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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ping @isskein @karine4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      #forensic_architecture #architecture_forensique

    • EU Border Agency Frontex Complicit in Greek Refugee Pushback Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      –---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Le gouvernement grec a également nié catégoriquement ces accusations.

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

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

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

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

    • Έστειλαν πίσω 200 πρόσφυγες γιατί ήταν… τζιχαντιστές

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


      Πρωτοσέλιδο

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

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

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

    • Greece’s coast guard accused of mass migrant pushbacks

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

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

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

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

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

      Abuse on board

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

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

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

      ’Largest pushback’ ABR has documented

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

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

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

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

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

      Tensions on migration in Greece

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

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

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

      State pushes ahead with migrant camps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Why did the meeting take place?

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

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

      What were the outcomes?

      Johansson remarked on twitter after the meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Members of EU Parliament reactions:

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

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

      An successful outcome: an independent inquiry:

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

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

    • EU erhöht Druck auf Frontex-Chef

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

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

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

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

      Keine Äußerung von Frontex und Griechenland

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

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

      Griechen haben Angst vor Bloßstellung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Frontex-Direktor Fabrice Leggeri (Übersetzung von FragDenStaat)

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

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

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

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

      Menschenrechte geprüft in vier Stunden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      –---

      Thread sur twitter:

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

      –---

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

      –—

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

      –---

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

      –---

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

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

      –—

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

      –—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • La Grèce fortement soupçonnée de refouler les migrants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • EU border chief urged to quit over migrant pushback claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Frontex is taking us to court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • S&Ds call for Frontex Director to resign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Birgit Sippel, S&D LIBE coordinator, added:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • #Seehofer deckte offenbar griechische Verbrechen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      SPD-Vize Kevin Kühnert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Bang to rights

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

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

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

      Blame game

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

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

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

      Bad reputation

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

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

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

      “Active resistance”

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Documentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Constitution d’un groupe de travail

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

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

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

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

      Action « illégale »

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

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

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

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

    • Le garde-frontière Frontex en pleine tourmente

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Le mastodonte sans contrôle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Validating Border Violence on the Aegean: Frontex’s Internal Records

      The Aegean Sea, separating Turkey from Greece’s ‘hotspot’ islands, is a site of longstanding and increasingly visible border violence: the systematic use of inflatable life rafts by the Hellenic Coast Guard to push people back to Turkey has been widely documented since March last year. This maritime borderzone also stages the operational theatre of Frontex Joint Operation Poseidon, under which patrol boats, helicopters and surveillance planes have been deployed to patrol the extensive breadth of water.

      Frontex repeatedly denied any involvement in these pushbacks (see here and here), stressing its commitment to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of fundamental rights. This ‘modus operandi’ in which fundamental rights become a rhetorical defence could no longer hold after investigative reporters showed visual evidence of Frontex’s complicit role in pushbacks, prompting further media scrutiny and pressure by the European Parliament and Commission.

      In November, Efsyn, a Greek media outlet, published an eighteen-page long Frontex internal document addressed to the agency’s Management Board. The document aimed at answering questions by Member States and the Commission about the on-going pushbacks in the Aegean. The document, which fuelled Frontex’s recent internal inquiry, lists a series of so-called ‘incidents’ and, at times, offers detailed accounts of the previously denied pushbacks. However, these were not recorded as such.

      A closer look at the document reveals numerous ‘#JORA_incidents’ classified as ‘prevention of departure’, as this transcript from August 19, 2020, illustrates:

      frontex

      The #Joint_Operations_Reporting_Application (#JORA) is the main information system that collects and stores all ‘border related incidents’ from Frontex joint operations. Such incidents range from Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, interceptions, Serious Incident Reports to, as the one above, so-called preventions of departure. The leaked document contains twenty of the latter, all following a similar pattern: Firstly, the location of the rubber boat is recorded in Turkish territorial waters; second, Frontex assets are “excused from the scene” after detection; and, finally, a rehearsed ending: the boat “altered course on her own initiative/will and headed towards the Turkish coasts” or, alternately, the Turkish Coast Guard “took over responsibility”.

      Importantly, these JORA incidents coexist with the regular documenting of border violence. Descriptions of boats of asylum-seekers returning to Turkey of their own volition jar with regular testimonies describing the coercive methods employed to push them back. Alarm Phone, Aegean Boat Report and Border Violence Monitoring Network document human rights violations occurring at the same border, on the same dates and, often, at the same time as the JORA incidents.

      On the same day as the JORA incident above:

      Logging the border

      JORA incidents, together with information collected via Eurosur, form the backbone of Europe’s external borders and migration situational picture, Frontex’s narrative of the border. Yet, what is and is not accounted for in JORA and how, has not received much attention. Contrary to the few Serious Incident Reports related to violations of fundamental rights, which are dealt with by the Fundamental Rights Officer and presented to the Management Board, other incidents recorded in JORA don’t reach the public domain. Once inserted and validated, they become a dot on a map at the Frontex Situation Centre in Warsaw. They are devised to feed into risk analyses, maps and weekly analytical overviews.

      This ‘business-as-usual’ mode of reporting is mostly done by a few officers from the host Member State— in Greece, by the Hellenic Coast Guard and Police—who insert incidents into a standardised template through a set of rigid, mandatory fields. Reporting is not done by the officers on the patrol boats but mostly those who sit at coordination centres. Once inserted in the system, incidents are sent to the International Coordination Centre and the Frontex Situation Centre where they are cross-checked with reports from both Hellenic Coast Guard and Frontex deployed officers for validation. This validation process does not statically move in one direction; incidents can go back and forth in the validation chain. The final validation is done by a “specialized team of experts” at Frontex headquarters as the leaked document explains. Yet, incidents can be re-initiated and modified even after finalisation (see work by Pollozek).

      The design of the system allows for the rehearsed recording of formulaic bordering practices that, if closely examined, resemble its coexistent violent forms. Shading into the routine, the JORA records circulate regularly from the islands to Piraeus and Warsaw. While the full JORA archive is inaccessible to the public, the reviewed incidents give us insight into how a particular doctrine of border enforcement is being sustained by the agency and to what effects.

      Normalising violence, eroding rights

      The effects of these records arguably extend beyond the tactical level of border policing. Through their production, a narrative arc is formed by the recorded incidents, generating a specific mode of understanding. Data must be made intelligible to the JORA system and officials along the chain before it can be validated. As a result, even acts of violence such as pushbacks can get translated into mundane logs and thus, brought within the remit of everyday border enforcement and legality.

      The leaked document asserts that the “the notion of ‘prevention of departure”, according to which these ‘incidents’ are classified, should be interpreted “in conjunction with the provisions of Regulation 656/2014, in particular Articles 6 and 7”. While the precise legal meaning of this category in this context remains unclear, its ramifications for the right to leave a country are concerning.

      Regulation 656/2014 indeed provides legal basis (in certain factual circumstances) for the interception of boats carrying asylum-seekers. Yet, it clearly stipulates that the actions that official entities may lawfully take to enforce the border must be compliant with their obligations under EU and international law, including, inter alia, international human rights and refugee law. Moreover, it states: “This Regulation should not affect the responsibilities of search and rescue authorities, including for ensuring that coordination and cooperation is conducted in such a way that the persons rescued can be delivered to a place of safety.”

      The records, however, present an account of border enforcement that exists in isolation from human rights and humanitarian commitments. The dangerous conditions in which border enforcement takes place and the vulnerability of asylum seekers to these conditions are rendered irrelevant and thereby, banalised. Rubber boats carrying illegalized migrants are generally considered seaworthy, not recognised as in distress, regardless of how many people they carry or the fluctuating weather conditions in the Aegean. In none of the incidents contained in the leaked document was a SAR triggered by the Hellenic Coast Guard or Frontex. In this sense, JORA acts as a mediator that transforms, translates, distorts and modifies the meaning of these ‘incidents’. Through the designation of bureaucratic categories (e.g. prevention of departure), JORA codifies and transforms situations that should trigger humanitarian and human rights obligations into legitimate practices of border control. In the process, the duty to render assistance at sea is distorted, and the obligation to facilitate access to asylum is obscured.

      In the context of on-going internal discussions about the legality of interceptions at sea, Frontex’s internal records reveal the practices deemed acceptable by the agency and their interpretation of international legal obligations. The records provide insight into a vision of border enforcement, crystallised at the boundaries of the global north, that perpetuates the violent securitisation of borders to the detriment of human mobility, dignity and safety. They carve out a space where border control activities are shielded from scrutiny, erasing human rights from the operational script.

      Any comments about this post? Get in touch with us! Send us an email, or post a comment here or on Facebook. You can also tweet us.

      https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2021/01/validating-border

    • Five migrant pushback claims under scrutiny

      The board of directors of the European border agency Frontex, which met on Wednesday and Thursday, has decided to further investigate five of 13 reported cases of illegal migrants pushbacks last year, with the alleged help of Frontex guards, from Greece into Turkish territorial waters in the eastern Aegean.

      The board deemed that Frontex did not provide the necessary information and clarifications for the five cases under investigation.

      In view of this, the team investigating the claims has been given additional time to complete its work and present its final conclusions to a new extraordinary board meeting scheduled for February 26.

      With regard to the other eight cases, the board said that there is no evidence to confirm any violations. It also accepted that some of these incidents unfolded in Turkish territorial waters, and in others the migrant boats turned back on their own accord.

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/261560/article/ekathimerini/news/five-migrant-pushback-claims-under-scrutiny

    • L’agence européenne Frontex fragilisée par les accusations d’expulsions illégales

      L’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, qui a annoncé qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie, est accusée d’avoir participé au « pushback », qui consiste à repousser les migrants sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile.
      Accusations d’implication dans des « pushbacks » – des refoulements illégaux de migrants et demandeurs d’asile aux frontières –, enquêtes de l’Office de lutte antifraude de l’Union européenne (UE) et de la Commission de Bruxelles, mise en cause de son directeur, Fabrice Leggeri : l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes, Frontex, chargée de surveiller les frontières extérieures de l’UE, traverse de grosses turbulences. Mercredi 27 janvier, elle a même été contrainte d’annoncer qu’elle allait arrêter ses opérations en Hongrie, une première dans l’histoire de cette institution, fondée en 2004.
      « Nos efforts communs pour protéger les frontières extérieures ne peuvent réussir que si nous veillons à ce que notre coopération et nos activités soient pleinement conformes aux lois de l’UE », a expliqué un porte-parole, en critiquant implicitement les pratiques illégales de la police hongroise, auxquelles l’agence européenne participait pourtant depuis la crise des réfugiés de 2015.
      En cause, la pratique du « pushback », systématisée par le premier ministre ultranationaliste, Viktor Orban, et développée ailleurs dans l’Union. Le fait de repousser les migrants arrivés sur le sol européen sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile n’a pas été partout aussi clairement assumé qu’en Hongrie, mais la Grèce, la Croatie, l’Italie ou la Slovénie, notamment, ont été mises an cause pour s’être livrées, elles aussi, à cette pratique illégale. Un « Livre noir », épais de 1 500 pages et présenté récemment par un réseau d’ONG, a recensé pas moins de 900 cas de ce type, concernant près de 13 000 personnes.
      Expulsions inhumaines
      Depuis une loi adoptée en 2016, la Hongrie considère, elle, que tous les migrants arrivant sur son sol peuvent être immédiatement renvoyés vers la Serbie voisine. Lorsqu’ils sont arrêtés, après avoir réussi à franchir la clôture que M. Orban a fait construire tout le long de la frontière, ou même à Budapest, les migrants se voient systématiquement refuser de déposer une demande d’asile et sont expulsés sans autre forme de procès, dans des conditions parfois inhumaines.
      Présents à la frontière hongroise depuis 2015, les agents de Frontex ont participé à cette politique, malgré les critiques des organisations non gouvernementales. « La Hongrie est le seul pays à avoir légalisé les “pushbacks” et à les pratiquer aussi ouvertement. La police hongroise publie même des chiffres tous les jours sur le nombre de personnes renvoyées en Serbie », dénonce Andras Lederer, du Comité Helsinki hongrois, une ONG spécialisée dans l’aide aux migrants. Il estime que la Hongrie a pratiqué 50 000 refoulements depuis 2016. A l’issue d’une longue bataille juridique, la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne a estimé, le 17 décembre 2020, que les pratiques hongroises enfreignent les directives régissant le droit d’asile.
      Malgré cet arrêt, le gouvernement de Budapest a refusé de modifier sa législation et a continué ces pratiques. « La Hongrie ne va pas céder devant la pression des forces pro-immigration », affirmait encore le porte-parole du gouvernement, Zoltan Kovacs, jeudi 28 janvier. « Bruxelles veut nous prendre le peu d’aide qu’on avait », a-t-il ajouté en réaction au retrait de Frontex, devenu inéluctable après l’arrêt de la Cour de Luxembourg. Pour M. Lederer, ce retrait est en revanche « bienvenu » : « La Hongrie ne pourra plus se cacher derrière la présence de Frontex pour continuer cette pratique. »
      Violences aux frontières de l’Union
      Avec un contingent censé atteindre 10 000 hommes, un budget pluriannuel passé à 5,6 milliards d’euros et son rôle de gardienne stricte des frontières, en association avec les forces nationales, l’agence dirigée par M. Leggeri est l’une des pièces essentielles de la politique migratoire de l’UE et du « pacte » proposé en 2020 pour la Commission. Sa mise en cause, alors même qu’elle est loin de tourner à plein régime, est de mauvais augure.
      Jeudi 28 janvier, alors que les vingt-sept ministres de l’intérieur, réunis en visioconférence, évoquaient – en présence du directeur de Frontex – le dossier de la migration, l’Agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés évoquait un droit d’asile « menacé » en Europe et disait recevoir « de nombreux rapports » sur les violences exercées aux frontières de l’Union.
      D’où l’attention toute particulière que porte la commissaire aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, au dossier des « pushbacks ». La responsable suédoise se satisfait-elle des explications de la direction de Frontex, dont le conseil d’administration affirmait, le 21 janvier, qu’il n’avait pas trouvé de preuves de violation des droits de l’homme dans les cas qu’il a examinés ? « Sur la base des informations fournies », il n’aurait « pu établir de preuves ». Il a toutefois précisé que ses conclusions ne concernaient que certains incidents en Grèce et que des clarifications étaient nécessaires. Cinq cas problématiques de possibles refoulements impliquant Frontex sont encore examinés.
      Jeudi, devant les ministres, Mme Johansson a réclamé « toutes les analyses nécessaires » pour, dit-elle, rétablir la confiance dans l’agence. Elle a aussi évoqué un projet de réforme, incluant la nomination de trois sous-directeurs et la mise en place – enfin – d’un système de surveillance des droits humains.
      Le débat « recule »
      Au-delà du sort de Frontex, la question est de savoir si une définition d’une véritable politique migratoire européenne, avec une refonte des règles de l’asile et une solidarité accrue entre les pays, a une chance de se réaliser. Confirmant que le débat sur le « pacte » élaboré par la Commission « n’a pas beaucoup avancé », le secrétaire d’Etat belge à la migration, Sammy Mahdi, déclarait, jeudi, au quotidien La Libre Belgique qu’il fallait le rendre « rationnel ». Pour sortir les discussions de l’ornière, pour vérifier que la proposition de la Commission est opérationnelle et, enfin, pour que chacun annonce vraiment ses intentions, M. Mahdi propose « une simulation » : sur la base des chiffres de l’année 2019, chaque pays préciserait ce qu’il pourrait accomplir concernant l’accueil, la solidarité, le financement des infrastructures d’accueil aux frontières, etc.
      Un communiqué du secrétaire d’Etat évoquait une possible évolution de la Hongrie et de ses partenaires du groupe de Visegrad, à condition que soit satisfaite leur revendication (très floue) d’une solidarité « flexible ». Un participant à la réunion de jeudi faisait preuve de moins de conviction : « Faire avancer le débat ? Mais il recule ! » Vétéran des conseils européens sur la migration, le ministre luxembourgeois Jean Asselborn n’est pas loin de confirmer : « Nous sommes sans doute tous d’accord sur les contrôles aux frontières extérieures ou sur les retours. Mais pas sur la manière de respecter les droits humains des demandeurs d’asile, sur les relocalisations obligatoires ou sur l’impératif de solidarité » entre les pays européens. Les Etats prêts à respecter ces principes se compteraient, en effet, désormais sur les doigts d’une main.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/01/29/l-agence-europeenne-frontex-fragilisee-par-les-accusations-d-expulsions-ille

    • Refoulement de migrants : « Frontex se retranche toujours derrière ses États hôtes » (Migreurop)

      L’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE, a annoncé qu’elle suspendait ses opérations en Hongrie après une décision de la Cour de justice européenne critiquant le système d’asile de ce pays. L’Office européen de lutte antifraude enquête de son côté sur la gouvernance de l’agence par son directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri dont plusieurs eurodéputés demandent la démission. Frontex a-t-elle participé à des opérations de « pushback », initiées par la Hongrie, qui consistent à repousser des migrants arrivés sur le sol européen sans leur laisser la possibilité de déposer une demande d’asile ? Le décryptage de Brijitte Espuche, co-coordinatrice du réseau Migreurop.

      https://www.rfi.fr/fr/podcasts/invit%C3%A9-international/20210129-refoulement-de-migrants-frontex-se-retranche-toujours-derri%C3%A8re-ses

    • Frontex: Management Board pushes back against secrecy proposals in preliminary report

      Statewatch is publishing the preliminary report of the working group set up by the agency’s Management Board following allegations of involvement in pushbacks from Turkey to Greece. Amongst other things, the report indicates that Frontex has proposed labelling Serious Incident Reports as EU Classified Information, which would reduce transparency and, in turn, accountability.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim

    • Scandals Plunge Europe’s Border Agency into Turmoil

      Accusations of workplace harassment, mismanagement and financial irregularities have led to chaos at Europe’s border agency. The allegations weigh heavily on Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri.

      The men and women who are part of Europe’s new elite border force meet every morning at 9 a.m. for a video conference that is viewed on screens in countries like Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Albania. The Frontex officials usually discuss migration movements and human trafficking, But since the beginning of January, the internal meetings have focused primarily on low morale within the team.

      "Do something at last, or soon no one will work here anymore,” one border guard warned in one of the calls. The policemen and women who regularly complain about their woes are the European Union’s first dedicated border guards. They’re part of Frontex’s standing corps.

      For months now, Frontex, the EU’s border protection agency, and its head Fabrice Leggeri, have been embroiled in a series of scandals. Frontex has been accused of being involved in illegal repatriations of refugees at Europe’s external borders, workplace harassment and a possible case of fraud linked to the agency. Now the crisis has also reached the standing corps, the border management agency’s prestige project.

      Frontex plans to deploy up to 10,000 border guards to the EU’s external borders in the coming years. The civil servants were promised brand new equipment and EU jobs with lavish salaries and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen personally pushed for the creation of the standing corps. The stars of the EU flag sparkle on the sleeves of the new dark blue uniforms worn by the reserves.

      The job may sound glamorous on paper, but it is anything but in the countries where the reserve guards have been deployed, like Greece, Croatia and Albania. Several officers have told DER SPIEGEL of a shortage of agency vehicles, such that expensive SUVs must be rented instead — with officers allegedly even having to pay for gas themselves in some cases. They claim that expenses weren’t reimbursed for bureaucratic reasons, and that parts of the new uniforms were missing and had to be bought by the border guards themselves.

      The officers should be out hunting down criminals and catching smugglers, but Category 1 officers, who are directly employed by Frontex, so far haven’t been allowed to carry weapons because the agency failed to provide the legal basis for doing so in time. The result is that the border guards, supposedly members of an elite European force, have to be escorted on every one of their patrols by national security forces.

      When contacted by DER SPIEGEL, Frontex also said that the pandemic has created additional challenges for deploying the force, but things are back on track again. Yet the agency’s own officers don’t see it that way. It’s a "Potemkin reserve,” scoffs one. "It’s not worth it,” says another officer, who is thinking about quitting.

      The establishment of the standing corps is one of the EU’s most important migration policy projects. The purpose is to control irregular immigration. But now the European Commission and the member states must stand by and watch as it becomes the focus of ridicule.

      The fiasco over the standing corps has become emblematic of an agency that has been falling short of public expectations for years, and of an agency head who is accumulating more and more power but doesn’t seem to know how to use it correctly.

      Under Leggeri, Frontex has stumbled from one scandal to the next. Last autumn, DER SPIEGEL, together with international media partners, first reported that Frontex forces in the Aegean Sea were involved in illegal repatriations of refugees, which are called pushbacks. The Frontex Management Board is investigating the allegations and the EU Ombudsman has opened an inquiry. Leggeri himself is apparently obstructing the investigations.

      In January, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced it had launched an investigation into Frontex. Leggeri claims that the investigators are looking into the pushback reports and that he cannot provide any further comment. But DER SPIEGEL has found in its reporting that the accusations go much further. The investigation involves a possible case of fraud involving a service provider, allegations of workplace harassment and whether information was withheld from the agency’s fundamental rights officer, whose job is to monitor Frontex’s adherence to basic human rights laid out in EU charters, conventions and international law. Internal documents suggest that Leggeri’s entire leadership style is under scrutiny.

      What happened? How could the authority charged with protecting the EU’s external borders descend into such chaos? And what does it all mean for the EU’s migration policy?

      DER SPIEGEL, the media organization Lighthouse Reports and the French newspaper Libération interviewed nearly a dozen current and former Frontex officials in the reporting of this story. Most insisted that their names not be mentioned in the story for fear that they could lose their jobs. Leggeri, for his part, rejected an interview request.

      When combined with internal documents that DER SPIEGEL and its partners were able to view, the insiders’ reports paint a picture of an agency in turmoil.

      France Télécom: How Leggeri seized power at Frontex

      The headquarters of Frontex are located in an office complex in Warsaw’s Wola district, not far from the city center. For years, only a few officials worked here compiling reports on migration routes. Actual border guards were borrowed from national police forces.

      But the agency has grown from a budget of just over 6 million euros in 2005 to 460 million euros in 2020. By 2027, Europe’s taxpayers will have provided 5.6 billion euros in funding to the agency.

      Frontex now has its own border guards, called the standing corps, in addition to aircraft and drones that will soon be complemented by unmanned airships that will provide surveillance as they circle over the Aegean Sea. Frontex’s rise has had a lot to do with Leggeri, the man who has done more than anyone else to shape the agency.

      Leggeri, 52, was born in Mulhouse, in France’s Alsace region, and speaks fluent German. He studied at the École Nationale d’Administration in Strasbourg, a university that has long produced the French elite. Starting in 2013, he worked at the Interior Ministry in Paris in the department for irregular immigration. At the time, the government advocated for Frontex’s expansion, and two years later, Leggeri was named head of the agency.

      Colleagues describe Leggeri as a technocrat. At a Christmas party once, the team gathered around and he began talking with great pathos about the achievements of the "Frontex family.” But Leggeri was reading from his notepad. "It seemed like the whole things was out of his league,” recalled one audience member.

      During the course of Frontex’s expansion, Leggeri tailored the agency to precisely fit his needs. He expanded his cabinet, filling many important posts with fellow French compatriots.

      Frontex workers say Leggeri is on rarely seen in the hallways, and that all important decisions are made by a small inner circle. They describe him as being a control freak, with some former staffers even going so far as to call him a "dictator.” Leggeri "runs the agency like it’s a sub-prefecture,” says someone who has worked with him for a long time. "You may be able to run a French ministry that way, but not an international organization.”

      Frontex staffers have taken to calling Leggeri’s cabinet "France Télécom” when the bosses aren’t around. It’s a reference to the scandal at the French telecommunications authority, which involved systematic bullying and harassment so bad that it drove a number of employees to commit suicide.

      The resentment felt by many Frontex staffers is largely directed at one of Leggeri’s closest confidants: Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin. The Frenchman comes from an aristocratic family from southern France. He once worked for Bernard Carayon, a member of the French parliament, who used to be part of a far-right student union. De La Haye Jousselin is a reserve officer in the French army and has a thing for the military and uniforms. “De La Haye Jousselin is clearly on the right politically,” says someone who has known him for years. Now, he serves Leggeri as the head of his cabinet.

      Insiders say that de La Haye Jousselin leads with an iron fist, and that he is quick to lose his temper. Employees claim he insults people and engages in disrespectful behavior. The agency stated that Frontex has not received any official complaints about de La Haye Jousselin and also claimed that no cabinet member has been hired solely on the basis of their nationality. De La Haye Jousselin dismissed the accusations as "false and baseless.”

      But the behavior of Leggeri and his cabinet chief has consequences. Dissent seems to be frowned upon. And this is likely one of the reasons internal control mechanisms at the agency are becoming less effective.

      Inmaculada Arnáez has more than 20 years of experience in human rights issues. The Spanish lawyer has worked for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and she has been with Frontex since 2012. As the fundamental rights officer, she is supposed to operate independently of the executive director in her job as the agency’s internal watchdog. But when Leggeri took the helm in 2015, she quickly became aware of how little concern the new leader apparently had for human rights.

      Former Frontex employees report that Arnáez was left out in the cold. "We felt like Leggeri just bypassed her.” They claim that human rights had never been his priority.

      The final break between Leggeri and Arnáez came when the European Parliament granted the fundamental rights commissioner more powers in 2019. Arnáez was to be assisted by 40 human rights observers, which would have enabled her office to conduct its own investigations at Europe’s external borders. Apparently that was unthinkable for Leggeri.

      On Nov. 19, 2019, just as Arnáez was returning from an extended illness, the Frontex chief publicly advertised her position. In doing so, Leggeri had also bypassed the Frontex Management Board, since such a job posting requires the board’s approval. He had informed Arnáez only a short time before. In a written assessment obtained by DER SPIEGEL, the European Commission states that Leggeri’s move had been "plain and simply unlawful” and "could be considered as an attempt to discredit or weaken” Arnáez.

      The Commission forced Leggeri to withdraw the job posting. But the Frontex chief didn’t give up. He claimed Arnáez had to be replaced because she doesn’t have enough management experience to lead 40 employees.

      It seems likely, though, that the Frontex chief was mainly bothered by Arnáez because of her advocacy for human rights. Arnáez has repeatedly warned Leggeri against breaking the law. Colleagues say that she believed in the power of her reports. She regularly informed Leggeri about human rights violations in the Aegean Sea and recommended that he abandon the mission in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán legalized pushbacks in 2016.

      Leggeri ignored the fundamental rights officer’s reports and continued the operation in the Aegean Sea. He only withdrew his officers from Hungary a few weeks ago after a ruling by the European Court of Justice forced him to do so. When contacted for comment, Leggeri stated that he had always valued working together with Arnáez. He added that management experience is needed in the post because of the sharp increase in the budget.

      Leggeri still hasn’t hired the 40 human rights monitors to this day. When grilled by the European Parliament, Leggeri blamed the European Commission for the delays. European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who is responsible for the portfolio that includes Frontex, then accused him of having misled parliament.

      Arnáez has been on medical leave again since last March. The Frontex Management Board replaced her on an interim basis with Annegret Kohler, a German national who had previously worked in Leggeri’s cabinet. "It’s a clear conflict of interest,” says a Frontex official.
      The Pushback Affair: How Frontex Covered Up Human Rights Violations

      The walls of the Frontex Situation Centre are covered in monitors, with surveillance planes and satellites transmitting real-time images from border regions. From their desks, Frontex officers can closely monitor events taking place on the edges of Europe. “You can see how many people are sitting in a refugee boat,” says someone who knows the room well.

      A collection of images that appeared on screens here on the night of April 18-19, 2020, continue to occupy members of European Parliament until today. They come from a Frontex surveillance plane flying over the Aegean, according to several internal Frontex reports that DER SPIEGEL has obtained.

      Shortly before midnight, Greek border patrol officers intercepted a rubber dinghy just north of the island of Lesbos and transferred the 20 to 30 refugees onboard their ship. According to prevailing law, they should have then brought the asylum-seekers to Lesbos, where they could apply for asylum. Instead, though, they put the refugees back into the dinghy and then towed them back toward Turkey.

      Greek officials in the coordination center in Piraeus ordered the Frontex pilots to change course away from the dinghy. The Frontex team leader asked if there was a particular reason for the change in course. “Negative,” came the response from the Greeks.

      At 3:15 a.m., the Frontex plane began running low on fuel. The pilot took one last image, which showed the refugees alone at sea, a few hundred meters from the Turkish coast. No Turkish units were in the area, the pilot reported. The dinghy, he reported, had no motor and the Greek Coast Guard had sailed off. The refugees, including four children, were only rescued the next morning at 6:52 a.m. by the Turkish Navy.

      The Greek Coast Guard has been systematically conducting pushbacks for several months. They stop refugee boats in Greek territorial waters and sometimes destroy their motors before then towing them back toward Turkey. “Aggressive surveillance,” is the official term the government in Athens has come up with to describe the practice. In fact, it is illegal.

      Frontex regulations require Leggeri to suspend missions when he learns of rights violations of a serious nature or that are likely to persist. His forces, after all, are supposed to protect human rights. But Leggeri insists that he has no reliable information about pushbacks in his possession – despite the fact that DER SPIEGEL and its reporting partners have exhaustively documented how Frontex units were nearby during at least seven illegal pushback operations.

      During their operations, Frontex personnel are under the command of Greek border officials. Already last March, a Greek liaison officer ordered a Danish Frontex unit to abandon a group of intercepted refugees at sea, according to internal emails that DER SPIEGEL has reviewed. Nevertheless, Frontex decided nothing was wrong and closed the matter within a day. Later, in testimony he delivered before the European Parliament, Leggeri claimed the incident had merely been a misunderstanding.

      The pushback that took place off Lesbos in the night of April 18-19 was exhaustively documented by Frontex officers themselves. There is a strong belief “that presented facts support an allegation of possible violation of Fundamental Rights or international protection obligations such as the principle of non-refoulement,” reads an internal Frontex report that DER SPIEGEL has obtained.

      The case was apparently so sensitive that Leggeri took personal control over the investigation and did not, as was standard procedure, delegate it to his Fundamental Rights Officer. On May 8, he wrote to Ioannis Plakiotakis, the Greek minister of maritime affairs, a letter that DER SPIEGEL has obtained. In it, Leggeri voiced his concern and requested an internal investigation. The observance of human rights, particularly the principle of non-refoulement, is an “ultimate requirement” of the Frontex mission, he wrote.

      The answer from the Greek government is a smorgasbord of attempts to explain it away. Migration flows in the Aegean represent a “hybrid nature threat,” the response reads. Because of the corona crisis, it continues, it is more important than ever to prevent illegal border crossings and none of the migrants had requested asylum. According to an initial assessment by Greek officials, the letter claims, none of those on board were in particular need of protection.

      Legal experts see the Greek response as worthless. “The Greek Coast Guard without a doubt committed a human rights violation in the case,” says Dana Schmalz, an international law expert with the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. From her perspective, it is a clear case of an illegal pushback. It is impossible, she says, to determine if someone needs protection or if they are faced with danger back in Turkey on board a rickety dinghy. Individual proceedings conducted on land are necessary to make such a determination, she says. Furthermore, she continues, the Greek Coast Guard put the migrants’ lives in danger by abandoning them at sea in a dinghy without a motor.

      But Leggeri was satisfied with the report. The verdict: There was no pushback, there were no human rights violations. The head of Frontex silently buried the incident. “There have been several occasions when Leggeri has not provided us with adequate information,” says Tineke Strik, a member of European Parliament from the Netherlands.

      When reached for comment, Frontex said the Greek government had not ascertained any human rights violations. The agency has to rely on national authorities to investigate such incidents, Frontex insisted, since it is not authorized to undertake such investigations itself.

      Frontex officials are actually required to report incidents where they suspect that human rights violations may have occurred, so-called “Serious Incident Reports.” But such reports are hardly ever written. For years, Frontex officials have followed the example of their boss Leggeri: When in doubt, keep quiet.

      Insiders describe the rules as a kind of omertà, a code of silence. Hardly anyone is willing to risk their career or cause problems for their host country. In one case, an official even tried to prevent a Swedish colleague from submitting a Serious Incident Report, the head of Swedish border control told the Frontex Management Board.

      A German federal police officer is one of the few willing to dissent, though he has asked that we not publish his real name. On Nov. 28, 2020, his first day on a Frontex mission on the Greek island of Samos, an article from DER SPIEGEL popped up on his mobile phone. The story was about the Uckermark, the ship on which he was scheduled to serve that very evening. The article reported that the Germans had stopped a refugee boat on August 10 and handed it over to the Greek Coast Guard, which then proceeded to abandon the refugees at sea.

      The federal policeman went to his commanding officer and said he couldn’t participate in such operations and essentially said he didn’t want to be an accessory to any legal transgressions. Later, he sent an explanation around to his comrades via WhatsApp: “I have decided for me personally that I cannot tolerate the measures taken by the Greeks and certainly cannot support them.”

      His commanding officer responded a few minutes later: “The fact is that our actions are legal! Covered by the Frontex mandate.” He apparently was referring to the requirement to obey orders from the Greek Coast Guard.

      The German Federal Police does not contradict the man’s account, but when contacted, the force denied having taken part in any legal violations. The policeman himself, however, had a different view of the situation. He refused to take part in the mission, preferring instead to stay on land. He says he will never again volunteer to take part in a Frontex mission.

      Dodgy Business: How Leggeri Landed in the Sights of the European Anti-Fraud Office

      The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) always gets involved when there are suspicions that EU financial interests have been violated. And recently, OLAF opened an investigation into Frontex. On Dec. 7, OLAF officials searched Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, including the offices belonging to Leggeri and to Head of Cabinet Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin.

      Leggeri has yet to comment publicly on the investigation. According to members of the German parliament, the Bundestag, Leggeri testified before the Committee on Internal Affairs in January in Berlin and said that the inquiry had to do with the pushback accusations and that he couldn’t say any more. That, though, is at best only half true.

      DER SPIEGEL has learned that the investigation has a much broader scope than that. For weeks, OLAF officials have been summoning witnesses and interrogating Frontex staff members.

      One focus of the investigation is apparently a possible case of fraud. A Polish IT company sold the agency a business software solution that cost hundreds of thousands of euros, in part for the training of border guards. Frontex employees complained to their superiors, however, that the software didn’t work well. But the agency nevertheless paid most of the negotiated purchase price. According to documentation DER SPEIGEL has seen, employees informed management in 2018 that the inconsistencies in the case could amount to fraud.

      Leggeri, too, learned of the allegations, and an internal investigation was undertaken. “But according to EU regulations, the Frontex director is required to immediately report potential cases of fraud to OLAF,” says Valentina Azarova of the Manchester International Law Centre. Frontex declined to comment on the OLAF investigation. The Polish software company in question insisted that it has thus far correctly fulfilled all of its contractual obligations to Frontex. And the company is still getting contracts from the European border agency, some of them worth millions.

      The OLAF investigators are also apparently interested in suspicions of workplace harassment at Frontex. They hope to find out if Leggeri or his head of cabinet have yelled at or otherwise harassed agency employees. They are also investigating whether staff members were ordered to withhold information from Fundamental Rights Officer Arnáez and her successor – and if so, by whom.

      OLAF emphasizes that the presumption of innocence still applies, despite the inquiry, explaining that the existence of the investigation offers no proof that anything untoward took place. But there are apparently serious indications of personal misconduct on the part of Leggeri. The collection of questions being asked by investigators indicate significant doubts about his leadership style.

      In Brussels, some refer to Leggeri as “Fabrice Teflon,” with the Frontex boss having thus far survived despite accusations of mismanagement and allegations that his agency was involved in pushbacks. Now, though, the pressure has been cranked up.

      European Commissioner Johansson has more or less made it clear that she no longer considers Leggeri to be tenable in his position. “It has been difficult to keep track of the missteps,” says a high-ranking Commission official. “The priority must be on the long-term reputation of the agency. But it has been hard to reconcile recent actions with that aim.”

      It is not, however, up to the European Commission to decide Leggeri’s fate. That is a decision that must be made by the Frontex Management Board. The board is essentially made up of representatives from those countries that are part of the Schengen Area, with the Commission having just two deputies on the board. EU member states have always thrown their support behind Leggeri in the past. And many of them are likely pleased by the occasionally ruthless methods employed by Frontex to prevent asylum-seekers from crossing into the EU, believes Giulia Laganà, a migration expert with the Open Society European Policy Institute.

      The question is whether the Management Board will continue to back Leggeri once the accusations of workplace harassment and even potential fraud are made public. The European Parliament has already announced its intention to conduct a four-month inquiry into the agency, with the investigation’s mandate having been kept intentionally broad. Leggeri’s leadership style and the workplace atmosphere at Frontex are to be included in the inquiry.

      Even Leggeri’s own staff members in Warsaw have begun wondering how long their boss will continue to cling to his post. “OLAF is onto us, morale is down,” says one official. “I wonder why he doesn’t just leave.”

      https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/missteps-and-mismanagement-at-frontex-scandals-plunge-europe-s-border-agency

    • Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières, à nouveau mise en cause pour ses liens avec des lobbyistes

      Premier corps armé en uniforme de l’Union européenne, l’organisme n’aurait pas déclaré ses liens avec des lobbyistes de l’industrie de la surveillance et de l’armement.

      De nouvelles accusations contre Frontex ont été lancées, vendredi 5 février, par la chaîne publique allemande ZDF, laquelle a, avec la collaboration de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), mené une enquête sur les liens entre l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et l’industrie de la surveillance et de l’armement.

      Des dizaines de documents, auxquels Le Monde a également eu accès, démontrent des infractions aux règles des institutions européennes sur le lobbying, un défaut de transparence et une absence quasi complète de préoccupation pour le respect des droits humains. Ce dernier point était déjà au cœur d’un débat récent sur le rôle du corps européen dans des « pushbacks », des refoulements illégaux de migrants, en Grèce et en Hongrie notamment.

      Dotée d’un budget en forte hausse (6 millions d’euros lors de sa création en 2005, 460 millions en 2020, 5,6 milliards prévus pour 2021-2027) et d’un effectif qui devrait atteindre 10 000 personnes à terme, Frontex, premier corps armé en uniforme de l’Union européenne (UE), effectue actuellement des missions de sauvetage et de surveillance, en appui des forces nationales. Elle lutte aussi contre divers trafics et participe aux expulsions des migrants irréguliers.

      Mais l’agence est, en réalité, en train de devenir un véritable corps de police appelé à se doter de nombreux équipements : armes, radars, drones, systèmes de vérification des documents et de reconnaissance faciale, véhicules, avions, etc.
      Profiter des opportunités

      Devient-elle, du même coup, une sorte d’acteur du secteur de la sécurité et de l’armement ? Et échappe-t-elle au contrôle démocratique, celui du Parlement européen notamment, qui, en 2019, exigeait de l’institution dirigée par le Français Fabrice Leggeri la mise au point d’un « registre transparence », conforme aux pratiques des autres institutions de l’UE ? Ce sont les questions posées par les investigateurs de la ZDF et de CEO, qui ont examiné les dernières années de fonctionnement de l’institution installée à Varsovie.

      Le registre, qui était réclamé par les eurodéputés, devait notamment recenser l’ensemble des réunions tenues avec des représentants des entreprises. Il est « en préparation », dit-on chez Frontex. Et il ne devrait pas satisfaire les attentes : en 2018 et 2019, indiquent des documents de CEO, 91 des 125 lobbyistes reçus par Frontex (soit 72 %) n’étaient pas inscrits au registre européen de la transparence, comme le veulent pourtant les règles fixées pour les institutions de l’UE.

      Idem pour 58 % des entreprises consultées. Sur une application créée pour centraliser les demandes de contacts, aucune demande ne leur est d’ailleurs formulée quant à leur inscription dans ce registre. Etonnamment, le service de presse de Frontex affirme de son côté que l’agence « ne rencontre pas de lobbyistes ».

      Il semble évident, pourtant, que le secteur de la défense entend profiter des opportunités offertes par le développement des missions et des moyens de l’agence. Le programme Horizon 2020 avait déjà affecté 118 millions d’euros au développement de la recherche en lien avec le projet de « Sécurité aux frontières extérieures » de l’UE. Un fonds avait, lui, été doté de 2,8 milliards d’euros pour la période 2018-2020. Et la nécessité d’équiper Frontex a évidemment aiguisé un peu plus les appétits des acteurs du marché mondial du « border control », qui enfle de 8 % chaque année et frôle désormais les 20 milliards d’euros.
      « Surveillance agressive »

      L’agence dirigée par M. Leggeri est-elle sortie de son rôle en s’arrogeant un statut d’intermédiaire de fait entre l’industrie et des institutions européennes soucieuses de conjurer à tout prix le risque de nouveaux flux migratoires ? Serait-elle, même, devenue un acteur qui entend stimuler cette industrie, voire lui confier les rênes d’une politique à vocation essentiellement sécuritaire ?

      Avec son objectif de « faciliter la coopération entre les autorités de contrôle aux frontières, la recherche et l’industrie », Frontex a, en tout cas, multiplié les congrès, les rencontres et les « ateliers » où grands patrons, hauts fonctionnaires, mais aussi délégués des Etats membres échangent beaucoup. Sur des questions de technologie, de sécurité, de « surveillance agressive », mais rarement de droits humains.

