• Nigerians returned from Europe face stigma and growing hardship

    ‘There’s no job here, and even my family is ashamed to see me, coming back empty-handed with two kids.’

    The EU is doubling down on reducing migration from Africa, funding both voluntary return programmes for those stranded along migration routes before they reach Europe while also doing its best to increase the number of rejected asylum seekers it is deporting.

    The two approaches serve the same purpose for Brussels, but the amount of support provided by the EU and international aid groups for people to get back on their feet is radically different depending on whether they are voluntary returnees or deportees.

    For now, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed voluntary return programmes and significantly reduced the number of people being deported from EU countries, such as Germany. Once travel restrictions are lifted, however, the EU will likely resume its focus on both policies.

    The EU has made Nigeria one of five priority countries in Africa in its efforts to reduce the flow of migrants and asylum seekers. This has involved pouring hundreds of millions of euros into projects in Nigeria to address the “root causes” of migration and funding a “voluntary return” programme run by the UN’s migration agency, IOM.

    Since its launch in 2017, more than 80,000 people, including 16,800 Nigerians, have been repatriated to 23 African countries after getting stuck or having a change of heart while travelling along often-dangerous migration routes connecting sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa.

    Many of the Nigerians who have opted for IOM-facilitated repatriation were stuck in detention centres or exploitative labour situations in Libya. Over the same time period, around 8,400 Nigerians have been deported from Europe, according to official figures.

    Back in their home country, little distinction is made between voluntary returnees and deportees. Both are often socially stigmatised and rejected by their communities. Having a family member reach Europe and be able to send remittances back home is often a vital lifeline for people living in impoverished communities. Returning – regardless of how it happens – is seen as failure.

    In addition to stigmatisation, returnees face daily economic struggles, a situation that has only become worse with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Nigeria’s already struggling economy.

    Despite facing common challenges, deportees are largely left to their own devices, while voluntary returnees have access to an EU-funded support system that includes a small three-months salary, training opportunities, controversial “empowerment” and personal development sessions, and funds to help them start businesses – even if these programmes often don’t necessarily end up being effective.
    ‘It’s a well-oiled mechanism’

    Many of the voluntary returnee and deportation flights land in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city and main hub for international travel. On a hot and humid day in February, before countries imposed curfews and sealed their borders due to coronavirus, two of these flights arrived within several hours of each other at the city’s hulking airport.

    First, a group of about 45 people in winter clothes walked through the back gate of the cargo airport looking out of place and disoriented. Deportees told TNH they had been taken into immigration custody by German police the day before and forced onto a flight in Frankfurt. Officials from the Nigerian Immigration Service, the country’s border police, said they are usually told to prepare to receive deportees after the planes have already left from Europe.

    Out in the parking lot, a woman fainted under the hot sun. When she recovered, she said she was pregnant and didn’t know where she would sleep that night. A man began shouting angrily about how he had been treated in Europe, where he had lived for 16 years. Police officers soon arrived to disperse the deportees. Without money or phones, many didn’t know where to go or what to do.

    Several hours later, a plane carrying 116 voluntary returnees from Libya touched down at the airport’s commercial terminal. In a huge hangar, dozens of officials guided the returnees through an efficient, well-organised process.

    The voluntary returnees queued patiently to be screened by police, state health officials, and IOM personnel who diligently filled out forms. Officials from Nigeria’s anti-people trafficking agency also screened the female returnees to determine if they had fallen victim to an illegal network that has entrapped tens of thousands of Nigerian women in situations of forced sex work in Europe and in transit countries such as Libya and Niger.

    “It’s a well-oiled mechanism. Each agency knows its role,” Alexander Oturu, a programme manager at Nigeria’s National Commission for Refugees, Migrants & Internally Displaced Persons, which oversees the reception of returnees, told The New Humanitarian.

    Voluntary returnees are put up in a hotel for one night and then helped to travel back to their home regions or temporarily hosted in government shelters, and later they have access to IOM’s reintegration programming.

    Initially, there wasn’t enough funding for the programmes. But now almost 10,000 of the around 16,600 returnees have been able to access this support, out of which about 4,500 have set up small businesses – mostly shops and repair services – according to IOM programme coordinator Abrham Tamrat Desta.

    The main goal is to “address the push factors, so that upon returning, these people don’t face the same situation they fled from”, Desta said. “This is crucial, as our data show that 97 percent of returnees left for economic reasons.”
    COVID-19 making things worse

    Six hours drive south of Lagos is Benin City, the capital of Edo State.

    An overwhelming number of the people who set out for Europe come from this region. It is also where the majority of European migration-related funding ends up materialising, in the form of job creation programmes, awareness raising campaigns about the risks of irregular migration, and efforts to dismantle powerful trafficking networks.

    Progress* is one of the beneficiaries. When TNH met her she was full of smiles, but at 26 years old, she has already been through a lot. After being trafficked at 17 and forced into sex work in Libya, she had a child whose father later died in a shipwreck trying to reach Europe. Progress returned to Nigeria, but couldn’t escape the debt her traffickers expected her to pay. Seeing little choice, she left her child with her sister and returned to Libya.

    Multiple attempts to escape spiralling violence in the country ended in failure. Once, she was pulled out of the water by Libyan fishermen after nearly drowning. Almost 200 other people died in that wreck. On two other occasions, the boat she was in was intercepted and she was dragged back to shore by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard.

    After the second attempt, she registered for the IOM voluntary return programme. “I was hoping to get back home immediately, but Libyans put me in prison and obliged me to pay to be released and take the flight,” she said.

    Back in Benin City, she took part in a business training programme run by IOM. She couldn’t provide the paperwork needed to launch her business and finally found support from Pathfinders Justice Initiative – one of the many local NGOs that has benefited from EU funding in recent years.

    She eventually opened a hairdressing boutique, but coronavirus containment measures forced her to close up just as she was starting to build a regular clientele. Unable to provide for her son, now seven years old, she has been forced to send him back to live with her sister.

    Progress isn’t the only returnee struggling due to the impact of the pandemic. Mobility restrictions and the shuttering of non-essential activities – due to remain until early August at least – have “exacerbated returnees’ existing psychosocial vulnerabilities”, an IOM spokesperson said.

    The Edo State Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking, set up by the local government to coordinate prosecutions and welfare initiatives, is trying to ease the difficulties people are facing by distributing food items. As of early June, the task force said it had reached 1,000 of the more than 5,000 people who have returned to the state since 2017.
    ‘Sent here to die’

    Jennifer, 39, lives in an unfinished two-storey building also in Benin City. When TNH visited, her three-year-old son, Prince, stood paralysed and crying, and her six-year-old son, Emmanuel, ran and hid on the appartment’s small balcony. “It’s the German police,” Jennifer said. “The kids are afraid of white men now.”

    Jennifer, who preferred that only her first name is published, left Edo State in 1999. Like many others, she was lied to by traffickers, who tell young Nigerian women they will send them to Europe to get an education or find employment but who end up forcing them into sex work and debt bondage.

    It took a decade of being moved around Europe by trafficking rings before Jennifer was able to pay off her debt. She got a residency permit and settled down in Italy for a period of time. In 2016, jobless and looking to get away from an unstable relationship, she moved to Germany and applied for asylum.

    Her application was not accepted, but deportation proceedings against her were put on hold. That is until June 2019, when 15 policemen showed up at her apartment. “They told me I had five minutes to check on my things and took away my phone,” Jennifer said.

    The next day she was on a flight to Nigeria with Prince and Emmanuel. When they landed, “the Nigerian Immigration Service threw us out of the gate of the airport in Lagos, 20 years after my departure”. she said.

    Nine months after being deported, Jennifer is surviving on small donations coming from volunteers in Germany. It’s the only aid she has received. “There’s no job here, and even my family is ashamed to see me, coming back empty-handed with two kids,” she said.

    Jennifer, like other deportees TNH spoke to, was aware of the support system in place for people who return through IOM, but felt completely excluded from it. The deportation and lack of support has taken a heavy psychological toll, and Jennifer said she has contemplated suicide. “I was sent here to die,” she said.
    ‘The vicious circle of trafficking’

    Without a solid economic foundation, there’s always a risk that people will once again fall victim to traffickers or see no other choice but to leave on their own again in search of opportunity.

    “When support is absent or slow to materialise – and this has happened also for Libyan returnees – women have been pushed again in the hands of traffickers,” said Ruth Evon Odahosa, from the Pathfinders Justice Initiative.

    IOM said its mandate does not include deportees, and various Nigerian government agencies expressed frustration to TNH about the lack of European interest in the topic. “These deportations are implemented inhumanely,” said Margaret Ngozi Ukegbu, a zonal director for the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

    The German development agency, GIZ, which runs several migration-related programmes in Nigeria, said their programming does not distinguish between returnees and deportees, but the agency would not disclose figures on how many deportees had benefited from its services.

    Despite the amount of money being spent by the EU, voluntary returnees often struggle to get back on their feet. They have psychological needs stemming from their journeys that go unmet, and the businesses started with IOM seed money frequently aren’t sustainable in the long term.

    “It’s crucial that, upon returning home, migrants can get access to skills acquisition programmes, regardless of the way they returned, so that they can make a new start and avoid falling back in the vicious circle of trafficking,” Maria Grazie Giammarinaro, the former UN’s special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, told TNH.

    * Name changed at request of interviewee.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/07/28/Nigeria-migrants-return-Europe

    #stigmatisation #renvois #expulsions #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Nigeria #réfugiés_nigérians #réintegration #retour_volontaire #IOM #OIM #chiffres #statistiques #trafic_d'êtres_humains

    ping @_kg_ @rhoumour @isskein @karine4

  • Les États-Unis, terre d’immigration

    Avec un accès inédit aux opérations de l’#ICE et de poignants #témoignages de migrants, ce #docu-série porte un regard essentiel sur l’immigration aux États-Unis en 2020.

    https://www.netflix.com/ch-fr/title/80994107
    #film #documentaire #film_documentaire #série #USA #Etats-Unis #détention_administrative #rétention #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #renvois #expulsions

    Trailer :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_xVKy58Yuw

    via @fil
    ping @isskein

  • L’urgence à répondre aux situations dramatiques des étudiants étrangers.

    Communiqué de la Cellule de veille et d’alerte
    pour les étudiants internationaux de l’#Université_de_Strasbourg
    (Le 6 août 2020)

    L’Université de #Strasbourg accueille plus de 10 000 #étudiants_internationaux dont les deux tiers sont extracommunautaires. Parmi ceux-ci, neuf étudiants inscrits à l’université ne parviennent pas à obtenir un #titre_de_séjour et sont sous le coup d’une #Obligation_de_quitter_le_territoire_français (#OQTF). Il s’agit là des seuls étudiants qui se sont signalés ou dont les situations ont été portées à la connaissance de la Cellule de veille et d’alerte de l’Université de Strasbourg. D’autres situations dramatiques peuvent exister et il est manifeste que la #crise_sanitaire a mis de nombreux étudiants étrangers dans des situations financières, matérielles et humaines très difficiles.

    Lors d’une réunion avec les autorités préfectorales du Bas-Rhin le 3 juin dernier, nous avons présenté et soutenu les dossiers des neufs étudiants étrangers. Après de multiples relances nous avons appris le 23 juillet dernier que seules trois situations seraient régularisées. Cette décision de la Préfecture du Bas-Rhin appelle deux commentaires.

    Tout d’abord, concernant deux des trois étudiants régularisés – un couple marié avec deux enfants en bas âge -, nous déplorons qu’une interdiction leur soit faite d’exercer un #travail, ce qui prive une famille entière de tout revenu, alors même qu’ils étaient précédemment salariés. Nous demandons que cette décision soit revue.

    Ensuite, nous ne pouvons en aucun cas accepter que les situations de détresse et de précarité des 6 autres étudiants internationaux que nous soutenons soient tout simplement ignorées. Qu’il s’agisse de cas humanitaires, de cas de difficultés liées à des menaces qui pèsent sur des étudiants ou leur famille dans leur pays d’origine qu’ils ont été obligés de fuir, ou encore d’une étudiante qui a dû quitter son pays pour échapper à un mariage forcé, il est moralement inacceptable de ne pas répondre à de telles urgences. Dans d’autres cas, c’est l’absence momentanée de réussite dans les études qui a conduit à l’OQTF. Or ces étudiants - malgré l’angoisse que provoque la menace d’expulsion (certains d’entre eux, à cause des fréquents contrôles de police durant le #confinement, n’osaient plus sortir de leurs 9 mètres carrés, et, du coup, ne se nourrissaient plus) et malgré l’absence de possibilité de travailler et donc de subvenir à leurs besoins (du fait de leur OQTF) - ont tous réussi leurs examens cette année.

    Nous en appelons à la bienveillance de Madame la Préfète du Bas-Rhin afin qu’elle donne toutes les instructions utiles à ses services pour que les étudiants internationaux de l’Université de Strasbourg et la Région Grand Est soit traités avec l’humanité qui leur est due.

    Nous tiendrons une conférence de presse avant la rentrée universitaire pour faire un point sur l’évolution des situations individuelles et administratives des étudiants internationaux.

    La Cellule de veille et d’alerte pour les étudiants internationaux de l’Université de
    Strasbourg
    Pour tout contact : cellule-veille@unistra.fr

    Description des situations des six étudiants qui n’ont pas obtenu une régularisation de leur statut

    Mounia (1) a fui un mariage forcé et vient de réussir sa 2ème année de licence. Elle a passé toute la période de confinement seule dans sa chambre de cité universitaire. Sans pouvoir travailler, elle n’a pas pu payer son loyer. Elle a été aidée par une assistante sociale du CROUS.

    Arslan a dû fuir son pays en 2015 avec sa famille du fait d’un harcèlement par la mafia locale. Il a réussi à obtenir son baccalauréat en 2018 après seulement deux ans de scolarisation en France. Il a intégré une composante de l’université et vient de réussir sa première année de Licence. Sa demande d’asile ayant été rejetée, il a besoin d’un titre de séjour pour pour poursuivre ses études en travaillant pour subvenir à ses besoins.

    Liang a certes tardé à réussir son semestre, mais il a joué de malchance dans son parcours du fait de difficultés liées à des grèves et à des retards administratifs dans des dossiers de prise en charge financière.

    Miloud a souhaité poursuivre ses études en France pour enseigner plus tard la langue arabe. Son seul tort a été de vouloir s’inscrire en n’ayant qu’un visa touristique. Il vient de réussir sa première année de Licence.

    Stan est prêtre et, après avoir réussi un Master de théologie fondamentale en Espagne, il a souhaité compléter sa formation en France en s’inscrivant dans un Master “Éthique et société”. Son but est de préparer un doctorat. Sa seule erreur - si l’on peut dire - a été de ne pas vouloir rater sa rentrée universitaire à Strasbourg, en quittant l’Espagne sans avoir reçu le visa que l’Ambassade de France à Madrid tardait à lui faire parvenir.

    Yacouba, malade (sans doute atteint de poliomyélite), est inscrit en Master 2. Il a réussi le premier semestre, mais son stage d’apprentissage a dû être interrompu (malgré le soutien de son maître d’apprentissage) à cause de son absence de statut (OQTF), lié aux longs délais de traitement de son recours.

    1 Les prénoms ont été modifiés.

    #étudiants_étrangers #université #facs #France #régularisation #ESR #enseignement_supérieur #expulsions #renvois #communiqué

    Communiqué reçu via la mailing-list Facs et labos en lutte, 06.08.2020

    ping @karine4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      State-of-play report

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

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

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

      The new standing corps

      Recruitment

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

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

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

      Training

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

      Use of force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Privileges and immunities

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

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

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

      Law enforcement

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

      Fundamental rights and data protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      EUROSUR

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

      Summary

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

      Jane Kilpatrick

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

      It was updated on 1 July with some minor corrections:

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

      Endnotes

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

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

      [3] Section 1.1, state of play report

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

      [5] Section 7.1, state of play report

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

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

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

      [9] Chapter III, state of play report

      [10] Section 2.5, state of play report

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

      [12] Chapter III, state of play report

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

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

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

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

      [17] Article 110, 2019 Regulation

      [18] Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [19] Section 8, state of play report

      [20] Article 111(1), 2019 Regulation

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

      [22] Article 110(1), 2019 Regulation

      [23] Section 9, state of play report

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

      [25] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [26] Chapter III, state of play report

      [27] Section 3.2, state of play report

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

      [29] State of play report, p. 19

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

      [31] Section 4, state of play report

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

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

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

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

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

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

      What is the standing corps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The size of the standing corps

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

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

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

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

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

      What are the profiles?

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

      Tasks to be carried out by these officials include:

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

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

      Recruitment for the profiles

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

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

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

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

      “Never touch yourself with gloves”

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

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

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

      Fit for service?

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

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

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

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

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

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Endnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [8] Annex II, 2019 Regulation

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

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

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

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

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

      [14] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Frontex seeks company for drone flights

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

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

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

      Aircraft from arms companies

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

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

      Three EU maritime surveillance agencies

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

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

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

      New interested parties for drone flights

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

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

      Information to non-EU countries

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

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

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

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

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

      Drones enable ‘pull-backs’

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

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

      Matthias Monroy

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

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

      Endnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      #drones

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

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

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

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

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

      From external to internal surveillance

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

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

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

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

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

      Legal provisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Sources of data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Operational activities at the internal borders

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

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

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

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

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

      A European Parliament study published in 2016 highlighted that:

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

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

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

      Chris Jones

      Endnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [9] Article 26(4), 2019 Regulation

      [10] Article 25, 2019 Regulation

      [11] Article 26, 2019 Regulation

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

      [13] Article 24(3), 2019 Regulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      #mouvements_secondaires #hotspot #hotspots

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

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

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

    Une réalité déguisée

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

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

    Au-delà des chiffres, des violations des #droits_humains

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

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

    Un budget opaque

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    ping @karine4 @rhoumour @reka @_kg_

  • #IOM using #Facebook #advertisment to reach potential #return_migrants

    Mail received by a friend with Pakistani citizenship:

    “I am adding a screenshot of advertising on Facebook by German government which suggest me to ’ If I would like to return my home country and don’t know how then I can contact there’ Advertising is in Urdu which means they already know who they are showing this advertisement. This is interesting that they use my personal data and target me as a refugee I guess. [...]
    Screenshot is attached and the link where the advertisement leads is below.”

    https://www.online-antragsmodul.de/OAM/MIRA/Default.aspx

    #Germany #migration #return_migration #explusion #social_media #social_networks #data_privacy

    ping @cdb_77 @rhoumour @deka

  • Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact

    The European Commission’s long-awaited and long-delayed pact on migration will include new asylum centres along the outer rim of the European Union, EUobserver has been told.

    The idea is part of a German proposal, floated last year, that seeks to rapidly pre-screen asylum seekers before they enter European Union territory.

    Michael Spindelegger, director-general of the Vienna-based International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) told EUobserver on Thursday (9 July) that the European Commission had in fact decided to include it into their upcoming migration pact.

    “I got some information that this will be part of these proposals from the European Commission. So this is what I can tell you. I think this really is something that could bring some movement in the whole debate,” he said.

    Spindelegger was Austria’s minister of foreign affairs and finance minister before taking over the ICMPD in 2016, where he has been outspoken in favour of such centres as a means to unblock disagreements among member states on the overhaul of the future EU-wide asylum system.

    The German non-paper published in November 2019 proposed a mandatory initial assessment of asylum applications at the external border.

    The idea is to prevent irregular and economic migrants from adding to the administrative bottlenecks of bona-fide asylum seekers and refugees.

    “Manifestly unfounded or inadmissible applications shall be denied immediately at the external border, and the applicant must not be allowed to enter the EU,” stated the paper.

    EUobserver understands the new pact may also include a three-tiered approach.

    Abusive claims would be immediately dismissed and returned, those clearly in the need for protection would be relocated to an EU state, while the remainder would end up in some sort of facility.

    Spindelegger concedes the idea has its detractors - noting it will be also be tricky to find the legal framework to support it.

    “To give people, within some days, the right expectation is a good thing - so this is more or less a surprise that the European Commission took this initiative, because there are also some people who are totally against this,” he said.
    EU ’hotspots’ in Greece

    Among those is Oxfam International, an NGO that says people may end up in similar circumstances currently found in the so-called hotspots on the Greek islands.

    “We are very concerned that the Greek law and the hotspots on the islands are going to be the blueprint for the new asylum and migration pact and we have seen them failed in every criteria,” said Oxfam International’s Raphael Shilhav, an expert on migration.

    The hotspots were initially touted as a solution by the European Commission to facilitate and expedite asylum claims of people seeking international protection, who had disembarked from Turkey to the Greek islands.

    The zones on the islands quickly turned into overcrowded camps where people, including women and children, are forced to live amid filth and violence.

    Shilvav said some people at the hotspots who deserved asylum ended up falling through the cracks, noting new Greek laws effectively bar many people who do not have legal support from appealing an asylum rejection.

    EUobserver has previously spoken to one asylum seeker from the Congo who had spent almost three years living in a tent with others at the hotspot in Moria on Lesbos island.

    The new pact is a cornerstone policy of the Von der Leyen Commission and follows years of bickering among member states who failed to agree on a previous proposal to overhaul the existing EU-wide asylum rules.

    “Over the past few years, many member states simply refused to find a solution,” Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer said ahead of the current German EU presidency’s first debate on home affairs issues.

    The commission has so far refused to release any specific details of the plan - which has been delayed until September, following the eruption of the pandemic and on-going debates over the EU’s next long-term budget.

    “This proposal will be there to protect and defend the right to asylum and that includes the possibility to apply for asylum, that is a right for everybody to do so,” EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson told MEPs earlier this week.

    For its part, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the new pact needs to be common and workable.

    “This means establishing fair and fast asylum procedures to quickly determine who needs international protection and who does not,” a UNHCR spokeswoman said, in an emailed statement.

    She also noted that some 85 percent of the world’s refugees are currently hosted in neighbouring and developing countries and that more funds are needed for humanitarian and development support.

    https://euobserver.com/migration/148902
    #migration_pact #pacte_migratoire #Europe #identification #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #pré-identification #centres_d'identification #hotspots #Grèce #contrôles_migratoires #contrôles_frontaliers #externalisation #EU #UE #frontières_extérieures #relocalisation #renvois #expulsions

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • How #ICE Exported the Coronavirus

    An investigation reveals how Immigration and Customs Enforcement became a domestic and global spreader of COVID-19.

