01 April 2019
The European Parliament and the Council have agreed on new rules for Frontex - or the European Border and Coast Guard Agency as it is now formally known - including the setting up of a "standing corps" of 10,000 operational staff by 2027, executive powers for the agency's staff and the possibility for joint operations and deployments outside EU borders.
"Member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer maritime walls, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as virtual walls, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population."
Two new briefings by the EuroMediterranean Human Rights Network look at the implications for migrants and refugees of EU policies and financial aid to North African states. The first examines the main cooperation agreements aimed at realising the rights of migrants and refugees, while the second looks at policies and projects dedicated to border management "and their often negative consequences on the rights of persons migrating."
Border Violence Monitoring (link):
"A project documenting illegal push-backs and police violence inflicted by EU member state authorities, mainly on the borders of Serbia/Croatia, Serbia/Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina/Croatia."
"The main focus of the Mission, and that which will continue, is destroying the smugglers business model, that weaselly expression which covers so much. In practice, for this CSDP Mission it has meant destroying boats, leading to ever more rickety crafts setting sail. It has also contributed to training the Libyan Coastguard, activities widely criticized, including by ECRE."
UK: Majority of immigration removals called off amid concerns thousands of people wrongly targeted (The Independent, link):
"More than half of deportations from the UK are called off, The Independent can reveal raising concerns that thousands of people are being unfairly targeted for forcible removal.
Figures obtained through freedom of information law show that of the 24,674 removal directions issued last year, 15,200 were cancelled. Of these, more than two-thirds were called off within a week of the scheduled removal and 45 per cent within just one day.
Lawyers and campaigners said the cancelled removals were a waste of public money and a "damaging" symptom of the Home Offices detain first, ask questions later approach."
Study: Sexual torture widespread for migrants seeking Europe (Miami Herald, link):
"Migrants trying to reach Europe face routine rape and sexual torture throughout their journey and especially in Libya, with men facing abuse nearly as routinely as women, according to a study based on dozens of interviews with aid workers and migrants.
The graphic study released Monday by the Women's Refugee Commission comes as Europe has blocked rescues at sea and outsourced its migration policy to Libya's coast guard instead. With European Union funding, the Libyan coast guard retrieves migrants from the Mediterranean Sea and returns them to detention centers nominally run by the Libyan government, where migrants say the abuse resumes.
Smugglers torture migrants and film it to extract ransom payments from their families, and to thin the number of people in their unofficial prisons, according to the study. Previous studies have found that nearly all women who cross from North Africa have been raped or sexually abused along the journey; this one found that the danger was likely nearly as prevalent among men. A mental health worker described graves filled with men with their genitals sliced off a description corroborated by the account of a survivor of a mass mutilation."
You Cant Detain The Stubbornness of Freedom (PLAN C, link):
"Liberté, liberté! This chant belted out by 49 refugees and migrants in the moment of their landing at Lampedusa last Tuesday contains the real meaning of what has happened around the Mare Jonio over the last few days, Mediterraneas ship."
And in: Italian (link)
"Berlin is within its rights to deport asylum-seekers to other countries in the bloc, even if they'll encounter poor living conditions there, according to the EU's highest court. Exceptions apply only in extreme cases."
See the judgment: Case C-163/17: REQUEST for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 TFEU from the Verwaltungsgerichtshof Baden-Württemberg (Higher Administrative Court, Baden-Württemberg, Germany) (pdf)
"At times of reduced migration flows at EU external borders, the facilitation of illegal immigration within the EU poses a particular growing challenge. Law enforcement agencies across Europe also have to cope with increasingly exploitative criminal activities, associated with violence and serious harm to the life of irregular migrants. These are some of the findings of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC)s Annual Activity Report, released today on the occasion of the Annual Conference of Heads of Counter Migrant Smuggling Units, hosted by Europol at its headquarters in The Hague."
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