y lire, des migrants auraient indiqué qu’il leur manquait de l’argent lors de notifications de refus d’entrée [en France – ndlr]. » Or, à chaque fois, « le gardien de la paix et l’adjoint de sécurité [jugés jeudi – ndlr] étaient présents lors des interpellations ou des notifications ».

    En janvier 2019, une enquête de l’Inspection générale de la police nationale (IGPN) était diligentée, qui s’est vite resserrée autour de l’histoire de Moussa, interpellé une nuit d’août 2018 lors d’une tentative de passage en France et renvoyé aussi sec en Italie, alors qu’il avait 15 ans, qu’il était isolé et que la France avait obligation de l’accueillir.

    Recroisant deux policiers sur sa route cette nuit-là, Moussa s’était plaint du vol de son argent à la PAF et avait eu le réflexe d’enregistrer la conversation. Diffusé à l’audience, cet échange de cinq minutes permet d’entendre des menaces, puis des bruits de coups : « T’accuses la police de vol, ce soir t’es en garde à vue et demain t’es dans un avion, hein ? […] Et c’est Tripoli-Paris ! » « T’arrêtes de nous traiter de voleurs parce que je t’en colle une, hein ? Moi je te dérouille ! » Ou encore : « Tu me traites encore une fois de voleur et je te jette là-dedans [un trou – ndlr]. T’as compris ? » Identifiés par l’IGPN, ce sont ces deux policiers qui étaient jugés jeudi.

    Avant que ne débute l’audience, Moussa échangeait encore avec Agnès Antoine, en terrasse d’un café, une militante des droits des étrangers, bénévole de l’association Tous migrants et de l’Anafé (Association nationale d’assistance aux frontières pour les étrangers), qui a été l’une des premières à le rencontrer après sa traversée réussie en France.

    « Je l’ai accueilli chez moi après qu’il est passé par le refuge solidaire de Briançon », confie celle qui participe également aux maraudes organisées pour venir en aide aux exilés sur la frontière, avec des élus parfois, pour contrôler les pratiques de la PAF. Elle se souvient d’un jeune homme « traumatisé », se plaignant de douleurs au ventre et au bas du dos résultant des coups reçus. « Il était incapable de comprendre comment la police française pouvait faire une chose pareille. »

    Le jeune homme a quitté le Mali, son pays d’origine, fin 2017, dans l’espoir « d’une vie meilleure ». « J’ai mis sept mois à rejoindre l’Europe. Avec un ami majeur, on a tenté plusieurs fois de passer la frontière à Montgenèvre, jusqu’à cette fameuse nuit », confie Moussa, qui assure que cinq autres migrants les accompagnaient.

    À sa première « rencontre » avec les policiers de la PAF, il n’a pas voulu fuir. « Ils nous ont interpellés et ramenés au poste, où ils nous ont demandé nos papiers. J’ai donné un acte de naissance prouvant que j’étais né en 2002. » Mais la police n’en tient pas compte, évoque une date de naissance « incohérente », selon la notification de refus d’entrée signée par un brigadier à minuit ce 4 août. Lui et son ami sont ramenés à la frontière après avoir été fouillés et contrôlés. La loi est pourtant claire : un étranger mineur « ne peut faire l’objet d’une mesure d’expulsion ».

    Mais arrivés sur place, Moussa et le second migrant découvrent qu’il leur manque de l’argent. « J’avais 600 euros et mon ami 200 euros. L’argent avait disparu de nos portefeuilles alors qu’on l’avait avant d’arriver au poste. »Il décide de retourner à la PAF de Montgenèvre et tombe sur deux policiers, qu’il dit reconnaître, le gardien de la paix et de l’adjoint de sécurité. « J’ai enregistré pour avoir une preuve de tout ça, car je sentais que ce n’était pas clair. Cet argent, je l’avais économisé en travaillant dans les marchés en Italie, je le gardais pour pouvoir manger et dormir. » En plus des menaces verbales, le policier lui aurait asséné des coups de poing et de pied.

    Si Moussa ne tarde pas à raconter sa mauvaise rencontre avec les forces de l’ordre à Agnès et à lui faire écouter l’enregistrement, celle-ci ne lui conseille pas de porter plainte dans l’immédiat. « On se méfiait même de la justice… On craignait que la reconnaissance de sa minorité lui soit refusée s’il y avait une plainte. » Reconnu mineur et pris en charge par le conseil départemental, comme le veut la règle pour tous les mineurs étrangers non accompagnés (MNA dans le jargon), Moussa a finalement déposé plainte en mars 2019.

    Au tribunal, jeudi, il joue nerveusement avec ses doigts. À la barre, la présidente appelle le gardien de la paix, résume les faits, puis hausse le ton :

    « Il vous dit que son argent a disparu et vous me dites que vous entendiez ça très souvent dans le discours des migrants à cette époque. Vous auriez pu lui laisser le bénéfice du doute ! »

    – Ça n’arrivait pas qu’à Montgenèvre, rétorque le gardien de la paix en référence aux vols.

    – Vous vous enfoncez, Monsieur. […] Vous appelez ça discuter, vous ?

    – J’étais exaspéré, c’était très tendu avec le problème migratoire. […] J’ai eu des phrases malheureuses, ce n’était pas malin. »

    Concernant les coups, à l’écoute de l’enregistrement, le gardien de la paix affirme avoir repoussé le migrant vers un panneau métallique. Il reconnaît toutefois ne pas s’être senti menacé par les exilés à ce moment-là. « On entend clairement plusieurs coups », contredit la juge, qui cherche à savoir « dans quel cadre procédural » se situe alors l’agent. « Logiquement, vous auriez dû les ramener à nouveau au poste pour suivre la procédure. De quel droit estimez-vous que c’est inutile ? D’aucun ! Vous êtes un exécutant, c’est illégal de prendre ce genre d’initiatives. »

    Selon Me Vincent Brengarth, conseil de Moussa, cette affaire démontre « le caractère indispensable des vidéos pour qu’il y ait justice ». « La question des violences policières sur les migrants est exploitée de façon assez secondaire, alors qu’elle a un caractère tout aussi systémique, plaide l’avocat. Elles sont exercées à l’encontre de personnes vulnérabilisées et ce ne sont pas des cas isolés. » Me Brengarth rappelle le rapport du Défenseur des droits ou celui de la CNCDH (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme), avant de dénoncer un « tandem » spécialisé dans la répétition de ces comportements.

    Devant le tribunal, l’ex-adjoint de sécurité n’est toutefois poursuivi que pour des faits sans rapport avec les exilés, simplement pour avoir gardé l’argent d’une contravention après l’avoir annulée, sans explication claire. « Vous dites d’abord avoir rempli la quittance sans prendre l’argent, puis vous évoquez une erreur de remplissage, insiste la juge. Vous avez paniqué ? Vous êtes un élève de maternelle ou un professionnel de la police ? » « Vous faites vraiment n’importe quoi dans cette brigade ! Plus on ment, plus on s’enfonce », assène-t-elle, sans être convaincue.

    Pour l’avocat du prévenu, le dossier aura eu « le mérite » de révéler les défaillances du commandement de la brigade et de la PAF au moment des faits. « Il ne faut pas que le ministère public et la partie civile fassent l’amalgame entre les violences dont est accusé le gardien de la paix et les autres faits qui concernent mon client. »

    « Tout ce qui compte pour moi, c’est qu’on me rende mon argent et que ça ne se reproduise plus avec d’autres », insiste Moussa, fier aujourd’hui de voir que sa situation se débloque en France. Cette année, il s’est inscrit dans un centre de formation et d’apprentissage (CFA) en Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Il passe en deuxième année et s’apprête à fêter ses 18 ans.