    Admild, an undocumented immigrant from Haiti, was feeling sick as he approached the deportation plane that was going to take him back to the country he had fled in fear. Two weeks before that day in May, while being held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Louisiana, he had tested positive for the coronavirus — and he was still showing symptoms.

    He disclosed his condition to an ICE official at the airport, who sent him to a nurse.

    “She just gave me Tylenol,” said Admild, who feared reprisals if his last name was published. Not long after, he was back on the plane before landing in Port-au-Prince, one of more than 40,000 immigrants deported from the United States since March, according to ICE records.

    Even as lockdowns and other measures have been taken around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE has continued to detain people, move them from state to state and deport them.

    An investigation by The New York Times in collaboration with The Marshall Project reveals how unsafe conditions and scattershot testing helped turn ICE into a domestic and global spreader of the virus — and how pressure from the Trump administration led countries to take in sick deportees.

    We spoke to more than 30 immigrant detainees who described cramped and unsanitary detention centers where social distancing was near impossible and protective gear almost nonexistent. “It was like a time bomb,” said Yudanys, a Cuban immigrant held in Louisiana.

    At least four deportees interviewed by The Times, from India, Haiti, Guatemala and El Salvador, tested positive for the virus shortly after arriving from the United States.

    So far, ICE has confirmed at least 3,000 coronavirus-positive detainees in its detention centers, though testing has been limited.

    We tracked over 750 domestic ICE flights since March, carrying thousands of detainees to different centers, including some who said they were sick. Kanate, a refugee from Kyrgyzstan, was moved from the Pike County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania to the Prairieland Detention Facility in Texas despite showing Covid-19 symptoms. He was confirmed to have the virus just a few days later.

    “I was panicking,” he said. “I thought that I will die here in this prison.”

    We also tracked over 200 deportation flights carrying migrants, some of them ill with coronavirus, to other countries from March through June. Under pressure from the Trump administration and with promises of humanitarian aid, some countries have fully cooperated with deportations.

    El Salvador and Honduras have accepted more than 6,000 deportees since March. In April, President Trump praised the presidents of both countries for their cooperation and said he would send ventilators to help treat the sickest of their coronavirus patients.

    So far, the governments of 11 countries have confirmed that deportees returned home with Covid-19.

    When asked about the agency’s role in spreading the virus by moving and deporting sick detainees, ICE said it took precautions and followed guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of last week, ICE said that it was still able to test only a sampling of immigrants before sending them home. Yet deportation flights continue.

    https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/07/10/how-ice-exported-the-coronavirus

    #covid-19 #coronavirus #USA #Etats-Unis #migrations #migrerrance #renvois #expulsions #déportations #avions #transports_aériens #contamination #malades #rétention #détention_administrative #asile #réfugiés #déboutés #distanciation_sociale #swiftair #visualisation #cartographie #géographie

    ping @isskein @simplicissimus @karine4 @reka

  • L’État décide de frapper au porte-monnaie les départements qui résistent au fichage des #enfants

    Tout juste sorti de cette période de confinement, et alors que la crise sanitaire a fortement impacté la situation des mineur⋅es isolé⋅es, le gouvernement reprend l’offensive réglementaire à l’encontre de leurs droits.

    Un #décret daté du 23 juin 2020 vient d’autoriser l’État à réduire sa #contribution_financière aux #départements qui refusent de faire intervenir les #préfectures dans le processus d’évaluation et d’#identification de ces enfants.

    Pour mémoire, ce sont la #loi_Collomb de septembre 2018 et son décret d’application du 30 janvier 2019 qui ont institué un #fichier des mineur⋅es isolé⋅es permettant aux départements d’associer les préfectures à la détermination de leur #minorité, et de faciliter l’éloignement de celles et ceux qui auront fait l’objet d’une décision provisoire de non-admission à l’#aide_sociale_à_l’enfance.

    L’ensemble du secteur de la #protection_de_l’enfance – et en particulier le #Conseil_national_de_la_protection_de_l’enfance –, ainsi que la totalité des organisations qui se sont exprimées sur le sujet, ont dénoncé la confusion entre protection de l’enfance et lutte contre l’immigration irrégulière organisée par ce dispositif. Malgré quelques réserves, le Conseil constitutionnel et le Conseil d’État l’ont malheureusement validé.

    Un an après son entrée en vigueur, environ un tiers des départements, pour des motifs divers et variés, continue à refuser d’appliquer ce dispositif.

    Aussi, à défaut de pouvoir contraindre l’ensemble des départements à conclure avec les préfectures une convention permettant de vérifier si ces enfants figurent déjà dans deux #fichiers destinés au contrôle migratoire (#Visabio et #AGDREF) et de les inscrire dans un troisième, dénommé « #appui_à_l’évaluation_de_la_minorité » (#AEM), le gouvernement a décidé de les frapper au porte-monnaie.

    Ainsi, il recourt à présent au #chantage_financier pour contraindre les derniers départements réfractaires à ce mélange des genres. Ce faisant, il fait montre de son acharnement pour imposer sa logique du #soupçon et du #contrôle à la question de l’#accueil et de la protection des mineur⋅es isolé⋅es.

    Nos organisations demandent l’abrogation de ce décret, la mise en œuvre du premier accueil, l’accompagnement socio-éducatif des jeunes isolé⋅es, sans discrimination et dans le strict cadre de la protection de l’enfance.

    https://www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6438

    #France #fichage #migrations #asile #réfugiés #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés #enfance #renvois #expulsions #dissuasion #âge #catégorisation #tri #résistance

    ping @karine4 @isskein @etraces

  • #DJAO - After the Road

    A young refugee tries to live his life in France, fleeing the shadows of his past. Between the weight of his memories and the precarity of being undocumented, he has no other choice than moving forward.

    DJAO has been made to show the psychological marks that most migrants keep from their migration, and how they manage to carry them through their life.

    https://vimeo.com/413128181


    #passé #migrations #réfugiés #asile #film #court-métrage #film_documentaire #témoignage #France #fuite #dignité #survivre #choix #parcours_migratoire #naufrage #Méditerranée #danger #oubli #mémoire #celles_qui_restent #ceux_qui_restent #sans-papiers #peur #renvois #expulsions #danse #Côte_d'Ivoire #réfugiés_ivoiriens #débouté

    Cette personne, visiblement, est logée dans un #hôtel :

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • EU: Damning draft report on the implementation of the Return Directive

    Tineke Strik, the Green MEP responsible for overseeing the passage through the European Parliament of the ’recast Return Directive’, which governs certain common procedures regarding the detention and expulsion of non-EU nationals, has prepared a report on the implementation of the original 2008 Return Directive. It criticises the Commission’s emphasis, since 2017, on punitive enforcement measures, at the expense of alternatives that have not been fully explored or implemented by the Commission or the member states, despite the 2008 legislation providing for them.

    See: DRAFT REPORT on the implementation of the Return Directive (2019/2208(INI)): https://www.statewatch.org/media/documents/news/2020/jun/ep-libe-returns-directive-implementation-draft-rep-9-6-20.pdf

    From the explanatory statement:

    “This Report, highlighting several gaps in the implementation of the Return Directive, is not intended to substitute the still overdue fully-fledged implementation assessment of the Commission. It calls on Member States to ensure compliance with the Return Directive and on the Commission to ensure timely and proper monitoring and support for its implementation, and to enforce compliance if necessary.

    (...)

    With a view to the dual objective of the Return Directive, notably promoting effective returns and ensuring that returns comply with fundamental rights and procedural safeguards, this Report shows that the Directive allows for and supports effective returns, but that most factors impeding effective return are absent in the current discourse, as the effectiveness is mainly stressed and understood as return rate.”

    Parliamentary procedure page: Implementation report on the Return Directive (European Parliament, link: https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2019/2208(INI)&l=en)

    https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/june/eu-damning-draft-report-on-the-implementation-of-the-return-directive
    #Directive_Retour #EU #Europe #Union_européenne #asile #migrations #réfugiés #renvois #expulsions #rétention #détention_administrative #évaluation #identification #efficacité #2008_Return_Directive #régimes_parallèles #retour_volontaire #déboutés #sans-papiers #permis_de_résidence #régularisation #proportionnalité #principe_de_proportionnalité #AVR_programmes #AVR #interdiction_d'entrée_sur_le_territoire #externalisation #Gambie #Bangladesh #Turquie #Ethiopie #Afghanistan #Guinée #Côte_d'Ivoire #droits_humains #Tineke_Strik #risque_de_fuite #fuite #accord #réadmission

    –—

    Quelques passages intéressants tirés du rapport:

    The study shows that Member States make use of the possibility offered in Article 2(2)(a) not to apply the Directive in “border cases”, by creating parallel regimes, where procedures falling outside the scope of the Directive offer less safeguards compared to the regular return procedure, for instance no voluntary return term, no suspensive effect of an appeal and less restrictions on the length of detention. This lower level of protection gives serious reasons for concern, as the fact that border situations may remain outside the scope of the Directive also enhances the risks of push backs and refoulement. (...) Your Rapporteur considers that it is key to ensure a proper assessment of the risk of refoulement prior to the issuance of a return decision. This already takes place in Sweden and France. Although unaccompanied minors are rarely returned, most Member States do not officially ban their return. Their being subject to a return procedure adds vulnerability to their situation, due to the lack of safeguards and legal certainty.

    (p.4)
    #frontières #zones_frontalières #push-backs #refoulement

    Sur les #statistiques et #chiffres de #Eurostat:

    According to Eurostat, Member States issued over 490.000 return decisions in 2019, of which 85% were issued by the ten Member States under the current study. These figures are less reliable then they seem, due to the divergent practices. In some Member States, migrants are issued with a return decision more than once, children are not issued a decision separately, and refusals at the border are excluded.

    Statistics on the percentage of departure being voluntary show significant varieties between the Member States: from 96% in Poland to 7% in Spain and Italy. Germany and the Netherlands have reported not being able to collect data of non-assisted voluntary returns, which is remarkable in the light of the information provided by other Member States. According to Frontex, almost half of the departures are voluntary.

    (p.5)

    As Article 7(4) is often applied in an automatic way, and as the voluntary departure period is often insufficient to organise the departure, many returnees are automatically subject to an entry ban. Due to the different interpretations of a risk of absconding, the scope of the mandatory imposition of an entry ban may vary considerably between the countries. The legislation and practice in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands and Sweden provides for an automatic entry ban if the term for voluntary departure was not granted or respected by the returnee and in other cases, the imposition is optional. In Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and Bulgaria however, legislation or practice provides for an automatic imposition of entry bans in all cases, including cases in which the returnee has left during the voluntary departure period. Also in the Netherlands, migrants with a voluntary departure term can be issued with an entry ban before the term is expired. This raises questions on the purpose and effectiveness of imposing an entry ban, as it can have a discouraging effect if imposed at an early stage. Why leave the territory in time on a voluntary basis if that is not rewarded with the possibility to re-enter? This approach is also at odds with the administrative and non-punitive approach taken in the Directive.

    (p.6)

    National legislation transposing the definition of “risk of absconding” significantly differs, and while several Member States have long lists of criteria which justify finding a risk of absconding (Belgium has 11, France 8, Germany 7, The Netherlands 19), other Member States (Bulgaria, Greece, Poland) do not enumerate the criteria in an exhaustive manner. A broad legal basis for detention allows detention to be imposed in a systematic manner, while individual circumstances are marginally assessed. National practices highlighted in this context also confirm previous studies that most returns take place in the first few weeks and that longer detention hardly has an added value.

    (p.6)

    In its 2016 Communication on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission recognised that cooperation with third countries is essential in ensuring effective and sustainable returns. Since the adoption of this Communication, several informal arrangements have been concluded with third countries, including Gambia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Guinea and Ivory Coast. The Rapporteur regrets that such informal deals are concluded in the complete absence of duly parliamentary scrutiny and democratic and judicial oversight that according to the Treaties the conclusion of formal readmission agreements would warrant.

    (p.7)

    With the informalisation of cooperation with third countries in the field of migration, including with transit countries, also came an increased emphasis on conditionality in terms of return and readmission. The Rapporteur is concerned that funding earmarked for development cooperation is increasingly being redirected away from development and poverty eradication goals.

    (p.7)
    #développement #aide_au_développement #conditionnalité_de_l'aide

    ping @_kg_ @isskein @i_s_ @karine4 @rhoumour

  • Reintegration Handbook - Practical guidance on the design, implementation and monitoring of reintegration assistance

    Overview:
    This Handbook aims to provide practical guidance on the design, implementation and monitoring of reintegration assistance for returnees. While reintegration is a process taking place in different return contexts (for example following spontaneous, forced or assisted voluntary returns, or internal displacement), the Handbook focuses on assistance provided to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country.

    The Handbook has been conceived as a hands-on tool, targeting the various stakeholders involved in the provision of reintegration-related support at different levels and at different stages: project developers, project managers and case managers but also policy makers and other reintegration practitioners. The Handbook is written on the basis that the goal of reintegration assistance is to foster sustainable reintegration, defined in the next section, for returnees and that this requires a whole-of-government approach, through the adoption of coordinated measures, policies, and practices between relevant stakeholders at the international, regional, national and local levels. Each module will specify which target audience it is aimed at.

    Module 1: An integrated approach to reintegration – describes the basic concepts of return and reintegration and explains IOM’s integrated approach to reintegration. It also lays out the general considerations when developing a comprehensive reintegration programme, including assessments, staffing and budgeting.
    Module 2: Reintegration assistance at the individual level – outlines suggested steps for assisting returnees, taking into account the economic, social and psychosocial dimensions of reintegration.
    Module 3: Reintegration assistance at the community level – provides guidance on assessing community needs and engaging the community in reintegration activities. It also provides examples of community-level reintegration initiatives in the economic, social and psychosocial dimensions.
    Module 4: Reintegration assistance at the structural level – proposes ways to strengthen capacities of all actors and to promote stakeholder engagement and ownership in reintegration programming. It suggests approaches for mainstreaming reintegration into existing policies and strategies.
    Module 5: Monitoring and evaluation of reintegration assistance – provides guidance and tools to design programmes, monitor interventions and carry out evaluations to maximize effectiveness and learning
    Annexes provide additional useful tools and further guidance on specific reintegration interventions.

    https://publications.iom.int/fr/books/reintegration-handbook-practical-guidance-design-implementation-an
    #réintégration #IOM #OIM #manuel #handbook #guide #renvois #expulsions

    ping @isskein @rhoumour @_kg_ @karine4 @i_s_

  • « #Retour ». Banalité d’un mot, #brutalité d’une politique

    Au catalogue des euphémismes dont aiment à user les institutions européennes pour camoufler le caractère répressif de la politique migratoire, le terme « retour » figure en bonne place. En langage bureaucratique européen, « retour » veut dire « #expulsion ». Mais, alors qu’expulser une personne étrangère suppose l’intervention d’une autorité pour la contraindre à quitter le territoire où elle est considérée comme indésirable, l’utilisation du mot « retour » donne l’illusion que cette personne serait l’actrice de son départ. Preuve que le mot est inapproprié, le discours européen a été obligé de lui adjoindre un qualificatif pour distinguer ceux des retours qu’il considère comme imposés – il parle alors de « retours forcés » – de ceux qu’il prétend librement consentis, qu’il nomme, toujours abusivement, « retours volontaires ». Il ajoute ici le mensonge à l’euphémisme : dans la grande majorité des cas, les conditions dans lesquelles sont organisés les « retours volontaires » n’en font en réalité qu’un autre habillage de l’expulsion [1].

    C’est sur cette double fiction que s’est construite la directive européenne relative aux normes et procédures communes applicables dans les États membres au retour des ressortissants des pays tiers en séjour irrégulier, communément appelée directive « Retour », adoptée en 2008.

    Cette directive a clos un cycle normatif, constitué d’une dizaine de règlements et de directives, dont l’objet était de définir des règles communes dans les trois domaines censés asseoir la politique d’asile et d’immigration de l’Union européenne (UE), ainsi qu’il en avait été décidé au sommet européen de Tampere en 1999 : l’intégration des immigrés en situation régulière, la protection des demandeurs d’asile et des réfugiés, et la gestion des frontières pour lutter contre l’immigration irrégulière. Très vite, surtout après le 11 septembre 2001 qui a favorisé l’amalgame entre immigration irrégulière et terrorisme, il est clairement apparu que les États membres accordaient la priorité au dernier volet, en traitant la question migratoire sous un angle principalement sécuritaire, avec l’adoption d’une série de mesures qui s’articulent autour de deux objectifs : protéger les frontières et éloigner les indésirables.

    Dès 2001, une directive sur la « reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions d’éloignement » prises dans les différents États membres est adoptée pour faciliter l’expulsion d’un étranger par les autorités d’un autre pays que celui qui l’a ordonnée. En 2002, un « Programme d’action en matière de retour » est élaboré, qui vise à organiser « des retours efficaces, en temps voulu et durables » de plusieurs façons. Parmi celles-ci, figure la coopération opérationnelle entre États membres et avec les pays tiers concernés : il s’agit d’améliorer les outils de mesure, les statistiques et les échanges d’informations entre fonctionnaires et de rationaliser les procédures, les ressources humaines et les moyens matériels afin de faciliter les expulsions. Dans la foulée, l’agence Frontex est créée en 2004. Si, dans ses premières années d’existence, elle a surtout fait parler d’elle pour ses opérations de surveillance des frontières extérieures, notamment maritimes, dès l’origine, elle comptait parmi ses tâches celle de « fournir aux États membres l’appui nécessaire pour organiser des opérations de retour conjointes ».

    Mais un autre volet du « Programme d’action » de 2002 prévoit aussi l’élaboration de normes communes applicables au renvoi des étrangers. Il faudra attendre plusieurs années pour que ce projet se transforme en proposition, puis devienne la directive « Retour ».

    Officiellement, comme précisé dans la première proposition présentée par la Commission européenne en septembre 2005, celle-ci vise à « définir des règles communes claires, transparentes et équitables en matière de retour, d’éloignement, de recours à des mesures coercitives, de garde temporaire et de réadmission, qui prennent pleinement en compte le respect des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales des intéressés [2] ». On relèvera que, bien qu’il s’agisse du principal objet de la directive, il n’est pas fait allusion à l’expulsion, ici appelée « retour » ou « éloignement », non plus qu’à l’enfermement, pourtant pierre angulaire de la mise en œuvre des expulsions : la Commission européenne préfère pudiquement parler de « droit de garde ». La fiction continue.

    Bien loin des principes proclamés (des règles communes transparentes et équitables, dans le respect des droits fondamentaux), la directive de 2008, qualifiée de « directive de la honte » par les associations qui l’ont combattue, consacre au contraire un nivellement par le bas des pratiques des différents États membres. C’est notamment le cas en matière de détention, autorisée jusqu’à 18 mois, mais également sur le plan des garanties procédurales. Au demeurant, l’usage des « mesures coercitives » au cours des expulsions entraîne régulièrement des dérives inquiétantes [3].

    Pour quel résultat ? Pour les observateurs qui en constatent chaque jour les conséquences sur les droits des personnes, dont ce numéro de Plein droit donne quelques illustrations, le bilan de la politique d’expulsion de l’UE est négatif. Au regard des objectifs qu’elle prétend atteindre (nombre d’« éloignements effectifs »), elle semble toujours très en-deçà des attentes. Dans son premier rapport d’évaluation de la directive, rendu public en 2014 [4], la Commission européenne révèle qu’elle a été saisie de « cas flagrants de détention dans des conditions inhumaines », reconnaissant par là que de graves violations des droits étaient commises et restaient impunies au niveau national. Pour autant, déplorant « l’écart considérable entre le nombre de personnes qui s’étaient vu notifier une décision de retour et celles qui avaient effectivement quitté l’UE » (environ le quart), elle n’en conclut pas moins à la nécessité de défendre et d’encourager la poursuite du dispositif, en proposant de « promouvoir des pratiques plus cohérentes et compatibles avec les droits fondamentaux ».

    Elle invite en particulier à un « recours proportionné à des mesures coercitives d’expulsion, des moyens de recours effectif, des garanties dans l’attente du retour, des conditions de rétention humaines et dignes, de même que la protection des personnes vulnérables ». Elle porte une attention particulière aux opérations de retour conjointes menées par l’agence Frontex, annonçant que chacune d’entre elles ferait l’objet de contrôles « indépendants ». Vœu pieux lorsque l’on sait les conditions dans lesquelles sont organisés ces charters d’expulsion [5].

    Si, dans son bilan de 2014, la Commission se félicite que la directive « Retour » ait « contribué à la convergence – et d’une manière générale à une réduction – des durées de rétention maximales dans l’ensemble de l’Union », ajoutant qu’elle constate « une tendance soutenue en faveur d’une plus large mise en œuvre de solutions alternatives à la rétention dans les États membres [6] », la réalité est tout autre. Les États membres, dont la France, continuent en réalité à recourir largement à la rétention en abusant de la marge d’appréciation dont ils disposent quant à la définition du risque de fuite (voir infra). Quant aux garanties procédurales, le Rapporteur spécial des Nations unies pour les droits de l’Homme des personnes migrantes, François Crépeau, s’alarmait déjà en 2013 du fait que le droit au recours effectif reste très fortement limité [7].
    « Frontières intelligentes » contre le « return shopping »

    Un an et demi plus tard, le contexte n’est plus le même. En pleine crise de l’accueil des personnes exilées en Europe, la Commission adopte, en septembre 2015, à l’invitation du Conseil européen, un « Plan d’action de l’UE en matière de retour » [8]. Le ton adopté par la Commission se durcit. Si le retour dit « volontaire » figure toujours comme une voie à privilégier, les conditions de sa mise en œuvre par les États membres doivent être révisées et harmonisées, afin d’éviter qu’elles ne constituent un facteur d’attraction vers les pays où elles sont plus favorables. La rétention doit en principe rester une mesure de dernier ressort mais elle ne doit pas pour autant cesser « tant qu’une perspective raisonnable d’éloignement existe ». Devront s’y ajouter d’autres projets mis sur la table des négociations par la Commission, tel le programme des « frontières intelligentes » de l’UE et la création d’un système d’entrée/sortie des ressortissants de pays tiers qui franchissent les frontières extérieures de l’Union.

    En mars 2017, les mesures proposées dans ce premier plan d’action font l’objet d’un bilan mitigé [9]. Selon la Commission, les taux de retour effectif restent faibles : de 41,8 % en 2014, il s’élève à 42,5 % en 2015. Le ton est alors donné : tous les instruments juridiques, opérationnels, financiers et pratiques disponibles devront être mis au service de la politique de retour.

    Un « Groupe de haut niveau » est créé afin d’étudier les possibilités d’interopérabilité de différents fichiers, existants et à venir, que les agents chargés de l’immigration et des frontières devront pouvoir consulter. Les législations nationales devront être adaptées afin que la décision du refus de séjour ou de rejet d’une demande d’asile, et l’obligation de quitter le territoire soient notifiées dans une seule et même décision, avec une durée de validité illimitée.

    Quant aux garanties procédurales, que la Commission semblait avoir à cœur de préserver lors de sa communication de mars 2014, elles passent au second plan, les États membres étant surtout invités à « éviter toute utilisation abusive des droits et des procédures ».

    Tout comme l’action déployée par l’UE à l’égard de pays tiers pour qu’ils s’engagent à accepter sur leur sol les personnes expulsées depuis l’un des États membres, la « dimension intérieure » de la politique de retour se dévoile dans ce qu’elle a de plus contraignant.

    Un an plus tard, encouragée par les conclusions du Conseil européen du 28 juin 2018 [10], la Commission passera à la vitesse encore supérieure en présentant, dès le 12 septembre, sa proposition de « refonte » de la directive « Retour » [11], identifiant en préambule les deux difficultés auxquelles se heurte toujours, selon elle, la politique de retour [12].

    La première tiendrait à l’insuffisant développement des accords de coopération avec les pays d’origine, alors pourtant qu’ils permettent d’accroître les retours ou les réadmissions dans ces pays au moyen « d’arrangements juridiquement non contraignants ». L’appel à recourir beaucoup plus largement à ce type d’accords irait de pair avec la nécessité « de renforcer le recours à la politique des visas de l’UE en tant qu’outil permettant de faire progresser la coopération avec les pays tiers en matière de retour et de réadmission ». La Commission escompte ainsi « améliorer sensiblement l’effet de levier de l’UE dans ses relations avec les pays d’origine ». On ne saurait mieux dire que la politique européenne des visas n’est pas seulement un moyen de contrôle migratoire à distance : les marchandages auxquels elle donne lieu peuvent aussi s’avérer payants pour assurer le retour de celles et ceux qui, au péril de leur vie, contournent les barrières administratives qu’elle leur oppose.

    La seconde difficulté, au cœur des préoccupations motivant la refonte de la directive, tient à trois obstacles que rencontreraient les États membres dans la mise en œuvre des décisions d’éloignement. D’une part, « des pratiques qui varient d’un État membre à l’autre » et notamment « l’absence de cohérence entre les définitions et interprétations du risque de fuite et du recours à la rétention », ces approches hétérogènes « donnant lieu à la fuite de migrants en situation irrégulière et à des mouvements secondaires » ; d’autre part, « le manque de coopération » de la part des personnes en instance d’éloignement. Enfin, le manque d’équipement des États membres, qui empêche les autorités compétentes « d’échanger rapidement les informations nécessaires en vue de procéder aux retours ».
    Dimension coercitive

    Pour lever ces difficultés, les efforts porteront plus particulièrement sur quatre dispositifs renforçant considérablement la dimension coercitive de la directive de 2008, dont trois sont entièrement nouveaux.

    Il s’agit d’abord de soumettre les personnes en instance d’éloignement à une « obligation de coopérer » à la procédure. La formule révèle les faux semblants du dispositif : la collaboration de ces personnes à leur propre expulsion ne sera obtenue que sous la menace d’un ensemble de sanctions dissuasives. Elles devront fournir toutes les informations et documents justifiant de leur identité, de leurs lieux de résidence antérieurs, ainsi que de leur itinéraire de voyage et pays de transit, et « rester présentes et disponibles » tout au long de la procédure d’éloignement. Tout manquement à ces obligations pourra caractériser le « refus de coopérer » d’où se déduira un « risque de fuite », avec les conséquences qui s’y attacheront ipso facto. Il s’agira d’abord de la privation du délai de départ « volontaire » qui assortit en principe les décisions d’éloignement. Surtout, ce risque de fuite ouvrira la voie à un placement en rétention que l’administration ne sera pas tenue de justifier plus avant. L’alternative à la maigre carotte du départ volontaire sera donc le gros bâton de l’enfermement.

    Assurer « un recours plus efficace à la rétention à l’appui de l’exécution des retours » (il faut comprendre : utiliser massivement la rétention) constitue précisément le deuxième moyen, pour la Commission, d’accroître significativement le nombre d’éloignements. C’est bien l’objectif vers lequel convergent toutes les modifications apportées à la directive de 2008 : caractère dorénavant non limitatif des motifs de placement en rétention énoncés dans la directive, élargissement des critères du risque de fuite justifiant la rétention, apparition d’un motif spécifique visant « les ressortissants qui constituent un danger pour l’ordre public, la sécurité publique ou la sécurité nationale », sorte de fourre-tout laissé à la discrétion des administrations. À quoi s’ajoute l’obligation faite aux États membres de prévoir une durée totale de rétention qui ne puisse être inférieure à 3 mois [13]. Cette évolution vers le « tout détention » est résumée dans la suppression d’un seul mot de l’exposé des motifs, révisé, de la directive : il n’est plus recommandé que le recours à la rétention soit « limité ». Il devra seulement rester « subordonné au respect du principe de proportionnalité en ce qui concerne les moyens utilisés et les objectifs poursuivis ».

    Manifestement convaincue par avance que ni la « coopération » des personnes, même contrainte, ni même un recours débridé à l’enfermement ne suffiront, la Commission œuvre également pour doter la politique de retour des technologies de surveillance de masse, en s’appuyant sur un double principe : garantir la traçabilité des personnes migrantes dans chaque État membre tout en élevant au niveau supranational l’architecture et la maîtrise des outils dédiés à leur contrôle. Chaque État membre devra créer un « système national de gestion des retours », autrement dit un fichier destiné à recueillir et traiter toutes les informations nominatives et personnelles « nécessaires à la mise en œuvre des dispositions de la directive ». Mais, au prétexte ambigu d’en « réduire de manière significative la charge administrative », ces systèmes nationaux devront être reliés non seulement au système d’information Schengen mais aussi à une « plateforme intégrée de gestion des retours » dont l’agence Frontex doit être dotée entre-temps. Si l’initiative des procédures d’éloignement reste une prérogative des États membres, l’Union apparaît bien décidée à en prendre la gestion en mains, quitte à s’affranchir des principes régissant la protection des données personnelles pourvu que l’efficacité de la politique de retour soit au rendez-vous.

    L’accroissement significatif, à partir de l’année 2015, du nombre d’exilé·es qui se sont présenté·es aux frontières de l’Union motive un troisième dispositif, emblématique de l’obsession qui inspire le projet de directive révisée. L’objectif est d’« établir une nouvelle procédure pour le retour rapide des demandeurs d’une protection internationale déboutés à la suite d’une procédure d’asile à la frontière ». Le mécanisme proposé pour l’atteindre est brutal : la personne qui a été maintenue contre son gré à la frontière pendant l’examen de sa demande d’asile doit, après en avoir été déboutée, y être retenue jusqu’à son éloignement effectif et pendant une période maximale de 4 mois. Et pour garantir la rapidité de cet éloignement, il est prévu qu’aucun délai de départ volontaire ne soit accordé, que le délai de recours contre la décision d’éloignement fondée sur le rejet de la demande de protection ne pourra pas excéder 48 heures et que ce recours ne sera suspensif que dans certaines hypothèses et sous certaines conditions. Dans le monde idéal de la Commission, les hotspots et autres dispositifs de tri installés aux frontières de l’Union ne sont pas seulement le point d’arrivée de tous les exilé·es en quête de protection : ils doivent être également le point de départ de l’immense majorité à laquelle cette protection est refusée.

    https://www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6434
    #renvois #expulsions #migrations #asile #réfugiés #déboutés #sans-papiers #mots #terminologie #vocabulaire #euphémisme #retour_forcé #retour_volontaire #retours_volontaires #Plein_Droit

    ping @_kg_ @rhoumour

  • Migrants : les échecs d’un #programme_de_retour_volontaire financé par l’#UE

    Alors qu’il embarque sur un vol de la Libye vers le Nigeria à la fin 2018, James a déjà survécu à un naufrage en Méditerranée, traversé une demi-douzaine d’États africains, été la cible de coups de feu et passé deux ans à être maltraité et torturé dans les centres de détention libyens connus pour la brutalité qui y règne.

    En 2020, de retour dans sa ville de Benin City (Etat d’Edo au Nigéria), James se retrouve expulsé de sa maison après n’avoir pas pu payer son loyer. Il dort désormais à même le sol de son salon de coiffure.

    Sa famille et ses amis l’ont tous rejeté parce qu’il n’a pas réussi à rejoindre l’Europe.

    « Le fait que tu sois de retour n’est source de bonheur pour personne ici. Personne ne semble se soucier de toi [...]. Tu es revenu les #mains_vides », raconte-t-il à Euronews.

    James est l’un des quelque 81 000 migrants africains qui sont rentrés dans leur pays d’origine avec l’aide de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) des Nations unies et le #soutien_financier de l’Union européenne, dans le cadre d’une initiative conjointe de 357 millions d’euros (https://migrationjointinitiative.org). Outre une place sur un vol au départ de la Libye ou de plusieurs autres pays de transit, les migrants se voient promettre de l’argent, un #soutien et des #conseils pour leur permettre de se réintégrer dans leur pays d’origine une fois rentrés chez eux.

    Mais une enquête d’Euronews menée dans sept pays africains a révélé des lacunes importantes dans ce programme, considéré comme la réponse phare de l’UE pour empêcher les migrants d’essayer de se rendre en Europe.

    Des dizaines de migrants ayant participé au programme ont déclaré à Euronews qu’une fois rentrés chez eux, ils ne recevaient aucune aide. Et ceux qui ont reçu une aide financière, comme James, ont déclaré qu’elle était insuffisante.

    Nombreux sont ceux qui envisagent de tenter à nouveau de se rendre en Europe dès que l’occasion se présente.

    « Je ne me sens pas à ma place ici », confie James. « Si l’occasion se présente, je quitte le pays ».

    Sur les 81 000 migrants qui ont été rapatriés depuis 2017, près de 33 000 ont été renvoyés de Libye par avion. Parmi eux, beaucoup ont été victimes de détention, d’abus et de violences de la part de passeurs, de milices et de bandes criminelles. Les conditions sont si mauvaises dans le pays d’Afrique du Nord que le programme est appelé « retour humanitaire volontaire » (VHR), plutôt que programme de « retour volontaire assisté » (AVR) comme ailleurs en Afrique.

    Après trois ans passés en Libye, Mohi, 24 ans, a accepté l’offre d’un vol de retour en 2019. Mais, une fois de retour dans son pays, son programme de réintégration ne s’est jamais concrétisé. « Rien ne nous a été fourni ; ils continuent à nous dire ’demain’ », raconte-t-il à Euronews depuis le nord du Darfour, au Soudan.

    Mohi n’est pas seul. Les propres statistiques de l’OIM sur les rapatriés au Soudan révèlent que seuls 766 personnes sur plus de 2 600 ont reçu un soutien économique. L’OIM attribue cette situation à des taux d’inflation élevés et à une pénurie de biens et d’argent sur place.

    Mais M. Kwaku Arhin-Sam, spécialiste des projets de développement et directeur de l’Institut d’évaluation Friedensau, estime de manière plus générale que la moitié des programmes de réintégration de l’OIM échouent.

    « La plupart des gens sont perdus au bout de quelques jours », explique-t-il.
    Deux tiers des migrants ne terminent pas les programmes de réintégration

    L’OIM elle-même revoit cette estimation à la baisse : l’agence des Nations unies a déclaré à Euronews que jusqu’à présent, seul un tiers des migrants qui ont commencé à bénéficier d’une aide à la réintégration sont allés au bout du processus. Un porte-parole a déclaré que l’initiative conjointe OIM/EU étant un processus volontaire, « les migrants peuvent décider de se désister à tout moment, ou de ne pas s’engager du tout ».

    Un porte-parole de l’OIM ajoute que la réintégration des migrants une fois qu’ils sont rentrés chez eux va bien au-delà du mandat de l’organisation, et « nécessite un leadership fort de la part des autorités nationales », ainsi que « des contributions actives à tous les niveaux de la société ».

    Entre mai 2017 et février 2019, l’OIM a aidé plus de 12 000 personnes à rentrer au Nigeria. Parmi elles, 9 000 étaient « joignables » lorsqu’elles sont rentrées chez elles, 5 000 ont reçu une formation professionnelle et 4 300 ont bénéficié d’une « aide à la réintégration ». Si l’on inclut l’accès aux services de conseil ou de santé, selon l’OIM Nigéria, un total de 7 000 sur 12 000 rapatriés – soit 58 % – ont reçu une aide à la réintégration.

    Mais le nombre de personnes classées comme ayant terminé le programme d’aide à la réintégration n’était que de 1 289. De plus, les recherches de Jill Alpes, experte en migration et chercheuse associée au Centre de recherche sur les frontières de Nimègue, ont révélé que des enquêtes visant à vérifier l’efficacité de ces programmes n’ont été menées qu’auprès de 136 rapatriés.

    Parallèlement, une étude de Harvard sur les Nigérians de retour de Libye (https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/2464/2019/11/Harvard-FXB-Center-Returning-Home-FINAL.pdf) estime que 61,3 % des personnes interrogées ne travaillaient pas après leur retour, et que quelque 16,8 % supplémentaires ne travaillaient que pendant une courte période, pas assez longue pour générer une source de revenus stable. À leur retour, la grande majorité des rapatriés, 98,3 %, ne suivaient aucune forme d’enseignement régulier.

    La commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, a admis à Euronews que « c’est un domaine dans lequel nous avons besoin d’améliorations ». Mme Johansson a déclaré qu’il était trop tôt pour dire quelles pourraient être ces améliorations, mais a maintenu que l’UE avait de bonnes relations avec l’OIM.

    Sandrine, Rachel et Berline, originaires du Cameroun, ont elles accepté de prendre un vol de l’OIM de Misrata, en Libye, à Yaoundé, la capitale camerounaise, en septembre 2018.

    En Libye, elles disent avoir subi des violences, des abus sexuels et avoir déjà risqué leur vie en tentant de traverser la Méditerranée. À cette occasion, elles ont été interceptées par les garde-côtes libyens et renvoyées en Libye.

    Une fois rentrées au Cameroun, Berline et Rachel disent n’avoir reçu ni argent ni soutien de l’OIM. Sandrine a reçu environ 900 000 fcfa (1 373,20 euros) pour payer l’éducation de ses enfants et lancer une petite entreprise – mais cela n’a pas duré longtemps.

    « Je vendais du poulet au bord de la route à Yaoundé, mais le projet ne s’est pas bien déroulé et je l’ai abandonné », confie-t-elle.

    Elle se souvient aussi d’avoir accouché dans un centre de détention de Tripoli avec des fusillades comme fond sonore.

    Toutes les trois ont affirmé qu’au moment de leur départ pour le Cameroun, elles n’avaient aucune idée de l’endroit où elles allaient dormir une fois arrivées et qu’elles n’avaient même pas d’argent pour appeler leur famille afin de les informer de leur retour.

    « Nous avons quitté le pays, et quand nous y sommes revenues, nous avons trouvé la même situation, parfois même pire. C’est pourquoi les gens décident de repartir », explique Berline.

    En novembre 2019, moins de la moitié des 3 514 migrants camerounais qui ont reçu une forme ou une autre de soutien de la part de l’OIM étaient considérés comme « véritablement intégrés » (https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/ENG_Press%20release%20COPIL_EUTF%20UE_IOM_Cameroon.pdf).

    Seydou, un rapatrié malien, a reçu de l’argent de l’OIM pour payer son loyer pendant trois mois et les factures médicales de sa femme malade. Il a également reçu une formation commerciale et un moto-taxi.

    Mais au Mali, il gagne environ 15 euros par jour, alors qu’en Algérie, où il travaillait illégalement, il avait été capable de renvoyer chez lui plus de 1 300 euros au total, ce qui a permis de financer la construction d’une maison pour son frère dans leur village.

    Il tente actuellement d’obtenir un visa qui lui permettrait de rejoindre un autre de ses frères en France.

    Seydou est cependant l’un des rares Maliens chanceux. Les recherches de Jill Alpes, publiées par Brot für die Welt et Medico (l’agence humanitaire des Églises protestantes en Allemagne), ont révélé que seuls 10 % des migrants retournés au Mali jusqu’en janvier 2019 avaient reçu un soutien quelconque de l’OIM.

    L’OIM, quant à elle, affirme que 14 879 Maliens ont entamé le processus de réintégration – mais ce chiffre ne révèle pas combien de personnes l’ont achevé.
    Les stigmates du retour

    Dans certains cas, l’argent que les migrants reçoivent est utilisé pour financer une nouvelle tentative pour rejoindre l’Europe.

    Dans un des cas, une douzaine de personnes qui avaient atteint l’Europe et avaient été renvoyées chez elles ont été découvertes parmi les survivants du naufrage d’un bateau en 2019 (https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/21407/mauritanian-coast-guard-intercepts-boat-carrying-around-190-migrants-i se dirigeait vers les îles Canaries. « Ils étaient revenus et ils avaient décidé de reprendre la route », a déclaré Laura Lungarotti, chef de la mission de l’OIM en Mauritanie.

    Safa Msehli, porte-parole de l’OIM, a déclaré à Euronews que l’organisation ne pouvait pas empêcher des personnes de tenter de repartir vers l’Europe une fois revenues.

    « C’est aux gens de décider s’ils veulent ou non émigrer et dans aucun de ses différents programmes, l’OIM ne prévoit pas d’empêcher les gens de repartir », a-t-elle expliqué.

    Qu’est-ce que l’OIM ?

    A partir de 2016, l’OIM s’est redéfinie comme agence des Nations unies pour les migrations, et en parallèle son budget a augmenté rapidement (https://governingbodies.iom.int/system/files/en/council/110/C-110-10%20-%20Director%20General%27s%20report%20to%20the%20110). Il est passé de 242,2 millions de dollars US (213 millions d’euros) en 1998 à plus de 2 milliards de dollars US (1,7 milliard d’euros) à l’automne 2019, soit une multiplication par huit. Bien qu’elle ne fasse pas partie des Nations unies, l’OIM est désormais une « organisation apparentée », avec un statut similaire à celui d’un prestataire privé.

    L’UE et ses États membres sont collectivement les principaux contributeurs au budget de l’OIM (https://governingbodies.iom.int/system/files/en/council/110/Statements/EU%20coordinated%20statement%20-%20Point%2013%20-%20final%20IOM), leurs dons représentant près de la moitié de son financement opérationnel.

    De son côté, l’OIM tient à mettre en évidence sur son site web les cas où son programme de retour volontaire a été couronné de succès, notamment celui de Khadeejah Shaeban, une rapatriée soudanaise revenue de Libye qui a pu monter un atelier de couture.

    –-
    Comment fonctionne le processus d’aide à la réintégration ?
    Les migrants embarquent dans un avion de l’OIM sur la base du volontariat et retournent dans leur pays ;
    Ils ont droit à des conseils avant et après le voyage ;
    Chaque « rapatrié » peut bénéficier de l’aide de bureaux locaux, en partenariat avec des ONG locales ;
    L’assistance à l’accueil après l’arrivée peut comprendre l’accueil à l’aéroport, l’hébergement pour la nuit, une allocation en espèces pour les besoins immédiats, une première assistance médicale, une aide pour le voyage suivant, une assistance matérielle ;
    Une fois arrivés, les migrants sont enregistrés et vont dans un centre d’hébergement temporaire où ils restent jusqu’à ce qu’ils puissent participer à des séances de conseil avec le personnel de l’OIM. Des entretiens individuels doivent aider les migrants à identifier leurs besoins. Les migrants en situation vulnérable reçoivent des conseils supplémentaires, adaptés à leur situation spécifique ;
    Cette assistance est généralement non monétaire et consiste en des cours de création d’entreprise, des formations professionnelles (de quelques jours à six mois/un an), des salons de l’emploi, des groupes de discussion ou des séances de conseil ; l’aide à la création de micro-entreprises. Toutefois, pour certains cas vulnérables, une assistance en espèces est fournie pour faire face aux dépenses quotidiennes et aux besoins médicaux ;
    Chaque module comprend des activités de suivi et d’évaluation afin de déterminer l’efficacité des programmes de réintégration.

    –-

    Des migrants d’#Afghanistan et du #Yémen ont été renvoyés dans ces pays dans le cadre de ce programme, ainsi que vers la Somalie, l’Érythrée et le Sud-Soudan, malgré le fait que les pays de l’UE découragent tout voyage dans ces régions.

    En vertu du droit international relatif aux Droits de l’homme, le principe de « #non-refoulement » garantit que nul ne doit être renvoyé dans un pays où il risque d’être torturé, d’être soumis à des traitements cruels, inhumains ou dégradants ou de subir d’autres préjudices irréparables. Ce principe s’applique à tous les migrants, à tout moment et quel que soit leur statut migratoire.

    L’OIM fait valoir que des procédures sont en place pour informer les migrants pendant toutes les phases précédant leur départ, y compris pour ceux qui sont vulnérables, en leur expliquant le soutien que l’organisation peut leur apporter une fois arrivés au pays.

    Mais même lorsque les migrants atterrissent dans des pays qui ne sont pas en proie à des conflits de longue durée, comme le Nigeria, certains risquent d’être confrontés à des dangers et des menaces bien réelles.

    Les principes directeurs du Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) sur la protection internationale considèrent que les femmes ou les mineurs victimes de trafic ont le droit de demander le statut de réfugié. Ces populations vulnérables risquent d’être persécutées à leur retour, y compris au Nigeria, voire même d’être à nouveau victime de traite.
    Forcer la main ?

    Le caractère volontaire contestable des opérations de retour s’étend également au Niger voisin, pays qui compte le plus grand nombre de migrants assistés par l’OIM et qui est présenté comme la nouvelle frontière méridionale de l’Europe.

    En 2015, le Niger s’est montré disposé à lutter contre la migration en échange d’un dédommagement de l’UE, mais des centaines de milliers de migrants continuent de suivre les routes à travers le désert en direction du nord pendant que le business du trafic d’êtres humains est florissant.

    Selon le Conseil européen sur les réfugiés et les exilés, une moyenne de 500 personnes sont expulsées d’Algérie vers le Niger chaque semaine, au mépris du droit international.

    La police algérienne détient, identifie et achemine les migrants vers ce qu’ils appellent le « #point zéro », situé à 15 km de la frontière avec le Niger. De là, les hommes, femmes et enfants sont contraints de marcher dans le désert pendant environ 25 km pour atteindre le campement le plus proche.

    « Ils arrivent à un campement frontalier géré par l’OIM (Assamaka) dans des conditions épouvantables, notamment des femmes enceintes souffrant d’hémorragies et en état de choc complet », a constaté Felipe González Morales, le rapporteur spécial des Nations unies, après sa visite en octobre 2018 (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23698%26LangID).

    Jill Alpes, au Centre de recherche sur les frontières de Nimègue, estime que ces expulsions sont la raison principale pour laquelle les migrants acceptent d’être renvoyés du Niger. Souvent repérés lors d’opérations de recherche et de sauvetage de l’OIM dans le désert, ces migrants n’ont guère d’autre choix que d’accepter l’aide de l’organisation et l’offre de rapatriement qui s’ensuit.

    Dans ses travaux de recherche, Mme Alpes écrit que « seuls les migrants qui acceptent de rentrer au pays peuvent devenir bénéficiaire du travail humanitaire de l’OIM. Bien que des exceptions existent, l’OIM offre en principe le transport d’Assamakka à Arlit uniquement aux personnes expulsées qui acceptent de retourner dans leur pays d’origine ».

    Les opérations de l’IOM au Niger

    M. Morales, le rapporteur spécial des Nations unies, semble être d’accord (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23698%26LangID). Il a constaté que « de nombreux migrants qui ont souscrit à l’aide au retour volontaire sont victimes de multiples violations des droits de l’Homme et ont besoin d’une protection fondée sur le droit international », et qu’ils ne devraient donc pas être renvoyés dans leur pays. « Cependant, très peu d’entre eux sont orientés vers une procédure de détermination du statut de réfugié ou d’asile, et les autres cas sont traités en vue de leur retour ».

    « Le fait que le Fonds fiduciaire de l’Union européenne apporte un soutien financier à l’OIM en grande partie pour sensibiliser les migrants et les renvoyer dans leur pays d’origine, même lorsque le caractère volontaire est souvent douteux, compromet son approche de la coopération au développement fondée sur les droits », indique le rapporteur spécial des Nations unies.
    Des contrôles insuffisants

    Loren Landau, professeur spécialiste des migrations et du développement au Département du développement international d’Oxford, affirme que le travail de l’OIM souffre en plus d’un manque de supervision indépendante.

    « Il y a très peu de recherches indépendantes et beaucoup de rapports. Mais ce sont tous des rapports écrits par l’OIM. Ils commandent eux-même leur propre évaluation , et ce, depuis des années », détaille le professeur.

    Dans le même temps, le Dr. Arhin-Sam, spécialiste lui de l’évaluation des programmes de développement, remet en question la responsabilité et la redevabilité de l’ensemble de la structure, arguant que les institutions et agences locales dépendent financièrement de l’OIM.

    « Cela a créé un haut niveau de dépendance pour les agences nationales qui doivent évaluer le travail des agences internationales comme l’OIM : elles ne peuvent pas être critiques envers l’OIM. Alors que font-elles ? Elles continuent à dire dans leurs rapports que l’OIM fonctionne bien. De cette façon, l’OIM peut ensuite se tourner vers l’UE et dire que tout va bien ».

    Selon M. Arhin-Sam, les ONG locales et les agences qui aident les rapatriés « sont dans une compétition très dangereuse entre elles » pour obtenir le plus de travail possible des agences des Nations unies et entrer dans leurs bonnes grâces.

    « Si l’OIM travaille avec une ONG locale, celle-ci ne peut plus travailler avec le HCR. Elle se considère alors chanceuse d’être financée par l’OIM et ne peuvent donc pas la critiquer », affirme-t-il.

    Par ailleurs, l’UE participe en tant qu’observateur aux organes de décision du HCR et de l’OIM, sans droit de vote, et tous les États membres de l’UE sont également membres de l’OIM.

    « Le principal bailleur de fonds de l’OIM est l’UE, et ils doivent se soumettre aux exigences de leur client. Cela rend le partenariat très suspect », souligne M. Arhin-Sam. « [Lorsque les fonctionnaires européens] viennent évaluer les projets, ils vérifient si tout ce qui est écrit dans le contrat a été fourni. Mais que cela corresponde à la volonté des gens et aux complexités de la réalité sur le terrain, c’est une autre histoire ».
    Une relation abusive

    « Les États africains ne sont pas nécessairement eux-mêmes favorables aux migrants », estime le professeur Landau. « L’UE a convaincu ces États avec des accords bilatéraux. S’ils s’opposent à l’UE, ils perdront l’aide internationale dont ils bénéficient aujourd’hui. Malgré le langage du partenariat, il est évident que la relation entre l’UE et les États africains ressemble à une relation abusive, dans laquelle un partenaire est dépendant de l’autre ».

    Les chercheurs soulignent que si les retours de Libye offrent une voie de sortie essentielle pour les migrants en situation d’extrême danger, la question de savoir pourquoi les gens sont allés en Libye en premier lieu n’est jamais abordée.

    Une étude réalisée par l’activiste humanitaire libyenne Amera Markous (https://www.cerahgeneve.ch/files/6115/7235/2489/Amera_Markous_-_MAS_Dissertation_2019.pdf) affirme que les migrants et les réfugiés sont dans l’impossibilité d’évaluer en connaissance de cause s’ils doivent retourner dans leur pays quand ils se trouvent dans une situation de détresse, comme par exemple dans un centre de détention libyen.

    « Comment faites-vous en sorte qu’ils partent parce qu’ils le veulent, ou simplement parce qu’ils sont désespérés et que l’OIM leur offre cette seule alternative ? » souligne la chercheuse.

    En plus des abus, le stress et le manque de soins médicaux peuvent influencer la décision des migrants de rentrer chez eux. Jean-Pierre Gauci, chercheur principal à l’Institut britannique de droit international et comparé, estime, lui, que ceux qui gèrent les centres de détention peuvent faire pression sur un migrant emprisonné pour qu’il s’inscrive au programme.

    « Il existe une situation de pouvoir, perçu ou réel, qui peut entraver le consentement effectif et véritablement libre », explique-t-il.

    En réponse, l’OIM affirme que le programme Retour Humanitaire Volontaire est bien volontaire, que les migrants peuvent changer d’avis avant d’embarquer et décider de rester sur place.

    « Il n’est pas rare que des migrants qui soient prêts à voyager, avec des billets d’avion et des documents de voyage, changent d’avis et restent en Libye », déclare un porte-parole de l’OIM.

    Mais M. Landau affirme que l’initiative UE-OIM n’a pas été conçue dans le but d’améliorer la vie des migrants.

    « L’objectif n’est pas de rendre les migrants heureux ou de les réintégrer réellement, mais de s’en débarrasser d’une manière qui soit acceptable pour les Européens », affirme le chercheur.

    « Si par ’fonctionner’, nous entendons se débarrasser de ces personnes, alors le projet fonctionne pour l’UE. C’est une bonne affaire. Il ne vise pas à résoudre les causes profondes des migrations, mais crée une excuse pour ce genre d’expulsions ».

    https://fr.euronews.com/2020/06/22/migrants-les-echecs-d-un-programme-de-retour-volontaire-finance-par-l-u
    #retour_volontaire #échec #campagne #dissuasion #migrations #asile #réfugiés #IOM #renvois #expulsions #efficacité #réintégration #EU #Union_européenne #Niger #Libye #retour_humanitaire_volontaire (#VHR) #retour_volontaire_assisté (#AVR) #statistiques #chiffres #aide_à_la_réintégration #Nigeria #réfugiés_nigérians #travail #Cameroun #migrerrance #stigmates #stigmatisation #Assamaka #choix #rapatriement #Fonds_fiduciaire_de_l'Union européenne #fonds_fiduciaire #coopération_au_développement #aide_au_développement #HCR #partenariat #pouvoir

    –---
    Ajouté à la métaliste migrations & développement (et plus précisément en lien avec la #conditionnalité_de_l'aide) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/733358#message768702

    ping @rhoumour @karine4 @isskein @_kg_

  • Enfants migrants enfermés : la grande #hypocrisie

    La France condamnée six fois depuis 2012

    En dépit de cette Convention, l’UE n’interdit pas la rétention des enfants. La directive « retour » de 2008 l’autorise comme « dernier ressort quand aucune autre #mesure_coercitive n’est possible pour mener à bien la procédure de #retour », nous précise le commissaire européen chargé de la migration. « L’Europe a toujours eu pour priorité la protection des enfants en migrations », explique Dimítris Avramópoulos. Seulement, la Commission européenne semble avoir un objectif plus important : garantir les expulsions. « Une interdiction absolue ne permettrait pas aux États membres d’assurer pleinement les procédures de retour, affirme le commissaire, car cela permettrait la fuite des personnes et donc l’annulation des expulsions. » De là à dire que la Commission propose de retenir les enfants pour mieux expulser les parents, il n’y a qu’un pas.

    Toutefois, rares sont les États de l’UE à assumer publiquement. Des enfants derrière les barreaux, c’est rarement bon pour l’image. L’immense majorité d’entre eux cachent la réalité derrière les noms fleuris qu’ils inventent pour désigner les prisons où sont enfermés des milliers de mineurs en Europe (seuls ou avec leurs parents). En #Norvège, comme l’a déjà raconté Mediapart, le gouvernement les a baptisées « #unité_familiale » ; en #Hongrie, ce sont les « #zones_de_transit » ; en #Italie, les « #hotspots » ; en #Grèce, « les #zones_sécurisées ». Autant d’euphémismes que de pays européens. Ces endroits privatifs de liberté n’ont parfois pas de nom, comme en #Allemagne où on les désigne comme « les #procédures_aéroports ». Une manière pour « les États de déguiser le fait qu’il s’agit de détention », juge Manfred Nowak.

    Certains d’entre eux frisent carrément le #déni. L’Allemagne considère par exemple qu’elle ne détient pas d’enfants. Et pourtant, comme Investigate Europe a pu le constater, il existe bien une zone fermée à l’#aéroport de #Berlin dont les murs sont bardés de dessins réalisés par les enfants demandeurs d’asile et/ou en phase d’expulsion. Étant donné que les familles sont libres de grimper dans un avion et de quitter le pays quand elles le souhaitent, il ne s’agit pas de détention, défend Berlin. Même logique pour le gouvernement hongrois qui enferme les mineurs dans les zones de transit à la frontière. Comme ils sont libres de repartir dans l’autre sens, on ne peut parler à proprement parler de #prison, répète l’exécutif dans ses prises de parole publiques.

    L’#invisibilisation ne s’arrête pas là. Le nombre d’enfants enfermés est l’un des rares phénomènes que l’UE ne chiffre pas. Il s’agit pourtant, d’après notre estimation, de plusieurs milliers de mineurs (au moins). Le phénomène serait même en augmentation en Europe « depuis que les États membres ont commencé à rétablir les contrôles aux frontières et à prendre des mesures plus dures, y compris dans des pays où la détention des enfants avait été totalement abandonnée au profit de méthodes alternatives », constate Tsvetomira Bidart, chargée des questions de migrations pour l’Unicef.

    En dépit de son insistance, même l’agence spécialisée des Nations unies n’est pas parvenue à se procurer des statistiques précises sur le nombre d’enfants enfermés dans l’UE. Et pour cause, précise Bidart, « la réglementation européenne n’impose pas de fournir ces statistiques ». Qui plus est, certains États membres procéderaient « à des détentions illégales d’enfants » et donc – logique – ne les comptabiliseraient pas. Quoi qu’il en soit, il existe un véritable chiffre noir et jusqu’à aujourd’hui, aucune volonté politique de sortir ces enfants de l’ombre où on les a placés. « Publier des statistiques de qualité, conclut l’experte, c’est la clef de la visibilité. »

    Le gouvernement français semble, lui, tenir des statistiques, seulement il rechigne à fournir ses chiffres à la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH), comme nous l’a révélé la juriste responsable du suivi de la France auprès de la juridiction internationale. Chantal Gallant intervient une fois que le pays est condamné en s’assurant que les autorités prennent bien des mesures pour que les violations des droits humains ne se reproduisent pas. La France étant le pays de l’UE le plus condamné concernant les conditions de détention des mineurs migrants, elle a du pain sur la planche. Déjà six fois depuis 2012… Si l’on en croit la juriste, les dernières données fournies par la #France dateraient de 2016. Quatre ans. D’après elle, la Cour les a réclamées à plusieurs reprises, sans que ses interlocuteurs français – le ministère des affaires étrangères et la représentation française au Conseil de l’Europe – ne donnent suite.

    Chantal Gallant confesse toutefois « qu’elle a mis de côté le dossier » depuis août 2018, car ses interlocuteurs lui avaient certifié que la France allait limiter la rétention des mineurs en #CRA (ces centres où sont enfermés les sans-papiers en vue de leur expulsion) à 5 jours, au moment du débat sur la loi « asile et immigration » de Gérard Collomb. Cela n’a pas été fait, bien au contraire : le Parlement a décidé alors de doubler la durée de rétention maximale, y compris des familles avec enfants (il n’y a jamais de mineurs isolés), la faisant passer de 45 à 90 jours, son record historique. Une durée parmi les plus importantes d’Europe (l’Angleterre est à 24 heures, la Hongrie n’en a pas) et une violation probable de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme. « Ce que je peux dire, c’est que la durée de 90 jours ne me semble pas en conformité avec la jurisprudence de la Cour, précise Chantal Gallant. Nous considérons qu’au-delà de 7 jours de rétention, le traumatisme créé chez l’enfant est difficile à réparer. »

    La situation est-elle en train de changer ? Le 3 juin, le député Florent Boudié (LREM) a été désigné rapporteur d’une proposition de loi sur le sujet, en gestation depuis deux ans, véritable arlésienne de l’Assemblée nationale. En janvier, l’assistante du parlementaire nous faisait encore part d’« un problème d’écriture sur cette question délicate »… Alors que de nombreux élus de la majorité poussaient pour plafonner la rétention des mineurs à 48 heures, la version déposée le 12 mai reste scotchée à cinq jours tout de même. Et son examen, envisagé un temps pour le 10 juin en commission des lois, n’est toujours pas inscrit à l’ordre du jour officiel. « La reprogrammation est prévue pour l’automne dans la “niche” LREM », promet désormais Florent Boudié.

    En l’état, elle ne vaudrait pas pour le département français de #Mayotte, visé par un régime dérogatoire « compte tenu du contexte de fortes tensions sociales, économiques et sanitaires ». Surtout, elle ne concerne que les centres de rétention et non les zones d’attente. Les enfants comme Aïcha, Ahmad et Mehdi pourront toujours être enfermés jusqu’à 20 jours consécutifs en violation des conventions internationales signées par la France.

    À l’heure où nous écrivions ces lignes (avant le confinement lié au Covid-19), les deux orphelins marocains avaient été confiés par le juge des enfants à l’Aide sociale à l’enfance. « Le jour où on nous a libérés, j’étais si content que j’ai failli partir en oubliant mes affaires ! », s’esclaffait Mehdi, assis à la terrasse du café. Comme la plupart des mineurs isolés âgés de plus de 15 ans, ils ont été placés dans un hôtel du centre de Marseille avec un carnet de Ticket-Restaurant en poche. La moitié des six mineurs sauvés du conteneur logés au même endroit, eux, ont disparu dans la nature, selon leurs avocates. Ont-ils fugué pour rejoindre des proches ? Ont-ils fait de mauvaises rencontres dans les rues de la Cité phocéenne ? Personne ne sait ni ne semble s’en préoccuper.

    Mehdi et Ahmad, eux, n’ont aucune intention de mettre les voiles. Les deux orphelins de Melilla n’ont qu’une hâte : reprendre le chemin de l’école, l’un pour devenir plombier, l’autre coiffeur. Ils ne sont qu’au début du chemin mais, pour l’heure, ils veulent croire que « la belle vie » commence enfin.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/180620/enfants-migrants-enfermes-la-grande-hypocrisie?page_article=2
    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #enfants #enfance #détention_administration #rétention #emprisonnement #enfermement #Europe #retours #renvois #expulsions #euphémisme #mots #vocabulaire #terminologie #statistiques #chiffres #transparence

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • UK Deportations 2020: how BA, #Easyjet and other airlines collaborate with the border regime

    The Home Office’s deportation machine has slowed during the corona crisis, with hundreds of people released from detention. But a recent charter flight to Poland shows the motor is still ticking over. Will things just go “back to normal” as the lockdown lifts, or can anti-deportation campaigners push for a more radical shift? This report gives an updated overview of the UK deportation system and focuses in on the role of scheduled flights run by major airlines including: #BA, Easyjet, #Kenya_Airways, #Qatar_Airways, #Turkish_Airlines, #Ethiopian_Airlines, #Air_France, #Royal_Jordanian, and #Virgin.

    On 30 April, with UK airports largely deserted during the Covid-19 lockdown, a Titan Airways charter plane took off from Stansted airport deporting 35 people to Poland. This was just a few days after reports of charter flights in the other direction, as UK farmers hired planes to bring in Eastern European fruit-pickers.

    The Home Office’s deportation machine has slowed during the corona crisis. Hundreds of people have been released from detention centres, with detainee numbers dropping by 900 over the first four months of 2020. But the Poland flight signals that the Home Office motor is still ticking over. As in other areas, perhaps the big question now is whether things will simply go “back to normal” as the lockdown lifts. Or can anti-deportation campaigners use this window to push for a more radical shift?
    An overview of the UK’s deportation machine

    Last year, the UK Home Office deported over seven thousand people. While the numbers of people “removed” have been falling for several years, deportation remains at the heart of the government’s strategy (if that is the term) for “tackling illegal immigration”. It is the ultimate threat behind workplace and dawn raids, rough-sleeper round-ups, “right to rent” checks, reporting centre queues, and other repressive architecture of the UK Border Regime.

    This report gives an overview of the current state of UK deportations, focusing on scheduled flights run by major airlines. Our previous reports on UK deportations have mainly looked at charter flights: where the Home Office aims to fill up chartered planes to particular destinations, under heavy guard and typically at night from undisclosed locations. These have been a key focus for anti-deportation campaigners for a number of reasons including their obvious brutality, and their use as a weapon to stifle legal and direct resistance. However, the majority of deportations are on scheduled flights. Deportees are sitting – at the back handcuffed to private security “escorts” – amongst business or holiday travellers.

    These deportations cannot take place without extensive collaboration from businesses. The security guards are provided by outsourcing company Mitie. The tickets are booked by business travel multinational Carlson Wagonlit. The airlines themselves are household names, from British Airways to Easyjet. This report explains how the Home Office and its private sector collaborators work together as a “deportation machine” held together by a range of contractual relationships.

    Some acknowledgements

    Many individuals and campaign groups helped with information used in this report. In particular, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants shared their valuable research and legal advice, discussed below.

    We have produced this report in collaboration with the Air Deportation Project led by William Walters at the University of Carleton in Canada, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Corporate Watch received funding from this project as a contribution for our work on this report.

    Names, numbers

    First a quick snapshot of deportation numbers, types and destinations. We also need to clear up some terminology.

    We will use the term “deportations” to refer to all cases where the Home Office moves someone out of the country under direct force (for scheduled flights, this usually means handcuffed to a security “escort”). In the Home Office’s own jargon, these are called “enforced returns”, and the word “deportation” is reserved for people ejected on “public policy” rather than “immigration” grounds – mostly Foreign National Offenders who have been convicted by criminal courts. The Home Office refers to deportations carried out under immigration law euphemistically, calling them “removals” or “returns”.i

    As well as “enforced returns”, there are also so-called “voluntary returns”. This means that there is no direct use of force – no guard, no leg or arm restraints. But the term “voluntary” is stretched. Many of these take place under threat of force: e.g., people are pressured to sign “voluntary return” agreements to avoid being forcibly deported, or as the only chance of being released from detention. In other cases, people may agree to “voluntary return” as the only escape route from a limbo of reporting controls, lack of rights to work or rent legally, or destitution threatened by “no recourse to public funds”.

    In 2019, the Home Office reported a total of 18,782 returns: 7,361 “enforced” and 11,421 “voluntary”.ii
    These figures include 5,110 “Foreign National Offenders” (27%). (The Home Office says the majority of these were enforced returns, although no precise figure is provided.)
    There is a notable trend of declining removals, both enforced and “voluntary”. For example, in 2015 there were 41,789 returns altogether, 13,690 enforced and 28,189 “voluntary”. Both enforced and voluntary figures have decreased every year since then.
    Another notable trend concerns the nationalities of deportees. Europeans make up an increasing proportion of enforced deportations. 3,498, or 48%, of all enforced returns in 2019 were EU citizens – and this does not include other heavily targeted non-EU European nationalities such as Albanians. In 2015, there were 3,848 EU enforced returns – a higher absolute figure, but only 28% of a much higher overall total. In contrast, EU nationals still make up a very small percentage of “voluntary” returns – there were only 107 EU “voluntary returns” in 2019.
    The top nationalities for enforced returns in 2019 were: Romania (18%), Albania (12%), Poland (9%), Brazil (8%) and Lithuania (6%). For voluntary returns they were: India (16%), China (9%), Pakistan (9%).

    We won’t present any analysis of these figures and trends here. The latest figures show continuing evidence of patterns we looked at in our book The UK Border Regime.iii One key point we made there was that, as the resources and physical force of the detention and deportation system are further diminished, the Border Regime is more than ever just a “spectacle” of immigration enforcement – a pose for media and key voter audiences, rather than a realistic attempt to control migration flows. We also looked at how the scapegoat groups targeted by this spectacle have shifted over recent decades – including, most recently, a new focus on European migration accompanying, or in fact anticipating, the Brexit debate.

    Deportation destinations

    Home Office Immigration Statistics also provide more detailed dataiv on the destinations people are “returned” to, which will be important when we come to look at routes and airline involvement. Note that, while there is a big overlap between destinations and nationalities, they are of course not the same thing. For example, many of those deported to France and other western European countries are “third country” removals of refugees under the Dublin agreement – in which governments can deport an asylum seeker where they have already been identified in another EU country.

    Here are the top 20 destinations for deportations in 2019 – by which, to repeat, we mean all enforced returns:

    It is worth comparing these figures with a similar table of top 20 deportation destinations in the last 10 years – between 2010 and 2019. This comparison shows very strongly the recent shift to targeting Europeans.

    The Home Office: who is targeted and how

    As we will see, the actual physical business of deporting people is outsourced to private companies. The state’s role remains giving the orders about who is targeted for arrest and detention, who is then released, and who is forced onto a plane. Here we’ll just take a very quick look at the decision-making structures at work on the government side. This is based on the much more detailed account in The UK Border Regime.

    The main state body responsible for immigration control in the UK is the Home Office, the equivalent of other countries’ Interior Ministries. In its current set-up, the Home Office has three divisions: Homeland Security, which runs security and intelligence services; Public Safety, which oversees the police and some other institutions; and Borders, Immigration and Citizenship. The last of these is further divided into three “directorates”: UK Visas and Immigration, which determines visa and asylum applications; Border Force, responsible for control at the frontiers; Immigration Enforcement, responsible for control within the national territory – including detention and deportations. Immigration Enforcement itself has an array of further departments and units. Regular restructuring and reshuffling of all these structures is known to bewilder immigration officers themselves, contributing to the Home Office’s notoriously low morale.v

    At the top of the tree is the Home Secretary (interior minister), supported by a more junior Immigration Minister. Along with the most senior civil servants and advisors, these ministers will be directly involved in setting top-level policies on deportations.

    For example, an enquiry led by then prisons and probation ombudsman Stephen Shaw into the Yarl’s Wood detention centre revolt in 2002 has given us some valuable insight into the development of modern Home Office deportation policy under the last Labour government. Then Home Secretary Jack Straw, working with civil servants including the Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Omand, introduced the first deportation targets we are aware of, in 2000. They agreed a plan to deport 12,000 people in 2000-1, rising to 30,000 people the next year, and eventually reaching 57,000 in 2003-4.vi

    Nearly two decades later, Home Secretary Amber Rudd was pushed to resign after a leak confirmed that the Home Office continued to operate a deportation targets policy, something of which she had denied knowledge.vii The 2017-18 target, revealed in a leaked letter to Rudd from Immigration Enforcement’s director general Hugh Ind, was for 12,800 enforced returns.viii

    As the figures discussed above show, recent austerity era Conservative governments are more modest than the last Labour government in their overall deportation targets, and have moved to target different groups. Jack Straw’s deportation programme was almost entirely focused on asylum seekers whose claims had been refused. This policy derived from what the Blair government saw as an urgent need to respond to media campaigns demonising asylum seekers. Twenty years on, asylum seekers now make up a minority of deportees, and have been overtaken by new media bogeymen including European migrants.

    In addition, recent Home Office policy has put more effort into promoting “voluntary” returns – largely for cost reasons, as security guards and detention are expensive. This was the official rationale behind Theresa May’s infamous “racist van” initiative, where advertising vans drove round migrant neighbourhoods parading “Go Home” slogans and a voluntary return hotline number.

    How do Home Office political targets translate into operations on the ground? We don’t know all the links, but can trace some main mechanisms. Enforced returns begin with arrests. One of the easiest ways to find potential deportees is to grab people as they walk in to sign at an Immigration Reporting Centre. 80,000 migrants in the UK are “subject to reporting requirements”, and all Reporting Centres include short-term holding cells.ix Other deportees are picked up during immigration raids – such as daytime and evening raids on workplaces, or dawn raids to catch “immigration offenders” in their beds.x

    Both reporting centre caseworkers and Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) raid squads are issued with targets and incentives to gather deportees. An Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) report from 2017 explains how reporting centre staff work specifically to deportation targets. The inspector also tells us how:

    Staff at the London Reporting Centres worked on the basis that to meet their removal targets they needed to detain twice the number of individuals, as around half of those detained would later raise a barrier to removal and be released from detention.

    ICE raid teams are set monthly priorities by national and regional commanders, which may include targeting specific nationalities for deportation. For example, the Home Office has repeatedly denied that it sets nationality targets in order to fill up charter flights to particular destinations – but this practice was explicitly confirmed by an internal document from 2014 (an audit report from the director of Harmondsworth detention centre) obtained by Corporate Watch following a Freedom of Information legal battle.xi

    Day-to-day deportation and detention decisions are overseen by a central unit called the National Removals Command (NRC). For example, after ICE raid officers make arrests they must call NRC to authorise individuals’ detention. This decision is made on the basis of any specific current targets, and otherwise on general “removability”.

    “Removability” means the chance of successfully getting their “subject” onto a plane without being blocked by lack of travel documents, legal challenges and appeals, or other obstacles. For example, nationals of countries with whom the UK has a formal deportation agreement are, all other things being equal, highly removable. This includes the countries with which the UK has set up regular charter flight routes – including Albania, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana, and more recently Jamaica and a number of EU countries. On the other extreme, some nationalities such as Iranians present a problem as their governments refuse to accept deportees.

    The Home Office: “arranging removal” procedure

    A Home Office document called “Arranging Removal” sets out the steps Immigration Enforcement caseworkers need to take to steer their “subject” from arrest to flight.xii

    On the one hand, they are under pressure from penny-pinching bosses keen to get the job done as quick and cheap as possible. On the other, they have to be careful not to make any mistakes deportees’ lawyers could use to get flights cancelled. Immigration Officers have the legal power to order deportations without the need for any court decision – however, many deportations are blocked on appeal to courts.

    Here are some of the main steps involved:

    Removability assessment. The caseworker needs to assess that: there are no “casework barriers” – e.g., an ongoing asylum claim or appeal that would lead to the deportation being stopped by a court; the detainee is medically “fit to fly”; any family separation is authorised correctly; the detainee has a valid travel document.
    Travel Document. If there is no valid travel document, the caseworker can try to obtain an “emergency travel document” through various routes.
    Executive approval. If all these criteria are met, the caseworker gets authorisation from a senior office to issue Removal Directions (RD) paperwork.
    Risk Assessment. Once the deportation is agreed, the caseworker needs to assess risks that might present themselves on the day of the flight – such as medical conditions, the likelihood of detainee resistance and of public protest. At this point escorts and/or medics are requested. A version of this risk assessment is sent to the airline – but without case details or medical history.xiii
    Flight booking. The caseworker must first contact the Airline Ticketing Team who grant access to an online portal called the Electronic Removal Form (ERF). This portal is run by the Home Office’s flight booking contractor Carlson Wagonlit (see below). Tickets are booked for escorts and any medics as well as the deportee. There are different options including “lowest cost” non-refundable fares, or “fully refundable” – the caseworker here should assess how likely the deportation is to be cancelled. One of the options allows the caseworker to choose a specific airline.
    Notice of removal. Finally, the deportee must be served with a Removal Directions (RD) document that includes notification of the deportation destination and date. This usually also includes the flight number. The deportee must be given sufficient notice: for people already in detention this is standardly 72 hours, including two working days, although longer periods apply in some situations.

    In 2015 the Home Office brought in a new policy of issuing only “removal window” notification in many cases – this didn’t specify the date but only a wide timeframe. The window policy was successfully challenged in the courts in March 2019 and is currently suspended.

    #Carlson_Wagonlit

    The electronic booking system is run by a private company, #Carlson_Wagonlit_Travel (#CWT). CWT is also in charge of contracting charter flights.

    Carlson Wagonlit has been the Home Office’s deportation travel agent since 2004, with the contract renewed twice since then. Its current seven year contract, worth £5.7 million, began in November 2017 and will last until October 2024 (assuming the two year extension period is taken up after an initial five years). The Home Office estimated in the contract announcement that it will spend £200 million on deportation tickets and charters over that seven year period.xiv

    Carlson is a global #business travel services company, i.e., a large scale travel agent and booker for companies and government agencies. Its official head office is in France, but it is 100% owned by US conglomerate #Carlson_Companies Inc. It claims to be active in more than 150 countries.

    A report on “outsourced contracts” by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration gives us some information on CWT’s previous (2010-17) contract.xv This is unlikely to be substantially changed in the new version, although deportation numbers have reduced since then. The contract involved:

    management of charter flights and ticketing provision for scheduled flights for migrants subject to enforced removal and escorts, where required, and the management of relationships with carriers to maintain and expand available routes. […] Annually, CWT processed approximately 21,000 booking requests from Home Office caseworkers for tickets for enforced removals. Some booking requests were for multiple travellers and/or more than one flight and might involve several transactions. CWT also managed flight rescheduling, cancellations and refunds. The volume of transactions processed varied from 5,000 to 8,000 per month.

    The inspection report notes the value of CWT’s service to the Home Office through using its worldwide contacts to facilitate deportations:

    Both Home Office and CWT managers noted that CWT’s position as a major travel operator had enabled it to negotiate favourable deals with airlines and, over the life of the contract to increase the range of routes available for enforced removals. (Para 5.10).

    The airlines: regular deportation collaborators

    We saw above that Home Office caseworkers book flight tickets through an online portal set up and managed by Carlson Wagonlit Travel. We also saw how CWT is praised by Home Office managers for its strong relationships with airlines, and ability to negotiate favourable deals.

    For charter flight deportations, we know that CWT has developed a particular relationship with one charter company called Titan Airways. We have looked at Titan in our previous reports on charter flight deportations.

    Does the Home Office also have specific preferred airline partners for scheduled flights? Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy question to answer. Under government procurement rules, the Home Office is required to provide information on contracts it signs – thus, for example, we have at least a redacted version of the contract with CWT. But as all its airline bookings go through the intermediary of CWT, there are no such contracts available. Claiming “commercial confidentiality”, the Home Office has repeatedly information requests on its airline deals. (We will look in a bit more depth at this issue in the annex.)

    As a result, we have no centrally-gathered aggregate data on airline involvement. Our information comes from individual witnesses: deportees themselves; their lawyers and supporters; fellow passengers, and plane crew. Lawyers and support groups involved in deportation casework are a particularly helpful reference, as they may know about multiple deportation cases.

    For this report, we spoke to more than a dozen immigration lawyers and caseworkers to ask which airlines their clients had been booked on. We also spoke to anti-deportation campaign groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, who have run recent campaigns calling on airlines to refuse to fly deportees; and to the trade union Unite, who represent flight crew workers. We also looked at media reports of deportation flights that identify airlines.

    These sources name a large number of airlines, and some names come up repeatedly. British Airways is top of the list. We list a few more prominent collaborators below: Easyjet, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian. Virgin Airlines is the only company to have publicly announced it has stopped carrying deportees from the UK – although there have been some questions over whether it is keeping this promise.

    However, the information we have does not allow us to determine the exact nature of the relationship with these airlines. How many airlines appear in the CWT booking system – what determines which ones are included? Does CWT have a preferential arrangement with BA or other frequent deportation airlines? Does the Home Office itself have any direct interaction with these airlines’ management? How many airlines are not included in the CWT booking system because they have refused to carry deportees?

    For now, we have to leave these as open questions.

    British Airways

    We have numerous reports of British Airways flying deportees to destinations worldwide – including African and Caribbean destinations, amongst others. Cabin crew representatives in Unite the Union identify British Airways as the main airline they say is involved in deportation flights.

    The airline has long been a key Home Office collaborator. Back in 2003, at the height of the Labour government’s push to escalate deportations, the “escort” security contractor was a company called Loss Prevention International. In evidence to a report by the House of Commons home affairs committee, its chief executive Tom Davies complained that many airlines at this point were refusing to fly deportees. But he singled out BA as the notable exception, saying: “if it were not for […] the support we get from British Airways, the number of scheduled flight removals that we would achieve out of this country would be virtually nil”.xvi

    In 2010, British Airways’ role was highlighted when Jimmy Mubenga was killed by G4S “escorts” on BA flight 77 from Heathrow to Angola.

    Since 2018, there has been an active calling on BA to stop its collaboration. The profile of this issue was raised after BA sponsored Brighton Pride in May 2018 – whilst being involved in deportations of lesbian and gay migrants to African countries where their lives were in danger. After winning a promise from Virgin Airways to cease involvement in deportations (see below), the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) have made BA the main target for their anti-deportation campaigning.

    The campaign has also now been supported by BA cabin crew organised in the union Unite. In December 2019 Unite cabin crew branches passed a motion against airline scheduled flight deportations.xvii

    Kenya Airways

    We have numerous reports from caseworkers and campaigners of Kenya Airways flying deportees to destinations in Africa.

    The typical route is a flight from Heathrow to Nairobi, followed by a second onward flight. People deported using this route have included refugees from Sudan and Somalia.

    Easyjet

    We have numerous reports of Easyjet flying deportees to European destinations. Easyjet appears to be a favoured airline for deportations to Eastern European countries, and also for “third country” returns to countries including Italy and Germany. While most UK scheduled deportations are carried out from Heathrow and Gatwick, we have also seen accounts of Easyjet deportations from Luton.

    Qatar Airways

    We have numerous reports of Qatar Airways carrying deportees to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Qatar Airways has carried deportees to Iraq, according to the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), and also to Sudan. (In March 2019 the airline suspended its Sudan route, but this appears to have been restarted – the company website currently advertises flights to Khartoum in April 2020.xviii) Other destinations include Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, the Philippines, and Uganda. The typical route is from Heathrow via Doha.

    Turkish Airlines

    We have numerous reports of Turkish Airlines carrying deportees. The typical route is Heathrow or Gatwick to Istanbul, then an onward flight to further destinations including Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), Turkish Airlines has been one of the main companies involved in deportations to Iraq. A media report from June 2019 also mentions Turkish Airlines carrying someone being deported to Somalia via Istanbul.xix In August 2017, a Turkish Airlines pilot notably refused to fly an Afghani refugee from Heathrow to Istanbul, en route to Kabul, after being approached by campaigners – but this does not reflect general company policy.xx

    Ethiopian Airlines

    We have reports of this airline deporting people to Ethiopia and other African countries, including Sudan. Flights are from Heathrow to Addis Ababa. In April 2018, high-profile Yarl’s Wood hunger striker Opelo Kgari was booked on an Ethiopian flight to Addis Ababa en route to Botswana.

    Air France

    Air France are well-known for carrying deportees from France, and have been a major target for campaigning by anti-deportation activists there. We also have several reports of them carrying deportees from the UK, on flights from Heathrow via Paris.

    Royal Jordanian

    According to IFIR, Royal Jordanian has been involved in deportations to Iraq.

    Virgin Airlines

    In June 2018, Virgin announced that it had ceased taking bookings for deportation flights. Virgin had previously been a regular carrier for deportations to Jamaica and to Nigeria. (NB: Nigeria is often used as a deportation transit hub from where people are subsequently removed to other African countries.) The announcement came after the Windrush scandal led to the Home Office apparently suspending deportations to the Caribbean, and following campaigning by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) – although Virgin claimed it had made the decision before being contacted by the campaign. A Virgin statement said:

    we made the decision to end all involuntary deportations on our network, and have already informed the Home Office. We believe this decision is in the best interest of our customers and people, and is in keeping with our values as a company.xxi

    But there are doubts over just how much Virgin’s promise is worth. According to a report by The Independent:

    The airline had agreed to deport a man to Nigeria […] a day after announcing the decision. The only reason he wasn’t removed was because the Home Office agreed to consider new representations following legal intervention.xxii

    Do airlines have a choice?

    In response to its critics, British Airways has consistently given the same reply: it has no choice but to cooperate with the Home Office. According to an August 2018 article in The Guardian, BA says that it has “a legal duty under the Immigration Act 1971 to remove individuals when asked to do so by the Home Office.” A company spokesperson is quoted saying:

    Not fulfilling this obligation amounts to breaking the law. We are not given any personal information about the individual being deported, including their sexuality or why they are being deported. The process we follow is a full risk assessment with the Home Office, which considers the safety of the individual, our customers and crew on the flight.xxiii

    The last parts of this answer fit the process we looked at above. When booking the flight, the Home Office caseworker sends the airline a form called an Airline Risk Report (ARA) which alerts it to risk issues, and specifies why escorts or medics are needed – including an assessment of the likelihood of resistance. But no information should be shared on the deportee’s medical issues or immigration case and reasons for deportation.

    But is it true that an airline would be breaking the law if it refused a booking? Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants have shared with us a legal opinion they received from law firm Duncan Lewis on this issue. We summarise the main points here.

    The law in question is the Immigration Act 1971, Section 27(1)(b)(iii). This states that, when issued the correct legal order by the Home Office, the “owner or agent of a ship or aircraft” must “make arrangements for or in connection with the removal of a person from the United Kingdom when required to do so [by appropriate Removal Directions]”. It is an offence to fail to do so “without reasonable excuse”.

    The offence is punishable by a fine, and potentially a prison sentence of up to six months. As a minor “summary only” offence, any case would be heard by a magistrates’ court rather than a jury.

    In fact many airline captains have refused to carry deportees – as we will see in the next section. But there are no recorded cases of anyone ever being prosecuted for refusing. As with many areas of UK immigration law, there is simply no “case law” on this question.

    If a case ever does come to court, it might turn on that clause about a “reasonable excuse”. The legal opinion explains that the airline might argue they refused to carry a deportee because doing so would present a risk to the aircraft or passengers, for example if there is resistance or protest. A court might well conclude this was “reasonable”.

    On the other hand, the “reasonable excuse” defence could be harder to apply for an airline that took a principled stand to refuse all deportations as a general rule, whether or not there is disruption.

    Again, though, all this is hypothetical as the Home Office has never actually prosecuted anyone. Virgin Airlines, the first company to have publicly stated that it will not fly deportees from the UK, so far has not faced any legal comeback. As reported in the press, a Virgin spokesperson explained the company’s position like this:

    We’ve made the decision to end all involuntary deportations on our network, and have informed the Home Office. We always comply with the law and would continue to comply with legislation; however, we have ended our contractual agreement to carry involuntary deportees.xxiv

    Due to our lack of information on Home Office agreements with airlines, it’s hard to assess exactly what this means. Possibly, Virgin previously had an outstanding deal with the Home Office and Carlson Wagonlit where their tickets came up on the CWT booking portal and were available for caseworkers, and this has now ended. If the Home Office insisted on contacting them and booking a ticket regardless, they might then be pushed to “comply with the law”.

    Above we saw that, according to evidence referred to in a report of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, in 2003 the majority of airlines actually refused to carry deportees, leaving the Home Office to depend almost exclusively on British Airways. Even in this context there were no prosecutions of airlines.

    This is not an uncommon situation across UK immigration law: much of it has never come to court. For example, as we have discussed in reports on immigration raids, there have been no legal cases testing many of the powers of ICE raid squads. To give another example, on numerous occasions campaigners have obstructed buses taking detainees to charter flights without any prosecution – the Stansted 15 trial of protestors blocking a plane inside the airport was the first high-profile legal case following an anti-deportation action.

    Even if the government has a legal case for prosecuting airlines, this could be a highly controversial move politically. The Home Office generally prefers not to expose the violence of its immigration enforcement activities to the challenge of a public legal hearing.

    Resistance

    We want to conclude this report on an upbeat note. Deportations, and scheduled airline flights in particular, are a major site of struggle. Resistance is not just possible but widespread and often victorious. Thousands of people have managed to successfully stop their “removals” through various means, including the following:

    Legal challenges: a large number of flights are stopped because of court appeals and injunctions.
    Public campaigning: there is a strong tradition of anti-deportation campaigning in the UK, usually supporting individuals with media-focused and political activity. Common tactics include: media articles highlighting the individual’s case; enlisting MPs and appealing to ministers; petitions, letters of support; mass phone calls, emails, etc., to airlines; demos or leafletting at the airport targeting air crew and passengers.
    Solidarity action by passengers: in some high-profile cases, passengers have refused to take their seats until deportees are removed. This creates a safety situation for the airline which may often lead to the pilot ordering escorts to remove their prisoner.
    Direct action by detainees: many detainees have been able to get off flights by putting up a struggle. This may involve, for example: physically resisting escorts; taking off clothes; shouting and appealing to passengers and air crew for help. Unless the deportee is extremely strong physically, the balance of force is with the escorts – and sometimes this can be lethal, as in the case of Jimmy Mubenga. However, pilots may often order deportees off their plane in the case of disruption.

    There are many reports of successful resistance using one or more of these tactics. And we can also get some glimpses of their overall power from a few pieces of aggregate information.

    In a 2016 report, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration revealed one telling figure. Looking at the figures for six months over 2014-15, he found that “on average 2.5 tickets were issued for each individual successfully removed.”xxv Some of this can be put down to the notorious inefficiency of Home Office systems: the Inspection report looks at several kinds of coordination failures between Home Office caseworkers, the escort contractor (at that point a subsidiary of Capita), and Carlson Wagonlit.

    But this is not the biggest factor. In fact, the same report breaks down the reasons for cancellation for a sample of 136 tickets. 51% of the sampled cancellations were the result of legal challenges. 18% were because of “disruptive or non-compliant behaviour”. 2% (i.e., three cases) were ascribed to “airline refusal to carry”.

    Where there is resistance, there is also reaction. As we have discussed in previous reports, one of the main reasons prompting the development of charter flights was to counter resistance by isolating deportees from passengers and supporters. This was very clearly put in 2009 by David Wood, then strategic director of the UK Border Agency (Home Office), who explained that the charter flight programme is:

    “a response to the fact that some of those being deported realised that if they made a big enough fuss at the airport – if they took off their clothes, for instance, or started biting and spitting – they could delay the process. We found that pilots would then refuse to take the person on the grounds that other passengers would object.”xxvi

    For both deportees and supporters, charter flights are much harder to resist. But they are also very expensive; require specific diplomatic agreements with destination countries; and in some cases (Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka) have been blocked by legal and political means.xxvii The Home Office cannot avoid the use of scheduled flights for the majority of deportations, and it will continue to face resistance.

    –—
    Annex: issues with accessing airline information

    We will expand a bit here on the issues around obtaining information on the Home Office’s relationships with airlines.

    Under UK and EU public sector procurement rules, central government departments are obliged to publish announcements of all contracts valued over £10,000, including on the contractsfinder website. However, there is no publicly available information on any contracts between the Home Office and specific airlines. This is legally justifiable if the Home Office has no direct contractual agreements with airlines. It has a signed contract with Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), which is published in a redacted form; and CWT then makes arrangements with airlines on a per-ticket basis.

    The Home Office certainly has knowledge of all the tickets booked on its behalf by CWT – indeed, they are booked by its own employees through the CWT maintained portal. And so it certainly knows all the airlines working for it. But it has refused all requests for this information, using the excuse of “commercial confidentiality”.