      Déjà mise en cause pour avoir tardé à mettre en place un service interne chargé de la surveillance du respect des droits fondamentaux des migrants, l’agence n’aurait, en effet, presque jamais consulté le « Forum des droits fondamentaux » constitué à cette fin. Une organisation qui était membre du forum indique d’ailleurs n’avoir aucun souvenir d’un quelconque échange sur la question des droits et des libertés dans le cadre du lancement d’appels d’offres.

      « La protection des droits humains est un sujet trop important pour le sacrifier à la défense des intérêts de l’industrie », notent les responsables de l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory

      Parmi les participants à des réunions, on a noté, en revanche, la présence de représentants de pays très critiqués pour leur politique à l’égard des migrants, comme la Bosnie-Herzégovine ou l’Australie. Des responsables du département américain de la Homeland Security ont été également conviés.

      « Les conclusions de tout cela sont extrêmement préoccupantes », notent les responsables de CEO. Ils déplorent une politique migratoire qui risque de reposer seulement sur une force de police armée et des techniques comme la surveillance biométrique. « La protection des droits humains est un sujet trop important pour le sacrifier à la défense des intérêts de l’industrie », relèvent-ils.

      « Nous vivons une métamorphose du rôle de Frontex. Il faut en prendre la mesure et s’y habituer », affirmait, vendredi, M. Leggeri, interrogé par Europe 1. On ne sait pas si Ylva Johansson, la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, qui demande que la confiance en Frontex soit « entièrement rétablie », approuvera totalement ce propos.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/02/05/nouvelles-accusations-contre-frontex-l-agence-europeenne-des-gardes-frontier

    • PUSHBACK REPORT 2020

      VIOLENCE IS INCREASING – IN #2020 MARE LIBERUM COUNTED AT LEAST 9,000 PEOPLE ILLEGALLY PUSHED BACK

      #Mare_Liberum monitors the current human rights situation in the Aegean Sea using its own ships. As independent observers, we conduct research in order to document and publicise circumstances at the European border. Since March 2020, Mare Liberum has witnessed a dramatic increase in human rights violations in the Aegean, both at sea and on land. Illegal pushbacks, in which those fleeing and migrating people are pushed back across a national border, play an especially crucial role. Over the past year in particular, pushbacks have become an inhumane everyday reality for people on the move. Pushbacks happen almost daily at the Greek-Turkish border and in 2020 alone, we counted 321 pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, with some 9,798 people pushed back.

      Although pushbacks have demonstrably been carried out at the EU’s external border for years, media attention has now increased notably, especially in recent months. News magazines such as Der Spiegel and the research collective Bellingcat have been able to publicly demonstrate how the Hellenic Coast Guard forcibly pushes those seeking protection back to Turkey, thereby violating international, European and national law. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, as has become all too clear, not only turns a blind eye to illegal repatriation operations, but rather actively and systematically participates.

      Within the framework of the annual report, we seek to adopt a perspective on pushbacks that looks at the long-term development of these practices at the EU’s external border. The comprehensive documentation of pushbacks forms the basis of the report and is an essential part of our monitoring work in the Aegean. Beyond the mere counting of pushbacks, our work also includes the collection of relevant information on the persons affected by pushbacks, practices by the responsible actors and related geographical data. We have gained deeper insights into these issues by conducting interviews with people who have themselves been pushed back at the Greek-Turkish border.

      https://mare-liberum.org/en/pushback-report

    • NEW REPORT ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN THE AEGEAN

      Since March 2020, collective expulsions in the Aegean Sea have been perpetrated with impunity.

      Legal Centre Lesvos’ new report contributes to the growing body of evidence, media coverage, civil society reports and other investigations which have documented how Greek authorities are deliberately and systematically abandoning hundreds of migrants in the middle of the Aegean sea, without means to call for rescue, on unseaworthy, motorless dinghies and liferafts. It is intended to serve as a resource for survivors of collective expulsions and solidarity actors.

      Following the Legal Centre Lesvos’ first report, the present report is based on evidence shared by over fifty survivors of collective expulsions, and underscores the widespread, systematic and violent nature of this attack against migrants. Beyond being egregious violations of international, European and national human rights law, this report argues that the constituent elements of the modus operandi of collective expulsions in the Aegean amount to crimes against humanity within the definition of Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      Despite overwhelming evidence of collective expulsions in the Aegean, the national and European response has been to turn a blind eye: failing to even attempt to hold the responsible Greek authorities to account, let alone other public and private actors directly or indirectly involved. On the contrary, the European Commission has praised the violent “border and migration management” practices implemented in Greece and underwritten its support with substantial financial and material assistance. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented Greece carrying out “official” deportations to Turkey, collective expulsions have conveniently served as an unofficial implementation of the “EU-Turkey Deal” and other bilateral “readmission” agreements with Turkey, which form part of fortress Europe’s border externalisation drive.

      There are only so many times legal and civil society actors can list and table such human rights violations and be met with deafening silence and inaction before this itself becomes evidence of Greek and European liability for collective expulsions as an egregious attack on migrants’ lives. Such inaction also reveals how migrants’ lives are increasingly treated as disposable, in a manner that has historically accompanied the commission of atrocity crimes.

      While the systematic violence of pushbacks in the Aegean is scandalous, it is also the logical endpoint of a dehumanising and punitive European border regime that has systematically obstructed access to territory and the right to asylum by prioritising and funding the ‘hotspot’ containment system, accelerated procedures, detention, deportations, border militarisation and externalisation through deals of questionable legality with third countries; as well as by prosecuting migrants and solidarity actors in a manner that successfully obscures Europe’s own violent, imperialist role in many of the reasons people migrate.

      The absence of serious investigations, let alone practical steps to redress violations are a clear sign that collective expulsions form part of a Greek and European migration policy: instrumentalising human suffering in acts of spectacular state violence for the purpose of deterring migration, at any cost.

      In this context, it is important to ask what justice might look like for survivors of crimes against humanity in the Aegean, many of whom experience ongoing psychological trauma and distress as a result of these crimes. Survivors who have been in contact with the Legal Centre Lesvos have spoken about justice in terms of being able to safely reach Europe. Justice for collective expulsions as crimes against humanity must therefore include safe and legal routes to Europe, as well as defunding, demilitarising and dismantling Europe’s violent border regime.

      https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2021/02/01/crimesagainstumanityintheaegean

      #crimes_contre_l'humanité

      pour télécharger le rapport :
      legalcentrelesvos.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Collective-Expulsions-in-the-Aegean-LCL-01.02.2021-1.pdf

    • UE : Frontex accusée d’incarner l’« Europe forteresse »

      Soupçons de refoulements illégaux de migrants et de bafouement des droits fondamentaux, l’agence Frontex est dans la tourmente. Au point de diviser la Commission européenne.

      C’est potentiellement ce que les Anglo-Saxons appellent la « tempête parfaite », la « poly polémique » qui couve chez Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes.

      Entre les accusations de fermer les yeux ou de participer à des refoulements illégaux de migrants, l’enquête de l’Office anti-fraude sur des allégations de harcèlement et d’inconduite ayant poussé des responsables à quitter l’agence ou l’absence, à ce jour, de recrutement des quarante agents chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux, Frontex accumule les tuiles.

      Après l’enquête de la médiatrice européenne, qui s’est aussi penchée sur son cas, c’est le Parlement européen qui s’en mêle. Outre la mise en place d’un « groupe d’enquête permanent », les eurodéputés ont aussi refusé, fin de la semaine dernière, d’octroyer « la décharge budgétaire » à l’agence, nous explique l’élue belge Saskia Bricmont (Ecolo). « Chaque année, le Parlement a un pouvoir de contrôle budgétaire. Donner la décharge, cela signifie qu’on considère que Frontex a accompli ses missions, a respecté le cadre légal et a donc droit au budget suivant », explique-t-elle. En commission des libertés civiles, de la justice et des affaires intérieures, les eurodéputés ont donc décidé de reporter de six mois cette décharge, une décision qui doit être validée en plénière mais que « tous les groupes politiques » soutiennent, ajoute l’élue. D’ici là, il est principalement attendu de Frontex qu’elle recrute les agents chargés de défendre en interne les droits fondamentaux.
      Mandat et budget élargis

      Depuis cinq ans, le mandat de l’agence a été élargi considérablement. Ses effectifs multipliés. En 2016, Frontex se félicitait du fait qu’elle emploierait 1500 agents à l’horizon 2020. Elle devrait être à 10.000 d’ici 2027, pour un budget de plus de cinq milliards sur sept ans, contre une enveloppe annuelle de 19 millions il y a quinze ans.

      Newsletter Repensons notre quotidien

      Infos positives, bons plans, solutions... Chaque dimanche, place aux initiatives qui peuvent changer votre quotidien.

      Car pour Fabrice Leggeri, le patron de Frontex, les critiques trouvent bien leur source dans ce renforcement des pouvoirs de l’agence. « Pour la première fois, une agence cesse d’être un objet simplement administratif européen, mais a du personnel sur le terrain. C’est une responsabilité d’autant plus grande que nous avons l’usage de la force, sous l’autorité et le contrôle des Etats, et qu’il y a bien sûr des contrepoids, les droits fondamentaux. C’est tout à fait normal que cela suscite des réactions, parce que c’est inhabituel », a-t-il expliqué la semaine dernière lors d’un événement organisé par la Fondation Robert Schuman. « Il peut y avoir des retards de mise en œuvre de certaines choses, tout ne sera certainement pas parfait. Il faut utiliser cette période où il y a beaucoup de questionnements sur l’agence pour expliquer, faire de la pédagogie », a-t-il ajouté.

      A ses côtés, le vice-président de la commission en charge de la Promotion du mode de vie européen, Margaritis Schinas, a évoqué la tentative de « quelques milieux » de bâtir « un narratif qui affaiblit Frontex au moment où nous avons le plus besoin de l’agence. Ça, je ne l’accepterai jamais ». Un ton qui contraste avec celui de sa collègue aux Affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, qui a démenti fin janvier les explications données par Leggeri pour justifier le retard de l’embauche des 40 agents pour les droits fondamentaux.

      Selon le quotidien français Le Monde, François Xavier-Bellamy, chef de la délégation Les Républicains au sein du groupe du Parti populaire européen (PPE, conservateurs) du Parlement européen, a écrit à Ylva Johansson en évoquant de sa part une tentative de déstabilisation voire de procès politique envers Fabrice Leggeri.
      Pas en ligne sur le lobbying

      S’ajoutent à tout cela les accusations de relations troubles avec l’industrie de l’armement et de la biométrie (par exemple, la reconnaissance faciale), étudiées de long en large par l’ONG Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) le mois dernier. Cette dernière estime que l’élargissement des compétences de Frontex et son besoin d’équipement neuf (y compris en matière de défense) ont été une aubaine pour ces industries.

      Entre 2017 et 2019, Frontex a rencontré pas moins de 108 entreprises pour discuter d’armes à feu et de munitions, d’équipements de surveillance etc. Contre dix think tanks, 15 universités et seulement une ONG. Dans les procès-verbaux de ces réunions obtenus par CEO grâce à des demandes d’accès aux documents, elle a pu constater que les droits fondamentaux figuraient rarement à l’agenda. « Sans surprise, il y a des chevauchements significatifs entre les entreprises qui font du lobbying à Frontex et celles qui bénéficient le plus des marchés publics » de l’agence, explique l’ONG.

      En outre, l’agence ne publie pas toutes ses rencontres et voit majoritairement (72 %) des représentants du privé qui ne sont pas enregistrés dans le registre de transparence de l’UE. Frontex s’en est défendu en répondant qu’elle ne faisait pas l’objet de lobbying, compte tenu du fait qu’elle n’est pas impliquée dans le processus législatif européen. Alors, acharnement ou véritable scandale ? L’enquête des eurodéputés devrait permettre d’y voir clair. C’est aussi l’avis/l’espoir de Fabrice Leggeri, qui a jusqu’ici résisté aux appels à la démission.

      https://plus.lesoir.be/358143/article/2021-03-01/ue-frontex-accusee-dincarner-leurope-forteresse

    • La droite française au secours de Fabrice Leggeri, patron de Frontex

      Le groupe #LR au Parlement européen critique la « tentative de déstabilisation » à laquelle se livrerait la commissaire Ylva Johansson à l’égard du directeur de l’agence.

      Le torchon brûle entre la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures et à la migration, #Ylva_Johansson, et la droite française. Dans une lettre au ton cinglant adressée vendredi 26 février à l’ancienne ministre sociale-démocrate suédoise et lue par Le Monde, #François_Xavier-Bellamy, chef de la délégation #Les_Républicains (LR) au sein du groupe du #Parti_populaire_européen (#PPE, conservateurs) interroge la commissaire. Et il parle de « tentative de déstabilisation », de « divergence de fond », voire de « procès politique » que la commissaire instruirait contre Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’agence des gardes-frontières et gardes-côtes Frontex.

      Ce responsable français est sur la sellette depuis des mois. Pour des refoulements illégaux de migrants (pushbacks) qu’aurait favorisés l’agence. Pour des retards dans le recrutement d’une quarantaine d’officiers chargés précisément de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux par les agents de Frontex. Pour d’apparentes réticences à se conformer à des règles administratives en matière budgétaire. Ou encore pour ne pas avoir souscrit à des obligations de transparence en ce qui concerne des réunions avec des lobbys et des responsables de l’industrie de la défense et de la surveillance.

      Le groupe socialiste du Parlement a demandé la démission du numéro un de Frontex

      Ce dernier point n’est pas mentionné dans la lettre de M. Bellamy et l’entourage de Mme Johansson semble, par ailleurs, considérer qu’il n’y a pas de quoi mettre en cause M. Leggeri pour ces contacts, dénoncés notamment par l’ONG #Corporate_Europe_Observatory. Sur les autres questions, en revanche, la commissaire a demandé des explications. Et le groupe socialiste du Parlement a demandé la démission du numéro un de Frontex. En décembre, la responsable de la direction générale des affaires intérieures de la Commission adressait, elle, une longue lettre à M. Leggeri, avec, à la clé, de nombreux griefs.

      Demande de preuves

      Les élus LR volent, eux, au secours du directeur et demandent très fermement des explications à la commissaire. Quelles preuves a-t-elle, interrogent-ils, quand elle accuse M. Leggeri de ne pas se conformer aux directives budgétaires, comme elle l’a fait le 22 février dans la commission de contrôle du Parlement ? Sans éléments incontestables, cela pourrait s’apparenter à une volonté de déstabiliser le patron de l’agence, estiment-ils.

      A propos des refoulements illégaux de migrants, les eurodéputés français endossent les explications livrées jusqu’ici par Frontex : sur treize épisodes douteux, huit ont été jugés conformes par un groupe de travail constitué par la Commission. Cinq autres cas sont encore à l’examen, sur lesquels Mme Johansson a exigé « toutes les explications nécessaires ».

      La Turquie est soupçonnée d’être à l’origine d’informations sur les refoulements illégaux de migrants

      M. Bellamy lui demande à son tour si elle a répondu à un courrier qui lui a été adressé en novembre par M. Leggeri, et dans lequel il réclamait des instructions claires quant à l’attitude à adopter à l’égard de la Turquie. Celle-ci, qui a orienté massivement des migrants vers la Grèce et la Bulgarie en mars 2020, est aussi soupçonnée par certaines sources d’être à l’origine d’informations sur les refoulements illégaux de migrants.
      « Reproches infondés »

      Le groupe LR, qui bénéficie du soutien tacite d’autres élus du PPE, exige, dès lors, de disposer de tous les échanges entre Frontex et la Commission. La lettre se termine par des questions sur l’éventuel désaccord entre la commissaire Johansson et Frontex au sujet des missions mêmes de l’agence.

      Relayant l’idée que la commissaire serait partisane des « frontières ouvertes » – ce qu’elle conteste – les eurodéputés lui demandent s’il y a, de sa part, « un désaccord de fond » sur la stratégie actuelle de la Commission von der Leyen, qui vise à garantir le « mode de vie européen » ? A savoir la maîtrise des frontières, la lutte contre l’immigration clandestine et la contribution à « la sécurité intérieure ».

      « En instruisant un procès politique au moyen de reproches infondés, vous prendriez le risque de violer les principes fondamentaux de l’Etat de droit, de salir des fonctionnaires intègres et loyaux, de fragiliser la cohérence de l’action européenne », conclut la lettre. Contacté dimanche, le cabinet de Mme Johansson a déclaré avoir reçu la lettre mais ne pas souhaiter réagir immédiatement.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/03/01/la-droite-francaise-au-secours-de-fabrice-leggeri-patron-de-frontex_6071549_

    • Un rapport d’enquête interne peu concluant sur le rôle de Frontex dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants

      Le document présenté lundi s’abstient d’impliquer des membres de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes dans des incidents en mer Egée.

      Un long rapport, lu par Le Monde et présenté, le 1er mars, par un groupe de travail désigné par le conseil d’administration de Frontex, confirme qu’il ne sera décidément pas simple, voire pas possible, de démontrer que des membres de l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et garde-côtes ont été impliqués dans des « pushbacks » en mer Egée, des refoulements illégaux de migrants.

      Ce document final, pourtant très attendu, n’apporte aucune conclusion déterminante. D’autant que, sur quatre des cinq incidents encore jugés litigieux (huit ont été classés en janvier), l’enquête se poursuit.

      Sur la base des informations qui lui ont été livrées, le groupe de travail, composé de représentants de diverses institutions européennes et d’Etats membres, formule quelques recommandations qui peuvent être lues comme des critiques implicites du fonctionnement actuel de Frontex. Il prône ainsi une amélioration des rapports et de la surveillance des missions, une utilisation systématique de la vidéo, la recension de toute possible violation des droits humains et la suspension de l’aide apportée aux pays qui ne les respecteraient pas.
      Situations douteuses

      Pour le reste, la liste des « incidents » qui se seraient déroulés entre le 18 avril et le 21 octobre 2020 ne mentionne que les soupçons, parfois lourds mais jugés insuffisants, qui pèsent plutôt, en réalité, sur les gardes-côtes grecs et la marine turque, qui agissent aux limites des eaux territoriales des deux pays. Embarcations chassées, menacées, remorquées : dans certains cas, un navire suédois ou un avion danois mis à la disposition de l’agence ont recensé des situations douteuses, mais le groupe de travail conclut qu’il semble « impossible de les élucider entièrement ». D’autant que ce sont les autorités nationales qui assurent le commandement des opérations.

      Le rapport tient à souligner cependant l’importance de la mission de Frontex, présentée comme la « principale garantie de frontières solides et protégées ». Il y est rappelé aussi que, grâce aux interventions de Frontex, 28 000 personnes ont été sauvées en 2019 et près de 3 000 en 2020, tandis que 10 433 illégaux et 84 trafiquants étaient arrêtés. A propos des incidents considérés comme des « pushbacks » par des journalistes et des ONG, le document invite à considérer qu’aucun décès, aucune disparition et aucune blessure n’y seraient liés.

      Fabrice Leggeri, le directeur exécutif de l’agence, qui doit être entendu jeudi 4 mars par un comité spécial du Parlement européen, pourra se prévaloir de ces conclusions face aux diverses accusations dont il faitl’objet. L’Office de lutte antifraude (OLAF) et la médiatrice de l’Union européenne enquêtent aussi sur la gestion de l’agence, basée à Varsovie, tandis que la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, a réclamé toutes les explications sur l’action en mer Egée.
      Action de la Turquie

      M. Leggeri soulignera sans doute, jeudi, qu’il espère obtenir de la Commission qu’elle lui indique les lignes directrices précises qu’il doit suivre en ce qui concerne, notamment, l’action de la Turquie. Dans les considérations qu’il a formulées à destination du groupe de travail de son conseil d’administration, il rappelle d’ailleurs que les autorités d’Ankara entendent utiliser la migration comme un « levier politique » et il souligne que la Grèce se dit soumise aux « menaces hybrides » du régime turc.

      Soutenu entre autres par la droite française au Parlement, le directeur de Frontex transforme ainsi le débat sur le rôle humanitaire de son agence en une question géostratégique, et il incite la Commission à se positionner par rapport à l’encombrant partenaire avec lequel elle a signé, en 2016, un accord visant à réduire les flux migratoires vers l’Europe.

      Pendant ce temps, la Ligue hellénique des droits de l’homme, l’ONG Legal Centre Lesvos et l’organisation juridique Front-Lex demandent à Frontex « de suspendre immédiatement ou de cesser » ses activités en mer Egée, sous peine d’une action devant la justice européenne. Legal Centre Lesvos aurait documenté, depuis mars 2020, 17 refoulements de plus de 50 migrants entre la Grèce et la Turquie. L’ONG estime aussi que l’agence a enfreint le droit européen et violé la convention de Genève de 1951 relative aux droits des réfugiés.

      Frontex est aussi taxée de complicité dans la « détention sommaire de migrants sur les îles de la mer Egée dans des ports, des bus, des navires, des plages où l’accès aux procédures d’asile leur a été refusé ». Le 12 février, l’ONG allemande Mare Liberum faisait état, pour sa part, d’une « escalade inédite » des refoulements de migrants en mer Egée impliquant Frontex en 2020.

      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/03/03/un-rapport-d-enquete-interne-peu-concluant-sur-le-role-de-frontex-dans-des-r

    • Le patron de Frontex se défend devant les eurodéputés, Bruxelles maintient la pression

      Le patron de Frontex a souligné jeudi devant des eurodéputés qu’aucune « preuve » d’une implication de l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants n’avait été établie par une enquête, mais Bruxelles a réitéré ses critiques.

      Le patron de Frontex a souligné jeudi devant des eurodéputés qu’aucune « preuve » d’une implication de l’agence de surveillance des frontières de l’UE dans des refoulements illégaux de migrants n’avait été établie par une enquête, mais Bruxelles a réitéré ses critiques.

      Ce rapport interne, qui doit être examiné vendredi par le conseil d’administration de Frontex et consulté mercredi par l’AFP, n’a pas permis de « clarifier complètement » les circonstances de plusieurs incidents au cours desquels des refoulements de migrants auraient eu lieu. Il préconise d’ailleurs d’améliorer le système de signalement et de surveillance des missions de l’agence.

      « Il n’y a pas eu de faits étayés ou prouvés pour aboutir à la conclusion que Frontex aurait participé ou se serait livrée à des violations des droits fondamentaux », a déclaré son directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri, devant un groupe d’eurodéputés qui a ouvert sa propre enquête sur ces incidents.

      L’agence est montrée du doigt depuis la publication en octobre 2020 d’une enquête de plusieurs médias l’accusant d’être impliquée avec les garde-côtes grecs dans des incidents de refoulement de bateaux de migrants à la frontière entre la Grèce et la Turquie.

      Ces accusations ont également entraîné une enquête du gendarme européen antifraude, l’Olaf, ainsi que de la médiatrice de l’UE.

      La Commission européenne, membre du conseil d’administration de Frontex aux côtés des 27 Etats membres, s’est montrée critique sur la gestion de l’agence, fustigeant notamment la lenteur du recrutement des officiers chargés de surveiller le respect des droits fondamentaux et des agents devant constituer le nouveau contingent permanent.

      Créée en 2004, Frontex a vu son mandat renforcé en 2019. Elle doit se doter d’agents en uniforme et armés, employés directement par l’agence, et non plus mis à disposition provisoirement par les Etats membres.

      Le directeur exécutif a notamment dit qu’un officier et 40 « moniteurs » chargés de veiller au respect des droits fondamentaux étaient en cours de recrutement et que 300 officiers du contingent permanent étaient déployés sur le terrain ou allaient l’être la semaine prochaine.

      La commissaire européenne aux Affaires intérieures Ylva Johansson a toutefois souligné que 700 officiers auraient dû être déployés en janvier.

      Elle a aussi estimé que les « clarifications » sur les accusations de refoulements n’avaient que « trop tardé », et que ce délai n’était « pas bon pour la réputation et la confiance » dans Frontex.

      « Une agence de première classe a besoin d’une gouvernance de première classe », a-t-elle poursuivi, se réjouissant toutefois d’« entendre que beaucoup de choses sont en train d’être réglées ».

      Si des eurodéputés à gauche ont demandé la démission de Fabrice Leggeri, la droite française au Parlement européen a quant à elle pris la défense du patron de Frontex.

      Dans une lettre adressée le 26 février à la responsable suédoise, le président de la délégation française du groupe PPE (droite) François-Xavier Bellamy lui a demandé des « justifications solides et vérifiées » à ses « accusations », dénonçant une « tentative de déstabilisation » du chef de Frontex et « un procès politique ».

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/fil-dactualites/040321/le-patron-de-frontex-se-defend-devant-les-eurodeputes-bruxelles-maintient-

    • Greece accused of ‘shocking’ illegal pushback against refugees at sea

      Lawsuit filed at European court of human rights says group were abandoned in life rafts after some were beaten.

      A lawsuit filed against the Greek state at the European court of human rights accuses Athens of a shocking level of violence in sophisticated inter-agency operations that form part of an illegal pushback strategy to stop the arrival of refugees and migrants.

      The suit, filed by the NGO Legal Centre Lesvos, centres on an incident in October last year in which a fishing boat set off from Marmaris in Turkey for Italy carrying about 200 people, including 40 children and a pregnant woman. The boat ran into difficulty in a storm off the south coast of Crete, leading the captain to radio for assistance.

      The legal case claims that in an operation of unprecedented size and sophistication, instead of helping the stranded people onboard, a Greek search and rescue vessel and two small patrol boats stalled the smuggler’s boat for five hours until speedboats carrying masked commandos arrived. Several passengers claim they were beaten in the ensuing incident.

      Those onboard were separated into two groups and taken to two large coastguard boats, where armed crews of between 10 and 15 men, most wearing balaclavas, searched them and confiscated belongings including phones, passports and money.

      The passengers were then reportedly forced on to several small life rafts, towed back to Turkish waters and abandoned at sea without food, water, life jackets or any means to call for help. By the time they were picked up by the Turkish coastguard, their ordeal had lasted more than 24 hours.

      “It was like watching a movie. The men from the speedboats jumped onboard screaming and shouting, they all had guns and knives and were wearing black and masks,” said Mahmoud, a witness from Syria whose name has been changed.

      “They began beating people with batons, looking for the captain. They punched me in the face and broke my glasses … I understand they don’t want us, but you could send us back to Turkey without the need for violence. When they cut us loose on the rafts we all thought we were going to die,” he said.

      The lawsuit claims the practice of “pushbacks” has become standard for the Greek coastguard since March 2020, when Turkey, in an effort to pressure the EU, told its 4 million registered refugees that it would no longer stop them trying to reach Europe as per a 2016 deal between Ankara and Brussels.

      Athens reacted by temporarily halting all new asylum applications and allegedly employing increasingly brutal tactics to dissuade people in Turkey from making the journey.

      Exact figures are difficult to verify, but rights groups and journalists have recorded hundreds of alleged pushback incidents over the last 12 months. In most cases, people trying to cross the Aegean have been intercepted and towed back to Turkish waters. They are then cut loose either in their own boats, after the Greek coastguard has disabled their engines, or on overcrowded life rafts.

      On several occasions people claim to have been pushed back after landing on Greek soil, and passengers have been abandoned on an uninhabited Turkish islet at least twice, according to reporting by Der Spiegel, Lighthouse Reports and the New York Times.

      In at least one case, the EU border agency, Frontex, is accused of covering up evidence of a Greek pushback operation.

      These collective expulsions, as they are known, are illegal under international law but not under Greek national law. The Guardian’s requests for comment from Greek officials went unanswered. Greece has denied illegality in the past.

      The incident in October stands out because of the reported level of violence involved and the size and scope of the operation, which would have taken hours to coordinate and involved eight Greek vessels and two dozen crew from different agencies.

      “‘Pushback’ isn’t even really the right term. It’s a decision by the authorities to deliberately abandon people at sea putting their lives at risk, with no means to call for rescue and no chance at all to claim asylum,” said Natasha Ntailiani, a Legal Centre Lesvos lawyer representing some of the survivors before the ECHR.

      “It’s a new and disturbing trend characterised by planned and systematic violence, which has increased over the last year in the Aegean region. Even search and rescue vessels and materials are now being used against migrants, which is a remarkable insight into the lengths the Greek authorities are now willing to go to.”

      Testimony from 11 complainants and dozens of pages of collaborating evidence – including geo-located pictures and video, GPS coordinates, and phone and message logs from the ship’s radio, passengers, the Alarm Phone hotline and the Greek and Turkish coastguards – painted a complete and damning picture of the new tactics, the centre said.

      The suit is the fifth LCL has filed at the ECHR in recent years to allege violations of migrant and refugee rights in Greece. Progress is slow, but the applicants hope the latest case will persuade the court that pushbacks, despite the fact they are now reportedly a systemic and regular feature of Greek border policing, are illegal.

      A decision at the court last year that Spain did not breach the rights of two men it expelled from the Melilla enclave on the basis they had tried to enter illegally “as part of a large group” sets a worrying precedent.

      In light of the judgment, Frontex has since asked the European commission if it can refuse to process individual asylum claims if people are travelling in groups, as is often the case in the Aegean.

      “I didn’t even want to go to Greece. We knew that they were harming refugees when they arrive, but it was shocking to experience the reality, which is that Europe doesn’t care at all about human rights and dignity,” said Yara from Damascus, whose name has also been changed. She said she had been traumatised by her experiences on the day the storm hit the fishing boat.

      “Despite all of that, I will still try again. I can’t build a life in Syria or Turkey,” she said.

      Mahmoud echoed Yara’s thoughts. “I got kicked out of Qatar because of the pandemic. I would rather have stayed there,” he said. “If there was a legal way to get to Europe I would take it, but there isn’t. I don’t want to make that journey again, but I will, because I have to.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea

    • Grèce : refoulements illégaux en Mer Egée

      En Grèce, les « pushbacks » ou refoulements illégaux de potentiels demandeurs d’asile par les garde-côtes grecs vers les eaux turques, se sont systématisés depuis un an.

      Le gouvernement grec se félicite d’avoir réussi à tenir une de ses promesses électorales : réduire le flux de migrants.

      La pratique est en infraction avec le droit maritime et l’obligation de porter assistance aux personnes en détresse en mer, mais aussi au regard du droit européen et international dont l’article 3 de la Convention des Droits de l’Homme stipule l’interdiction du refoulement des réfugiés.

      Informés, le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés de l’ONU et des commissaires européens se disent “alarmés” mais semblent jusqu’à présent bien impuissants à faire respecter le droit d’asile par Athènes. Documentés et dénoncés par des avocats et des ONG internationales, ces refoulements illégaux révèlent des pratiques cruelles et cyniques. Mais rares sont les voix en Grèce à s’élever la voix contre ces renvois aux frontières de l’Europe.

      https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/102791-000-A/grece-refoulements-illegaux-en-mer-egee
      #Samos

    • Message de Claire Rodier via la mailing-list Migreurop :

      Dans une interview au Guardian, Gil Arias Fernández, ancien directeur adjoint de Frontex a déclaré qu’il était profondément inquiet de l’atteinte à la réputation de l’agence, de sa décision d’armer les agents et de son incapacité à empêcher l’extrême droite d’infiltrer ses rangs, dans un contexte de mouvements anti-migrants en Europe.

      –—

      Frontex turning ‘blind eye’ to human rights violations, says former deputy

      The former deputy head of Europe’s border and coastguard agency has said the state of the beleaguered force “pains” him and that it is vulnerable to the “alarming” rise of populism across the continent.

      In his first interview since leaving office, #Gil_Arias_Fernández, former deputy director at Frontex and once tipped for the top post, said he was deeply worried about the agency’s damaged reputation, its decision to arm officers, and its inability to stop the far-right infiltrating its ranks, amid anti-migrant movements across Europe.

      “Weapons are not needed for Frontex operations,” he said. “They are more of a problem than a help.”

      Frontex is experiencing the most acute crisis in its 16-year history. The agency is being investigated by the European parliament over allegations of illegal pushbacks of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean and its head, Fabrice Leggeri, is facing calls to quit over allegations he misled the EU commission. Leggeri has strongly rejected allegations about the agency’s operations.

      Arias Fernández, 65, now retired, lost out on the top role to Leggeri in 2015. He admits he did not get on with Leggeri when they worked together for a year.

      “From the first moment I saw that he had a perhaps excessive eagerness to change things. Maybe it was to put his personal stamp on things,” said Arias Fernández.

      He said decisions made by one of the EU’s most powerful agencies had led to complicity in human rights violations.

      “Frontex pains me,” he said. “Especially for the staff, because they don’t deserve what they are going through. We saw the agency as an instrument to help the member states and the migrants. These events put a dent in all that effort.

      “I do not believe that the agency has proactively violated the rights of migrants, but there are reasons to believe that it has turned a blind eye.”
      Gil Arias Fernández. ‘Frontex pains me,’ he said. Photograph: Jose Bautista/Courtesy of Fundation for Causa

      In January 2015, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, several European politicians suggested the presence of refugees among the terrorists.

      When the media asked Frontex about any link between refugees and the Paris attack, Arias Fernández, a former police commissioner in Spain, told them there was no evidence.

      Arias Fernández believes this cost him the director’s job.

      The political pressure made the job a tough one, Arias Fernández said. “There is a lot of pressure on the part of certain states to put their people in positions of responsibility. Whether the agency is headed by a Frenchman or a Finn may determine whether there is more or less sensitivity to migration problems. The agency is independent, but ‘independent’ should be put in quotation marks because without a fluid relationship with the [European] commission, you have a hard time.

      “Operations have always been conducted unarmed and there have never been any problems. In operations where Libyan tribal clans smuggling migrants shot in the air to frighten the patrols, even there it was not considered appropriate to carry weapons. In this case, weapons are more a problem than a help. The proposal of carrying weapons came from the European Commission, which I do not know to what extent is influenced by lobbyists in Brussels.

      “There is no filter in the recruitment system. You cannot prevent people with extremist ideas from entering, unless they clearly express their position in favour of hate crimes, xenophobia and racism.”

      Arias Fernández pointed to the dearth of human rights training for Frontex officers. “But lack of information should not be used to justify certain things,” he said. “The incidents under investigation were carried out by Greek units following the instructions of their commanders.

      “When there are irregularities like this in operations, it is usually because there are instructions from the authorities responsible for coordinating the operation. The decision to turn back a boat with migrants is not taken by an officer but is an order from above.”
      A rescue boat escorts a dinghy with migrants from Afghanistan as a Frontex ship patrols off Lesbos in Greece. Photograph: Costas Baltas/Reuters

      He said he appreciated borders needed a certain level of security to know who was entering but added that immigration was vitally important for the survival of all European states.

      “I come to this conclusion because there are studies that show that if we do not resort to immigration and other incentives, the EU will have serious problems and the welfare state will be a chimera. We should learn these lessons. In the first half of the pandemic, migrants saved our bacon.

      “In Europe, movements that use populism are growing at an alarming rate, and the fight against immigrants is one of those arguments. States are excessively prudent in not touching this issue. The commission presented the new pact on migration and asylum, which contains no proposals for channelling migration through legal channels. They tried to satisfy all the blocs, Visegrád [Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia], southern states, northern states, and I fear that in the end it satisfies no one.”

      Arias Fernández said the lack of migrants being allowed into Europe would have a severe economic impact amid an ageing workforce: “Who will pay the pensions of the growing number of pensioners?”

      A Frontex spokesman denied the agency ignored migrants’ rights. “The executive director of Frontex has written several letters to the Greek authorities to address incidents that raised his concerns. Two inquiries, including one that was conducted by representatives of national authorities and the European Commission, have found no evidence of violations of human rights in Frontex operations in Greece.”

      The spokesman also denied that officers had always conducted operations while unarmed, saying: “Before this year, Frontex relied exclusively on officers provided by national authorities, who brought their own weapons to the agency’s operational activities. Today, Frontex has its own operational arm, the standing corps, whose core is made up of officers directly employed by the agency who require weapons for self-defence and to protect others.

      “Since Mr Arias left more than half-a-decade ago, Frontex has undergone a massive transformation that included a much bigger focus on cross-border crime, which means a greater chance that our officers may encounter life-threatening situations while patrolling the borders or performing other duties.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jun/11/frontex-turning-blind-eye-to-human-rights-violations-says-former-deputy

      #extrême_droite

    • Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads

      It is not a ‘one-off’. It did not take place six, twelve or eighteen months ago, and now things are better.

      It was just one of 491 incidents since March 2020, in which 14,720 men, women and children have been denied their fundamental human rights by a coastguard armed with assault rifles and behaving like a sea-militia ‘defending’ Greece against innocent, unarmed, and peaceful men, women and children attempting to find safe places to live.

      In the morning of 10 June, a boat carrying 31 people travelled towards Kos. Closing in on Ag. Fokas, on the south east side of the island, the boat was approached by several vessels from the Hellenic coast guard, and forced back towards Turkey.

      If anyone is wondering what a pushback at sea looks like, this is how it’s being carried out. And it is illegal.

      https://videopress.com/v/vPX3Vme3

      This shocking, immoral and illegal practice has become ‘normal’ in the Aegean Sea. Greece carries it out without let or hindrance, while the EU seems unable or unwilling to act.

      Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads.

      According to the Greek government and Frontex, this isn’t a pushback, but a ‘prevention of entry’.

      There are two major problems with this assessment. First, under international law, no country is allowed to ‘prevent the entry’ of men, women and children not suspected of any crime (as these people are not) and who intend to apply for asylum. Even if the people in this boat had not entered Greek waters, the Greek coastguard would have broken international law, by forcibly preventing people who wish to apply for asylum, from entering Greece.

      But in fact, secondly, these people had in fact already entered Greek water. It cannot be a ‘prevention of entry’ if people have already ‘entered’: it is a pushback. And it is absolutely illegal.

      In the video we can hear one of the officers on the Hellenic coast guard vessel ΛΣ150, say “everyone abide by the rules, because he’s filming”. It’s disturbing that this even needed to be said. First, because what would have happened had this person not had the presence of mind, and technology, to film? What would have happened then? How would the heavily-armed coastguard have responded to these innocent, unarmed people trying to exercise their fundamental human rights? Why did this coastguard, who noticed a person filming, need to advise his colleagues to abide by the law? What did he fear they would do?

      Secondly, the disturbing images we can see in this video are in fact not ‘abiding by the rules’. It appears the coastguard does not understand – or perhaps accept – the rules. This is a video of the Greek coastguard breaking the law, even as one member of the coastguard warns his colleagues not to do something even worse.

      Nor is this an isolated incident.

      It’s how the Hellenic coastguard – and in some cases also Frontex – have been operating for the last 15 months.

      We must demand that Notis Mitarachis, and Fabrice Leggeri, are held to account for their continued, immoral, unacceptable, and illegal activity in the Aegean Sea. We must demand that the EU – or if, as increasingly seems to be the case, the EU is unwilling – the wider international community takes legal action, now, to prevent the Greek coastguard, the Greek government, Frontex and the EU, breaking international law, and shaming the whole of Europe in the process.

      None of this is acceptable. None of it is even beneficial to either Greece or the EU.

      The time to stop this is now. The time to act is now. The EU can and must act. If it refuses, it is time for the international court to prosecute Mitarachis, Nea Dimokratia, Leggeri, Frontex, and the European Commission. Anything else is to further damage, and indeed make a laughing stock of international law, and all our human rights.

      https://aegeanboatreport.com/2021/06/28/human-rights-in-europe-are-at-a-crossroads

    • Communiqué de presse : Frontex a besoin d’une #réorganisation radicale

      Les députés du groupe de travail sur le contrôle de Frontex, sous l’égide de l’eurodéputée écologiste Tineke Strik, ont présenté aujourd’hui en commission des libertés civiles (LIBE) du Parlement européen, le rapport sur le rôle de Frontex dans le #refoulement illégal des réfugiés. Un des principaux enseignements est la nécessité d’ une réorganisation radicale de l’agence pour qu’elle respecte les droits humains.

      L’enquête menée par les eurodéputés confirme que Frontex a manqué à ses responsabilités en matière de protection des droits humains aux frontières de l’UE. L’agence avait connaissance de violations des droits fondamentaux commises dans des pays de l’UE avec lesquels elle coopère, et n’a pas réagi face à ces allégations. La direction de Frontex a sciemment ignoré les rapports des journalistes d’investigation et d’ONG, les avertissements internes du personnel et même les séquences vidéo dans lesquelles ces violations étaient visibles.

      Saskia Bricmont, députée européenne Vert/ALE, membre de la commission LIBE et responsable du rapport sur la décharge budgétaire Frontex, déclare :

      “En ne faisant pas respecter les droits fondamentaux aux frontières de l’UE, Frontex a failli à son devoir. L’agence a besoin d’une réorganisation radicale. Je salue le travail d’enquête mené par mes collègues : il est essentiel d’identifier les lacunes et les fautes afin d’y remédier au plus vite.”

      “Le rapport dévoile que Frontex était non seulement conscient des violations des droits fondamentaux, mais n’a de surcroît pas réagi de manière appropriée face à son obligation de prévenir les violations des droits humains. En dépit des différents signaux d’alerte provenant d’acteurs internes et externes, l’agence a fait preuve d’inactivité manifeste, voire de réticence à agir. Nous sommes particulièrement préoccupés par le respect des normes en matière de droits humains dans les opérations menées en Grèce et en Hongrie. Nous demandons au directeur exécutif de suspendre immédiatement les opérations en Hongrie et d’évaluer les opérations en Grèce.”