    « Il est apprenti cuisinier dans un restaurant et ça se passe très bien, précise le travailleur social qui l’accompagne depuis janvier 2019 pour l’association PlurielS. Il a son récépissé et devrait obtenir son titre de séjour travailleur temporaire dès septembre prochain. »

    Dans un rapport intitulé Persona non grata et publié en février 2019, l’Anafé dénonçait les pressions, violences policières et vols dont faisaient l’objet des personnes exilées. « On est rassurés que la justice se soit saisie de cette situation aujourd’hui car la question est d’autant plus grave quand les violences sont commises par les forces de l’ordre », note Laure Palun, directrice de l’association, qui relève que l’interdiction d’exercer peut avoir un effet dissuasif, en plus de la prison avec sursis. « S’ils sont condamnés, j’espère que cela empêchera d’autres policiers d’avoir des comportements similaires, que ce soit à Montgenèvre, Menton, ou toute autre frontière ou zone d’attente française. » Réponse le 30 juillet.

    https://soundcloud.com/mediapartpodcast/policier-de-la-paf-taccuses-la-police-de-vol-demain-tes-dans-un-avion-paris-tripoli/s-ZLMnohIShj6

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/300720/un-policier-condamne-pour-violence-contre-un-mineur-malien-qui-se-refugiai

    #France #condamnation #justice #police #violences_policières #PAF #frontières #migrations #Alpes #asile #réfugiés #Montgenèvre #frontière_sud-alpine #montagne #Italie

    #cartographie #carte #visualisation

  • #CANZONIERE_GRECANICO_SALENTINO « #SOLO_ANDATA »

    «Solo andata» è un brano dedicato alle migliaia di persone che tentano di raggiungere l’Europa affrontando dei viaggi pericolosissimi, nato dalla collaborazione tra #Erri_De_Luca e il Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino. Il videoclip è diretto da Alessandro Gassmann e prodotto da OH!PEN

    –-> Extrait :

    La terra ferma Italia, è terra chiusa.
    Vi lasciamo annegare. Per negare

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3637irO8V9Y

    #musique #musique_et_politique #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerrannée

    ping @sinehebdo @isskein

  • WFP Turkey Country Brief, June 2020 - World Food Program

    WFP continues to support 55,159 refugees in six camps, through a monthly e-voucher payment of TRY 100 (USD 15) per person. In June, WFP delivered the second round of 15,000 hygiene kits to cover camp residents’ household hygiene needs, with the second distribution completing one full kit; each kit covers 3 months’ needs.
    As of 30 June, no COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed among refugees in the camps.

    #Covid-19#migrant#migration#turquie#camp#réfugiés#sante#vulnerabilité

    https://reliefweb.int/report/turkey/wfp-turkey-country-brief-june-2020

  • In northern Syria, COVID-19 worsens an already dramatic humanitarian crisis - Global Voices

    The ongoing armed conflict in Syria has displaced over 1.6 million people who have fled mostly to the north of the country. The resulting catastrophic humanitarian crisis is now worsened by the impact of COVID-19 in the region.

    In the Idlib region in northern Syria, residents already endure drastic conditions on a daily basis. Although Idlib has confirmed only one case of COVID-19 in July, many factors contribute to rising tensions, one of which is the continuing and deliberate violence inflicted on Idlib’s vital infrastructure by the Syrian-Russian military alliance which has completely destroyed its health sector.

    According to Human Rights Watch, “northern Syria is not at all ready to face the ‘COVID-19′ pandemic.”

    Hani al-Hariri, an activist from southern Syria now living in Idlib, told Global Voices that the situation could be catastrophic if COVID-19 reaches northern Syria, where displaced people barely have access to basic needs, including health care, water, and food, making social distancing and hygiene almost impossible to maintain.

    #Covid-19#Syrie#camp#Idlib#Santé#réfugiés#déplacés#migration#quarantaine
    https://globalvoices.org/2020/07/30/in-northern-syria-covid-19-worsens-an-already-dramatic-humanitarian-cr

  • Syrians ‘face unprecedented hunger amid impending COVID crisis’ - UN News

    Most of the relatively low number of confirmed infections have been identified in rural Damascus, in areas under Government control.

    But there are serious concerns that Syrians – nine in 10 of whom live on $2 or less a day – are dangerously exposed to the disease should it reach them.

    “We’ve only had 248 cases (of new coronavirus infection) in country thus far, but we can take no comfort in that”, said Dr Richard Brennan, Regional Emergency Director for the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.

    “We have other countries in the region, the number of cases has got off to a slow start, and we’ve seen in more recent times a real acceleration, so we’ve seen this in Iraq, we’ve seen it in Turkey, we’ve seen it in Egypt and we can fully expect that we will have a similar development in Syria as well.”

    https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/1067252
    #Covid-19#Syrie#camp#guerre#Santé#réfugiés#déplacés#migration#quarantaine

  • Where Will Everyone Go ?

    ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, have for the first time modeled how climate refugees might move across international borders. This is what we found.

    #climate #climate_refugee #migration #international_migration #map

    ping @cdb_77

    https://features.propublica.org/climate-migration/model-how-climate-refugees-move-across-continents

  • #Belmonte_Calabro, come studenti e migranti hanno contribuito a ripopolare un borgo della Calabria: “Noi ora lo chiamiamo #Belmondo

    A Belmonte Calabro l’aria ha lo stesso profumo di quella di Madaripur, in Bangladesh. Se ne è accorto Rajib Hossain, 20 anni e un lungo viaggio alle spalle. Ha lasciato il suo Paese quattro anni fa, è in Italia da febbraio 2017. La prima volta a Belmonte ancora se la ricorda: “Mi guardai intorno, osservando il mare, e pensai che quello era il posto perfetto per godersi bene il mondo. L’aria era più dolce. Ho sentito gli stessi profumi di casa mia. Non mi era mai successo, da quando me ne ero andato”, racconta a ilfattoquotidiano.it. Per capire il percorso che ha portato lì Rajib bisogna fare un passo indietro.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU1dGl9dFik&feature=emb_logo

    Arroccato su una collina che guarda il mare, Belmonte conta poco più di mille abitanti. Nel 2016 il suo centro storico rischia lo spopolamento: i telefoni non prendono la linea e la gente del posto preferisce vivere vicino alla marina, dove si trova la ferrovia. Per le strade non c’è quasi nessuno. Sembra un luogo destinato a essere dimenticato. Eppure, c’è ancora chi se lo ricorda: nello stesso anno Rita Adamo sta studiando architettura alla London Metropolitan University. Originaria di Potenza, ha passato le estati della sua infanzia proprio a Belmonte. Racconta a compagni e professori londinesi l’isolamento in cui sta cadendo il borgo storico: “Quella stessa estate abbiamo deciso di passare qualche giorno lì. Io conoscevo l’ex Convento dei Cappuccini, ora gestito da operatori culturali, e sapevo che potevamo soggiornarci”, racconta. “Era il periodo dei grandi sbarchi sulle coste italiane. Ad #Amantea, poco distante, c’è un centro di accoglienza migranti. Ci siamo rivolti a loro per sapere se qualcuno fosse interessato a passare del tempo con noi. Hanno accettato in dieci. Non ci era ancora chiaro cosa volessimo fare: all’inizio pensavamo a conoscerci e a conoscere meglio il posto, riscoprendo luoghi considerati vecchi. Io stessa non andavo a Belmonte da molto tempo e quell’anno sono tornata con una nuova coscienza”.

    In quell’occasione Rita e altri studenti fondano La #Rivoluzione-delle_Seppie, che si occupa di riattivare le aree calabresi a rischio spopolamento. È un inizio. Poco dopo l’università di Londra organizza una classe di ricerca: ogni anno, in novembre, un gruppo di studenti va in visita a Belmonte Calabro. “Restano una settimana. Entrano in contatto con la comunità di migranti, conoscono meglio il contesto locale. Ognuno di loro, mentre è sul posto, sceglie il luogo che lo ha colpito di più. Poi progetta strutture o edifici utili a incoraggiare l’inclusione sociale e a contrastare lo spopolamento”, continua Rita. Sono opere di studio, non vengono realizzate, precisa. Ma spesso servono da spunto.