    There have been numerous attempts to request information on deportation airlines using the Freedom of Information Act.xxviii All have been refused on similar grounds. To give one standard example, in December 2018 A. Liberadzki requested statistics for numbers of removals carried out by British Airways and other scheduled airlines. The response confirmed “that the Home Office holds the information that you have requested.” However, it argued that:

    “we have decided that the information is exempt from disclosure under sections 31(1)e and 43(2) of the FOIA. These provide that information can be withheld if its disclosure would have a detrimental effect on the Home Office and its ability to operate effective immigration controls by carrying out removals or would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any persons (including the public authority holding it).”

    In April 2019 Kate Osamor MP put similar questions to the Home Secretary in parliament.xxix She received the same reply to all her questions:

    “The Home Office does not disclose the details or values of its commercial contracts. Doing so could discourage companies from dealing with the Home Office.”

    Of course this answer is blatantly false – as we just saw, the Home Office is legally obliged to disclose values of commercial contracts over £10,000.

    https://corporatewatch.org/uk-deportations-2020-how-ba-easyjet-and-other-airlines-collaborate-w

    #rapport #corporate_watch #compagnies_aériennes #British_Airways #avions #renvois #expulsions #asile #migrations #déboutés #sans-papiers #UK #Home_Office #résistance #Jimmy_Mubenga

    ping @isskein @karine4 @reka

  • Éloignement forcé des #étrangers : d’autres solutions justes et durables sont possibles

    Il y a deux ans, en 2018, l’ « #affaire_des_Soudanais » entraînait la mise en place d’une Commission chargée de l’évaluation de la #politique_du_retour_volontaire et de l’#éloignement_forcé d’étrangers de la #Belgique (ou #Commission_Bossuyt du nom de son président). Alors que le rapport final de la Commission Bossuyt est attendu pour l’été 2020, un regroupement d’associations, dont le CNCD-11.11.11 , publie aujourd’hui un rapport alternatif proposant une gestion différente de la politique actuelle, essentiellement basée sur l’éloignement forcé.

    Les faiblesses et limites de la Commission Bossuyt

    La Commission Bossuyt a été mise en place en réponse aux nombreuses critiques dont la politique de retour de la Belgique a fait l’objet à la suite de ladite « affaire des Soudanais » [1], à savoir la collaboration engagée avec le régime soudanais pour identifier et rapatrier une série de personnes vers ce pays sans avoir dûment vérifié qu’elles ne couraient aucun risque de torture ou de traitement dégradant, comme le prévoit l’article 3 de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH). Cette commission fait suite aux Commissions Vermeersh 1 et 2, mises en place vingt ans plus tôt, suite au décès tragique de la jeune nigériane Semira Adamu le 22 septembre 1998 lors d’une expulsion forcée depuis la Belgique.

    L’objectif de cette commission temporaire est d’évaluer le volet retour de la politique migratoire belge et d’émettre des recommandations à destination des responsables politiques en vue d’améliorer cette politique. Plusieurs faiblesses sont cependant manifestes : son mandat ne s’inscrit pas dans une approche holistique de la migration, les indicateurs de résultats n’ont pas été établis en amont du processus d’évaluation, les membres de la commission proviennent uniquement des administrations et du personnel exécutant la politique de retour. Le centre interfédéral Myria, qui a fait une analyse approfondie du rapport intermédiaire [2], déclare que la Commission Bossuyt est caractérisée par l’opacité de sa méthodologie, le manque d’indépendance de ses évaluateurs et la faible qualité de ses recommandations.
    Le rapport intermédiaire Bossuyt pointe l’inefficacité de la politique belge d’éloignement

    Lors de la présentation du rapport intermédiaire de la Commission Bossuyt, son président a salué les mesures édictées et partiellement mise en place depuis les Commissions Vermeersch, mais il a également déploré l’échec de la politique de retour de la Belgique. Les « chiffres » de retour sont en baisse malgré les moyens consacrés aux nombreuses arrestations et à la détention.

    Cette inefficacité est également constatée par d’autres acteurs, mais pour bien d’autres raisons. En effet, d’une part, comme l’acte Myria [3], « depuis 2016, on constate une diminution constante du nombre de rapatriements et de retours volontaires assistés, malgré l’augmentation du nombre d’arrestations administratives d’étrangers et du nombre de premières détentions en centre fermé ». D’autre part, comme le dénonce le Ciré [4], « la politique d’éloignement de la Belgique est avant tout symbolique mais elle est totalement inefficace et coûteuse. Elle est un non-sens au niveau financier mais aussi et avant tout au niveau des droits humains. Les alternatives à la détention sont 17% moins onéreuses que la politique de détention mais encore faut-il que celles-ci soient de véritables alternatives. Il faut pour cela obligatoirement changer de paradigme et mettre les besoins des personnes au centre de nos politiques migratoires ».

    Actuellement, la politique migratoire belge se focalise essentiellement sur l’augmentation des chiffres de retour plutôt que d’investir dans la recherche de solutions durables et profitables pour les personnes migrantes, les pays et sociétés d’accueil, de transit et d’origine. Cette obsession du retour entraîne une augmentation de la détention et des violences [5] qui lui sont intrinsèquement associées.

    Ainsi, les chiffres récemment demandés par le service d’information de la VRT à l’Office des étrangers montrent qu’en 2018, 33 386 personnes se sont vu notifier un ordre de quitter le territoire. Or, à peine 7 399 personnes ont effectivement quitté le territoire en 2018 [6], ce qui démontre l’inefficacité de cette politique actuelle.
    « Au-delà du retour » : un rapport de la société civile axé sur les alternatives

    A la veille de la publication du rapport final de la Commission Bossuyt, un collectif rassemblant des ONG, des syndicats, des chercheurs et chercheuses du monde académique, femmes et hommes du secteur de la Justice, a souhaité démontrer qu’une autre politique migratoire, notamment en matière d’éloignement, est à la fois nécessaire et réaliste. Le contenu de ce rapport, nommé « Au-delà du retour » , est basé sur celui d’un colloque organisé fin 2019 et centré sur deux dimensions : les alternatives à la détention et le respect des droits humains.

    Alternatives à la détention

    Comme le recommandait la campagne pour la justice migratoire coordonnée par le CNCD-11.11.11 de 2017 à 2019, la première recommandation du rapport porte sur la nécessité de sortir d’une vision focalisée sur la criminalisation du séjour irrégulier et le contrôle en vue du retour. Ce prisme négatif à travers lequel est pensée la politique migratoire actuelle entraine des violations des droits fondamentaux, est coûteux et inefficace au regard de ses propres objectifs (retour et éloignement effectif).

    La politique migratoire doit être basée sur un accueil solidaire, un accompagnement personnalisé basé sur l’empowerment et la recherche de solutions durables pour chaque personne.

    Des alternatives existent, comme le montre l’exemple de la ville d’Utrecht, aux Pays-Bas, détaillé dans le rapport. Grâce à un accueil accessible 24h/24, dans un climat de confiance et collaboratif, les personnes migrantes sont accompagnées de façon intensive tout au long du processus d’analyse de leur statut. Les résultats des 18 dernières années à Utrecht indiquent que 60 % des personnes obtiennent un titre de séjour légal, 20 % retournent dans leur pays d’origine, 13 % retournent dans un lieu d’accueil de demandeurs d’asile en vue d’un nouvel examen de leur dossier et 7 % disparaissent des radars. Depuis 2018, le projet pilote s’est étendu à cinq autres villes des Pays-Bas. Comme le montre cet exemple, la régularisation fait donc partie de la panoplie des outils en faveur de solutions durables.

    "La régularisation fait donc partie de la panoplie des outils en faveur de solutions durables"

    La seconde recommandation du rapport est d’investir dans les alternatives à la détention, comme le recommande le Pacte mondial sur les migrations adopté par la Belgique en décembre 2018, qui insiste sur la nécessité de ne détenir les personnes exilées qu’en tout dernier recours. La détention n’est en effet ni efficace, ni durable. Elle est extrêmement coûteuse en termes financiers et peut causer des dégâts psychologiques, en particulier chez les enfants. En Belgique, le budget consacré aux éloignements forcés a pourtant largement augmenté ces dernières années : de 63 millions € en 2014 à 88,4 millions en 2018 ; ce qui représente une augmentation de 40,3 % en cinq ans [7].
    Respect des droits humains et transparence

    L’ « affaire des Soudanais » et l’enquête de Mediapart sur le sort de Soudanais dans d’autres pays européens ont dévoilé qu’un examen minutieux du risque de mauvais traitement est essentiel tout au long du processus d’éloignement (arrestation, détention, expulsion). En effet, comme le proclame l’article 8 de la CEDH, toute personne à la droit au respect « de sa vie privée et familiale, de son domicile et de sa correspondance ». Quant à l’article 3, il stipule que « Nul ne peut être soumis à la torture ni à des peines ou traitements inhumains ou dégradants ». Cette disposition implique l’interdiction absolue de renvoyer un étranger vers un pays où il existe un risque réel qu’il y subisse un tel traitement (principe de non-refoulement [8]) ou une atteinte à sa vie.

    Lorsqu’une personne allègue un risque de mauvais traitement ou que ce risque découle manifestement de la situation dans le pays de renvoi, la loi impose un examen individuel minutieux de ce risque par une autorité disposant des compétences et des ressources nécessaires. Une équipe spécialisée doit examiner la bonne application du principe de non-refoulement. Cette obligation incombe aux autorités qui adoptent une décision d’éloignement et ce indépendamment d’une demande de protection internationale [9].

    La détention, le retour forcé et l’éloignement des étrangers sont des moments du parcours migratoire qui posent des enjeux importants en termes de droits fondamentaux. C’est pourquoi des données complètes doivent être disponibles. Ceci nécessite la publication régulière de statistiques complètes, lisibles et accessibles librement, ainsi qu’une présentation annuelle devant le parlement fédéral.

    Cette question du respect des droits humains dépasse le cadre belge. Depuis plusieurs années , l’Union européenne (UE) multiplie en effet les accords d’externalisation de la gestion de ses frontières. La politique d’externalisation consiste à déléguer à des pays tiers une part de la responsabilité de la gestion des questions migratoires. L’externalisation poursuit deux objectifs principaux : réduire en amont la mobilité des personnes migrantes vers l’UE et augmenter le nombre de retours. La Belgique s’inscrit, comme la plupart des Etats membres, dans cette approche. Or, comme le met en évidence le rapport, les accords internationaux signés dans le cadre de cette politique manquent singulièrement de transparence.

    C’est le cas par exemple de la coopération bilatérale engagée entre la Belgique et la Guinée.
    Malgré les demandes des associations actives sur les questions migratoires, le mémorandum d’entente signé en 2008 entre la Belgique et la Guinée n’est pas public. Ce texte, encore d’application aujourd’hui, régit pourtant la coopération entre la Belgique et la Guinée en matière de retour. L’Etat belge refuse la publication du document au nom de la protection des relations internationales de la Belgique, invoquant aussi le risque de menaces contre l’intégrité physique des membres du corps diplomatique et la nécessité d’obtenir l’accord du pays partenaire pour publier le document.

    Enfin, et c’est essentiel, une des recommandations prioritaires du rapport « Au-delà du retour » est de mettre en place une collaboration structurelle entre l’Etat et la société civile autour des questions migratoires, et plus précisément la question de l’éloignement et du retour. Dans ce cadre, la mise en place d’une commission permanente et indépendante d’évaluation de la politique de retour de la Belgique incluant des responsables de la société civile est une nécessité.
    Le temps des choix

    « Le temps est venu de faire les bons choix et de ne pas se tromper d’orientation ». Tel était le message de Kadri Soova, Directrice adjointe de PICUM (Platform for international cooperation on undocumented migrants) lors de son intervention au colloque. Combien d’affaires sordides faudra-t-il encore pour que la Belgique réoriente sa politique migratoire, afin qu’elle soit mise au service de la justice migratoire ? Combien de violences, de décès, de potentiels gâchés, de rêves brisés pour satisfaire les appétits électoralistes de certains décideurs politiques ? Comme le démontre le rapport, si les propositions constructives sont bel et bien là, la volonté politique manque.
    Il est donc grand temps de repenser en profondeur les politiques migratoires. A ce titre, le modèle de la justice migratoire, fondé sur le respect des droits fondamentaux, l’égalité et la solidarité, devrait constituer une réelle base de travail. La justice migratoire passe d’abord par des partenariats pour le développement durable, afin que tout être humain puisse vivre dignement là où il est né, mais aussi par l’ouverture de voies sûres et légales de migrations, ainsi que par des politiques d’intégration sociale et de lutte contre les discriminations dans les pays d’accueil, afin de rendre les politiques migratoires cohérentes avec les Objectifs de développement durable.
    La publication prochaine du rapport définitif de la Commission Bossuyt doit être l’occasion d’ouvrir un débat serein sur la politique migratoire de la Belgique, en dialogue avec les organisations spécialisées sur la question. La publication d’un rapport alternatif par ces dernières constitue un appel à l’ouverture de ce débat.

    https://www.cncd.be/Eloignement-force-des-etrangers

    –---

    Pour télécharger le rapport :

    Rapport « Au-delà du retour » 2020. À la recherche d’une politique digne et durable pour les personnes migrantes en séjour précaire ou irrégulier


    https://www.cncd.be/Rapport-Au-dela-du-retour-2020

    #renvois #expulsions #renvois_forcés #migrations #alternative #retour_volontaire #justice_migratoire #rapport #régularisation #Soudan #inefficacité #efficacité #asile #déboutés #sans-papiers #alternatives #rétention #détention_administrative #transparence #droits_humains #mauvais_traitements #société_civile #politique_migratoire

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_

  • Asylum seekers illegally returned from Italy to Slovenia, NGOs claim

    Two migrant-aid organizations are accusing authorities in northeastern Italy of illegally returning asylum seekers to Slovenia. They also claim that readmission procedures between Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia prevent people from asking for asylum in the EU.
    The Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) and Catholic charity Caritas in Trieste published a statement on May 28, saying that they were strongly concerned about “the implementation of informal readmissions of migrants” from Italy to Slovenia.

    The two organizations provide housing to immigrants in the province of Trieste in northeastern Italy, near the border with Slovenia.

    ICS and Caritas said that it is illegal for authorities to return those who intend to apply for asylum. They said asylum requests must be registered before authorities check whether the applicant might have applied in another EU country. Under the Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers can be transferred back to the first EU country where they were registered.

    Migrants ’illegitimately sent away from EU’?

    ICS and Caritas also claimed that readmission procedures between Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia enabled authorities to “illegitimately turn away... those who have entered to apply for protection” from European Union territory. These people, “are subjected to grave violence throughout the so-called Balkan route,” they said in their statement.

    Pierpaolo Roberti, the security councilor of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where Trieste is located, responded to the statement, saying that authorities will “move ahead with informal readmissions.” He said that the police and the prefect had his “full support.” Roberti belongs to the far-right League party, which is known for its harsh anti-migrant policies.

    He said he hopes that “as many people as possible continue to be readmitted to Slovenia and, in addition, that we strive to totally stop that migration flow.”


    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/25114/asylum-seekers-illegally-returned-from-italy-to-slovenia-ngos-claim
    #Slovénie #Italie #push-back #push-backs #renvois #frontière_sud-alpine #refoulements #refoulement #Alpes #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    ping @isskein

    • AYS Special: Italian Court StopsDeportation to Slovenia, Meanwhile Pushbacks Continue

      Italy has become the latest link in chain push backs where literally thousands of people — often violently — end up in the overcrowded camps of Bosnia and Serbia.

      Contradictory approaches in Italy

      An Italian court stopped deportation to Slovenia on the grounds that there is a risk for an asylum seeker to be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment due to the high possibility of him (or her) being further expelled to Croatia and then to Bosnia or Serbia. However, although the court stopped the deportation of a single individual, collective push-backs from Italy are becoming increasingly common in the months since the judgement made by the court in Genova (April 7th). Thus Italian courts are acknowledging the cruel and inhumane treatment that a returnee is subjected to but, on the other hand, the Italian government is massively increasing the scope of push-backs to Slovenia, as is evident in the recent decision to deploy the army with police jurisdiction.

      16.000 people were returned to Croatia from Slovenia in the last two years.

      These are people who were caught and were processed in police stations with charges of illegal border crossing. When a person asks for asylum in slovenia, he is often faced with threats or the asylum claim is simply ignored and in the official records he is reported as an “economic migrant” — a category invented by the Ministry of Interior and the Police and not encompassed by any law. If one is classified as an “economic migrant” who has no interest to seek asylum, he can be returned to Croatia under a bilateral readmission agreement from 2006.

      The Court in Italy is concerned over systemic deficiencies in the Slovene asylum system and finds real risk for an asylum seeker to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment if deported to Slovenia. Meanwhile, reports of daily informal deportations from theItalian — Slovene border are becoming more and more common.

      COURT RULING: “…the risk of the applicant being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in Slovenia seems justified …

      In early April a court in Genoa, Italy found that:

      “Based on the submitted documentation and additional information obtained by this court proprio motu, the applicant’s complaint — given the conditions of receiving refugees in Slovenia and systemic shortcomings in the asylum procedure — seems justified. (…)

      In this case, the risk of the applicant being subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in Slovenia seems justified (…) The data collected raise serious concerns about the reception and asylum system currently in force in Slovenia and in general about the atmosphere of cultural intolerance and discrimination prevailing in civil society, among government leaders and between police forces towards foreigners who have entered the country illegally, who have lodged or intend to lodge an application for international protection.”

      The complaint was lodged by a Pakistani asylum seeker, represented by Alessandra Ballerini, who had first filed the application for international protection in Slovenia and was consequently expected to be deported from Italy to Slovenia according to the Dublin regulation.

      The complaint stipulated that such a deportation would violate, inter alia, paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Dublin Regulation due to systemic deficiencies in the asylum system in Slovenia. The court agreed and refused to deport the asylum seeker to Slovenia, “because of the danger that he would be treated there contrary to fundamental humanitarian principles and contrary to the provisions of Article 4 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

      As reported by Primorski dnevnik, the judges came to this conclusion taking into account reports of non-governmental organizations on the deteriorating treatment of migrants in Slovenia in the past two years and a 2018 report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which confirms allegations by non-governmental organizations of collective expulsions and violence against migrants in the Balkan region, including Croatia and Slovenia.

      Reports of several Slovenian and International NGOs and civil society actors (Amnesty International, Are You Syrious?, InfoKolpa, Border Violence Monitoring Network) highlight the issue of the Slovenian police authority’s illegal restrictions of access to asylum and practice of forced returns of asylum seekers without a proper assessment of whether their human rights would be violated in other countries via an informal procedure and without the possibility to appeal the deportation (push-backs).

      This was shown by several fact-finding missions: a survey from 2018 by Amnesty International obtained testimonies of 51 people in Velika Kladuša and Bihać in BiH, who were returned to the hands of the Croatian authorities by the Slovenian police, despite the fact that they wanted to apply for asylum in Slovenia.

      Report on illegal practices of collective expulsion at the Slovene-Croatian border by InfoKolpa documents numerous cases of groups of migrants rejected by Slovenian police and returned to Croatia and further to Bosnia despite explicitly showing intention to file for asylum in Slovenia between 11th September and 7th November 2018 via an Alarmphone report; reports by No Name Kitchen and Balkan Violence Monitoring show collective expulsion and violent return of asylum seekers to the Bosnian border surrounding Velika Kladuša as a routine occurrence initiated by Croatian and Slovenian police forces.

      In one year there were 4,653 out of a total of 9,149 intercepted migrants that were collectively deported to Croatia. The above-mentioned reports also cite further official statistics from the Slovenian police, which show a change in practice between May and June 2018, when returns to Croatia increased sharply, while at the same time the number of people applying for asylum dropped severely. Police statistic from police station of a border town Črnomelj state that in May 2018, 371 of the 379 migrants considered (97.88% of all) applied for asylum; after receiving different instructions from the Chief of police, in June only 13 of the 412 migrants, ie 3.15%, lodged an asylum application.

      NGOs accuse the Slovenian government and police of preventing refugees from filing asylum applications and of carrying out collective forced returns without a proper and individual assessment of whether their human rights will be violated in other countries and without the possibility of appeal.

      Returns to Croatia are carried out on the basis of a controversial bilateral agreement between the two countries from 2006 (when Croatia was not yet a member of European Union), which enables informal returns under an abbreviated procedure. According to the court in Genoa, such an abbreviated procedure violates Slovenia’s human rights obligations.

      These findings are further corroborated by an official 2018 report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which confirms allegations by non-governmental organizations of collective rejection and violence against migrants in the Balkan region, including Croatia and Slovenia.

      Primorski dnevnik cites the court decision featuring portions of NGO reports, saying:

      “Threats, violence, abuse of power and denial of fundamental rights have become common practice at border police stations, and collective deportations to Croatia are repeated daily with the support and awareness of senior police and government officials, despite the high risk of further police violence and theft in Croatia.”

      Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik asked Slovenian police for comments on the judgement, and they replied that their procedures were legal and professional, that the guidelines for the work of police officers had already been made public and that UNHCR had not discovered any irregularities when visiting police stations. The Ministry of the Interior replied that they were fully implementing EU legislation in the field of international protection, and that they were not aware of the ruling and could not comment on it.

      Though there was a decrease of irregular entries into Slovenia during the past few months there was an increase of record irregular entries recorded by Italian authorities. This has resulted in minor diplomatic tension between the countries where Slovenia has been dismissed as not being diligent enough in their Schengen gatekeeping duties.
      We suspect that there are two reasons that Italian authorities are recording an increase of border crossings:

      First, as InfoMigrants reported, as part of covid-19 measure the Italian authorities announced temporary legalisation of undocumented residents. We suspect that this might be a reason for a greater number of people reporting themselves and, thus, creating a spike in official records. Connected with this reason might be the Covid-19 measures as traveling became more difficult a greater number of people might be pressed to weather the virus in border municipalities (such as Trieste).

      Migrants (as well as border tensions with Slovenia) are traditionally a convenient distraction for the Italian government(s) in time(s) of crisis. To show its commitment to regulating the frontier the Italian government deployed the armed forces to aid police in intercepting migrants via the last stretch of the Balkan route. As Uroš Škerl reported for the daily newspaper Dnevnik in the last month Italy returned more people than in the previous four months combined (29 compared to 27 from January to April). In a statement for Dnevnik Gianfranco Schiavone of the NGO Consorzio Italiano di Solidarietà — Ufficio Rifugiati Onlus stated:

      “What is new in the last week is that the Italian police started to return people for whom we are convinced that they have the same circumstances as their colleagues that applied for asylum and stayed in Italy.”