      “Il existe des signes clairs de mauvaise gestion : les rapports internes faisant état de violations des droits fondamentaux ont été ignorés, le recrutement des agents spécialisés dans les droits fondamentaux a été retardé et reste incomplet. Nous ne croyons pas en la capacité de l’actuel directeur exécutif, Fabrice Leggeri, à résoudre les problèmes que nous avons exposés. M. Leggeri a induit le Parlement européen en erreur à plusieurs reprises et a encouragé une culture d’impunité, tout en continuant à nier l’existence des refoulements illégaux.”

      “Notre rapport exhorte le Conseil d’administration de Frontex à reconsidérer la position de M. Leggeri et de l’ensemble de la direction générale. Dans un tel contexte, la décharge budgétaire ne doit pas être octroyée à l’agence. Par ailleurs, il est temps que les États membres assument leur responsabilité commune dans la défense des valeurs européennes en matière de gestion des frontières et le respect des droits fondamentaux.”

      https://twitter.com/saskiabricmont/status/1415611092894724097

      Recommandations du #rapport :

      – Frontex ne doit effectuer des opérations conjointes qu’avec des pays qui agissent dans le plein respect des droits fondamentaux. Pour remplir cette obligation, Frontex devrait surveiller l’ensemble de la zone opérationnelle et enquêter sur tous les incidents ou autres indications de non-conformité.

      – Si un refoulement est signalé à Frontex, l’agence ne devrait pas seulement enquêter en s’appuyant sur les réponses des autorités gouvernementales, mais également vérifier les informations fournies.

      – La Commission européenne devrait conditionner le financement européen de la gestion des frontières au respect des droits fondamentaux par l’État membre concerné.

      https://saskiabricmont.eu/frontex-besoin-reorganisation-radicale
      #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés

      –—

      Réaction de Frontex :

      Frontex welcomes report by the Scrutiny Working Group

      Frontex welcomes the report by the Scrutiny Working Group and its conclusions which reaffirmed that there is no evidence of the Agency’s involvement in any violation of human rights.

      The agency has been working with the Parliament’s scrutiny group in an open and transparent manner, sharing information and receiving the MEPs during an online visit to Frontex. The agency remains committed to cooperating with the European Parliament.

      “I acknowledge the conclusion of Parliament’s fact-finding scrutiny and its recommendations. Frontex is a bigger, more complex organisation than a couple of years ago, so a system that was designed in the past needs to undergo further transformation. The report underlined the challenges of the Agency’s transformation in a more and more complex security environment,” said Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri.

      “We are determined to uphold the highest standards of border control within our operations. We will look into the recommendations and see how we can implement them to further strengthen the respect of fundamental rights in all our activities,” he added.

      Frontex has completed two stages of the inquiry into last autumn’s media allegations. Both an internal inquiry and the report by a special working group appointed by the Management Board (with Commission and Member states representatives) have found no evidence of any Frontex involvement in violation of human rights.

      The agency has already taken on board many of the recommendations issued by the working group, upgraded its reporting mechanism and reinforced its operational coordination centres to improve information exchange. It will continue working towards an effective and transparent management of EU external borders in full respect of fundamental rights.

      Recent events at the European Union’s external borders have shown that Frontex is an essential assistance for Member States and the whole EU in situations of increased migratory pressure. Our security environment is increasingly volatile and complex.

      Today, Frontex has officially launched its rapid border intervention at Lithuania’s border with Belarus and deployed standing corps officers and equipment to help secure EU’s common external border.

      https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news/news-release/frontex-welcomes-report-by-the-scrutiny-working-group-0AQJWY
      https://twitter.com/Frontex/status/1415654854412877824

    • EU border agency ‘has failed to protect asylum seekers’ rights’

      Author of European parliament report says Frontex agency’s director should resign or be sacked

      The EU border agency has failed to protect the human rights of asylum seekers, according to a damning European parliament report on the organisation.

      After a four-month investigation by MEPs the report’s author, Tineke Strik, told the Guardian, that Frontex “did not fulfil its human rights obligations and therefore did not address and therefore did not prevent future violations”.

      Strik, a Dutch Green MEP, wants the agency’s director, Fabrice Leggeri, to resign or be fired, but the special cross-party group of eight MEPs, spanning rightwing nationalists to the radical left, that was convened to investigate Frontex has not made that call.

      Speaking before the report was released on Thursday, Strik continued: “We should consider in the end, can we have confidence in this executive director to really implement those recommendations [in her report] and really change it into a human rights sensitive agency? My group [Green MEPs], we don’t have confidence in him any more. We think it would be sound if the management board would draw the same conclusion and start the search for a new executive director.”

      Once an obscure EU agency, Frontex has become a central pillar of EU border management. After more than a 1.2 million people sought asylum in the EU in 2015, European leaders agreed to give the Warsaw-based organisation more staff and money, a point of consensus in the often fraught EU debate on how to manage migration. By 2027, Frontex will have 10,000 border and coastguards, while its budget has already increased more than 19-fold since its creation in 2006.

      But the agency has come under growing scrutiny over its role in alleged pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, with dozens of human rights organisations calling for it to be abolished.

      Last year Frontex was accused of complicity in forcing back asylum seekers in breach of international law, after video footage emerged of one of its ships creating waves that drove back a dingy in the Aegean Sea crammed with people. That footage came through a joint investigation by Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said it had found six incidents where the agency was directly involved in a pushback in the Aegean or in close proximity to one.

      The committee said they had not found “conclusive evidence” that the agency was involved in pushbacks but concluded Frontex had failed to investigate such reports promptly. “As a result, Frontex did not prevent these violations, nor reduced the risk of future fundamental rights violations,” said the report.

      Strik said it was “pretty clear that [Frontex] were at least aware of what was going on” in the Aegean Sea. The agency’s investigations were “very superficial”, she said. “They asked for a response from the [Greek] government and when the government denied [pushbacks] the case was closed.”

      She said Frontex’s modus operandi was to rely on the word of the EU member state it was working with. “They end up asking the government, the host member state, and they almost always accept this response. Our conclusion is that Frontex did not fulfil its human rights obligations and therefore did not address and therefore did not prevent future violations.”

      The agency had repeatedly failed to respond to reports of rights violations from inside the organisation and external organisations, the MEPs said.

      The blame is placed largely on Leggeri, a former senior official in France’s interior ministry in charge of illegal migration, who has been the agency’s executive director since 2015. He has been singled out for criticism for shoring up his own power base within the agency, while failing to recruit all 40 fundamental rights monitors as required by EU law.

      MEPs found that Leggeri had appointed 63 staff to his private office, a number that far exceeds the average. By contrast, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has 30 staff in her private office. “We contrast that in the way he acts with the monitors, only delaying and undermining, yet he provides for an amazing number of staff measures for his own cabinet,” Strik said.

      The MEPs concluded that Leggeri had delayed the recruitment of three executive directors required under EU law that might have checked his power.

      “That results in a complete lack of checks and balances within the organisation and of course we blame the executive director for that, but also the management board because the management board is overall responsible for good governance in the organisation,” Strik said.

      EU member states, she said, needed to make sure their representatives on the Frontex management board had the required expertise in fundamental rights and a direct line to ministers.

      “One of the problems,” she said, was that Frontex was conceived as a security rather than a rights organisation. EU member states found the agency reassuring: “[They] talk about threats at the border. They always call for Frontex. Maybe as reassurance for their own population, ‘we have secured your borders and we have made you safe’.”

      She said there was a perception inside and outside the agency that upholding human rights was in conflict with border control. “Some of the actors still perceive that when you start acting on fundamental rights, then you become less effective on border control … [Frontex] needs to do both and it’s possible to do both at the same time, so it’s a non-discussion actually.”

      The Guardian has contacted Frontex for a response to the European parliament’s report. The agency has always denied any involvement or knowledge of illegal pushbacks.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/15/eu-border-agency-has-failed-to-protect-asylum-seekers-rights

    • Frontex wusste von Menschenrechtsverletzungen – und tat nichts

      Monatelang haben EU-Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier SPIEGEL-Enthüllungen zu illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen in der Ägäis untersucht. Der Bericht ist eine Abrechnung mit Frontex-Direktor Leggeri – er soll belastendes Material vernichtet haben.

      Monatelang haben EU-Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier SPIEGEL-Enthüllungen zu illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen in der Ägäis untersucht. Der Bericht ist eine Abrechnung mit Frontex-Direktor Leggeri – er soll belastendes Material vernichtet haben.

      Der europäischen Grenzschutzagentur Frontex lagen Beweise für mutmaßlich illegale Pushbacks durch griechische Grenzschützer vor, die Agentur hat es jedoch »versäumt, die Grundrechtsverletzungen anzusprechen und zu verhindern«. Das ist das Ergebnis einer monatelangen Untersuchung des Europaparlaments.

      Eine Prüfgruppe unter Beteiligung aller Fraktionen hat untersucht, was Frontex von den illegalen Pushbacks von Flüchtlingsbooten in der Ägäis wusste – und ob Frontex-Chef Fabrice Leggeri angemessen auf die Rechtsbrüche reagiert hat. Der Bericht der Arbeitsgruppe, den der SPIEGEL vorab einsehen konnte, liest sich wie eine Abrechnung mit Leggeri. Er zeichnet das Bild eines Direktors, der sich für die Einhaltung von Menschenrechten an den EU-Außengrenzen kaum interessiert und alles tut, um Verstöße zu vertuschen. Auf 17 Seiten listen die Abgeordneten seine Verfehlungen auf.

      Leggeri ignorierte sämtliche Hinweise

      Frontex habe öffentliche Berichte über Menschenrechtsverletzungen an den EU-Grenzen generell abgetan, heißt es im Report. Auch auf interne Informationen über mutmaßliche Rechtsbrüche habe die Agentur nicht angemessen reagiert. Leggeri ignoriere die Stellungnahmen und Anfragen seiner Grundrechtsbeauftragten und des sogenannten Konsultativforums. Diese sollen eigentlich dafür sorgen, dass die Agentur die Rechte von Asylsuchenden achtet.

      Trotz zahlreicher Berichte über mutmaßliche Rechtsbrüche in der Ägäis habe Leggeri nie umfassend erwogen, den Frontex-Einsatz zu beenden, oder überlegt, wie er die Menschenrechtsverletzungen verhindern könne. »Im Gegenteil, der Exekutivdirektor behauptet weiterhin, dass ihm keine Informationen über Grundrechtsverletzungen bekannt sind«, schreiben die Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier.

      Darüber hinaus habe Leggeri das Parlament lange Zeit nicht angemessen informiert. Bei seinen Auftritten im Ausschuss habe der Frontex-Direktor Informationen über einzelne Pushbacks verschwiegen. In mehreren Fällen seien Grenzbeamte davon abgebracht worden, Rechtsbrüche mittels eines sogenannten »Serious Incident Reports« an die Frontex-Führung zu melden. Selbst die Einstellung von 40 Grundrechtsbeobachtern, die die Grenzbeamten kontrollieren sollen, habe Leggeri erheblich verzögert. Sie seien noch immer nicht vollständig rekrutiert.

      Frontex machte sich bei Menschenrechtsverletzungen zum Komplizen

      Die Untersuchung des Europaparlaments ist eine Reaktion auf Enthüllungen des SPIEGEL. Gemeinsame Recherchen mit den Medienorganisationen Lighthouse Reports, Bellingcat und dem ARD-Magazin »Report Mainz« zeigten, dass Frontex in der Ägäis in illegale Pushbacks verwickelt ist und sich bei griechischen Menschenrechtsverletzungen zum Komplizen gemacht hatte.

      Frontex-Beamte, darunter auch deutsche Bundespolizisten, stoppen in der Ägäis Flüchtlingsboote, bevor sie die griechischen Inseln erreichen, und übergeben sie an die griechische Küstenwache. Die Grenzschützer setzen die Geflüchteten anschließend systematisch auf dem Meer aus – entweder auf aufblasbaren Rettungsflößen oder auf Schlauchbooten, in denen sie den Motor entfernt haben. So stellen sie sicher, dass die Flüchtlinge nicht erneut griechische Gewässer erreichen können. Oft wenden die griechischen Beamten bei den Aktionen Gewalt an, stechen auf die Schlauchboote ein oder schießen ins Wasser. Bei mindestens sieben Fällen waren Frontex-Einheiten bei solchen Pushbacks in der Nähe oder in sie verstrickt.

      Pushbacks im Mittelmeer: Wie Frontex in Verbrechen verstrickt ist

      Griechische Grenzschützer schleppen Flüchtlinge systematisch aufs offene Meer zurück. Recherchen des SPIEGEL und seiner Partner zeigen, wie Frontex in die illegalen Operationen verwickelt ist. Sehen Sie hier den Film.

      In der Nacht vom 18. auf den 19. April zeichnete Frontex aus der Luft auf, wie die griechische Küstenwache Flüchtlinge auf ein Boot ohne Motor setzte und wegfuhr – ein klarer Rechtsverstoß, der die Menschen in Lebensgefahr brachte. Die Aufarbeitung des Pushbacks vom 18. April übernahm Leggeri persönlich. Dem Parlament verschwieg er den Pushback zunächst. Stattdessen stufte er den Vorfall nachträglich so ein, dass die Grundrechtsbeauftragte der Agentur fortan nicht mehr beteiligt war.

      Leggeri ließ offenbar belastendes Material vernichten

      Einer der brisantesten Vorwürfe im Bericht des Europaparlaments bezieht sich auf den Pushback in jener Nacht. Demnach wies Leggeri die Grundrechtsbeauftragte persönlich an, alle Informationen zu löschen, die sie zu dem Vorfall gesammelt hatte. Nach SPIEGEL-Informationen soll dies aus internen E-Mails hervorgehen, die die Abgeordneten einsehen konnten.

      https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/gefluechtete-in-griechenland-frontex-wusste-von-menschenrechtsverletzungen-u

  • Migrants: le règlement de Dublin va être supprimé

    La Commission européenne doit présenter le 23 septembre sa proposition de réforme de sa politique migratoire, très attendue et plusieurs fois repoussée.

    Cinq ans après le début de la crise migratoire, l’Union européenne veut changer de stratégie. La Commission européenne veut “abolir” le règlement de Dublin qui fracture les Etats-membres et qui confie la responsabilité du traitement des demandes d’asile au pays de première entrée des migrants dans l’UE, a annoncé ce mercredi 16 septembre la cheffe de l’exécutif européen Ursula von der Leyen dans son discours sur l’Etat de l’Union.

    La Commission doit présenter le 23 septembre sa proposition de réforme de la politique migratoire européenne, très attendue et plusieurs fois repoussée, alors que le débat sur le manque de solidarité entre pays Européens a été relancé par l’incendie du camp de Moria sur lîle grecque de Lesbos.

    “Au coeur (de la réforme) il y a un engagement pour un système plus européen”, a déclaré Ursula von der Leyen devant le Parlement européen. “Je peux annoncer que nous allons abolir le règlement de Dublin et le remplacer par un nouveau système européen de gouvernance de la migration”, a-t-elle poursuivi.
    Nouveau mécanisme de solidarité

    “Il y aura des structures communes pour l’asile et le retour. Et il y aura un nouveau mécanisme fort de solidarité”, a-t-elle dit, alors que les pays qui sont en première ligne d’arrivée des migrants (Grèce, Malte, Italie notamment) se plaignent de devoir faire face à une charge disproportionnée.

    La proposition de réforme de la Commission devra encore être acceptée par les Etats. Ce qui n’est pas gagné d’avance. Cinq ans après la crise migratoire de 2015, la question de l’accueil des migrants est un sujet qui reste source de profondes divisions en Europe, certains pays de l’Est refusant d’accueillir des demandeurs d’asile.

    Sous la pression, le système d’asile européen organisé par le règlement de Dublin a explosé après avoir pesé lourdement sur la Grèce ou l’Italie.

    Le nouveau plan pourrait notamment prévoir davantage de sélection des demandeurs d’asile aux frontières extérieures et un retour des déboutés dans leur pays assuré par Frontex. Egalement à l’étude pour les Etats volontaires : un mécanisme de relocalisation des migrants sauvés en Méditerranée, parfois contraints d’errer en mer pendant des semaines en attente d’un pays d’accueil.

    Ce plan ne résoudrait toutefois pas toutes les failles. Pour le patron de l’Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration, Didier Leschi, “il ne peut pas y avoir de politique européenne commune sans critères communs pour accepter les demandes d’asile.”

    https://www.huffingtonpost.fr/entry/migrants-le-reglement-de-dublin-tres-controverse-va-etre-supprime_fr_

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Dublin #règlement_dublin #fin #fin_de_Dublin #suppression #pacte #Pacte_européen_sur_la_migration #new_pact #nouveau_pacte #pacte_sur_la_migration_et_l'asile

    –---

    Documents officiels en lien avec le pacte:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/879881

    ping @reka @karine4 @_kg_ @isskein

    • Immigration : le règlement de Dublin, l’impossible #réforme ?

      En voulant abroger le règlement de Dublin, qui impose la responsabilité des demandeurs d’asile au premier pays d’entrée dans l’Union européenne, Bruxelles reconnaît des dysfonctionnements dans l’accueil des migrants. Mais les Vingt-Sept, plus que jamais divisés sur cette question, sont-ils prêts à une refonte du texte ? Éléments de réponses.

      Ursula Von der Leyen en a fait une des priorités de son mandat : réformer le règlement de Dublin, qui impose au premier pays de l’UE dans lequel le migrant est arrivé de traiter sa demande d’asile. « Je peux annoncer que nous allons [l’]abolir et le remplacer par un nouveau système européen de gouvernance de la migration », a déclaré la présidente de la Commission européenne mercredi 16 septembre, devant le Parlement.

      Les États dotés de frontières extérieures comme la Grèce, l’Italie ou Malte se sont réjouis de cette annonce. Ils s’estiment lésés par ce règlement en raison de leur situation géographique qui les place en première ligne.

      La présidente de la Commission européenne doit présenter, le 23 septembre, une nouvelle version de la politique migratoire, jusqu’ici maintes fois repoussée. « Il y aura des structures communes pour l’asile et le retour. Et il y aura un nouveau mécanisme fort de solidarité », a-t-elle poursuivi. Un terme fort à l’heure où l’incendie du camp de Moria sur l’île grecque de Lesbos, plus de 8 000 adultes et 4 000 enfants à la rue, a révélé le manque d’entraide entre pays européens.

      Pour mieux comprendre l’enjeu de cette nouvelle réforme européenne de la politique migratoire, France 24 décrypte le règlement de Dublin qui divise tant les Vingt-Sept, en particulier depuis la crise migratoire de 2015.

      Pourquoi le règlement de Dublin dysfonctionne ?

      Les failles ont toujours existé mais ont été révélées par la crise migratoire de 2015, estiment les experts de politique migratoire. Ce texte signé en 2013 et qu’on appelle « Dublin III » repose sur un accord entre les membres de l’Union européenne ainsi que la Suisse, l’Islande, la Norvège et le Liechtenstein. Il prévoit que l’examen de la demande d’asile d’un exilé incombe au premier pays d’entrée en Europe. Si un migrant passé par l’Italie arrive par exemple en France, les autorités françaises ne sont, en théorie, pas tenu d’enregistrer la demande du Dubliné.
      © Union européenne | Les pays signataires du règlement de Dublin.

      Face à l’afflux de réfugiés ces dernières années, les pays dotés de frontières extérieures, comme la Grèce et l’Italie, se sont estimés abandonnés par le reste de l’Europe. « La charge est trop importante pour ce bloc méditerranéen », estime Matthieu Tardis, chercheur au Centre migrations et citoyennetés de l’Ifri (Institut français des relations internationales). Le texte est pensé « comme un mécanisme de responsabilité des États et non de solidarité », estime-t-il.

      Sa mise en application est aussi difficile à mettre en place. La France et l’Allemagne, qui concentrent la majorité des demandes d’asile depuis le début des années 2000, peinent à renvoyer les Dublinés. Dans l’Hexagone, seulement 11,5 % ont été transférés dans le pays d’entrée. Outre-Rhin, le taux ne dépasse pas les 15 %. Conséquence : nombre d’entre eux restent « bloqués » dans les camps de migrants à Calais ou dans le nord de Paris.

      Le délai d’attente pour les demandeurs d’asile est aussi jugé trop long. Un réfugié passé par l’Italie, qui vient déposer une demande d’asile en France, peut attendre jusqu’à 18 mois avant d’avoir un retour. « Durant cette période, il se retrouve dans une situation d’incertitude très dommageable pour lui mais aussi pour l’Union européenne. C’est un système perdant-perdant », commente Matthieu Tardis.

      Ce règlement n’est pas adapté aux demandeurs d’asile, surenchérit-on à la Cimade (Comité inter-mouvements auprès des évacués). Dans un rapport, l’organisation qualifie ce système de « machine infernale de l’asile européen ». « Il ne tient pas compte des liens familiaux ni des langues parlées par les réfugiés », précise le responsable asile de l’association, Gérard Sadik.

      Sept ans après avoir vu le jour, le règlement s’est vu porter le coup de grâce par le confinement lié aux conditions sanitaires pour lutter contre le Covid-19. « Durant cette période, aucun transfert n’a eu lieu », assure-t-on à la Cimade.

      Le mécanisme de solidarité peut-il le remplacer ?

      « Il y aura un nouveau mécanisme fort de solidarité », a promis Ursula von der Leyen, sans donné plus de précision. Sur ce point, on sait déjà que les positions divergent, voire s’opposent, entre les Vingt-Sept.

      Le bloc du nord-ouest (Allemagne, France, Autriche, Benelux) reste ancré sur le principe actuel de responsabilité, mais accepte de l’accompagner d’un mécanisme de solidarité. Sur quels critères se base la répartition du nombre de demandeurs d’asile ? Comment les sélectionner ? Aucune décision n’est encore actée. « Ils sont prêts à des compromis car ils veulent montrer que l’Union européenne peut avancer et agir sur la question migratoire », assure Matthieu Tardis.

      En revanche, le groupe dit de Visegrad (Hongrie, Pologne, République tchèque, Slovaquie), peu enclin à l’accueil, rejette catégoriquement tout principe de solidarité. « Ils se disent prêts à envoyer des moyens financiers, du personnel pour le contrôle aux frontières mais refusent de recevoir les demandeurs d’asile », détaille le chercheur de l’Ifri.

      Quant au bloc Méditerranée (Grèce, Italie, Malte , Chypre, Espagne), des questions subsistent sur la proposition du bloc nord-ouest : le mécanisme de solidarité sera-t-il activé de façon permanente ou exceptionnelle ? Quelles populations sont éligibles au droit d’asile ? Et qui est responsable du retour ? « Depuis le retrait de la Ligue du Nord de la coalition dans le gouvernement italien, le dialogue est à nouveau possible », avance Matthieu Tardis.

      Un accord semble toutefois indispensable pour montrer que l’Union européenne n’est pas totalement en faillite sur ce dossier. « Mais le bloc de Visegrad n’a pas forcément en tête cet enjeu », nuance-t-il. Seule la situation sanitaire liée au Covid-19, qui place les pays de l’Est dans une situation économique fragile, pourrait faire évoluer leur position, note le chercheur.

      Et le mécanisme par répartition ?

      Le mécanisme par répartition, dans les tuyaux depuis 2016, revient régulièrement sur la table des négociations. Son principe : la capacité d’accueil du pays dépend de ses poids démographique et économique. Elle serait de 30 % pour l’Allemagne, contre un tiers des demandes aujourd’hui, et 20 % pour la France, qui en recense 18 %. « Ce serait une option gagnante pour ces deux pays, mais pas pour le bloc du Visegrad qui s’y oppose », décrypte Gérard Sadik, le responsable asile de la Cimade.

      Cette doctrine reposerait sur un système informatisé, qui recenserait dans une seule base toutes les données des demandeurs d’asile. Mais l’usage de l’intelligence artificielle au profit de la procédure administrative ne présente pas que des avantages, aux yeux de la Cimade : « L’algorithme ne sera pas en mesure de tenir compte des liens familiaux des demandeurs d’asile », juge Gérard Sadik.

      Quelles chances pour une refonte ?

      L’Union européenne a déjà tenté plusieurs fois de réformer ce serpent de mer. Un texte dit « Dublin IV » était déjà dans les tuyaux depuis 2016, en proposant par exemple que la responsabilité du premier État d’accueil soit définitive, mais il a été enterré face aux dissensions internes.

      Reste à savoir quel est le contenu exact de la nouvelle version qui sera présentée le 23 septembre par Ursula Van der Leyen. À la Cimade, on craint un durcissement de la politique migratoire, et notamment un renforcement du contrôle aux frontières.

      Quoi qu’il en soit, les négociations s’annoncent « compliquées et difficiles » car « les intérêts des pays membres ne sont pas les mêmes », a rappelé le ministre grec adjoint des Migrations, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, jeudi 17 septembre. Et surtout, la nouvelle mouture devra obtenir l’accord du Parlement, mais aussi celui des États. La refonte est encore loin.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/27376/immigration-le-reglement-de-dublin-l-impossible-reforme

      #gouvernance #Ursula_Von_der_Leyen #mécanisme_de_solidarité #responsabilité #groupe_de_Visegrad #solidarité #répartition #mécanisme_par_répartition #capacité_d'accueil #intelligence_artificielle #algorithme #Dublin_IV

    • Germany’s #Seehofer cautiously optimistic on EU asylum reform

      For the first time during the German Presidency, EU interior ministers exchanged views on reforms of the EU asylum system. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) expressed “justified confidence” that a deal can be found. EURACTIV Germany reports.

      The focus of Tuesday’s (7 July) informal video conference of interior ministers was on the expansion of police cooperation and sea rescue, which, according to Seehofer, is one of the “Big Four” topics of the German Council Presidency, integrated into a reform of the #Common_European_Asylum_System (#CEAS).

      Following the meeting, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, spoke of an “excellent start to the Presidency,” and Seehofer also praised the “constructive discussions.” In the field of asylum policy, she said that it had become clear that all member states were “highly interested in positive solutions.”

      The interior ministers were unanimous in their desire to further strengthen police cooperation and expand both the mandates and the financial resources of Europol and Frontex.

      Regarding the question of the distribution of refugees, Seehofer said that he had “heard statements that [he] had not heard in years prior.” He said that almost all member states were “prepared to show solidarity in different ways.”

      While about a dozen member states would like to participate in the distribution of those rescued from distress at the EU’s external borders in the event of a “disproportionate burden” on the states, other states signalled that they wanted to make control vessels, financial means or personnel available to prevent smuggling activities and stem migration across the Mediterranean.

      Seehofer’s final act

      It will probably be Seehofer’s last attempt to initiate CEAS reform. He announced in May that he would withdraw completely from politics after the end of the legislative period in autumn 2021.

      Now it seems that he considers CEAS reform as his last great mission, Seehofer said that he intends to address the migration issue from late summer onwards “with all I have at my disposal.” adding that Tuesday’s (7 July) talks had “once again kindled a real fire” in him. To this end, he plans to leave the official business of the Interior Ministry “in day-to-day matters” largely to the State Secretaries.

      Seehofer’s shift of priorities to the European stage comes at a time when he is being sharply criticised in Germany.

      While his initial handling of a controversial newspaper column about the police published in Berlin’s tageszeitung prompted criticism, Seehofer now faces accusations of concealing structural racism in the police. Seehofer had announced over the weekend that, contrary to the recommendation of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), he would not commission a study on racial profiling in the police force after all.

      Seehofer: “One step is not enough”

      In recent months, Seehofer has made several attempts to set up a distribution mechanism for rescued persons in distress. On several occasions he accused the Commission of letting member states down by not solving the asylum question.

      “I have the ambition to make a great leap. One step would be too little in our presidency,” said Seehofer during Tuesday’s press conference. However, much depends on when the Commission will present its long-awaited migration pact, as its proposals are intended to serve as a basis for negotiations on CEAS reform.

      As Johansson said on Tuesday, this is planned for September. Seehofer thus only has just under four months to get the first Council conclusions through. “There will not be enough time for legislation,” he said.

      Until a permanent solution is found, ad hoc solutions will continue. A “sustainable solution” should include better cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, as the member states agreed on Tuesday.

      To this end, “agreements on the repatriation of refugees” are now to be reached with North African countries. A first step towards this will be taken next Monday (13 July), at a joint conference with North African leaders.

      https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/germany-eyes-breakthrough-in-eu-migration-dispute-this-year

      #Europol #Frontex

    • Relocation, solidarity mandatory for EU migration policy: #Johansson

      In an interview with ANSA and other European media outlets, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs #Ylva_Johansson explained the new migration and asylum pact due to be unveiled on September 23, stressing that nobody will find ideal solutions but rather a well-balanced compromise that will ’’improve the situation’’.

      European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson has explained in an interview with a group of European journalists, including ANSA, a new pact on asylum and migration to be presented on September 23. She touched on rules for countries of first entry, a new mechanism of mandatory solidarity, fast repatriations and refugee relocation.

      The Swedish commissioner said that no one will find ideal solutions in the European Commission’s new asylum and migration proposal but rather a good compromise that “will improve the situation”.

      She said the debate to change the asylum regulation known as Dublin needs to be played down in order to find an agreement. Johansson said an earlier 2016 reform plan would be withdrawn as it ’’caused the majority’’ of conflicts among countries.

      A new proposal that will replace the current one and amend the existing Dublin regulation will be presented, she explained.

      The current regulation will not be completely abolished but rules regarding frontline countries will change. Under the new proposal, migrants can still be sent back to the country responsible for their asylum request, explained the commissioner, adding that amendments will be made but the country of first entry will ’’remain important’’.

      ’’Voluntary solidarity is not enough," there has to be a “mandatory solidarity mechanism,” Johansson noted.

      Countries will need to help according to their size and possibilities. A member state needs to show solidarity ’’in accordance with the capacity and size’’ of its economy. There will be no easy way out with the possibility of ’’just sending some blankets’’ - efforts must be proportional to the size and capabilities of member states, she said.
      Relocations are a divisive theme

      Relocations will be made in a way that ’’can be possible to accept for all member states’’, the commissioner explained. The issue of mandatory quotas is extremely divisive, she went on to say. ’’The sentence of the European Court of Justice has established that they can be made’’.

      However, the theme is extremely divisive. Many of those who arrive in Europe are not eligible for international protection and must be repatriated, she said, wondering if it is a good idea to relocate those who need to be repatriated.

      “We are looking for a way to bring the necessary aid to countries under pressure.”

      “Relocation is an important part, but also” it must be done “in a way that can be possible to accept for all member states,” she noted.

      Moreover, Johansson said the system will not be too rigid as the union should prepare for different scenarios.
      Faster repatriations

      Repatriations will be a key part of the plan, with faster bureaucratic procedures, she said. The 2016 reform proposal was made following the 2015 migration crisis, when two million people, 90% of whom were refugees, reached the EU irregularly. For this reason, the plan focused on relocations, she explained.

      Now the situation is completely different: last year 2.4 million stay permits were issued, the majority for reasons connected to family, work or education. Just 140,000 people migrated irregularly and only one-third were refugees while two-thirds will need to be repatriated.

      For this reason, stressed the commissioner, the new plan will focus on repatriation. Faster procedures are necessary, she noted. When people stay in a country for years it is very hard to organize repatriations, especially voluntary ones. So the objective is for a negative asylum decision “to come together with a return decision.”

      Also, the permanence in hosting centers should be of short duration. Speaking about a fire at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos where more than 12,000 asylum seekers have been stranded for years, the commissioner said the situation was the ’’result of lack of European policy on asylum and migration."

      “We shall have no more Morias’’, she noted, calling for well-managed hosting centers along with limits to permanence.

      A win-win collaboration will instead be planned with third countries, she said. ’’The external aspect is very important. We have to work on good partnerships with third countries, supporting them and finding win-win solutions for readmissions and for the fight against traffickers. We have to develop legal pathways to come to the EU, in particular with resettlements, a policy that needs to be strengthened.”

      The commissioner then rejected the idea of opening hosting centers in third countries, an idea for example proposed by Denmark.

      “It is not the direction I intend to take. We will not export the right to asylum.”

      The commissioner said she was very concerned by reports of refoulements. Her objective, she concluded, is to “include in the pact a monitoring mechanism. The right to asylum must be defended.”

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27447/relocation-solidarity-mandatory-for-eu-migration-policy-johansson

      #relocalisation #solidarité_obligatoire #solidarité_volontaire #pays_de_première_entrée #renvois #expulsions #réinstallations #voies_légales

    • Droit d’asile : Bruxelles rate son « #pacte »

      La Commission européenne, assurant vouloir « abolir » le règlement de Dublin et son principe du premier pays d’entrée, doit présenter ce mercredi un « pacte sur l’immigration et l’asile ». Qui ne bouleverserait rien.

      C’est une belle victoire pour Viktor Orbán, le Premier ministre hongrois, et ses partenaires d’Europe centrale et orientale aussi peu enclins que lui à accueillir des étrangers sur leur sol. La Commission européenne renonce définitivement à leur imposer d’accueillir des demandeurs d’asile en cas d’afflux dans un pays de la « ligne de front » (Grèce, Italie, Malte, Espagne). Certes, le volumineux paquet de textes qu’elle propose ce mercredi (10 projets de règlements et trois recommandations, soit plusieurs centaines de pages), pompeusement baptisé « pacte sur l’immigration et l’asile », prévoit qu’ils devront, par « solidarité », assurer les refoulements vers les pays d’origine des déboutés du droit d’asile, mais cela ne devrait pas les gêner outre mesure. Car, sur le fond, la Commission prend acte de la volonté des Vingt-Sept de transformer l’Europe en forteresse.
      Sale boulot

      La crise de 2015 les a durablement traumatisés. A l’époque, la Turquie, par lassitude d’accueillir sur son sol plusieurs millions de réfugiés syriens et des centaines de milliers de migrants économiques dans l’indifférence de la communauté internationale, ouvre ses frontières. La Grèce est vite submergée et plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes traversent les Balkans afin de trouver refuge, notamment en Allemagne et en Suède, parmi les pays les plus généreux en matière d’asile.

      Passé les premiers moments de panique, les Européens réagissent de plusieurs manières. La Hongrie fait le sale boulot en fermant brutalement sa frontière. L’Allemagne, elle, accepte d’accueillir un million de demandeurs d’asile, mais négocie avec Ankara un accord pour qu’il referme ses frontières, accord ensuite endossé par l’UE qui lui verse en échange 6 milliards d’euros destinés aux camps de réfugiés. Enfin, l’Union adopte un règlement destiné à relocaliser sur une base obligatoire une partie des migrants dans les autres pays européens afin qu’ils instruisent les demandes d’asile, dans le but de soulager la Grèce et l’Italie, pays de premier accueil. Ce dernier volet est un échec, les pays d’Europe de l’Est, qui ont voté contre, refusent d’accueillir le moindre migrant, et leurs partenaires de l’Ouest ne font guère mieux : sur 160 000 personnes qui auraient dû être relocalisées, un objectif rapidement revu à 98 000, moins de 35 000 l’ont été à la fin 2017, date de la fin de ce dispositif.

      Depuis, l’Union a considérablement durci les contrôles, notamment en créant un corps de 10 000 gardes-frontières européens et en renforçant les moyens de Frontex, l’agence chargée de gérer ses frontières extérieures. En février-mars, la tentative d’Ankara de faire pression sur les Européens dans le conflit syrien en rouvrant partiellement ses frontières a fait long feu : la Grèce a employé les grands moyens, y compris violents, pour stopper ce flux sous les applaudissements de ses partenaires… Autant dire que l’ambiance n’est pas à l’ouverture des frontières et à l’accueil des persécutés.
      « Usine à gaz »

      Mais la crise migratoire de 2015 a laissé des « divisions nombreuses et profondes entre les Etats membres - certaines des cicatrices qu’elle a laissées sont toujours visibles aujourd’hui », comme l’a reconnu Ursula von der Leyen, la présidente de la Commission, dans son discours sur l’état de l’Union du 16 septembre. Afin de tourner la page, la Commission propose donc de laisser tomber la réforme de 2016 (dite de Dublin IV) prévoyant de pérenniser la relocalisation autoritaire des migrants, désormais jugée par une haute fonctionnaire de l’exécutif « totalement irréaliste ».

      Mais la réforme qu’elle propose, une véritable « usine à gaz », n’est qu’un « rapiéçage » de l’existant, comme l’explique Yves Pascouau, spécialiste de l’immigration et responsable des programmes européens de l’association Res Publica. Ainsi, alors que Von der Leyen a annoncé sa volonté « d’abolir » le règlement de Dublin III, il n’en est rien : le pays responsable du traitement d’une demande d’asile reste, par principe, comme c’est le cas depuis 1990, le pays de première entrée.

      S’il y a une crise, la Commission pourra déclencher un « mécanisme de solidarité » afin de soulager un pays de la ligne de front : dans ce cas, les Vingt-Sept devront accueillir un certain nombre de migrants (en fonction de leur richesse et de leur population), sauf s’ils préfèrent « parrainer un retour ». En clair, prendre en charge le refoulement des déboutés de l’asile (avec l’aide financière et logistique de l’Union) en sachant que ces personnes resteront à leur charge jusqu’à ce qu’ils y parviennent. Ça, c’est pour faire simple, car il y a plusieurs niveaux de crise, des exceptions, des sanctions, des délais et l’on en passe…

      Autre nouveauté : les demandes d’asile devront être traitées par principe à la frontière, dans des camps de rétention, pour les nationalités dont le taux de reconnaissance du statut de réfugié est inférieur à 20% dans l’Union, et ce, en moins de trois mois, avec refoulement à la clé en cas de refus. « Cette réforme pose un principe clair, explique un eurocrate. Personne ne sera obligé d’accueillir un étranger dont il ne veut pas. »

      Dans cet ensemble très sévère, une bonne nouvelle : les sauvetages en mer ne devraient plus être criminalisés. On peut craindre qu’une fois passés à la moulinette des Etats, qui doivent adopter ce paquet à la majorité qualifiée (55% des Etats représentant 65% de la population), il ne reste que les aspects les plus répressifs. On ne se refait pas.


      https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2020/09/22/droit-d-asile-bruxelles-rate-son-pacte_1800264

      –—

      Graphique ajouté au fil de discussion sur les statistiques de la #relocalisation :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/605713

    • Le pacte européen sur l’asile et les migrations ne tire aucune leçon de la « crise migratoire »

      Ce 23 septembre 2020, la nouvelle Commission européenne a présenté les grandes lignes d’orientation de sa politique migratoire à venir. Alors que cinq ans plutôt, en 2015, se déroulait la mal nommée « crise migratoire » aux frontières européennes, le nouveau Pacte Asile et Migration de l’UE ne tire aucune leçon du passé. Le nouveau pacte de l’Union Européenne nous propose inlassablement les mêmes recettes alors que les preuves de leur inefficacité, leur coût et des violences qu’elles procurent sont nombreuses et irréfutables. Le CNCD-11.11.11, son homologue néerlandophone et les membres du groupe de travail pour la justice migratoire appellent le parlement européen et le gouvernement belge à un changement de cap.

      Le nouveau Pacte repose sur des propositions législatives et des recommandations non contraignantes. Ses priorités sont claires mais pas neuves. Freiner les arrivées, limiter l’accueil par le « tri » des personnes et augmenter les retours. Cette stratégie pourtant maintes fois décriée par les ONG et le milieu académique a certes réussi à diminuer les arrivées en Europe, mais n’a offert aucune solution durable pour les personnes migrantes. Depuis les années 2000, l’externalisation de la gestion des questions migratoires a montré son inefficacité (situation humanitaires dans les hotspots, plus de 20.000 décès en Méditerranée depuis 2014 et processus d’encampement aux frontières de l’UE) et son coût exponentiel (coût élevé du contrôle, de la détention-expulsion et de l’aide au développement détournée). Elle a augmenté le taux de violences sur les routes de l’exil et a enfreint le droit international en toute impunité (non accès au droit d’asile notamment via les refoulements).

      "ll est important que tous les États membres développent des systèmes d’accueil de qualité et que l’UE s’oriente vers une protection plus unifiée"

      La proposition de mettre en place un mécanisme solidaire européen contraignant est à saluer, mais celui-ci doit être au service de l’accueil et non couplé au retour. La possibilité pour les États européens de choisir à la carte soit la relocalisation, le « parrainage » du retour des déboutés ou autre contribution financière n’est pas équitable. La répartition solidaire de l’accueil doit être permanente et ne pas être actionnée uniquement en cas « d’afflux massif » aux frontières d’un État membre comme le recommande la Commission. Il est important que tous les États membres développent des systèmes d’accueil de qualité et que l’UE s’oriente vers une protection plus unifiée. Le changement annoncé du Règlement de Dublin l’est juste de nom, car les premiers pays d’entrée resteront responsables des nouveaux arrivés.

      Le focus doit être mis sur les alternatives à la détention et non sur l’usage systématique de l’enfermement aux frontières, comme le veut la Commission. Le droit de demander l’asile et d’avoir accès à une procédure de qualité doit être accessible à tous et toutes et rester un droit individuel. Or, la proposition de la Commission de détenir (12 semaines maximum) en vue de screener (5 jours de tests divers et de recoupement de données via EURODAC) puis trier les personnes migrantes à la frontière en fonction du taux de reconnaissance de protection accordé en moyenne à leur pays d’origine (en dessous de 20%) ou de leur niveau de vulnérabilité est contraire à la Convention de Genève.