    Il tempo passa e nasce #Crossings, il festival estivo che unisce sotto lo stesso ombrello diverse realtà: La Rivoluzione delle Seppie, il collettivo di architettura #Orizzontale, l’associazione culturale Ex Convento, la #London_Metropolitan_University, l’#Università_Mediterranea_di_Reggio_Calabria e il Centro di solidarietà “Il Delfino”. Protagonista Belmonte Calabro, sottratto all’isolamento di anni prima. Partecipa anche l’amministrazione comunale, con il proprio patrocinio.

    A ogni edizione seminari e workshop diversi, che richiamano l’attenzione di esperti e professionisti. Studenti di Londra e migranti partecipano agli incontri fianco a fianco. In inverno invece c’è un’altra spedizione: “L’Università londinese prevede che gli studenti di architettura vadano nelle campagne inglesi, ospiti di fattorie, a sperimentare materiali nuovi. Costruiscono strutture che poi smontano a esperimento concluso. Abbiamo deciso di organizzare la stessa cosa a Belmonte. Qui gli studenti possono realizzare strutture che poi rimarranno nel tempo, aiutati dal collettivo di architetti Orizzontale”, racconta Rita.

    Nel 2019 nasce BelMondo, la comunità virtuale che vuole mantenere connessi tutti i partecipanti a Crossings. Il nome lo ha trovato Rajib, che quell’anno aveva partecipato a un workshop organizzato dal festival: “Ho scelto questo nome perché era simile al nome originario del posto, Belmonte, e perché il paese è un posto bellissimo dove vivere, soprattutto per la natura e i paesaggi”, racconta. “Il ricordo più bello che ho è la condivisione con gli studenti di Londra”. Fotografie, disegni, lavoro. Ma anche balli e chiacchiere: “Io non ho mai studiato, ma loro non mi hanno mai fatto sentire diverso perché migrante. Siamo diventati amici”. Rajib lavora a Cosenza come mediatore culturale. Aiuta i nuovi arrivati, che come lui non sanno cosa fare né dove andare. “Il progetto segue le fasi politiche: con il Decreto Sicurezza molti migranti sono stati costretti ad andarsene”, spiega Rita. “Ma tutti quelli che coinvolgiamo vogliono tornare anche gli anni successivi, perché a Belmonte hanno trovato una dimensione umana che manca nelle grandi città”.

    Tra i progetti più recenti c’è la ristrutturazione dell’ex Casa delle Monache, ora diventata Casa BelMondo. Sarà un punto di ritrovo e condivisione. Per ora sono stati rifatti i pavimenti di tre stanze: il programma originario prevedeva di proseguire i lavori quest’estate in occasione di Crossings 2020, ma non è stato possibile a causa della pandemia. L’edizione di quest’anno sarà quindi digitale e virtuale, come è successo per molti altri eventi.

    Il segnale di rete è ancora incerto per le vie del centro storico, a Belmonte Calabro. Ma non è più un’isola: “Molti ragazzi dei territori vicini, per esempio di Cosenza, hanno scelto di visitarlo. La comunità locale all’inizio ci guardava con un po’ di diffidenza, ma ora ci conosce e interagisce con noi, soprattutto nei momenti di convivialità”, spiega Rita. “Ora vogliamo pensare a come crescere per il futuro”. E poi ci sono i migranti, per i quali questo borgo storico calabrese è diventato una seconda casa, come dice Rajib: “Per me, c’è il mio paese natale. Subito dopo c’è BelMondo”.

    https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2020/07/25/belmonte-calabro-come-studenti-e-migranti-hanno-contribuito-a-ripopolare-un-borgo-della-calabria-noi-ora-lo-chiamiamo-belmondo/5874467

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Calabre #Italie #accueil #étudiants #villes-refuge #dépeuplement #démographie #architecture #urbanisme #imaginaire

    –—

    Ajouté au fil de discussion "I paesi che rinascono grazie ai migranti":
    https://seenthis.net/messages/534262

  • Griechenland - Bericht: Unternehmensberater plädierten für Sanktionen gegen Migranten
    https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/griechenland-bericht-unternehmensberater-plaedierten-fuer.1939.de.ht

    Die Unternehmensberatung McKinsey hat der Europäischen Union nach Recherchen des „Spiegel“ geraten, die Rechte von Migranten auf den griechischen Inseln einzuschränken.

    Das Magazin zitiert aus Unterlagen zu einem Beratervertrag aus dem Jahr 2017 im Volumen von rund einer Million Euro. Demnach riet McKinsey den Behörden unter anderem dazu, mehr Menschen in Abschiebehaft zu nehmen. Flüchtlinge sollten zudem möglichst davon abgehalten werden, Rechtsmittel einzulegen. Migranten, die sich weigerten, auf das griechische Festland gebracht zu werden, sollten nach den Vorstellungen der Berater sanktioniert werden.

    Welche der Vorschläge von den griechischen Behörden und der EU umgesetzt wurden, ist unklar. Der Europäische Rechnungshof hatte 2018 kritisiert, dass der Auftrag an die Unternehmensberatung ohne Ausschreibung vergeben worden war.

    #réfugiés

  • Dans l’est de la #Turquie, le trajet tragique des migrants afghans

    Fuyant les talibans, de nombreuses familles partent trouver refuge en Europe. En chemin, elles sont souvent bloquées dans les #montagnes kurdes, où elles sont à la merci des #trafiquants d’êtres humains et de la #police.

    Le dos voûté sous leurs lourds sacs à dos, la peau brûlée par le soleil et les lèvres craquelées par la soif, Nizamuddin et Zabihulah sont à bout de forces. Se traînant pesamment en bord de route, près de la petite ville de #Çaldiran dans l’extrême est de la Turquie, ils cherchent désespérément un moyen d’abréger leur trajet. « Nous marchons presque sans arrêt depuis deux jours et deux nuits. Nous avons franchi sept ou huit montagnes pour arriver ici depuis l’Iran », raconte le premier. Affamés, les pieds enflés, et dépités par le refus généralisé de les conduire vers la grande ville de #Van à une centaine de kilomètres de là, ils finissent par se laisser tomber au sol, sous un arbre.

    « J’ai quitté l’#Afghanistan il y a huit mois parce que les talibans voulaient me recruter. C’était une question de temps avant qu’ils m’emmènent de force », explique Zabihulah. Originaire de la province de Jozjan, dans le nord de l’Afghanistan, où vivent sa femme et son très jeune fils, son quotidien était rythmé par les menaces de la rébellion afghane et la misère économique dans laquelle est plongé le pays en guerre depuis plus de quarante ans. « Je suis d’abord allé en Iran pour travailler. C’était épuisant et le patron ne m’a pas payé », relate-t-il. Ereinté par les conditions de vie, le jeune homme au visage fin mais marqué par le dur labeur a décidé de tenter sa chance en Turquie. « C’est ma deuxième tentative, précise-t-il. L’an dernier, la police iranienne m’a attrapé, m’a tabassé et tout volé. J’ai été renvoyé en Afghanistan. Cette fois, je vais rester en Turquie travailler un peu, puis j’irai en Grèce. »

    Pierres tombales

    Comme Nizamuddin et Zabihulah, des dizaines de milliers de réfugiés afghans (mais aussi iraniens, pakistanais et bangladais) pénètrent en Turquie illégalement chaque année, en quête d’un emploi, d’une vie plus stable et surtout de sécurité. En 2019, les autorités turques disent avoir appréhendé 201 437 Afghans en situation irrégulière. Deux fois plus que l’année précédente et quatre fois plus qu’en 2017. Pour la majorité d’entre eux, la province de Van est la porte d’entrée vers l’Anatolie et ensuite la Grèce. Cette région reculée est aussi la première muraille de la « forteresse Europe ».

    Si le désastre humanitaire en mer Méditerranée est largement documenté, la tragédie qui se déroule dans les montagnes kurdes des confins de la Turquie et de l’#Iran est plus méconnue mais tout aussi inhumaine. Régulièrement, des corps sont retrouvés congelés, à moitié dévorés par les animaux sauvages, écrasés aux bas de falaises, criblés de balles voire noyés dans des cours d’eau. Dans un des cimetières municipaux de Van, un carré comptant plus d’une centaine de tombes est réservé aux dépouilles des migrants que les autorités n’ont pas pu identifier. Sur les pierres tombales, quelques chiffres, lettres et parfois une nationalité. Ce sont les seuls éléments, avec des prélèvements d’ADN, qui permettront peut-être un jour d’identifier les défunts. Un large espace est prévu pour les futures tombes, dont certaines sont déjà creusées en attente de cercueils.

    Pour beaucoup de réfugiés, la gare routière de Van est le terminus du voyage. « Le passeur nous a abandonnés ici, nous ne savons pas où aller ni quoi faire », raconte Nejibulah, le téléphone vissé à la main dans l’espoir de pouvoir trouver une porte de sortie à ses mésaventures. A 34 ans, il a quitté Hérat, dans l’ouest de l’Afghanistan, avec douze membres de sa famille dont ses trois enfants. Après quinze jours passés dans des conditions déplorables dans les montagnes, la famille a finalement atteint le premier village turc pour tomber entre les mains de bandits locaux. « Ils nous ont battus et nous ont menacés de nous prendre nos organes si nous ne leur donnions pas d’argent », raconte Nejibulah. Son beau-frère exhibe deux profondes blessures ouvertes sur sa jambe. Leurs proches ont pu rassembler un peu d’argent pour payer leur libération : 13 000 lires turques (1 660 euros) en plus des milliers de dollars déjà payés aux passeurs. Ces derniers sont venus les récupérer pour les abandonner sans argent à la gare routière.
    Impasse

    La police vient régulièrement à la gare arrêter les nouveaux arrivants pour les emmener dans l’un des deux camps de rétention pour migrants de la province. Là-bas, les autorités évaluent leurs demandes de protection internationale. « Sur le papier, la Turquie est au niveau des standards internationaux dans la gestion des migrants. Le problème, c’est le manque de sensibilité aux droits de l’homme des officiers de protection », explique Mahmut Kaçan, avocat et membre de la commission sur les migrations du barreau de Van. Le résultat, selon lui, c’est une politique de déportation quasi systématique. Si les familles obtiennent en général facilement l’asile, les hommes seuls n’auraient presque aucune chance, voire ne pourraient même pas plaider leur cas.

    Pour ceux qui obtiennent le droit de rester, les conditions de vie n’en restent pas moins très difficiles. Le gouvernement qui doit gérer plus de 4 millions de réfugiés, dont 3,6 millions de Syriens, leur interdit l’accès aux grandes villes de l’ouest du pays telles Istanbul, Ankara et Izmir. Il faut parfois des mois pour obtenir un permis de séjour. L’obtention du permis de travail est quasiment impossible. En attendant, ils sont condamnés à la débrouille, au travail au noir et sous-payé et aux logements insalubres.

    La famille Amiri, originaire de la province de Takhar dans le nord de l’Afghanistan, est arrivée à Van en 2018. « J’étais cuisinier dans un commissariat. Les talibans ont menacé de me tuer. Nous avons dû tout abandonner du jour au lendemain », raconte Shah Vali, le père, quadragénaire. Sa femme était enceinte de sept mois à leur arrivée en Turquie. Ils ont dormi dans la rue, puis sur des cartons pendant des semaines dans un logement vétuste qu’ils occupent toujours. La petite dernière est née prématurément. Elle est muette et partiellement paralysée. « L’hôpital nous dit qu’il faudrait faire des analyses de sang pour trouver un traitement, sans quoi elle restera comme ça toute sa vie », explique son père. Coût : 800 lires. La moitié seulement est remboursée par la sécurité sociale turque. « Nous n’avons pas les moyens », souffle sa mère Sabira. Les adultes, souffrant aussi d’afflictions, n’ont pas accès à la moindre couverture de santé. Shah Vali est pourtant d’humeur heureuse. Après deux ans de présence en Turquie, il a enfin trouvé un emploi. Au noir, bien sûr. Il travaille dans une usine d’œufs. Salaire : 1 200 lires. Le seuil de faim était estimé en janvier à 2 219 lires pour un foyer de quatre personnes. « Nous avons dû demander de l’argent à des voisins, de jeunes Afghans, eux-mêmes réfugiés », informe Shah Vali. Pour lui et sa famille, le voyage est terminé. « Nous voulions aller en Grèce, mais nous n’avons pas assez d’argent. »

    Lointaines, économiquement peu dynamiques, les provinces frontalières de l’Iran sont une impasse pour les réfugiés. Et ce d’autant que, depuis 2013, aucun réfugié afghan n’a pu bénéficier d’une réinstallation dans un pays tiers. « Sans espoir légal de pouvoir aller en Europe ou dans l’ouest du pays, les migrants prennent toujours plus de risques », souligne Mahmut Kaçan. Pour contourner les check-points routiers qui quadrillent cette région très militarisée, les traversées du lac de Van - un vaste lac de montagne aux humeurs très changeantes - se multiplient. Fin juin, un bateau a sombré corps et biens avec des dizaines de personnes à bord. A l’heure de l’écriture de cet article, 60 corps avaient été retrouvés. L’un des passeurs était apparemment un simple pêcheur.

    Climat d’#impunité

    Face à cette tragédie, le ministre de l’Intérieur turc, Suleyman Soylu, a fait le déplacement, annonçant des moyens renforcés pour lutter contre le phénomène. Mahmut Kaçan dénonce cependant des effets d’annonce et l’incurie des autorités. « Combien de temps un passeur res te-t-il en prison généralement ? Quelques mois au plus, s’agace-t-il. Les autorités sont focalisées sur la lutte contre les trafics liés au PKK [la guérilla kurde active depuis les années 80] et ferment les yeux sur le reste. » Selon lui, les réseaux de trafiquants se structureraient rapidement. Publicités et contacts de passeurs sont aisément trouvables sur les réseaux sociaux, notamment sur Instagram. Dans un climat d’impunité, les #passeurs corrompent des #gardes-frontières, qui eux-mêmes ne sont pas poursuivis en cas de bavures. « Le #trafic_d’être_humain est une industrie sans risque, par comparaison avec la drogue, et très profitable », explique l’avocat. Pendant ce temps, les exilés qui traversent les montagnes sont à la merci de toutes les #violences. Avec la guerre qui s’intensifie à nouveau en Afghanistan, le flot de réfugiés ne va pas se tarir. Les Afghans représentent le tiers des 11 500 migrants interceptés par l’agence européenne Frontex aux frontières sud-est de l’UE, entre janvier et mai.

    https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2020/07/20/dans-l-est-de-la-turquie-le-trajet-tragique-des-migrants-afghans_1794793
    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #parcours_migratoires #itinéraires_migratoires #réfugiés_afghans #Caldiran #Kurdistan #Kurdistan_turc #morts #décès #Iran #frontières #violence

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Migrants atteints du #Covid-19, les dessous d’un fiasco sanitaire

    153 cas de contamination au nouveau coronavirus ont été dépistés au sein des communautés migrantes dans la région de Laâyoune Sakia El Hamra. Ces foyers lèvent le voile sur un laisser-aller dangereux des autorités sanitaires dans la prévention et la prise en charge de cette population vulnérable. Le Desk reconstitue le puzzle de cette affaire.

    https://ledesk.ma/2020/06/30/migrants-atteints-du-covid-19-les-dessous-dun-fiasco-sanitaire
    #coronavirus #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Maroc #Laâyoune-Sakia_El_Hamra
    #paywall

    ping @thomas_lacroix

  • 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

  • Automated suspicion: The EU’s new travel surveillance initiatives

    This report examines how the EU is using new technologies to screen, profile and risk-assess travellers to the Schengen area, and the risks this poses to civil liberties and fundamental rights.

    By developing ‘interoperable’ biometric databases, introducing untested profiling tools, and using new ‘pre-crime’ watchlists, people visiting the EU from all over the world are being placed under a veil of suspicion in the name of enhancing security.