      These returns are now conducted with the aid of the armed forces whose deployment the interior ministry justified as “an answer on illegal migrations”. Schiavone is skeptical of the military as they are not trained to conduct border patrols and handle asylum seekers adding: “this is all just political theater”.

      This latest act of EU migration policy melodrama has actors that are less fortunate than others. According to Dnevnik there have been three groups of people (14,17,8) returned to Slovenia and we suspect that at least one of these groups (if not all) has ended up in Velika Kladuša (BIH). A video emerged with a statement of a member of one of these groups containing claims of violent treatment during the Italy-BIH pushback was published recently by a migrant/activist: “This boy who left his fingerprints in Trieste and applied for asylum ، was deported to Slovenia and gradually back to hell”.

      So, on the one hand, Italian courts have found that push backs are cruel and inhumane, yet at the same time the same government has doubled down on its commitment to condemning people to this fate that its own courts find inhumane and cruel.

      Although the condemnation of deportation is a necessary first step, unless this idea is used to hold the security forces to account for their oppression and torture of people, it will remain a hollow ruling. Europeans like to look down on the USA due to their police violence on minorities, state hypocrisy towards its own values and their border walls. Maybe we should stop looking across the ocean and look closer to home.

      Written by: Iza Thaler and Miha Turk from InfoKolpa

      Find daily updates and special reports on our Medium page.

      If you wish to contribute, either by writing a report or a story, or by joining the info gathering team, please let us know.

      We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness. Every effort has been made to credit organisations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.

      If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook, Twitter or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com

      https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-special-italian-court-stops-deportation-to-slovenia-meanwhile-pushbacks-
      #refoulements_en_chaîne

    • Even from Trieste, Italy.

      “Working every day in the street with people-on-the-move has allowed medical volunteers in Trieste to witness the worsening situation at the Italian border with Slovenia. Here is a sum-up of the radical changes in the last two months, highlighting growing repression towards transit groups and a spike in pushbacks from Italian territory. The events are relayed in three distinct stages: from the start of the pandemic, the development of tighter police controls, and finally the expansion of pushbacks through the dubious “informal readmission” process”

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/news-from-trieste-covid-19-and-pushbacks

      Reçu via la mailing-list de Migreurop, le 15.06.2020

    • The Slovenian Administrative Court issued a judgement confirming that the Slovenian police committed chain pushbacks (https://www.cms.hr/hr/pravna-pomoc-azil-i-statusna-pitanja/slovenski-sud-potvrdio-hrvatska-sudjelovala-u-lancanom-nezakonitom-protjerivanju) in which Croatia also participated, as a result of which a person seeking international protection in Slovenia ended up in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the judgement, the young man identified as J.D. must be returned to Slovenia, he must be given the opportunity to seek asylum again and he must be paid compensation in the amount of € 5,000. This judgement demonstrated the importance of the work of Infokolpa, a civic initiative and a member of the Border Violence Monitoring Network, which played a key role in gathering evidence. Namely, in the judgment, the Slovenian court relied on their reports and the reports of other organisations within the BVMN, as well as media reports. It is precisely in such cases that the importance of independent reports and the importance of documenting violent pushbacks of refugees can be seen.

      However, in addition to warning of the illegal actions of the Slovenian police, this judgement also proves the role of the Croatian police in chain pushbacks of refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is time for the Croatian authorities to conduct effective investigations and make concrete efforts to stop this illegal practice.

      The brutality of pushbacks from Croatia was also experienced by a group of 16 refugees who were tortured and humiliated for five hours by unknown perpetrators in late May before being pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Precisely because of this inhumane and illegal treatment of people in search of safety, the Centre for Peace Studies filed a criminal complaint (https://www.cms.hr/hr/azil-i-integracijske-politike/cms-podnio-kaznenu-prijavu-koja-je-poveznica-policije-i-naoruzanih-nasilnika-u-c) with the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia against unknown perpetrators who tortured the group. Eight armed men in unmarked black uniforms and with balaclavas on their heads, which according to the description given by the victims may belong to a special unit of the Ministry of the Interior, the so-called “Corridor” operation (https://net.hr/danas/hrvatska/zastrasujuca-devijacija-akcije-koridor-policija-sve-dogovara-na-whatsappu-a-pose), treated in an inhumane manner people in search of protection. Armed men wearing black tied the refugees to trees, shot at their heads and feet, beat them with everything they could get their hands on, took all of their belongings under threat of death, and in the end humiliated them by rubbing mayonnaise, ketchup and sugar into the wounds they had previously inflicted. Then, they handed the refugees, some of whom could not walk due to their serious injuries, over to the police, while the police officers then pushed them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The victim’s testimonies suggest a cooperation between the perpetrators in black and the police. The Centre for Peace Studies once again stressed the importance of promptly conducting an effective and independent investigation into these crimes and sanctioning the perpetrators.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 29.07.2020

      #Croatie #refoulements_en_chaîne #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #justice #corridor_operation

    • Slovénie : la justice reconnaît l’illégalité des expulsions vers la Croatie et la Bosnie-Herzégovine

      C’est un précédent de taille : le tribunal administratif de Ljubljana a donné raison à un jeune Camerounais qui demandait l’asile en Slovénie, mais que la police a illégalement expulsé en Croatie, et qui s’est finalement retrouvé dans les camps de Velika Kladuša et Bihač, en Bosnie-Herzégovine.

      La justice slovène a confirmé dans son verdict (https://www.borderviolence.eu/wp-content/uploads/PRESS-KIT-FOR-INTERNATIONAL-MEDIA.pdf) rendu public le 17 juillet dernier que la police slovène avait commis une expulsion illégale, à laquelle la Croatie a également participé, et à la suite de quoi un Camerounais de 23 ans, J. D., qui voulait demander une protection internationale en Slovénie, s’est retrouvé en Bosnie-Herzégovine.

      J. D., qui fait partie d’une minorité anglophone persécutée au Cameroun, a été détenu deux jours durant par la police slovène. Bien qu’il ait demandé l’asile à trois reprises, sa requête n’a jamais été prise en compte. Il a d’abord été illégalement expulsé vers la Croatie, puis vers la Bosnie-Herzégovine. À la suite de la décision du tribunal administratif de Ljubljana, il a désormais le droit de revenir en Slovénie et d’y demander l’asile. L’État slovène a été condamné à lui verser une indemnité de 5000 euros. Ce jugement n’est toutefois pas définitif, l’État ayant la possibilité de faire appel devant la Cour suprême.

      L’affaire a été suivie par InfoKolp, membre du Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). Dans son verdict, la justice slovène s’appuie sur un rapport de 50 pages remis en mai 2019 par InfoKolp, ainsi que sur des rapports du BVMN et de divers médias, dont Radio Študent, présente dans les camps de Velika Kladuša et de Bihač, dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie-Herzégovine. Ce verdict constitue un important précédent qui établit les violations en série des droits de l’Homme, mais aussi l’existence d’une « chaîne » d’expulsions illégales « systématiques et routinières », selon les termes de l’avocat du plaignant, depuis la Slovénie vers Bosnie-Herzégovine avec l’aide de la police croate.

      “Une « chaîne » d’expulsions illégales « systématiques et routinières ».”

      Ce verdict confirme également ce que les ONG et institutions soulignent depuis des années : des expulsions illégales de réfugiés et de migrants ont lieu, auxquelles de nombreux pays de l’Union européenne participent. Il s’agit donc d’un indicateur fort pour les institutions européennes de ce qui se passe sur le territoire de l’UE, ainsi qu’à ses frontières extérieures et intérieures, à savoir des violations des droits de l’Homme et de l’État de droit. L’affaire étaie en outre les témoignages de milliers de réfugiés et de migrants qui ont subi des violences, expulsions illégales et violations du droit d’asile, alors que les autorités croates refusent toujours de mener des enquêtes.

      Depuis le début de l’année 2018, la police slovène a renvoyé en Croatie quelque 20 000 personnes qui ont subi des mauvais traitements de la part de la police croate. Dans le meilleurs des cas, elles ont été débarquées d’une fourgonnette à la frontière avec la Bosnie-Herzégovine, mais le plus souvent, elles ont été insultées, battues et torturées par la police.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Slovenie-la-justice-reconnait-une-chaine-d-expulsions-illegales-v

  • Zurück in die Diktatur

    Seit Jahren ist Eritrea das wichtigste Herkunftsland von Asylsuchenden in der Schweiz. Weil die Behörden die Asylpraxis schrittweise verschärft haben, müssten immer mehr Eritreerinnen und Eritreer in ihre Heimat zurückkehren. Freiwillig aber geht fast niemand und unfreiwillige Rückkehrer akzeptiert das eritreische Regime nicht. Deshalb werden die politischen Forderungen immer lauter, die sogenannte «freiwillige Rückkehr» zu fördern und mehr abgewiesene Asylsuchende zur Ausreise zu bewegen. Doch was erwartet die Menschen, die zurückkehren müssen? Weshalb kehrt überhaupt jemand in eine Diktatur zurück? Und wie schlimm ist die Menschenrechtslage in Eritrea wirklich?

    «Eritreer, die eine Wegweisung erhalten haben, können jederzeit freiwillig zurückkehren», sagte 2019 Mario Gattiker, der Chef des Schweizer Staatssekretariats für Migration (SEM). Jedes Asylgesuch werde sorgfältig und einzeln geprüft, ergänzt ein SEM-Sprecher auf Anfrage. Wegweisungen würden nur ausgesprochen, wenn aus Sicht des SEM keine konkrete Bedrohung bestehe.

    Unsere Recherche zeigt aber, dass die Schweizer Behörden nicht wissen, was mit Rückkehrern in Eritrea passiert. Im aktuellsten Eritrea-Bericht des SEM steht: «Eine Überwachung zurückgekehrter ehemaliger Asylbewerber ist nicht möglich. Dies bedeutet, dass es an wesentlichen Informationsquellen (…) fehlt.» Und: «Eine Quelle besagt, dass Gerüchten zufolge einige inhaftiert sind und andere nicht. In den meisten Fällen gibt es jedoch keinerlei Informationen.» Das SEM kann keinen einzigen dokumentierten Fall eines illegal ausgereisten Eritreers vorlegen, der nach seiner Rückkehr unbehelligt geblieben ist.

    Jetzt hat REFLEKT in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Online-Magazin Republik erstmals fünf Geschichten von Rückkehrerinnen und Rückkehrern rekonstruiert. Ihre Reisen sind auf der folgenden Karte dargestellt.

    Zwei der Rückkehrer, Tesfay und Yonas (beide Namen geändert), erhielten in der Schweiz kein Asyl, kehrten nach Eritrea zurück und flohen dann ein zweites Mal aus ihrer Heimat. Tesfay sagt, dass er nach der Rückkehr ein offizielles Aufgebot erhalten habe und aufgrund von Erfahrungsberichten davon ausgehen musste, inhaftiert, gefoltert oder anderswie bestraft zu werden. Yonas sagt, dass er am Flughafen von Mitarbeitern des Geheimdienstes abgeholt wurde, die ihn mit dem Auto in eine circa zwanzig Fahrtminuten entfernte Wohnung brachten. Dort sei er in einer Einzelzelle festgehalten, mehrmals verhört sowie gefoltert worden.

    Solche Fälle dürfte es eigentlich nicht geben. Die Schweizer Behörden gehen davon aus, dass weggewiesene Eritreerinnen und Eritreer zurückkehren können, ohne in ihrer Heimat eine unverhältnismässige Strafe fürchten zu müssen. Die Erzählungen der Rückkehrer widersprechen dieser Annahme. Sie zeigen, dass eine Rückkehr nach Eritrea problematisch sein kann. Und: Wenn Yonas tatsächlich gefoltert wurde, hätte die Schweiz mit seiner Wegweisung wohl das Folterverbot nach Artikel 3 der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention verletzt. Doch ob sein Fall jemals juristisch aufgearbeitet wird, ist unklar. Weil das Staatssekretariat für Migration seinen Fall für abgeschlossen hält, müsste er auf illegalem Weg in die Schweiz einreisen, um von den Behörden angehört zu werden.

    Unsere Recherche wirft dringliche Fragen auf:

    Wissen die Schweizer Behörden genug über die Lage in Eritrea, um einschätzen zu können, wie gefährlich eine Rückkehr ist?
    Wie will die Schweiz abgewiesene Asylsuchende dazu bringen, zurückzukehren, wenn sie keinen einzigen Fall einer problemlosen Rückkehr vorlegen kann?
    Ist es unter diesen Umständen vertretbar, die selbstständige Rückkehr zu fördern?
    Und weshalb weiss die Schweiz so wenig über ihre Rückkehrer, wenn es doch möglich ist, sie aufzuspüren?

    Nothilfe

    Immer mehr eritreische Asylsuchende erhalten einen negativen Entscheid und müssen mit Nothilfe über die Runden kommen. Sie dürfen keinen offiziellen Sprachkurs besuchen und dürfen nicht arbeiten. Sie sollen sich nicht integrieren und nicht integriert werden, denn aufgrund ihres negativen Asylentscheids sind sie in der Schweiz unerwünscht. In einigen Kantonen wird praktisch kein Geld an die BezügerInnen ausbezahlt, stattdessen erhalten sie Essen, Kleidung sowie Unterkunft und können medizinische Versorgung in Anspruch nehmen. In anderen Kantonen gibt es 6 bis 12 Franken pro Person und Tag.

    Im Kanton Bern gibt es 8 Franken. Die folgenden Bilder zeigen, was sich damit kaufen lässt:

    Trotz schwierigster Bedingungen harren viele abgewiesene Asylsuchenden aus Eritrea in der Schweiz aus oder reisen in andere europäische Länder weiter – nur ganz wenige kehren in ihre Heimat zurück.

    Rund 150 Eritreerinnen und Eritreern sind laut Staatssekretariat für Migration in den letzten drei Jahren selbstständig zurückgekehrt. Das SEM verweist auf diese Zahlen und sagt, dass eine freiwillige Rückkehr für abgewiesene Asylsuchende möglich ist. Die Statistik zeigt aber, dass nur wenige dieser Ausgereisten einen negativen Bescheid hatten und von der Nothilfe lebten. Die Rückkehrer sind nicht in erster Linie Personen, die gehen müssen, sondern solche, die bleiben könnten – ältere Personen zum Beispiel oder regimetreue Eritreerinnen und Eritreer aus der früheren Fluchtgeneration.

    Keiner der fünf Rückkehrer, deren Geschichten wir rekonstruieren konnten, ist wirklich freiwillig zurückgekehrt. Die meisten standen unter starkem psychischem Druck, einer hatte einen Suizidversuch hinter sich, zwei weitere hatten laut Beschreibungen von Augenzeugen schwere psychische Probleme.

    Von all den Personen mit Nothilfe, mit denen wir in der Schweiz gesprochen haben, konnte sich keine einzige eine Rückkehr in die Heimat vorstellen. Niemand weiss genau, was ihn oder sie bei einer Rückkehr erwarten würde, doch alle befürchten das Schlimmste. So auch Merhawit (Name geändert), die mit Nothilfe im Kanton Bern lebt:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0AkqYYW8Iw&feature=emb_logo

    Die Vorstellung, dass abgewiesene Asylsuchende nach Eritrea zurückkehren, wenn man sie nur schlecht genug behandelt, scheint falsch zu sein. Die Zermürbungsstrategie der Schweiz funktioniert in diesem Fall nicht.

    Allein in den letzten drei Jahren sind rund 1500 Eritreerinnen und Eritreer unkontrolliert aus der Schweiz abgereist oder untergetaucht – zehn Mal mehr als selbständig nach Eritrea zurückgekehrt sind. Viele von ihnen sind etwa in Belgien gelandet, von wo aus sie versuchen, nach England weiterzureisen. Für die Schweiz geht die Rechnung auf: Seit 2017 haben die Abgänge eritreischer Asylsuchender deutlich zugenommen und die Ankünfte nahmen ab. Die Last der Schweizer Asylpolitik tragen andere Staaten – und all die Eritreerinnen und Eritreer, die nun durch Europa irren.

    Diktatur

    Seit Jahren diskutiert die Schweiz darüber, wie schlimm die Menschenrechtslage in Eritrea wirklich ist. Wer ins Land reist, kann weder Gefängnisse besuchen noch offen mit Betroffenen sprechen. Äussern sich Asylsuchende in Europa, heisst es, die müssten ja übertreiben, damit sie einen positiven Entscheid erhalten. Dieser Mangel an Quellen ohne Eigeninteresse hat zu einem Misstrauen gegenüber Informationen zu Eritrea geführt.

    Deshalb sind wir ins Nachbarland Äthiopien gereist, um mit Eritreern zu sprechen, die das Land vor Kurzem verlassen haben, die nicht nach Europa reisen wollen und die unabhängig vom Druck einer Asylbehörde oder einer Regierung erzählen können. Zehn Personen, die zwischen 2016 und 2019 geflohen sind, haben mit uns über ihr ehemaliges Leben, ihren Alltag, über Folter, Gefängnisse und den eritreischen Nationaldienst gesprochen.

    Die Hälfte unserer Interview-Partner ist nach dem Friedensabkommen zwischen Eritrea und Äthiopien ausgereist. Neun mussten während ihrer Zeit in Eritrea Gefängnisstrafen absitzen, die meisten sogar mehrere. Einige verschwanden während Jahren in einer Zelle – fast alle wurden Opfer körperlicher Gewalt. Kein einziger wurde von einem Gericht verurteilt. Keinem wurde gesagt, weshalb er ins Gefängnis muss und für wie lange.

    Die folgende Karte zeigt eine Auswahl von Gefängnissen in Eritrea und was unsere Interview-Partner dort erlebt haben:

    Anhand von Zeugenaussagen und Satellitenbildern konnten wir den exakten Standort eines der wichtigsten Gefängnisse in Eritrea ermitteln. Die folgenden Bilder zeigen hunderte Häftlinge im Innenhof von #Adi_Abeito, wenige Klilometer nördlich der Hauptstadt Asmara.

    Entgegen aller Hoffnungen hat sich die Lage in Eritrea auch nach dem Friedensabkommen mit Äthiopien im September 2018 nicht verbessert. Alle zehn Gesprächspartner sind sich einig, dass die systematischen Menschenrechtsverletzungen weitergehen. «Nach dem Friedensabkommen habe ich wie alle anderen darauf gewartet, dass sich etwas verändert», sagt Abraham (Name geändert), der 2019 geflohen ist. «Aber nichts ist passiert. Es war dasselbe wie zuvor: unlimitierter Nationaldienst, keine Verbesserungen. Also verlor ich die Hoffnung und verliess das Land.»

    Acht unserer zehn Gesprächspartner haben im obligatorischen Nationaldienst gedient, zwei sind vor der Rekrutierung geflohen. Alle acht waren dem militärischen Arm des Nationaldienstes zugeteilt, wobei nur vier tatsächlich in militärischen Funktionen eingesetzt wurden. Die anderen mussten Schiffe entladen oder Gebäude, Strassen und sonstige Infrastruktur bauen. Ihr monatlicher Lohn: zwischen 75 und 950 Nakfa – nach offiziellem Umrechnungskurs 5 bis 60 Franken.

    Der eritreische Nationaldienst werde als Mittel zur Arbeitskraftbeschaffung für das ganze Wirtschaftssystem eingesetzt, schreibt das Schweizer Bundesverwaltungsgericht in seinem Referenzurteil vom 10. Juli 2018. Seine Dauer sei willkürlich festgelegt sowie unabsehbar. Zudem komme es zu Misshandlungen und die Dienstverweigerung werde «rigoros bestraft».
    Das Fazit: Schickt die Schweiz Menschen nach Eritrea zurück, erwartet diese Zwangsarbeit.

    Das britische Upper Tribunal, auf welches sich das Schweizer Urteil in wichtigen Punkten stützt, hält fest, dass die Gefahr, dass jemand bei der Rückkehr in den Nationaldienst einbezogen wird, wohl nicht nur gegen das Zwangsarbeitsverbot, sondern auch gegen das Verbot unmenschlicher Behandlung nach Artikel 3 der EMRK verstösst. Damit wäre der Nationaldienst ein Wegweisungshindernis.

    Dennoch kommt das Schweizer Bundesverwaltungsgericht zum Schluss, dass in bestimmten Fällen eine Wegweisung von eritreischen Asylsuchenden möglich ist – weil es sich in Eritrea nicht um eine «krasse Verletzung» des Zwangsarbeitsverbots handle. Darüber, ob der Entscheid des Schweizer Gerichts rechtlich haltbar ist, müssten nun der Europäische Gerichtshof für Meschenrechte und der UNO-Ausschuss gegen Folter entscheiden. Vor beiden Institutionen sind Fälle weggewiesener eritreischer Asylsuchender hängig.

    https://reflekt.ch/eritrea
    #Erythrée #COI #asile #migrations #réfugiés #dictature #aide_d'urgence #déboutés #Suisse #retour_au_pays #renvois #expulsions #droits_humains #prisons #prisons_secrètes

    –------

    Traduit aussi en tigrinya :
    https://reflekt.ch/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Teil-1-Tigrinya_Lay.pdf

  • Violation du droit constitutionnel d’asile. Une femme et son fils sont toujours en errance en Italie suite à leur #renvoi_illégal par la France

    Jeudi 14 mai 2020, une jeune femme et son enfant de 5 ans interpellés à #Menton étaient renvoyés directement en Italie par les forces de l’ordre françaises, sans prise en compte de leur souhait de demander l’asile.

    Saisi en référé liberté de cette situation, le tribunal administratif de Nice a rejeté, le mardi 19 mai 2020, la demande de la jeune femme de pouvoir faire enregistrer sa demande d’asile sur le territoire français. Le tribunal se contente d’estimer que la famille, en provenance d’Italie, ne justifie pas des conditions nécessaires pour entrer sur le territoire français. Le tribunal juge également que la famille ne démontre pas ne pas être en mesure de déposer une demande d’asile en Italie.