      "La priorité pour les personnes migrantes en situation irrégulière doit être la recherche de solutions durables (comme l’est la régularisation) plutôt que le retour forcé, à tous prix."

      La priorité pour les personnes migrantes en situation irrégulière doit être la recherche de solutions durables (comme l’est la régularisation) plutôt que le retour forcé, à tous prix, comme le préconise la Commission.

      La meilleure façon de lutter contre les violences sur les routes de l’exil reste la mise en place de plus de voies légales et sûres de migration (réinstallation, visas de travail, d’études, le regroupement familial…). Les ONG regrettent que la Commission reporte à 2021 les propositions sur la migration légale. Le pacte s’intéresse à juste titre à la criminalisation des ONG de sauvetage et des citoyens qui fournissent une aide humanitaire aux migrants. Toutefois, les propositions visant à y mettre fin sont insuffisantes. Les ONG se réjouissent de l’annonce par la Commission d’un mécanisme de surveillance des droits humains aux frontières extérieures. Au cours de l’année écoulée, on a signalé de plus en plus souvent des retours violents par la Croatie, la Grèce, Malte et Chypre. Toutefois, il n’est pas encore suffisamment clair si les propositions de la Commission peuvent effectivement traiter et sanctionner les refoulements.

      Au lendemain de l’incendie du hotspot à Moria, symbole par excellence de l’échec des politiques migratoires européennes, l’UE s’enfonce dans un déni total, meurtrier, en vue de concilier les divergences entre ses États membres. Les futures discussions autour du Pacte au sein du parlement UE et du Conseil UE seront cruciales. Les ONG membres du groupe de travail pour la justice migratoire appellent le Parlement européen et le gouvernement belge à promouvoir des ajustements fermes allant vers plus de justice migratoire.

      https://www.cncd.be/Le-pacte-europeen-sur-l-asile-et

    • The New Pact on Migration and Asylum. A Critical ‘First Look’ Analysis

      Where does it come from?

      The New Migration Pact was built on the ashes of the mandatory relocation scheme that the Commission tried to push in 2016. And the least that one can say, is that it shows! The whole migration plan has been decisively shaped by this initial failure. Though the Pact has some merits, the very fact that it takes as its starting point the radical demands made by the most nationalist governments in Europe leads to sacrificing migrants’ rights on the altar of a cohesive and integrated European migration policy.

      Back in 2016, the vigorous manoeuvring of the Commission to find a way out of the European asylum dead-end resulted in a bittersweet victory for the European institution. Though the Commission was able to find a qualified majority of member states willing to support a fair distribution of the asylum seekers among member states through a relocation scheme, this new regulation remained dead letter. Several eastern European states flatly refused to implement the plan, other member states seized this opportunity to defect on their obligations and the whole migration policy quickly unravelled. Since then, Europe is left with a dysfunctional Dublin agreement exacerbating the tensions between member states and 27 loosely connected national asylum regimes. On the latter point, at least, there is a consensus. Everyone agrees that the EU’s migration regime is broken and urgently needs to be fixed.

      Obviously, the Commission was not keen to go through a new round of political humiliation. Having been accused of “bureaucratic hubris” the first time around, the commissioners Schinas and Johansson decided not to repeat the same mistake. They toured the European capitals and listened to every side of the entrenched migration debate before drafting their Migration Pact. The intention is in the right place and it reflects the complexity of having to accommodate 27 distinct democratic debates in one single political space. Nevertheless, if one peers a bit more extensively through the content of the New Plan, it is complicated not to get the feelings that the Visegrad countries are currently the key players shaping the European migration and asylum policies. After all, their staunch opposition to a collective reception scheme sparked the political process and provided the starting point to the general discussion. As a result, it is no surprise that the New Pact tilts firmly towards an ever more restrictive approach to migration, beefs up the coercive powers of both member states and European agencies and raises many concerns with regards to the respect of the migrants’ fundamental rights.
      What is in this New Pact on Migration and Asylum?

      Does the Pact concede too much ground to the demands of the most xenophobic European governments? To answer that question, let us go back to the bizarre metaphor used by the commissioner Schinas. During his press conference, he insisted on comparing the New Pact on Migration and Asylum to a house built on solid foundations (i.e. the lengthy and inclusive consultation process) and made of 3 floors: first, some renewed partnerships with the sending and transit states, second, some more effective border procedures, and third, a revamped mandatory – but flexible ! – solidarity scheme. It is tempting to carry on with the metaphor and to say that this house may appear comfortable from the inside but that it remains tightly shut to anyone knocking on its door from the outside. For, a careful examination reveals that each of the three “floors” (policy packages, actually) lays the emphasis on a repressive approach to migration aimed at deterring would-be asylum seekers from attempting to reach the European shores.
      The “new partnerships” with sending and transit countries, a “change in paradigm”?

      Let us add that there is little that is actually “new” in this New Migration Pact. For instance, the first policy package, that is, the suggestion that the EU should renew its partnerships with sending and transit countries is, as a matter of fact, an old tune in the Brussels bubble. The Commission may boast that it marks a “change of paradigm”, one fails to see how this would be any different from the previous European diplomatic efforts. Since migration and asylum are increasingly considered as toxic topics (for, they would be the main factors behind the rise of nationalism and its corollary, Euroscepticism), the European Union is willing to externalize this issue, seemingly at all costs. The results, however, have been mixed in the past. To the Commission’s own admission, only a third of the migrants whose asylum claims have been rejected are effectively returned. Besides the facts that returns are costly, extremely coercive, and administratively complicated to organize, the main reason for this low rate of successful returns is that sending countries refuse to cooperate in the readmission procedures. Neighbouring countries have excellent reasons not to respond positively to the Union’s demands. For some, remittances sent by their diaspora are an economic lifeline. Others just do not want to appear complicit of repressive European practices on their domestic political scene. Furthermore, many African countries are growing discontent with the forceful way the European Union uses its asymmetrical relation of power in bilateral negotiations to dictate to those sovereign states the migration policies they should adopt, making for instance its development aid conditional on the implementation of stricter border controls. The Commission may rhetorically claim to foster “mutually beneficial” international relation with its neighbouring countries, the emphasis on the externalization of migration control in the EU’s diplomatic agenda nevertheless bears some of the hallmarks of neo-colonialism. As such, it is a source of deep resentment in sending and transit states. It would therefore be a grave mistake for the EU to overlook the fact that some short-term gains in terms of migration management may result in long-term losses with regards to Europe’s image across the world.

      Furthermore, considering the current political situation, one should not primarily be worried about the failed partnerships with neighbouring countries, it is rather the successful ones that ought to give us pause and raise concerns. For, based on the existing evidence, the EU will sign a deal with any state as long as it effectively restrains and contains migration flows towards the European shores. Being an authoritarian state with a documented history of human right violations (Turkey) or an embattled government fighting a civil war (Lybia) does not disqualify you as a partner of the European Union in its effort to manage migration flows. It is not only morally debatable for the EU to delegate its asylum responsibilities to unreliable third countries, it is also doubtful that an increase in diplomatic pressure on neighbouring countries will bring major political results. It will further damage the perception of the EU in neighbouring countries without bringing significant restriction to migration flows.
      Streamlining border procedures? Or eroding migrants’ rights?

      The second policy package is no more inviting. It tackles the issue of the migrants who, in spite of those partnerships and the hurdles thrown their way by sending and transit countries, would nevertheless reach Europe irregularly. On this issue, the Commission faced the daunting task of having to square a political circle, since it had to find some common ground in a debate bitterly divided between conflicting worldviews (roughly, between liberal and nationalist perspectives on the individual freedom of movement) and competing interests (between overburdened Mediterranean member states and Eastern member states adamant that asylum seekers would endanger their national cohesion). The Commission thus looked for the lowest common denominator in terms of migration management preferences amongst the distinct member states. The result is a two-tier border procedure aiming to fast-track and streamline the processing of asylum claims, allowing for more expeditious returns of irregular migrants. The goal is to prevent any bottleneck in the processing of the claims and to avoid the (currently near constant) overcrowding of reception facilities in the frontline states. Once again, there is little that is actually new in this proposal. It amounts to a generalization of the process currently in place in the infamous hotspots scattered on the Greek isles. According to the Pact, screening procedures would be carried out in reception centres created across Europe. A far cry from the slogan “no more Moria” since one may legitimately suspect that those reception centres will, at the first hiccup in the procedure, turn into tomorrow’s asylum camps.

      According to this procedure, newly arrived migrants would be submitted within 5 days to a pre-screening procedure and subsequently triaged into two categories. Migrants with a low chance of seeing their asylum claim recognized (because they would come from a country with a low recognition rate or a country belonging to the list of the safe third countries, for instance) would be redirected towards an accelerated procedure. The end goal would be to return them, if applicable, within twelve weeks. The other migrants would be subjected to the standard assessment of their asylum claim. It goes without saying that this proposal has been swiftly and unanimously condemned by all human rights organizations. It does not take a specialized lawyer to see that this two-tiered procedure could have devastating consequences for the “fast-tracked” asylum seekers left with no legal recourse against the initial decision to submit them to this sped up procedure (rather than the standard one) as well as reduced opportunities to defend their asylum claim or, if need be, to contest their return. No matter how often the Commission repeats that it will preserve all the legal safeguards required to protect migrants’ rights, it remains wildly unconvincing. Furthermore, the Pact may confuse speed and haste. The schedule is tight on paper (five days for the pre-screening, twelve weeks for the assessment of the asylum claim), it may well prove unrealistic to meet those deadlines in real-life conditions. The Commission also overlooks the fact that accelerated procedures tend to be sloppy, thus leading to juridical appeals and further legal wrangling and eventually amounting to processes far longer than expected.
      Integrating the returns, not the reception

      The Commission talked up the new Pact as being “balanced” and “humane”. Since the two first policy packages focus, first, on preventing would-be migrants from leaving their countries and, second, on facilitating and accelerating their returns, one would expect the third policy package to move away from the restriction of movement and to complement those measures with a reception plan tailored to the needs of refugees. And here comes the major disappointment with the New Pact and, perhaps, the clearest indication that the Pact is first and foremost designed to please the migration hardliners. It does include a solidarity scheme meant to alleviate the burden of frontline countries, to distribute more fairly the responsibilities amongst member states and to ensure that refugees are properly hosted. But this solidarity scheme is far from being robust enough to deliver on those promises. Let us unpack it briefly to understand why it is likely to fail. The solidarity scheme is mandatory. All member states will be under the obligation to take part. But there is a catch! Member states’ contribution to this collective effort can take many shapes and forms and it will be up to the member states to decide how they want to participate. They get to choose whether they want to relocate some refugees on their national soil, to provide some financial and/or logistical assistance, or to “sponsor” (it is the actual term used by the Commission) some returns.

      No one expected the Commission to reintroduce a compulsory relocation scheme in its Pact. Eastern European countries had drawn an obvious red line and it would have been either naïve or foolish to taunt them with that kind of policy proposal. But this so-called “flexible mandatory solidarity” relies on such a watered-down understanding of the solidarity principle that it results in a weak and misguided political instrument unsuited to solve the problem at hand. First, the flexible solidarity mechanism is too indeterminate to prove efficient. According to the current proposal, member states would have to shoulder a fair share of the reception burden (calculated on their respective population and GDP) but would be left to decide for themselves which form this contribution would take. The obvious flaw with the policy proposal is that, if all member states decline to relocate some refugees (which is a plausible scenario), Mediterranean states would still be left alone when it comes to dealing with the most immediate consequences of migration flows. They would receive much more financial, operational, and logistical support than it currently is the case – but they would be managing on their own the overcrowded reception centres. The Commission suggests that it would oversee the national pledges in terms of relocation and that it would impose some corrections if the collective pledges fall short of a predefined target. But it remains to be seen whether the Commission will have the political clout to impose some relocations to member states refusing them. One could not be blamed for being highly sceptical.

      Second, it is noteworthy that the Commission fails to integrate the reception of refugees since member states are de facto granted an opt-out on hosting refugees. What is integrated is rather the return policy, once more a repressive instrument. And it is the member states with the worst record in terms of migrants’ rights violations that are the most likely to be tasked with the delicate mission of returning them home. As a commentator was quipping on Twitter, it would be like asking a bully to walk his victim home (what could possibly go wrong?). The attempt to build an intra-European consensus is obviously pursued at the expense of the refugees. The incentive structure built into the flexible solidarity scheme offers an excellent illustration of this. If a member state declines to relocate any refugee and offers instead to ‘sponsor’ some returns, it has to honour that pledge within a limited period of time (the Pact suggests a six month timeframe). If it fails to do so, it becomes responsible for the relocation and the return of those migrants, leading to a situation in which some migrants may end up in a country where they do not want to be and that does not want them to be there. Hardly an optimal outcome…
      Conclusion

      The Pact represents a genuine attempt to design a multi-faceted and comprehensive migration policy, covering most aspects of a complex issue. The dysfunctions of the Schengen area and the question of the legal pathways to Europe have been relegated to a later discussion and one may wonder whether they should not have been included in the Pact to balance out its restrictive inclination. And, in all fairness, the Pact does throw a few bones to the more cosmopolitan-minded European citizens. For instance, it reminds the member states that maritime search and rescue operations are legal and should not be impeded, or it shortens (from five to three years) the waiting period for refugees to benefit from the freedom of movement. But those few welcome additions are vastly outweighed by the fact that migration hardliners dominated the agenda-setting in the early stage of the policy-making exercise and have thus been able to frame decisively the political discussion. The end result is a policy package leaning heavily towards some repressive instruments and particularly careless when it comes to safeguarding migrants’ rights.

      The New Pact was first drafted on the ashes of the mandatory relocation scheme. Back then, the Commission publicly made amends and revised its approach to the issue. Sadly, the New Pact was presented to the European public when the ashes of the Moria camp were still lukewarm. One can only hope that the member states will learn from that mistake too.

      https://blog.novamigra.eu/2020/09/24/the-new-pact-on-migration-and-asylum-a-critical-first-look-analysis

    • #Pacte_européen_sur_la_migration : un “nouveau départ” pour violer les droits humains

      La Commission européenne a publié aujourd’hui son « Nouveau Pacte sur l’Asile et la Migration » qui propose un nouveau cadre règlementaire et législatif. Avec ce plan, l’UE devient de facto un « leader du voyage retour » pour les migrant.e.s et les réfugié.e.s en Méditerranée. EuroMed Droits craint que ce pacte ne détériore encore davantage la situation actuelle pour au moins trois raisons.

      Le pacte se concentre de manière obsessionnelle sur la politique de retours à travers un système de « sponsoring » : des pays européens tels que l’Autriche, la Pologne, la Hongrie ou la République tchèque – qui refusent d’accueillir des réfugié.e.s – pourront « sponsoriser » et organiser la déportation vers les pays de départ de ces réfugié.e.s. Au lieu de favoriser l’intégration, le pacte adopte une politique de retour à tout prix, même lorsque les demandeurs.ses d’asile peuvent être victimes de discrimination, persécution ou torture dans leur pays de retour. A ce jour, il n’existe aucun mécanisme permettant de surveiller ce qui arrive aux migrant.e.s et réfugié.e.s une fois déporté.e.s.

      Le pacte proposé renforce la sous-traitance de la gestion des frontières. En termes concrets, l’UE renforce la coopération avec les pays non-européens afin qu’ils ferment leurs frontières et empêchent les personnes de partir. Cette coopération est sujette à l’imposition de conditions par l’UE. Une telle décision européenne se traduit par une hausse du nombre de refoulements dans la région méditerranéenne et une coopération renforcée avec des pays qui ont un piètre bilan en matière de droits humains et qui ne possèdent pas de cadre efficace pour la protection des droits des personnes migrantes et réfugiées.

      Le pacte vise enfin à étendre les mécanismes de tri des demandeurs.ses d’asile et des migrant.e.s dans les pays d’arrivée. Ce modèle de tri – similaire à celui utilisé dans les zones de transit aéroportuaires – accentue les difficultés de pays tels que l’Espagne, l’Italie, Malte, la Grèce ou Chypre qui accueillent déjà la majorité des migrant.e.s et réfugié.e.s. Placer ces personnes dans des camps revient à mettre en place un système illégal d’incarcération automatique dès l’arrivée. Cela accroîtra la violence psychologique à laquelle les migrant.e.s et réfugié.e.s sont déjà soumis. Selon ce nouveau système, ces personnes seront identifié.e.s sous cinq jours et toute demande d’asile devra être traitée en douze semaines. Cette accélération de la procédure risque d’intensifier la détention et de diviser les arrivant.e.s entre demandeurs.ses d’asile et migrant.e.s économiques. Cela s’effectuerait de manière discriminatoire, sans analyse détaillée de chaque demande d’asile ni possibilité réelle de faire appel. Celles et ceux qui seront éligibles à la protection internationale seront relocalisé.e.s au sein des États membres qui acceptent de les recevoir. Les autres risqueront d’être déportés immédiatement.

      « En choisissant de sous-traiter davantage encore la gestion des frontières et d’accentuer la politique de retours, ce nouveau pacte conclut la transformation de la politique européenne en une approche pleinement sécuritaire. Pire encore, le pacte assimile la politique de “retour sponsorisé” à une forme de solidarité. Au-delà des déclarations officielles, cela démontre la volonté de l’Union européenne de criminaliser et de déshumaniser les migrant.e.s et les réfugié.e.s », a déclaré Wadih Al-Asmar, Président d’EuroMed Droits.

      https://euromedrights.org/fr/publication/pacte-europeen-sur-la-migration-nouveau-depart-pour-violer-les-droits

    • Whose Pact? The Cognitive Dimensions of the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum

      This Policy Insight examines the new Pact on Migration and Asylum in light of the principles and commitments enshrined in the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees (UN GCR) and the EU Treaties. It finds that from a legal viewpoint the ‘Pact’ is not really a Pact at all, if understood as an agreement concluded between relevant EU institutional parties. Rather, it is the European Commission’s policy guide for the duration of the current 9th legislature.

      The analysis shows that the Pact has intergovernmental aspects, in both name and fundamentals. It does not pursue a genuine Migration and Asylum Union. The Pact encourages an artificial need for consensus building or de facto unanimity among all EU member states’ governments in fields where the EU Treaties call for qualified majority voting (QMV) with the European Parliament as co-legislator. The Pact does not abolish the first irregular entry rule characterising the EU Dublin Regulation. It adopts a notion of interstate solidarity that leads to asymmetric responsibilities, where member states are given the flexibility to evade participating in the relocation of asylum seekers. The Pact also runs the risk of catapulting some contested member states practices’ and priorities about localisation, speed and de-territorialisation into EU policy.

      This Policy Insight argues that the Pact’s priority of setting up an independent monitoring mechanism of border procedures’ compliance with fundamental rights is a welcome step towards the better safeguarding of the rule of law. The EU inter-institutional negotiations on the Pact’s initiatives should be timely and robust in enforcing member states’ obligations under the current EU legal standards relating to asylum and borders, namely the prevention of detention and expedited expulsions, and the effective access by all individuals to dignified treatment and effective remedies. Trust and legitimacy of EU asylum and migration policy can only follow if international (human rights and refugee protection) commitments and EU Treaty principles are put first.

      https://www.ceps.eu/ceps-publications/whose-pact

    • First analysis of the EU’s new asylum proposals

      This week the EU Commission published its new package of proposals on asylum and (non-EU) migration – consisting of proposals for legislation, some ‘soft law’, attempts to relaunch talks on stalled proposals and plans for future measures. The following is an explanation of the new proposals (not attempting to cover every detail) with some first thoughts. Overall, while it is possible that the new package will lead to agreement on revised asylum laws, this will come at the cost of risking reduced human rights standards.

      Background

      Since 1999, the EU has aimed to create a ‘Common European Asylum System’. A first phase of legislation was passed between 2003 and 2005, followed by a second phase between 2010 and 2013. Currently the legislation consists of: a) the Qualification Directive, which defines when people are entitled to refugee status (based on the UN Refugee Convention) or subsidiary protection status, and what rights they have; b) the Dublin III Regulation, which allocates responsibility for an asylum seeker between Member States; c) the Eurodac Regulation, which facilitates the Dublin system by setting up a database of fingerprints of asylum seekers and people who cross the external border without authorisation; d) the Asylum Procedures Directive, which sets out the procedural rules governing asylum applications, such as personal interviews and appeals; e) the Reception Conditions Directive, which sets out standards on the living conditions of asylum-seekers, such as rules on housing and welfare; and f) the Asylum Agency Regulation, which set up an EU agency (EASO) to support Member States’ processing of asylum applications.

      The EU also has legislation on other aspects of migration: (short-term) visas, border controls, irregular migration, and legal migration – much of which has connections with the asylum legislation, and all of which is covered by this week’s package. For visas, the main legislation is the visa list Regulation (setting out which non-EU countries’ citizens are subject to a short-term visa requirement, or exempt from it) and the visa code (defining the criteria to obtain a short-term Schengen visa, allowing travel between all Schengen states). The visa code was amended last year, as discussed here.

      For border controls, the main legislation is the Schengen Borders Code, setting out the rules on crossing external borders and the circumstances in which Schengen states can reinstate controls on internal borders, along with the Frontex Regulation, setting up an EU border agency to assist Member States. On the most recent version of the Frontex Regulation, see discussion here and here.

      For irregular migration, the main legislation is the Return Directive. The Commission proposed to amend it in 2018 – on which, see analysis here and here.

      For legal migration, the main legislation on admission of non-EU workers is the single permit Directive (setting out a common process and rights for workers, but not regulating admission); the Blue Card Directive (on highly paid migrants, discussed here); the seasonal workers’ Directive (discussed here); and the Directive on intra-corporate transferees (discussed here). The EU also has legislation on: non-EU students, researchers and trainees (overview here); non-EU family reunion (see summary of the legislation and case law here) and on long-term resident non-EU citizens (overview – in the context of UK citizens after Brexit – here). In 2016, the Commission proposed to revise the Blue Card Directive (see discussion here).

      The UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out of most of these laws, except some asylum law applies to the UK and Ireland, and Denmark is covered by the Schengen and Dublin rules. So are the non-EU countries associated with Schengen and Dublin (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). There are also a number of further databases of non-EU citizens as well as Eurodac: the EU has never met a non-EU migrant who personal data it didn’t want to store and process.

      The Refugee ‘Crisis’

      The EU’s response to the perceived refugee ‘crisis’ was both short-term and long-term. In the short term, in 2015 the EU adopted temporary laws (discussed here) relocating some asylum seekers in principle from Italy and Greece to other Member States. A legal challenge to one of these laws failed (as discussed here), but in practice Member States accepted few relocations anyway. Earlier this year, the CJEU ruled that several Member States had breached their obligations under the laws (discussed here), but by then it was a moot point.

      Longer term, the Commission proposed overhauls of the law in 2016: a) a Qualification Regulation further harmonising the law on refugee and subsidiary protection status; b) a revised Dublin Regulation, which would have set up a system of relocation of asylum seekers for future crises; c) a revised Eurodac Regulation, to take much more data from asylum seekers and other migrants; d) an Asylum Procedures Regulation, further harmonising the procedural law on asylum applications; e) a revised Reception Conditions Directive; f) a revised Asylum Agency Regulation, giving the agency more powers; and g) a new Resettlement Regulation, setting out a framework of admitting refugees directly from non-EU countries. (See my comments on some of these proposals, from back in 2016)

      However, these proposals proved unsuccessful – which is the main reason for this week’s attempt to relaunch the process. In particular, an EU Council note from February 2019 summarises the diverse problems that befell each proposal. While the EU Council Presidency and the European Parliament reached agreement on the proposals on qualification, reception conditions and resettlement in June 2018, Member States refused to support the Presidency’s deal and the European Parliament refused to renegotiate (see, for instance, the Council documents on the proposals on qualification and resettlement; see also my comments on an earlier stage of the talks, when the Council had agreed its negotiation position on the qualification regulation).

      On the asylum agency, the EP and Council agreed on the revised law in 2017, but the Commission proposed an amendment in 2018 to give the agency more powers; the Council could not agree on this. On Eurodac, the EP and Council only partly agreed on a text. On the procedures Regulation, the Council largely agreed its position, except on border procedures; on Dublin there was never much prospect of agreement because of the controversy over relocating asylum seekers. (For either proposal, a difficult negotiation with the European Parliament lay ahead).

      In other areas too, the legislative process was difficult: the Council and EP gave up negotiating amendments to the Blue Card Directive (see the last attempt at a compromise here, and the Council negotiation mandate here), and the EP has not yet agreed a position on the Returns Directive (the Council has a negotiating position, but again it leaves out the difficult issue of border procedures; there is a draft EP position from February). Having said that, the EU has been able to agree legislation giving more powers to Frontex, as well as new laws on EU migration databases, in the last few years.

      The attempted relaunch

      The Commission’s new Pact on asylum and immigration (see also the roadmap on its implementation, the Q and As, and the staff working paper) does not restart the whole process from scratch. On qualification, reception conditions, resettlement, the asylum agency, the returns Directive and the Blue Card Directive, it invites the Council and Parliament to resume negotiations. But it tries to unblock the talks as a whole by tabling two amended legislative proposals and three new legislative proposals, focussing on the issues of border procedures and relocation of asylum seekers.

      Screening at the border

      This revised proposals start with a new proposal for screening asylum seekers at the border, which would apply to all non-EU citizens who cross an external border without authorisation, who apply for asylum while being checked at the border (without meeting the conditions for legal entry), or who are disembarked after a search and rescue operation. During the screening, these non-EU citizens are not allowed to enter the territory of a Member State, unless it becomes clear that they meet the criteria for entry. The screening at the border should take no longer than 5 days, with an extra 5 days in the event of a huge influx. (It would also be possible to apply the proposed law to those on the territory who evaded border checks; for them the deadline to complete the screening is 3 days).

      Screening has six elements, as further detailed in the proposal: a health check, an identity check, registration in a database, a security check, filling out a debriefing form, and deciding on what happens next. At the end of the screening, the migrant is channelled either into the expulsion process (if no asylum claim has been made, and if the migrant does not meet the conditions for entry) or, if an asylum claim is made, into the asylum process – with an indication of whether the claim should be fast-tracked or not. It’s also possible that an asylum seeker would be relocated to another Member State. The screening is carried out by national officials, possibly with support from EU agencies.

      To ensure human rights protection, there must be independent monitoring to address allegations of non-compliance with human rights. These allegations might concern breaches of EU or international law, national law on detention, access to the asylum procedure, or non-refoulement (the ban on sending people to an unsafe country). Migrants must be informed about the process and relevant EU immigration and data protection law. There is no provision for judicial review of the outcome of the screening process, although there would be review as part of the next step (asylum or return).

      Asylum procedures

      The revised proposal for an asylum procedures Regulation would leave in place most of the Commission’s 2016 proposal to amend the law, adding some specific further proposed amendments, which either link back to the screening proposal or aim to fast-track decisions and expulsions more generally.

      On the first point, the usual rules on informing asylum applicants and registering their application would not apply until after the end of the screening. A border procedure may apply following the screening process, but Member States must apply the border procedure in cases where an asylum seeker used false documents, is a perceived national security threat, or falls within the new ground for fast-tracking cases (on which, see below). The latter obligation is subject to exceptions where a Member State has reported that a non-EU country is not cooperating on readmission; the process for dealing with that issue set out under the 2019 amendments to the visa code will then apply. Also, the border process cannot apply to unaccompanied minors or children under 12, unless they are a supposed national security risk. Further exceptions apply where the asylum seeker is vulnerable or has medical needs, the application is not inadmissible or cannot be fast-tracked, or detention conditions cannot be guaranteed. A Member State might apply the Dublin process to determine which Member State is responsible for the asylum claim during the border process. The whole border process (including any appeal) must last no more than 12 weeks, and can only be used to declare applications inadmissible or apply the new ground for fast-tracking them.

      There would also be a new border expulsion procedure, where an asylum application covered by the border procedure was rejected. This is subject to its own 12-week deadline, starting from the point when the migrant is no longer allowed to remain. Much of the Return Directive would apply – but not the provisions on the time period for voluntary departure, remedies and the grounds for detention. Instead, the border expulsion procedure would have its own stricter rules on these issues.

      As regards general fast-tracking, in order to speed up the expulsion process for unsuccessful applications, a rejection of an asylum application would have to either incorporate an expulsion decision or entail a simultaneous separate expulsion decision. Appeals against expulsion decisions would then be subject to the same rules as appeals against asylum decisions. If the asylum seeker comes from a country with a refugee recognition rate below 20%, his or her application must be fast-tracked (this would even apply to unaccompanied minors) – unless circumstances in that country have changed, or the asylum seeker comes from a group for whom the low recognition rate is not representative (for instance, the recognition rate might be higher for LGBT asylum-seekers from that country). Many more appeals would be subject to a one-week time limit for the rejected asylum seeker to appeal, and there could be only one level of appeal against decisions taken within a border procedure.

      Eurodac

      The revised proposal for Eurodac would build upon the 2016 proposal, which was already far-reaching: extending Eurodac to include not only fingerprints, but also photos and other personal data; reducing the age of those covered by Eurodac from 14 to 6; removing the time limits and the limits on use of the fingerprints taken from persons who had crossed the border irregularly; and creating a new obligation to collect data of all irregular migrants over age 6 (currently fingerprint data for this group cannot be stored, but can simply be checked, as an option, against the data on asylum seekers and irregular border crossers). The 2020 proposal additionally provides for interoperability with other EU migration databases, taking of personal data during the screening process, including more data on the migration status of each person, and expressly applying the law to those disembarked after a search and rescue operation.

      Dublin rules on asylum responsibility

      A new proposal for asylum management would replace the Dublin regulation (meaning that the Commission has withdrawn its 2016 proposal to replace that Regulation). The 2016 proposal would have created a ‘bottleneck’ in the Member State of entry, requiring that State to examine first whether many of the grounds for removing an asylum-seeker to a non-EU country apply before considering whether another Member State might be responsible for the application (because the asylum seeker’s family live there, for instance). It would also have imposed obligations directly on asylum-seekers to cooperate with the process, rather than only regulate relations between Member States. These obligations would have been enforced by punishing asylum seekers who disobeyed: removing their reception conditions (apart from emergency health care); fast-tracking their substantive asylum applications; refusing to consider new evidence from them; and continuing the asylum application process in their absence.

      It would no longer be possible for asylum seekers to provide additional evidence of family links, with a view to being in the same country as a family member. Overturning a CJEU judgment (see further discussion here), unaccompanied minors would no longer have been able to make applications in multiple Member States (in the absence of a family member in any of them). However, the definition of family members would have been widened, to include siblings and families formed in a transit country. Responsibility for an asylum seeker based on the first Member State of irregular entry (a commonly applied criterion) would have applied indefinitely, rather than expire one year after entry as it does under the current rules. The ‘Sangatte clause’ (responsibility after five months of living in a second Member State, if the ‘irregular entry’ criterion no longer applies) would be dropped. The ‘sovereignty clause’, which played a key part in the 2015-16 refugee ‘crisis’ (it lets a Member State take responsibility for any application even if the Dublin rules do not require it, cf Germany accepting responsibility for Syrian asylum seekers) would have been sharply curtailed. Time limits for detention during the transfer process would be reduced. Remedies for asylum seekers would have been curtailed: they would only have seven days to appeal against a transfer; courts would have fifteen days to decide (although they could have stayed on the territory throughout); and the grounds of review would have been curtailed.

      Finally, the 2016 proposal would have tackled the vexed issue of disproportionate allocation of responsibility for asylum seekers by setting up an automated system determining how many asylum seekers each Member State ‘should’ have based on their size and GDP. If a Member State were responsible for excessive numbers of applicants, Member States which were receiving fewer numbers would have to take more to help out. If they refused, they would have to pay €250,000 per applicant.

      The 2020 proposal drops some of the controversial proposals from 2016, including the ‘bottleneck’ in the Member State of entry (the current rule, giving Member States an option to decide if a non-EU country is responsible for the application on narrower grounds than in the 2016 proposal, would still apply). Also, the sovereignty clause would now remain unchanged.

      However, the 2020 proposal also retains parts of the 2016 proposal: the redefinition of ‘family member’ (which could be more significant now that the bottleneck is removed, unless Member States choose to apply the relevant rules on non-EU countries’ responsibility during the border procedure already); obligations for asylum seekers (redrafted slightly); some of the punishments for non-compliant asylum-seekers (the cut-off for considering evidence would stay, as would the loss of benefits except for those necessary to ensure a basic standard of living: see the CJEU case law in CIMADE and Haqbin); dropping the provision on evidence of family links; changing the rules on responsibility for unaccompanied minors; retaining part of the changes to the irregular entry criterion (it would now cease to apply after three years; the Sangatte clause would still be dropped; it would apply after search and rescue but not apply in the event of relocation); curtailing judicial review (the grounds would still be limited; the time limit to appeal would be 14 days; courts would not have a strict deadline to decide; suspensive effect would not apply in all cases); and the reduced time limits for detention.

      The wholly new features of the 2020 proposal are: some vague provisions about crisis management; responsibility for an asylum application for the Member State which issued a visa or residence document which expired in the last three years (the current rule is responsibility if the visa expired less than six months ago, and the residence permit expired less than a year ago); responsibility for an asylum application for a Member State in which a non-EU citizen obtained a diploma; and the possibility for refugees or persons with subsidiary protection status to obtain EU long-term resident status after three years, rather than five.

      However, the most significant feature of the new proposal is likely to be its attempt to solve the underlying issue of disproportionate allocation of asylum seekers. Rather than a mechanical approach to reallocating responsibility, the 2020 proposal now provides for a menu of ‘solidarity contributions’: relocation of asylum seekers; relocation of refugees; ‘return sponsorship’; or support for ‘capacity building’ in the Member State (or a non-EU country) facing migratory pressure. There are separate rules for search and rescue disembarkations, on the one hand, and more general migratory pressures on the other. Once the Commission determines that the latter situation exists, other Member States have to choose from the menu to offer some assistance. Ultimately the Commission will adopt a decision deciding what the contributions will be. Note that ‘return sponsorship’ comes with a ticking clock: if the persons concerned are not expelled within eight months, the sponsoring Member State must accept them on its territory.

      Crisis management

      The issue of managing asylum issues in a crisis has been carved out of the Dublin proposal into a separate proposal, which would repeal an EU law from 2001 that set up a framework for offering ‘temporary protection’ in a crisis. Note that Member States have never used the 2001 law in practice.

      Compared to the 2001 law, the new proposal is integrated into the EU asylum legislation that has been adopted or proposed in the meantime. It similarly applies in the event of a ‘mass influx’ that prevents the effective functioning of the asylum system. It would apply the ‘solidarity’ process set out in the proposal to replace the Dublin rules (ie relocation of asylum seekers and other measures), with certain exceptions and shorter time limits to apply that process.

      The proposal focusses on providing for possible exceptions to the usual asylum rules. In particular, during a crisis, the Commission could authorise a Member State to apply temporary derogations from the rules on border asylum procedures (extending the time limit, using the procedure to fast-track more cases), border return procedures (again extending the time limit, more easily justifying detention), or the time limit to register asylum applicants. Member States could also determine that due to force majeure, it was not possible to observe the normal time limits for registering asylum applications, applying the Dublin process for responsibility for asylum applications, or offering ‘solidarity’ to other Member States.

      Finally, the new proposal, like the 2001 law, would create a potential for a form of separate ‘temporary protection’ status for the persons concerned. A Member State could suspend the consideration of asylum applications from people coming from the country facing a crisis for up to a year, in the meantime giving them status equivalent to ‘subsidiary protection’ status in the EU qualification law. After that point it would have to resume consideration of the applications. It would need the Commission’s approval, whereas the 2001 law left it to the Council to determine a situation of ‘mass influx’ and provided for the possible extension of the special rules for up to three years.

      Other measures

      The Commission has also adopted four soft law measures. These comprise: a Recommendation on asylum crisis management; a Recommendation on resettlement and humanitarian admission; a Recommendation on cooperation between Member States on private search and rescue operations; and guidance on the applicability of EU law on smuggling of migrants – notably concluding that it cannot apply where (as in the case of law of the sea) there is an obligation to rescue.

      On other issues, the Commission plan is to use current legislation – in particular the recent amendment to the visa code, which provides for sticks to make visas more difficult to get for citizens of countries which don’t cooperate on readmission of people, and carrots to make visas easier to get for citizens of countries which do cooperate on readmission. In some areas, such as the Schengen system, there will be further strategies and plans in the near future; it is not clear if this will lead to more proposed legislation.

      However, on legal migration, the plan is to go further than relaunching the amendment of the Blue Card Directive, as the Commission is also planning to propose amendments to the single permit and long-term residence laws referred to above – leading respectively to more harmonisation of the law on admission of non-EU workers and enhanced possibilities for long-term resident non-EU citizens to move between Member States (nb the latter plan is separate from this week’s proposal to amend this law as regards refugees and people with subsidiary protection already). Both these plans are relevant to British citizens moving to the EU after the post-Brexit transition period – and the latter is also relevant to British citizens covered by the withdrawal agreement.

      Comments

      This week’s plan is less a complete restart of EU law in this area than an attempt to relaunch discussions on a blocked set of amendments to that law, which moreover focusses on a limited set of issues. Will it ‘work’? There are two different ways to answer that question.

      First, will it unlock the institutional blockage? Here it should be kept in mind that the European Parliament and the Council had largely agreed on several of the 2016 proposals already; they would have been adopted in 2018 already had not the Council treated all the proposals as a package, and not gone back on agreements which the Council Presidency reached with the European Parliament. It is always open to the Council to get at least some of these proposals adopted quickly by reversing these approaches.

      On the blocked proposals, the Commission has targeted the key issues of border procedures and allocation of asylum-seekers. If the former leads to more quick removals of unsuccessful applicants, the latter issue is no longer so pressing. But it is not clear if the Member States will agree to anything on border procedures, or whether such an agreement will result in more expulsions anyway – because the latter depends on the willingness of non-EU countries, which the EU cannot legislate for (and does not even address in this most recent package). And because it is uncertain whether they will result in more expulsions, Member States will be wary of agreeing to anything which either results in more obligations to accept asylum-seekers on their territory, or leaves them with the same number as before.

      The idea of ‘return sponsorship’ – which reads like a grotesque parody of individuals sponsoring children in developing countries via charities – may not be appealing except to those countries like France, which have the capacity to twist arms in developing countries to accept returns. Member States might be able to agree on a replacement for the temporary protection Directive on the basis that they will never use that replacement either. And Commission threats to use infringement proceedings to enforce the law might not worry Member States who recall that the CJEU ruled on their failure to relocate asylum-seekers after the relocation law had already expired, and that the Court will soon rule on Hungary’s expulsion of the Central European University after it has already left.

      As to whether the proposals will ‘work’ in terms of managing asylum flows fairly and compatibly with human rights, it is striking how much they depend upon curtailing appeal rights, even though appeals are often successful. The proposed limitation of appeal rights will also be maintained in the Dublin system; and while the proposed ‘bottleneck’ of deciding on removals to non-EU countries before applying the Dublin system has been removed, a variation on this process may well apply in the border procedures process instead. There is no new review of the assessment of the safety of non-EU countries – which is questionable in light of the many reports of abuse in Libya. While the EU is not proposing, as the wildest headbangers would want, to turn people back or refuse applications without consideration, the question is whether the fast-track consideration of applications and then appeals will constitute merely a Potemkin village of procedural rights that mean nothing in practice.

      Increased detention is already a feature of the amendments proposed earlier: the reception conditions proposal would add a new ground for detention; the return Directive proposal would inevitably increase detention due to curtailing voluntary departure (as discussed here). Unfortunately the Commission’s claim in its new communication that its 2018 proposal is ‘promoting’ voluntary return is therefore simply false. Trump-style falsehoods have no place in the discussion of EU immigration or asylum law.

      The latest Eurodac proposal would not do much compared to the 2016 proposal – but then, the 2016 proposal would already constitute an enormous increase in the amount of data collected and shared by that system.

      Some elements of the package are more positive. The possibility for refugees and people with subsidiary protection to get EU long-term residence status earlier would be an important step toward making asylum ‘valid throughout the Union’, as referred to in the Treaties. The wider definition of family members, and the retention of the full sovereignty clause, may lead to some fairer results under the Dublin system. Future plans to improve the long-term residents’ Directive are long overdue. The Commission’s sound legal assessment that no one should be prosecuted for acting on their obligations to rescue people in distress at sea is welcome. The quasi-agreed text of the reception conditions Directive explicitly rules out Trump-style separate detention of children.

      No proposals from the EU can solve the underlying political issue: a chunk of public opinion is hostile to more migration, whether in frontline Member States, other Member States, or transit countries outside the EU. The politics is bound to affect what Member States and non-EU countries alike are willing to agree to. And for the same reason, even if a set of amendments to the system is ultimately agreed, there will likely be continuing issues of implementation, especially illegal pushbacks and refusals to accept relocation.

      https://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2020/09/first-analysis-of-eus-new-asylum.html?spref=fb

    • Pacte européen sur les migrations et l’asile : Le rendez-vous manqué de l’UE

      Le nouveau pacte européen migrations et asile présenté par la Commission ce 23 septembre, loin de tirer les leçons de l’échec et du coût humain intolérable des politiques menées depuis 30 ans, s’inscrit dans la continuité des logiques déjà largement éprouvées, fondées sur une approche répressive et sécuritaire au service de l’endiguement et des expulsions et au détriment d’une politique d’accueil qui s’attache à garantir et à protéger la dignité et les droits fondamentaux.

