25 January 2021
A new agreement between Frontex and Operation Irini aims to increase cooperation on "the promotion of European integrated border management standards" and "situational awareness and risk analysis". Critics are likely to question whether the agreement will support ‘pullbacks’ by the so-called Libyan coast guard.
Cooperation will primarily focus on "cross-border crime, such as arms trafficking and the disruption of the human smuggling business model and trafficking networks," says the agreement (pdf).
Given that both Frontex and Operation Irini provide data to the Libyan coast guard that allows it to carry out ‘pullbacks’ of people attempting to flee Libya, many are likely to be curious as to quite what this cooperation on “the disruption of the human smuggling business model” entails.
A Frontex press release said the agency “will be supporting Operation IRINI with information gathered as part of the agency’s risk analysis activities, such as tracking vessels of interests on the high seas, as well as data from its aerial surveillance in the Central Mediterranean.”
This appears to build on cooperation undertaken through the ‘Crime Information Cell’ (CIC), set up during Operation Irini’s predecessor, