• How Frontex Helps Haul Migrants Back To Libyan Torture Camps

    Refugees are being detained, tortured and killed at camps in Libya. Investigative reporting by DER SPIEGEL and its partners has uncovered how close the European Union’s border agency Frontex works together with the Libyan coast guard.

    At sunrise, Alek Musa was still in good spirits. On the morning of June 25, 2020, he crowded onto an inflatable boat with 69 other people seeking asylum. Most of the refugees were Sudanese like him. They had left the Libyan coastal city of Garabulli the night before. Their destination: the island of Lampedusa in Italy. Musa wanted to escape the horrors of Libya, where migrants like him are captured, tortured and killed by militias.

    The route across the central Mediterranean is one of the world’s most dangerous for migrants. Just last week, another 100 people died as they tried to reach Europe from Libya. Musa was confident, nonetheless. The sea was calm and there was plenty of fuel in the boat’s tank.

    But then, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Musa saw a small white plane in the sky. He shared his story by phone. There is much to suggest that the aircraft was a patrol of the European border protection agency Frontex. Flight data shows that a Frontex pilot had been circling in the immediate vicinity of the boat at the time.

    However, it appears that Frontex officials didn’t instruct any of the nearby cargo ships to help the refugees – and neither did the sea rescue coordination centers. Instead, hours later, Musa spotted the Ras Al Jadar on the horizon, a Libyan coast guard vessel.

    With none of them wanting to be hauled back to Libya, the migrants panicked. "We tried to leave as quickly as possible,” says Musa, who won’t give his real name out of fear of retaliation.

    Musa claims the Libyans rammed the dinghy with their ship. And that four men had gone overboard. Images from an aircraft belonging to the private rescue organization Sea-Watch show people fighting for their lives in the water. At least two refugees are believed to have died in the operation. All the others were taken back to Libya.
    Frontex Has Turned the Libyans into Europe’s Interceptors

    The June 25 incident is emblematic of the Europeans’ policy in the Mediterranean: The EU member states ceased sea rescue operations entirely in 2019. Instead, they are harnessing the Libyan coast guard to keep people seeking protection out of Europe.

    The European Court of Human Rights ruled back in 2012 that refugees may not be brought back to Libya because they are threatened with torture and death there. But that’s exactly what Libyan border guards are doing. With the help of the Europeans, they are intercepting refugees and hauling them back to Libya. According to an internal EU document, 11,891 were intercepted and taken back ashore last year.

    The EU provides financing for the Libyan coast guard and has trained its members. To this day, though, it claims not to control their operations. “Frontex has never directly cooperated with the Libyan coast guard,” Fabrice Leggeri, the head of the border agency, told the European Parliament in March. He claimed that the Libyans alone were responsible for the controversial interceptions. Is that really the truth, though?

    Together with the media organization “Lighthouse Reports”, German public broadcaster ARD’s investigative magazine “Monitor” and the French daily “Libération”, DER SPIEGEL has investigated incidents in the central Mediterranean Sea over a period of months. The reporters collected position data from Frontex aircraft and cross-checked it with ship data and information from migrants and civilian rescue organizations. They examined confidential documents and spoke to survivors as well as nearly a dozen Libyan officers and Frontex staff.

    This research has exposed for the first time the extent of the cooperation between Frontex and the Libyan coast guard. Europe’s border protection agency is playing an active role in the interceptions conducted by the Libyans. The reporting showed that Frontex flew over migrant boats on at least 20 occasions since January 2020 before the Libyan coast guard hauled them back. At times, the Libyans drove deep in the Maltese Search and Rescue Zone, an area over which the Europeans have jurisdiction.

    Some 91 refugees died in the interceptions or are considered missing – in part because the system the Europeans have established causes significant delays in the interceptions. In most cases, merchant ships or even those of aid organizations were in the vicinity. They would have reached the migrant boats more quickly, but they apparently weren’t alerted. Civilian sea rescue organizations have complained for years that they are hardly ever provided with alerts from Frontex.

    The revelations present a problem for Frontex head Leggeri. He is already having to answer for his agency’s involvement in the illegal repatriation of migrants in the Aegean Sea that are referred to as pushbacks. Now it appears that Frontex is also bending the law in operations in the central Mediterranean.

    An operation in March cast light on how the Libyans operate on the high seas. The captain of the Libyan vessel Fezzan, a coast guard officer, agreed to allow a reporter with DER SPIEGEL to conduct a ride-along on the ship. During the trip, he held a crumpled piece of paper with the coordinates of the boats he was to intercept. He didn’t have any internet access on the ship – indeed, the private sea rescuers are better equipped.

    The morning of the trip, the crew of the Fezzan had already pulled around 200 migrants from the water. The Libyans decided to leave an unpowered wooden boat with another 200 people at sea because the Fezzan was already too full. The rescued people huddled on deck, their clothes soaked and their eyes filled with fear. "Stay seated!” the Libyan officers yelled.

    Sheik Omar, a 16-year-old boy from Gambia squatted at the bow. He explained how, after the death of his father, he struggled as a worker in Libya. Then he just wanted to get away from there. He had already attempted to reach Europe five times. "I’m afraid,” he said. "I don’t know where they’re taking me. It probably won’t be a good place.”

    The conditions in the Libyan detention camps are catastrophic. Some are officially under the control of the authorities, but various militias are actually calling the shots. Migrants are a good business for the groups, and refugees from sub-Saharan countries, especially, are imprisoned and extorted by the thousands.

    Mohammad Salim was aware of what awaited him in jail. He’s originally from Somalia and didn’t want to give his real name. Last June, he and around 90 other migrants tried to flee Libya by boat, but a Frontex airplane did a flyover above them early in the morning. Several merchant ships that could have taken them to Europe passed by. But then the Libyan coast guard arrived several hours later.

    Once back on land, the Somali was sent to the Abu Issa detention center, which is controlled by a notorious militia. “There was hardly anything to eat,” Salim reported by phone. On good days, he ate 18 pieces of maccaroni pasta. On other days, he sucked on toothpaste. The women had been forced by the guards to strip naked. Salim was only able to buy his freedom a month later, when his family had paid $1,200.

    The EU is well aware of the conditions in the Libyan refugee prisons. German diplomats reported "concentration camp-like conditions” in 2017. A February report from the EU’s External Action described widespread "sexual violence, abduction for ransom, forced labor and unlawful killings.” The report states that the perpetrators include "government officials, members of armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and members of criminal gangs.”

    Supplies for the business are provided by the Libyan coast guard, which is itself partly made up of militiamen.

    In response to a request for comment from DER SPIEGEL, Frontex asserted that it is the agency’s duty to inform all internationally recognized sea rescue coordination centers in the region about refugee boats, including the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC). The sea rescue coordination center reports to the Libyan Defense Ministry and is financed by the EU.

    According to official documents, the JRCC is located at the Tripoli airport. But members of the Libyan coast guard claim that the control center is only a small room at the Abu Sitta military base in Tripoli, with just two computers. They claim that it is actually officers with the Libyan coast guard who are on duty there. That the men there have no ability to monitor their stretch of coastline, meaning they would virtually be flying blind without the EU’s aerial surveillance. In the event of a shipping accident, they almost only notify their own colleagues, even though they currently only have two ships at their disposal. Even when their ships are closer, there are no efforts to inform NGOs or private shipping companies. Massoud Abdalsamad, the head of the JRCC and the commander of the coast guard even admits that, "The JRCC and the coast guard are one and the same, there is no difference.”

    WhatsApp Messages to the Coast Guard

    As such, experts are convinced that even the mere transfer of coordinates by Frontex to the JRCC is in violation of European law. "Frontex officials know that the Libyan coast guard is hauling refugees back to Libya and that people there face torture and inhumane treatment,” says Nora Markard, professor for international public law and international human rights at the University of Münster.

    In fact, it appears that Frontex employees are going one step further and sending the coordinates of the refugee boats directly to Libyan officers via WhatsApp. That claim has been made independently by three different members of the Libyan coast guard. DER SPIEGEL is in possession of screenshots indicating that the coast guard is regularly informed – and directly. One captain was sent a photo of a refugee boat taken by a Frontex plane. “This form of direct contact is a clear violation of European law,” says legal expert Markard.

    When confronted, Frontex no longer explicitly denied direct contact with the Libyan coast guard. The agency says it contacts everyone involved in emergency operations in order to save lives. And that form of emergency communication cannot be considered formal contact, a spokesman said.

    But officials at Frontex in Warsaw are conscious of the fact that their main objective is to help keep refugees from reaching Europe’s shores. They often watch on their screens in the situation center how boats capsize in the Mediterranean. It has already proven to be too much for some – they suffer from sleep disorders and psychological problems.

    https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/libya-how-frontex-helps-haul-migrants-back-to-libyan-torture-camps-a-d62c396

    #Libye #push-backs #refoulements #Frontex #complicité #milices #gardes-côtes_libyens #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #Ras_Al_Jadar #interception #Fezzan #Joint_Rescue_Coordination_Center (#JRCC) #WhatsApp #coordonnées_géographiques

    ping @isskein @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_ @i_s_

    • Frontex : l’agence européenne de garde-frontières au centre d’une nouvelle polémique

      Un consortium de médias européens, dont le magazine Der Spiegel et le journal Libération, a livré une nouvelle enquête accablante sur l’agence européenne des gardes-frontières. Frontex est accusée de refouler des bateaux de migrants en mer Méditerranée.

      Frontex, c’est quoi ?

      L’agence européenne des gardes-frontières et gardes-côtes a été créée en 2004 pour répondre à la demande d’aides des pays membres pour protéger les frontières extérieures de l’espace Schengen. Frontex a trois objectifs : réduire la vulnérabilité des frontières extérieures, garantir le bon fonctionnement et la sécurité aux frontières et maintenir les capacités du corps européen, recrutant chaque année près de 700 gardes-frontières et garde-côtes. Depuis la crise migratoire de 2015, le budget de l’agence, subventionné par l’Union Européen a explosé passant 142 à 460 millions d’euros en 2020.

      Nouvelles accusations

      Frontex est de nouveau au centre d’une polémique au sein de l’UE. En novembre 2020, et en janvier 2021 déjà, Der Spiegel avait fait part de plusieurs refoulements en mer de bateaux de demandeurs d’asile naviguant entre la Turquie et la Grèce et en Hongrie. Dans cette enquête le magazine allemand avait averti que les responsables de Frontex étaient"conscients des pratiques illégales des gardes-frontières grecs et impliqués dans les refoulements eux-mêmes" (https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-border-agency-frontex-complicit-in-greek-refugee-pushback-campaign-a-4b6c).

      A la fin de ce mois d’avril, de nouveaux éléments incriminants Frontex révélés par un consortium de médias vont dans le même sens : des agents de Frontex auraient donné aux gardes-côtes libyens les coordonnées de bateaux de réfugiés naviguant en mer Méditerranée pour qu’ils soient interceptés avant leurs arrivées sur le sol européen. C’est ce que l’on appelle un « pushback » : refouler illégalement des migrants après les avoir interceptés, violant le droit international et humanitaire. L’enquête des médias européens cite un responsable d’Amnesty International, Mateo de Bellis qui précise que « sans les informations de Frontex, les gardes-côtes libyens ne pourraient jamais intercepter autant de migrants ».

      Cet arrangement entre les autorités européennes et libyennes « constitue une violation manifeste du droit européen », a déclaré Nora Markard, experte en droit international de l’université de Münster, citée par Der Spiegel.

      Une politique migratoire trop stricte de l’UE ?

      En toile de fond, les détracteurs de Frontex visent également la ligne politique de l’UE en matière d’immigration, jugée trop stricte. Est-ce cela qui aurait généré le refoulement de ces bateaux ? La Commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, s’en défendait en janvier dernier, alors que Frontex était déjà accusé d’avoir violé le droit international et le droit humanitaire en refoulant six migrants en mer Egée. « Ce que nous protégeons, lorsque nous protégeons nos frontières, c’est l’Union européenne basée sur des valeurs et nous devons respecter nos engagements à ces valeurs tout en protégeant nos frontières (...) Et c’est une des raisons pour lesquelles nous avons besoin de Frontex », expliquait la Commissaire à euronews.

      Pour Martin Martiniello, spécialiste migration à l’université de Liège, « l’idée de départ de l’Agence Frontex était de contrôler les frontières européennes avec l’espoir que cela soit accompagné d’une politique plus positive, plus proactive de l’immigration. Cet aspect-là ne s’est pas développé au cours des dernières années, mais on a construit cette notion de crise migratoire. Et cela renvoie une image d’une Europe assiégée, qui doit se débarrasser des migrants non souhaités. Ce genre de politique ne permet pas de rencontrer les défis globaux des déplacements de population à long terme ».

      Seulement trois jours avant la parution de l’enquête des médias européens incriminant Frontex, L’Union européenne avait avancé sa volonté d’accroître et de mieux encadrer les retours volontaires des personnes migrantes, tout en reconnaissant que cet axe politique migratoire était, depuis 2019, un échec. L’institution avait alors proposé à Frontex un nouveau mandat pour prendre en charge ces retours. Selon Martin Martiniello, « des montants de plus en plus élevés ont été proposés, pour financer Frontex. Même si le Parlement européen a refusé de voter ce budget, celui-ci comporte de la militarisation encore plus importante de l’espace méditerranéen, avec des drones et tout ce qui s’en suit. Et cela fait partie d’une politique européenne ».

      Les accusations de novembre et janvier derniers ont généré l’ouverture d’une enquête interne chez Frontex, mais aussi à l’Office européen de lutte antifraude (OLAF). Pour Catherine Woolard, directrice du Conseil européen des Réfugiés et Exilés (ECRE), « On voit tout le problème des structures de gouvernance de Frontex : ce sont les États membres qui font partie du conseil d’administration et de gestion de Frontex, et ces États membres ont fait une enquête préliminaire. Mais cette enquête ne peut pas être profonde et transparente, puisque ces États membres sont parties prenantes dans ce cas de figure ».

      Pour la directrice de l’ECRE, une enquête indépendante serait une solution pour comprendre et réparer les torts causés, et suggère une réforme du conseil d’administration de Frontex. « La décision du Parlement concernant le budget est importante. En plus des enquêtes internes, le Parlement a créé un groupe de travail pour reformer le scrutin au sein du conseil administratif de l’agence, ce qui est essentiel. Nous attendons le rapport de ce groupe de travail, qui permettra de rendre compte de la situation chez Frontex ».

      Certains députés européens ont demandé la démission du directeur exécutif de Frontex. « C’est un sujet sensible » souligne Catherine Woolard. « Dans le contexte de l’augmentation des ressources de Frontex, le recrutement d’agents de droits fondamentaux, ainsi que les mesures et mécanismes mentionnés, sont essentiels. Le Parlement européen insiste sur la création de ces postes et n’a toujours pas eu de réponse de la part du directeur de Frontex. Entretemps, l’agence a toujours l’obligation de faire un rapport sur les incidents où il y a une suspicion de violation du droit international et humanitaire ».

      https://www.levif.be/actualite/europe/frontex-l-agence-europeenne-de-garde-frontieres-au-centre-d-une-nouvelle-polemique/article-normal-1422403.html?cookie_check=1620307471

  • Europe’s Border Guards Are Illegally Expelling Refugees

    Border guards expelling Syrian refugees after they’ve already been granted asylum has shown the hollowness of European Union humanitarianism. An expansion of the EU-wide Frontex force will make things even worse.

    A young man known in public documents only as Fady has been fighting a battle far harder than anyone his age would normally imagine.

    He first came to Europe from Deir az-Zour, Syria, fleeing that country’s civil war. In 2015, German authorities recognized him as a legally protected refugee. Since then, Fady has used his German passport to look for his lost brother, who he believes to be stuck in Greece and who he wishes to bring to Germany.

    He has paid dearly for those wishes.

    According to information and quotes from Fady provided to Jacobin by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), which is representing him in front of international policymakers, Fady took a trip to Greece in November 2016, hoping to track down his brother. At that time just eleven years of age, his brother had fled recruitment by ISIS, and Fady hoped to find him in Greece.

    While searching for him at a bus station in that country’s Evros region, Fady says he was approached by police and asked about his ethnic origin. After responding that he was Syrian, he was taken into custody by the police, who drove him to an unknown location, despite his protestations that he was a documented German resident who was in the EU legally, with the papers to prove it. They allegedly took his ID, papers, and belongings away from him before handing him to a group of people he describes as “commandos,” who he told the Intercept spoke German and were armed, masked, and clad entirely in black.

    He said the commandos beat anyone who tried to speak to them as they took a group of detained people — some as young as one or two years old — across the river border with Turkey in a rubber boat. There they were dumped paperless, homeless, and stateless in a country that many of them had never resided in for more than a couple days. It took Fady three years to get back his papers and EU residency — a period during which he tried multiple times to get back into Greece in order to search for his brother. He has not found him.

    The ordeal to which Fady was subjected is the most extreme version of what is known as a “pushback” operation. In other forms, these operations can involve keeping people outside of the borders of the EU — denying them entry at sea, for example. GLAN is arguing in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council that the type of pushback operation Fady endured, in which identity papers are confiscated, goes beyond that, amounting to a forced disappearance, which is illegal under a clause of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Greece is a signatory. (Turning away refugees in general is also illegal under international law, but GLAN hopes to add weight to the potential HRC ruling by having the actions acknowledged as forced disappearances.)
    Frontex

    Such operations, many immigrant rights groups allege, are often led by Frontex, the EU’s border security agency, which coordinates national governments’ anti-immigration operations and is the fastest-growing agency in the EU. Headquartered in Warsaw, the organization is slated to grow from a relatively small current workforce to a staff likely to include a potential ten thousand border guards by 2027, in addition to national governments’ forces.

    I wanted to get detailed statements from the German government, the Greek government, and the Frontex bureaucracy about Fady’s incident, so I sent each group a list of several detailed questions.

    A spokesperson for the German government’s press office declined to answer the questions, sending back a short statement that read, “Within the framework of Frontex operations, the German Federal Police supports the Greek authorities to protect the Greek border. The German officers comply with German, European and international law.”

    A Frontex representative also declined to answer specific questions, stating that “Frontex is not aware of any such incident. Frontex officers deployed at the Greek land borders have not been involved in any such incidents. In addition, two investigations have found no evidence of any participation by Frontex in any alleged violations of human rights at the Greek sea borders.”

    The Greek government is keeping its silence about whether it was involved in Fady’s kidnapping. Five emails sent to the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum over the course of two weeks went unanswered.

    Dr Valentina Azarova of the Manchester International Law Centre and GLAN noted that Frontex’s assurances that it is not involved in violent pushbacks alongside Greek border forces are based on faulty information, citing a “dysfunctional reporting system” that was in place at the time of the alleged incident and that is under scrutiny as part of a recent wave of probes.

    While she says that Frontex’s reporting system was supposed to have improved since 2019 reforms went into place — three years after Fady says he was abducted and expelled — the scope of the current probes to the fact that there’s still a long way to go.

    “Frontex’s reporting practice is irregular and opaque,” she told me. “When it does report, it misrepresents illegal expulsions as ‘prevention of departure’ [from Turkey].”
    Driven From Home

    That euphemistic band-aid — an alleged way of trying to reverse an immigration journey that has already happened without getting caught doing so — is emblematic of the problems of this EU agency. For it is tasked with treating only the symptoms of a condition that European countries are guilty of helping to perpetuate, rather than taking on the root causes forcing people onto the move.

    The effects are felt across much of the Global South. By pulling the financial and governmental levers that control the global economy, leaders in industrialized and postindustrial countries have created what Dr Michael Yates — an economist, writer, editor, and editorial director of Monthly Review Press — calls a “complex brew” of austerity, land theft, and political oppression.

    As an addition to this brew of factors, European countries are often either silently complicit or actively encouraging of weapons sales to nearby conflict zones. For example, German manufacturers Hensoldt and Rheinmetall supplied arms to Saudi Arabia via South Africa for its war against Yemen, skirting an export ban, with full knowledge of the German government. And the French industrial giant Airbus dodged an arms embargo on Libya by routing planes through Turkey. This behavior is a logical outgrowth of late-stage capitalism, as weapon sales are one of the more profitable sectors that a business can enter, and as bought-and-paid-for politicians are told to look the other way when misbehavior occurs.

    Together, these factors — the austerity, the land theft, the political oppression, and the encouragement of violent civil conflicts — form a neocolonialist zone of low opportunity that pushes people from the Global South to the Global North.

    Not least among these sources of pressure is the Syrian civil war from which Fady and his brother fled. That conflict has now been going on for more than a decade, involving at least a half-dozen major belligerents, along with other minor parties. It has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

    Any left-wingers in the United States who had held onto hopes that the new Biden administration might introduce a more pacifist stance on Syria — perhaps removing one party from the bloody, multifaceted tragedy playing out between the Tigris and the Mediterranean — were severely disappointed. Immediately after taking office, Biden prioritized bombing that country over fulfilling his $15 minimum wage pledge. And so, the weapon sales continue, the conflict continues, and the Syrian refugees continue trying to find better lives elsewhere.

    Increasingly, those who would help the refugees are finding themselves the targets of government actions. As a Jacobin essayist documented last month, Italy’s new, supposedly centrist government has made some of its first actions a series of moves against groups that assist migrants braving the Mediterranean. On March 1, a hundred officers raided homes and offices all around Italy, seizing activists’ computers, telephones, and files. The accused are, as the essayist argued, “targeted under suspicion of the crime of saving lives.”

    Greece isn’t doing much better. As Jacobin reported last year, at least a thousand asylum seekers have been subjected to pushbacks at the hands of the Greek border authorities.
    Answering to No One

    It’s not just Greece and Italy doing dirty deeds either. Frontex is staffing up, and it is not accountable to the European Court of Human Rights, which only has jurisdiction over member states — not over the EU’s own continent-wide agencies.

    This unaccountability has emboldened Frontex, to the point where it’s comfortable flying an entire plane full of would-be refugees out of Greece to be left — as with Fady — in Turkey. As Melanie Fink wrote for the blog of the European Journal of International Law, it is “notoriously difficult to hold Frontex to account for failures” to uphold its obligations under international law, thanks to the way the bureaucracy is set up.

    And that bureaucracy just gave itself the power to carry weapons, even though, as the Frontex Files investigative website published by German broadcaster ZDF puts it, “no legal regulations permit members of an EU agency to carry firearms.” In other words, the member states never voted on these powers arming Frontex — they are fully an outgrowth of the EU unilaterally deciding that it wants a paramilitary border force to call its own.

    Either by accident or by design, Frontex has by some accounts become an opaque group of European security forces, with no one to answer to. Here there is a great risk of mission creep — for instance, if its agents join other border forces in pursuing or persecuting migrants’ rights activists or labor leaders who speak out for underpaid refugees. As the ongoing probes have affirmed, Azarova says, the whole Frontex system has been set up to be “highly unaccountable.”

    Azarova explains that both Frontex and the European Commission rely on Greece to conduct border operations in accordance with EU law but have not even considered the suspension of their extensive technical and financial assistance to Greece’s abusive border operations. Since EU institutions have done little to redress the illegal expulsions at the EU’s borders, GLAN has taken Fady’s case to the UN.

    Fady says that what he likes about Germany is that his life and work are now here. “I like Germany’s nice people and how kind they are. My work is good, and life is safe here,” he said. He’s even started supporting Bayern Munich.

    But he hopes to go back to the border areas, bringing cameras to document what governments are doing there.

    The authorities can ignore him — or kidnap him once more. While that could damage his life all over again, it will make little difference for them, as their actions will remain almost entirely futile: as long as instability, inequality, and wars encouraged by the Global North push residents of the Global South out of their homes, even ten thousand militarized, unaccountable border guards will not be enough to stop the flow. The people will keep coming.

    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/05/europe-syrian-refugees-greece-germany-frontex

    #push-backs #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #refoulement #réfugiés_syriens #Evros #Thraces #Grèce #Turquie #frontière_terrestre #Frontex

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les refoulements dans la région de l’Evros :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/914147

  • Annual Torture Report 2020

    Torture and pushbacks – an in depth analysis of practices in Greece and Croatia, and states participating in violent chain-pushbacks

    This special report analyses data from 286 first hand testimonies of violent pushbacks carried out by authorities in the Balkans, looking at the way practices of torture have become an established part of contemporary border policing. The report examines six typologies of violence and torture that have been identified during pushbacks from Croatia and Greece, and also during chain-pushbacks initiated by North Macedonia, Slovenia and Italy. Across the report, 30 victim testimonies of torture and inhuman treatment are presented which is further supplemented by a comprehensive legal analysis and overview of the States response to these allegations.

    The violations profiled include:

    - Excessive and disproportionate force
    - Electric discharge weapons
    - Forced undressing
    - Threats or violence with a firearm
    - Inhuman treatment inside a police vehicle
    - Inhuman treatment inside a detention facility

    –-

    Key Findings from Croatia:

    – In 2020, BVMN collected 124 pushback testimonies from Croatia, exposing the treatment of 1827 people
    - 87% of pushbacks carried out by Croatia authorities contained one or more forms of violence and abuse that we assert amounts to torture or inhuman treatment
    - Violent attacks by police officers against people-on-the-move lasting up to six hours
    - Unmuzzled police dogs being encouraged by officers to attack people who have been detained.
    - Food being rubbed into the open wounds of pushback victims
    - Forcing people naked, setting fire to their clothes and then pushing them back across borders in a complete state of undress

    Key Findings from Greece:

    – 89% of pushbacks carried out by Greek authorities contained one or more forms of violence and abuse that we assert amounts to torture or inhuman treatment
    - 52% of pushback groups subjected to torture or inhuman treatment by Greek authorities contained children and minors
    - Groups of up to 80 men, women and children all being forcibly stripped naked and detained within one room
    - People being detained and transported in freezer trucks
    - Brutal attacks by groups of Greek officers including incidents where they pin down and cut open the hands of people on the move or tied them to the bars of their detention cells and beat them.
    - Multiple cases where Greek officers beat and then threw people into the Evros with many incidents leading to people going missing, presumingly having drowned and died.

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/annual-torture-report-2020
    #rapport #2020 #Border_Violence_Monitoring-Network #BVMN
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #traitements_inhumains_et_dégradants #détention #centres_de_détention #armes #déshabillage_forcé #armes_à_feu #Croatie #Grèce #Evros #refoulements_en_chaîne #taser

    ping @isskein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tragedy and Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Our Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    State of Necessity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NGOs in the Crosshairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Same Uniforms, Same Ships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Result of Mere Chance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @karine4 @isskein @rhoumour

  • Torture, Covid-19 and border pushbacks: Stories of migration to Europe at the time of Covid-19

    The lived experience of people navigating the EU external border during the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharper focus the way border violence has become embedded within the landscape of migration. Here BVMN are sharing a feature article and comic strip from artistic journalist collective Brush&Bow which relays the human stories behind pushbacks, and the protracted violence which has come to characterise journeys along the Balkan Route. The researchers and artists spent time with transit communities along the Western Balkan Route, as well as speaking to network members Centre for Peace Studies, No Name Kitchen & Info Kolpa about their work. Combined with the indepth article (linked below) the comic strip brings to life much of the oral testimonies collected in the BVMN shared database, visualising movement and aspiration – as well as the counterforce of border violence.

    Authors: Roshan De Stone and David Leone Suber
    Illustrations and multimedia: Hannah Kirmes Daly
    (Brush&Bow C.I.C)
    Funded by: The Journalism Fund

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/torture-covid-19-and-border-pushbacks

    #push-back #refoulements_en_chaîne #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Croatie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #dessin #BD #bande_dessinée #Slovénie #Italie #frontière_sud-alpine #Bosnie #Trieste #migrerrance #Trieste #violence

    • #Torture and pushbacks: Stories of migration to Europe during Covid-19

      Violent and often sadistic pushbacks from Italy, Slovenia and Croatia are a damning indictment of Europe’s broken migrant policy.

      Anatomy of a pushback: from Italy to Bosnia

      Trieste, Zagreb – On April 13 last year, Italy’s Coronavirus death-toll surpassed 20,000, making headlines worldwide. In the afternoon on that same day, Saeed carefully packed a bag. In it, a phone, three power banks, cigarettes, a sleeping bag and a photograph of his two children back in Pakistan.

      During the March lockdown, Saeed was forcibly held in Lipa camp for migrants and asylum seekers, in the Bosnian canton of Una Sana, right next to the Croatian border. Having travelled this far, he was ready for the final leg of his journey to Europe.

      That night, Saeed left the camp. On the way to the Croatian border, he was joined by nine other men.
      People on the move use GPS tracking systems to cross land borders far away from main roads and inhabited locations. (Hannah Kirmes Daly, Brush&Bow C.I.C)

      For 21 days, the group walked through the forests and mountains in Croatia, Slovenia and into Italy, avoiding roads and towns, always careful not to be seen. Never taking their shoes off, not even to sleep, ready to run at a moment’s notice if the police spotted them.

      When Covid-19’s first wave was at its peak in the spring of 2020, EU member states increased border security by sending the army to patrol borders and suspended freedom of movement as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus.

      This greatly affected migration, giving migrants and asylum seekers yet another reason to go into hiding. Saeed and his companions knew this well. But as they finally crossed the final border into Italy, they assumed the worst was over.

      Winding their way down the mountains, the group stopped at the border town of Bagnoli to order a dark, sweet, coffee - a small reward. Across the street, a woman looked out of her window and reached for the phone. Minutes later, police were on the scene.

      As the police later confirmed, it is thanks to calls from local inhabitants living in border areas that most migrants are intercepted by authorities.

      Bundled into an Italian police van, Saeed and his acquaintances were handed over to Slovenian officials, and driven back to the Croatia-Bosnia border in less than 24 hours. No anti-Covid precautions were taken, and requests for asylum were ignored.

      When the van finally stopped, they were released into an open field by a river bank. Plain-clothes officers speaking Croatian ordered them to undress.

      Blisters ripped open as Saeed’s skin tore off as he pried off his shoes. Two of the men were beaten with telescopic batons. Another was whipped with a piece of rope tied to a branch. “Go back to Bosnia” was the last thing they heard the Croatian officers shout as they climbed back up the Bosnian bank of the river.

      On the morning of May 7, Saeed walked barefoot to the same Bosnian camp he had left three weeks before. This was his first ’pushback’.

      #The_Game'
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnU-xWNfG8M&feature=emb_logo

      Trieste’s Piazza Liberta, in front of the main train station, above, is the final destination for many people on the move arriving from Bosnia.

      Since the start of the pandemic, the EU border agency Frontex reported a decrease in the overall number of irregular border crossings into Europe. This has been the case on all main routes to Europe aside from one: the Balkan route, a route migrants and asylum seekers take by foot to cross from Turkey into central Europe.

      On July 10, two months after that first pushback from Italy, Saeed sits in Piazza Liberta, the main square in front of Trieste’s train station.

      Young men from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Syria sit with him on the square’s benches, forming small groups in the setting sun. For nearly two years now, this square has been the meeting point for ’people on the move’ – migrants and asylum seekers escaping war, famine and poverty in their countries, arriving by foot from Turkey and through the Balkans.

      They sit in Piazza Liberta waiting for the arrival of a group of volunteers, who hand out food, medication and attend to the blisters and welts many have on their feet as a result from the long weeks of restless walking.

      Saeed is in his thirties, clean shaven and sporting ’distressed’ jeans with impeccably white trainers. He would look like any other tourist if it wasn’t for the scars across his arms.

      “There are two borders that are particularly difficult to cross to reach Europe,” he explains.

      The first is at the Evros river, separating Greece and Turkey. This is the only alternative to anyone who wants to avoid the risk of crossing by boat to the Greek islands, where recent reports of pushbacks by the Greek police back to Turkey are rife.

      “The second border is the one between Bosnia and Croatia,” he pauses. “The road between these two borders and all the way to Italy or Austria is what we call ’The Game’.” "It is by doing The Game that I got these," he says pointing to his scars.

      The Game is one of the only alternatives to reach Europe without having to cross the Mediterranean Sea. But crossing the Balkans is a similarly dangerous journey, like a ’game’, played against the police forces of the countries on the route, so as to not get caught and arrested.

      With the outbreak of the pandemic, The Game has become more difficult and dangerous. Many have reported cases of sexual and violent abuse from the police.

      In Croatia, police officers forced people to lie on top of one another naked as they were beaten and crosses were spray-painted on their heads. To add insult to injury, all their possessions were stolen, and their phones would be smashed or thrown in the water by authorities.

      The last of thirteen siblings, Saeed wants to reach a cousin in Marseille; an opportunity to escape unemployment and the grinding poverty of his life back in Pakistan.

      From the outskirts of Karachi, Saeed lived with his two children, wife and seven relatives in two rooms. “I would go out every morning looking for work, but there is nothing. My daughter is sick. I left because I wanted to be able to provide for my family.”

      Despite his desire to end up in France, Saeed was forced to apply for asylum in Italy to buy himself time and avoid being arrested and sent back to Bosnia.

      Under current regulations governing refugee law, Saeed’s asylum application in Italy is unlikely to be accepted. Poverty and a dream for a better future are not recognised as valid reasons to be granted status in Europe. Instead, in order to keep those like Saeed out, in 2018, the European Commission proposed to almost triple funding for border enforcement between 2021 and 2027, for an overall investment of $38.4 billion.

      Despite being a skilled electrician looking for work, Saeed’s asylum application makes it impossible for him to legally work in Italy. To survive, he started working as a guide for other migrants, a low-level smuggler making the most of what he learned during The Game.

      He pulls a second phone out of his pocket and takes a call. “There are 70 men crossing the mountains from Slovenia who will be here by 4 am tomorrow,” he says. The large group will be split into smaller groups once they arrive at the Italian border, Saeed explains, so as to not be too noticeable.

      The mountain paths around Trieste are full of signs of life; sleeping bags, shoes and clothes scattered where groups decided to stop and camp the night before doing the final stretch to Trieste’s train station.

      “When they arrive, I’ll be their point of contact. I’ll show them where to access aid, how to get an Italian sim card and give them money that their families have sent to me via Western Union.” He pauses, “I know some of them because we were in the same camps in Bosnia. I try to help them as I know what it is like, and in return they pay me a small fee.” The amount he receives varies between 5 and 20 euro ($5.8 - $23.55) per person.

      All along the route there are those like Saeed, who manage to make a small living from the irregular migration route. However, it isn’t easy to recognise a smuggler’s good intentions, and not every smuggler is like Saeed. “There are also smugglers who make a big business by stealing money or taking advantage of less experienced people,” he says.

      Pointing to two young Afghan boys, Saeed shrugs, “They asked me where they could go to prostitute themselves to pay for the next part of the journey. There are many people ready to make money out of our misery.”

      Border violence and the fear of contagion

      Since the start of pandemic, The Game has become even more high stakes. For migrants and asylum seekers on the Balkan route, it has meant adding the risk of infection to a long list of potential perils.

      “If the police are looking for you, it’s hard to worry about getting sick with the virus. The most important thing is not to get arrested and sent back,” said Saeed.

      Covid-19 rules on migration have had the effect of further marginalising migrants and asylum seekers, excluding them from free testing facilities, their right to healthcare largely suspended and ignored by national Covid-19 prevention measures.

      This is confirmed by Lorenzo Tamaro, representative of Trieste’s Autonomous Police Syndicate (SAP). Standing under one of Trieste’s sweeping arches he begins, “The pandemic has made it more dangerous for them [migrants and asylum seekers], as it is for us [the police]."

      For all of 2020, Italian police have had to deal with the difficult task of stopping irregular entries while also performing extraordinary duties during two months of a strictly enforced lockdown.

      “The pandemic has revealed a systemic crisis in policing immigration in Europe, one we have been denouncing for years,” Tamaro says. He refers to how Italian police are both under-staffed and under-resourced when facing irregular migration, more so during lockdowns.

      Broad shouldered, his voice carries the confidence of someone who is no stranger to interviews. “Foreigners entering our territory with no authorisation are in breach of the law, even more so under national lockdown. It’s not us [the police] who make the law, but it is our job to make sure it is respected.”

      Born in Trieste himself, Tamaro and his colleagues have been dealing with immigration from the Balkans for years. The emergency brought on by increased arrivals during Italy’s tight lockdown period pushed the Ministry of Interior to request the deployment of a 100-strong Italian army contingent to the border with Slovenia, to assist in the detection and arrest of people on the move and their transfer to quarantine camps on the outskirts of the city.

      “We have been left to deal with both an immigration and public health emergency without any real support,” Tamaro says. “The army is of help in stopping irregular migrants, but it’s then us [the police] who have to carry out medical screenings without proper protective equipment. This is something the Ministry should have specialised doctors and medics do, not the police.”

      To deal with the increase in arrivals from the Balkan route, Italy revived a 1996 bilateral agreement with Slovenia, which dictates that any undocumented person found within 10 kilometres of the Slovenian border within the first 24 hours of arrival, can be informally readmitted to Slovenia.

      “In my opinion readmissions work,” Tamaro says. “Smugglers have started taking migrants to Udine and Gorizia, which are outside of the 10 km zone of informal readmissions, because they know that if stopped in Trieste, they risk being taken back to Slovenia.”

      On September 6, the Italian Interior Minister herself acknowledged 3,059 people have been returned to Slovenia from Trieste in 2020 alone, 1,000 more than the same period in 2019.

      Human rights observers have criticised this agreement for actively denying people on the move to request asylum and thus going against European law. “We know Italy is sending people back to Slovenia saying they can apply for asylum there. But the pushback does not end there,” says Miha, a member of the Slovenian solidarity initiative Info Kolpa.

      From his airy apartment overlooking Ljubljana, Miha explains how Slovenia resurfaced a readmission agreement with Croatia in June 2018 that has allowed an increase in pushbacks from Slovenia to Croatia.

      “Italy sends people to Slovenia and Slovenia to Croatia,” Miha says, “and from Croatia, they get pushed back further to Bosnia.”

      “What Europe is ignoring is that this is a system of coordinated chain-pushbacks, designed to send people back from Europe to Bosnia, a non-European Union country. And adding to the breach of human rights, no one is worrying about the high risk of contagion,” Miha concludes.

      Torture at Europe’s doorstep

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t36isJ1QHA4&feature=emb_logo

      A section of the border between Croatia and Slovenia runs along the Kulpa river, as shown in the video above. People on the move try to cross this river in places where there is no fence, and some drowned trying to cross it in 2018 and 2019.

      As pushbacks become more normalised, so has the violence used to implement them. Because the Croatian-Bosnian border is an external EU-border, Croatia and Bosnia do not have readmission agreements similar to those between Italy and Slovenia.