      Des « nouveaux » camps européens aux frontières pour filtrer les personnes arrivées sur le territoire européen et expulser le plus grand nombre

      En réaction au drame des incendies qui ont ravagé le camp de Moria sur l’île grecque de Lesbos, la commissaire européenne aux affaires intérieures, Ylva Johansson, affirmait le 17 septembre devant les députés européens qu’« il n’y aurait pas d’autres Moria » mais de « véritables centres d’accueil » aux frontières européennes.

      Si le nouveau pacte prévoie effectivement la création de « nouveaux » camps conjuguée à une « nouvelle » procédure accélérée aux frontières, ces derniers s’apparentent largement à l’approche hotspot mise en œuvre par l’Union européenne (UE) depuis 2015 afin d’organiser la sélection des personnes qu’elle souhaite accueillir et l’expulsion, depuis la frontière, de tous celles qu’elle considère « indésirables ».

      Le pacte prévoie ainsi la mise en place « d’un contrôle préalable à l’entrée sur le territoire pour toutes les personnes qui se présentent aux frontières extérieures ou après un débarquement, à la suite d’une opération de recherche et de sauvetage ». Il s’agira, pour les pays situés à la frontière extérieure de l’UE, de procéder – dans un délai de 5 jours et avec l’appui des agences européennes (l’agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes – Frontex et le Bureau européen d’appui en matière d’asile – EASO) – à des contrôles d’identité (prise d’empreintes et enregistrement dans les bases de données européennes) doublés de contrôles sécuritaires et sanitaires afin de procéder à un tri préalable à l’entrée sur le territoire, permettant d’orienter ensuite les personne vers :

      Une procédure d’asile accélérée à la frontière pour celles possédant une nationalité pour laquelle le taux de reconnaissance d’une protection internationale, à l’échelle de l’UE, est inférieure à 20%
      Une procédure d’asile normale pour celles considérées comme éligibles à une protection.
      Une procédure d’expulsion immédiate, depuis la frontière, pour toute celles qui auront été rejetées par ce dispositif de tri, dans un délai de 12 semaines.

      Pendant cette procédure de filtrage à la frontière, les personnes seraient considérées comme n’étant pas encore entrées sur le territoire européen ce qui permettrait aux Etats de déroger aux conventions de droit international qui s’y appliquent.

      Un premier projet pilote est notamment prévu à Lesbos, conjointement avec les autorités grecques, pour installer un nouveau camp sur l’île avec l’appui d’une Task Force européenne, directement placée sous le contrôle de la direction générale des affaires intérieure de la Commission européenne (DG HOME).

      Difficile de voir où se trouve l’innovation dans la proposition présentée par la Commission. Si ce n’est que les États européens souhaitent pousser encore plus loin à la fois la logique de filtrage à ces frontières ainsi que la sous-traitance de leur contrôle. Depuis l’été 2018, l’Union européenne défend la création de « centres contrôlés au sein de l’UE » d’une part et de « plateformes de débarquement dans les pays tiers » d’autre part. L’UE, à travers ce nouveau mécanisme, vise à organiser l’expulsion rapide des migrants qui sont parvenus, souvent au péril de leur vie, à pénétrer sur son territoire. Pour ce faire, la coopération accrue avec les gardes-frontières des États non européens et l’appui opérationnel de l’agence Frontex sont encore et toujours privilégiés.
      Un « nouvel écosystème en matière de retour »

      L’obsession européenne pour l’amélioration du « taux de retour » se retrouve au cœur de ce nouveau pacte, en repoussant toujours plus les limites en matière de coopération extérieure et d’enfermement des personnes étrangères jugées indésirables et en augmentant de façon inédite ses moyens opérationnels.

      Selon l’expression de Margaritis Schinas, commissaire grec en charge de la « promotion du mode de vie européen », la nouvelle procédure accélérée aux frontières s’accompagnera d’« un nouvel écosystème européen en matière de retour ». Il sera piloté par un « nouveau coordinateur de l’UE chargé des retours » ainsi qu’un « réseau de haut niveau coordonnant les actions nationales » avec le soutien de l’agence Frontex, qui devrait devenir « le bras opérationnel de la politique de retour européenne ».

      Rappelons que Frontex a vu ses moyens décuplés ces dernières années, notamment en vue d’expulser plus de personnes migrantes. Celle-ci a encore vu ses moyens renforcés depuis l’entrée en vigueur de son nouveau règlement le 4 décembre 2019 dont la Commission souhaite accélérer la mise en œuvre effective. Au-delà d’une augmentation de ses effectifs et de la possibilité d’acquérir son propre matériel, l’agence bénéficie désormais de pouvoirs étendus pour identifier les personnes « expulsables » du territoire européen, obtenir les documents de voyage nécessaires à la mise en œuvre de leurs expulsions ainsi que pour coordonner des opérations d’expulsion au service des Etats membres.

      La Commission souhaite également faire aboutir, d’ici le second trimestre 2021, le projet de révision de la directive européenne « Retour », qui constitue un recul sans précédent du cadre de protection des droits fondamentaux des personnes migrantes. Voir notre précédente actualité sur le sujet : L’expulsion au cœur des politiques migratoires européennes, 22 mai 2019
      Des « partenariats sur-mesure » avec les pays d’origine et de transit

      La Commission étend encore redoubler d’efforts afin d’inciter les Etats non européens à participer activement à empêcher les départs vers l’Europe ainsi qu’à collaborer davantage en matière de retour et de réadmission en utilisant l’ensemble des instruments politiques à sa disposition. Ces dernières années ont vu se multiplier les instruments européens de coopération formelle (à travers la signature, entre autres, d’accords de réadmission bilatéraux ou multilatéraux) et informelle (à l’instar de la tristement célèbre déclaration entre l’UE et la Turquie de mars 2016) à tel point qu’il est devenu impossible, pour les États ciblés, de coopérer avec l’UE dans un domaine spécifique sans que les objectifs européens en matière migratoire ne soient aussi imposés.

      L’exécutif européen a enfin souligné sa volonté de d’exploiter les possibilités offertes par le nouveau règlement sur les visas Schengen, entré en vigueur en février 2020. Celui-ci prévoie d’évaluer, chaque année, le degré de coopération des Etats non européens en matière de réadmission. Le résultat de cette évaluation permettra d’adopter une décision de facilitation de visa pour les « bon élèves » ou à l’inverse, d’imposer des mesures de restrictions de visas aux « mauvais élèves ». Voir notre précédente actualité sur le sujet : Expulsions contre visas : le droit à la mobilité marchandé, 2 février 2020.

      Conduite au seul prisme des intérêts européens, cette politique renforce le caractère historiquement déséquilibré des relations de « coopération » et entraîne en outre des conséquences désastreuses sur les droits des personnes migrantes, notamment celui de quitter tout pays, y compris le leur. Sous couvert d’aider ces pays à « se développer », les mesures « incitatives » européennes ne restent qu’un moyen de poursuivre ses objectifs et d’imposer sa vision des migrations. En coopérant davantage avec les pays d’origine et de transit, parmi lesquelles des dictatures et autres régimes autoritaires, l’UE renforce l’externalisation de ses politiques migratoires, sous-traitant la gestion des exilées aux Etats extérieurs à l’UE, tout en se déresponsabilisant des violations des droits perpétrées hors de ses frontières.
      Solidarité à la carte, entre relocalisation et expulsion

      Le constat d’échec du système Dublin – machine infernale de l’asile européen – conjugué à la volonté de parvenir à trouver un consensus suite aux profonds désaccords qui avaient mené les négociations sur Dublin IV dans l’impasse, la Commission souhaite remplacer l’actuel règlement de Dublin par un nouveau règlement sur la gestion de l’asile et de l’immigration, liant étroitement les procédures d’asile aux procédures d’expulsion.

      Les quotas de relocalisation contraignants utilisés par le passé, à l’instar du mécanisme de relocalisation mis en place entre 2015 et 2017 qui fut un échec tant du point de vue du nombre de relocalisations (seulement 25 000 relocalisations sur les 160 000 prévues) que du refus de plusieurs Etats d’y participer, semblent être abandonnés.

      Le nouveau pacte propose donc un nouveau mécanisme de solidarité, certes obligatoire mais flexible dans ses modalités. Ainsi les Etats membres devront choisir, selon une clé de répartition définie :

      Soit de participer à l’effort de relocalisation des personnes identifiées comme éligibles à la protection internationale depuis les frontières extérieures pour prendre en charge l’examen de leur demande d’asile.
      Soit de participer au nouveau concept de « parrainage des retours » inventé par la Commission européenne. Concrètement, il s’agit d’être « solidaire autrement », en s’engageant activement dans la politique de retour européenne par la mise en œuvre des expulsions des personnes que l’UE et ses Etats membres souhaitent éloigner du territoire, avec la possibilité de concentrer leurs efforts sur les nationalités pour lesquelles leurs perspectives de faire aboutir l’expulsion est la plus élevée.

      De nouvelles règles pour les « situations de crise et de force majeure »

      Le pacte prévoie d’abroger la directive européenne relative à des normes minimales pour l’octroi d’une protection temporaire en cas d’afflux massif de personnes déplacées, au profit d’un nouveau règlement européen relatif aux « situations de crise et de force majeure ». L’UE et ses Etats membres ont régulièrement essuyé les critiques des acteurs de la société civile pour n’avoir jamais activé la procédure prévue par la directive de 2001, notamment dans le cadre de situation exceptionnelle telle que la crise de l’accueil des personnes arrivées aux frontières sud de l’UE en 2015.

      Le nouveau règlement prévoie notamment qu’en cas de « situation de crise ou de force majeure » les Etats membres pourraient déroger aux règles qui s’appliquent en matière d’asile, en suspendant notamment l’enregistrement des demandes d’asile pendant un durée d’un mois maximum. Cette mesure entérine des pratiques contraires au droit international et européen, à l’instar de ce qu’a fait la Grèce début mars 2020 afin de refouler toutes les personnes qui tenteraient de pénétrer le territoire européen depuis la Turquie voisine. Voir notre précédente actualité sur le sujet : Frontière Grèce-Turquie : de l’approche hotspot au scandale de la guerre aux migrant·e ·s, 3 mars 2020

      Cette proposition représente un recul sans précédent du droit d’asile aux frontières et fait craindre de multiples violations du principe de non refoulement consacré par la Convention de Genève.

      Bien loin d’engager un changement de cap des politiques migratoires européennes, le nouveau pacte européen migrations et asile ne semble n’être qu’un nouveau cadre de plus pour poursuivre une approche des mouvements migratoires qui, de longue date, s’est construite autour de la volonté d’empêcher les arrivées aux frontières et d’organiser un tri parmi les personnes qui auraient réussi à braver les obstacles pour atteindre le territoire européen, entre celles considérées éligibles à la demande d’asile et toutes les autres qui devraient être expulsées.

      De notre point de vue, cela signifie surtout que des milliers de personnes continueront à être privées de liberté et à subir les dispositifs répressifs des Etats membres de l’Union européenne. Les conséquences néfastes sur la dignité humaine et les droits fondamentaux de cette approche sont flagrantes, les personnes exilées et leurs soutiens y sont confrontées tous les jours.

      Encore une fois, des moyens très importants sont consacrés à financer l’érection de barrières physiques, juridiques et technologiques ainsi que la construction de camps sur les routes migratoires tandis qu’ils pourraient utilement être redéployés pour accueillir dignement et permettre un accès inconditionnel au territoire européen pour les personnes bloquées à ses frontières extérieures afin d’examiner avec attention et impartialité leurs situations et assurer le respect effectif des droits de tou∙te∙s.

      Nous appelons à un changement radical des politiques migratoires, pour une Europe qui encourage les solidarités, fondée sur la protection des droits humains et la dignité humaine afin d’assurer la protection des personnes et non pas leur exclusion.

      https://www.lacimade.org/pacte-europeen-sur-les-migrations-et-lasile-le-rendez-vous-manque-de-lue

    • EU’s new migrant ‘pact’ is as squalid as its refugee camps

      Governments need to share responsibility for asylum seekers, beyond merely ejecting the unwanted

      One month after fires swept through Europe’s largest, most squalid refugee camp, the EU’s migration policies present a picture as desolate as the blackened ruins of Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos. The latest effort at overhauling these policies is a European Commission “pact on asylum and migration”, which is not a pact at all. Its proposals sharply divide the EU’s 27 governments.

      In an attempt to appease central and eastern European countries hostile to admitting asylum-seekers, the commission suggests, in an Orwellian turn of phrase, that they should operate “relocation and return sponsorships”, dispatching people refused entry to their places of origin. This sort of task is normally reserved for nightclub bouncers.

      The grim irony is that Hungary and Poland, two countries that would presumably be asked to take charge of such expulsions, are the subject of EU disciplinary proceedings due to alleged violations of the rule of law. It remains a mystery how, if the commission proposal moves forward, the EU will succeed in binding Hungary and Poland into a common asylum policy and bend them into accepting EU definitions of the rule of law.

      Perhaps the best thing to be said of the commission’s plan is that, unlike the UK government, EU policymakers are not toying with hare-brained schemes of sending asylum-seekers to Ascension Island in the south Atlantic. Such options are the imagined privilege of a former imperial power not divested of all its far-flung possessions.

      Yet the commission’s initiative still reeks of wishful thinking. It foresees a process in which authorities swiftly check the identities, security status and health of irregular migrants, before returning them home, placing them in the asylum system or putting them in temporary facilities. This will supposedly decongest EU border zones, as governments will agree how to relocate new arrivals. But it is precisely the lack of such agreement since 2015 that led to Moria’s disgraceful conditions.

      The commission should not be held responsible for governments failing to shoulder their responsibilities. It is also justified in emphasising the need for a strong EU frontier. This is a precondition for free movement inside the bloc, vital for a flourishing single market.

      True, the Schengen system of border-free internal travel is curtailed at present because of the pandemic, not to mention restrictions introduced in some countries after the 2015 refugee and migrant crisis. But no government wants to abandon Schengen. Where they fall out with each other is over the housing of refugees and migrants.

      Europe’s overcrowded, unhygienic refugee camps, and the paralysis that grips EU policies, are all the more shameful in that governments no longer face a border emergency. Some 60,800 irregular migrants crossed into the EU between January and August, 14 per cent less than the same period in 2019, according to the EU border agency.

      By contrast, there were 1.8m illegal border crossings in 2015, a different order of magnitude. Refugees from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria made desperate voyages across the Mediterranean, with thousands drowning in ramshackle boats. Some countries, led by Germany and Sweden, were extremely generous in opening their doors to refugees. Others were not.

      The roots of today’s problems lie in the measures devised to address that crisis, above all a 2016 accord with Turkey. Irregular migrants were kept on Moria and other Greek islands, designated “hotspots”, in the expectation that failed asylum applicants would be smoothly returned to Turkey, its coffers replenished by billions of euros in EU assistance. In practice, few went back to Turkey and the understaffed, underfunded “hotspots” became places of tension between refugees and locals.

      Unable to agree on a relocation scheme among themselves, EU governments lapsed into a de facto policy of deterrence of irregular migrants. The pandemic provided an excuse for Italy and Malta to close their ports to people rescued at sea. Visiting the Greek-Turkish border in March, Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, declared: “I thank Greece for being our European aspida [shield].”

      The legitimacy of EU refugee policies depends on adherence to international law, as well the bloc’s own rules. Its practical success requires all governments to share a responsibility for asylum-seekers that goes beyond ejecting unwanted individuals. Otherwise the EU will fall into the familiar trap of cobbling together unsatisfactory half-measures that guarantee more trouble in the future.

      https://www.ft.com/content/c50c6b9c-75a8-40b1-900d-a228faa382dc?segmentid=acee4131-99c2-09d3-a635-873e61754

    • The EU’s pact against migration, Part One

      The EU Commission’s proposal for a ‘New Pact for Migration and Asylum’ offers no prospect of ending the enduring mobility conflict, opposing the movements of illegalised migrants to the EU’s restrictive migration policies.

      The ’New Pact for Migration and Asylum’, announced by the European Commission in July 2019, was finally presented on September 23, 2020. The Pact was eagerly anticipated as it was described as a “fresh start on migration in Europe”, acknowledging not only that Dublin had failed, but also that the negotiations between European member states as to what system might replace it had reached a standstill.

      The fire in Moria that left more than 13.000 people stranded in the streets of Lesvos island offered a glaring symbol of the failure of the current EU policy. The public outcry it caused and expressions of solidarity it crystallised across Europe pressured the Commission to respond through the publication of its Pact.

      Considering the trajectory of EU migration policies over the last decades, the particular position of the Commission within the European power structure and the current political conjuncture of strong anti-migration positions in Europe, we did not expect the Commission’s proposal to address the mobility conflict underlying its migration policy crisis in a constructive way. And indeed, the Pact’s main promise is to manage the diverging positions of member states through a new mechanism of “flexible solidarity” between member states in sharing the “burden” of migrants who have arrived on European territory. Perpetuating the trajectory of the last decades, it however remains premised on keeping most migrants from the global South out at all cost. The “New Pact” then is effectively a pact between European states against migrants. The Pact, which will be examined and possibly adopted by the European Parliament and Council in the coming months, confirms the impasse to which three decades of European migration and asylum policy have led, and an absence of any political imagination worthy of the name.
      The EU’s migration regime’s failed architecture

      The current architecture of the European border regime is based on two main and intertwined pillars: the Schengen Implementing Convention (SIC, or Schengen II) and the Dublin Convention, both signed in 1990, and gradually enforced in the following years.[1]

      Created outside the EC/EU context, they became the central rationalities of the emerging European border and migration regime after their incorporation into EU law through the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997/99). Schengen instituted the EU’s territory as an area of free movement for its citizens and, as a direct consequence, reinforced the exclusion of citizens of the global South and pushed control towards its external borders.

      However this profound transformation of European borders left unchanged the unbalanced systemic relations between Europe and the Global South, within which migrants’ movements are embedded. As a result, this policy shift did not stop migrants from reaching the EU but rather illegalised their mobility, forcing them to resort to precarious migration strategies and generating an easily exploitable labour force that has become a large-scale and permanent feature of EU economies.

      The more than 40,000 migrant deaths recorded at the EU’s borders by NGOs since the end of the 1980s are the lethal outcomes of this enduring mobility conflict opposing the movements of illegalised migrants to the EU’s restrictive migration policies.

      The second pillar of the EU’s migration architecture, the Dublin Convention, addressed asylum seekers and their allocation between member-states. To prevent them from filing applications in several EU countries – derogatively referred to as “asylum shopping” – the 2003 Dublin regulation states that the asylum seekers’ first country of entry into the EU is responsible for processing their claims. Dublin thus created an uneven European geography of (ir)responsibility that allowed the member states not directly situated at the intersection of European borders and routes of migration to abnegate their responsibility to provide shelter and protection, and placed a heavier “burden” on the shoulders of states located at the EU’s external borders.

      This unbalanced architecture, around which the entire Common European Asylum System (CEAS) was constructed, would begin to wobble as soon as the number of people arriving on the EU’s shores rose, leading to crisis-driven policy responses to prevent the migration regime from collapsing under the pressure of migrants’ refusal to be assigned to a country that was not of their choosing, and conflicts between member states.

      As a result, the development of a European border, migration and asylum policy has been driven by crisis and is inherently reactive. This pattern particularly holds for the last decade, when the large-scale movements of migrants to Europe in the wake of the Arab Uprisings in 2011 put the EU migration regime into permanent crisis mode and prompted hasty reforms. As of 2011, Italy allowed Tunisians to move on, leading to the re-introduction of border controls by states such as France, while the same year the 2011 European Court of Human Rights’ judgement brought Dublin deportations to Greece to a halt because of the appalling reception and living conditions there. The increasing refusal by asylum seekers to surrender their fingerprints – the core means of implementing Dublin – as of 2013 further destabilized the migration regime.

      The instability only grew when in April 2015, more then 1,200 people died in two consecutive shipwrecks, forcing the Commission to publish its ‘European Agenda for Migration’ in May 2015. The 2015 agenda announced the creation of the hotspot system in the hope of re-stabilising the European migration regime through a targeted intervention of European agencies at Europe’s borders. Essentially, the hotspot approach offered a deal to EU member states: comprehensive registration in Europeanised structures (the hotspots) by so-called “front-line states” – thus re-imposing Dublin – in exchange for relocation of part of the registered migrants to other EU countries – thereby alleviating front-line states of part of their “burden”.

      This plan however collapsed before it could ever work, as it was immediately followed by the large-scale summer arrivals of 2015 as migrants trekked across Europe’s borders. It was simultaneously boycotted by several member states who refused relocations and continue to lead the charge in fomenting an explicit anti-migration agenda in the EU. While border controls were soon reintroduced, relocations never materialised in a meaningful manner in the years that followed.

      With the Dublin regime effectively paralysed and the EU unable to agree on a new mechanism for the distribution of asylum seekers within Europe, the EU resorted to the decades-old policies that had shaped the European border and migration regime since its inception: keeping migrants out at all cost through border control implemented by member states, European agencies or outsourced to third countries.

      Considering the profound crisis the turbulent movements of migrants had plunged the EU into in the summer of 2015, no measure was deemed excessive in achieving this exclusionary end: neither the tacit acceptance of violent expulsions and push-backs by Spain and Greece, nor the outsourcing of border control to Libyan torturers, nor the shameless collaboration with dictatorial regimes such as Turkey.

      Under the guise of “tackling the root causes of migration”, development aid was diverted and used to impose border externalisation and deportation agreements. But the external dimension of the EU’s migration regime has proven just as unstable as its internal one – as the re-opening of borders by Turkey in March 2020 demonstrates. The movements of illegalised migrants towards the EU could never be entirely contained and those who reached the shores of Europe were increasingly relegated to infrastructures of detention. Even if keeping thousands of migrants stranded in the hell of Moria may not have been part of the initial hotspot plan, it certainly has been the outcome of the EU’s internal blockages and ultimately effective in shoring up the EU’s strategy of deterrence.

      The “New Pact” perpetuating the EU’s failed policy of closure

      Today the “New Pact”, promised for Spring 2020 and apparently forgotten at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been revived in a hurry to address the destruction of Moria hotspot. While detailed analysis of the regulations that it proposes are beyond the scope of this article,[2] the broad intentions of the Pact’s rationale are clear.

      Despite all its humane and humanitarian rhetoric and some language critically addressing the manifest absence of the rule of law at the border of Europe, the Commission’s pact is a pact against migration. Taking stock of the continued impasse in terms of internal distribution of migrants, it re-affirms the EU’s central objective of reducing, massively the number of asylum seekers to be admitted to Europe. It promises to do so by continuing to erect chains of externalised border control along migrants’ entire trajectories (what it refers to as the “whole-of-route approach”).

      Those who do arrive should be swiftly screened and sorted in an infrastructure of detention along the borders of Europe. The lucky few who will succeed in fitting their lives into the shrinking boxes of asylum law are to be relocated to other EU countries in function of a mechanism of distribution based on population size and wealth of member states.

      Whether this will indeed undo the imbalances of the Dublin regime remains an open question[3], nevertheless, this relocation key is one of the few positive steps offered by the Pact since it comes closer to migrants’ own “relocation key” but still falls short of granting asylum seekers the freedom to choose their country of protection and residence.[4] The majority of rejected asylum seekers – which may be determined on the basis of an extended understanding of the “safe third country” notion – is to be funnelled towards deportations operated by the EU states refusing relocation. The Commission hopes deportations will be made smoother after a newly appointed “EU Return Coordinator” will have bullied countries of origin into accepting their nationals using the carrot of development aid and the stick of visa sanctions. The Commission seems to believe that with fewer expected arrivals and fewer migrants ending up staying in Europe, and with its mechanism of “flexible solidarity” allowing for a selective participation in relocations or returns depending on the taste of its member states, it can both bridge the gap between member states’ interests and push for a deeper Europeanisation of the policy field in which its own role will become more central.

      Thus, the EU Commission’s attempt to square the circle of member states’ conflicting interests has resulted in a European pact against migration, which perpetuates the promises of the EU’s (anti-)migration policy over the last three decades: externalisation, enhanced borders, accelerated asylum procedures, detention and deportations to prevent and deter migrants from the global South. It seeks to strike yet another deal between European member states, without consulting – and at the expense of – migrants themselves. Because most of the policy means contained in the pact are not new, and have always failed to durably end illegalised migration – instead they have created a large precaritised population at the heart of Europe – we do not see how they would work today. Migrants will continue to arrive, and many will remain stranded in front-line states or other EU states as they await deportation. As such, the outcome of the pact (if it is agreed upon) is likely a perpetuation and generalisation of the hotspot system, the very system whose untenability – glaringly demonstrated by Moria’s fire – prompted the presentation of the New Pact in the first place. Even if the Commission’s “no more Morias” rhetoric would like to persuade us of the opposite,[5] the ruins of Moria point to the past as well as the potential future of the CEAS if the Commission has its way.

      We are dismayed at the loss of yet another opportunity for Europe to fundamentally re-orient its policy of closure, one which is profoundly at odds with the reality of large-scale displacement in an unequal and interconnected world. We are dismayed at the prospect of more suffering and more political crises that can only be the outcome of this continued policy failure. Clearly, an entirely different approach to how Europe engages with the movements of migration is called for. One which actually aims to de-escalate and transform the enduring mobility conflict. One which starts from the reality of the movements of migrants and offers a frame for it to unfold rather than seeks to suppress and deny it.

      Notes and references

      [1] We have offered an extensive analysis of the following argument in previous articles. See in particular : Bernd Kasparek. 2016. “Complementing Schengen: The Dublin System and the European Border and Migration Regime”. In Migration Policy and Practice, edited by Harald Bauder and Christian Matheis, 59–78. Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship. Houndmills & New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani. 2016. “Ebbing and Flowing: The EU’s Shifting Practices of (Non-)Assistance and Bordering in a Time of Crisis”. Near Futures Online. No 1. Available here.

      [2] For first analyses see Steve Peers. 2020. “First analysis of the EU’s new asylum proposals”, EU Law Analysis, 25 September 2020; Sergio Carrera. 2020. “Whose Pact? The Cognitive Dimensions of the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum”, CEPS, September 2020.

      [3] Carrera, ibid.

      [4] For a discussion of migration of migrants’ own relocation key, see Philipp Lutz, David Kaufmann and Anna Stütz. 2020. “Humanitarian Protection as a European Public Good: The Strategic Role of States and Refugees”, Journal of Common Market Studies 2020 Volume 58. Number 3. pp. 757–775. To compare the actual asylum applications across Europe over the last years with different relocations keys, see the tool developed by Etienne Piguet.

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/the-eus-pact-against-migration-part-one

      #whole-of-route_approach #relocalisation #clé_de_relocalisation #relocation_key #pays-tiers_sûrs #EU_Return_Coordinator #solidarité_flexible #externalisation #new_pact

    • Towards a European pact with migrants, Part Two

      We call for a new Pact that addresses the reality of migrants’ movements, the systemic conditions leading people to flee their homes as well as the root causes of Europe’s racism.

      In Part One, we analysed the EU’s new Pact against migration. Here, we call for an entirely different approach to how Europe engages with migration, one which offers a legal frame for migration to unfold, and addresses the systemic conditions leading people to flee their homes as well as the root causes of Europe’s racism.Let us imagine for a moment that the EU Commission truly wanted, and was in a position, to reorient the EU’s migration policy in a direction that might actually de-escalate and transform the enduring mobility conflict: what might its pact with migrants look like?

      The EU’s pact with migrants might start from three fundamental premises. First, it would recognize that any policy that is entirely at odds with social practices is bound to generate conflict, and ultimately fail. A migration policy must start from the social reality of migration and provide a frame for it to unfold. Second, the pact would acknowledge that no conflict can be brought to an end unilaterally. Any process of conflict transformation must bring together the conflicting parties, and seek to address their needs, interests and values so that they no longer clash with each other. In particular, migrants from the global South must be included in the definition of the policies that concern them. Third, it would recognise, as Tendayi Achiume has put it, that migrants from the global South are no strangers to Europe.[1] They have long been included in the expansive webs of empire. Migration and borders are embedded in these unequal relations, and no end to the mobility conflict can be achieved without fundamentally transforming them. Based on these premises, the EU’s pact with migrants might contain the following four core measures:
      Global justice and conflict prevention

      Instead of claiming to tackle the “root causes” of migration by diverting and instrumentalising development aid towards border control, the EU’s pact with migrants would end all European political and economic relations that contribute to the crises leading to mass displacement. The EU would end all support to dictatorial regimes, would ban all weapon exports, terminate all destabilising military interventions. It would cancel unfair trade agreements and the debts of countries of the global South. It would end its massive carbon emissions that contribute to the climate crisis. Through these means, the EU would not claim to end migration perceived as a “problem” for Europe, but it would contribute to allowing more people to live a dignified life wherever they are and decrease forced migration, which certainly is a problem for migrants. A true commitment to global justice and conflict prevention and resolution is necessary if Europe wishes to limit the factors that lead too many people onto the harsh paths of exile in their countries and regions, a small proportion of whom reach European shores.
      Tackling the “root causes” of European racism

      While the EU’s so-called “global approach” to migration has in fact been one-sided, focused exclusively on migration as “the problem” rather then the processes that drive the EU’s policies of exclusion, the EU’s pact with migrants would boldly tackle the “root causes” of racism and xenophobia in Europe. Bold policies designed to address the EU’s colonial past and present and the racial imaginaries it has unleashed would be proposed, a positive vision for living in common in diverse societies affirmed, and a more inclusive and fair economic system would be established in Europe to decrease the resentment of European populations which has been skilfully channelled against migrants and racialised people.
      Universal freedom of movement

      By tackling the causes of large-scale displacement and of exclusionary migration policies, the EU would be able to de-escalate the mobility conflict, and could thus propose a policy granting all migrants legal pathways to access and stay in Europe. As an immediate outcome of the institution of right to international mobility, migrants would no longer resort to smugglers and risk their lives crossing the sea – and thus no longer be in need of being rescued. Using safe and legal means of travel would also, in the time of Covid-19 pandemic, allow migrants to adopt all sanitary measures that are necessary to protect migrants and those they encounter. No longer policed through military means, migration could appear as a normal process that does not generate fear. Frontex, the European border agency, would be defunded, and concentrate its limited activities on detecting actual threats to the EU rather then constructing vulnerable populations as “risks”. In a world that would be less unequal and in which people would have the possibly to lead a dignified life wherever they are, universal freedom of movement would not lead to an “invasion” of Europe. Circulatory movement rather then permanent settlement would be frequent. Migrants’ legal status would no longer allow employers to push working conditions down. A European asylum system would continue to exist, to grant protection and support to those in need. The vestiges of the EU’s hotspots and detention centres might be turned into ministries of welcome, which would register and redirect people to the place of their choice. Registration would thus be a mere certification of having taken the first step towards European citizenship, transforming the latter into a truly post-national institution, a far horizon which current EU treaties only hint at.
      Democratizing borders

      Considering that all European migration policies to date have been fundamentally undemocratic – in that they were imposed on a group of people – migrants – who had no say in the legislative and political process defining the laws that govern their movement – the pact would instead be the outcome of considerable consultative process with migrants and the organisations that support them, as well the states of the global South. The pact, following from Étienne Balibar’s suggestion, would in turn propose to permanently democratise borders by instituting “a multilateral, negotiated control of their working by the populations themselves (including, of course, migrant populations),” within “new representative institutions” that “are not merely ‘territorial’ and certainly not purely national.”[2] In such a pact, the original promise of Europe as a post-national project would finally be revived.

      Such a policy orientation may of course appear as nothing more then a fantasy. And yet it appears evident to us that the direction we suggest is the only realistic one. European citizens and policy makers alike must realise that the question is not whether migrants will exercise their freedom to cross borders, but at what human and political cost. As a result, it is far more realistic to address the processes within which the mobility conflict is embedded, than seeking to ban human mobility. As the Black Lives Matter’s slogan “No justice no peace!” resonating in the streets of the world over recent months reminds us, without mobility justice, [3] their can be no end to mobility conflict.
      The challenges ahead for migrant solidarity movements

      Our policy proposals are perfectly realistic in relation to migrants’ movements and the processes shaping them, yet we are well aware that they are not on the agenda of neoliberal and nationalist Europe. If the EU Commission has squandered yet another opportunity to reorient the EU’s migration policy, it is simply that this Europe, governed by these member states and politicians, has lost the capacity to offer bold visions of democracy, freedom and justice for itself and the world. As such, we have little hope for a fundamental reorientation of the EU’s policies. The bleak prospect is of the perpetuation of the mobility conflict, and the human suffering and political crises it generates.

      What are those who seek to support migrants to do in this context?

      We must start by a sobering note addressed to the movement we are part of: the fire of Moria is not only a symptom and symbol of the failures of the EU’s migration policies and member states, but also of our own strategies. After all, since the hotspots were proposed in 2015 we have tirelessly denounced them, and documented the horrendous living conditions they have created. NGOs have litigated against them, but efforts have been turned down by a European Court of Human Rights that appears increasingly reluctant to position itself on migration-related issues and is thereby contributing to the perpetuation of grave violations by states.

      And despite the extraordinary mobilisation of civil society in alliance with municipalities across Europe who have declared themselves ready to welcome migrants, relocations never materialised on any significant scale. After five years of tireless mobilization, the hotspots still stand, with thousands of asylum seekers trapped in them.

      While the conditions leading to the fire are still being clarified, it appears that the migrants held hostage in Moria took it into their own hands to try to get rid of the camp through the desperate act of burning it to the ground. As such, while we denounce the EU’s policies, our movements are urgently in need of re-evaluating their own modes of action, and re-imagining them more effectively.

      We have no lessons to give, as we share these shortcomings. But we believe that some of the directions we have suggested in our utopian Pact with migrants can guide migrant solidarity movements as well , as they may be implemented from the bottom-up in the present and help reopen our political imagination.

      The freedom to move is not, or not only, a distant utopia, that may be instituted by states in some distant future. It can also be seen as a right and freedom that illegalised migrants seize on a day-to-day basis as they cross borders without authorisation, and persist in living where they choose.

      Freedom of movement can serve as a useful compass to direct and evaluate our practices of contestation and support. Litigation remains an important tool to counter the multiple forms of violence and violations that migrants face along their trajectories, even as we acknowledge that national and international courts are far from immune to the anti-migrant atmosphere within states. Forging infrastructures of support for migrants in the course of their mobility (such as the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone and the civilian rescue fleet) – and their stay (such as the many citizen platforms for housing )– is and will continue to be essential.

      While states seek to implement what they call an “integrated border management” that seeks to manage migrants’ unruly mobilities before, at, and after borders, we can think of our own networks as forming a fragmented yet interconnected “integrated border solidarity” along the migrants’ entire trajectory. The criminalisation of our acts of solidarity by states is proof that we are effective in disrupting the violence of borders.

      Solidarity cities have formed important nodes in these chains, as municipalities do have the capacity to enable migrants to live in dignity in urban spaces, and limit the reach of their security forces for example. Their dissonant voices of welcome have been important in demonstrating that segments of the European population, which are far from negligible, refuse to be complicit with the EU’s policies of closure and are ready to embody an open relation of solidarity with migrants and beyond. However we must also acknowledge that the prerogative of granting access to European states remains in the hands of central administrations, not in those of municipalities, and thus the readiness to welcome migrants has not allowed the latter to actually seek sanctuary.

      While humanitarian and humanist calls for welcome are important, we too need to locate migration and borders in a broader political and economic context – that of the past and present of empire – so that they can be understood as questions of (in)justice. Echoing the words of the late Edouard Glissant, as activists focusing on illegalised migration we should never forget that “to have to force one’s way across borders as a result of one’s misery is as scandalous as what founds that misery”.[4] As a result of this framing, many more alliances can be forged today between migrant solidarity movements and the global justice and climate justice movements, as well as anti-racist, anti-fascist, feminist and decolonial movements. Through such alliances, we may be better equipped to support migrants throughout their entire trajectories, and transform the conditions that constrain them today.

      Ultimately, to navigate its way out of its own impasses, it seems to us that migrant solidarity movements must address four major questions.

      First, what migration policy do we want? The predictable limits of the EU’s pact against migration may be an opportunity to forge our own alternative agenda.

      Second, how can we not only oppose the implementation of restrictive policies but shape the policy process itself so as to transform the field on which we struggle? Opposing the EU’s anti-migrant pact over the coming months may allow us to conduct new experiments.

      Third, as long as policies that deny basic principles of equality, freedom, justice, and our very common humanity, are still in place, how can we lead actions that disrupt them effectively? For example, what are the forms of nongovernmental evacuations that might support migrants in accessing Europe, and moving across its internal borders?

      Fourth, how can struggles around migration and borders be part of the forging of a more equal, free, just and sustainable world for all?

      The next months during which the EU’s Pact against migration will be discussed in front of the European Parliament and Council will see an uphill battle for all those who still believe in the possibility of a Europe of openness and solidarity. While we have no illusions as to the policy outcome, this is an opportunity we must seize, not only to claim that another Europe and another world is possible, but to start building them from below.

      Notes and references

      [1] Tendayi Achiume. 2019, “The Postcolonial Case for Rethinking Borders.” Dissent 66.3: pp.27-32.

      [2] Etienne Balibar. 2004. We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship. Princeton: University Press, p. 108 and 117.

      [3] Mimi Sheller. 2018. Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes. London: Verso.

      [4] Edouard Glissant. 2006. “Il n’est frontière qu’on n’outrepasse”. Le Monde diplomatique, October 2006.

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/towards-pact-migrants-part-two

    • Pacte européen sur la migration et l’asile : Afin de garantir un nouveau départ et d’éviter de reproduire les erreurs passées, certains éléments à risque doivent être reconsidérés et les aspects positifs étendus.

      L’engagement en faveur d’une approche plus humaine de la protection et l’accent mis sur les aspects positifs et bénéfiques de la migration avec lesquels la Commission européenne a lancé le Pacte sur la migration et l’asile sont les bienvenus. Cependant, les propositions formulées reflètent très peu cette rhétorique et ces ambitions. Au lieu de rompre avec les erreurs de la précédente approche de l’Union européenne (UE) et d’offrir un nouveau départ, le Pacte continue de se focaliser sur l’externalisation, la dissuasion, la rétention et le retour.

      Cette première analyse des propositions, réalisée par la société civile, a été guidée par les questions suivantes :

      Les propositions formulées sont-elles en mesure de garantir, en droit et en pratique, le respect des normes internationales et européennes ?
      Participeront-elles à un partage plus juste des responsabilités en matière d’asile au niveau de l’UE et de l’international ?
      Seront-elles susceptibles de fonctionner en pratique ?

      Au lieu d’un partage automatique des responsabilités, le Pacte introduit un système de Dublin, qui n’en porte pas le nom, plus complexe et un mécanisme de « parrainage au retour »

      Le Pacte sur la migration et l’asile a manqué l’occasion de réformer en profondeur le système de Dublin : le principe de responsabilité du premier pays d’arrivée pour examiner les demandes d’asile est, en pratique, maintenu. De plus, le Pacte propose un système complexe introduisant diverses formes de solidarité.

      Certains ajouts positifs dans les critères de détermination de l’Etat membre responsable de la demande d’asile sont à relever, par exemple, l’élargissement de la définition des membres de famille afin d’inclure les frères et sœurs, ainsi qu’un large éventail de membres de famille dans le cas des mineurs non accompagnés et la délivrance d’un diplôme ou d’une autre qualification par un Etat membre. Cependant, au regard de la pratique actuelle des Etats membres, il sera difficile de s’éloigner du principe du premier pays d’entrée comme l’option de départ en faveur des nouvelles considérations prioritaires, notamment le regroupement familial.

      Dans le cas d’un nombre élevé de personnes arrivées sur le territoire (« pression migratoire ») ou débarquées suite à des opérations de recherche et de sauvetage, la solidarité entre Etats membres est requise. Les processus qui en découlent comprennent une série d’évaluations, d’engagements et de rapports devant être rédigés par les États membres. Si la réponse collective est insuffisante, la Commission européenne peut prendre des mesures correctives. Au lieu de promouvoir un mécanisme de soutien pour un partage prévisible des responsabilités, ces dispositions tendent plutôt à créer des formes de négociations entre États membres qui nous sont toutes devenues trop familières. La complexité des propositions soulève des doutes quant à leur application réelle en pratique.

      Les États membres sont autorisés à choisir le « parrainage de retour » à la place de la relocalisation de personnes sur leur territoire, ce qui indique une attention égale portée au retour et à la protection. Au lieu d’apporter un soutien aux Etats membres en charge d’un plus grand nombre de demandes de protection, cette proposition soulève de nombreuses préoccupations juridiques et relatives au respect des droits de l’homme, en particulier si le transfert vers l’Etat dit « parrain » se fait après l’expiration du délai de 8 mois. Qui sera en charge de veiller au traitement des demandeurs d’asile déboutés à leur arrivée dans des Etats qui n’acceptent pas la relocalisation ?

