The EU’s border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on “secondary movements” and the “hotspots” within the EU. The intention is to ensure “situational awareness” and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.
Since 2001, almost €215 million has been provided to Morocco by the EU to finance border security projects. Initial efforts took place between 2001 and 2010 and, despite an interlude in which financial support was concerned with reform of the country’s migration policy, in 2018 funding for border security returned with a vengeance, with €140 million promised to Morocco – half of which comes from the EU Trust Fund for Africa. There is little publicly-available information on the results of these funding programmes, and human rights abuses against migrants and refugees committed by Moroccan authorities call into question whether financial support from the EU to Moroccan border security should continue, particularly given that development funding is supposed to aim at eradicating poverty.
A new report published by Statewatch and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) explains the EU's new rules on interoperable information systems and databases and examines the potential implications for people in an irregular migration situation.
Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the violations with impunity on the rights of migrants and refugees.
The revised Returns Directive is supposed to “speed up return procedures, prevent absconding and secondary movements, and increase the overall EU return rate, in full respect of fundamental rights.” This final point, however, is extremely doubtful. As this analysis makes clear, the key aim of the changes is to restrict individual rights in the name of improving the functioning of the EU’s deportation system. EU lawmakers should discard the proposal and focus on alternative measures that would be less harmful to individuals.
As the EU’s member states continue to discuss half-hearted plans for search and rescue and the disembarkation of migrants, they are also putting in place measures to prevent their own maritime safety authorities from carrying out rescues. At the same time, they are pressuring under-resourced and unwilling non-EU states to take on rescue tasks. As reports from Spain show, the results are deadly.
At the end of March, the European Commission and the Italian interior minister appeared to undermine one another both respectively and collectively through a sequence of messages that emerged as part of their efforts to assert the existence of a Libyan search and rescue (SAR) zone. The entire incident demonstrates how Italy and the European Commission are trying to assert the fiction of a Libyan SAR zone – financing it, providing resources and managing it – in order to neutralise concerns over both the north African country’s status as an unsafe place and their own humanitarian obligations.
The introduction of 5G telecommunications networks could render traditional “lawful interception” techniques used by the police obsolete, according to internal EU documents. Discussions on how to deal with the issue are ongoing – but are being kept behind closed doors. There is a need for a public discussion on this issue, as well as the closely-related topic of the surveillance potential of new technologies facilitated by 5G that threaten to introduce – in the words of a police think tank, no less – “major invasions of privacy and a fundamental, and at this stage unregulated, shift in the relationship between the police and the public.”
Do the police and government not have the required knowledge and experience for the violent repression they are enacting? Are they clumsy? There is neither an authoritarian drift, nor one towards a police-military state, but rather a dominant logic which excludes any negotiation. ‘Democratic’ fascism and what is called democracy always coexist, with the only likely outcome of provoking revolts which become increasingly fierce.
Examined alongside recent Council proposals, it appears that the approaches of the Italian government and the EU institutions to unauthorised sea arrivals are not necessarily that different.
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