      As such, pushbacks cannot simply happen through police cooperation — they happen informally — and it is here that the greatest violence takes place.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8T9AFOJT2A&feature=emb_logo

      People on the move have been posting evidence of the violence they are subjected to across the Balkan route. The video above was posted on TikTok in the summer of 2020, showing the beatings suffered by many of those who try and cross from Bosnia to Croatia and are pushed back by Croatian police.

      Despite the Bosnian-Croatian border running for more than 900 km, most of the border crossing happens in a specific location, in the Una Sana canton, the top eastern tip of Bosnia.

      The border here is a far cry from the tall barbed wire fences one might expect. The scenery cuts across a beautiful landscape of forestry and mountain streams, with winding countryside roads gently curving around family-run farms and small towns.

      “I’ve seen it all,” Stepjan says, looking out from his small whitewashed home, perched less than 100 meters from the actual Bosnian-Croatian border. A 45-year old man born and raised in this town, he adds, “People have been using this route for years to try and cross into Europe. Sometimes I give them [people on the move] water or food when they pass.”

      Many of the locals living on either side of the border speak German. They themselves have been migrants to Germany in the 90s, when this used to be a war zone. Asked about the allegations of physical abuse inflicted upon migrants, Stepjan shrugged, replying, “It’s not for me to tell the police how to do their job.”

      “By law, once a person arrives on Croatian territory they have the right to seek asylum,” says Nikol, a Croatian activist working with the organisation No Name Kitchen on this stretch of the border. “But this right is denied by Croatian police who force people to return to Bosnia.”

      Sitting in a smoky cafe in Zagreb, Nikol (a psuedonym) says she wishes to remain anonymous due to intimidation received at the hands of Croatian and Bosnian authorities punishing people providing aid to people on the move. She is planning her return to Bihac as soon as Covid regulations will allow her to move. Bihac is the key town of the Una Sana canton, the hotspot where most of the people on the move are waiting to cross into Croatia.

      She knows all about the violence perpetrated here against migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter Europe. “The Croatian police hands people over to men in plain uniform and balaclavas, who torture migrants before forcing them to walk back across the border to Bosnia.”

      Many migrants and asylum seekers that have managed to cross Croatia have reported stories of men dressed in black uniforms and wearing balaclavas, some sort of special unit with a mandate to beat and torture migrants before sending them back to Bosnia.

      Nikol has a gallery of pictures depicting the aftermath of the violence. “There is so much evidence of torture in Croatia that I am surprised there are still journalists looking to verify it,” she says as she flicks through pictures of beatings on her phone.

      Scrolling through, she brings up picture after picture of open wounds and arms, backs and bodies marked with signs of repeated beatings, burns and cuts.

      She goes through a series of pictures of young men with swollen bloody faces, and explains: “These men were made to lie on the ground facing down, and then stamped on their heads to break their noses one after the other.”
      Activists and volunteers receive pictures from people on the move about the beatings and torture endured while undergoing pushbacks. (Hannah Kirmes Daly, Brush&Bow C.I.C)

      “These are the same techniques that the Croatian police used to terrorise Serbian minorities in Croatia after the war,” she adds.

      Finding Croats like Nikol willing to help people on the move is not easy. Stepjan says he is not amongst those who call the police when he sees people attempting to cross, but a policeman from the border police station in Cabar openly disclosed that “it is thanks to the tip offs we get from local citizens that we know how and when to intervene and arrest migrants.”

      As confirmed by Nikol, the level of public anger and fear against people on the move has grown during the pandemic, fueled by anti-immigrant rhetoric linked with fake and unverified news accusing foreigners of bringing Covid-19 with them.

      Much of this discourse takes place on social media. Far-right hate groups have been praising violence against migrants and asylum seekers through posts like the ones reported below, which despite being signalled for their violent content, have not yet been removed by Facebook.
      Hate speech and violent threats against people on the move and organisations supporting them are posted on Facebook and other social media on a daily basis. Despite being reported, most of them are not taken down. (Hannah Kirmes Daly, Brush&Bow C.I.C)

      Nikol’s accounts are corroborated by Antonia, a caseworker at the Center for Peace Studies in Zagreb, who is working closely on legal challenges made against Croatian police.

      “We continue to receive testimonies of people being tied to trees, terrorised by the shooting of weapons close to their faces, having stinging liquids rubbed into open wounds, being spray-painted upon, sexually abused and beaten with bats and rubber tubes on the head, arms and legs.”

      In July this summer, an anonymous complaint by a group of Croatian police officers was made public by the Croatian ombudswoman. In the letter, officers denounced some of their superiors of being violent toward people on the move, suggesting that such violence is systematic.

      This was also the opinion of doctors in Trieste, volunteering to treat people’s wounds once they arrive in Italy after having crossed Croatia and Slovenia. Their accounts confirm that the violence they often see marked on bodies is not just the consequence of police deterrence, but is aimed at causing long-term injuries that might make a further journey impossible.

      Neither the Croatian nor the Slovenian national police have responded to these allegations through their press offices. The EU Home Affairs spokesperson office instead did reply, reporting that “Croatian authorities have committed to investigate reports of mistreatment at their external borders, monitor this situation closely and keep the Commission informed on progress made.”

      And while the EU has sent a monitoring team to meet the Croatian Interior Minister, it nevertheless continues to add to Croatia’s internal security fund, sending over €100 million ($120 million) since 2015 to manage migration through visa systems, policing and border security.

      Back to square one…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc0Um3gEbzE&feature=emb_logo

      Pushbacks from Italy, Slovenia and Croatia all the way back to Bosnia end with people on the move returning to overcrowded reception facilities, unsanitary camps, squats or tents, in inhumane conditions, often without running water or electricity. People in the video above were queuing at a food distribution site outside one of the IOM camps on the Bosnian-Croatian border in winter 2020.

      “These people have travelled thousands of kilometres, for months, and are now at the door of the European Union. They don’t want to return home,” Slobodan Ujic, Director of Bosnia’s Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, admitted in an interview to Balkan Insight earlier this year.

      “We are not inhumane, but we now have 30,000, 40,000 or 50,000 unemployed, while keeping 10,000 illegal migrants in full force…we have become a parking lot for migrants for Europe,” Ujic added.

      Public opinion in Bosnia reflects Ujic’s words. With a third of Bosnians unemployed and many youth leaving to Europe in search of better opportunities, there is a rising frustration from Bosnian authorities accusing the EU of having left the country to deal with the migration crisis alone.

      During the summer of 2020, tensions flared between Bosnian residents and arriving migrants to the point where buses were being stopped by locals to check if migrants were travelling on them.

      Today, thousands of people in Bosnia are currently facing a harsh snowy winter with no suitable facilities for refuge. Since the start of January the bad weather means increased rains and snowfall, making living in tents and abandoned buildings with no heating a new cause for humanitarian concern.

      In Bosnia around 7,500 people on the move are registered in eight camps run by the UNHCR and International Organization for Migration (IOM). The estimated number of migrants and asylum seekers in the country however, tops 30,000. The EU recently sent €3.5 million ($4.1 million) to manage the humanitarian crisis, adding to the over €40 million ($47 million) donated to Bosnia since 2015 to build and manage temporary camps.

      With the start of the pandemic, these reception centres became more like outdoor detention centres as Bosnian authorities forcefully transferred and confined people on the move to these facilities despite overcrowding and inhumane conditions.

      “I was taken from the squat I was in by Bosnian police and confined in a camp of Lipa, a few kilometers south of Bihac, for over a month,” Saeed says. “We had one toilet between 10 of us, no electricity and only one meal a day.”

      On December 23, 2020, Lipa camp, home to 1,300 people, was shut down as NGOs refused to run the camp due to the inhumane conditions and lack of running water and electricity. This came at a time where the closure of the camp had also been advocated by Bosnian local authorities of the Una Sana canton, pressured in local elections to close the facility.

      As people evacuated however, four residents, allegedly frustrated with the fact that they were being evicted with nowhere to go, set the camp on fire.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK6mqaheA3c&feature=emb_logo

      The trauma of living through forced lockdown in those conditions will have a lasting effect on those who have lived it. “I still have nightmares about that place and the journey,” Saeed says, avoiding eye contact.

      “Most nights I hear the sound of dogs barking and I remember the running. But in my dreams, I am paralysed to the ground and I cannot move.”

      When Saeed managed to escape Lipa camp in June 2020, it took him three weeks to walk back to Trieste. “Now I spend my days here,” he gestures across, pointing his open palms at Piazza Liberta.

      As he speaks, Saeed is joined by two friends. A long scar twists a line of shiny nobbled skin across the scalp of one of them: a souvenir from the baton of a Croatian police officer. The other has burnt the tips of his fingers to avoid being fingerprinted and sent back to Greece.

      The absurdity of Europe’s migration policy is marked on their bodies. The trauma imprinted in their minds.

      “I dream of being able to drive a car to France, like any normal person, on a road with only green traffic lights ahead, no barriers to stop me.”

      https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/torture-and-pushbacks-stories-of-migration-to-europe-during-covid-19-45421
      #game #Katinovac

  • Réfugiés : contourner la #Croatie par le « #triangle » #Serbie - #Roumanie - #Hongrie

    Une nouvelle route migratoire s’est ouverte dans les Balkans : en Serbie, de plus en plus d’exilés tentent de contourner les barbelés barrant la #Hongrie en faisant un crochet par la Roumanie, avant d’espérer rejoindre les pays riches de l’Union européenne. Un chemin plus long et pas moins risqué, conséquence des politiques sécuritaires imposées par les 27.

    Il est 18h30, le jour commence à baisser sur la plaine de #Voïvodine. Un groupe d’une cinquantaine de jeunes hommes, sacs sur le dos et duvets en bandoulière, marche d’un pas décidé le long de la petite route de campagne qui relie les villages serbes de #Majdan et de #Rabe. Deux frontières de l’Union européenne (UE) se trouvent à quelques kilomètres de là : celle de la Hongrie, barrée depuis la fin 2015 d’une immense clôture barbelée, et celle de la Roumanie, moins surveillée pour le moment.

    Tous s’apprêtent à tenter le « #game », ce « jeu » qui consiste à échapper à la police et à pénétrer dans l’UE, en passant par « le triangle ». Le triangle, c’est cette nouvelle route migratoire à trois côtés qui permet de rejoindre la Hongrie, l’entrée de l’espace Schengen, depuis la Serbie, en faisant un crochet par la Roumanie. « Nous avons été contraints de prendre de nouvelles dispositions devant les signes clairs de l’augmentation du nombre de personnes traversant illégalement depuis la Serbie », explique #Frontex, l’Agence européenne de protection des frontières. Aujourd’hui, 87 de ses fonctionnaires patrouillent au côté de la police roumaine.

    Depuis l’automne 2020, le nombre de passages par cet itinéraire, plus long, est en effet en forte hausse. Les #statistiques des passages illégaux étant impossibles à tenir, l’indicateur le plus parlant reste l’analyse des demandes d’asiles, qui ont explosé en Roumanie l’année dernière, passant de 2626 à 6156, soit une hausse de 137%, avec un pic brutal à partir du mois d’octobre. Selon les chiffres de l’Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări, les services d’immigrations roumains, 92% de ces demandeurs d’asile étaient entrés depuis la Serbie.

    “La Roumanie et la Hongrie, c’est mieux que la Croatie.”

    Beaucoup de ceux qui espèrent passer par le « triangle » ont d’abord tenté leur chance via la Bosnie-Herzégovine et la Croatie avant de rebrousser chemin. « C’est difficile là-bas », raconte Ahmed, un Algérien d’une trentaine d’années, qui squatte une maison abandonnée de Majdan avec cinq de ses compatriotes. « Il y a des policiers qui patrouillent cagoulés. Ils te frappent et te prennent tout : ton argent, ton téléphone et tes vêtements. Je connais des gens qui ont dû être emmenés à l’hôpital. » Pour lui, pas de doutes, « la Roumanie et la Hongrie, c’est mieux ».

    La route du « triangle » a commencé à devenir plus fréquentée dès la fin de l’été 2020, au moment où la situation virait au chaos dans le canton bosnien d’#Una_Sana et que les violences de la police croate s’exacerbaient encore un peu plus. Quelques semaines plus tard, les multiples alertes des organisations humanitaires ont fini par faire réagir la Commission européenne. Ylva Johansson, la Commissaire suédoise en charge des affaires intérieures a même dénoncé des « traitements inhumains et dégradants » commis contre les exilés à la frontière croato-bosnienne, promettant une « discussion approfondie » avec les autorités de Zagreb. De son côté, le Conseil de l’Europe appelait les autorités croates à mettre fin aux actes de tortures contre les migrants et à punir les policiers responsables. Depuis, sur le terrain, rien n’a changé.

    Pire, l’incendie du camp de #Lipa, près de #Bihać, fin décembre, a encore aggravé la crise. Pendant que les autorités bosniennes se renvoyaient la balle et que des centaines de personnes grelottaient sans toit sous la neige, les arrivées se sont multipliées dans le Nord de la Serbie. « Rien que dans les villages de Majdan et Rabe, il y avait en permanence plus de 300 personnes cet hiver », estime Jeremy Ristord, le coordinateur de Médecins sans frontières (MSF) en Serbie. La plupart squattent les nombreuses maisons abandonnées. Dans cette zone frontalière, beaucoup d’habitants appartiennent aux minorités hongroise et roumaine, et Budapest comme Bucarest leur ont généreusement délivré des passeports après leur intégration dans l’UE. Munis de ces précieux sésames européens, les plus jeunes sont massivement partis chercher fortune ailleurs dès la fin des années 2000.

    Siri, un Palestinien dont la famille était réfugiée dans un camp de Syrie depuis les années 1960, squatte une masure défoncée à l’entrée de Rabe. En tout, ils sont neuf, dont trois filles. Cela fait de longs mois que le jeune homme de 27 ans est coincé en Serbie. Keffieh sur la tête, il tente de garder le sourire en racontant son interminable odyssée entamée voilà bientôt dix ans. Dès les premiers combats en 2011, il a fui avec sa famille vers la Jordanie, puis le Liban avant de se retrouver en Turquie. Finalement, il a pris la route des Balkans l’an dernier, avec l’espoir de rejoindre une partie des siens, installés en Allemagne, près de Stuttgart.

    “La police m’a arrêté, tabassé et on m’a renvoyé ici. Sans rien.”

    Il y a quelques jours, Siri à réussi à arriver jusqu’à #Szeged, dans le sud de la Hongrie, via la Roumanie. « La #police m’a arrêté, tabassé et on m’a renvoyé ici. Sans rien », souffle-t-il. À côté de lui, un téléphone crachote la mélodie de Get up, Stand up, l’hymne reggae de Bob Marley appelant les opprimés à se battre pour leurs droits. « On a de quoi s’acheter un peu de vivres et des cigarettes. On remplit des bidons d’eau pour nous laver dans ce qui reste de la salle de bains », raconte une des filles, assise sur un des matelas qui recouvrent le sol de la seule petite pièce habitable, chauffée par un poêle à bois décati.

    De rares organisations humanitaires viennent en aide à ces exilés massés aux portes de l’Union européennes. Basé à Belgrade, le petit collectif #Klikaktiv y passe chaque semaine, pour de l’assistance juridique et du soutien psychosocial. « Ils préfèrent être ici, tout près de la #frontière, plutôt que de rester dans les camps officiels du gouvernement serbe », explique Milica Švabić, la juriste de l’organisation. Malgré la précarité et l’#hostilité grandissante des populations locales. « Le discours a changé ces dernières années en Serbie. On ne parle plus de ’réfugiés’, mais de ’migrants’ venus islamiser la Serbie et l’Europe », regrette son collègue Vuk Vučković. Des #milices d’extrême-droite patrouillent même depuis un an pour « nettoyer » le pays de ces « détritus ».

    « La centaine d’habitants qui restent dans les villages de Rabe et de Majdan sont méfiants et plutôt rudes avec les réfugiés », confirme Abraham Rudolf. Ce sexagénaire à la retraite habite une modeste bâtisse à l’entrée de Majdan, adossée à une ruine squattée par des candidats à l’exil. « C’est vrai qu’ils ont fait beaucoup de #dégâts et qu’il n’y a personne pour dédommager. Ils brûlent les charpentes des toits pour se chauffer. Leurs conditions d’hygiène sont terribles. » Tant pis si de temps en temps, ils lui volent quelques légumes dans son potager. « Je me mets à leur place, il fait froid et ils ont faim. Au vrai, ils ne font de mal à personne et ils font même vivre l’épicerie du village. »

    Si le « triangle » reste a priori moins dangereux que l’itinéraire via la Croatie, les #violences_policières contre les sans papiers y sont pourtant monnaie courante. « Plus de 13 000 témoignages de #refoulements irréguliers depuis la Roumanie ont été recueillis durant l’année 2020 », avance l’ONG Save the Children.

    “C’est dur, mais on n’a pas le choix. Mon mari a déserté l’armée de Bachar. S’il rentre, il sera condamné à mort.”

    Ces violences répétées ont d’ailleurs conduit MSF à réévaluer sa mission en Serbie et à la concentrer sur une assistance à ces victimes. « Plus de 30% de nos consultations concernent des #traumatismes physiques », précise Jérémy Ristor. « Une moitié sont liés à des violences intentionnelles, dont l’immense majorité sont perpétrées lors des #push-backs. L’autre moitié sont liés à des #accidents : fractures, entorses ou plaies ouvertes. Ce sont les conséquences directes de la sécurisation des frontières de l’UE. »

    Hanan est tombée sur le dos en sautant de la clôture hongroise et n’a jamais été soignée. Depuis, cette Syrienne de 33 ans souffre dès qu’elle marche. Mais pas question pour elle de renoncer à son objectif : gagner l’Allemagne, avec son mari et leur neveu, dont les parents ont été tués dans les combats à Alep. « On a essayé toutes les routes », raconte l’ancienne étudiante en littérature anglaise, dans un français impeccable. « On a traversé deux fois le Danube vers la Roumanie. Ici, par le triangle, on a tenté douze fois et par les frontières de la Croatie et de la Hongrie, sept fois. » Cette fois encore, la police roumaine les a expulsés vers le poste-frontière de Rabe, officiellement fermé à cause du coronavirus. « C’est dur, mais on n’a pas le choix. Mon mari a déserté l’armée de Bachar avec son arme. S’il rentre, il sera condamné à mort. »

    Qu’importe la hauteur des murs placés sur leur route et la terrible #répression_policière, les exilés du nord de la Serbie finiront tôt ou tard par passer. Comme le déplore les humanitaires, la politique ultra-sécuritaire de l’UE ne fait qu’exacerber leur #vulnérabilité face aux trafiquants et leur précarité, tant pécuniaire que sanitaire. La seule question est celle du prix qu’ils auront à paieront pour réussir le « game ». Ces derniers mois, les prix se sont remis à flamber : entrer dans l’Union européenne via la Serbie se monnaierait jusqu’à 2000 euros.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Refugies-contourner-la-Croatie-par-le-triangle-Serbie-Roumanie-Ho
    #routes_migratoires #migrations #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #contournement #Bihac #frontières #the_game

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • ‘They can see us in the dark’: migrants grapple with hi-tech fortress EU

    A powerful battery of drones, thermal cameras and heartbeat detectors are being deployed to exclude asylum seekers

    Khaled has been playing “the game” for a year now. A former law student, he left Afghanistan in 2018, driven by precarious economic circumstances and fear for his security, as the Taliban were increasingly targeting Kabul.