      Le Pacte propose d’étendre l’utilisation de la procédure à la frontière, y compris un recours accru à la rétention

      A défaut de rééquilibrer la responsabilité entre les États membres de l’UE, la proposition de règlement sur les procédures communes exacerbe la pression sur les États situés aux frontières extérieures de l’UE et sur les pays des Balkans occidentaux. La Commission propose de rendre, dans certains cas, les procédures d’asile et de retour à la frontière obligatoires. Cela s’appliquerait notamment aux ressortissants de pays dont le taux moyen de protection de l’UE est inférieur à 20%. Ces procédures seraient facultatives lorsque les Etats membres appliquent les concepts de pays tiers sûr ou pays d’origine sûr. Toutefois, la Commission a précédemment proposé que ceux-ci deviennent obligatoires pour l’ensemble des Etats membres. Les associations réitèrent leurs inquiétudes quant à l’utilisation de ces deux concepts qui ont été largement débattus entre 2016 et 2019. Leur application obligatoire ne doit plus être proposée.

      La proposition de procédure à la frontière repose sur deux hypothèses erronées – notamment sur le fait que la majorité des personnes arrivant en Europe n’est pas éligible à un statut de protection et que l’examen des demandes de protection peut être effectué facilement et rapidement. Ni l’une ni l’autre ne sont correctes. En effet, en prenant en considération à la fois les décisions de première et de seconde instance dans toute l’UE il apparaît que la plupart des demandeurs d’asile dans l’UE au cours des trois dernières années ont obtenu un statut de protection. En outre, le Pacte ne doit pas persévérer dans cette approche erronée selon laquelle les procédures d’asile peuvent être conduites rapidement à travers la réduction de garanties et l’introduction d’un système de tri. La durée moyenne de la procédure d’asile aux Pays-Bas, souvent qualifiée d’ « élève modèle » pour cette pratique, dépasse un an et peut atteindre deux années jusqu’à ce qu’une décision soit prise.

      La proposition engendrerait deux niveaux de standards dans les procédures d’asile, largement déterminés par le pays d’origine de la personne concernée. Cela porte atteinte au droit individuel à l’asile et signifierait qu’un nombre accru de personnes seront soumises à une procédure de deuxième catégorie. Proposer aux Etats membres d’émettre une décision d’asile et d’éloignement de manière simultanée, sans introduire de garanties visant à ce que les principes de non-refoulement, d’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant, et de protection de la vie privée et familiale ne soient examinés, porte atteinte aux obligations qui découlent du droit international. La proposition formulée par la Commission supprime également l’effet suspensif automatique du recours, c’est-à-dire le droit de rester sur le territoire dans l’attente d’une décision finale rendue dans le cadre d’une procédure à la frontière.

      L’idée selon laquelle les personnes soumises à des procédures à la frontière sont considérées comme n’étant pas formellement entrées sur le territoire de l’État membre est trompeuse et contredit la récente jurisprudence de l’UE, sans pour autant modifier les droits de l’individu en vertu du droit européen et international.

      La proposition prive également les personnes de la possibilité d’accéder à des permis de séjour pour des motifs autres que l’asile et impliquera très probablement une privation de liberté pouvant atteindre jusqu’à 6 mois aux frontières de l’UE, c’est-à-dire un maximum de douze semaines dans le cadre de la procédure d’asile à la frontière et douze semaines supplémentaires en cas de procédure de retour à la frontière. En outre, les réformes suppriment le principe selon lequel la rétention ne doit être appliquée qu’en dernier recours dans le cadre des procédures aux frontières. En s’appuyant sur des restrictions plus systématiques des mouvements dans le cadre des procédures à la frontière, la proposition restreindra l’accès de l’individu aux services de base fournis par des acteurs qui ne pourront peut-être pas opérer à la frontière, y compris pour l’assistance et la représentation juridiques. Avec cette approche, on peut s’attendre aux mêmes échecs rencontrés dans la mise en œuvre des « hotspot » sur les îles grecques.

      La reconnaissance de l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant comme élément primordial dans toutes les procédures pour les États membres est positive. Cependant, la Commission diminue les garanties de protection des enfants en n’exemptant que les mineurs non accompagnés ou âgés de moins de douze ans des procédures aux frontières. Ceci est en contradiction avec la définition internationale de l’enfant qui concerne toutes les personnes jusqu’à l’âge de dix-huit ans, telle qu’inscrite dans la Convention relative aux droits de l’enfant ratifiée par tous les États membres de l’UE.

      Dans les situations de crise, les États membres sont autorisés à déroger à d’importantes garanties qui soumettront davantage de personnes à des procédures d’asile de qualité inférieure

      La crainte d’iniquité procédurale est d’autant plus visible dans les situations où un État membre peut prétendre être confronté à une « situation exceptionnelle d’afflux massif » ou au risque d’une telle situation.

      Dans ces cas, le champ d’application de la procédure obligatoire aux frontières est considérablement étendu à toutes les personnes en provenance de pays dont le taux moyen de protection de l’UE est inférieur à 75%. La procédure d’asile à la frontière et la procédure de retour à la frontière peuvent être prolongées de huit semaines supplémentaires, soit cinq mois chacune, ce qui porte à dix mois la durée maximale de privation de liberté. En outre, les États membres peuvent suspendre l’enregistrement des demandes d’asile pendant quatre semaines et jusqu’à un maximum de trois mois. Par conséquent, si aucune demande n’est enregistrée pendant plusieurs semaines, les personnes sont susceptibles d’être exposées à un risque accru de rétention et de refoulement, et leurs droits relatifs à un accueil digne et à des services de base peuvent être gravement affectés.

      Cette mesure permet aux États membres de déroger à leur responsabilité de garantir un accès à l’asile et un examen efficace et équitable de l’ensemble des demandes d’asile, ce qui augmente ainsi le risque de refoulement. Dans certains cas extrêmes, notamment lorsque les États membres agissent en violation flagrante et persistante des obligations du droit de l’UE, le processus de demande d’autorisation à la Commission européenne pourrait être considéré comme une amélioration, étant donné qu’actuellement la loi est ignorée, sans consultation et ce malgré les critiques de la Commission européenne. Toutefois, cela ne peut être le point de départ de l’évaluation de cette proposition de la législation européenne. L’impact à grande échelle de cette dérogation offre la possibilité à ce qu’une grande majorité des personnes arrivant dans l’UE soient soumises à une procédure de second ordre.

      Pré-filtrage à la frontière : risques et opportunités

      La Commission propose un processus de « pré-filtrage à l’entrée » pour toutes les personnes qui arrivent de manière irrégulière aux frontières de l’UE, y compris à la suite d’un débarquement dans le cadre des opérations de recherche et de sauvetage. Le processus de pré-filtrage comprend des contrôles de sécurité, de santé et de vulnérabilité, ainsi que l’enregistrement des empreintes digitales, mais il conduit également à des décisions impactant l’accès à l’asile, notamment en déterminant si une personne doit être sujette à une procédure d’asile accélérée à la frontière, de relocalisation ou de retour. Ce processus peut durer jusqu’à 10 jours et doit être effectué au plus près possible de la frontière. Le lieu où les personnes seront placées et l’accès aux conditions matérielles d’accueil demeurent flous. Le filtrage peut également être appliqué aux personnes se trouvant sur le territoire d’un État membre, ce qui pourrait conduire à une augmentation de pratiques discriminatoires. Des questions se posent également concernant les droits des personnes soumises au filtrage, tels que l’accès à l’information, , l’accès à un avocat et au droit de contester la décision prise dans ce contexte ; les motifs de refus d’entrée ; la confidentialité et la protection des données collectées. Etant donné que les États membres peuvent facilement se décharger de leurs responsabilités en matière de dépistage médical et de vulnérabilité, il n’est pas certain que certains besoins seront effectivement détectés et pris en considération.

      Une initiative à saluer est la proposition d’instaurer un mécanisme indépendant des droits fondamentaux à la frontière. Afin qu’il garantisse une véritable responsabilité face aux violations des droits à la frontière, y compris contre les éloignements et les refoulements récurrents dans un grand nombre d’États membres, ce mécanisme doit être étendu au-delà de la procédure de pré-filtrage, être indépendant des autorités nationales et impliquer des organisations telles que les associations non gouvernementales.

      La proposition fait de la question du retour et de l’expulsion une priorité

      L’objectif principal du Pacte est clair : augmenter de façon significative le nombre de personnes renvoyées ou expulsées de l’UE. La création du poste de Coordinateur en charge des retours au sein de la Commission européenne et d’un directeur exécutif adjoint aux retours au sein de Frontex en sont la preuve, tandis qu’aucune nomination n’est prévue au sujet de la protection de garanties ou de la relocalisation. Le retour est considéré comme un élément admis dans la politique migratoire et le soutien pour des retours dignes, en privilégiant les retours volontaires, l’accès à une assistance au retour et l’aide à la réintégration, sont essentiels. Cependant, l’investissement dans le retour n’est pas une réponse adaptée au non-respect systématique des normes d’asile dans les États membres de l’UE.

      Rien de nouveau sur l’action extérieure : des propositions irréalistes qui risquent de continuer d’affaiblir les droits de l’homme

      La tension entre l’engagement rhétorique pour des partenariats mutuellement bénéfiques et la focalisation visant à placer la migration au cœur des relations entre l’UE et les pays tiers se poursuit. Les tentatives d’externaliser la responsabilité de l’asile et de détourner l’aide au développement, les mécanismes de visa et d’autres outils pour inciter les pays tiers à coopérer sur la gestion migratoire et les accords de réadmission sont maintenues. Cela ne représente pas seulement un risque allant à l’encontre de l’engagement de l’UE pour ses principes de développement, mais cela affaiblit également sa posture internationale en générant de la méfiance et de l’hostilité depuis et à l’encontre des pays tiers. De plus, l’usage d’accords informels et la coopération sécuritaire sur la gestion migratoire avec des pays tels que la Libye ou la Turquie risquent de favoriser les violations des droits de l’homme, d’encourager les gouvernements répressifs et de créer une plus grande instabilité.

      Un manque d’ambition pour des voies légales et sûres vers l’Europe

      L’opportunité pour l’UE d’indiquer qu’elle est prête à contribuer au partage des responsabilités pour la protection au niveau international dans un esprit de partenariat avec les pays qui accueillent la plus grande majorité des réfugiés est manquée. Au lieu de proposer un objectif ambitieux de réinstallation de réfugiés, la Commission européenne a seulement invité les Etats membres à faire plus et a converti les engagements de 2020 en un mécanisme biennal, ce qui résulte en la perte d’une année de réinstallation européenne.

      La reconnaissance du besoin de faciliter la migration de main-d’œuvre à travers différents niveaux de compétences est à saluer, mais l’importance de cette migration dans les économies et les sociétés européennes ne se reflète pas dans les ressources, les propositions et les actions allouées.

      Le soutien aux activités de recherche et de sauvetage et aux actions de solidarité doit être renforcé

      La tragédie humanitaire dans la mer Méditerranée nécessite encore une réponse y compris à travers un soutien financier et des capacités de recherches et de sauvetage. Cet enjeu ainsi que celui du débarquement sont pris en compte dans toutes les propositions, reconnaissant ainsi la crise humanitaire actuelle. Cependant, au lieu de répondre aux comportements et aux dispositions règlementaires des gouvernements qui obstruent les activités de secours et le travail des défendeurs des droits, la Commission européenne suggère que les standards de sécurité sur les navires et les niveaux de communication avec les acteurs privés doivent être surveillés. Les acteurs privés sont également requis d’adhérer non seulement aux régimes légaux, mais aussi aux politiques et pratiques relatives à « la gestion migratoire » qui peuvent potentiellement interférer avec les obligations de recherches et de sauvetage.

      Bien que la publication de lignes directrices pour prévenir la criminalisation de l’action humanitaire soit la bienvenue, celles-ci se limitent aux actes mandatés par la loi avec une attention spécifique aux opérations de sauvetage et de secours. Cette approche risque d’omettre les activités humanitaires telles que la distribution de nourriture, d’abris, ou d’information sur le territoire ou assurés par des organisations non mandatées par le cadre légal qui sont également sujettes à ladite criminalisation et à des restrictions.

      Des signes encourageants pour l’inclusion

      Les changements proposés pour permettre aux réfugiés d’accéder à une résidence de long-terme après trois ans et le renforcement du droit de se déplacer et de travailler dans d’autres Etats membres sont positifs. De plus, la révision du Plan d’action pour l’inclusion et l’intégration et la mise en place d’un groupe d’experts pour collecter l’avis des migrants afin de façonner la politique européenne sont les bienvenues.

      La voie à suivre

      La présentation des propositions de la Commission est le commencement de ce qui promet d’être une autre longue période conflictuelle de négociations sur les politiques européennes d’asile et de migration. Alors que ces négociations sont en cours, il est important de rappeler qu’il existe déjà un régime d’asile européen et que les Etats membres ont des obligations dans le cadre du droit européen et international.

      Cela requiert une action immédiate de la part des décideurs politiques européens, y compris de la part des Etats membres, de :

      Mettre en œuvre les standards existants en lien avec les conditions matérielles d’accueil et les procédures d’asile, d’enquêter sur leur non-respect et de prendre les mesures disciplinaires nécessaires ;
      Sauver des vies en mer, et de garantir des capacités de sauvetage et de secours, permettant un débarquement et une relocalisation rapide ;
      Continuer de s’accorder sur des arrangements ad-hoc de solidarité pour alléger la pression sur les Etats membres aux frontières extérieures de l’UE et encourager les Etats membres à avoir recours à la relocalisation.

      Concernant les prochaines négociations sur le Pacte, nous recommandons aux co-législateurs de :

      Rejeter l’application obligatoire de la procédure d’asile ou de retour à la frontière : ces procédures aux standards abaissés réduisent les garanties des demandeurs d’asile et augmentent le recours à la rétention. Elles exacerbent le manque de solidarité actuel sur l’asile dans l’UE en plaçant plus de responsabilité sur les Etats membres aux frontières extérieures. L’expérience des hotspots et d’autres initiatives similaires démontrent que l’ajout de procédures ou d’étapes dans l’asile peut créer des charges administratives et des coûts significatifs, et entraîner une plus grande inefficacité ;
      Se diriger vers la fin de la privation de liberté de migrants, et interdire la rétention de mineurs conformément à la Convention internationale des droits de l’enfant, et de dédier suffisamment de ressources pour des solutions non privatives de libertés appropriées pour les mineurs et leurs familles ;
      Réajuster les propositions de réforme afin de se concentrer sur le maintien et l’amélioration des standards des droits de l’homme et de l’asile en Europe, plutôt que sur le retour ;
      Œuvrer à ce que les propositions réforment fondamentalement la façon dont la responsabilité des demandeurs d’asile en UE est organisée, en adressant les problèmes liés au principe de pays de première entrée, afin de créer un véritable mécanisme de solidarité ;
      Limiter les possibilités pour les Etats membres de déroger à leurs responsabilités d’enregistrer les demandes d’asile ou d’examiner les demandes, afin d’éviter de créer des incitations à opérer en mode gestion de crise et à diminuer les standards de l’asile ;
      Augmenter les garanties pendant la procédure de pré-filtrage pour assurer le droit à l’information, l’accès à une aide et une représentation juridique, la détection et la prise en charge des vulnérabilités et des besoins de santé, et une réponse aux préoccupations liées à l’enregistrement et à la protection des données ;
      Garantir que le mécanisme de suivi des droits fondamentaux aux frontières dispose d’une portée large afin de couvrir toutes les violations des droits fondamentaux à la frontière, qu’il soit véritablement indépendant des autorités nationales et dispose de ressources adéquates et qu’il contribue à la responsabilisation ;
      S’opposer aux tentatives d’utiliser l’aide au développement, au commerce, aux investissements, aux mécanismes de visas, à la coopération sécuritaire et autres politiques et financements pour faire pression sur les pays tiers dans leur coopération étroitement définie par des objectifs européens de contrôle migratoire ;
      Evaluer l’impact à long-terme des politiques migratoires d’externalisation sur la paix, le respect des droits et le développement durable et garantir que la politique extérieure migratoire ne contribue pas à la violation de droits de l’homme et prenne en compte les enjeux de conflits ;
      Développer significativement les voies légales et sûres vers l’UE en mettant en œuvre rapidement les engagements actuels de réinstallation, en proposant de nouveaux objectifs ambitieux et en augmentant les opportunités de voies d’accès à la protection ainsi qu’à la migration de main-d’œuvre et universitaire en UE ;
      Renforcer les exceptions à la criminalisation lorsqu’il s’agit d’actions humanitaires et autres activités indépendantes de la société civile et enlever les obstacles auxquels font face les acteurs de la société civile fournissant une assistance vitale et humanitaire sur terre et en mer ;
      Mettre en place une opération de recherche et de sauvetage en mer Méditerranée financée et coordonnée par l’UE ;
      S’appuyer sur les propositions prometteuses pour soutenir l’inclusion à travers l’accès à la résidence à long-terme et les droits associés et la mise en œuvre du Plan d’action sur l’intégration et l’inclusion au niveau européen, national et local.

      https://www.forumrefugies.org/s-informer/positions/europe/774-pacte-europeen-sur-la-migration-et-l-asile-afin-de-garantir-un-no

    • Nouveau Pacte européen  : les migrant.e.s et réfugié.e.s traité.e.s comme des « # colis à trier  »

      Le jour même de la Conférence des Ministres européens de l’Intérieur, EuroMed Droits présente son analyse détaillée du nouveau Pacte européen sur l’asile et la migration, publié le 23 septembre dernier (https://euromedrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Analysis-of-Asylum-and-Migration-Pact_Final_Clickable.pdf).

      On peut résumer les plus de 500 pages de documents comme suit  : le nouveau Pacte européen sur l’asile et la migration déshumanise les migrant.e.s et les réfugié.e.s, les traitant comme des «  #colis à trier  » et les empêchant de se déplacer en Europe. Ce Pacte soulève de nombreuses questions en matière de respect des droits humains, dont certaines sont à souligner en particulier  :

      L’UE détourne le concept de solidarité. Le Pacte vise clairement à «  rétablir la confiance mutuelle entre les États membres  », donnant ainsi la priorité à la #cohésion:interne de l’UE au détriment des droits des migrant.e.s et des réfugié.e.s. La proposition laisse le choix aux États membres de contribuer – en les mettant sur un pied d’égalité – à la #réinstallation, au #rapatriement, au soutien à l’accueil ou à l’#externalisation des frontières. La #solidarité envers les migrant.e.s et les réfugié.e.s et leurs droits fondamentaux sont totalement ignorés.

      Le pacte promeut une gestion «  sécuritaire  » de la migration. Selon la nouvelle proposition, les migrant.e.s et les réfugié.e.s seront placé.e.s en #détention et privé.e.s de liberté à leur arrivée. La procédure envisagée pour accélérer la procédure de demande d’asile ne pourra se faire qu’au détriment des lois sur l’asile et des droits des demandeur.se.s. Il est fort probable que la #procédure se déroulera de manière arbitraire et discriminatoire, en fonction de la nationalité du/de la demandeur.se, de son taux de reconnaissance et du fait que le pays dont il/elle provient est «  sûr  », ce qui est un concept douteux.

      L’idée clé qui sous-tend cette vision est simple  : externaliser autant que possible la gestion des frontières en coopérant avec des pays tiers. L’objectif est de faciliter le retour et la réadmission des migrant.e.s dans le pays d’où ils/elles sont parti.es. Pour ce faire, l’Agence européenne de garde-frontières et de garde-côtes (Frontex) verrait ses pouvoirs renforcés et un poste de coordinateur.trice européen.ne pour les retours serait créé. Le pacte risque de facto de fournir un cadre juridique aux pratiques illégales telles que les refoulements, les détentions arbitraires et les mesures visant à réduire davantage la capacité en matière d’asile. Des pratiques déjà en place dans certains États membres.

      Le Pacte présente quelques aspects «  positifs  », par exemple en matière de protection des enfants ou de regroupement familial, qui serait facilité. Mais ces bonnes intentions, qui doivent être mises en pratique, sont noyées dans un océan de mesures répressives et sécuritaires.

      EuroMed Droits appelle les Etats membres de l’UE à réfléchir en termes de mise en œuvre pratique (ou non) de ces mesures. Non seulement elles violent les droits humains, mais elles sont impraticables sur le terrain  : la responsabilité de l’évaluation des demandes d’asile reste au premier pays d’arrivée, sans vraiment remettre en cause le Règlement de Dublin. Cela signifie que des pays comme l’Italie, Malte, l’Espagne, la Grèce et Chypre continueront à subir une «  pression  » excessive, ce qui les encouragera à poursuivre leurs politiques de refoulement et d’expulsion. Enfin, le Pacte ne répond pas à la problématique urgente des «  hotspots  » et des camps de réfugié.e.s comme en Italie ou en Grèce et dans les zones de transit à l’instar de la Hongrie. Au contraire, cela renforce ce modèle dangereux en le présentant comme un exemple à exporter dans toute l’Europe, alors que des exemples récents ont démontré l’impossibilité de gérer ces camps de manière humaine.

      https://euromedrights.org/fr/publication/nouveau-pacte-europeen%e2%80%af-les-migrant-e-s-et-refugie-e-s-traite

      #paquets_de_la_poste #paquets #poste #tri #pays_sûrs

    • A “Fresh Start” or One More Clunker? Dublin and Solidarity in the New Pact

      In ongoing discussions on the reform of the CEAS, solidarity is a key theme. It stands front and center in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum: after reassuring us of the “human and humane approach” taken, the opening quote stresses that Member States must be able to “rely on the solidarity of our whole European Union”.

      In describing the need for reform, the Commission does not mince its words: “[t]here is currently no effective solidarity mechanism in place, and no efficient rule on responsibility”. It’s a remarkable statement: barely one year ago, the Commission maintained that “[t]he EU [had] shown tangible and rapid support to Member States under most pressure” throughout the crisis. Be that as it may, we are promised a “fresh start”. Thus, President Von der Leyen has announced on the occasion of the 2020 State of the Union Address that “we will abolish the Dublin Regulation”, the 2016 Dublin IV Proposal (examined here) has been withdrawn, and the Pact proposes a “new solidarity mechanism” connected to “robust and fair management of the external borders” and capped by a new “governance framework”.

      Before you buy the shiny new package, you are advised to consult the fine print however. Yes, the Commission proposes to abolish the Dublin III Regulation and withdraws the Dublin IV Proposal. But the Proposal for an Asylum and Migration Management Regulation (hereafter “the Migration Management Proposal”) reproduces word-for-word the Dublin III Regulation, subject to amendments drawn … from the Dublin IV Proposal! As for the “governance framework” outlined in Articles 3-7 of the Migration Management Proposal, it’s a hodgepodge of purely declamatory provisions (e.g. Art. 3-4), of restatements of pre-existing obligations (Art. 5), of legal bases authorizing procedures that require none (Art. 7). The one new item is a yearly monitoring exercise centered on an “European Asylum and Migration Management Strategy” (Art. 6), which seems as likely to make a difference as the “Mechanism for Early Warning, Preparedness and Crisis Management”, introduced with much fanfare with the Dublin III Regulation and then left in the drawer before, during and after the 2015/16 crisis.

      Leaving the provisions just mentioned for future commentaries – fearless interpreters might still find legal substance in there – this contribution focuses on four points: the proposed amendments to Dublin, the interface between Dublin and procedures at the border, the new solidarity mechanism, and proposals concerning force majeure. Caveat emptor! It is a jungle of extremely detailed and sometimes obscure provisions. While this post is longer than usual – warm thanks to the lenient editors! – do not expect an exhaustive summary, nor firm conclusions on every point.
      Dublin, the Undying

      To borrow from Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Dublin system have been once more greatly exaggerated. As noted, Part III of the Migration Management Proposal (Articles 8-44) is for all intents and purposes an amended version of the Dublin III Regulation, and most of the amendments are lifted from the 2016 Dublin IV Proposal.

      A first group of amendments concerns the responsibility criteria. Some expand the possibilities to allocate applicants based on their “meaningful links” with Member States: Article 2(g) expands the family definition to include siblings, opening new possibilities for reunification; Article 19(4) enlarges the criterion based on previous legal abode (i.e. expired residence documents); in a tip of the hat to the Wikstroem Report, commented here, Article 20 introduces a new criterion based on prior education in a Member State.

      These are welcome changes, but all that glitters is not gold. The Commission advertises “streamlined” evidentiary requirements to facilitate family reunification. These would be necessary indeed: evidentiary issues have long undermined the application of the family criteria. Unfortunately, the Commission is not proposing anything new: Article 30(6) of the Migration Management Proposal corresponds in essence to Article 22(5) of the Dublin III Regulation.

      Besides, while the Commission proposes to expand the general definition of family, the opposite is true of the specific definition of family applicable to “dependent persons”. Under Article 16 of the Dublin III Regulation, applicants who e.g. suffer from severe disabilities are to be kept or brought together with a care-giving parent, child or sibling residing in a Member State. Due to fears of sham marriages, spouses have been excluded and this is legally untenable and inhumane, but instead of tackling the problem the Commission proposes in Article 24 to worsen it by excluding siblings. The end result is paradoxical: persons needing family support the most will be deprived – for no apparent reason other than imaginary fears of “abuses” – of the benefits of enlarged reunification possibilities. “[H]uman and humane”, indeed.

      The fight against secondary movements inspires most of the other amendments to the criteria. In particular, Article 21 of the Proposal maintains and extends the much-contested criterion of irregular entry while clarifying that it applies also to persons disembarked after a search and rescue (SAR) operation. The Commission also proposes that unaccompanied children be transferred to the first Member State where they applied if no family criterion is applicable (Article 15(5)). This would overturn the MA judgment of the ECJ whereby in such cases the asylum claim must be examined in the State where the child last applied and is present. It’s not a technical fine point: while the case-law of the ECJ is calculated to spare children the trauma of a transfer, the proposed amendment would subject them again to the rigours of Dublin.

      Again to discourage secondary movements, the Commission proposes – as in 2016 – a second group of amendments: new obligations for the applicants (Articles 9-10). Applicants must in principle apply in the Member State of first entry, remain in that State for the duration of the Dublin procedure and, post-transfer, remain in the State responsible. Moving to the “wrong” State entails losing the benefits of the Reception Conditions Directive, subject to “the need to ensure a standard of living in accordance with” the Charter. It is debatable whether this is a much lesser standard of reception. More importantly: as reception conditions in line with the Directive are seldom guaranteed in several frontline Member States, the prospect of being treated “in accordance with the Charter” elsewhere will hardly dissuade applicants from moving on.

      The 2016 Proposal foresaw, as further punishment, the mandatory application of accelerated procedures to “secondary movers”. This rule disappears from the Migration Management Proposal, but as Daniel Thym points out in his forthcoming contribution on secondary movements, it remains in Article 40(1)(g) of the 2016 Proposal for an Asylum Procedures Regulation. Furthermore, the Commission proposes deleting Article 18(2) of the Dublin III Regulation, i.e. the guarantee that persons transferred back to a State that has meanwhile discontinued or rejected their application will have their case reopened, or a remedy available. This is a dangerous invitation to Member States to reintroduce “discontinuation” practices that the Commission itself once condemned as incompatible with effective access to status determination.

      To facilitate responsibility-determination, the Proposal further obliges applicants to submit relevant information before or at the Dublin interview. Late submissions are not to be considered. Fairness would demand that justified delays be excused. Besides, it is also proposed to repeal Article 7(3) of the Dublin III Regulation, whereby authorities must take into account evidence of family ties even if produced late in the process. All in all, then, the Proposal would make proof of family ties harder, not easier as the Commission claims.

      A final group of amendments concern the details of the Dublin procedure, and might prove the most important in practice.

      Some “streamline” the process, e.g. with shorter deadlines (e.g. Article 29(1)) and a simplified take back procedure (Article 31). Controversially, the Commission proposes again to reduce the scope of appeals against transfers to issues of ill-treatment and misapplication of the family criteria (Article 33). This may perhaps prove acceptable to the ECJ in light of its old Abdullahi case-law. However, it contravenes Article 13 ECHR, which demands an effective remedy for the violation of any Convention right.
      Other procedural amendments aim to make it harder for applicants to evade transfers. At present, if a transferee absconds for 18 months, the transfer is cancelled and the transferring State becomes responsible. Article 35(2) of the Proposal allows the transferring State to “stop the clock” if the applicant absconds, and to resume the transfer as soon as he reappears.
      A number of amendments make responsibility more “stable” once assigned, although not as “permanent” as the 2016 Proposal would have made it. Under Article 27 of the Proposal, the responsibility of a State will only cease if the applicant has left the Dublin area in compliance with a return decision. More importantly, under Article 26 the responsible State will have to take back even persons to whom it has granted protection. This would be a significant extension of the scope of the Dublin system, and would “lock” applicants in the responsible State even more firmly and more durably. Perhaps by way of compensation, the Commission proposes that beneficiaries of international protection obtain “long-term status” – and thus mobility rights – after three years of residence instead of five. However, given that it is “very difficult in practice” to exercise such rights, the compensation seems more theoretical than effective and a far cry from a system of free movement capable of offsetting the rigidities of Dublin.

      These are, in short, the key amendments foreseen. While it’s easy enough to comment on each individually, it is more difficult to forecast their aggregate impact. Will they – to paraphrase the Commission – “improv[e] the chances of integration” and reduce “unauthorised movements” (recital 13), and help closing “the existing implementation gap”? Probably not, as none of them is a game-changer.

      Taken together, however, they might well aggravate current distributive imbalances. Dublin “locks in” the responsibilities of the States that receive most applications – traditional destinations such as Germany or border States such as Italy – leaving the other Member States undisturbed. Apart from possible distributive impacts of the revised criteria and of the now obligations imposed on applicants, first application States will certainly be disadvantaged combination by shortened deadlines, security screenings (see below), streamlined take backs, and “stable” responsibility extending to beneficiaries of protection. Under the “new Dublin rules” – sorry for the oxymoron! – effective solidarity will become more necessary than ever.
      Border procedures and Dublin

      Building on the current hotspot approach, the Proposals for a Screening Regulation and for an Asylum Procedures Regulation outline a new(ish) “pre-entry” phase. This will be examined in a forthcoming post by Lyra Jakuleviciene, but the interface with infra-EU allocation deserves mention here.

      In a nutshell, persons irregularly crossing the border will be screened for the purpose of identification, health and security checks, and registration in Eurodac. Protection applicants may then be channelled to “border procedures” in a broad range of situations. This will be mandatory if the applicant: (a) attempts to mislead the authorities; (b) can be considered, based on “serious reasons”, “a danger to the national security or public order of the Member States”; (c) comes from a State whose nationals have a low Union-wide recognition rate (Article 41(3) of the Asylum Procedure Proposal).

      The purpose of the border procedure is to assess applications “without authorising the applicant’s entry into the Member State’s territory” (here, p.4). Therefore, it might have seemed logical that applicants subjected to it be excluded from the Dublin system – as is the case, ordinarily, for relocations (see below). Not so: under Article 41(7) of the Proposal, Member States may apply Dublin in the context of border procedures. This weakens the idea of “seamless procedures at the border” somewhat but – from the standpoint of both applicants and border States – it is better than a watertight exclusion: applicants may still benefit from “meaningful link” criteria, and border States are not “stuck with the caseload”. I would normally have qualms about giving Member States discretion in choosing whether Dublin rules apply. But as it happens, Member States who receive an asylum application already enjoy that discretion under the so-called “sovereignty clause”. Nota bene: in exercising that discretion, Member States apply EU Law and must observe the Charter, and the same principle must certainly apply under the proposed Article 41(7).

      The only true exclusion from the Dublin system is set out in Article 8(4) of the Migration Management Proposal. Under this provision, Member States must carry out a security check of all applicants as part of the pre-entry screening and/or after the application is filed. If “there are reasonable grounds to consider the applicant a danger to national security or public order” of the determining State, the other criteria are bypassed and that State becomes responsible. Attentive readers will note that the wording of Article 8(4) differs from that of Article 41(3) of the Asylum Procedure Proposal (e.g. “serious grounds” vs “reasonable grounds”). It is therefore unclear whether the security grounds to “screen out” an applicant from Dublin are coextensive with the security grounds making a border procedure mandatory. Be that as it may, a broad application of Article 8(4) would be undesirable, as it would entail a large-scale exclusion from the guarantees that applicants derive from the Dublin system. The risk is moderate however: by applying Article 8(4) widely, Member States would be increasing their own share of responsibilities under the system. As twenty-five years of Dublin practice indicate, this is unlikely to happen.
      “Mandatory” and “flexible” solidarity under the new mechanism

      So far, the Migration Management Proposal does not look significantly different from the 2016 Dublin IV Proposal, which did not itself fundamentally alter existing rules, and which went down in flames in inter- and intra-institutional negotiations. Any hopes of a “fresh start”, then, are left for the new solidarity mechanism.

      Unfortunately, solidarity is a difficult subject for the EU: financial support has hitherto been a mere fraction of Member State expenditure in the field; operational cooperation has proved useful but cannot tackle all the relevant aspects of the unequal distribution of responsibilities among Member States; relocations have proved extremely beneficial for thousands of applicants, but are intrinsically complex operations and have also proven politically divisive – an aspect which has severely undermined their application and further condemned them to be small scale affairs relative to the needs on the ground. The same goes a fortiori for ad hoc initiatives – such as those that followed SAR operations over the last two years– which furthermore lack the predictability that is necessary for sharing responsibilities effectively. To reiterate what the Commission stated, there is currently “no effective solidarity mechanism in place”.

      Perhaps most importantly, the EU has hitherto been incapable of accurately gauging the distributive asymmetries on the ground, to articulate a clear doctrine guiding the key determinations of “how much solidarity” and “what kind(s) of solidarity”, and to define commensurate redistributive targets on this basis (see here, p.34 and 116).

      Alas, the opportunity to elaborate a solidarity doctrine for the EU has been completely missed. Conceptually, the New Pact does not go much farther than platitudes such as “[s]olidarity implies that all Member States should contribute”. As Daniel Thym aptly observed, “pragmatism” is the driving force behind the Proposal: the Commission starts from a familiar basis – relocations – and tweaks it in ways designed to convince stakeholders that solidarity becomes both “compulsory” and “flexible”. It’s a complicated arrangement and I will only describe it in broad strokes, leaving the crucial dimensions of financial solidarity and operational cooperation to forthcoming posts by Iris Goldner Lang and Lilian Tsourdi.

      The mechanism operates according to three “modes”. In its basic mode, it is to replace ad hoc solidarity initiatives following SAR disembarkations (Articles 47-49 of the Migration Management Proposal):

      The Commission determines, in its yearly Migration Management Report, whether a State is faced with “recurring arrivals” following SAR operations and determines the needs in terms of relocations and other contributions (capacity building, operational support proper, cooperation with third States).
      The Member States are “invited” to notify the “contributions they intend to make”. If offers are sufficient, the Commission combines them and formally adopts a “solidarity pool”. If not, it adopts an implementing act summarizing relocation targets for each Member State and other contributions as offered by them. Member States may react by offering other contributions instead of relocations, provided that this is “proportional” – one wonders how the Commission will tally e.g. training programs for Libyan coastguards with relocation places.
      If the relocations offered fall 30% short of the target indicated by the Commission, a “critical mass correction mechanism” will apply: each Member States will be obliged to meet at least 50% of the quota of relocations indicated by the Commission. However, and this is the new idea offered by the Commission to bring relocation-skeptics onboard, Member States may discharge their duties by offering “return sponsorships” instead of relocations: the “sponsor” Member State commits to support the benefitting Member State to return a person and, if the return is not carried out within eight months, to accept her on its territory.

      If I understand correctly the fuzzy provision I have just summarized – Article 48(2) – it all boils down to “half-compulsory” solidarity: Member States are obliged to cover at least 50% of the relocation needs set by the Commission through relocations or sponsorships, and the rest with other contributions.

      After the “solidarity pool” is established and the benefitting Member State requests its activation, relocations can start:

      The eligible persons are those who applied for protection in the benefitting State, with the exclusion of those that are subject to border procedures (Article 45(1)(a)).Also excluded are those whom Dublin criteria based on “meaningful links” – family, abode, diplomas – assign to the benefitting State (Article 57(3)). These rules suggest that the benefitting State must carry out identification, screening for border procedures and a first (reduced?) Dublin procedure before it can declare an applicant eligible for relocation.
      Persons eligible for return sponsorship are “illegally staying third-country nationals” (Article 45(1)(b)).
      The eligible persons are identified, placed on a list, and matched to Member States based on “meaningful links”. The transfer can only be refused by the State of relocation on security grounds (Article 57(2)(6) and (7)), and otherwise follows the modalities of Dublin transfers in almost all respects (e.g. deadlines, notification, appeals). However, contrary to what happens under Dublin, missing the deadline for transfer does not entail that the relocation is cancelled it (see Article 57(10)).
      After the transfer, applicants will be directly admitted to the asylum procedure in the State of relocation only if it has been previously established that the benefitting State would have been responsible under criteria other than those based on “meaningful links” (Article 58(3)). In all the other cases, the State of relocation will run a Dublin procedure and, if necessary, transfer again the applicant to the State responsible (see Article 58(2)). As for persons subjected to return sponsorship, the State of relocation will pick up the application of the Return Directive where the benefitting State left off (or so I read Article 58(5)!).

      If the Commission concludes that a Member State is under “migratory pressure”, at the request of the concerned State or of its own motion (Article 50), the mechanism operates as described above except for one main point: beneficiaries of protection also become eligible for relocation (Article 51(3)). Thankfully, they must consent thereto and are automatically granted the same status in the relocation State (see Articles 57(3) and 58(4)).

      If the Commission concludes that a Member State is confronted to a “crisis”, rules change further (see Article 2 of the Proposal for a Migration and Asylum Crisis Regulation):

      Applicants subject to the border procedure and persons “having entered irregularly” also become eligible for relocation. These persons may then undergo a border procedure post-relocation (see Article 41(1) and (8) of the Proposal for an Asylum Procedures Regulation).
      Persons subject to return sponsorship are transferred to the sponsor State if their removal does not occur within four – instead of eight – months.
      Other contributions are excluded from the palette of contributions available to the other Member States (Article 2(1)): it has to be relocation or return sponsorship.
      The procedure is faster, with shorter deadlines.

      It is an understatement to say that the mechanism is complex, and your faithful scribe still has much to digest. For the time being, I would make four general comments.

      First, it is not self-evident that this is a good “insurance scheme” for its intended beneficiaries. As noted, the system only guarantees that 50% of the relocation needs of a State will be met. Furthermore, there are hidden costs: in “SAR” and “pressure” modes, the benefitting State has to screen the applicant, register the application, and assess whether border procedures or (some) Dublin criteria apply before it can channel the applicant to relocation. It is unclear whether a 500 lump sum is enough to offset the costs (see Article 79 of the Migration Management Proposal). Besides, in a crisis situation, these preliminary steps might make relocation impractical – think of the Greek registration backlog in 2015/6. Perhaps, extending relocation to persons “having entered irregularly” when the mechanism is in “crisis mode” is meant precisely to take care of this. Similar observations apply to return sponsorship. Under Article 55(4) of the Migration Management Proposal, the support offered by the sponsor to the benefitting State can be rather low key (e.g. “counselling”) and there seems to be no guarantee that the benefitting State will be effectively relieved of the political, administrative and financial costs associated to return. Moving from costs to risks, it is clear that the benefitting State bears all the risks of non implementation – in other words, if the system grinds to a halt or breaks down, it will be Moria all over again. In light of past experience, one can only agree with Thomas Gammelthoft-Hansen that it’s a “big gamble”. Other aspects examined below – the vast margins of discretion left to the Commission, and the easy backdoor opened by the force majeure provisions – do not help either to create predictability.
      Second, as just noted the mechanism gives the Commission practically unlimited discretion at all critical junctures. The Commission will determine whether a Member States is confronted to “recurring arrivals”, “pressure” or a “crisis”. It will do so under definitions so open-textured, and criteria so numerous, that it will be basically the master of its determinations (Article 50 of the Migration Management Proposal). The Commission will determine unilaterally relocation and operational solidarity needs. Finally, the Commission will determine – we do not know how – if “other contributions” are proportional to relocation needs. Other than in the most clear-cut situations, there is no way that anyone can predict how the system will be applied.
      Third: the mechanism reflects a powerful fixation with and unshakable faith in heavy bureaucracy. Protection applicants may undergo up to three “responsibility determination” procedures and two transfers before finally landing in an asylum procedure: Dublin “screening” in the first State, matching, relocation, full Dublin procedure in the relocation State, then transfer. And this is a system that should not “compromise the objective of the rapid processing of applications”(recital 34)! Decidedly, the idea that in order to improve the CEAS it is above all necessary to suppress unnecessary delays and coercion (see here, p.9) has not made a strong impression on the minds of the drafters. The same remark applies mutatis mutandis to return sponsorships: whatever the benefits in terms of solidarity, one wonders if it is very cost-effective or humane to drag a person from State to State so that they can each try their hand at expelling her.
      Lastly and relatedly, applicants and other persons otherwise concerned by the relocation system are given no voice. They can be “matched”, transferred, re-transferred, but subject to few exceptions their aspirations and intentions remain legally irrelevant. In this regard, the “New Pact” is as old school as it gets: it sticks strictly to the “no choice” taboo on which Dublin is built. What little recognition of applicants’ actorness had been made in the Wikstroem Report is gone. Objectifying migrants is not only incompatible with the claim that the approach taken is “human and humane”. It might prove fatal to the administrative efficiency so cherished by the Commission. Indeed, failure to engage applicants is arguably the key factor in the dismal performance of the Dublin system (here, p.112). Why should it be any different under this solidarity mechanism?