    Pourtant, la procédure d’asile, telle qu’elle est applicable à la frontière, interdit aux forces de l’ordre de renvoyer une personne qui sollicite la protection internationale en France. La demande d’asile doit être enregistrée et examinée par les autorités compétentes, quand bien même la personne serait en provenance d’un pays européen – des procédures spéciales étant d’ailleurs prévues dans cette hypothèse. Dès juillet 2017, le Conseil d’Etat rappelait qu’aucune circonstance ne peut justifier le non-respect du droit des personnes de solliciter l’asile à la frontière franco-italienne. Le tribunal administratif de Nice, suivant ces instructions, a d’ailleurs sanctionné à plusieurs reprises les pratiques illégales des forces de l’ordre en la matière.

    Depuis près d’une semaine, la jeune femme et son enfant en errance sont sans protection ni hébergement. Leur situation est d’autant plus alarmante qu’elle ne permet pas d’assurer le suivi médical de l’enfant, récemment opéré et dont l’état de santé se dégrade.

    La famille et son avocat, membre de l’association Alliance des avocats et praticiens du droit des étrangers pour la défense des droits fondamentaux, entendent faire appel de cette décision devant le Conseil d’Etat. Nos associations réitèrent leur demande : les personnes se présentant aux frontières françaises et souhaitant bénéficier d’une protection internationale doivent réellement et effectivement pouvoir exercer ce droit.

    Les organisations signataires continueront sans relâche leur travail afin que les #droits des personnes migrantes et réfugiées, prévues par les législations nationales, européennes et internationales, soient respectés.

    Le vendredi 15 mai 2020, nos associations alertaient déjà sur les conditions dans lesquelles se trouvaient la famille à #Vintimille et sur les manquements des autorités françaises en ce qui concerne le respect du droit d’asile.

    Paris, le 20 mai 2020

    https://www.ldh-france.org/une-femme-et-son-enfant-renvoyes-hier-en-italie-les-refoulements-illegau

    #renvois #expulsions #Italie #France #migrerrance #migrations #réfugiés #asile #refoulement #push-back #frontière_sud-alpine #frontières

  • Une femme et son enfant renvoyés hier en Italie : Les refoulements illégaux des personnes en demande d’asile continuent en France [Alerte presse inter-associative]

    Alerte presse inter-associative (Amnesty International France, Anafé, La Cimade, Médecins du Monde, Médecins sans Frontières, Secours catholique - Caritas France)

    A la frontière franco-italienne, les pratiques illégales de refoulement des personnes migrantes et réfugiées persistent, malgré le contexte pandémique.

    Hier, jeudi 14 mai 2020, une jeune femme et son enfant de 5 ans ont été interpellés à #Menton et renvoyés directement en Italie par les forces de l’ordre françaises. Cette femme a pourtant clairement émis le souhait de demander l’asile en France dès son interpellation. Cette demande d’asile n’a pas été enregistrée par la police aux frontières, en violation du droit d’asile. Un recours en justice a été déposé aujourd’hui devant le tribunal administratif de Nice.

    Ce renvoi illégal est intervenu sans que la police française, malgré la crise sanitaire, ne se soucie de l’accès à un abri, à des mesures d’hygiène et de protection, pour cette femme et son enfant. Les forces de l’ordre françaises se sont contentées de déposer la famille de l’autre côté de la frontière, en Italie, sans argent ni nourriture, à une dizaine de kilomètres de la commune de #Vintimille. Depuis, la famille est à la rue, sans protection ni hébergement. Cette situation d’errance est d’autant plus alarmante que l’enfant présente un état de santé préoccupant, ayant été récemment opéré.

    Plusieurs autres témoignages de personnes refoulées ont été récoltés par les associations françaises et italiennes ces derniers jours, faisant état de l’absence de mesures sanitaires spécifiques prises par les forces de l’ordre françaises et italiennes à la frontière franco-italienne. Les personnes migrantes sont ainsi renvoyées par la France vers l’Italie, où elles se retrouvent dans une situation d’errance en Italie. Pourtant, une veille sanitaire, une mise à l’abri et un accès aux soins en période de crise sanitaire internationale sont devenus plus qu’indispensables, tant en termes de santé individuelle, que de santé collective.

    Enfin, selon les préconisations du Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés, la situation sanitaire actuelle ne saurait justifier des éventuelles atteintes au droit constitutionnel d’asile. Nos associations demandent donc que les personnes se présentant aux frontières françaises qui souhaitent bénéficier de la protection internationale puissent réellement exercer ce droit.

    Complément d’information

    Depuis plusieurs années, nos associations demandent le respect des droits des personnes migrantes et réfugiées aux frontières intérieures, notamment à la frontière franco-italienne, de Menton à Briançon. Ces pratiques quotidiennes ont été condamnées par le tribunal administratif de Nice à maintes reprises (11 décisions en 2020 avant le début des mesures de confinement).

    Pendant cette période de crise sanitaire, nos associations ont demandé que soient suspendues les renvois des personnes en migration vers l’Italie, afin qu’elles ne soient pas remises dans l’errance et puissent être protégées de l’épidémie, conformément aux recommandations du Haut-Commissariat pour les réfugiés et de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé.

    http://www.anafe.org/spip.php?article565

    #France #frontière_sud-alpine #asile #migrations #réfugiés #pandémie #coronavirus #covid-19 #Italie #push-back #renvois #expulsions #refoulement

    ping @thomas_lacroix

  • En #France, l’État appelé à « moderniser » sa #politique_migratoire

    #Travail, #asile, #expulsions... La #Cour_des_comptes préconise, dans un rapport publié ce mardi 5 mai, une « #modernisation » de la politique migratoire française, réhabilitant au passage les #quotas.

    Les expulsions ? « Peu efficaces. » L’enregistrement de la demande d’asile ? Trop lente. L’immigration de travail ? Doit s’inspirer du modèle canadien. Le rapport de la Cour des comptes utilise trente fois le mot « modernisation » pour revoir la politique migratoire française.

    Dans ce document intitulé « L’entrée, le séjour et le premier accueil des personnes étrangères » (https://www.ccomptes.fr/fr/publications/lentree-le-sejour-et-le-premier-accueil-des-personnes-etrangeres), la Cour dresse l’état des lieux d’une politique dont le triptyque, maîtrise de l’immigration, garantie du droit d’asile et intégration, nécessite « des objectifs plus tangibles, plus précis et plus réalistes ».

    À commencer par ceux impartis aux délais d’#enregistrement des #demandes_d'asile. « Depuis plusieurs années, les cibles de délais assignées par l’État sont plus strictes que les obligations légales, car elles sont en partie conçues comme des signaux supposés décourager les #demandes_infondées », relève l’autorité administrative indépendante, pointant en particulier les procédures dites « accélérées », qui doivent être traitées en 15 jours mais dont les délais réels constatés sont de 121 jours.

    Allonger la durée de certains titres de séjour

    Parmi ses 14 recommandations pour la France, qui « accueille sensiblement moins de personnes étrangères que les autres grands pays occidentaux par la voie de l’immigration régulière », la juridiction financière suggère également de « simplifier le régime du séjour en allongeant la durée de certains titres, en automatisant le renouvellement de ceux qui s’y prêtent et en allégeant les formalités procédurales ».

    En 2018, selon le rapport, plus des trois quarts des premiers titres avaient une validité d’un an, sans que ce ne soit « le gage d’une plus grande sélectivité », avec des refus de renouvellement de 1% seulement.

    Modèle canadien pour l’immigration professionnelle

    La filière d’immigration professionnelle, elle, « pourrait être modernisée et diversifiée en s’inspirant du modèle canadien, fondé sur des cibles quantitatives pluriannuelles » et « un système de sélection individuel ». La Cour reprend à son compte la notion controversée de quotas pour la migration de travail, qui s’était effondrée en France entre 2011 et 2017, avant de se redresser.

    Elle rappelle que la liste des « métiers en tension », censée déterminer les professions pour lesquelles l’immigration professionnelle est ouverte, est « aujourd’hui dépassée ». Une obsolescence qui fait consensus jusqu’au gouvernement, qui a prévu de la réviser.

    Scepticisme au ministère de l’Intérieur

    Dans une réponse à la Cour des comptes, le ministère de l’Intérieur s’est montré sceptique, évoquant une hypothèse « avant tout adaptée à un pays ayant d’importants besoins de main-d’œuvre sans possibilité de mobiliser des actifs déjà installés » sur le territoire. « Cette situation n’est pas celle de la France [...] qui doit parallèlement assurer l’insertion dans l’emploi de personnes résidant en France, qu’elles soient Françaises ou étrangères. »

    Par ailleurs, l’autorité administrative a jugé « peu efficace » la politique d’éloignement du gouvernement, lui suggérant de « mettre en place les moyens nécessaires à l’augmentation du nombre de départs aidés ». Sur ce point, la Place Beauvau n’a pas repris la Cour.

    http://www.rfi.fr/fr/france/20200505-%C3%A9tat-appel%C3%A9-moderniser-politique-migratoire-cour-comptes-rapp
    #procédure_accélérée #découragement #dissuasion #droit_d'asile #migrations #réfugiés #titres_de_séjour #renouvellement #étrangers #modèle_canadien #travailleurs_étrangers #immigration_professionnelle #sélection_individuelle #métiers_en_tension #renvois #départs_aidés #sans-papiers #efficacité

    Renvois peu efficaces ? La solution envisagée par la cour des comptes, des "renvois aidés" (au lieu de papiers !) :

    l’autorité administrative a jugé « peu efficace » la politique d’éloignement du gouvernement, lui suggérant de « mettre en place les moyens nécessaires à l’augmentation du nombre de départs aidés ».

    Lien pour télécharger le #rapport :


    https://www.ccomptes.fr/system/files/2020-05/20200505-rapport-entree-sejour-premier-accueil-personnes-etrangeres.pdf

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Collective Expulsion from Greek Centres

    The Border Violence Monitoring Network are releasing new case material presenting evidence of removals from Greek centres and the subsequent pushback of at least 194 people to Turkey. The incidents, occurring from the camp in #Diavata and the #Drama_Paranesti Pre-removal Centre, show the extension of collective expulsion during the COVID-19 period. These are brazen acts which situate institutional accommodation sites and detention spaces firmly within the illegal pushback regime. Find out more in the full briefing attached below:

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/wp-content/uploads/Press-Release_Greek-Pushbacks.pdf
    #push-backs #push-back #renvois #refoulements #refoulement #Grèce #Turquie #Grèce #covid-19 #coronavirus #apport #Evros

    ping @luciebacon

    • Migrants accuse Greece of forced deportations

      New findings suggest Greek authorities are illegally deporting refugees across the Turkish border. As part of an international research team, DW identified and met some of the victims who were forced back. 

      “Come with us and we will issue you new papers,” a Greek police officer told Bakhtyar on a Wednesday morning in late April. The 22-year-old Afghan man believed the offer was the key to realizing his dream of starting a new life in Europe.

      Two months earlier Bakhtyar had crossed the Evros River, a border between Turkey and Greece, and a key route for refugees seeking to reach the European Union. He continued onward to Diavata, the official refugee camp set up on the outskirts of Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki. Upon arrival he was careful to register with the Greek police, the precursor to seeking international protection — and a first step in the asylum process. A photograph of his document shows the date to be February 12, 2020.

      The coronavirus lockdown had closed most public services, and Bakhtyar says he had been anxious for the office to reopen so he could make an official asylum claim. He would not get the chance to do so.

      Recalling his encounter with police in April, Bakhtyar says he was put in a white van and taken to a police station in the center of Thessaloniki. Instead of getting the crucial papers as he was promised, Bakhtyar says the police confiscated all his belongings, including his phone. He was later relocated to another police station where, he says, officers slapped and kicked him before putting him onto the back of a truck. Bakhtyar remembers a sheet being pulled down to prevent anyone seeing who was inside the truck. He did not realize it at the time, but the truck was heading east — retracing his arduous journey back towards Turkey.

      When the truck stopped, Bakhtyar realized he was not alone. Other asylum-seekers like him were lined up along the banks of the Evros River. He recalls seeing young men loaded onto dinghies, 10 at a time. The boatman, Bakhtyar says, spoke in Greek to people he assumed were police, and to the asylum-seekers in their native Dari. DW could not independently verify that the men were Greek police officers. For Bakhtyar, he says it was clear it was not the boatman’s first such crosing to Turkey.

      Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the border between Greece and Turkey is closed. All official deportation procedures have been put on hold. When Bakhtyar and other asylum-seekers reached the far bank on the Turkish side, there was nothing and no-one waiting for them.  

      DW meets pushback victims 

      When DW met with Bakhtyar for this report, he was staying in Istanbul’s Esenler district, home to a substantial Afghan population. The city was under lockdown at the time and it was hard to move around. Wearing a red T-shirt with “New York” written across the front, Bakhtyar appeared sad and upset. He wants to get back to Greece as soon as possible to pursue his dream of living in Europe.

      Bakhtyar’s experience is not an isolated story. In a joint investigation between DW, the Dutch news publication Trouw, media nonprofit Lighthouse Reports, and the independent verification collective Bellingcat, we were able to locate Bakhtyar and other young men in Turkey and verify that they had been forcibly returned after previously being in Greece. Their accounts, all given separately, establish a clear pattern: male, under 30 and traveling by themselves. Most of them are from Afghanistan, some of them are from Pakistan and North Africa. They were either arrested in the Greek camp of Diavata or picked up seemingly at random by local police near the camp.

      Together with our news partners, we met with and interviewed multiple eyewitnesses in Greece and Turkey, collected Greek police documents and established a chain of evidence, from the refugee camp in Diavata to the streets of Istanbul. Using publicly available data, including refugees’ social media posts, which were time-stamped and featured photographs of landmarks in Greece that were geolocated, we were able to corroborate key elements of witness testimony.

      In total we contacted six people in Istanbul who recounted their experiences with “pushbacks” — the forceful return of refugees and migrants across a border — and located another four elsewhere in Turkey, all of whom could prove their previous stays in Greece.

      Pushbacks are deportations carried out without consideration of individual circumstances and without any possibility to apply for asylum or to put forward arguments against the measures taken, according to the European Convention on Human Rights.

      ’Modern slavery’

      One of the other men we met in Istanbul is Rashid, who fled his native Afghanistan three years ago and made his way to Turkey. He worked as a packer and mover in Ankara, the Turkish capital, before heading to Istanbul where he found work as a welder. He has temporary protection status in Turkey but is not provided with medical assistance or housing.

      “In Turkey, life is full of uncertainties for young Afghan men who lack access to basic healthcare and social services,” Zakira Hekmat, co-founder of the Afghan Refugees Solidarity Association in Turkey, told DW. “They are precariously employed in low-paid jobs without permits. It is modern slavery.” Afghan men in Turkey mostly toil in the underground economy working tough, physical jobs in construction, transportation or textiles.

      Hoping for a better future, Rashid left Turkey for Greece at the beginning of 2020. He recalls crossing the Evros River with about 20 other people on a boat. He says he stayed in a tent for roughly two months next to the refugee camp at Diavata. But everything changed for him in late March when he was returning from Friday prayers.

      Rashid says he was stopped by Greek police who told him to wait. He then describes to DW how a white van pulled up and armed men without uniforms appeared. They told him to get in. Rashid says he did not even know who the men were and that he only found out later that they were working with Greek police after he was taken to a police station. DW could not verify the connection between the men and the police.

      His Greek documents, originally valid for one month, had expired but renewal during the coronavirus outbreak had not been possible as immigration offices were closed. At the station, Rashid says, the police confiscated all his belongings.

      “They didn’t even give me a glass of water at the police station,” he recalls. Rashid was not asked to sign any papers by the Greek authorities. He says he was later driven for hours in a van across Greece and then forced onto a small boat to cross the Evros River back into Turkey.

      Recognizing a pattern

      Reports on alleged pushbacks, especially at the Evros border, are numerous. The witness accounts we have gathered with our news partners corroborate reports from human rights organizations working with the Border Violence Monitoring Network, an independent database. They indicate that there were at least five police raids carried out in Diavata camp between March 31 and May 5, resulting in the seemingly illegal deportation of dozens of migrants. In almost all cases, police appear to have targeted young, single men from Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa.

      Vassilis Papadopoulos, president of the Greek Council of Refugees and a migration official in a previous administration, sees a clear pattern in the pushbacks.

      “Police vans come to the camp and the officers carry out a brief check of the people who are not yet registered. They ask for their papers  [...] they detain them and tell them that they will be taken to the station, to either check their papers or to provide them with new papers and instead of that, according to the complaints, [these people] are returned to Turkey,” he says. 

      “What is important and unprecedented in these allegations, if proven valid, is that we are talking about pushbacks from [deep] inside the country and even so from a camp without any formal deportation procedure being followed.”

      When DW confronted the Ministry of Migration and Asylum with the reports of illegal pushbacks, Alternate Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos denied them. “The allegations about human rights violations by Greek law enforcement personnel are fabricated, false and uncorroborated,” he said.

      Sealing the borders

      Greece has been under intense pressure at its borders since the end of February when Turkey signaled the end of its 2016 agreement with the EU over restricting refugee and migrant flows. Ankara had encouraged migrants to head towards the land and maritime borders with Greece. Athens responded by sealing its borders and suspended access to asylum during March. While the asylum system officially resumed in April, the number of arrivals is 97% below levels for the previous April, according to statistics from the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.

      In early May, Greek media reported that the government was said to be pursuing “aggressive surveillance” aimed at preventing refugees from arriving. The government has not specified what this entails.

      DW approached the Ministry of Migration and Asylum for further details on the extent of the government’s activities. Alternate Minister Koumoutsakos said, “measures taken so far have been proportionate to the gravity of the situation and pursued legitimate aims, such as, in particular, the protection of national security, public order and public health.”

      Notis Mitarakis, the Greek Minister on Migration and Asylum, has defended the government’s harder line on asylum and migration. Speaking to state television during a visit to Samos on April 28, he said: “There have been zero arrivals to our country in April 2020 thanks to the very big efforts made by our security forces.”

      On the same day, however, residents of the Aegean island reported on local media and Facebook that they had seen newly arrived migrants in the village of Drakei. Lighthouse Reports and Bellingcat analyzed video footage from the Turkish coast guardand refugees that indicated a boat carrying 22 asylum-seekers arrived at a cove on Samos at around 7:30 a.m. that day.
      Pushed back from Samos island

      Jouma was among the refugees who climbed the steep path up from the remote cove on Samos to the village. This was the fourth time the young man from Damascus, Syria had tried to reach Greece. For a few hours on the morning of April 28 he believed he had finally made it.

      In a detailed account, Jouma recalls what he experienced after the refugees reached Samos. He says that a girl from the group who spoke a little English asked a local to notify Greek police that they had arrived. The new arrivals expected that they would be taken to the Samos’ refugee camp. Instead, the police who came detained them and took their phones. They were driven to a port where they were transferred between boats before being loaded onto a black-orange life raft without an engine or paddles. Jouma says they were towed towards Turkish waters. The raft was set adrift in the open sea with the waves pushing them back towards Greece and a Greek vessel pushing them towards Turkey.

      The worst thing, Jouma says, was a Greek power boat maneuvering around them trying to push them into Turkish waters, while the Turkish coast guard was just observing. “The Greek coast guard would retreat to make room for their Turkish counterparts to come and take us, but they wouldn’t come, and it went on all night,” Jouma says.

      The group was eventually picked up at noon the next day by the Turks. The port authorities on Samos told DW that there were no arrivals of asylum seekers to the island on April 28. The apparent use of orange life rafts in previous pushback operations was reported by Greek national newspaper Efimerida Ton Syntakton on April 7.

      Are pushbacks in compliance with EU law?

      Greece, like other EU border states such as Croatia, has long been dogged by accusations of pushbacks. Dimitris Christopoulos, who was until recently the president of the International Federation for Human Rights, says that the new intensity of incidents and the number of witnesses raises questions to what extent Greek authorities have been authorizing these pushbacks and how much the EU is aware of what is happening on the Greek border.

      “Obviously, these tactics are violating the Greek Constitution and customary international law, yet they seem to be tolerated by the EU since they serve the purpose of preventing further people from crossing the Aegean or the River Evros into Europe,” says Christopoulos.

      When DW again questioned the Ministry of Migration and Asylum about the legality of the government’s tactics, Alternate Minister Koumoutsakos categorically denied that such operations were taking place. “Greece has been complying, and will continue to do so, with its obligations under international law, including all relevant human rights treaties to which it is a party, also mindful of its obligations under the borders, migration and asylum EU legal framework, as enshrined in the EU Treaties.”

      Jürgen Bast, Professor of European Law at the University of Giessen in Germany, calls such a pushback strategy a clear violation of the law “This goes against everything European law stipulates.” The pushbacks, as described by the refugees, break all the rules of the official return directive, Bast says, referring to the orderly procedure that an asylum request entails, including a personal interview and the right of the individual to stay in Greece until a decision is made. The destination country, Bast continues, must also be informed and may have the right to refuse rejected asylum-seekers from third countries.

      None of the young men DW met said they had been notified ahead of time that they would have to leave Greece; nor did they give the impression that they had been informed of their legal rights. Instead, the experiences recounted by Bakhtyar, Jouma, Rashid, and the others interviewed suggest that forceful pushbacks across the Greek-Turkish border have become an increasingly common pattern.

      Desperate to get to Europe

      Rashid now lives in a cramped Istanbul flat with 10 other young Afghans. As an undocumented migrant in Turkey, he faces the threat of being deported back to Afghanistan. According to official statistics, 302,278 Afghans have been apprehended by security forces in Turkey in the last two years. Since 2018 it has become extremely difficult for Afghans to register for asylum in Turkey.

      Surrounded by what appear to be dead ends for him in Turkey, Rashid is desperately searching for a way to once again reach Europe. “I do not know what I will do here. We are not guilty. Of course, I want to cross the border again,” he says. “I have to.”

      https://www.dw.com/en/migrants-accuse-greece-of-forced-deportations/a-53520642

  • Ciblés par les #rafles, les #Syriens d’#Istanbul vivent dans la peur des #expulsions

    Depuis la victoire de l’opposition sociale-démocrate à Istanbul, lors des municipales du 23 juin, la police turque multiplie les rafles contre les réfugiés syriens et les migrants clandestins, désignés comme les responsables de la défaite du parti présidentiel. Menacés d’un renvoi forcé vers une autre ville turque, voire vers la Syrie, les Syriens de la métropole vivent désormais dans la peur des expulsions.

    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/221219/cibles-par-les-rafles-les-syriens-d-istanbul-vivent-dans-la-peur-des-expul
    #renvois #réfugiés_syriens #Turquie #retour_au_pays #réfugiés #migrations #refoulement #refoulements #asile

    –-> ça date de décembre 2019...