    Watch the animation below for an overview of the report. A laid-out version will be available shortly. You can read the press release here: https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/july/eu-to-deploy-controversial-technologies-on-holidaymakers-and-business-tr

    –----

    Executive summary

    The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has raised the possibility of widespread surveillance and location tracking for the purpose of disease control, setting alarm bells ringing amongst privacy advocates and civil rights campaigners. However, EU institutions and governments have long been set on the path of more intensive personal data processing for the purpose of migration control, and these developments have in some cases passed almost entirely under the radar of the press and civil society organisations.

    This report examines, explains and critiques a number of large-scale EU information systems currently being planned or built that will significantly extend the collection and use of biometric and biographic data taken from visitors to the Schengen area, made up of 26 EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In particular, it examines new systems being introduced to track, analyse and assess the potential security, immigration or public health risks posed by non-EU citizens who have to apply for either a short-stay visa or a travel authorisation – primarily the #Visa_Information_System (#VIS), which is being upgraded, and the #European_Travel_Information_and_Authorisation_System (#ETIAS), which is currently under construction.

    The visa obligation has existed for years. The forthcoming travel authorisation obligation, which will cover citizens of non-EU states who do not require a visa, is new and will massively expand the amount of data the EU holds on non-citizens. It is the EU’s equivalent of the USA’s ESTA, Canada’s eTA and Australia’s ETA.[1] These schemes represent a form of “government permission to travel,” to borrow the words of Edward Hasbrouck,[2] and they rely on the extensive processing of personal data.

    Data will be gathered on travellers themselves as well as their families, education, occupation and criminal convictions. Fingerprints and photographs will be taken from all travellers, including from millions of children from the age of six onwards. This data will not just be used to assess an individual’s application, but to feed data mining and profiling algorithms. It will be stored in large-scale databases accessible to hundreds of thousands of individuals working for hundreds of different public authorities.

    Much of this data will also be used to feed an enormous new database holding the ‘identity data’ – fingerprints, photographs, names, nationalities and travel document data – of non-EU citizens. This system, the #Common_Identity_Repository (#CIR), is being introduced as part of the EU’s complex ‘interoperability’ initiative and aims to facilitate an increase in police identity checks within the EU. It will only hold the data of non-EU citizens and, with only weak anti-discrimination safeguards in the legislation, raises the risk of further entrenching racial profiling in police work.

    The remote monitoring and control of travellers is also being extended through the VIS upgrade and the introduction of ETIAS. Travel companies are already obliged to check, prior to an individual boarding a plane, coach or train, whether they have the visa required to enter the Schengen area. This obligation will be extended to include travel authorisations, with travel companies able to use the central databases of the VIS and ETIAS to verify whether a person’s paperwork is in order or not. When people arrive at the Schengen border, when they are within the Schengen area and long after they leave, their personal data will remain stored in these systems and be available for a multitude of further uses.

    These new systems and tools have been presented by EU institutions as necessary to keep EU citizens safe. However, the idea that more personal data gathering will automatically lead to greater security is a highly questionable claim, given that the authorities already have problems dealing with the data they hold now.

    Furthermore, a key part of the ‘interoperability’ agenda is the cross-matching and combination of data on tens of millions of people from a host of different databases. Given that the EU’s databases are already-known to be strewn with errors, this massively increases the risks of mistakes in decision making in a policy field – immigration – that already involves a high degree of discretion and which has profound implications for peoples’ lives.

    These new systems have been presented by their proponents as almost-inevitable technological developments. This is a misleading idea which masks the political and ethical judgments that lie behind the introduction of any new technology. It would be fairer to say that EU lawmakers have chosen to introduce unproven, experimental technologies – in particular, automated profiling – for use on non-EU citizens, who have no choice in the matter and are likely to face difficulties in exercising their rights.

    Finally, the introduction of new databases designed to hold data on tens of millions of non-citizens rests on the idea that our public authorities can be trusted to comply with the rules and will not abuse the new troves of data to which they are being given access. Granting access to more data to more people inevitably increases the risk of individual abuses. Furthermore, the last decade has seen numerous states across the EU turn their back on fundamental rights and democratic standards, with migrants frequently used as scapegoats for society’s ills. In a climate of increased xenophobia and social hostility to foreigners, it is extremely dangerous to assert that intrusive data-gathering will counterbalance a supposed threat posed by non-citizens.

    Almost all the legislation governing these systems has now been put in place. What remains is for them to be upgraded or constructed and put into use. Close attention should be paid by lawmakers, journalists, civil society organisations and others to see exactly how this is done. If all non-citizens are to be treated as potential risks and assessed, analysed, monitored and tracked accordingly, it may not be long before citizens come under the same veil of suspicion.

    https://www.statewatch.org/automated-suspicion-the-eu-s-new-travel-surveillance-initiatives

    #vidéo:
    https://vimeo.com/437830786

    #suspects #suspicion #frontières #rapport #StateWatch #migrations #asile #réfugiés #EU #UE #Union_européenne
    #surveillance #profiling #database #base_de_données #données_personnelles #empreintes_digitales #enfants #agences_de_voyage #privatisation #interopérabilité

    ping @mobileborders @isskein @etraces @reka

  • Education : la Grèce octroie l’asile à un étudiant Guinéen admis à Sciences Po Paris

    Les autorités grecques vont octroyer l’asile à un jeune migrant guinéen, admis à Sciences Po Paris. Il était bloqué en Grèce car l’examen de sa demande d’asile a été retardé par l’épidémie de coronavirus.

    « C’est un pas positif, un pas dans la bonne direction », s’est félicitée Sofia Kouvelaki, directrice de l’ONG, The Home Project, qui s’était chargée du jeune migrant guinéen admis à Sciences Po à Paris mais bloqué en Grèce à cause du coronavirus.

    Les autorités grecques vont octroyer mardi l’asile à Amadou Diallo, 20 ans, réfugié sans-papiers. Après avoir terminé sa scolarité en Grèce, il a été accepté pour étudier à Sciences Po Paris sur dossier, après avoir passé un entretien en visioconférence.
    L’asile octroyé à trois jeunes migrants boursiers

    Le ministère grec des Migrations a indiqué ce lundi dans un communiqué que le ministre Notis Mitarakis allait octroyer mardi l’asile « à trois migrants qui ont réussi à obtenir des bourses d’études grâce aux possibilités que la Grèce leur a offertes ».

    Outre Amadou Diallo, deux autres jeunes migrants vont recevoir l’asile, respectivement de nationalité camerounaise et afghane. La responsable de l’ONG The Home Project a toutefois exprimé l’importance qu’Amadou Diallo reçoive « rapidement une carte de séjour et un passeport » pour qu’il puisse se rendre à temps à Paris pour commencer ses études.

    L’examen de sa demande d’asile a été retardé par l’épidémie de coronavirus, qui risquait en effet de l’empêcher de se rendre en France à temps pour la rentrée universitaire. C’est l’ambassade de France à Athènes qui s’est saisie de la question du jeune Guinéen, et avait travaillé à une solution avec le gouvernement grec.
    « La France est prête à l’accueillir ! »

    Le jeune homme, qui a perdu ses parents encore enfant, a fui son pays où il se sentait persécuté. Il est arrivé en 2016 sur l’île grecque de Lesbos. Il s’est enfui du camp de réfugié de Moria à Lesbos en se cachant dans un ferry pour Athènes où il a vécu un temps sans abri, jusqu’à ce qu’il rencontre des membres de l’ONG The Home Project.

    Grâce à un travail dans un hôtel l’été et au soutien de l’ONG, il a pu intégrer le lycée franco hellénique Eugène Delacroix à Athènes. Sur les réseaux sociaux, son histoire a été vivement commentée et a suscité l’émotion.