      Framing Force Majeure (or inviting defection?)

      In addition to addressing “crisis” situations, the Proposal for a Migration and Asylum Crisis Regulation includes separate provisions on force majeure.

      Thereunder, any Member State may unilaterally declare that it is faced with a situation making it “impossible” to comply with selected CEAS rules, and thus obtain the right – subject to a mere notification – to derogate from them. Member States may obtain in this way longer Dublin deadlines, or even be exempted from the obligation to accept transfers and be liberated from responsibilities if the suspension goes on more than a year (Article 8). Furthermore, States may obtain a six-months suspension of their duties under the solidarity mechanism (Article 9).

      The inclusion of this proposal in the Pact – possibly an attempt to further placate Member States averse to European solidarity? – beggars belief. Legally speaking, the whole idea is redundant: under the case-law of the ECJ, Member States may derogate from any rule of EU Law if confronted to force majeure. However, putting this black on white amounts to inviting (and legalizing) defection. The only conceivable object of rules of this kind would have been to subject force majeure derogations to prior authorization by the Commission – but there is nothing of the kind in the Proposal. The end result is paradoxical: while Member States are (in theory!) subject to Commission supervision when they conclude arrangements facilitating the implementation of Dublin rules, a mere notification will be enough to authorize them to unilaterally tear a hole in the fabric of “solidarity” and “responsibility” so painstakingly – if not felicitously – woven in the Pact.
      Concluding comments

      We should have taken Commissioner Ylva Johansson at her word when she said that there would be no “Hoorays” for the new proposals. Past the avalanche of adjectives, promises and fancy administrative monikers hurled at the reader – “faster, seamless migration processes”; “prevent the recurrence of events such as those seen in Moria”; “critical mass correction mechanism” – one cannot fail to see that the “fresh start” is essentially an exercise in repackaging.

      On responsibility-allocation and solidarity, the basic idea is one that the Commission incessantly returns to since 2007 (here, p. 10): keep Dublin and “correct” it through solidarity schemes. I do sympathize to an extent: realizing a fair balance of responsibilities by “sharing people” has always seemed to me impracticable and undesirable. Still, one would have expected that the abject failure of the Dublin system, the collapse of mutual trust in the CEAS, the meagre results obtained in the field of solidarity – per the Commission’s own appraisal – would have pushed it to bring something new to the table.

      Instead, what we have is a slightly milder version of the Dublin IV Proposal – the ultimate “clunker” in the history of Commission proposals – and an ultra-bureaucratic mechanism for relocation, with the dubious addition of return sponsorships and force majeure provisions. The basic tenets of infra-EU allocation remain the same – “no choice”, first entry – and none of the structural flaws that doomed current schemes to failure is fundamentally tackled (here, p.107): solidarity is beefed-up but appears too unreliable and fuzzy to generate trust; there are interesting steps on “genuine links”, but otherwise no sustained attempt to positively engage applicants; administrative complexity and coercive transfers reign on.

      Pragmatism, to quote again Daniel Thym’s excellent introductory post, is no sin. It is even expected of the Commission. This, however, is a study in path-dependency. By defending the status quo, wrapping it in shiny new paper, and making limited concessions to key policy actors, the Commission may perhaps carry its proposals through. However, without substantial corrections, the “new” Pact is unlikely to save the CEAS or even to prevent new Morias.

      http://eumigrationlawblog.eu/a-fresh-start-or-one-more-clunker-dublin-and-solidarity-in-the-ne

      #Francesco_Maiani

      #force_majeure

    • European Refugee Policy: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Make It Better

      In 2015 and 2016, more than 1 million refugees made their way to the European Union, the largest number of them originating from Syria. Since that time, refugee arrivals have continued, although at a much slower pace and involving people from a wider range of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

      The EU’s response to these developments has had five main characteristics.

      First, a serious lack of preparedness and long-term planning. Despite the massive material and intelligence resources at its disposal, the EU was caught completely unaware by the mass influx of refugees five years ago and has been playing catch-up ever since. While the emergency is now well and truly over, EU member states continue to talk as if still in the grip of an unmanageable “refugee crisis.”

      Second, the EU’s refugee policy has become progressively based on a strategy known as “externalization,” whereby responsibility for migration control is shifted to unstable states outside Europe. This has been epitomized by the deals that the EU has done with countries such as Libya, Niger, Sudan, and Turkey, all of which have agreed to halt the onward movement of refugees in exchange for aid and other rewards, including support to the security services.

      Third, asylum has become increasingly criminalized, as demonstrated by the growing number of EU citizens and civil society groups that have been prosecuted for their roles in aiding refugees. At the same time, some frontline member states have engaged in a systematic attempt to delegitimize the NGO search-and-rescue organizations operating in the Mediterranean and to obstruct their life-saving activities.

      The fourth characteristic of EU countries’ recent policies has been a readiness to inflict or be complicit in a range of abuses that challenge the principles of both human rights and international refugee law. This can be seen in the violence perpetrated against asylum seekers by the military and militia groups in Croatia and Hungary, the terrible conditions found in Greek refugee camps such as Moria on the island of Lesvos, and, most egregiously of all, EU support to the Libyan Coastguard that enables it to intercept refugees at sea and to return them to abusive detention centers on land.

      Fifth and finally, the past five years have witnessed a serious absence of solidarity within the EU. Frontline states such as Greece and Italy have been left to bear a disproportionate share of the responsibility for new refugee arrivals. Efforts to relocate asylum seekers and resettle refugees throughout the EU have had disappointing results. And countries in the eastern part of the EU have consistently fought against the European Commission in its efforts to forge a more cooperative and coordinated approach to the refugee issue.

      The most recent attempt to formulate such an approach is to be found in the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, which the Commission proposed in September 2020.

      It would be wrong to entirely dismiss the Pact, as it contains some positive elements. These include, for example, a commitment to establish legal pathways to asylum in Europe for people who are in need of protection, and EU support for member states that wish to establish community-sponsored refugee resettlement programs.

      In other respects, however, the Pact has a number of important, serious flaws. It has already been questioned by those countries that are least willing to admit refugees and continue to resist the role of Brussels in this policy domain. The Pact also makes hardly any reference to the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration—a strange omission given the enormous amount of time and effort that the UN has devoted to those initiatives, both of which were triggered by the European emergency of 2015-16.

      At an operational level, the Pact endorses and reinforces the EU’s externalization agenda and envisages a much more aggressive role for Frontex, the EU’s border control agency. At the same time, it empowers member states to refuse entry to asylum seekers on the basis of very vague criteria. As a result, individuals may be more vulnerable to human smugglers and traffickers. There is also a strong likelihood that new refugee camps will spring up on the fringes of Europe, with their residents living in substandard conditions.

      Finally, the Pact places enormous emphasis on the involuntary return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin. It even envisages that a hardline state such as Hungary could contribute to the implementation of the Pact by organizing and funding such deportations. This constitutes an extremely dangerous new twist on the notions of solidarity and responsibility sharing, which form the basis of the international refugee regime.

      If the proposed Pact is not fit for purpose, then what might a more constructive EU refugee policy look like?

      It would in the first instance focus on the restoration of both EU and NGO search-and-rescue efforts in the Mediterranean and establish more predictable disembarkation and refugee distribution mechanisms. It would also mean the withdrawal of EU support for the Libyan Coastguard, the closure of that country’s detention centers, and a substantial improvement of the living conditions experienced by refugees in Europe’s frontline states—changes that should take place with or without a Pact.

      Indeed, the EU should redeploy the massive amount of resources that it currently devotes to the externalization process, so as to strengthen the protection capacity of asylum and transit countries on the periphery of Europe. A progressive approach on the part of the EU would involve the establishment of not only faster but also fair asylum procedures, with appropriate long-term solutions being found for new arrivals, whether or not they qualify for refugee status.

      These changes would help to ensure that those searching for safety have timely and adequate opportunities to access their most basic rights.

      https://www.refugeesinternational.org/reports/2020/11/5/european-refugee-policy-whats-gone-wrong-and-how-to-make-it-b

    • The New Pact on Migration and Asylum: Turning European Union Territory into a non-Territory

      Externalization policies in 2020: where is the European Union territory?

      In spite of the Commission’s rhetoric stressing the novel elements of the Pact on Migration and Asylum (hereinafter: the Pact – summarized and discussed in general here), there are good reasons to argue that the Pact develops and consolidates, among others, the existing trends on externalization policies of migration control (see Guild et al). Furthermore, it tries to create new avenues for a ‘smarter’ system of management of immigration, by additionally controlling access to the European Union territory for third country nationals (TCNs), and by creating different categories of migrants, which are then subject to different legal regimes which find application in the European Union territory.

      The consolidation of existing trends concerns the externalization of migration management practices, resort to technologies in developing migration control systems (further development of Eurodac, completion of the path toward full interoperability between IT systems), and also the strengthening of the role of the European Union executive level, via increased joint management involving European Union agencies: these are all policies that find in the Pact’s consolidation.

      This brief will focus on externalization (practices), a concept which is finding a new declination in the Pact: indeed, the Pact and several of the measures proposed, read together, are aiming at ‘disentangling’ the territory of the EU, from a set of rights which are related with the presence of the migrant or of the asylum seeker on the territory of a Member State of the EU, and from the relation between territory and access to a jurisdiction, which is necessary to enforce rights which otherwise remain on paper.

      Interestingly, this process of separation, of splitting between territory-law/rights-jurisdiction takes place not outside, but within the EU, and this is the new declination of externalization which one can find in the measures proposed in the Pact, namely with the proposal for a Screening Regulation and the amended proposal for a Procedure Regulation. It is no accident that other commentators have interpreted it as a consolidation of ‘fortress Europe’. In other words, this externalization process takes place within the EU and aims at making the external borders more effective also for the TCNs who are already in the territory of the EU.

      The proposal for a pre-entry screening regulation

      A first instrument which has a pivotal role in the consolidation of the externalization trend is the proposed Regulation for a screening of third country nationals (hereinafter: Proposal Screening Regulation), which will be applicable to migrants crossing the external borders without authorization. The aim of the screening, according to the Commission, is to ‘accelerate the process of determining the status of a person and what type of procedure should apply’. More precisely, the screening ‘should help ensure that the third country nationals concerned are referred to the appropriate procedures at the earliest stage possible’ and also to avoid absconding after entrance in the territory in order to reach a different state than the one of arrival (recital 8, preamble of proposal). The screening should contribute as well to curb secondary movements, which is a policy target highly relevant for many northern and central European Union states.

      In the new design, the screening procedure becomes the ‘standard’ for all TCNs who crossed the border in irregular manner, and also for persons who are disembarked following a search and rescue (SAR) operation, and for those who apply for international protection at the external border crossing points or in transit zones. With the screening Regulation, all these categories of persons shall not be allowed to enter the territory of the State during the screening (Arts 3 and 4 of the proposal).

      Consequently, different categories of migrants, including asylum seekers which are by definition vulnerable persons, are to be kept in locations situated at or in proximity to the external borders, for a time (up to 5 days, which can become 10 at maximum), defined in the Regulation, but which must be respected by national administrations. There is here an implicit equation between all these categories, and the common denominator of this operation is that all these persons have crossed the border in an unauthorized manner.

      It is yet unclear how the situation of migrants during the screening is to be organized in practical terms, transit zones, hotspot or others, and if this can qualify as detention, in legal terms. The Court of Justice has ruled recently on Hungarian transit zones (see analysis by Luisa Marin), by deciding that Röszke transit zone qualified as ‘detention’, and it can be argued that the parameters clarified in that decision could find application also to the case of migrants during the screening phase. If the situation of TCNs during the screening can be considered detention, which is then the legal basis? The Reception Conditions Directive or the Return Directive? If the national administrations struggle to meet the tight deadlines provided for the screening system, these questions will become more urgent, next to the very practical issue of the actual accommodation for this procedure, which in general does not allow for access to the territory.

      On the one side, Article 14(7) of the proposal provides a guarantee, indicating that the screening should end also if the checks are not completed within the deadlines; on the other side, the remaining question is: to which procedure is the applicant sent and how is the next phase then determined? The relevant procedure following the screening here seems to be determined in a very approximate way, and this begs the question on the extent to which rights can be protected in this context. Furthermore, the right to have access to a lawyer is not provided for in the screening phase. Given the relevance of this screening phase, also fundamental rights should be monitored, and the mechanism put in place at Article 7, leaves much to the discretion of the Member States, and the involvement of the Fundamental Rights Agency, with guidance and support upon request of the MS can be too little to ensure fundamental rights are not jeopardized by national administrations.

      This screening phase, which has the purpose to make sure, among other things, that states ‘do their job’ as to collecting information and consequently feeding the EU information systems, might therefore have important effects on the merits of the individual case, since border procedures are to be seen as fast-track, time is limited and procedural guarantees are also sacrificed in this context. In the case the screening ends with a refusal of entry, there is a substantive effect of the screening, which is conducted without legal assistance and without access to a legal remedy. And if this is not a decision in itself, but it ends up in a de-briefing form, this form might give substance to the next stage of the procedure, which, in the case of asylum, should be an individualized and accurate assessment of one’s individual circumstances.

      Overall, it should be stressed that the screening itself does not end up in a formal decision, it nevertheless represents an important phase since it defines what comes after, i.e., the type of procedure following the screening. It must be observed therefore, that the respect of some procedural rights is of paramount importance. At the same time, it is important that communication in a language TCNs can understand is effective, since the screening might end in a de-briefing form, where one or more nationalities are indicated. Considering that one of the options is the refusal of entry (Art. 14(1) screening proposal; confirmed by the recital 40 of the Proposal Procedure Regulation, as amended in 2020), and the others are either access to asylum or expulsion, one should require that the screening provides for procedural guarantees.

      Furthermore, the screening should point to any element which might be relevant to refer the TCNs into the accelerated examination procedure or the border procedure. In other words, the screening must indicate in the de-briefing form the options that protect asylum applicants less than others (Article 14(3) of the proposal). It does not operate in the other way: a TCN who has applied for asylum and comes from a country with a high recognition rate is not excluded from the screening (see blog post by Jakuleviciene).

      The legislation creates therefore avenues for disentangling, splitting the relation between physical presence of an asylum applicant on a territory and the set of laws and fundamental rights associated to it, namely a protective legal order, access to rights and to a jurisdiction enforcing those rights. It creates a sort of ‘lighter’ legal order, a lower density system, which facilitates the exit of the applicant from the territory of the EU, creating a sort of shift from a Europe of rights to the Europe of borders, confinement and expulsions.

      The proposal for new border procedures: an attempt to create a lower density territory?

      Another crucial piece in this process of establishing a stronger border fence and streamline procedures at the border, creating a ‘seamless link between asylum and return’, in the words of the Commission, is constituted by the reform of the border procedures, with an amendment of the 2016 proposal for the Regulation procedure (hereinafter: Amended Proposal Procedure Regulation).

      Though border procedures are already present in the current Regulation of 2013, they are now developed into a “border procedure for asylum and return”, and a more developed accelerated procedure, which, next to the normal asylum procedure, comes after the screening phase.

      The new border procedure becomes obligatory (according to Art. 41(3) of the Amended Proposal Procedure Regulation) for applicants who arrive irregularly at the external border or after disembarkation and another of these grounds apply:

      – they represent a risk to national security or public order;

      – the applicant has provided false information or documents or by withholding relevant information or document;

      – the applicant comes from a non-EU country for which the share of positive decisions in the total number of asylum decisions is below 20 percent.

      This last criterion is especially problematic, since it transcends the criterion of the safe third country and it undermines the principle that every asylum application requires a complex and individualized assessment of the particular personal circumstances of the applicant, by introducing presumptive elements in a procedure which gives fewer guarantees.

      During the border procedure, the TCN is not granted access to the EU. The expansion of the new border procedures poses also the problem of the organization of the facilities necessary for the new procedures, which must be a location at or close to the external borders, in other words, where migrants are apprehended or disembarked.

      Tellingly enough, the Commission’s explanatory memorandum describes as guarantees in the asylum border procedure all the situations in which the border procedure shall not be applied, for example, because the necessary support cannot be provided or for medical reasons, or where the ‘conditions for detention (…) cannot be met and the border procedure cannot be applied without detention’.

      Also here the question remains on how to qualify their stay during the procedure, because the Commission aims at limiting resort to detention. The situation could be considered de facto a detention, and its compatibility with the criteria laid down by the Court of Justice in the Hungarian transit zones case is questionable.

      Another aspect which must be analyzed is the system of guarantees after the decision in a border procedure. If an application is rejected in an asylum border procedure, the “return procedure” applies immediately. Member States must limit to one instance the right to effective remedy against the decision, as posited in Article 53(9). The right to an effective remedy is therefore limited, according to Art. 53 of the Proposed Regulation, and the right to remain, a ‘light’ right to remain one could say, is also narrowly constructed, in the case of border procedures, to the first remedy against the negative decision (Art. 54(3) read together with Art. 54(4) and 54(5)). Furthermore, EU law allows Member States to limit the right to remain in case of subsequent applications and provides that there is no right to remain in the case of subsequent appeals (Art. 54(6) and (7)). More in general, this proposal extends the circumstances where the applicant does not have an automatic right to remain and this represents an aspect which affects significantly and in a factual manner the capacity to challenge a negative decision in a border procedure.

      Overall, it can be argued that the asylum border procedure is a procedure where guarantees are limited, because the access to the jurisdiction is taking place in fast-track procedures, access to legal remedies is also reduced to the very minimum. Access to the territory of the Member State is therefore deprived of its typical meaning, in the sense that it does not imply access to a system which is protecting rights with procedures which offer guarantees and are therefore also time-consuming. Here, efficiency should govern a process where the access to a jurisdiction is lighter, is ‘less dense’ than otherwise. To conclude, this externalization of migration control policies takes place ‘inside’ the European Union territory, and it aims at prolonging the effects of containment policies because they make access to the EU territory less meaningful, in legal terms: the presence of the person in the territory of the EU does not entail full access to the rights related to the presence on the territory.

      Solidarity in cooperating with third countries? The “return sponsorship” and its territorial puzzle

      Chapter 6 of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum proposes, among other things, to create a conditionality between cooperation on readmission with third countries and the issuance of visas to their nationals. This conditionality was legally established in the 2019 revision of the Visa Code Regulation. The revision (discussed here) states that, given their “politically sensitive nature and their horizontal implications for the Member States and the Union”, such provisions will be triggered once implementing powers are conferred to the Council (following a proposal from the Commission).

      What do these measures entail? We know that they can be applied in bulk or separately. Firstly, EU consulates in third countries will not have the usual leeway to waive some documents required to apply for visas (Art. 14(6), visa code). Secondly, visa applicants from uncooperative third countries will pay higher visa fees (Art. 16(1) visa code). Thirdly, visa fees to diplomatic and service passports will not be waived (Art. 16(5)b visa code). Fourthly, time to take a decision on the visa application will be longer than 15 days (Art. 23(1) visa code). Fifthly, the issuance of multi-entry visas (MEVs) from 6 months to 5 years is suspended (Art. 24(2) visa code). In other words, these coercive measures are not aimed at suspending visas. They are designed to make the procedure for obtaining a visa more lengthy, more costly, and limited in terms of access to MEVs.

      Moreover, it is important to stress that the revision of the Visa Code Regulation mentions that the Union will strike a balance between “migration and security concerns, economic considerations and general external relations”. Consequently, measures (be they restrictive or not) will result from an assessment that goes well beyond migration management issues. The assessment will not be based exclusively on the so-called “return rate” that has been presented as a compass used to reward or blame third countries’ cooperation on readmission. Other indicators or criteria, based on data provided by the Member States, will be equally examined by the Commission. These other indicators pertain to “the overall relations” between the Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and a given third country, on the other. This broad category is not defined in the 2019 revision of the Visa Code, nor do we know what it precisely refers to.

      What do we know about this linkage? The idea of linking cooperation on readmission with visa policy is not new. It was first introduced at a bilateral level by some member states. For example, fifteen years ago, cooperation on redocumentation, including the swift delivery of laissez-passers by the consular authorities of countries of origin, was at the centre of bilateral talks between France and North African countries. In September 2005, the French Ministry of the Interior proposed to “sanction uncooperative countries [especially Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria] by limiting the number of short-term visas that France delivers to their nationals.” Sanctions turned out to be unsuccessful not only because of the diplomatic tensions they generated – they were met with strong criticisms and reaction on the part of North African countries – but also because the ratio between the number of laissez-passers requested by the French authorities and the number of laissez-passers delivered by North African countries’ authorities remained unchanged.

      At the EU level, the idea to link readmission with visa policy has been in the pipeline for many years. Let’s remember that, in October 2002, in its Community Return Policy, the European Commission reflected on the positive incentives that could be used in order to ensure third countries’ constant cooperation on readmission. The Commission observed in its communication that, actually, “there is little that can be offered in return. In particular visa concessions or the lifting of visa requirements can be a realistic option in exceptional cases only; in most cases it is not.” Therefore, the Commission set out to propose additional incentives (e.g. trade expansion, technical/financial assistance, additional development aid).

      In a similar vein, in September 2015, after years of negotiations and failed attempt to cooperate on readmission with Southern countries, the Commission remarked that the possibility to use Visa Facilitation Agreements as an incentive to cooperate on readmission is limited in the South “as the EU is unlikely to offer visa facilitation to certain third countries which generate many irregular migrants and thus pose a migratory risk. And even when the EU does offer the parallel negotiation of a visa facilitation agreement, this may not be sufficient if the facilitations offered are not sufficiently attractive.”

      More recently, in March 2018, in its Impact Assessment accompanying the proposal for an amendment of the Common Visa Code, the Commission itself recognised that “better cooperation on readmission with reluctant third countries cannot be obtained through visa policy measures alone.” It also added that “there is no hard evidence on how visa leverage can translate into better cooperation of third countries on readmission.”

      Against this backdrop, why has so much emphasis been put on the link between cooperation on readmission and visa policy in the revised Visa Code Regulation and later in the New Pact? The Commission itself recognised that this conditionality might not constitute a sufficient incentive to ensure the cooperation on readmission.

      To reply to this question, we need first to question the oft-cited reference to third countries’ “reluctance”[n1] to cooperate on readmission in order to understand that, cooperation on readmission is inextricably based on unbalanced reciprocities. Moreover, migration, be it regular or irregular, continues to be viewed as a safety valve to relieve pressure on unemployment and poverty in countries of origin. Readmission has asymmetric costs and benefits having economic social and political implications for countries of origin. Apart from being unpopular in Southern countries, readmission is humiliating, stigmatizing, violent and traumatic for migrants,[n2] making their process of reintegration extremely difficult, if not impossible, especially when countries of origin have often no interest in promoting reintegration programmes addressed to their nationals expelled from Europe.

      Importantly, the conclusion of a bilateral agreement does not automatically lead to its full implementation in the field of readmission, for the latter is contingent on an array of factors that codify the bilateral interactions between two contracting parties. Today, more than 320 bilateral agreements linked to readmission have been concluded between the 27 EU Member States and third countries at a global level. Using an oxymoron, it is possible to argue that, over the past decades, various EU member states have learned that, if bilateral cooperation on readmission constitutes a central priority in their external relations (this is the official rhetoric), readmission remains peripheral to other strategic issue-areas which are detailed below. Finally, unlike some third countries in the Balkans or Eastern Europe, Southern third countries have no prospect of acceding to the EU bloc, let alone having a visa-free regime, at least in the foreseeable future. This basic difference makes any attempt to compare the responsiveness of the Balkan countries to cooperation on readmission with Southern non-EU countries’ impossible, if not spurious.

      Today, patterns of interdependence between the North and the South of the Mediterranean are very much consolidated. Over the last decades, Member States, especially Spain, France, Italy and Greece, have learned that bringing pressure to bear on uncooperative third countries needs to be evaluated cautiously lest other issues of high politics be jeopardized. Readmission cannot be isolated from a broader framework of interactions including other strategic, if not more crucial, issue-areas, such as police cooperation on the fight against international terrorism, border control, energy security and other diplomatic and geopolitical concerns. Nor can bilateral cooperation on readmission be viewed as an end in itself, for it has often been grafted onto a broader framework of interactions.

      This point leads to a final remark regarding “return sponsorship” which is detailed in Art. 55 of the proposal for a regulation on asylum and migration management. In a nutshell, the idea of the European Commission consists in a commitment from a “sponsoring Member State” to assist another Member State (the benefitting Member State) in the readmission of a third-country national. This mechanism foresees that each Member State is expected to indicate the nationalities for which they are willing to provide support in the field of readmission. The sponsoring Member State offers an assistance by mobilizing its network of bilateral cooperation on readmission, or by opening a dialogue with the authorities of a given third country where the third-country national will be deported. If, after eight months, attempts are unsuccessful, the third-country national is transferred to the sponsoring Member State. Note that, in application of Council Directive 2001/40 on mutual recognition of expulsion decisions, the sponsoring Member State may or may not recognize the expulsion decision of the benefitting Member State, just because Member States continue to interpret the Geneva Convention in different ways and also because they have different grounds for subsidiary protection.

      Viewed from a non-EU perspective, namely from the point of view of third countries, this mechanism might raise some questions of competence and relevance. Which consular authorities will undertake the identification process of the third country national with a view to eventually delivering a travel document? Are we talking about the third country’s consular authorities located in the territory of the benefitting Member State or in the sponsoring Member State’s? In a similar vein, why would a bilateral agreement linked to readmission – concluded with a given ‘sponsoring’ Member State – be applicable to a ‘benefitting’ Member State (with which no bilateral agreement or arrangement has been signed)? Such territorially bounded contingencies will invariably be problematic, at a certain stage, from the viewpoint of third countries. Additionally, in acting as a sponsoring Member State, one is entitled to wonder why an EU Member State might decide to expose itself to increased tensions with a given third country while putting at risk a broader framework of interactions.

      As the graph shows, not all the EU Member States are equally engaged in bilateral cooperation on readmission with third countries. Moreover, a geographical distribution of available data demonstrates that more than 70 per cent of the total number of bilateral agreements linked to readmission (be they formal or informal[n3]) concluded with African countries are covered by France, Italy and Spain. Over the last decades, these three Member States have developed their respective networks of cooperation on readmission with a number of countries in Africa and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

      Given the existence of these consolidated networks, the extent to which the “return sponsorship” proposed in the Pact will add value to their current undertakings is objectively questionable. Rather, if the “return sponsorship” mechanism is adopted, these three Member States might be deemed to act as sponsoring Member States when it comes to the expulsion of irregular migrants (located in other EU Member States) to Africa and the MENA region. More concretely, the propensity of, for example, Austria to sponsor Italy in expelling from Italy a foreign national coming from the MENA region or from Africa is predictably low. Austria’s current networks of cooperation on readmission with MENA and African countries would never add value to Italy’s consolidated networks of cooperation on readmission with these third countries. Moreover, it is unlikely that Italy will be proactively “sponsoring” other Member States’ expulsion decisions, without jeopardising its bilateral relations with other strategic third countries located in the MENA region or in Africa, to use the same example. These considerations concretely demonstrate that the European Commission’s call for “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility”, on which its “return sponsorship” mechanism is premised, is contingent on the existence of a federative Union able to act as a unitary supranational body in domestic and foreign affairs. This federation does not exist in political terms.

      Beyond these practical aspects, it is important to realise that the cobweb of bilateral agreements linked to readmission has expanded as a result of tremendously complex bilateral dynamics that go well beyond the mere management of international migration. These remarks are crucial to understanding that we need to reflect properly on the conditionality pattern that has driven the external action of the EU, especially in a regional context where patterns of interdependence among state actors have gained so much relevance over the last two decades. Moreover, given the clear consensus on the weak correlation between cooperation on readmission and visa policy (the European Commission being no exception to this consensus), linking the two might not be the adequate response to ensure third countries’ cooperation on readmission, especially when the latter are in position to capitalize on their strategic position with regard to some EU Member States.

      Conclusions

      This brief reflection has highlighted a trend which is taking shape in the Pact and in some of the measures proposed by the Commission in its 2020 package of reforms. It has been shown that the proposals for a pre-entry screening and the 2020 amended proposal for enhanced border procedures are creating something we could label as a ‘lower density’ European Union territory, because the new procedures and arrangements have the purpose of restricting and limiting access to rights and to jurisdiction. This would happen on the territory of a Member State, but in a place at or close to the external borders, with a view to confining migration and third country nationals to an area where the territory of a state, and therefore, the European territory, is less … ‘territorial’ than it should be: legally speaking, it is a ‘lower density’ territory.

      The “seamless link between asylum and return” the Commission aims to create with the new border procedures can be described as sliding doors through which the third country national can enter or leave immediately, depending on how the established fast-track system qualifies her situation.

      However, the paradox highlighted with the “return sponsorship” mechanism shows that readmission agreements or arrangements are no panacea, for the vested interests of third countries must also be taken into consideration when it comes to cooperation on readmission. In this respect, it is telling that the Commission never consulted third states on the new return sponsorship mechanism, as if their territories were not concerned by this mechanism, which is far from being the case. For this reason, it is legitimate to imagine that the main rationale for the return sponsorship mechanism may be another one, and it may be merely domestic. In other words, the return sponsorship, which transforms itself into a form of relocation after eight months if the third country national is not expelled from the EU territory, subtly takes non-frontline European Union states out of their comfort-zone and engage them in cooperating on expulsions. If they fail to do so, namely if the third-country national is not expelled after eight months, non-frontline European Union states are as it were ‘forcibly’ engaged in a ‘solidarity practice’ that is conducive to relocation.

      Given the disappointing past experience of the 2015 relocations, it is impossible to predict whether this mechanism will work or not. However, once one enters sliding doors, the danger is to remain stuck in uncertainty, in a European Union ‘no man’s land’ which is nothing but another by-product of the fortress Europe machinery.

      http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-new-pact-on-migration-and-asylum.html

    • Le nouveau Pacte européen sur la migration et l’asile

      Ce 23 septembre 2020, la Commission européenne a présenté son très attendu nouveau Pacte sur la migration et l’asile.

      Alors que l’Union européenne (UE) traverse une crise politique majeure depuis 2015 et que les solutions apportées ont démontré leur insuffisance en matière de solidarité entre États membres, leur violence à l’égard des exilés et leur coût exorbitant, la Commission européenne ne semble pas tirer les leçons du passé.

      Au menu du Pacte : un renforcement toujours accru des contrôles aux frontières, des procédures expéditives aux frontières de l’UE avec, à la clé, la détention généralisée pour les nouveaux arrivants, la poursuite de l’externalisation et un focus sur les expulsions. Il n’y a donc pas de changement de stratégie.

      Le Règlement Dublin, injuste et inefficace, est loin d’être aboli. Le nouveau système mis en place changera certes de nom, mais reprendra le critère tant décrié du “premier pays d’entrée” dans l’UE pour déterminer le pays responsable du traitement de la demande d’asile. Quant à un mécanisme permanent de solidarité pour les États davantage confrontés à l’arrivée des exilés, à l’instar des quotas de relocalisations de 2015-2017 – relocalisations qui furent un échec complet -, la Commission propose une solidarité permanente et obligatoire mais… à la carte, où les États qui ne veulent pas accueillir de migrants peuvent choisir à la place de “parrainer” leur retour, ou de fournir un soutien opérationnel aux États en difficulté. La solidarité n’est donc cyniquement pas envisagée pour l’accueil, mais bien pour le renvoi des migrants.

      Pourtant, l’UE fait face à beaucoup moins d’arrivées de migrants sur son territoire qu’en 2015 (1,5 million d’arrivées en 2015, 140.00 en 2019)

      Fin 2019, l’UE accueillait 2,6 millions de réfugiés, soit l’équivalent de 0,6% de sa population. À défaut de voies légales et sûres, les personnes exilées continuent de fuir la guerre, la violence, ou de rechercher une vie meilleure et doivent emprunter des routes périlleuses pour rejoindre le territoire de l’UE : on dénombre plus de 20.000 décès depuis 2014. Une fois arrivées ici, elles peuvent encore être détenues et subir des mauvais traitements, comme c’était le cas dans le camp qui a brûlé à Moria. Lorsqu’elles poursuivent leur route migratoire au sein de l’UE, elles ne peuvent choisir le pays où elles demanderont l’asile et elles font face à la loterie de l’asile…

      Loin d’un “nouveau départ” avec ce nouveau Pacte, la Commission propose les mêmes recettes et rate une opportunité de mettre en œuvre une tout autre politique, qui soit réellement solidaire, équitable pour les États membres et respectueuse des droits fondamentaux des personnes migrantes, avec l’établissement de voies légales et sûres, des procédures d’asile harmonisées et un accueil de qualité, ou encore la recherche de solutions durables pour les personnes en situation irrégulière.

      Dans cette brève analyse, nous revenons sur certaines des mesures phares telles qu’elles ont été présentées par la Commission européenne et qui feront l’objet de discussions dans les prochains mois avec le Parlement européen et le Conseil européen. Nous expliquerons également en quoi ces mesures n’ont rien d’innovant, sont un échec de la politique migratoire européenne, et pourquoi elles sont dangereuses pour les personnes migrantes.

      https://www.cire.be/publication/le-nouveau-pacte-europeen-sur-la-migration-et-lasile

      Pour télécharger l’analyse :
      https://www.cire.be/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?juwpfisadmin=false&action=wpfd&task=file.download&wpfd_category_

    • New pact on migration and asylum. Perspective on the ’other side’ of the EU border

      At the end of September 2020, and after camp Moria on Lesvos burned down leaving over 13,000 people in an even more precarious situation than they were before, the European Commission (EC) introduced a proposal for the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. So far, the proposal has not been met with enthusiasm by neither member states or human rights organisations.

      Based on first-hand field research interviews with civil society and other experts in the Balkan region, this report provides a unique perspective of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum from ‘the other side’ of the EU’s borders.

      #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #rapport #Refugee_rights #militarisation

    • Impakter | Un « nouveau » pacte sur l’asile et les migrations ?

      Le média en ligne Impakter propose un article d’analyse du Pacte sur l’asile et les migrations de l’Union européenne. Publié le 23 septembre 2020, le pacte a été annoncé comme un “nouveau départ”. En réalité, le pacte n’est pas du tout un nouveau départ, mais la même politique avec un ensemble de nouvelles propositions. L’article pointe l’aspect critique du projet, et notamment des concepts clés tels que : « processus de pré-selection », « le processus accélérée » et le « pacte de retour ». L’article donne la parole à plusieurs expertises et offre ainsi une meilleure compréhension de ce que concrètement ce pacte implique pour les personnes migrantes.

      L’article de #Charlie_Westbrook “A “New” Pact on Migration and Asylum ?” a été publié le 11 février dans le magazine en ligne Impakter (sous licence Creative Commons). Nous vous en proposons un court résumé traduisant les lignes directrices de l’argumentaire, en français ci-dessous. Pour lire l’intégralité du texte en anglais, vous pouvez vous rendre sur le site de Impakter.

      –---

      Le “Nouveau pacte sur la migration et l’asile”, a été publié le 23 septembre, faisant suite à l’incendie du camp surpeuplé de Moria. Le pacte a été annoncé comme un “nouveau départ”. En réalité, le pacte n’est pas du tout un nouveau départ, mais la même politique avec un ensemble de nouvelles propositions sur lesquelles les États membres de l’UE devront maintenant se mettre d’accord – une entreprise qui a déjà connu des difficultés.

      Les universitaires, les militants et les organisations de défense des droits de l’homme de l’UE soulignent les préoccupations éthiques et pratiques que suscitent nombre des propositions suggérées par la Commission, ainsi que la rhétorique axée sur le retour qui les anime. Charlie Westbrook la journaliste, a contacté Kirsty Evans, coordinatrice de terrain et des campagnes pour Europe Must Act, qui m’a fait part de ses réactions au nouveau Pacte.

      Cet essai vise à présenter le plus clairement possible les problèmes liés à ce nouveau pacte, en mettant en évidence les principales préoccupations des experts et des ONG. Ces préoccupations concernent les problèmes potentiels liés au processus de présélection, au processus accéléré (ou “fast-track”) et au mécanisme de parrainage des retours.

      Le processus de présélection

      La nouvelle proposition est d’instaurer une procédure de contrôle préalable à l’entrée sur le territoire européen. L’ONG Human Rights Watch, dénonce la suggestion trompeuse du pacte selon laquelle les personnes soumises à la procédure frontalière ne sont pas considérées comme ayant formellement pénétré sur le territoire. Ce processus concerne toute personne extra-européenne qui franchirait la frontière de manière irrégulière. Ce manque de différenciation du type de besoin inquiète l’affirme l’avocate et professeur Lyra Jakulevičienė, car cela signifie que la politique d’externalisation sera plus forte que jamais. Ce nouveau règlement brouille la distinction entre les personnes demandant une protection internationale et les autres migrants “en plaçant les deux groupes de personnes sous le même régime juridique au lieu de les différencier clairement, car leurs chances de rester dans l’UE sont très différentes”. Ce processus d’externalisation, cependant, “se déroule “à l’intérieur” du territoire de l’Union européenne, et vise à prolonger les effets des politiques d’endiguement parce qu’elles rendent l’accès au territoire de l’UE moins significatif”, comme l’expliquent Jean-Pierre Cassarino, chercheur principal à la chaire de la politique européenne de voisinage du Collège d’Europe, et Luisa Marin, professeur adjoint de droit européen. En d’autres termes, les personnes en quête de protection n’auront pas pleinement accès aux droits européens en arrivant sur le territoire de l’UE. Il faudra d’abord déterminer ce qu’elles “sont”. En outre, les recherches universitaires montrent que les processus d’externalisation “entraînent le contournement des normes fondamentales, vont à l’encontre de la bonne gouvernance, créent l’immobilité et contribuent à la crise du régime mondial des réfugiés, qui ne parvient pas à assurer la protection”. Les principales inquiétudes de ces deux expert·es sont les suivantes : la rapidité de prise de décision (pas plus de 5 jours), l’absence d’assistance juridique, Etat membre est le seul garant du respect des droits fondamentaux et si cette période de pré-sélection sera mise en œuvre comme une détention.

      Selon Jakulevičienė, la proposition apporte “un grand potentiel” pour créer davantage de camps de style “Moria”. Il est difficile de voir en quoi cela profiterait à qui que ce soit.

      Procédure accélérée

      Si un demandeur est orienté vers le système accéléré, une décision sera prise dans un délai de 12 semaines – une durée qui fait craindre que le système accéléré n’aboutisse à un retour injuste des demandeurs. En 2010, Human Rights Watch a publié un rapport de fond détaillant comment les procédures d’asile accélérées étaient inadaptées aux demandes complexes et comment elles affectaient négativement les femmes demandeurs d’asile en particulier.
      Les personnes seront dirigées vers la procédure accélérée si : l’identité a été cachée ou que de faux documents ont été utilisés, si elle représente un danger pour la sécurité nationale, ou si elle est ressortissante d’un pays pour lesquels moins de 20% des demandes ont abouti à l’octroi d’une protection internationale.

      Comme l’exprime le rapport de Human Rights Watch (HRW), “la procédure à la frontière proposée repose sur deux hypothèses erronées – que la majorité des personnes arrivant en Europe n’ont pas besoin de protection et que l’évaluation des demandes d’asile peut être faite facilement et rapidement”.

      Essentiellement, comme l’écrivent Cassarino et Marin, “elle porte atteinte au principe selon lequel toute demande d’asile nécessite une évaluation complexe et individualisée de la situation personnelle particulière du demandeur”.

      Tout comme Jakulevičienė, Kirsty Evans s’inquiète de la manière dont le pacte va alimenter une rhétorique préjudiciable, en faisant valoir que “le langage de l’accélération fait appel à la “protection” de la rhétorique nationale évidente dans la politique et les médias en se concentrant sur le retour des personnes sur leur propre territoire”.

      Un pacte pour le retour

      Désormais, lorsqu’une demande d’asile est rejetée, la décision de retour sera rendue en même temps.

      Le raisonnement présenté par la Commission pour proposer des procédures plus rapides et plus intégrées est que des procédures inefficaces causent des difficultés excessives – y compris pour ceux qui ont obtenu le droit de rester.

      Les procédures restructurées peuvent en effet profiter à certains. Cependant, il existe un risque sérieux qu’elles aient un impact négatif sur le droit d’asile des personnes soumises à la procédure accélérée – sachant qu’en cas de rejet, il n’existe qu’un seul droit de recours.

      La proposition selon laquelle l’UE traitera désormais les retours dans leur ensemble, et non plus seulement dans un seul État membre, illustre bien l’importance que l’UE accorde aux retours. À cette fin, l’UE propose la création d’un nouveau poste de coordinateur européen des retours qui s’occupera des retours et des réadmissions.

      Décrite comme “la plus sinistre des nouvelles propositions”, et assimilée à “une grotesque parodie de personnes parrainant des enfants dans les pays en développement par l’intermédiaire d’organisations caritatives”, l’option du parrainage de retour est également un signe fort de l’approche par concession de la Commission.