    But when he reached Europe, he realised the chances at winning the game were stacked against him. Getting to Europe’s borders was easy compared with actually crossing into the EU, he says, and there were more than physical obstacles preventing him from getting to Germany, where his uncle and girlfriend live.

    On a cold December evening in the Serbian village of Horgoš, near the Hungarian border, where he had spent a month squatting in an abandoned farm building, he and six other Afghan asylum seekers were having dinner together – a raw onion and a loaf of bread they passed around – their faces lit up by the glow of a fire.

    The previous night, they had all had another go at “the game” – the name migrants give to crossing attempts. But almost immediately the Hungarian border police stopped them and pushed them back into Serbia. They believe the speed of the response can be explained by the use of thermal cameras and surveillance drones, which they had seen during previous attempts to cross.

    “They can see us in the dark – you just walk, and they find you,” said Khaled, adding that drones had been seen flying over their squat. “Sometimes they send them in this area to watch who is here.”

    Drones, thermal-vision cameras and devices that can detect a heartbeat are among the new technological tools being increasingly used by European police to stop migrants from crossing borders, or to push them back when they do.

    The often violent removal of migrants without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum is illegal under EU law, which obliges authorities to process asylum requests whether or not migrants possess identification documents or entered the country legally.

    “Routes are getting harder and harder to navigate. Corridors [in the Balkans are] really intensively surveyed by these technologies,” says Simon Campbell, field coordinator for the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), a migrant rights group in the region.

    The militarisation of Europe’s borders has been increasing steadily since 2015, when the influx of migrants reached its peak. A populist turn in politics and fear whipped up around the issue have fuelled the use of new technologies. The EU has invested in fortifying borders, earmarking €34.9bn (£30bn) in funding for border and migration management for the 2021-27 budget, while sidelining the creation of safe passages and fair asylum processes.

    Osman, a Syrian refugee now living in Serbia, crossed several borders in the southern Balkans in 2014. “At the time, I didn’t see any type of technology,” he says, “but now there’s drones, thermal cameras and all sorts of other stuff.”

    When the Hungarian police caught him trying to cross the Serbian border before the pandemic hit last year, they boasted about the equipment they used – including what Osman recalls as “a huge drone with a big camera”. He says they told him: “We are watching you everywhere.”

    Upgrading of surveillance technology, as witnessed by Khaled and Osman, has coincided with increased funding for Frontex – the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency. Between 2005 and 2016, Frontex’s budget grew from €6.3m to €238.7m, and it now stands at €420.6m. Technology at the EU’s Balkan borders have been largely funded with EU money, with Frontex providing operational support.

    Between 2014 and 2017, with EU funding, Croatia bought 13 thermal-imaging devices for €117,338 that can detect people more than a mile away and vehicles from two miles away.

    In 2019, the Croatian interior ministry acquired four eRIS-III long-range drones for €2.3m. They identify people up to six miles away in daylight and just under two miles in darkness, they fly at 80mph and climb to an altitude of 3,500 metres (11,400ft), while transmitting real-time data. Croatia has infrared cameras that can detect people at up to six miles away and equipment that picks upheartbeats.

    Romania now has heartbeat detection devices, alongside 117 thermo-vision cameras. Last spring, it added 24 vehicles with thermo-vision capabilities to its border security force at a cost of more than €13m.

    Hungary’s investment in migration-management technology is shielded from public scrutiny by a 2017 legal amendment but its lack of transparency and practice of pushing migrants back have been criticised by other EU nations and the European court of justice, leading to Frontex suspending operations in Hungary in January.

    It means migrants can no longer use the cover of darkness for their crossing attempts. Around the fire in Horgoš, Khaled and his fellow asylum-seekers decide to try crossing instead in the early morning, when they believe thermal cameras are less effective.

    A 2021 report by BVMN claims that enhanced border control technologies have led to increased violence as police in the Balkans weaponise new equipment against people on the move. Technology used in pushing back migrants has “contributed to the ease with which racist and repressive procedures are carried out”, the report says.

    BVMN highlighted the 2019 case of an 18-year-old Algerian who reported being beaten and strangled with his own shirt by police while attempting a night crossing from Bosnia to Croatia. “You cannot cross the border during the night because when the police catch you in the night, they beat you a lot. They break you,” says the teenager, who reported seeing surveillance drones.

    Ali, 19, an Iranian asylum-seeker who lives in a migrant camp in Belgrade, says that the Croatian and Romanian police have been violent and ignored his appeals for asylum during his crossing attempts. “When they catch us, they don’t respect us, they insult us, they beat us,” says Ali. “We said ‘we want asylum’, but they weren’t listening.”

    BVMN’s website archives hundreds of reports of violence. In February last year, eight Romanian border officers beat two Iraqi families with batons, administering electric shocks to two men, one of whom was holding his 11-month-old child. They stole their money and destroyed their phones, before taking them back to Serbia, blasting ice-cold air in the police van until they reached their destination.

    “There’s been some very, very severe beatings lately,” says Campbell. “Since the spring of 2018, there has been excessive use of firearms, beatings with batons, Tasers and knives.”

    Responding to questions via email, Frontex denies any link between its increased funding of new technologies and the violent pushbacks in the Balkans. It attributes the rise in reports to other factors, such as increased illegal migration and the proliferation of mobile phones making it easier to record incidents.

    Petra Molnar, associate director of Refugee Law Lab, believes the over-emphasis on technologies can alienate and dehumanise migrants.

    “There’s this alluring solution to really complex problems,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to sell a bunch of drones or a lot of automated technology, instead of dealing with the drivers that force people to migrate … or making the process more humane.”

    Despite the increasingly sophisticated technologies that have been preventing them from crossing Europe’s borders, Khaled and his friends from the squat managed to cross into Hungary in late December. He is living in a camp in Germany and has begun the process of applying for asylum.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/mar/26/eu-borders-migrants-hitech-surveillance-asylum-seekers

    #Balkans #complexe_militaro-industriel #route_des_Balkans #technologie #asile #migrations #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #caméras_thermiques #militarisation_des_frontières #drones #détecteurs_de_battements_de_coeur #Horgos #Horgoš #Serbie #the_game #game #surveillance_frontalière #Hongrie #Frontex #Croatie #Roumanie #nuit #violence #refoulements #push-backs #déshumanisation

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Turkey’s return policies to Syria & their impacts on migrants and refugees’ human rights

    –-> Chapitre 7 de ce rapport intitulé « Return Mania. Mapping Policies and Practices in the EuroMed Region » :

    https://euromedrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/EN_Chapter-7-Turkey_Report_Migration.pdf

    #renvois #expulsions #Turquie #réfugiés #asile #migrations #réfugiés_syriens #retour_au_pays #droits_humains #rapport #EuroMed_Rights

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les « retours au pays » des réfugiés syriens :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/904710

    ping @isskein @karine4 @rhoumour @_kg_

  • The fortified gates of the Balkans. How non-EU member states are incorporated into fortress Europe.

    Marko Gašperlin, a Slovenian police officer, began his first mandate as chair of the Management Board of Frontex in spring 2016. Less than two months earlier, then Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar had gone to North Macedonia to convey the message from the EU that the migration route through the Balkans — the so-called Balkan route — was about to close.

    “North Macedonia was the first country ready to cooperate [with Frontex] to stop the stampede we had in 2015 across the Western Balkans,” Gašperlin told K2.0 during an interview conducted at the police headquarters in Ljubljana in September 2020.

    “Stampede” refers to over 1 million people who entered the European Union in 2015 and early 2016 in search of asylum, the majority traveling along the Balkan route. Most of them were from Syria, but also some other countries of the global South where human rights are a vague concept.

    According to Gašperlin, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s primary interest at the EU’s external borders is controlling the movement of people who he describes as “illegals.”

    Given numerous allegations by human rights organizations, Frontex could itself be part of illegal activity as part of the push-back chain removing people from EU territory before they have had the opportunity to assert their right to claim asylum.

    In March 2016, the EU made a deal with Turkey to stop the flow of people toward Europe, and Frontex became even more active in the Aegean Sea. Only four years later, at the end of 2020, Gašperlin established a Frontex working group to look into allegations of human rights violations by its officers. So far, no misconduct has been acknowledged. The final internal Frontex report is due at the end of February.

    After allegations were made public during the summer and fall of 2020, some members of the European Parliament called for Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri to step down, while the European Ombudsman also announced an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Agency’s complaints mechanism as well as its management.

    A European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group was also established to conduct its own inquiry, looking into “compliance and respect for fundamental rights” as well as internal management, and transparency and accountability. It formally began work this week (February 23) with its fact-finding investigation expected to last four months.

    2021 started with more allegations and revelations.

    In January 2021 the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, confirmed it is leading an investigation over allegations of harassment and misconduct inside Frontex, and push-backs conducted at the EU’s borders.

    Similar accusations of human rights violations related to Frontex have been accumulating for years. In 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled “The EU’s Dirty Hands” that documented the ill-treatment of migrant detainees in Greece.

    Various human rights organizations and media have also long reported about Frontex helping the Libyan Coast Guard to locate and pull back people trying to escape toward Europe. After being pulled back, people are held in notorious detention camps, which operate with the support of the EU.

    Nonetheless, EU leaders are not giving up on the idea of expanding the Frontex mission, making deals with governments of non-member states in the Balkans to participate in their efforts to stop migration.

    Currently, the Frontex plan is to deploy up to 10,000 border guards at the EU external borders by 2027.

    Policing Europe

    Frontex, with its headquarters in Poland, was established in 2004, but it remained relatively low key for the first decade of its existence. This changed in 2015 when, in order to better control Europe’s visa-free Schengen area, the European Commission (EC) extended the Agency’s mandate as it aimed to turn Frontex into a fully-fledged European Border and Coastguard Agency. Officially, they began operating in this role in October 2016, at the Bulgarian border with Turkey.

    In recent years, the territory they cover has been expanding, framed as cooperation with neighboring countries, with the main goal “to ensure implementation of the European integrated border management.”

    The budget allocated for their work has also grown massively, from about 6 million euros in 2005, to 460 million euros in 2020. According to existing plans, the Agency is set to grow still further and by 2027 up to 5.6 billion euros is expected to have been spent on Frontex.

    As one of the main migration routes into Europe the Balkans has become the key region for Frontex. Close cooperation with authorities in the region has been growing since 2016, particularly through the “Regional Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey” project: https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Partners/Third_countries/IPA_II_Phase_II.pdf.

    In order to increase its powers in the field, Frontex has promoted “status agreements” with the countries in the region, while the EC, through its Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) fund, has dedicated 3.4 million euros over the two-year 2019-21 period for strengthening borders.

    The first Balkan state to upgrade its cooperation agreement with Frontex to a status agreement was Albania in 2018; joint police operations at its southern border with Greece began in spring 2019. According to the agreement, Frontex is allowed to conduct full border police duties on the non-EU territory.

    Frontex’s status agreement with Albania was followed by a similar agreement with Montenegro that has been in force since July 2020.

    The signing of a status agreement with North Macedonia was blocked by Bulgaria in October 2020, while the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina requires further approvals and the one with Serbia is awaiting ratification by the parliament in Belgrade.

    “The current legal framework is the consequence of the situation in the years from 2014 to 2016,” Gašperlin said.

    He added that he regretted that the possibility to cooperate with non-EU states in returns of “illegals” had subsequently been dropped from the Frontex mandate after an intervention by EU parliamentarians. In 2019, a number of changes were made to how Frontex functions including removing the power to “launch return interventions in third countries” due to the fact that many of these countries have a poor record when it comes to rule of law and respect of human rights.

    “This means, if we are concrete, that the illegals who are in BiH — the EU can pay for their accommodation, Frontex can help only a little with the current tools it has, while when it comes to returns, Frontex cannot do anything,” Gašperlin said.

    Fortification of the borders

    The steady introduction of status agreements is intended to replace and upgrade existing police cooperation deals that are already in place with non-EU states.

    Over the years, EU member states have established various bilateral agreements with countries around the world, including some in the Balkan region. Further agreements have been negotiated by the EU itself, with Frontex listing 20 “working arrangements” with different non-member states on its website.

    Based on existing Frontex working arrangements, exchange of information and “consultancy” visits by Frontex officials — which also include work at border crossings — are already practiced widely across the Balkan-EU borders.

    The new status agreements allow Frontex officers to guard the borders and perform police tasks on the territory of the country with which the agreement is signed, while this country’s national courts do not have jurisdiction over the Frontex personnel.

    Comparing bilateral agreements to status agreements, Marko Gašperlin explained that, with Frontex taking over certain duties, individual EU states will be able to avoid the administrative and financial burdens of “bilateral solidarity.”

    Radoš Đurović, director of the NGO Asylum Protection Centre (APC) which works with migrants in Serbia, questions whether Frontex’s presence in the region will bring better control over violations and fears that if past acts of alleged violence are used it could make matters worse.

    “The EU’s aim is to increase border control and reduce the number of people who legally or illegally cross,” Đurović says in a phone interview for K2.0. “We know that violence does not stop the crossings. It only increases the violence people experience.”

    Similarly, Jasmin Redžepi from the Skopje-based NGO Legis, argues that the current EU focus on policing its borders only entraps people in the region.

    “This causes more problems, suffering and death,” he says. “People are forced to turn to criminals in search of help. The current police actions are empowering criminals and organized crime.”

    Redžepi believes the region is currently acting as some kind of human filter for the EU.

    “From the security standpoint this is solidarity with local authorities. But in the field, it prevents greater numbers of refugees from moving toward central Europe,” Redžepi says.

    “They get temporarily stuck. The EU calls it regulation but they only postpone their arrival in the EU and increase the violations of human rights, European law and international law. In the end people cross, just more simply die along the way.”

    EU accused of externalizing issues

    For the EU, it was a shifting pattern of migratory journeys that signified the moment to start increasing its border security around the region by strengthening its cooperation with individual states.

    The overland Balkan route toward Western Europe has always been used by people on the move. But it has become even more frequented in recent years as changing approaches to border policing and rescue restrictions in the Central Mediterranean have made crossings by sea even more deadly.

    For the regional countries, each at a different stage of a still distant promise of EU membership, partnering with Frontex comes with the obvious incentive of demonstrating their commitment to the bloc.

    “When regional authorities work to stop people crossing towards the EU, they hope to get extra benefits elsewhere,” says APC Serbia’s Radoš Đurovic.

    There are also other potential perks. Jasmin Redžepi from Legis explains that police from EU states often leave behind equipment for under-equipped local forces.

    But there has also been significant criticism of the EU’s approach in both the Balkans and elsewhere, with many accusing it of attempting to externalize its borders and avoid accountability by pushing difficult issues elsewhere.

    According to research by Violeta Moreno-Lax and Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, who have analyzed the consequences of the EU’s approach to border management, the bloc’s actions amount to a “dispersion of legal duties” that is not “ethically and legally tenable under international law.”

    One of the results, the researchers found, is that “repressive forces” in third countries gain standing as valid interlocutors for cooperation and democratic and human rights credentials become “secondary, if at all relevant.”

    APC’s Radoš Đurović agrees, suggesting that we are entering a situation where the power of the law and international norms that prevent illegal use of force are, in effect, limited.

    “Europe may not have enough power to influence the situations in places further away that push migration, but it can influence its border regions,” he says. “The changes we see forced onto the states are problematic — from push-backs to violence.”

    Playing by whose rules?

    One of the particular anomalies seen with the status agreements is that Albanian police are now being accompanied by Frontex forces to better control their southern border at the same time as many of Albania’s own citizens are themselves attempting to reach the EU in irregular ways.

    Asked about this apparent paradox, Marko Gašperlin said he did “not remember any Albanians among the illegals.”

    However, Frontex’s risk analysis for 2020, puts Albania in the top four countries for whose citizens return orders were issued in the preceding two years and second in terms of returns effectively carried out. Eurostat data for 2018 and 2019 also puts Albania in 11th place among countries from which first time asylum seekers come, before Somalia and Bangladesh and well ahead of Morocco and Algeria.

    While many of these Albanian citizens may have entered EU countries via regular means before being subject to return orders for reasons such as breaching visa conditions, people on the move from Albania are often encountered along the Balkan route, according to activists working in the field.

    Meanwhile, other migrants have complained of being subjected to illegal push-backs at Albania’s border with Greece, though there is a lack of monitoring in this area and these claims remain unverified.

    In Serbia, the KlikAktiv Center for Development of Social Policies has analyzed Belgrade’s pending status agreement for Frontex operations.

    It warns that increasing the presence of armed police, from a Frontex force that has allegedly been involved in violence and abuses of power, is a recipe for disaster, especially when they will have immunity from local criminal and civil jurisdiction.

    It also flags that changes in legislation will enable the integration of data systems and rapid deportations without proper safeguards in place.

    Police activities to secure borders greatly depend on — and supply data to — EU information technology systems. But EU law provides fewer protections for data processing of foreign nationals than for that of EU citizens, effectively creating segregation in terms of data protection.

    The EU Fundamental Rights Agency has warned that the establishment of a more invasive system for non-EU nationals could potentially lead to increased discrimination and skew data that could further “fuel existing misperceptions that there is a link between asylum-seekers, migration and crime.”

    A question of standards

    Frontex emphasizes that there are codified safeguards and existing internal appeal mechanisms.

    According to the status agreements, violations of fundamental rights such as data protection rules or the principle of non-refoulement — which prohibits the forcible return of individuals to countries where they face danger through push-backs or other means — are all reasons for either party to suspend or terminate their cooperation.

    In January, Frontex itself suspended its mission in Hungary after the EU member state failed to abide by an EU Court of Justice decision. In December 2020, the court found that Hungarian border enforcement was in violation of EU law by restricting access to its asylum system and for carrying out illegal push-backs into Serbia.

    Marko Gašperlin claimed that Frontex’s presence improved professional police standards wherever it operated.

    However, claims of raising standards have been questioned by human rights researchers and activists.

    Jasmin Redžepi recounts that the first complaint against a foreign police officer that his NGO Legis filed with North Macedonian authorities and international organizations was against a Slovenian police officer posted through bilateral agreement; the complaint related to allegations of unprofessional conduct toward migrants.

    “Presently, people cross illegally and the police push them back illegally,” Redžepi says. “They should be able to ask for asylum but cannot as police push people across borders.”

    Gašperlin told K2.0 that it is natural that there will be a variation of standards between police from different countries.

    In its recruitment efforts, Frontex has sought to enlist police officers or people with a customs or army background. According to Gašperlin, recruits have been disproportionately from Romania and Italy, while fewer have been police officers from northern member states “where standards and wages are better.”

    “It would be illusory to expect that all of the EU would rise up to the level of respect for human rights and to the high standards of Sweden,” he said. “There also has not been a case of the EU throwing a member out, although there have been examples of human rights violations, of different kinds.”

    ‘Monitoring from the air’

    One of the EU member states whose own police have been accused of serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants, including torture, is Croatia.

    Despite the allegations, in January 2020, Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior Police Academy was chosen to lead the first Frontex-financed training session for attendees from police forces across the Balkan route region.

    Frontex currently has a presence in Croatia, at the EU border area with Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst other places.

    Asked about the numerous reports from international NGOs and collectives, as well as from the national Ombudsman Lora Vidović and the Council of Europe, of mass human rights violations at the Croatian borders, Gašperlin declined to engage.

    “Frontex helps Croatia with monitoring from the air,” he said. “That is all.”

    Gašperlin said that the role of his agency is only to notify Croatia when people are detected approaching the border from Bosnia. Asked if Frontex also monitors what happens to people once Croatian police find them, given continuously worsening allegations, he said: “From the air this might be difficult. I do not know if a plane from the air can monitor that.”

    Pressed further, he declined to comment.

    To claim ignorance is, however, becoming increasingly difficult. A recent statement on the state of the EU’s borders by UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, notes: “The pushbacks [at Europe’s borders] are carried out in a violent and apparently systematic way.”

    Radoš Đurović from APC Serbia pointed out that Frontex must know about the alleged violations.

    “The question is: Do they want to investigate and prevent them?” he says. “All those present in the field know about the violence and who perpetrates it.”

    Warnings that strict and violent EU border policies are increasing the sophistication and brutality of smugglers, while technological “solutions” and militarization come with vested interests and more potential human rights violations, do not seem to worry the head of Frontex’s Management Board.

    “If passage from Turkey to Germany is too expensive, people will not decide to go,” said Gašperlin, describing the job done by Frontex:

    “We do the work we do. So people cannot simply come here, sit and say — here I am, now take me to Germany, as some might want. Or — here I am, I’m asking for asylum, now take me to Postojna or Ljubljana, where I will get fed, cared for, and then I’ll sit on the bus and ride to Munich where I’ll again ask for asylum. This would be a minimal price.”

    Human rights advocates in the region such as Jasmin Redžepi have no illusions that what they face on the ground reflects the needs and aims of the EU.

    “We are only a bridge,” Redžepi says. “The least the EU should do is take care that its policies do not turn the region into a cradle for criminals and organized crime. We need legal, regular passages and procedures for people to apply for asylum, not illegal, violent push-backs.

    “If we talk about security we cannot talk exclusively about the security of borders. We have to talk about the security of people as well.”

    https://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/the-fortified-gates-of-the-balkans

    #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #frontex #Macédoine_du_Nord #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #push-backs #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #frontières_extérieures #Regional_Support_to_Protection-Sensitive_Migration_Management_in_the_Western_Balkans_and_Turkey #Instrument_for_Pre-Accession (#IPA) #budget #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #accords_bilatéraux

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749
    Et plus particulièrement ici :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message782649

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • À la frontière franco-espagnole, la police « #traque » les migrants

    Depuis environ un mois, les contrôles à la frontière franco-espagnole se sont intensifiés. Selon les associations, les migrants, « traqués par la police », prennent de plus en plus de #risques pour atteindre la France. Les humanitaires redoutent un drame, d’autant que certains exilés tentent désormais de rejoindre l’Hexagone en traversant la #rivière #Bidassoa à la nage.

    « #Refoulements illégaux », « traque », « #chasse_à_l'homme », « violation des droits »... Les mots utilisés par les associations locales pour décrire la situation à la frontière franco-espagnole sont forts. Depuis un mois, les humanitaires observent une présence de plus en plus importante des #forces_de_l'ordre. « Il y a toujours eu des contrôles mais à ce point-là, jamais ! On a même vu des #militaires déambuler dans les villages », raconte Lucie Bortaitu de l’association bayonnaise Diakité.

    Début novembre, lors d’une visite dans les Pyrénées, le président Emmanuel Macron avait annoncé le doublement des effectifs aux frontières françaises pour lutter contre la menace terroriste, les trafics et l’immigration illégale.

    À cela s’ajoute la fermeture, début janvier, de 15 points de passage sur les 650 kilomètres de frontière qui séparent l’Espagne de la France pour contenir la pandémie de Covid-19. Cette #surveillance renforcée 24h/24 mobilise 230 #policiers et #militaires.

    Mais pour les associations, le principal enjeu est de limiter l’arrivée de migrants dans l’Hexagone. « Les autorités françaises utilisent l’excuse de la crise sanitaire mais en fait le but premier est le #contrôle_migratoire », estime Ion Aranguren, de l’association espagnole Irungo Harrera Sarea, active du côté d’Irun. « C’est clairement pour lutter contre l’immigration illégale : seuls les Noirs sont constamment contrôlés par les policiers », renchérit Lucie Bortaitu.

    Des refoulements quotidiens

    Depuis plusieurs semaines, selon les humanitaires, les migrants sont « traqués » sur la route, dans les trains et dans la rue. À #Hendaye, les #gendarmes sont même entrés dans le jardin d’un particulier pour y extraire un exilé venu se cacher de la police, rapportent les bénévoles. Des migrants ont aussi été arrêtés au-delà des #20_kilomètres de la frontière, un rayon dans lequel les contrôles d’entrée sur le territoire sont autorisés. Plusieurs personnes ont ainsi été interpellées à #Bordeaux à leur descente du train et expulsées en Espagne.

    D’autres migrants racontent avoir été interpellés, puis envoyés dans les locaux de police avant d’être expulsés à la frontière au beau milieu de la nuit. « L’autre jour, on a appris que cinq femmes avaient été déposées à #Behobia [ville espagnole frontalière située à quelques kilomètres d’#Irun, ndlr] tard le soir. On les lâche là au milieu de nulle part, loin des associations et alors qu’un couvre-feu est aussi en vigueur en Espagne », souffle Lucie Bortaitu. D’autres encore ont été laissés par la police française à #Ibardin, en plein cœur des Pyrénées, du côté espagnol.

    Ce genre de témoignages de refoulement sont recueillis quotidiennement par les associations, françaises et espagnoles. Certains exilés ont déjà tenté six, sept voire huit fois le passage.

    Les mineurs non plus n’échappent pas à ces renvois, malgré la possession d’acte de naissance pour certains, synonyme d’une évaluation de leur minorité et d’une prise en charge par le département.

    Atteindre la France par la rivière

    Ces refoulements, de plus en plus fréquents, inquiètent les humanitaires et les avocats. « Ces #expulsions, qui sont devenues la norme, se font en dehors de tout cadre légal. Ce sont purement et simplement des renvois expéditifs illégaux », signale Me Francisco Sanchez Rodriguez, avocat en droits des étrangers au barreau de Bayonne. Les exilés n’ont en effet pas la possibilité de déposer l’asile, et aucun document de renvoi ne leur est délivré par un juge, comme le prévoit la loi. « On n’avait jamais vu cela à cette frontière », assure l’avocat.

    Malgré la pression policière et les violations de leurs droits, les migrants restent déterminés à continuer leur route. Résultat : ils prennent de plus en plus de risques pour échapper aux forces de l’ordre. Quelques-uns ont même tenté d’atteindre la France en traversant la frontière Bidassoa, qui sépare les deux pays. Un itinéraire jusque-là jamais emprunté par les exilés.

    Tom Dubois-Robin, un habitant d’Hendaye, voit depuis environ un mois des migrants essayer de « passer en France à la nage », en dépit des dangers. Samedi 13 mars, alors qu’il est assis au bord de l’eau avec des amis, il porte secours à un jeune homme venu de l’autre côté de la rivière. Quelques jours plus tard, Tom Dubois-Robin ramasse une doudoune dans l’eau. Dans les poches, il trouve des effets de la Croix-Rouge, dont le centre à Irun accueille des exilés. « Il a dû tenter la traversée et a jeté sa doudoune car elle était trop lourde », pense l’Hendayais.

    Les associations et les citoyens du #Pays_basque redoutent un drame, et se battent pour empêcher que leur rivière ne devienne un cimetière. Tom Dubois-Robin partage ce combat. Cet ancien policier, qui a lâché son uniforme en 2018 en raison justement de ces renvois à répétition, a écrit aux élus de sa région pour « qu’ils tapent du point sur la table et qu’on évite le pire ». Las qu’il est depuis plusieurs années de « ce ping-pong incessant » qui consiste à « renvoyer à la frontière des familles avec enfants ».

    https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/31024/a-la-frontiere-franco-espagnole-la-police-traque-les-migrants

    #traque_policière #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Pyrénées #France #Espagne #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #armée #police

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Malta pushback claims ’may’ form part of Frontex misconduct probe

    MEPs are looking into claims migrants were unlawfully pushed back.

    MEPs probing claims of misconduct by the EU’s border agency have not excluded investigating reports of migrant pushbacks by Malta.

    European Parliament vice-president and Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola on Friday said that the door was not shut on investigating whether Malta had indeed pushed migrants back to Libya using private fishing vessels last year, and whether border agency Frontex was complicit in this.

    Metsola was selected to chair an investigative committee tasked with looking into allegations of misconduct made about the EU’s border agency.

    The agency has come under scrutiny following allegations of harassment and misconduct as well as claims that it facilitated the pushback of migrants - a violation of international law.

    EU anti-fraud agency OLAF opened its own investigation into the agency earlier this year and the EU Ombudsman is also investigating.

    Frontex has rebutted claims of misconduct.

    “What we want out of this process is to give answers to the questions being asked and come up with suggestions to improve the way things are done,” Metsola told a press briefing organised by the European Parliament.

    In April last year Times of Malta reported how a private fishing boat picked up a group of migrants stranded at sea and returned them to war-torn Libya, with high level sources saying the vessel was commissioned by Maltese authorities to provide ’help’.

    Asked about the incident and whether it fell within the scope of the committee’s work, Metsola told Times of Malta that the matter had already been discussed in one of the EP’s civil liberties committee meetings.

    “Of course all political groups have put forward ideas for scrutiny on different matters in this regard across a number of member states. The door has not been closed to look into any concerns, and we are open to all points including this issue,” Metsola said.

    The MEP added that the group’s remit was rather broad, but it would certainly be taking a look at the Mediterranean.

    The internal scrutiny began after German news outlet Der Spiegel published reports alleging Frontex was unlawfully returning asylum seekers to the places they were fleeing.

    The investigative committee, which is made up of 14 MEPs, will report back to parliament within four months.

    https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/malta-pushback-claims-may-form-part-of-frontex-misconduct-probe.855988

    #refoulement #refoulements #push-back #push-backs #Malte #Frontex #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières

  • Exilée irakienne dans le Nord-Pas-de-Calais, elle perd son bébé après une intervention policière – Libération
    https://www.liberation.fr/societe/exilee-irakienne-dans-le-nord-pas-de-calais-elle-perd-son-bebe-apres-une-

    Un bébé mort trois jours après sa naissance, à la suite d’une nuit passée dehors, sous surveillance policière, « hors de tout cadre légal », estime Me Julie Gommeaux, l’avocate de la famille, des Kurdes irakiens en exil. Les faits se seraient déroulés à Oye-Plage, entre Calais (Pas-de-Calais) et Dunkerque (Nord), dans la nuit du 1er au 2 septembre. Hajar et Rupak, enceinte de 8 mois, avec leurs deux enfants de 10 et 2 ans, tentaient de passer en Grande-Bretagne par la mer. Lors de leur interpellation, Rupak a perdu les eaux, et n’a jamais été emmenée à l’hôpital, malgré ses demandes répétées, explique-t-elle. La plainte a été déposée le 25 février auprès du procureur de la République de Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais), pour violences volontaires.

    Mais c’est pas possible ce cauchemar. Y’a vraiment aucune limite a la barbarie de notre pays...

  • ’Pushbacks’ in the French Alps : Migrants report immediate deportations to Italy

    Many migrants complain that they have not been able to apply for asylum when they cross the border into France. According to them, the French border police (PAF) refuse to take their asylum applications and immediately send them back to neighboring Italy.

    Paul*, a young 24-year-old Cameroonian, remembers every moment of a long night in February, when he was lost somewhere in the Alps near Montgenèvre. The young man was trying to enter France from neighboring Italy when border police officers stopped him.

    “I saw policemen coming towards me and they stopped me. It was my first attempt crossing the border. When I saw them, I immediately said ’asylum, asylum’. They said, ’No, you can’t ask for asylum’. And they sent me straight back to Italy.”

    Paul was not deterred. A few days later, he tried to cross the Alps again and this time managed to enter France without being stopped. “I’d like to settle in Brittany,” confides the Cameroonian. “I’m going to file my asylum application in the next few days and if everything goes well, I’ll make my new home there.”

    This type of behavior by French police - who turn some migrants back without letting them apply for asylum - is reportedly frequent according to the migrants InfoMigrants interviewed.

    “This pushback from France to Italy, we all know about it before we even try to make the crossing, that’s why we are so afraid of meeting police in the mountains. Because they won’t listen to anything we say,” explains Mohamed*, a Tunisian, InfoMigrants met at the Refuge Solidaire in Briançon.

    Unlike Paul, Mohamed succeeded and crossed the Alps on his first attempt, without encountering PAF or any marauders (the name used by volunteers who roam the Alpine border to help those in need). “We were lucky. We walked for 8 hours and everything went well despite the cold. We could see the police cars passing, but we were well hidden, so they didn’t see us.”

    ’Very frequent refusals’

    PAF’s refusal to respect the right to asylum is loudly denounced by the members of the association Tous Migrants. “Refusals are very frequent here [...] What usually happens is that the police arrest migrants in the mountains in France, take them to the PAF office in Montgenèvre and give them OQTF (official orders to leave France). Then they call the Italian police who come to bring the migrants back to Italy [...] All this takes place in less than 5 hours,” sums up Pâquerette Forest, the co-president of the association.

    According to law, border police are authorised to check the papers of people entering French territory, and can therefore expel any person in an irregular situation. This is referred to as “non-admittance.” However, they cannot expel a foreigner who is applying for asylum. In this specific case, they must register the asylum application and transmit the file to the Minister of the Interior, who is the only one in the position to accept or refuse entry into France, on the advice of OFPRA.

    https://gw.infomigrants.net/media/resize/my_image_big/6d68e39854af6f16750a94ceac03740d6aa512bc.jpeg

    “There is a real denial of rights here,” Forest continues, although she does qualify her remarks. “It’s important to add that not all policemen behave like this. There are those who let migrants cross through so that they can apply for asylum, but there are those who are relentless.”

    According to her, “those who are persistent” are “rare” but their behavior has serious consequences. “There have been reports of police officers tearing up migrants’ official documents, such as their birth certificates,” documents that are crucial to beginning any administrative procedures in France.
    ’Pushbacks don’t discourage anyone’

    “As a result of the fear of pushbacks, migrants are now taking more and more risks,” says Juliette, one of the association’s marauders, who knows the mountains and their dangers very well. “Migrants are going up steeper and steeper paths, getting more and more remote,” she says.

    “PAF has to stop thinking that pushbacks discourage them. They don’t discourage anyone. We’re talking about migrants who have been turned back to Bosnia, to Croatia as many as 10 times, even 20 times before managing to get through! It’s not the Alps and these policemen who are going to stop them!”

    Approached by InfoMigrants, PAF refused to let us enter their premises in Montgenèvre, less than 5 kilometers from Italy, and they refused to answer any questions.

    The Prefecture of the Hautes-Alpes region also refused to answer our requests, but they did give us some statistics. In 2020, there were 80 refusals of residence and OQTF in the Hautes-Alpes. A total of 1576 people were “not admitted” into French territory in that period.

    *First names have been changed

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/30195/pushbacks-in-the-french-alps-migrants-report-immediate-deportations-to

    #Hautes-Alpes #Briançon #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #frontière_sud-alpine #France #Italie #secours #harcèlement_policier #montagne #Alpes #Italie #push-backs #renvois #expulsions #refoulements

    –—

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les Hautes-Alpes :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/733721#message886920

  • L’Etat français renvoie illégalement un enfant à la frontière franco-espagnole

    Le mercredi 3 février 2021, vers 12h, le jeune Tidane (prénom d’emprunt) a été interpellé par les forces de l’ordre françaises en gare de #Bayonne. Né en 2005, sa minorité n’a pas été contestée par les autorités françaises. Pourtant, un #arrêté_de_réadmission [1] vers l’Espagne lui a directement été notifié sans indication des délais et voies de recours. Il a immédiatement été remis aux autorités espagnoles, à #Irun, où, après plusieurs heures au poste de police, il a été laissé dans la rue, seul.

    Cette situation est alarmante car un mineur isolé doit faire l’objet d’une prise en charge et de mesures de protection par l’administration française dès lors qu’il est présent sur son territoire. Au lieu d’une réadmission, c’est sa protection qui aurait dû primer dans le respect de son « #intérêt_supérieur », tel que prévu par la Convention internationale des droits de l’enfant, dont la France est signataire.

    Agé de 16 ans, Tidane vient donc allonger la liste des nombreuses personnes qui, chaque jour, sont victimes de l’#illégalité des pratiques des autorités françaises aux frontières, notamment à la frontière franco-espagnole. Ces pratiques de l’administration française ont notamment pour conséquence de mettre en danger des enfants, à l’image de Tidane.

    Plus largement, cette situation interpelle, une fois de plus, sur les conséquences des contrôles aux frontières intérieures de la France. Instaurés en 2015 et constamment renouvelés, ces contrôles ont pour première conséquence des pratiques illégales de la part des forces de l’ordre aux frontières (contrôles au faciès, procédures irrégulières, violation du droit d’asile, absence de protection des mineurs…), mettant en danger la vie de plusieurs personnes, chaque jour, dont des enfants.

    Une fois de plus, nos associations dénoncent les conséquences de ces #pratiques_illégales qui violent les droits des personnes en migration aux frontières et demandent à ce que les autorités françaises protègent enfin les enfants au lieu de les refouler vers leurs Etats voisins.

    [1] Un arrêté de réadmission est un acte administratif permettant à un État membre de l’espace Schengen de renvoyer une personne étrangère vers un autre État membre de l’espace Schengen, cette personne y étant soit légalement admissible, soit étant en provenance directe de cet État. L’#accord_de_Malaga signé le 26 novembre 2002 entre la France et l’Espagne permet aux deux pays de faire des réadmissions simplifiées pour les personnes qui seraient en provenance directe de l’autre État.

    http://www.anafe.org/spip.php?article591

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #refoulements #Espagne #France #push-backs #réadmission #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés #enfants #enfance

    ping @isskein @karine4

    –—

    ajouté à la liste métaliste sur les accords de réadmission en Europe :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091

  • L’oublieuse mémoire coloniale italienne

    Commencée avant le fascisme, galvanisée par Mussolini, la colonisation par l’Italie de la Libye, de la Somalie et de l’Ethiopie fut marquée par de nombreuses atrocités,loin du mythe d’une occupation douce. Longtemps refoulés, ces souvenirs commencent à ressurgir

    Tout commence dans le centre de Rome, sur l’Esquilin, la plus haute des sept collines antiques. Plus précisément dans la cage d’escalier d’un immeuble sans ascenseur, situé à deux pas de la piazza Vittorio. Dans ce quartier à deux pas de la gare Termini, les prix de l’immobilier sont beaucoup plus modestes que dans le reste du centre, si bien que l’Esquilin est devenu, depuis une vingtaine d’années, un lieu de concentration de l’immigration africaine et asiatique, ce qui n’est pas sans provoquer des tensions le squat, occupé depuis 2003 par les militants néofascistes de CasaPound, est juste à côté.

    C’est donc là, en rentrant chez elle, épuisée, dans la touffeur d’une après-midi de fin d’été 2010, qu’Ilaria Profeti se retrouve nez à nez avec un jeune homme arrivé d’Ethiopie par la route des migrants. Dans un italien presque sans accent, celui-ci lui assure, documents à l’appui, qu’il est le petit-fils de son père, Attilio, un homme de 95 ans qui est resté, sa longue vie durant, plus que discret sur ses jeunes années de « chemise noire » fasciste, en Abyssinie.

    Levons toute ambiguïté : la scène qui vient d’être décrite est tout à fait vraisemblable, mais elle est issue d’une oeuvre de fiction. Il s’agit en réalité des premières pages d’un roman, le superbe Tous, sauf moi (Sangue giusto), de Francesca Melandri (Gallimard, 2019), qui dépeint avec une infinie subtilité les angles morts de la mémoire coloniale italienne. Le fil conducteur de la narration est le parcours sinueux d’un vieil homme dont le destin finalement assez ordinaire a valeur d’archétype.

    Issu d’un milieu plutôt modeste, Attilio Profeti a su construire à sa famille une position plutôt enviable, en traversant le mieux possible les différents mouvements du XXe siècle. Fasciste durant sa jeunesse, comme l’immense majorité des Italiens de son âge, il est parti pour l’Ethiopie, au nom de la grandeur impériale. Après la chute de Mussolini et la fin de la guerre, il parviendra aisément à se faire une place au soleil dans l’Italie du miracle économique, jouant de son physique avantageux et de ses amitiés haut placées, et enfouissant au plus profond de sa mémoire le moindre souvenir de ses années africaines, les viols, les massacres, les attaques chimiques. C’est ce passé, refoulé avec une certaine désinvolture, qui revient hanter ses enfants, trois quarts de siècle plus tard, sous les traits d’un jeune homme d’une vingtaine d’années, arrivé à Rome après une interminable traversée.

    Comme l’héroïne de Tous, sauf moi, Francesca Melandri vit sur l’Esquilin, au dernier étage d’un immeuble à la population mélangée. Et à l’image d’Ilaria, c’est sur le tard qu’elle a découvert ce pan escamoté de l’histoire italienne. « Quand j’étais à l’école, on ne parlait pas du tout de ce sujet-là, confie-t-elle depuis sa terrasse dominant les toits de la ville. Aujourd’hui ça a changé, il y a eu une prise de conscience, et de nombreux travaux universitaires. Pourtant cette histoire n’est jamais rappelée par les médias. Lorsqu’on parle du dernier attentat à la bombe à Mogadiscio, qui se souvient des liens entre Italie et Somalie ? Quand des bateaux remplis de migrants érythréens sont secourus ou coulent avant d’être sauvés, qui rappelle que l’Erythrée, nous l’appelions "l’aînée des colonies" ? »

    Le plus étrange est qu’à Rome, les traces du passé colonial sont légion, sans que personne n’ait jamais pensé à les effacer. Des stèles près desquelles personne ne s’arrête, des bâtiments anonymes, des noms de rue... rien de tout cela n’est explicité, mais tout est à portée de main.

    Comprendre les raisons de cette occultation impose de revenir sur les conditions dans lesquelles l’ « Empire » italien s’est formé. Création récente et n’ayant achevé son unité qu’en 1870, alors que la plus grande partie du monde était déjà partagée en zones d’influence, le royaume d’Italie s’est lancé avec du retard dans la « course » coloniale. De plus, il ne disposait pas, comme l’Allemagne qui s’engage dans le mouvement à la même époque, d’une puissance industrielle et militaire susceptible d’appuyer ses prétentions.

    Visées impérialistes

    Malgré ces obstacles, l’entreprise coloniale est considérée par de nombreux responsables politiques comme une nécessité absolue, à même d’assurer une fois pour toutes à l’Italie un statut de grande puissance, tout en achevant le processus d’unification du pays nombre des principaux avocats de la colonisation viennent de la partie méridionale du pays. Les visées impérialistes se dirigent vers deux espaces différents, où la carte n’est pas encore tout à fait figée : la Méditerranée, qui faisait figure de champ naturel d’épanouissement de l’italianité, et la Corne de l’Afrique, plus lointaine et plus exotique.

    En Afrique du Nord, elle se heurta vite à l’influence française, déjà solidement établie en Algérie. Ses prétentions sur la Tunisie, fondées sur la proximité de la Sicile et la présence sur place d’une importante communauté italienne, n’empêcheront pas l’établissement d’un protectorat français, en 1881. Placé devant le fait accompli, le jeune royaume d’Italie considérera l’initiative française comme un véritable acte de guerre, et la décennie suivante sera marquée par une profonde hostilité entre Paris et Rome, qui poussera le royaume d’Italie à s’allier avec les grands empires centraux d’Allemagne et d’Autriche-Hongrie plutôt qu’avec sa « soeur latine .

    Sur les bords de la mer Rouge, en revanche, la concurrence est plus faible. La première tête de pont remonte à 1869, avec l’acquisition de la baie d’Assab (dans l’actuelle Erythrée) par un armateur privé, pour le compte de la couronne d’Italie. Cette présence s’accentue au cours des années 1880, à mesure du recul de l’influence égyptienne dans la zone. En 1889, est fondée la colonie d’Erythrée, tandis que se structure au même moment la Somalie italienne. Mais l’objectif ultime des Italiens est la conquête du my thique royaume d’Abyssinie, qui s’avère plus difficile que prévu.

    En 1887, à Dogali, plusieurs centaines de soldats italiens meurent dans une embuscade menée par un chef abyssin, le ras Alula Engida. Cette défaite marque les esprits, mais ce n’est rien à côté de la déconfiture des forces italiennes lors de la bataille d’Adoua, le 1er mars 1896, qui porte un coup d’arrêt durable aux tentatives italiennes de conquête.

    Seul pays africain indépendant (avec le Liberia), l’Ethiopie peut désormais se targuer de devoir sa liberté à une victoire militaire. Le négus Menelik II y gagne un prestige considérable. Côté italien, en revanche, cette défaite est un électrochoc. Ressentie comme une honte nationale, la déroute des troupes italiennes entraîne la chute du gouvernement Crispi et freine durablement l’im périalisme italien.

    Adoua est un tournant. L’historien et ancien sénateur de gauche Miguel Gotor est l’auteur d’une remarquable synthèse sur le XXe siècle italien, L’Italia nel Novecento. Dalla sconfitta di Adua alla vittoria di Amazon (« L’Italie du XIXe siècle. De la défaite d’Adoua à la victoire d’Amazon » Einaudi, 2019, non traduit). Pour lui, c’est là-bas, sur les hauteurs de la région du Tigré, par cette humiliation retentissante, que le XXe siècle italien a commencé.

    L’aventure coloniale italienne s’est ouverte de façon peu concluante, mais l’aspiration à l’empire n’a pas disparu. La décomposition de l’Empire ottoman offrira à Rome une occasion en or, en lui permettant, en 1911-1912, de s’implanter solidement en Cyrénaïque et en Tripolitaine. « Souvent la conquête de ce qui allait devenir la Libye est évacuée un peu vite, mais c’est un moment très important. Pour l’armée italienne, c’est une répétition, un peu comme a pu l’être la guerre d’Espagne, juste avant la seconde guerre mondiale », souligne Miguel Gotor. Ainsi, le 1er novembre 1911, un aviateur italien lâche quatre grenades sur des soldats ottomans, réalisant ainsi le premier bombardement aérien de l’histoire mondiale.

    « La conquête des côtes d’Afrique du Nord est importante, certes, mais la Libye est juste en face de la Sicile, au fond c’est du "colonialisme frontalier". La colonie au sens le plus "pur", celle qui symboliserait le mieux l’idée d’empire, ça reste l’Abyssinie », souligne Miguel Gotor. Aussi les milieux nationalistes italiens, frustrés de ne pas avoir obtenu l’ensemble de leurs revendications territoriales au sortir de la première guerre mondiale, continueront à nourrir le rêve de venger l’humiliation d’Adoua.

    Le fascisme naissant ne se privera pas d’y faire référence, et d’entretenir le souvenir : les responsables locaux du parti se feront appeler « ras », comme les chefs éthiopiens. A partir de la fin des années 1920, une fois le pouvoir de Mussolini solidement établi, les prétentions coloniales deviendront un leitmotiv des discours officiels.

    Aussi la guerre de conquête déclenchée contre l’Ethiopie en 1935 est-elle massi vement soutenue. L’effort est considérable : plus de 500 000 hommes sont mobilisés. Face à un tel adversaire, le négus Haïlé Sélassié ne peut résister frontalement. Le 5 mai 1936, les soldats italiens entrent dans la capitale, Addis-Abeba, et hissent le drapeau tricolore. Quatre jours plus tard, à la nuit tombée, depuis le balcon du Palazzo Venezia, en plein coeur de Rome, Mussolini proclame « la réapparition de l’Empire sur les collines fatales de Rome » devant une foule de plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes.

    « C’est bien simple, à ce moment-là, en Italie, il est à peu près impossible d’être anti fasciste », résume Miguel Gotor. Dans la foulée de ce succès, le roi Victor-Emmanuel III est proclamé empereur d’Ethiopie ; Benito Mussolini peut désormais se targuer d’avoir bâti un empire. La faillite d’Adoua avait été causée par un régime parle mentaire inefficace et désorganisé ? La victoire de 1936 est due, elle, aux vertus d’une Italie rajeunie et revigorée par le fascisme. La machine de propagande tourne à plein régime, l’assentiment populaire est à son sommet. « Ce moment-là est une sorte d’apogée, et à partir de là, la situation du pays se dégrade, analyse Miguel Gotor. Ar rivent les lois raciales, l’entrée en guerre... tout est réuni pour nourrir une certaine nostalgie de l’épopée éthiopienne. »

    Mécanisme de refoulement

    Le rêve impérial sera bref : il ne survivra pas à la défaite militaire et à la chute du fascisme. L’Ethiopie est perdue en 1941, la Libye quelques mois plus tard... Le traité de Paris, conclu en 1947, met officiellement un terme à une colonisation qui, dans les faits, avait déjà cessé d’exister depuis plusieurs années. Tandis que l’Ethiopie indépendante récupère l’Erythrée, la Libye est placée sous la tutelle de la France et du Royaume-Uni. Rome gardera seulement une vague tutelle sur la Somalie, de 1949 à 1960.

    Le projet d’empire colonial en Méditerranée et en Afrique, qui fut un des ciments de l’assentiment des Italiens à Mussolini, devient associé pour la plupart des Italiens au régime fasciste. L’un et l’autre feront l’objet du même mécanisme de refoulement dans l’Italie de l’après-guerre. Les dirigeants de l’Italie républicaine font rapidement le choix de tourner la page, et ce choix est l’objet d’un profond consensus qui couvre tout le spectre politique (le premier décret d’amnistie des condamnations de l’après-guerre remonte à 1946, et il porte le nom du dirigeant historique du Parti communiste italien Palmiro Togliatti). Les scènes de liesse de la Piazza Venezia ne seront plus évoquées, et avec elles les faces les plus sombres de l’aventure coloniale. Même la gauche transalpine, qui prendra fait et cause pour les mouvements anticoloniaux africains (notamment le FLN algérien) n’insistera jamais sur le versant italien de cette histoire.

    « Cela n’est pas étonnant, la mémoire est un phénomène sélectif, et on choisit toujours, consciemment ou non, ce qu’on va dire à ses enfants ou ses petits-enfants », remarque le jeune historien Olindo De Napoli (université de Naples-Frédéric-II), spécialiste de la période coloniale. « Durant l’immédiat après-guerre, ce sont les témoins qui parlent, ce sont eux qui publient », remarque l’his torien. Ainsi de la collection d’ouvrages L’Italia in Africa éditée sous l’égide du ministère des affaires étrangères, emblématique de la période. « Ces volumes sont passionnants, mais il y a certains oublis, qui vont vite poser des problèmes. »

    Parmi ces « oublis », la question la plus centrale, qui fera le plus couler d’encre, est celle des massacres de civils et de l’usage de gaz de combat, malgré leur interdiction par les conventions de Genève, lors de la guerre d’Ethiopie. Dans les années 1960, les études pionnières d’Angelo Del Boca et Giorgio Rochat mettront en lumière, documents officiels à la clé, ce pan occulté de la guerre de 1935-1936. Ils se heurteront à l’hostilité générale des milieux conservateurs.

    Un homme prendra la tête du mouvement de contestation des travaux de Del Bocaet Rochat : c’est Indro Montanelli (1909-2001), considéré dans les années 1960 comme le journaliste le plus important de sa géné ration. Plume du Corriere della Sera (qu’il quittera pour fonder Il Giornale en 1974), écrivain d’essais historiques à l’immense succès, Montanelli était une figure tutélaire pour toute la droite libérale.

    Comme tant d’autres, il avait été un fasciste convaincu, qui s’était porté volontaire pour l’Ethiopie, et il n’a pris ses distances avec Mussolini qu’en 1943, alors que la défaite était apparue comme certaine. Ra contant « sa » guerre à la tête d’une troupe de soldats indigènes, Montanelli la décrit comme « de longues et belles vacances », et qualifie à plusieurs reprises d’ « anti-Italiens » ceux qui font état de massacres de civils et d’usage de gaz de combat. La polémique durera des années, et le journaliste sera bien obligé d’admettre, à la fin de sa vie, que les atrocités décrites par Rochat et Del Bocaavaient bien eu lieu, et avaient même été expressément ordonnées par le Duce.

    A sa manière, Montanelli incarne parfaitement la rhétorique du « bon Italien » (« Italia brava gente »), qui sera, pour toute une génération, une façon de disculper l’homme de la rue de toute forme de culpabilité collective face au fascisme. Selon ce schéma, contrairement à son allié allemand, le soldat italien ne perd pas son humanité en endossant l’uniforme, et il est incapable d’actes de barbarie. Ce discours atténuant la dureté du régime s’étend jusqu’à la personne de Mussolini, dépeint sous les traits d’un chef un peu rude mais bienveillant, dont le principal tort aura été de s’allier avec les nazis.

    Ce discours trouve dans l’aventure coloniale un terrain particulièrement favorable. « Au fond, on a laissé s’installer l’idée d’une sorte de colonisation débonnaire, analyse Olindo De Napoli, et ce genre de représentation laisse des traces. Pourtant la colonisation italienne a été extrêmement brutale, avant même le fascisme. En Ethiopie, l’armée italienne a utilisé des soldats libyens chargés des basses oeuvres, on a dressé des Africains contre d’autres Africains. Et il ne faut pas oublier non plus que les premières lois raciales, préfigurant celles qui seront appliquées en 1938 en Italie, ont été écrites pour l’Ethiopie... Il ne s’agit pas de faire en sorte que des enfants de 16 ans se sentent coupables de ce qu’ont fait leurs arrière-grands-pères, il est seulement question de vérité historique. »

    Désinvolture déconcertante

    Malgré les acquis de la recherche, pour le grand public, la colonisation italienne reste souvent vue comme une occupation « douce », par un peuple de jeunes travailleurs prolétaires, moins racistes que les Anglais, qui se mélangeaient volontiers avec les populations locales, jusqu’à fonder des familles. L’archétype du colon italien tombant amoureux de la belle Abyssine, entretenu par les mémoires familiales, a lui aussi mal vieilli. Là encore, le parcours d’Indro Montanelli est plus qu’éclairant. Car aujourd’hui, si sa défense de l’armée italienne apparaît comme parfaitement discréditée, ce n’est plus, le concernant, cet aspect de sa vie qui fait scandale.

    En effet, on peut facilement trouver, sur Internet, plusieurs extraits d’entretiens télévisés remontant aux années 1970 et 1980, dans lesquelles le journaliste raconte avec une désinvolture déconcertante comment, en Ethiopie, il a « acheté régulièrement » à son père, pour 350 lires, une jeune fille de 12 ans pour en faire sa femme à plusieurs reprises, il la qualifie même de « petit animal docile », devant un auditoire silencieux et appliqué.

    Célébré comme une gloire nationale de son vivant, Indro Montanelli a eu l’honneur, à sa mort et malgré ces déclarations sulfureuses, de se voir dédié à Milan un jardin public, au milieu duquel trône une statue de lui. Au printemps 2019, cette statue a été recouverte d’un vernis de couleur rose par un collectif féministe, pour rappeler cet épisode, et en juin 2020, la statue a de nouveau été recouverte de peinture rouge, en lointain écho au mouvement Black Lives Matter (« les vies noires comptent ») venu des Etats-Unis.

    Indro Montanelli mérite-t-il une statue dans l’Italie de 2021 ? La question a agité les journaux italiens plusieurs jours, au début de l’été, avant que la polémique ne s’éteigne d’elle-même. Pour fondée qu’elle soit, la question semble presque dérisoire eu égard au nombre de témoignages du passé colonial, rarement explicités, qui subsistent un peu partout dans le pays.

    Cette situation n’est nulle part plus visible qu’à Rome, que Mussolini rêvait en capitale d’un empire africain. L’écrivaine italienne Igiaba Scego, née en 1974 de parents réfugiés somaliens, y a dédié un passionnant ouvrage, illustré par les photographies de Rino Bianchi (Roma negata, Ediesse, réédition 2020, non traduit).

    Passant par la stèle laissée à l’abandon de la piazza dei Cinquecento, face à la gare Termini, dont la plupart des Romains ignorent qu’elle a été baptisée ainsi en mémoire des 500 victimes italiennes de l’embuscade de Dogali, ou l’ancien cinéma Impero, aujourd’hui désaffecté, afin d’y évoquer l’architecture Art déco qui valut à la capitale érythréenne, Asmara, d’être classée au patrimoine de l’Unesco, la romancière fait une station prolongée devant le siège romain de la FAO (l’Organisation des Nations unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture), construit pour abriter le siège du puissant ministère de l’Afrique italienne.

    Devant ce bâtiment tout entier dédié à l’entreprise coloniale, Benito Mussolini avait fait ériger en 1937 un obélisque haut de 24 mètres et vieux d’environ seize siècles, ramassé sur site d’Axoum, en Ethiopie. Il s’agissait, rappelle Igiaba Scego, de faire de ce lieu « le centre de la liturgie impériale .

    La république née sur les ruines du fascisme s’était engagée à restituer cette prise de guerre à la suite des traités de 1947, mais après d’innombrables vicissitudes, le monument est resté en place jusqu’en 2003, où le gouvernement Berlusconi choisit de le démonter en trois morceaux avant de le renvoyer à Axoum, à ses frais.

    En 2009, la mairie de Rome a fait installer sur la même place, à deux pas de cet espace vide, une stèle commémorative afin « de ne pas oublier le passé . Mais curieusement, celle-ci a été dédiée... à la mémoire des attentats du 11-Septembre. Comme s’il fallait enfouir le plus profondément possible ce souvenir du rêve impérial et de la défaite, la ville a choisi de faire de ce lieu le symbole d’une autre tragédie. « Pourquoi remuer ces his toires horribles ? Pensons plutôt aux tragédies des autres. Le 11-Septembre était parfait », note, sarcastique, Igiaba Scego.

    A une quinzaine de kilomètres de là, dans le décor grandiose et écrasant du Musée de la civilisation romaine, en plein centre de ce quartier de l’EUR où la mémoire du fascisme est omniprésente, l’ethno-anthropologue Gaia Delpino est confrontée à un autre chantier sensible, où s’entrechoquent les mémoires. Depuis 2017, elle travaille à fusionner en un même lieu les collections du vieux musée ethnologique de Rome (Musée Pigorini) et du sulfureux Musée colonial inauguré en 1923, dont les collections dormaient dans des caisses depuis un demi-siècle.

    D’une fascinante complexité

    Lorsqu’on lui parle de l’odyssée de l’obélisque d’Axoum, elle nous arrête tout de suite : « C’est bien simple : ce qui a été réalisé là-bas, c’est exactement l’inverse de ce qu’on veut faire. » Restituer ces collections dans leur contexte historique tout en articulant un message pour l’Italie d’aujourd’hui, permettre à toutes les narrations et à toutes les représentations de s’exprimer dans leur diversité... L’entreprise est d’une fascinante complexité.

    « Les collections du MuséePigorini ont vieilli bien sûr, comme tous ces musées ethnographiques du XIXe siècle qui véhiculaient l’idée d’une supériorité de la civilisation occidentale. Le Musée colonial, lui, pose d’autres problèmes, plus singuliers. Il n’a jamais été pensé comme autre chose qu’un moyen de propagande, montrant à la fois les ressources coloniales et tout ce qu’on pourrait en tirer. Les objets qui constituent les collections n’ont pas vu leur origine enregistrée, et on a mis l’accent sur la quantité plus que sur la qualité des pièces », expliqueGaia Delpino.

    Sur des centaines de mètres de rayonnages, on croise pêle-mêle des maquettes de navires, des chaussures, des outils et des objets liturgiques... L’accumulation donne le vertige. « Et ce n’est pas fini, nous recevons tous les jours des appels de personnes qui veulent offrir des objets ayant appartenu à leur père ou à leur grand-père, qu’ils veulent nous confier comme une réparation ou pour faire un peu de place », admet l’anthropologue dans un sourire.

    Alors que le travail des historiens peine à se diffuser dans le grand public, où les représentations caricaturales du système colonial, parfois instrumentalisées par la politique, n’ont pas disparu, le futur musée, dont la date d’ouverture reste incertaine pour cause de pandémie, risque d’être investi d’un rôle crucial, d’autant qu’il s’adressera en premier lieu à un public scolaire. « Ce qu’il ne faut pas oublier, c’est que parallèlement à ce difficile travail de mémoire, la population change. Aujourd’hui, dans nos écoles, il y a aussi des descendants de victimes de la colonisation, italienne ou autre. Nous devons aussi penser à eux », précise Gaia Delpino.

    Retournons maintenant au centre de Rome. En 2022, à mi-chemin du Colisée et de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran, une nouvelle station de métro doit ouvrir, dans le cadre du prolongement de la ligne C. Depuis le début du projet, il était prévu que celle-ci soit baptisée « Amba Aradam », du nom de la large artère qui en accueillera l’entrée, appelée ainsi en souvenir de la plus éclatante des victoires italiennes en Ethiopie.

    Ce nom était-il opportun, alors que les historiens ont établi que cette victoire écrasante de l’armée fasciste avait été obtenue au prix de 10 000 à 20 000 morts, dont de nombreux civils, et que les troupes italiennes avaient obtenu la victoire en faisant usage d’ypérite (gaz moutarde), interdit par les conventions de Genève ? Le 1er août 2020, la mairie a finalement fait savoir que la station serait dédiée à la mémoire de Giorgio Marincola.

    Pour le journaliste Massimiliano Coccia, qui a lancé cette proposition avec le soutien de collectifs se réclamant du mouvement Black Lives Matter, « revenir sur notre passé, ce n’est pas détruire ou incendier, mais enrichir historiquement notre cité . Et on peut choisir de célébrer la mémoire d’un résistant italo-somalien tué par les nazis plutôt que celle d’une des pages les plus sombres de l’histoire coloniale italienne.

    https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2021/02/05/libye-somalie-ethiopie-l-oublieuse-memoire-coloniale-italienne_6068846_3232.

    #Italie #colonialisme #colonisation #Mussolini #fascisme #Libye #Somalie #Ethiopie #atrocités #occupation_douce #mémoire #mémoire_coloniale #occultation #impérialisme #Corne_de_l'Afrique #baie_d'Assab #royaume_d'Abyssinie #Alula_Engida #bataille_d'Adoua #Menelik_II #Crispi #Adoua #Tigré #Cyrénaïque #Tripolitaine #colonialisme_frontalier #Abyssinie #Haïlé_Sélassié #propagande #traité_de_Paris #refoulement #mémoire #massacres #gaz #Indro_Montanelli #gaz_de_combat #bon_Italien #Italia_brava_gente #barbarie #humanité #lois_raciales #vérité_historique #culpabilité #viol #culture_du_viol #passé_colonial #Igiaba_Scego #monuments #toponymie #toponymie_politique #Axoum #stèle #Musée_Pigorini #musée #Musée_colonial #Amba_Aradam #ypérite #gaz_moutarde #armes_chimiques #Giorgio_Marincola #Black_Lives_Matter

    L’article parle notamment du #livre de #Francesca_Melandri, « #sangue_giusto » (traduit en français par « Tous, sauf moi »
    https://seenthis.net/messages/883118

    ajouté à la métaliste sur le #colonialisme_italien :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/871953

    ping @cede

  • The #Frontex_files

    #Glock, #Airbus, #Heckler_&_Koch. Die Teilnehmerliste der 16 Lobby-Treffen der EU-Grenzschutzagentur Frontex in den Jahren 2017 bis 2019 liest sich wie das Who-is-Who der Rüstungsindustrie. Kataloge mit Handfeuerwaffen wurden herumgereicht und in bunten PowerPoint-Präsentationen die Vorzüge von Überwachungsdrohnen erklärt.

    Externe Beobachter*innen gab es bei den Treffen nicht. Und Frontex hat die Inhalte dieser Treffen nicht öffentlich zugänglich gemacht. Ein Lobby-Transparenzregister, wie es EU-Parlamentarier*innen vor zwei Jahren gefordert haben, hat Frontex bis heute nicht veröffentlicht. Auf Anfrage des ZDF Magazin Royale schrieb die EU-Agentur Ende Januar:

    »Frontex trifft sich nicht mit Lobbyisten.«

    Weil Frontex seiner Verantwortung als EU-Agentur nicht gerecht wird, hat das ZDF Magazin Royale diese Aufgabe übernommen. Hiermit veröffentlichen wir die FRONTEX FILES. Das erste Lobby-Transparenzregister der Grenzschutzagentur Frontex.

    Was haben wir gemacht?

    Gemeinsam mit den Rechercheurinnen Luisa Izuzquiza, Margarida Silva and Myriam Douo sowie der NGO „Frag den Staat“ hat das ZDF Magazin Royale 142 Dokumente von 16 Industry-Meetings, die Frontex zwischen 2017 und 2019 veranstaltet hat, ausgewertet. Darunter Programme, Teilnehmer*innenlisten, Powerpoint-Präsentationen und Werbekataloge.

    Wie sind wir an die Dokumente gekommen?

    Die Dokumente haben wir durch Anfragen nach dem Informationsfreiheitsgesetz der Europäischen Union erhalten.

    Was ist besonders und neu daran?

    Frontex hat die Einladungen zu den Treffen bisher nur teilweise auf der Webseite veröffentlicht. Wer dazu eingeladen war und was dort präsentiert wurde, jedoch nicht.

    Was sagt Frontex und was stimmt?

    Auf die Frage eines EU-Parlamentsabgeordneten im Jahr 2018 antwortete Frontex:

    »Frontex trifft sich nur mit Lobbyisten, die im Transparenzregister der EU registriert sind und veröffentlicht jährlich einen Überblick der Treffen auf der Website. 2017 gab es keine solcher Treffen.«

    Das stimmt nicht. Allein 2017 hat Frontex vier Meetings mit Lobby-Vertreter*innen abgehalten. 58 Prozent der Teilnehmenden waren nicht im EU-Transparenzregister gelistet. In den Treffen 2018 und 2019 waren 72 Prozent (91 von 125) der Lobbyist*innen nicht registriert.

    Auf Anfrage des ZDF Magazin Royale schreibt Frontex:

    »Frontex trifft sich nicht mit Lobbyisten. Es lädt Firmenvertreter ein, um an den Industrie-Tagen der Agentur teilzunehmen, die Grenzschutz-Offiziellen helfen sollen, über neue Technologien und Innovationen in Bezug auf Grenzkontrolle zu lernen.«

    Auch das ist falsch: Die Auswertung der Präsentationen und Kataloge zeigen, dass Unternehmen versucht haben, Einfluss auf die Politik der Agentur zu nehmen. Teilweise wurden Vorschläge bereits umgesetzt.

    Wer war bei den Frontex-Lobbytreffen?

    An den Treffen haben 138 Vertreter*innen privater Einrichtungen teilgenommen: 108 Vertreter*innen von Unternehmen, 10 Think Tanks, 15 Universitäten, eine Nichtregierungsorganisation.
    Keine einzige Menschenrechtsorganisation war bei diesen Treffen dabei.

    Neben Vertreter*innen von EU-Grenzschutzbehörden hat Frontex zu den Treffen auch Internationale Organisationen wie Interpol, Europol oder die OSZE eingeladen und Vertreter*innen aus Staaten, die für ihre brutale Grenzschutzpolitik bekannt sind: die australische Regierung, das Homeland Security Department der USA, das angolanische Innenministerium, Vertreter des General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate oder die belarussische Grenzschutzbehörde.

    Welche Produkte wurden präsentiert?

    In den teils themenspezifischen Treffen wurden unterschiedliche Gerätschaften präsentiert, die zur Verteidigung der EU-Außengrenzen dienen sollen. Dazu gehören Handfeuerwaffen, Munition und Überwachungsgeräte wie Sensoren, Drohnen, Kameras und Server für die Speicherung von biometrischen Daten. Die Produkte wurden in Powerpoint-Präsentationen vorgestellt.

    Welche Produkte wurden präsentiert?

    In den teils themenspezifischen Treffen wurden unterschiedliche Gerätschaften präsentiert, die zur Verteidigung der EU-Außengrenzen dienen sollen. Dazu gehören Handfeuerwaffen, Munition und Überwachungsgeräte wie Sensoren, Drohnen, Kameras und Server für die Speicherung von biometrischen Daten. Die Produkte wurden in Powerpoint-Präsentationen vorgestellt.

    Wo kann ich mich weiter über das Thema informieren?

    Die Rechercheurinnen Luisa Izuzquiza, Margarida Silva and Myriam Douo haben zu den Dokumenten einen ausführlichen Bericht geschrieben und bei Corporate Europe Observatory veröffentlicht. Hier geht es zu dem Bericht: https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe

    https://frontexfiles.eu
    #mensonges #frontières #frontières_extérieures #Fabrice_Leggeri #Leggeri #droits_humains #push-backs #refoulements #droits_fondamentaux #complexe_militaro-industriel #lobby #ZDF #enquête #Frag_den_Staat #FragDenStaat

    –—


    https://fragdenstaat.de/dokumente/sammlung/49-fx-files
    #rencontres #liste

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

    • Lobbying Fortress Europe. The making of a border-industrial complex

      The massive expansion of the budget, personnel, and powers of the EU’s border agency Frontex has also seen increasingly privileged access for industry. This perpetuates a vision of border control based on more and more firearms and biometric surveillance that has major human rights implications.
      Executive Summary

      The massive expansion of EU border agency Frontex in recent years has not been matched by a corresponding increase in transparency, accountability, nor scrutiny.

      Access to document requests reveal a disturbing trend by which arms, surveillance, and biometrics companies are being given an outsized role – unmatched by other voices – in shaping EU’s border control regime.

      This report gives the first comprehensive overview of this phenomenon, finding that:

      - Frontex holds special events for security industry lobbyists where they work hand in hand to promote ’solutions’ based on techno-fixes, from biometric surveillance to firepower.
      - These corporate interests are not neutral parties but de facto seek to shape Frontex’s approach to border control in their interests, and benefit from procurement contracts.
      - Meanwhile the agency has no real transparency or lobbying accountability mechanisms in place, and indeed denies that it is a target for lobbyists at all.
      – At the same time as the agency has open doors for corporate lobbyists selling defence and surveillance solutions which have major human rights implications, groups working to defend human rights are left on the sidelines.

      The European Union’s response to travellers, migrants, and refugees should be guided by the protection of human rights. This is too important an issue to be shaped by the interests of defence companies instrumentalising migration for profit.

      https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe

      #surveillance #biométrie

      ping @etraces

    • The lobbyists behind Europe’s response to migration

      Last year wasn’t a happy one for Frontex, in the news for illegal pushbacks and abuses against migrants and refugees (see below). Now it is under investigation by the EU anti-fraud watchdog OLAF.

      “But the scandal of Frontex’s cozy relationship with the weapons and surveillance industry, brewing behind closed doors over the past few years, has received less attention,” Myriam Douo, Luisa Izuzquiza and Margarida Silva wrote in a recent Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) report (https://corporateeurope.org/en/lobbying-fortress-europe).

      They obtained over 130 documents (https://fragdenstaat.de/dokumente/sammlung/49-fx-files) through freedom of information requests and the review opened “a window onto at least 17 industry meetings convened by Frontex from 2017 to 2019”. It all started with a lot of money.

      In fact, in 2020 Frontex was granted a €5.6 billion budget – the largest among all EU agencies – for the 2021-2027 timeframe. Then 10,000 border guards came along, together with an extension of its mandate and the ability to acquire and lease its own equipment like vessels, drones and radars.

      “This is a dream come true not just for Frontex, but for the security industry. Spying the opportunity for a new and major customer, it has been advocating since 2010 for an EU-level border force with precisely those capabilities.”

      In previous years, the agency had met with 138 private bodies: 108 companies, 10 research centres or think tanks, 15 universities and just one NGO (ID4Africa). European defence companies Airbus and Leonardo were awarded the most access, followed by tech companies (Japanese NEC, Atos, IDEMIA, Jenetric, secunet, and Vision-Box).

      Even the consultative forum on human rights, established by Frontex itself, has never been heard. It was the security industry lobbyists who eventually shaped the agency’s approach.

      They mostly discussed weapons, biometrics, maritime and aerial surveillance, heartbeat detectors and document inspection systems. Besides, migration was “portrayed as a threat, often linked to terrorism and crime”.

      Yet, transparency remains very little. When CEO asked Frontex to explain how it was handling lobbying, a press office told them that “Frontex does not meet with lobbyists” and that it “does not attract the interest of lobbyists.” When they asked again, Frontex denied meeting with lobbyists except on “Industry Days”.

      Migrants are the real elephant in the room. “A noticeable omission from almost every one of these discussions is the potential impact on human rights of these technologies and products, including undermining people’s fundamental right to privacy, presumption of innocence and liberty.”

      Human rights organisations had almost no access to the agency, which is particularly worrying in the context of the future EU border and migration policy. “Considering the growing power and budget”, CEO predicts that Frontex’ relationship with industry will intensify. “Scrutiny over it should, too,” they add.
      MEPs to probe Frontex over unlawful pushbacks

      The European Parliament has set up a probe over harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations run by Frontex and aimed at stopping migrants from reaching EU shores via Greek waters.

      On 24 February, MEPs have formed a new working group (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20210222IPR98303/frontex-meps-to-investigate-alleged-violations-of-fundamental-rights), chaided by Roberta Metsola (EPP, Malta) officially called #Frontex_Scrutiny_Working_Group (#FSWG) (https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/news/new-frontex-scrutiny-working-group-quote-from-tineke-strik-mep), to “monitor all aspects of the functioning of the border agency, including its compliance with fundamental rights.” The legislators will personally conduct a fact-finding investigation over the next four months in order to collect evidence to determine if the violations took place and if the agency was involved in them.

      https://voxeurop.eu/en/the-lobbyists-behind-eu-response-to-migration

  • Hungary: 4,903 pushbacks after EU Court declared them illegal

    The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, along with various other human rights advocacy groups, have been busy collecting evidence documenting Hungary’s continual flouting of EU law with regards to pushbacks. Since the EU Court of Justice declared Hungary’s pushbacks illegal in December 2020, a recorded 4,903 people have been pushed back to Serbia.

    András Léderer is pleased. On Wednesday, January 27, Frontex, the European border agency, announced that it would suspend its operations in Hungary.

    Léderer is senior advocacy officer with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), a human rights NGO based in Budapest. He feels Frontex’ decision is partly due to his painstaking work gathering evidence to show that Hungary has continued with pushbacks, despite the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declaring those pushbacks illegal on December 17, 2020.

    On January 26, Léderer posted a google map documenting nearly 600 pushbacks involving 4,504 people in the month following the court’s decision. On the map, the blue dots mark separate incidences, with attached links in Hungarian and a short summary in English. The map is updated daily. As of today (February 1), a total of 4,903 people have been pushed back, according to the organization’s daily count: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11jlrJW-SbIa-tCkbfvOJ4x2e2bteCR0zHLs0fB9g_nw/edit#gid=0

    “You know, normally it is a difficult task to prove human rights violations of this magnitude, especially when it comes to collective expulsions,” comments Léderer in his Twitter post accompanying the map. “Then enters illiberal Hungary [which] proudly publishes hundreds of them on the police official website. We just had to put them on a map.”

    https://twitter.com/andraslederer/status/1354030019874590731

    “Just” putting them on the map took its time though. Léderer says that he scoured the information on the police website, carefully translating the summaries in English, as well as obtaining information from other human rights groups on the Hungarian and Serbian sides of the border.

    “Since 2016,” Léderer tells InfoMigrants by phone from Budapest, “Hungary has managed to push more than 50,000 people back to Serbia. I would never have the time to put all those on a map.”
    The Black Book of Pushbacks 2020

    Accounts of some of the pushbacks from 2020 feature in the “Black Book of Pushbacks,” (https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:3f809f15-bada-4d3f-adab-f14d9489275a) published by the Border Violence Monitoring Network, partially financed by the Left group in the European Parliament. Léderer wrote an introduction for the almost 100-page Hungarian section.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IbJdIu2fM4&feature=emb_logo

    What happens during the pushbacks varies, explains Léderer. The most violent incident, on June 1, 2016, resulted in the death of a young Syrian boy. HHC is helping represent his surviving brother who was also pushed back from Hungary at the time. The boy was forced to swim across the river back into Serbia, and drowned on the way, says Léderer. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on the incident too.

    “Head injuries, broken limbs, broken hands, the use of batons, the use of dogs,” all are fairly commonplace during these pushbacks, says Léderer. “Humiliation” is another weapon used, says Léderer, explaining that sometimes those caught by Hungarian police are forced to strip to their underwear, even in the middle of winter and then asked to walk kilometers in the snow “nearly naked.”

    ’Inhumane and degrading treatment’

    There have also been reports of police throwing water on participants in the winter too, which makes them wet and cold. “I’ve listened to testimonies from a small group of people who were made to sit down in a circle and close their eyes and a dog, apparently on a leash, was released on them, just before the dog could bite them, he would be pulled back. One boy wet himself and they made the others look and mock him,” explains Léderer.

    When asked if that would amount to torture, Léderer says, “I would make the argument that that is at the very least inhumane and degrading treatment.” The problem for organizations like HHC though, is “how do you prove this? There is no way to prove this,” says Lederer. “Physical violence on the other hand can be proven.” HHC have taken some of these cases to Strasbourg after prosecutors in Hungary said there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges.

    Although the Hungarian police document lots of the pushbacks on their website, they “don’t take fingerprints or check the identities of any of these people.” Essentially, says Léderer, no one knows who these people are. Hungary also doesn’t know, for instance, if any of these people being pushed back are actually on an Interpol Red List, because they haven’t bothered to check their names, documents or fingerprints.
    Ensuring they ’don’t ask for asylum’

    The reason for this lack of documentation is to “ensure that they don’t ask for asylum,” which is, in itself, contravening EU and international human rights law, but not Hungarian domestic law, which has been altered several times since 2016 to allow for these pushbacks and these practices.