    La ministre française déléguée à la citoyenneté Marlène Schiappa a réagi sur Twitter : « Grâce à la mobilisation du Ministère de l’Intérieur et de la diplomatie française la Grèce va octroyer l’asile à Amadou Diallo, jeune réfugié admis à Sciences Po. Il pourra donc poursuivre sa scolarité en France ! ».

    https://twitter.com/MarleneSchiappa/status/1285310610629107714?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12


    https://twitter.com/MarleneSchiappa/status/1285310610629107714

    https://www.leparisien.fr/societe/education-la-grece-octroie-l-asile-a-un-etudiant-guineen-admis-a-sciences
    #relocalisation #Grèce #France #études #université #études #réfugiés #asile #migrations

    –-

    Ajouté à la métaliste des #villes-refuge et en particulier des #universités-refuge :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/759145#message766829

  • 1 per cent of humanity displaced: UNHCR Global Trends report - UNHCR

    - Coronavirus impact? -

    The report did not address the evolving displacement situation since the global coronavirus pandemic struck.
    Grandi said it was clear the crisis was complicating the situation for the displaced at a time when everyone is being told that “being on the move is a liability for yourself and for others.”
    But he noted that the poor and middle-income countries that host around 85 percent of the world’s refugees had so far been relatively spared the worst health impacts of the pandemic.
    However, he warned, the economic impacts were taking a dire toll.
    “What we have really seen escalating dramatically is poverty,” he said, pointing out that lockdowns in many countries had eliminated any chance most displaced people have of making an income.
    Without significant support for displaced people and their host communities, this could spark “further population movements”, he warned.
    Grandi also reiterated that countries must continue granting asylum to those in need, despite border closures and lockdown measures.
    “One activity that doesn’t seem to have been discouraged by the pandemic is war, or conflict or violence,” he said.
    “Unfortunately people continue to flee their homes, because pandemic or not, they are at risk... and they need to continue to be given refuge, protection, asylum.”

    #Covid-19#Monde#Moyen-Orient#Déplacés#Réfugiés#Migrant#migration

    https://www.rudaw.net/english/world/refugees-displaced-one-in-100-unhcr-19062020
    https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2020/6/5ee9db2e4/1-cent-humanity-displaced-unhcr-global-trends-report.html

  • "Je veux qu’on m’appelle ’#égaré'"
    Entendu hier, 18.07.2020, lors d’une discussion qui a suivi la présentation de l’expo « Nomadistan » de la plasticienne Amandine Meunier (en Matheysine :

    ).

    Témoignage récolté par une étudiante qui a fait un mémoire sur le collectif qui accueille des réfugiés dans la région) :

    « Je ne veux pas qu’on m’appelle migrant/réfugié ou exilé, je veux qu’on m’appelle ’#égaré' »

    –-> à ajouter à la collection de #mots autour de la migration de @sinehebdo

    #vocabulaire #terminologie #migrations #asile #réfugiés

  • Budget européen pour la migration : plus de contrôles aux frontières, moins de respect pour les droits humains

    Le 17 juillet 2020, le Conseil européen examinera le #cadre_financier_pluriannuel (#CFP) pour la période #2021-2027. À cette occasion, les dirigeants de l’UE discuteront des aspects tant internes qu’externes du budget alloué aux migrations et à l’#asile.

    En l’état actuel, la #Commission_européenne propose une #enveloppe_budgétaire totale de 40,62 milliards d’euros pour les programmes portant sur la migration et l’asile, répartis comme suit : 31,12 milliards d’euros pour la dimension interne et environ 10 milliards d’euros pour la dimension externe. Il s’agit d’une augmentation de 441% en valeur monétaire par rapport à la proposition faite en 2014 pour le budget 2014-2020 et d’une augmentation de 78% par rapport à la révision budgétaire de 2015 pour ce même budget.

    Une réalité déguisée

    Est-ce une bonne nouvelle qui permettra d’assurer dignement le bien-être de milliers de migrant.e.s et de réfugié.e.s actuellement abandonné.e.s à la rue ou bloqué.e.s dans des centres d’accueil surpeuplés de certains pays européens ? En réalité, cette augmentation est principalement destinée à renforcer l’#approche_sécuritaire : dans la proposition actuelle, environ 75% du budget de l’UE consacré à la migration et à l’asile serait alloué aux #retours, à la #gestion_des_frontières et à l’#externalisation des contrôles. Ceci s’effectue au détriment des programmes d’asile et d’#intégration dans les États membres ; programmes qui se voient attribuer 25% du budget global.

    Le budget 2014 ne comprenait pas de dimension extérieure. Cette variable n’a été introduite qu’en 2015 avec la création du #Fonds_fiduciaire_de_l’UE_pour_l’Afrique (4,7 milliards d’euros) et une enveloppe financière destinée à soutenir la mise en œuvre de la #déclaration_UE-Turquie de mars 2016 (6 milliards d’euros), qui a été tant décriée. Ces deux lignes budgétaires s’inscrivent dans la dangereuse logique de #conditionnalité entre migration et #développement : l’#aide_au_développement est liée à l’acceptation, par les pays tiers concernés, de #contrôles_migratoires ou d’autres tâches liées aux migrations. En outre, au moins 10% du budget prévu pour l’Instrument de voisinage, de développement et de coopération internationale (#NDICI) est réservé pour des projets de gestion des migrations dans les pays d’origine et de transit. Ces projets ont rarement un rapport avec les activités de développement.

    Au-delà des chiffres, des violations des #droits_humains

    L’augmentation inquiétante de la dimension sécuritaire du budget de l’UE correspond, sur le terrain, à une hausse des violations des #droits_fondamentaux. Par exemple, plus les fonds alloués aux « #gardes-côtes_libyens » sont importants, plus on observe de #refoulements sur la route de la Méditerranée centrale. Depuis 2014, le nombre de refoulements vers la #Libye s’élève à 62 474 personnes, soit plus de 60 000 personnes qui ont tenté d’échapper à des violences bien documentées en Libye et qui ont mis leur vie en danger mais ont été ramenées dans des centres de détention indignes, indirectement financés par l’UE.

    En #Turquie, autre partenaire à long terme de l’UE en matière d’externalisation des contrôles, les autorités n’hésitent pas à jouer avec la vie des migrant.e.s et des réfugié.e.s, en ouvrant et en fermant les frontières, pour négocier le versement de fonds, comme en témoigne l’exemple récent à la frontière gréco-turque.

    Un budget opaque

    « EuroMed Droits s’inquiète de l’#opacité des allocations de fonds dans le budget courant et demande à l’Union européenne de garantir des mécanismes de responsabilité et de transparence sur l’utilisation des fonds, en particulier lorsqu’il s’agit de pays où la corruption est endémique et qui violent régulièrement les droits des personnes migrantes et réfugiées, mais aussi les droits de leurs propres citoyen.ne.s », a déclaré Wadih Al-Asmar, président d’EuroMed Droits.

    « Alors que les dirigeants européens se réunissent à Bruxelles pour discuter du prochain cadre financier pluriannuel, EuroMed Droits demande qu’une approche plus humaine et basée sur les droits soit adoptée envers les migrant.e.s et les réfugié.e.s, afin que les appels à l’empathie et à l’action résolue de la Présidente de la Commission européenne, Ursula von der Leyen ne restent pas lettre morte ».

    https://euromedrights.org/fr/publication/budget-europeen-pour-la-migration-plus-de-controles-aux-frontieres-mo


    https://twitter.com/EuroMedRights/status/1283759540740096001

    #budget #migrations #EU #UE #Union_européenne #frontières #Fonds_fiduciaire_pour_l’Afrique #Fonds_fiduciaire #sécurité #réfugiés #accord_UE-Turquie #chiffres #infographie #renvois #expulsions #Neighbourhood_Development_and_International_Cooperation_Instrument

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur la #conditionnalité_de_l'aide_au_développement :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/733358#message768701

    Et à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des contrôles frontaliers :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message765319

    ping @karine4 @rhoumour @reka @_kg_

  • Greece: Organisations share recommendations for the best use of EU funds for refugees

    Four Civil Society Organisations operating in the field of migration in Greece, published today a policy brief with recommendations addressed to national authorities about the best use of EU funds for the integration of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the country.