      Pour M. Evans, le fait d’autoriser les pays à opter pour le “retour” comme moyen de “gérer la migration” semble être une validation du comportement illégal des États membres, comme les récentes expulsions massives en Grèce. Alors, qu’est-ce que le parrainage de retour ? Eh bien, selon les termes de l’UE, le parrainage du retour est une option de solidarité dans laquelle l’État membre “s’engage à renvoyer les migrants en situation irrégulière sans droit de séjour au nom d’un autre État membre, en le faisant directement à partir du territoire de l’État membre bénéficiaire”.

      Les États membres préciseront les nationalités qu’ils “parraineront” en fonction, vraisemblablement, des relations préexistantes de l’État membre de l’UE avec un État non membre de l’UE. Lorsque la demande d’un individu est rejetée, l’État membre qui en est responsable s’appuiera sur ses relations avec le pays tiers pour négocier le retour du demandeur.

      En outre, en supposant que les réadmissions soient réussies, le parrainage des retours fonctionne sur la base de l’hypothèse qu’il existe un pays tiers sûr. C’est sur cette base que les demandes sont rejetées. La manière dont cela affectera le principe de non-refoulement est la principale préoccupation des organisations des droits de l’homme et des experts politiques, et c’est une préoccupation qui découle d’expériences antérieures. Après tout, la coopération avec des pays tiers jusqu’à présent – à savoir l’accord Turquie-UE et l’accord Espagne-Maroc – a suscité de nombreuses critiques sur le coût des droits de l’homme.

      Mais en plus des préoccupations relatives aux droits de l’homme, des questions sont soulevées sur les implications ou même les aspects pratiques de l’”incitation” des pays tiers à se conformer, l’image de l’UE en tant que champion des droits de l’homme étant déjà corrodée aux yeux de la communauté internationale.

      Il s’agira notamment d’utiliser la délivrance du code des visas comme méthode d’incitation. Pour les pays qui ne coopèrent pas à la réadmission, les visas seront plus difficiles à obtenir. La proposition visant à pénaliser les pays qui appliquent des restrictions en matière de visas n’est pas nouvelle et n’a pas conduit à une amélioration des relations diplomatiques. Guild fait valoir que cette approche est injuste pour les demandeurs de visa des pays “non coopérants” et qu’elle risque également de susciter des sentiments d’injustice chez les voisins du pays tiers.

      L’analyse de Guild est que le nouveau pacte est diplomatiquement faible. Au-delà du financement, il offre “peu d’attention aux intérêts des pays tiers”. Il faut reconnaître, après tout, que la réadmission a des coûts et des avantages asymétriques pour les pays qui les acceptent, surtout si l’on considère que la migration, comme le soulignent Cassarino et Marin, “continue d’être considérée comme une soupape de sécurité pour soulager la pression sur le chômage et la pauvreté dans les pays d’origine”.

      https://asile.ch/2021/03/02/impakter-un-nouveau-pacte-sur-lasile-et-les-migrations

      L’article original :
      A “New” Pact on Migration and Asylum ?
      https://impakter.com/a-new-pact-on-migration-and-asylum

    • The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum in light of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees. International Experiences on Containment and Mobility and their Impacts on Trust and Rights

      In September 2020, the European Commission published what it described as a New Pact on Migration and Asylum (emphasis added) that lays down a multi-annual policy agenda on issues that have been central to debate about the future of European integration. This book critically examines the new Pact as part of a Forum organized by the Horizon 2020 project ASILE – Global Asylum Governance and the EU’s Role.

      ASILE studies interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role and the UN GCR’s implementation dynamics. It brings together a new international network of scholars from 13 institutions examining the characteristics of international and country specific asylum governance instruments and arrangements applicable to people seeking international protection. It studies the compatibility of these governance instruments’ with international protection and human rights, and the UN GCR’s call for global solidarity and responsibility sharing.

      https://www.asileproject.eu/the-eu-pact-on-migration-and-asylum-in-light-of-the-united-nations-glob

  • Germany wants asylum seekers assessed before reaching Europe

    The German interior minister #Horst_Seehofer has called for a new European migration system which would see asylum applications decided outside Europe’s borders.

    Germany has called on the European Union to change its approach to asylum applications. The interior minister, Horst #Seehofer, said on Tuesday that applicants should undergo initial assessment at Europe’s external borders and be sent home from there as well.

    “We have to realize that the Dublin system has failed,” Seehofer told the interior ministers of France, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom at a meeting of the so-called #G6 group in the southern German city of Munich on Tuesday.

    The Dublin regulation refers to European Union rules which state that the EU country in which a person seeking asylum first sets foot should handle the asylum application.

    External processing

    “(This) system cannot be the basis for the EU’s future asylum policy,” Seehofer said. “We need a new philosophy that starts at the external borders.”


    https://twitter.com/BMI_Bund/status/1189152116176248832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E11

    “Our proposition: Effective protection of Europe’s external borders, where we check whether someone has a need for protection or has to be returned immediately. This means we need a unified set of rules.”

    Under Seehofer’s proposal, only asylum seekers with prospects for receiving protection in Europe should be distributed among a group of willing EU countries. Their asylum issues would then be addressed there.

    If the initial assessment at the European external borders is negative, the EU border agency Frontex should return the asylum seeker to his or her home country.

    Most support Seehofer

    The EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avrampoulos, who also attended the G6 meeting, welcomed the proposal and called the discussions “constructive”. He said most of the G6 ministers supported Seehofer.


    https://twitter.com/Avramopoulos/status/1188870575877492736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E11

    Seehofer also wants to bring forward a planned strengthening of the European border agency, Frontex. Officials in Brussels on Wednesday approved plans to deploy 10,000 uniformed border guards and officers across the EU by 2027, the AFP news agency reports.

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/20480/germany-wants-asylum-seekers-assessed-before-reaching-europe
    #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #procédure_d'asile

    Je répète ici les mots de Seehofer, car on va probablement encore et encore les réutiliser...

    “We have to realize that the Dublin system has failed, (...) (This) system cannot be the basis for the EU’s future asylum policy,” Seehofer said. “We need a new philosophy that starts at the external borders. (...) Our proposition: Effective protection of Europe’s external borders, where we check whether someone has a need for protection or has to be returned immediately. This means we need a unified set of rules.”

    –-----------

    Ceci est à mettre en lien aussi avec le même genre de proposition (celle d’une externalisation non seulement des #contrôles_frontaliers, mais aussi de la #procédure_d'asile, et du #tri et de la #catégorisation) de #Macron en 2017 :
    Macron veut « identifier » les demandeurs d’asile au #Tchad et au Niger
    https://seenthis.net/messages/704970
    #France #hub

    –-------

    Mais Macron lui-même n’avait rien inventé... C’était une proposition qui arrivait de l’#Angleterre de #Tony_Blair :

    The idea of establishing reception centres in third countries, however, is not new. It was first suggested, unsuccessfully, by Tony Blair in 2003 [https://www.theguardian.com/society/2003/feb/05/asylum.immigrationasylumandrefugees] It was then taken over by the former German Interior Minister Otto Schily in 2005,[ “German Interior Ministry, Effektiver Schutz für Flüchtlinge, wirkungsvolle Bekämpfung illegaler Migration – Überlegungen des Bundesministers des Innern zur Einrichtung einer EU-Aufnahmeeinrichtung in Nordafrika 9 September 2005.”] who proposed to establish asylum centres in North Africa, and more recently Italy. The original 2003 Blair proposal was that any third-country national who sought asylum in the EU would be returned immediately to a centre in a third country where his or her application would be considered.

    https://www.ceps.eu/ceps-publications/offshore-processing-asylum-applications-out-sight-out-mind
    #UK

    v. aussi :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/704970#message704974
    #Transit_Processing_Centres (#TPCs) #UK

    ping @_kg_ @isskein @karine4 @visionscarto

    –----

    voir la métaliste sur les tentatives d’externalisation de la procédure d’asile de différents pays européens dans l’histoire :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/900122

    • Austrian Presidency document: “a new, better protection system under which no applications for asylum are filed on EU territory”

      A crude paper authored by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU and circulated to other Member States’s security officials refers disparagingly to “regions that are characterised by patriarchal, anti-freedom and/or backward-looking religious attitudes” and calls for “a halt to illegal migration to Europe” and the “development of a new, better protection system under which no applications for asylum are filed on EU territory,” with some minor exceptions.

      See: Austrian Presidency: Informal Meeting of COSI, Vienna, Austria, 2-3 July 2018: Strengthening EU External Border Protection and a Crisis-Resistant EU Asylum System (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/jul/EU-austria-Informal-Meeting-%20COSI.pdf)

      The document was produced for an ’Informal Meeting of COSI’ (the Council of the EU’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security) which took place on 2 and 3 July in Vienna, and the proposals it contains were the subject of numerous subsequent press articles - with the Austrian President one of the many who criticised the government’s ultra-hardline approach.

      See: Austrian president criticises government’s asylum proposals (The Local, https://www.thelocal.at/20180715/austrian-president-criticises-governments-asylum-proposals); Austrian proposal requires asylum seekers to apply outside EU: Profil (Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-austria/austrian-proposal-requires-asylum-seekers-to-apply-outside-eu-profil-idUSKB); Right of asylum: Austria’s unsettling proposals to member states (EurActiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/right-of-asylum-austrias-unsettling-proposals-to-member-states)

      Some of the proposals were also discussed at an informal meeting of the EU’s interior ministers on Friday 13 July, where the topic of “return centres” (http://statewatch.org/news/2018/jul/eu-ciuncil-returns.htm) was also raised. The Luxembourg interior minister Jean Asselborn reportedly said that such an idea “shouldn’t be discussed by civilized Europeans.” See: No firm EU agreement on Austrian proposals for reducing migration (The Local, https://www.thelocal.at/20180713/no-firm-eu-agreement-on-austrian-proposals-for-reducing-migration)

      The Austrian Presidency paper proposes:

      "2.1. By 2020

      By 2020 the following goals could be defined:

      Saving as many human lives as possible;
      Clear strengthening of the legal framework and the operational capabilities of FRONTEX with respect to its two main tasks: support in protecting the Union’s external border and in the field of return;
      Increasing countering and destruction of people smugglers’ and human traffickers‘ business models;
      Significant reduction in illegal migration;
      More sustainable and more effective return measures as well as establishment of instruments that foster third countries’ willingness to cooperate on all relevant aspects, including the fight against people smuggling, providing protection and readmission;
      Development of a holistic concept for a forward-looking migration policy (in the spirit of a “whole of government approach“) and a future European protection system in cooperation with third countries that is supported by all and does not overburden all those involved – neither in terms of resources nor with regard to the fundamental rights and freedoms they uphold.

      2.2. By 2025

      By 2025 the following goals could be realised:

      Full control of the EU’s external borders and their comprehensive protection have been ensured.
      The new, better European protection system has been implemented across the EU in cooperation with third countries; important goals could include:
      no incentives anymore to get into boats, thus putting an end to smuggled persons dying in the Mediterranean;
      smart help and assistance for those in real need of protection, i.e. provided primarily in the respective region;
      asylum in Europe is granted only to those who respect European values and the fundamental rights and freedoms upheld in the EU;
      no overburdening of the EU Member States’ capabilities;
      lower long-term costs;
      prevention of secondary migration.
      Based on these principles, the EU Member States have returned to a consensual European border protection and asylum policy.”

      And includes the following statements, amongst others:

      “...more and more Member States are open to exploring a new approach. Under the working title “Future European Protection System” (FEPS) and based on an Austrian initiative, a complete paradigm shift in EU asylum policy has been under consideration at senior officials’ level for some time now. The findings are considered in the “Vienna Process” in the context of which the topic of external border protection is also dealt with. A number of EU Member States, the EU Commission and external experts contribute towards further reflections and deliberations on these two important topics.”

      “...ultimately, there is no effective EU external border protection in place against illegal migration and the existing EU asylum system does not enable an early distinction between those who are in need of protection and those who are not.”

      “Disembarkment following rescue at sea as a rule only takes place in EU Member States. This means that apprehensions at sea not only remain ineffective (non-refoulement, examination of applications for asylum), but are exploited in people smugglers’ business models.”

      “Due to factors related to their background as well as their poor perspectives, they [smuggled migrants] repeatedly have considerable problems with living in free societies or even reject them. Among them are a large number of barely or poorly educated young men who have travelled to Europe alone. Many of these are particularly susceptible to ideologies that are hostile to freedom and/or are prone to turning to crime.

      As a result of the prevailing weaknesses in the fields of external border protection and asylum, it is to be expected that the negative consequences of past and current policies will continue to be felt for many years to come. As experience with immigration from regions that are characterised by patriarchal, anti-freedom and/or backward-looking religious attitudes has shown, problems related to integration, safety and security may even increase significantly over several generations.”

      See: Austrian Presidency: Informal Meeting of COSI, Vienna, Austria, 2-3 July 2018: Strengthening EU External Border Protection and a Crisis-Resistant EU Asylum System (pdf)

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/jul/eu-austrian-pres-asylum-paper.htm

      #Autriche

    • Germany proposed a new automatic relocation scheme for asylum seekers (https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-sets-out-plan-for-automatic-relocation-of-asylum-seekers), according to which requests for international protection would be evaluated at the external borders of the European Union. The proposal was presented last week to EU member states, with the aim of making progress in the reforming of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), ahead of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second part of next year. The document proposes the initial evaluation of cases at EU’s external borders, a new regime for determining which member state is responsible for the further processing of the application, and measures to prevent asylum seekers’ migration from one member state to another. The proposal that initial assessments of all cases should be made at the external borders is very problematic, since it determines that “clearly false and unfounded” requests would be denied immediately at the external border, as well as the fact that measures including restricting freedom of movement could be used in such proceedings. Moreover, the question of what would be the exact procedure of determining which states are responsible for processing applications for asylum also arises. According to the German plan, the key role in this would be reserved for European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which the Commission already proposes to transform into the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), that would then decide which member state is responsible for the further processing of applications. This decision would be based on factors such as the size of the population of the member state, their GDP and so on.

      Reçu via Inicijativa dobrodosli, mail du 04.11.2019.

  • Le vrai cout de la #viande pas chère : pauvre #cochon, riche affaire

    Depuis une dizaine d’années, les producteurs de porcs d’outre-Rhin jouissent de subventions massives accordées par Berlin pour accélérer l’industrialisation des exploitations. Aujourd’hui, le pays est devenu autosuffisant et inonde l’Europe à prix cassé. Le marché est dominé par une poignée d’entreprises qui pratiquent l’économie d’échelle grâce à l’automatisation, et entassent des dizaines de milliers de bêtes gavées d’antibiotiques dans des hangars sur caillebotis, coupés de la lumière du jour. Si cette viande est si bon marché, c’est aussi en raison du droit du travail allemand, qui permet aux grands abattoirs d’employer des ouvriers détachés venus d’Europe de l’Est et payés au rabais

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6MrcGNTJak


    #film #documentaire #Seehofer #industrie_agro-alimentaire #viande #travail #exploitation #Allemagne #prix #élevage #élevage_industriel #cochons #porc #exportation #travail_intérimaire #fertilisants #environnement #lisier #nitrates #eau_potable #nappe_phréatique #pollution #santé #cancer #France #abattoir #sous-traitance #dumping_salarial #travailleurs_étrangers #travailleurs_détachés #bactéries_multi-résistants #label #Roumanie #paysannerie #antibiotiques #métaphylaxie #Germanwatch #colistine #Suède #alimentation #travailleurs_détachés #épandage

  • Presseerklärung

    1. Februar 2019

    Einzug der »bayerischen Art« in ganz Deutschland
    PRO ASYL und der Bayerische Flüchtlingsrat warnen: Neuer Vorstoß aus dem BMI führt zu Ausgrenzung und Perspektivlosigkeit

    Während die Große Koalition im aktuellen Entwurf zur Fachkräftezuwanderung die Stärkung der Geduldeten bewirbt, geht das Bundesinnenministerium (BMI) nun den umgekehrten Weg: Die Zeitung WELT berichtet von einem Referentenentwurf des BMI, nach dem geduldeten Flüchtlingen, denen vorgeworfen wird, nicht hinreichend an der Passbeschaffung mitgewirkt zu haben, der Duldungsstatus entzogen werden soll.

    PRO ASYL und der Bayerische Flüchtlingsrat warnen vor der Ausgrenzungsinitiative des BMI. »Bayerische Verhältnisse werden in ganz Deutschland zur Normalität. Willkürliche Anforderungen an die Mitwirkung bei der Passersatzbeschaffung werden Wege in ein Bleiberecht verhindern«, kritisiert Günter Burkhardt, Geschäftsführer von PRO ASYL. Der Entwurf sieht weitere Sanktionsmöglichkeiten vor. »Wenn Arbeits- und Ausbildungsverbote verhängt werden, wird ein Zustand der dauerhaften Perspektivlosigkeit geschaffen«, so Burkhardt weiter.

    In dem Referentenentwurf heißt es: »Wer seine Abschiebung selbst verhindert, zum Beispiel weil er die Behörden über Identität oder Staatsangehörigkeit täuscht oder an der Passersatzbeschaffung nicht ausreichend mitwirkt, darf künftig keine Duldung mehr erhalten«. Die Praxis zeigt aber: Oft wird willkürlich und für die Betroffenen nicht absehbar fehlende Mitwirkung vorgeworfen. Dabei kann das ganz unterschiedliche Gründe haben: Afghanische Staatsangehörige, die lange im Iran gelebt haben, erhalten keine Papiere mehr oder somalische Dokumente werden oftmals nicht anerkannt. Diese Betroffenen dürfen dann laut Gesetzentwurf nicht arbeiten oder eine Ausbildung anfangen – obwohl sie gerade nicht abgeschoben werden können.

    Schon jetzt zeigt die willkürliche Praxis in Bayern: Auch mit Duldung bekommen viele Asylsuchende Arbeits- und Ausbildungsverbote auferlegt, in vielen Landkreisen dürfen geduldete Flüchtlinge nicht einmal ein Praktikum absolvieren, in AnkER-Zentren werden Flüchtlinge isoliert und entrechtet. »Die Betroffenen werden in die Illegalität getrieben. Von mehr als 11.000 Ausgereisten aus Bayern in 2018 sind lediglich 2.600 nachweislich in ihr Herkunftsland zurückgekehrt«, beschreibt Stephan Dünnwald, Flüchtlingsrat Bayern. »Die bayerische Art hält nun in ganz Deutschland Einzug«.

    Dem Betroffenen soll sogar die Unmöglichkeit der Abschiebung zugerechnet werden, allein weil er Staatsangehöriger eines sicheren Herkunftsstaates ist. Vom persönlichen Verhalten des Betroffenen ist die Versagung der Duldung dann nicht mehr abhängig. Der Mensch wird aufgrund der Nationalität völlig unabhängig von seinem Verhalten diskriminiert und mit Sanktionen belegt.

    PRO ASYL und der Bayerische Flüchtlingsrat erinnern, dass schon 2015 und 2017 ähnliche Vorschläge aus der CSU kamen, die aus guten Gründen keine Mehrheit fanden. Die »Duldung light« scheiterte zu Recht.

    http://go.proasyl.de/nl/o56x/ln6zs.html?m=AM4AACv3GAUAAcTbilwAAGTbamoAAAAAEhMAFqrwAAS0dQBcVCzdGRvFD_Kt

    #Allemagne #Duldung #BMI #espulsion #pays_sûrs #clarification_d'identité #démarche_bavroise

    • Asylbewerber: Keine Duldung mehr bei falscher Identität - WELT

      Die sogenannte Duldung ist eine komplexe Angelegenheit: Wer einen solchen Status besitzt, ist gleichzeitig verpflichtet zu gehen, aber berechtigt zu bleiben. Warum gibt es diese Regelung, und für wen gilt sie?

      Abgelehnte Asylbewerber erhalten mit dem Ablehnungsbescheid eine Aufforderung zur Ausreise; wenn sie dieser nicht freiwillig innerhalb einiger Monate nachkommen, müssen sie eigentlich abgeschoben werden. Das klappt nach wie vor nur in einem Bruchteil der Fälle.

      Wenn die Ausländerbehörde dann zu der Überzeugung gelangt, dass die Abschiebung eines solchen ausreisepflichtigen Ausländers auf absehbare Zeit nicht möglich ist, erteilt sie eine Duldung. Und zwar, weil sie den abgelehnten Asylbewerber nicht länger in der unmittelbaren Bedrohungssituation belassen möchte, jederzeit zum Flieger in die Heimat gebracht werden zu können.

      Er bleibt aber immer noch verpflichtet, selbst auszureisen, wofür ihm auch eine finanzielle Förderung angeboten wird. Gleichzeitig erhält er aber Sozialleistungen, Sprachkurse und meist die Erlaubnis, einen Ausbildungs- oder Arbeitsplatz anzunehmen. Nach 18 Monaten in diesem Duldungsstatus können die Ausländerbehörden den abgelehnten Asylbewerbern eine Aufenthaltserlaubnis erteilen. Insgesamt sind derzeit von rund 230.000 Ausreisepflichtigen drei Viertel geduldet.
      Seehofer will Regeln verschärfen

      Problematisch ist dieser Spagat zwischen Ausreisepflicht und Integrationsanstrengungen, wenn der Geduldete die Gründe für seine Duldung selbst zu verantworten hat; beispielsweise wenn er deswegen nicht abgeschoben werden kann, weil sein Herkunftsstaat nicht bekannt ist und er nicht dabei mithilft, dass die deutschen Behörden in Zusammenarbeit mit den Botschaften der mutmaßlichen Herkunftsstaaten seine Identität feststellen können.

      Deswegen möchte das von Horst Seehofer (CSU) geführte Bundesinnenministerium Ausreisepflichtigen die Duldung in solchen Fällen entziehen. In einem Referentenentwurf des Ministeriums für ein „Zweites Gesetz zur besseren Durchsetzung der Ausreisepflicht“ – der allerdings noch mit den anderen Ministerien abgestimmt und dann noch vom Bundeskabinett und schließlich vom Bundestag beschlossen werden muss – heißt es: „Wer seine Abschiebung selbst verhindert, zum Beispiel weil er die Behörden über Identität oder Staatsangehörigkeit täuscht oder an der Passersatzbeschaffung nicht ausreichend mitwirkt, darf künftig keine Duldung mehr erhalten.“

      Und weiter heißt es in dem Entwurf, der WELT vorliegt: „Die Behörden bestätigen dann vielmehr nur noch die vollziehbare Ausreisepflicht. Dem Ausländer wird eine Bescheinigung über die vollziehbare Ausreisepflicht (Ausreiseaufforderung) erteilt, hiermit ist eine zuvor erteilte Duldung widerrufen.“

      Seehofers Haus möchte demnach „Ausreisepflichtige, denen die fehlende Durchsetzung ihrer Ausreisepflicht zuzurechnen ist, etwa weil sie ihre Identität verschleiern“, von „denjenigen, die unverschuldet nicht ausreisen können, unterscheiden und stärker sanktionieren“.

      Exklusiv für Abonnenten
      Wolfgang Büscher hat eine Ahnung, was viele Bürger in der deutschen Migrationspolitik vermissen

      Fehlanreize zum rechtswidrigen Verbleib in Deutschland trotz vollziehbarer Ausreisepflicht werden nach dem Referentenentwurf „durch bessere Unterscheidung Ausreisepflichtiger danach, ob sie unverschuldet an der Ausreise gehindert sind oder ihnen die fehlende Möglichkeit zur Durchsetzung ihrer Ausreisepflicht zugerechnet werden muss, beseitigt.“ Dazu werde der Status „Bescheinigung über die vollziehbare Ausreisepflicht (Ausreiseaufforderung)“ unterhalb der Duldung eingeführt.

      Weiter heißt es: „Staatliche Erlaubnisse und Leistungen, die an den Duldungsstatus anknüpfen, werden umfänglich an die Pflicht des Betroffenen geknüpft, in zumutbarem Umfang selbst notwendige Handlungen zur Erlangung eines Passes oder Passersatzes vorzunehmen.“ Wer zur Gruppe der abgelehnten Asylbewerber mit einer solchen Bescheinigung über die vollziehbare Ausreisepflicht gehöre, werde von Integrationsangeboten und anderen Angeboten, die zur „Aufenthaltsverfestigung“ führen können, ausgeschlossen.

      Wer die im Aufenthaltsrecht festgeschriebene Passbeschaffungspflicht nicht erfülle, habe Sanktionen zu erwarten. „Diese Sanktionsmöglichkeit betrifft die Erlaubnis einer Erwerbstätigkeit, die Erteilung einer Ausbildungsduldung, die Wohnsitzauflage, die Anordnung einer räumlichen Beschränkung sowie die Anspruchseinschränkungen bei Leistungen nach dem Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz.“

      Zudem sei dem Betroffenen „die Unmöglichkeit der Abschiebung insbesondere zuzurechnen, wenn er Staatsangehöriger eines sicheren Herkunftsstaates“ ist. Von dieser im Referentenentwurf beschriebenen Gesetzesverschärfung dürften aber nur wenige geduldete abgelehnte Asylbewerber betroffen sein, als sogenannte sichere Herkunftsstaaten sind außerhalb Europas nur Senegal und Ghana eingestuft. Alle Bestrebungen, weitere Staaten als „sicher“ einzustufen, scheitern bisher am Bundesrat beziehungsweise am Widerstand jener dort vertretenen Landesregierungen, die von Linkspartei oder Grünen – mit Ausnahme Baden-Württembergs – mitgetragen werden.

      Exklusiv für Abonnenten
      ARCHIV - 09.11.2018, Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart: Winfried Kretschmann (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Ministerpräsident von Baden-Württemberg, stellt im Haus der Wirtschaft sein Buch «Worauf wir uns verlassen können» vor. (zu dpa «JAHRESWECHSEL Die wichtigsten Ereignisse in der Südwest-Politik 2018» vom 28.12.2018) Foto: Christoph Schmidt/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

      Und wie oben beschrieben: Dies ist ein Referentenentwurf des Bundesinnenministeriums, der vom Interesse an einer stärkeren Durchsetzung der Ausreisepflicht geprägt ist. In der Vergangenheit wurden ähnliche Gesetzentwürfe in der Ressortabstimmung – vor allem mit dem Bundesjustizministerium – „entschärft“, wie Verfechter des Bleibeinteresses abgelehnter Asylbewerber sagen würden.

      Deswegen heißt das geplante Gesetz auch „Zweites Gesetz zur besseren Durchsetzung der Ausreisepflicht“. Das erste „Gesetz zur besseren Durchsetzung der Ausreisepflicht“ von 2017 hat sich wegen dieser Entschärfungen bisher nicht in höheren Abschiebungszahlen niedergeschlagen. Im Gegenteil.

      Diese sind von 25.375 im Jahr 2016 auf 23.966 Abschiebungen im Jahr 2017 gesunken. Für das vergangene Jahr 2018 wurden die Zahlen noch nicht endgültig ermittelt, es dürfte aber erneut ein leichter Rückgang verzeichnet worden sein. Zum Vergleich: Allein 2018 lehnte das Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) 75.395 Asylanträge ab und entschied in weiteren 65.507 Fällen negativ wegen einer sonstigen Verfahrenserledigung.

      Für Letztere kann der Grund sein, dass ein Asylbewerber während des Verfahrens weiter- oder ausgereist ist oder auch weil das BAMF die Zuständigkeit eines anderen europäischen Staates aufgrund der Dublin-Verordnung feststellt. Auch von diesen „Dublin-Fällen“ wird bis heute nur ein kleiner Teil in den zuständigen Staat zurückgebracht.
      Bamf bekommt mehr Zeit zur Bearbeitung von Asylanträgen

      Das Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge kommt mit der Bearbeitung der Asylanträge nicht hinterher. Nun soll die Frist von drei auf vier Jahre verlängern werden.

      https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article188020179/Asylbewerber-Keine-Duldung-mehr-bei-falscher-Identitaet.html

      #Seehofer

  • Bundespressekonferenz zum #Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz am 19.12.18

    Bundespressekonferenz zum Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz mit Peter #Altmaier (Bundesminister für Wirtschaft und Energie), Hubertus #Heil (Bundesminister für Arbeit und Soziales) und Horst #Seehofer (Bundesminister des Innern, für Bau und Heimat).

    #Beschäftigungsduldung
    #3+2_Regelung #Ausbildungsduldung
    #Identitätsklärung

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws_fmcoZu-U

    #Allemagne #immigration #loi_d'immigration #clarification_d'identité #conférence

    • La 3+2 Regelung concerne les demandeurs d’asile en formation professionnelle (berufliche Ausbildung) —> après le rejet de la demande d’asile c’est possible de demander une tolérance pour continuer leur formation professionnelle (Ausbidungsduldung). Les formations professionnelles en Allemagne sont généralement d’une durée de 3 ans. Ensuite la personne peut demander une tolérance (de 2 ans renouvelable) pour poursuivre l’emploi suite à la formation professionnelle (Beschäftigungsduldung). Donc 3 ans Ausbildungsduldung + 2 ans Beschäftigungsduldung = 3+2 Regelung.

      La nouvelle loi d’immigration, entrée en vigueur prévu pour janvier 2020, vise à calrifier la 3+2 Regelung au niveau national (actuellement la mise en ouvre depend des Länder et surtout des services d’immigration (Ausländerbehörden)).

      L’idée mentionné dans la conférence ci-dessus est : « nicht die falschen abzuschieben [sic] ». Les demandeurs d’asile en formationen professionnelle contribuent à l’économie et à la prospérité du pays et selon les ministres : au lieu de faire venir des personnes des pays tiers c’est mieux de garder ceux et celles qui sont déjà arrivé.es...citation de Heil concernat les travailleur.ses immigré.es des années 60 « [...] weil Arbeitskräfte kommen sollten und es kamen Menschen [sic] » - Heil fait appel à éviter une même situation.

      ...donc en prenant Heil au mot : on veut des travailleur.ses et pas des êtres humains pour l’économie allemande ?

      La loi est toujours en discussion - à voir les possibilités pour venir légalement depuis les pays tiers en Allemagne pour travailler...

    • Pressemitteilung des Bayerischen Flüchtlingsrats vom 20.12.2018

      Ausgebremst – die Beschäftigungsduldung ist eine weitere Lösungsverweigerung

      Bayerischer Flüchtlingsrat fordert eine integrative Wende in der Arbeitsmarktpolitik für Flüchtlinge und Geduldete

      Die Regierungskoalition hat mit der Beschäftigungsduldung einen Vorschlag vorgelegt, nach dem Flüchtlinge in Arbeit eine Aufenthaltsperspektive bekommen können. Die Bundesregierung zeigt sich zufrieden mit dem Kompromiß, hilfreich für Flüchtlinge und Geduldete ist er nicht. An die Erteilung sind viele Bedingungen geknüpft. Vor allem müssen mögliche Begünstigte schon eine Arbeitserlaubnis haben. Gerade hier haben die Ausländerbehörden die Möglichkeit, etwaige Verbesserungen ins Leere laufen zu lassen. Nötig ist nach Ansicht des Bayerischen Flüchtlingsrats eine angemessenere Erteilung der Beschäftigungserlaubnis, die einer Duldung vorausgeht.

      „Wem die Ausländerbehörden erst gar keine Arbeitserlaubnis erteilen will, dem nützt auch eine Beschäftigungsduldung nichts. Schon die Ausbildungsduldung scheitert in Bayern daran, dass viele Flüchtlinge zwar einen Ausbildungsvertrag bei einer Firma vorlegen können, aber dann keine Erlaubnis durch die Ausländerbehörde bekommen. Der kleine Teil derer, denen eine Ausbildung gestattet wird, dem verweigert dann die Ausländerbehörde meist die Ausbildungsduldung. Wir gehen davon aus, dass in ganz Bayern weniger als 50 Ausbildungsduldungen erteilt worden sind. Mit der jetzt beschlossenen Beschäftigungsduldung wird man ähnlich verfahren“, kritisiert Stephan Dünnwald, Sprecher des Bayerischen Flüchtlingsrats.

      „Das Problem liegt darin, dass die Ausländerbehörde vielen Asylsuchenden und Geduldeten die Integration in Arbeit oder Ausbildung verweigert, auch wenn sie gar nicht abgeschoben werden können. So stecken viele Asylsuchende und Geduldete in Bayern in einer Sackgasse fest – mit fatalen Folgen für die Integration. Die Beschäftigungsduldung wird dieses Problem nicht beheben, sondern ist nicht mehr als ein Schönheitspflästerchen. Hier hat es die Bayerische Staatsregierung in der Hand, endlich auch sozialpolitisch verantwortlich die Weichen in Richtung Integration zu stellen. Das würde auch der bayerischen Wirtschaft entgegenkommen."

    • Pressemitteilung 19.12.2018

      Deutschland braucht ein modernes Einwanderungsgesetz

      Zur heutigen Vorstellung des Gesetzentwurfs der Bundesregierung zur Fachkräfteeinwanderung erklärt Filiz Polat, Sprecherin für Integrations- und Migrationspolitik:

      Der heute vorgelegte Entwurf ist enttäuschend. Der ohnehin schon zu kurz greifende Gesetzentwurf wird gleichzeitig von Seiten der Union strittig gestellt. Aus dem Asylstreit im Sommer hat die Union anscheinend nichts dazugelernt und bremst aufgrund interner Streitereien die Regierungsarbeit aus. Die Forderungen der Verbände, der Wirtschaft und der Unternehmen bleiben ungehört. Der schwarz-roten Koalition fehlen Mut und Innovationskraft für einen großen Wurf in der Migrationspolitik. Dabei wäre ein wirksames und praxistaugliches Einwanderungsgesetz keine Wohltat, sondern notwendig und längst überfällig.

      Die neu geschaffene Einwanderungsmöglichkeit zur Berufsausbildung wird mit so hohen Voraussetzungen überfrachtet, dass diese in der Praxis zur Einzelfallregelung verkommen wird. Die Ausbildungs- und Beschäftigungsduldung ist nicht nur unzureichend, sondern bedeutet für tausende geduldete Menschen in Ausbildung und Arbeit und ihre Arbeitgeberinnen und Arbeitgeber, dass trotz Integration durch Arbeit die Abschiebung bevorstehen kann.

      Deutschland braucht ein modernes Einwanderungsgesetz, das imstande ist, die großen vor uns liegenden Herausforderungen ohne ideologische Scheuklappen zu bewältigen - vom Fachkräftemangel bis zum demografischen Wandel. Dafür haben wir als grüne Bundestagsfraktion einen eigenen Gesetzentwurf vorgelegt. Mit unserem Entwurf führen wir eine Talentkarte für Arbeitskräfte ein. Einwandernde können sich so in Deutschland unbürokratisch einen Job suchen - und für sich und ihre Familie eine neue Zukunft in Deutschland aufbauen. Im Mittelpunkt steht ein punktebasiertes System mit klaren, transparenten und flexiblen Kriterien, die durch eine Kommission festlegt werden sollen. Dies hilft den Einwanderungswilligen und den Unternehmen. Das Einwanderungsgesetz sollte ein wichtiger Baustein der Migrationspolitik in einer globalisierten Welt sein und verlässliche und zeitgemäße Regelungen schaffen auch für diejenigen, die bereits hier sind. Mit dem Gesetzentwurf der GroKo wird das nicht gelingen. Es ist an der Zeit für ein Einwanderungsgesetz, das diesen Namen auch verdient.

      Den grünen Entwurf für ein Einwanderungsgesetz (BT-Drucksache 19/6542) finden Sie hier:

      http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/19/065/1906542.pdf

      https://www.gruene-bundestag.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/2018/dezember/deutschland-braucht-ein-modernes-einwanderungsgesetz.html

    • Fachkräftemangel: Arbeitsminister Heil will Vorrangprüfung für Asylbewerber dauerhaft aussetzen

      Die Bundesregierung will die Vorrangprüfung bei der Beschäftigung von Asylbewerbern und geduldeten Flüchtlingen dauerhaft abschaffen. „Das Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales hat die Absicht, im Einvernehmen mit den Ländern die Aussetzung der Vorrangprüfung durch Ministerverordnung in allen Agenturbezirken zu entfristen“, teilte eine Ministeriumssprecherin auf Anfrage des Handelsblatts mit. Dazu habe das Ministerium die Länder um Stellungnahme gebeten. Die Abstimmung mit den anderen Ressorts solle „zeitnah“ eingeleitet werden.

      Asylbewerber, deren Verfahren noch nicht abgeschlossen ist, und Geduldete dürfen nach bestimmten Aufenthaltsfristen in Deutschland arbeiten. Ursprünglich musste in den ersten 15 Monaten aber die Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA) prüfen, ob es für die Stelle nicht auch einen geeigneten deutschen Bewerber oder EU-Bürger gibt.

      Diese Pflicht zur sogenannten Vorrangprüfung hatte die Bundesregierung im August 2016 per Verordnung aufgehoben. Sie stellte den Ländern damals aber frei, einzelne Regionen auszunehmen – etwa, weil die Arbeitslosigkeit dort weiter hoch ist. 23 der insgesamt 156 Agenturbezirke der BA hielten an der Vorrangprüfung fest, sie liegen in Bayern, im Ruhrgebiet und in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

      Allerdings hatte die Bundesregierung die Aussetzung bis zum August dieses Jahres befristet. Diese Befristung soll nun aufgehoben werden. Das Ministerium weist aber darauf hin, dass die Vorrangprüfung „jederzeit per Verordnung ganz oder teilweise wieder eingeführt werden“ könne, etwa wenn die Arbeitsmarktlage dies geboten erscheinen lasse.

      In den 23 Agenturbezirken der BA, in denen die Vorrangprüfung noch gilt, wurden im vergangenen Jahr nur 110 Asylbewerber und 24 Geduldete auf Jobsuche abgelehnt, weil sich für die betreffende Stelle auch Deutsche oder EU-Bürger beworben hatten. In gut 80 Fällen wurden Anträge abgelehnt, weil es andere Bewerber gab und zusätzlich die Arbeitskonditionen nicht stimmten.

      Die Arbeitsagentur muss nämlich – unabhängig von der Vorrangprüfung – in jedem Fall sicherstellen, dass Flüchtlinge nicht zu ungünstigeren Bedingungen eingestellt werden als vergleichbare deutsche Arbeitnehmer. Hier hat die Behörde im vergangenen Jahr in insgesamt knapp 8.000 Fällen ihr Veto eingelegt. In knapp 121.000 Fällen hat die BA ihr Okay gegeben, dass Asylbewerber oder Geduldete eine Beschäftigung aufnehmen dürfen.

      An diesem Mittwoch will das Bundeskabinett einen Gesetzentwurf von Arbeitsminister Hubertus Heil (SPD) verabschieden, der Flüchtlingen und generell Ausländern besseren Zugang zur Ausbildungsförderung verschaffen soll. Sozialverbände wie der Paritätische Gesamtverband hatten darauf hingewiesen, dass diese Förderung wenig bringe, wenn gleichzeitig der Zugang zum Arbeitsmarkt durch Wiedereinführung der Vorrangprüfung erschwert würde.
      Auch Seehofer mit einem Gesetzesentwurf

      Neben dem Ausländerbeschäftigungsförderungsgesetz wird das Kabinett auch über eine Anpassung der Asylbewerberleistungen entscheiden. Die Geldleistung wird leicht angehoben, weil die Lebenshaltungskosten seit der letzten Anpassung gestiegen sind. Diese Maßnahme soll aber „kostenneutral“ umgesetzt werden, und zwar indem Geflüchtete, die in Gemeinschaftsunterkünften leben, künftig so behandelt werden, als lebten sie in einer Partnerschaft. Das heißt, für sie gilt ein niedrigerer Regelsatz.

      Von Bundesinnenminister Horst Seehofer (CSU) steht das sogenannte Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz auf der Tagesordnung der Ministerrunde. Es sieht eine Art „Duldung light“ und niedrigere Sozialleistungen für Flüchtlinge vor, die bei der Klärung ihrer Identität oder bei der Beschaffung von Ausweisdokumenten nicht kooperieren.

      Außerdem soll das Gesetz für eine verbesserte Durchsetzung der Ausreisepflicht von abgelehnten Asylbewerbern sorgen, etwa durch eine Absenkung der Ausweisungsschwellen oder erleichterte Möglichkeiten, Ausreisepflichtige in Haft zu nehmen.

      Besonders umstritten ist das Vorhaben, den Ländern zeitlich befristet zu erlauben, Abschiebehäftlinge in regulären Haftanstalten unterzubringen. Damit würde das geltende Trennungsgebot ausgehebelt. Alle Justizminister der Bundesländer mit Ausnahme Bayerns lehnen dies ab. Hierüber wird es sicher noch kontroverse Debatten im Bundesrat geben. Allerdings ist das Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz nicht zustimmungspflichtig.

      Mit der Verabschiedung von Seehofers Gesetz im Bundeskabinett wird auch der Weg frei, die schon im Dezember vom Kabinett verabschiedeten Gesetze zur Fachkräfteeinwanderung und zur Duldung von gut in den Arbeitsmarkt integrierten Flüchtlingen im Bundestag zu behandeln. Die Union hatte die Verabschiedung des Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetzes zur Bedingung dafür gemacht, dass das parlamentarische Verfahren zum Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz eingeleitet wird.

      https://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/deutschland/fachkraeftemangel-arbeitsminister-heil-will-vorrangpruefung-fuer-asylbewerber-dauerhaft-aussetzen/24227504.html?ticket=ST-1688870-1KDF2PFxcBLJ02eVGSF1-ap4