    In July 2016, Hungary passed a law allowing for anyone within eight kilometers of the Serbian border to be pushed back immediately. Then in March 2017, that zone was extended across the entire country, which is why the map now shows people having been picked up in the middle of the country, at the famous tourist site Lake Balaton, as well as on the Slovakian, Romanian and Austrian borders.

    “We have clients,” says Léderer, “who arrived directly in Budapest from a war-zone [Yemen] and immediately asked for asylum. But because they had fake passports, so of course their stay was ’illegal’ they were immediately removed during the night, a single mother with four small children. She has never been to Serbia before.”

    Hungary’s legislation, explains Léderer, covers all these types of cases in one sentence. “It’s not very complex. […] It reads ’Anyone found on the territory of Hungary without the right to stay; —which in practice means expired passport, fake passport, no passport, expired visa, no visa, are to be removed to the external side of the border fence;’ that’s it.”
    ’Nothing written down’

    Léderer says there is “no procedure, there is no hearing, people are not issued with a decision, this is just taken as a matter of fact. You cannot appeal against it, you can’t seek asylum. There is nothing written down or forwarded to the asylum authority so you can’t contest it.” The woman and her children are still in Serbia and HHC are still in touch with them, Léderer says.

    Another case, that of a Kurdish Iraqi boy called Karox, dating from 2017 was featured in an HHC short film on World Refugee Day 2020.

    Karox fled Iraq after his uncle wanted to send him to the army. He arrived in Austria as an unaccompanied minor and was told by police that he would be taken to a home for unaccompanied children. Instead, he says, he was pushed back to Hungary. There in this case he was fingerprinted by the police and they recorded his wish to seek asylum. They too told him via an interpreter that they would take him to a children’s home, instead, along with a few other men, he was pushed out and told to walk over the Serbian border.

    He had never been to Serbia before, but with the help of civil society groups and a lawyer employed by them, he managed to seek asylum in Serbia and after three years has been granted refugee stauts, is living, working and studying in Belgrade. Nevertheless, HHC has taken his case to the European court in Strasbourg where it is pending against both Austria and Hungary.
    Allegations of pushbacks from Austria to Hungary

    More recently, the Hungarian police appear to have alleged two further incidents of the Austrian authorities handing over migrants to the Hungarian police at or near the Nickelsdorf border crossing.

    The first is on December 23, and was recorded by the Hungarian police as “five people readmitted from Austria.” The second one, on January 21, was noted as: “Austrian authorities officially handed over three people.” In both cases, the eight people were taken over the Serbian border by the Hungarian authorities.

    InfoMigrants asked the Austrian Interior Ministry and the police authorities for a comment on this but so far we have received no reply.

    When someone is pushed back across several borders it essentially becomes a chain of pushbacks. It seems there are not just allegations of these chains going from Austria, to Hungary to Serbia but also via Slovakia. Léderer is aware of one “off the books” pushback from Slovakia to Hungary, and then on to Serbia.
    Unknown and unregistered

    Léderer says he would like the Austrian authorities to answer why they are handing people over to the Hungarian police. “The problem is we don’t know who these people are,” says Léderer. So looking into their case files and getting answers is difficult. “I don’t think we will ever know what happened there,” says Léderer.

    Frontex, according to their own legislation, have to ensure the respect of human rights as per their charter, including the right to seek asylum. So, since March 2017, if Frontex knew about any of these people in the country they were essentially complicit in pushbacks, says Léderer, if only by turning a blind eye to what was clearly going on and being documented on the police website every day.

    “The Hungarians, in order to ensure that these people do not have a chance to seek any remedy against what happens to them, they make sure there are no individual paper trails. That’s why I can’t tell you who these people are,” says Léderer.
    Frontex withdraws from Hungary

    #Frontex might not have literally carried the people from Hungary to Serbia, but by knowing what was happening, “they have been party to what is going on. That is why Frontex have had to suspend operations,” says Léderer.

    And that is also why Léderer is so pleased. He says they have been hoping since 2016 that Frontex would suspend operations in Hungary. He thinks that the Hungarian government would have put a lot of pressure on Frontex not to leave, because their departure puts Hungary in a more difficult position.

    “After the judgment delivered in December, the Hungarian policy was dragging the entire EU into a rights violation. So this is a unique situation. You have a judgment from the court of justice of the EU and at the same time you have an EU agency that participates in this policy after the judgment and that is a no-go. I think the EU realizes that if they had gone down that road, it would have been a very slippery slope,” explains Léderer.

    Léderer says that since Frontex’ announcement, the Hungarian government has not issued any kind of statement and the decision has not been reported in the pro-government media. Léderer thinks that the police might now stop reporting the pushbacks on its website, “we shall see,” he says, but adds that he will still find out what is going on keep reporting it.

    “I think what helps, however, clichéd that might sound, is knowing that we are doing the right thing,” says Léderer as he bids goodbye. “That is really what keeps us going. I have no doubt that what is happening here is very bad and we are trying to stop it, and that is the right thing to do.”

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/29944/hungary-4-903-pushbacks-after-eu-court-declared-them-illegal

    #chiffres #statistiques #push-backs #refoulements #refoulement #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Hongrie #Autriche #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • La Hongrie ignore la justice européenne en expulsant des migrants vers la Serbie

      La Cour de juste de l’Union européenne a jugé illégale l’expulsion de demandeurs d’asile de la Hongrie vers la Serbie. Mais le gouvernement national-conservateur de Viktor Orban ignore ce jugement.

      Le gouvernement hongrois ne fait aucun secret de son non respect de la loi européenne. Un site officiel fournit des chiffres précis et recense méticuleusement chaque cas d’expulsion par année et par catégorie.

      Ces cas concernent l’expulsion de demandeurs d’asile par les garde-frontières hongrois vers la Serbie. Selon les statistiques officielles, disponibles sur le site de la police hongroise, 2 824 réfugiés ont été appréhendés près de la clôture qui sépare les deux pays, rien que pour ce mois de janvier. Tous ont été contraints à retourner en Serbie.

      Par ailleurs, 184 sans papiers ont été appréhendés et doivent encore être jugés en Hongrie. Ils seront eux aussi très probablement renvoyés en Serbie.

      Ces « refoulements » ne sont pas seulement contraires aux traités internationaux comme la Convention de Genève, dont la Hongrie est signataire. Depuis décembre dernier, ils violent également un arrêt juridiquement contraignant de la plus haute juridiction de l’Union européenne, à savoir la Cour de justice de l’UE (CJUE).

      Le verdict a été rendu le 17 décembre dernier, mais pour le moment, les autorités hongroises l’ignorent vertement. Près de 5.000 demandeurs d’asile ont été expulsés vers la Serbie depuis le jour du verdict. Le premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orban et plusieurs membres de son gouvernement ont depuis confirmé à plusieurs reprises leur intention de vouloir poursuivre cette pratique.

      « Escortes »

      Andreas Lederer, expert en politique migratoire au Comité d’Helsinki hongrois, l’une des plus importantes ONG du pas, estime que ces renvois sont « un sérieux affront » aux arrêtés de la CJUE et aux lois européennes. « Dans le domaine juridique, il arrive rarement que les choses soient claires comme de l’eau de roche », note l’expert. « Mais dans le cas des verdicts de la CJUE, c’est le cas. Ils sont contraignants et la Hongrie se doit d’y obéir. Mais le gouvernement hongrois s’y refuse ».

      Dans le jargon des officiels hongrois, ces refoulements sont qualifiés « d’escortes de migrants illégaux appréhendés vers les portes de la barrière de sécurité frontalière provisoire ». Il s’agit de la clôture érigée le long de la frontière serbe. Celle-ci n’a cessé d’être modernisée depuis 2015 pour devenir une infrastructure de haute sécurité. Des portes y sont installées à intervalles réguliers. C’est par ces portes que les migrants sont renvoyés, généralement immédiatement après avoir été interceptés.

      Une « faille »

      Selon l’interprétation du gouvernement hongrois, une faille dans le système permettrait de justifier ces refoulements. La clôture le long de la frontière avec la Serbie est située sur le territoire hongrois, éloignée de quelques mètres de la frontière actuelle. Faire repasser des migrants de l’autre côté de la frontière ne constituerait donc pas une expulsion, puisque les personnes renvoyées se trouvent de fait toujours sur le territoire hongrois.

      Cet argument a été avancé à plusieurs reprises par les représentants du gouvernement hongrois.

      Mais dans son verdict de décembre, la CJUE a explicitement jugé que cette pratique était illégale, car les personnes renvoyées de l’autre côté de la clôture n’ont finalement pas d’autre choix que de quitter le territoire hongrois, ce qui équivaut à une expulsion. Par ailleurs, renvoyer des demandeurs d’asile sans leur donner la chance de présenter leur cas constitue une violation des directives de l’UE.
      Epuisement et privation de nourriture

      Ce n’est pas la première fois que la CJUE condamne le gouvernement hongrois pour sa politique migratoire. En mai 2020, elle a jugé que les conditions d’hébergement des demandeurs d’asile dans les zones dites de transit étaient illégales.

      Fin 2015, la Hongrie avait établi deux zones de transit près de la clôture frontalière dans lesquelles les migrants pouvaient faire une demande d’asile. Toutefois, ces dernières années, les conditions de séjour y étaient devenues de plus en plus difficiles. Les couples et les familles étaient séparés et seuls les bébés autorisés à rester avec leur mère. Une extrême promiscuité régnait dans ces zones ressemblant avant tout à des prisons de haute sécurité. Enfin, la distribution de nourriture se limitait au minimum, faisant dire aux militants de droits humains hongrois que les autorités pratiquaient une stratégie d’épuisement et de privation de nourriture.

      En face, le gouvernement soutenait que toute personnes était libre de quitter la zone de transit à tout moment pour faire des courses. Une réponse peu convaincante, car la loi hongroise prévoyait que le fait de quitter la zone de transit entraînait automatiquement la fin de la procédure d’asile et le réfugié se voyant interdit de présenter une nouvelle demande.

      Depuis le verdict de la CJUE, la Hongrie a fermé les deux zones de transit. Depuis, les migrants ne peuvent demander l’asile que dans les ambassades hongroises situées dans des pays non membres de l’UE, principalement la Serbie et l’Ukraine. L’automne dernier, la Commission européenne a réagi en engageant de nouvelles procédures contre Budapest.

      « Empêcher la formation de couloirs migratoires »

      Suite à notre demande, le porte-parole du gouvernement hongrois, Zoltan Kovacs, n’a pas voulu expliquer sur quelle base le gouvernement hongrois refusait d’appliquer l’arrêt de la CJIUE de décembre. Dans sa réponse, il reprend quasiment mot pour mot une publication sur Facebook de la ministre hongroise de la justice Jugit Varga en décembre dernier, affirmant que « le gouvernement continue à protéger les frontières de la Hongrie et de l’Europe et fera tout pour empêcher la formation de couloirs internationaux de migration. »

      Étant donné le refus du gouvernement hongrois d’appliquer l’arrêt de la CJUE de décembre 2020, Andras Lederer du Comité d’Helsinki appelle la Commission européenne à prendre des mesures. « Il serait possible d’imposer des sanctions financières à la Hongrie, sous la forme d’importantes amendes pour la non-exécution des décisions de la CJUE », selon l’expert en migration. « Malheureusement, il semble que la Commission européenne ne soit pas aussi résolue qu’elle devrait l’être lorsqu’un État membre viole des lois existantes. »

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/30345/la-hongrie-ignore-la-justice-europeenne-en-expulsant-des-migrants-vers

  • #Frontex suspend ses #opérations en Hongrie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein @_kg_ @rhoumour @karine4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Senza stringhe

    La libertà di movimento è riconosciuta dalla nostra Costituzione; se questa sia un diritto naturale oppure no, bisogna allora riflettere su cosa effettivamente sia un diritto naturale. Tuttavia, essa è una parte imprescindibile della vita umana e coloro che migrano, ieri come oggi, hanno uno stimolo ben superiore all’appartenenza territoriale. Ogni giorno, ci sono due scenari paralleli e possibili che avvengono tra le montagne italo-francesi: coloro che raggiungono la meta e coloro che vengono respinti; il terzo scenario, fatale e tragico, è solamente intuibile.
    Eppure la frontiera è stata militarizzata ma qui continuano a passare: nonostante tutto, c’è porosità e c’è un passaggio. Prima che arrivasse il turismo privilegiato, l’alta valle compresa tra Bardonecchia, Oulx e Claviere ha da sempre vissuto la propria evoluzione dapprima con il Sentiero dei Mandarini e successivamente con la realizzazione della ferrovia cambiando la geografia del posto. Le frontiere diventano incomprensibili senza aver chiara l’origine dei vari cammini: la rotta balcanica, il Mar Mediterraneo centrale, i mercati del lavoro forzato e le richieste europee. Le frontiere si modellano, si ripetono e si diversificano ma presentano tutte una caratteristica isomorfa: la politica del consenso interno oltre che strutturale. In una valle come questa, caratterizzata dagli inverni rigidi e nevosi, dal 2015 non si arresta il tentativo di attraversare il confine tra i due stati sia per una necessità di viaggio, di orizzonte retorico, di ricongiungimento familiare ma soprattutto, dopo aver attraversando territori difficili o mari impossibili, per mesi o anni, non è di certo la montagna a fermare la mobilità che non segue logiche di tipo locale. Le mete finali, a volte, non sono precise ma vengono costruite in itinere e secondo la propria possibilità economica; per viaggiare hanno speso capitali enormi con la consapevolezza della restituzione alle reti di parentato, di vicinato e tutte quelle possibili.
    La valle si presenta frammentata geograficamente e ciò aumenta le difficoltà per raccogliere dei dati precisi in quanto le modalità di respingimento sono molto eterogenee, ci sono diversi valichi di frontiera: ci sono respingimenti che avvengono al Frejus e ci sono respingimenti che avvengono a Montgenèvre. Di notte, le persone respinte vengono portate al Rifugio Solidale di Oulx, sia dalla Croce Rossa sia dalla Polizia di stato italiana. Durante il giorno, invece, la Polizia di stato italiana riporta le persone in Italia e le lascia tra le strade di Oulx o a Bardonecchia. Dall’altra parte, ad Ovest del Monginevro, a Briançon è presente il Refuge Solidarie: solo con la collaborazione tra le associazioni italo-francesi si può avere una stima di quante sono state le persone accolte e dunque quante persone hanno raggiunto la meta intermedia, la Francia. Avere dei dati più precisi potrebbe essere utile per stimolare un intervento più strutturato da parte delle istituzioni perché in questo momento sul territorio sono presenti soprattutto le associazioni e ONG o individui singoli che stanno gestendo questa situazione, che stanno cercando di tamponare questa emergenza che neanche dovrebbe avere questo titolo.

    Non sono migranti ma frontiere in cammino.

    https://www.leggiscomodo.org/senza-stringhe

    #migrations #frontières #Italie #montagne #Alpes #Hautes-Alpes #reportage #photo-reportage #photographie #Briançon #Oulx #liberté_de_mouvement #liberté_de_circulation #militarisation_des_frontières #porosité #passage #fermeture_des_frontières #Claviere #Bardonecchia #chemin_de_fer #Sentiero_dei_Mandarini #Frejus #refoulements #push-backs #jour #nuit #Refuge_solidaire #casa_cantonniera #froid #hiver #Busson #PAF #maraude #solidarité #maraudes #Médecins_du_monde #no-tav
    #ressources_pédagogiques

    ajouté à la métaliste sur le Briançonnais :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/733721#message886920

  • #OLAF raided EU border chief’s office over migrant pushback claims

    The EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, OLAF, raided the offices of #Frontex Executive Director #Fabrice_Leggeri, as well as his head of Cabinet #Thibauld_de_La_Haye_Jousselin, on December 7, 2020, as part of an investigation into allegations of migrant #pushbacks, according on a document obtained by Kathimerini.

    As claimed by the author of the document, who has knowledge of the inner workings of Frontex, Leggeri “actively resisted” the recruitment of the required 40 fundamental rights officers provided for in the regulation of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, answering frequent questions from agency staff in early 2020 that “it is not a priority.”

    In addition, the author states that the executive director “repeatedly made it clear to staff” that “Frontex is not an expensive lifeguard service,” and staff in operations had been made to understand that “reporting pushbacks involving Frontex personnel is not a route to popularity or promotion” within the agency.

    At the same time, reporting of incidents is “intentionally centralized to be slow, cumbersome and very discreet,” according to the same document.

    The author also accuses the Frontex chief executive of being in charge of a “comically incompetent” human resources department, which last October told 400 candidates that they had been hired for the agency’s standing corps (Europe’s first uniformed law enforcement service), only to withdraw the job offers the next day.

    At the same time, it is reported that no provision has been made for the new border guards to cary firearms legally over EU borders.

    Asked by Kathimerini on Tuesday if Leggeri continues to enjoy the trust of the European Commission, a spokesperson distanced himself, expressing confidence that the all issues that have risen will be resolved with the cooperation of both the executive director and Frontex’s board of directors of Frontex.

    Both OLAF and Frontex confirmed that the investigation is underway. “OLAF can confirm that it has opened an investigation concerning Frontex. However, as an investigation is on-going, OLAF cannot issue any further comment,” the OLAF press office told Kathimerini.

    On its side, a Frontex spokesperson said: “In keeping with its policy of transparency, Frontex is cooperating fully with OLAF. OLAF visits to EU agencies, institutions and entities are a normal practice of good governance. It’s important to note that such visits do not necessarily imply any malpractice.”

    Speaking at the European Parliament in December 2020, Leggeri had dismissed media reports that Frontex officers had been involved in pushbacks, arguing that “we have not found evidence” of such incidents.

    However, the Party of European Socialists had called for his resignation, while the Greens has called for an investigation by the European Parliament.

    The EU border agency is also investigating pushback allegations.

    https://www.ekathimerini.com/261205/article/ekathimerini/news/olaf-raided-eu-border-chiefs-office-over-migrant-pushback-claims

    #fraude #Office_européen_de_lutte_antifraude #renvois #expulsions

    –—

    ajouté au fil de discussions :
    Migrations : l’agence européenne #Frontex mise en cause pour des #refoulements en mer
    https://seenthis.net/messages/882952

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Detention instead of asylum

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

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

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

    Pushbacks by Frontex?

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

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

    Frontex rejects allegations

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

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

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

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

    Border protection from beyond the EU

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

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

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

    The route west

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

    But at this point, these are just rumors.

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

    Ominous police checks

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

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

    Conflicting accounts

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

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

    The police refused to comment on that.

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

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

    –---

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

  • ITALY : UPTICK IN CHAIN-REMOVALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    –—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rapporti di monitoraggio

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

    Elenco dei rapporti pubblicati in ordine cronologico:

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

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

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

    –---

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

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

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

    –-----

    “Lungo la rotta del Brennero”

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

    #Brenner #Autriche

    –---

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

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

    #Italie_du_Sud

    –------

    “Report interno sopralluogo Bosnia 27-31 ottobre 2019”

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

    #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine

    –---

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

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

    #Slovénie #mer_Adriatique #Adriatique

    https://medea.asgi.it/rapporti

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

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • La via della vergogna Sulla rotta balcanica delle migrazioni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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