    Despite availability of funds, efforts to integrate refugees and migrants in Greece have been limited and fragmented so far and for the government which came to power a year ago, integration does not seem to be high on its agenda. Complex funding procedures, limited collaboration and coordination between stakeholders and often lack of political will, are some of the barriers to the social inclusion of third country nationals, which when combined with exclusionary policies and heated debates at the political level, frequently lead to racist behaviours and even violence against migrants, refugees and those who assist them.

    The fast-approaching next #Multiannual_Financial_Framework (#MFF) -Europe’s seven-year spending plan- is an opportunity for Greece to improve its social policies for everyone and revisit its integration approach and strategy for third country nationals. It is an opportunity that the country cannot afford to miss, especially following the Covid-19 crisis which will have an extremely negative effect on societies, economies and vulnerable groups, if appropriate responses are not adopted.

    The policy brief by SolidarityNow; Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity; the Greek Forum of Refugees and Terre des hommes Hellas, suggests ways to improve the management of funds and programmes while it also takes a deep look into the three main aspects of integration -education and vocational training; employability and housing- and recommends specific steps and actions for their enhancement. All recommendations are the outcome of discussions among numerous stakeholders in the field of migration, including Greek national and local authorities, EU institutions, civil society actors and international non-governmental organisations, during a conference that took place earlier this year.

    The organisations urge Greek competent authorities to take into account the proposed suggestions when submitting their proposals to the European Commission for the next funding period, and use available EU funds to ensure social cohesion and create a more inclusive society for all.

    Download the policy brief here: https://www.solidaritynow.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/EU-Funding-Integration-brief_GreeceEN-1.pdf
    https://www.solidaritynow.org/en/recommendations
    #fonds #Grèce #EU #UE #asile #migrations #réfugiés #dépenses #contrôle #recommandations #cohésion_sociale #inclusion

  • A Look at the Refugee Crisis Five Years Later

    In 2015, as almost a million asylum seekers poured into Germany, Chancellor #Angela_Merkel said: “We can do this.” Was she right? Five years later, we take a closer look in the most average of average German towns.

    With its population of around 20,000, the town of #Hassloch is essentially the largest village in the Palatinate region of Germany. Still, it is well known in the country for being a special place - in that there is nothing special about it. Decades ago, the realization was made that from a demographic perspective, Hassloch is a microcosm of the country at large, with its age, gender and economic breakdown roughly reflecting that of Germany as a whole. Indeed, its demography is so normal that it was chosen in the 1980s by the Society for Consumer Research as the place where new products would be tested. After all, if people in Hassloch like it, you can be relatively sure that people in the rest of Germany will too. If Germany is a tree, Hassloch is its bonsai.

    What, though, can the place tell us about Germany’s handling of the huge influx of refugees five years ago? On Aug. 31, 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference in which she discussed the challenges that the wave of migration presented for the country. Hundreds of thousands of people were making their way into Europe at the time across the Mediterranean and along the Balkan Route – and many of them had set their sights on Germany. It marked the beginning of years of political discord, pitting EU countries, political parties and individuals against one another. In that press conference, Merkel said: “Germany is a strong country. We have done so much. We can do this!” It is a sentence that would become a trademark of her tenure.

    Now, five years later, we know that almost exactly 890,000 asylum seekers came to Germany in 2015. But have we “done this”? It’s hard to say, just as it is difficult to define exactly what “this” means, or even who “we” are. It all depends on your perspective. In Hassloch, the question as to who managed to “do this,” and when and what that means, leads to a number of places — to a city administrator, to an expert on parrots, and to extremely German families with colorful collections of passports. This story, though, begins in city hall.

    On the list of the most common German last names, Meyer is in sixth place. And Tobias Meyer, the town’s deputy mayor, looks so similar to his center-left predecessor that the two are often mistaken for one another. Meyer is a cheerful sort with expressive eyebrows and average height. In his office, he says that he joined the center-right Christian Democratic Union, Merkel’s party, on his 18th birthday out of admiration for Helmut Kohl. He sees himself “as a centrist” politically. “I find it astonishing,” says Meyer, “that not even the fall of the Berlin Wall changed our status as an average town.” It almost sounds as though normality in Germany is unchanging, no matter what happens and no matter who comes into the country.

    Since 2015, Hassloch has been home to between 500 and 600 refugees. The precise total is unknown, since many either returned home or quickly moved onwards. Currently, the town is home to 152 refugees, including 72 whose asylum applications are currently being processed. Back in 2015, after that summer of migration, the total was 211, which represents 1.1 percent of Hassloch’s population.

    And what about the 890,000 who showed up in Germany with its 82 million people? “You see?” says Meyer. Exactly 1.1 percent.

    Meyer is happy to talk about refugees at length, and isn’t shy about saying that some of them came expecting a rosy future without wanting to do much in return. Or about the fact that, from his perspective, the town hasn’t changed much as a result. Perhaps more instructive, however, is a visit to the administrative expert in city hall, a certain Ms. Behret.

    First, though, a final question for Tobias Meyer. Has Hassloch “done this?” Meyer’s response: “Hmmmm.”
    Administration

    The office is little more than the physical manifestation of the rules it is there to enforce, furnished with myriad filing cabinets with fake beech veneer. There are a few signs of life pinned to them, such as vacation pictures or funny Dilbert-esque cartoons about office life from the local paper. There are rows and rows of “meeting minutes” and “official correspondence,” along with a few stoic office plants doing their best to provide atmosphere. And in the middle of it all sits Christine Behret.

    “I love my job” it says on her keychain. She is the only woman in a leadership position in Hassloch city hall and she says she has been carrying around the keychain since her first day there. “I fought for this job,” Behret says. She describes herself as “a bit tough.”

    “We at the regulatory authority have a slightly different view of certain problems,” she says. “When a Sikh man shows up in your office, sits down on the floor and says he’s not going anywhere until he is allowed to cook in the hostel” – which isn’t allowed due to fire regulations – “then friendliness doesn’t get you very far. You have to pull out your English and affably throw him out. But you can never forget that you are dealing with a human being.”

    In her accounts, the phrase “we can do this” sounds mostly like a ton of work. Back in 2015, Behret says, she and her colleagues worked seven days a week. No public office, she continues, was prepared for the onslaught: They needed beds, food and doctors, despite the shortage of family practitioners in many rural areas of Germany. The first question to answer: centralized or decentralized accommodations? Hassloch chose a mixture of the two, which included a large hostel. Most of the refugees, though, were put up in 51 apartments that had been rented for the purpose. The asylum seekers were housed together according to complicated parameters, for which Christine Behret received additional training in “intercultural competence.” She said they learned such things as “women have no power in the places they come from, but here, women tell them what to do.” It is a sentence that has been part of the German migration debate for decades.

    Behret can provide a precise description of the asylum seekers in Hassloch using just a few sentences. She says they have “the entire spectrum” in the town, from a mathematics professor from Syria to others who can’t even write their own names. “The typical cases come by once a month to pick up their checks. For some of them, it’s enough. Others start working at McDonald’s at some point, or deliver packages for Amazon.”

    There was the alcoholic from Nigeria who shoplifted every day. “He was sent to us with no warning whatsoever. And no file,” Behret says. “How can something like that happen?” In that case, Tobias Meyer drove to the central reception center in the nearby town of Kusel to see what had happened. They then came by and picked the man up, she says.

    She tells the story of the man who died, yet couldn’t be buried because he had no birth certificate. “And if you haven’t been born, you can’t die.” In this room, focused on the administration of people, where everything is perfectly arranged, it is clear that she derives a certain amount of pleasure from such moments of turmoil.

    Behret’s main problem, though, is a different one: “We get the people faster than the files arrive. I don’t know if the person might have hepatitis, or tuberculosis, or scabies. We don’t have anything except their names, nationalities and dates of birth.”
    In the Bird Park

    There is a birdcage standing on a small blanket in Wilhelm Weidenbach’s living room. The bottom of the cage is lined with newspaper, with the brass-colored lattice rising above it. The door usually stands open. Weidenbach says that he taught his last parrot to sing German folk songs.

    Weidenbach, a 64-year-old retiree, has been in a wheelchair since suffering an accident and is the chairman of the Hassloch Club for the Protection and Care of Domestic and Foreign Birds. Every morning at 9 a.m., he heads over to the Hassloch Bird Park, one of the area’s places of interest.

    Last year, Hassloch was hit by a major storm that left the park in disarray. Together with a local group that helps asylum seekers, Weidenbach organized a day for volunteers to come and help out — and not long later, the municipality got in touch to ask if the asylum applicants would be willing to come by more regularly. The first of them came to the park just over two weeks ago, and they now work there three days a week for four hours at a time. On a recent Friday morning, they were busy with rakes and hoes at the duck enclosure: Ranj Suleiman, a Kurdish man from Iraq; Mohammad Ali Mozaffri from Afghanistan; and Aria Rahimzade from Iran — three of the 72 asylum applicants in Hassloch currently awaiting a ruling on their status.

    Suleiman was a computer technician, Mozaffri wanted to work in old-age care and Rahimzade had his sights set on becoming a hairdresser. All of those professions are in need, but because the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) hasn’t yet decided on whether they can stay or not, it is difficult for them to find real work. So the three of them rake detritus out of the enclosures for 80 cents an hour.

    Weidenbach says they’re doing a good job. Iran? Iraq? People are people, he says. All they have to do is follow the rules and show up on time. And it’s important for them to learn the language and speak German among themselves, he says, though they sometimes have trouble understanding the local dialect he speaks. In the courses they attend, they are learning high German.

    Mozaffri talks about how he got to Germany from Afghanistan three years ago: “Walking. Bicycle. Boat.”

    “Yes, necessity is the mother of invention,” Weidenbach jokes. The men likely would have laughed if they had understood him, but they didn’t. So Weidenbach repeats himself, slower and louder: “Ne-cess-i-ty is the MOTHER of in-ven-tion!”

    Now, the three start laughing, though they still haven’t understood him. No matter, they continue on to the emu enclosure, pushing their wheelbarrows past the parrots. Suleiman makes a face and jokes: “They speak better German than we do.”

    The municipality has bought a flat-roofed structure at the edge of town. Plastic chairs have been set up in the grass outside and there is hardly any natural light inside, with the only window being a skylight. A bit of carpeting hangs over the fence and it is quiet.

    This is where the levity from the aviary comes to an end. Suleiman, Mozaffri and Rahimzade live here, and there is a sign on every door inside covered in pictograms to illustrate all that is forbidden in the hostel: wall clocks, coffee machines, irons, hairdryers, washing machines, vacuums, cameras, telephones and computer monitors.

    The structure is home to around 30 asylum seekers. The metal bed belonging to Mozaffri can be found in the corner of Room 3, where the wall is covered with bits of paper bearing the German words he is currently learning. On the other side of a metal locker is another bed, belonging to a young Iraqi, whose asylum application has been rejected. He says that he grows afraid at night when he hears doors close and that he can’t bear living in the hostel for much longer. Indeed, it seems to be part of the concept to make it as uncomfortable as possible.

    At the end of June, decisions were pending on 43,617 asylum applications. BAMF works through the files, specialized lawyers file grievances, papers are intentionally hidden and replacement documents must be requested from Eritrea, Morocco and the many other countries from which the applicants come.

    The asylum applicants, such as the three that work in the Bird Park, are stuck in limbo. They have made it; they have arrived in Germany. But at the same time, they haven’t yet made it. They haven’t yet “done this.”
    Numbers

    In a survey conducted by BAMF, 44 percent of asylum seekers who participated reported having good or very good knowledge of the German language. Three-quarters of them felt welcome in Germany. But the phrase “we can do this” was primarily focused on the other side. Merkel was referring to the Germans.

    Andreas Rohr is a man knee-deep in statistics. There are no plants in his office and there is likewise little in the way of decoration. Rohr used to work as a treasurer in the town administration and has a business degree. He is a family man with a strong physique and a gray shirt that matches the textured walls around him. In 2015, he was the Hassloch bureaucrat responsible for the refugees, though today his portfolio includes daycare centers, leases and cultural activities. He is able to distill Hassloch’s ability to “do this” into columns of numbers.

    From an administrative point of view, Rohr says, Hassloch has indeed been successful. “In 2016, we spent around 550,000 euros ($630,000) on shelter costs and about 870,000 euros on benefits for the asylum applicants. We were reimbursed for all those costs by the administrative district. But the town was responsible for personnel costs and materials. We only had two part-time positions back then, but now we have four working in that division, and it was five at the peak. A full-time position costs 50,000 euros, so we’re talking about a quarter million per year at that time.”

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/has-germany-done-this-a-look-at-the-refugee-crisis-five-years-later-a-68ebba
    #5_ans_après #2020 #crise_des_réfugiés #Allemagne #réfugiés #asile #migrations #in_retrospect #Merkel #we_can_do_it #wir_schaffen_das #économie

    ping @_kg_ @karine4 @isskein

  • Une décision sans précédent en #Tunisie : le #Tribunal_administratif suspend la détention de 22 migrants détenus arbitrairement au #centre_d’accueil_et_d’orientation #El_Ouardia

    Une décision sans précédent en Tunisie : le Tribunal administratif suspend la détention de 22 migrants détenus arbitrairement au centre d’accueil et d’orientation El Ouardia

    Tunis, le 16 juillet 2020 – Saisi le 5 juin dernier de 22 requêtes en référé et en annulation concernant des migrants détenus arbitrairement au centre d’accueil et d’orientation El Ouardia, le tribunal administratif vient de rendre des décisions sans précédent. Il a en effet ordonné la suspension de leur détention au motif que leur privation de liberté est contraire au droit tunisien, mais aussi aux engagements internationaux de la Tunisie, notamment le Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques et la Convention contre la torture.

    Rappelant le principe fondamental de #légalité qui doit encadrer toute #restriction_de_liberté, le tribunal a notamment estimé que la #privation_de_liberté des 22 migrants ne respectait pas les conditions essentielles que sont l’existence d’une base légale et l’intervention d’une autorité juridictionnelle. Le tribunal a ainsi apporté une première réponse positive aux nombreux arguments soulevés par les avocats des détenus pour demander l’annulation immédiate du placement en détention de leurs clients. En vertu de ces décisions rendues en référé, les 22 migrants doivent être immédiatement libérés en attendant que le tribunal administratif statue sur les recours en annulation des mesures de détention.

    En vertu de ces décisions, le Ministère de l’Intérieur, responsable du centre de Ouardia, doit agir immédiatement afin de libérer les 22 migrants en attendant que le tribunal administratif statue sur les recours en annulation des mesures de détention. Une procédure qui pourrait durer des années et qui sera l’occasion pour le tribunal d’examiner en détails tous les arguments soulevés par les avocats des requérants.

    Dans leurs requêtes, les avocats avaient notamment dénoncé le fait que les migrants étaient détenus en dehors de toute procédure légale et de tout #contrôle_juridictionnel, sans accès à un avocat, sans notification écrite du fondement de leur placement en détention dans un centre qui n’est d’ailleurs même pas officiellement enregistré comme un lieu privatif de liberté. Autant de motifs qui concourent à qualifier ces détentions d’#arbitraires, en violation flagrante du droit international des droits de l’homme et de la Constitution tunisienne.

    Afin d’éviter que ces violations graves puissent encore être perpétrées, les autorités tunisiennes, et en particulier le Ministère de l’Intérieur, doivent clarifier le statut juridique du centre d’El Ouardia pour qu’il ne soit ne soit plus utilisé en tant que lieu de privation de liberté.

    https://ftdes.net/une-decision-sans-precedent-en-tunisie-le-tribunal-administratif-suspend-la-d

    #migrations #réfugiés #détention #rétention_administrative #justice #suspension #droits_humains

    ping @_kg_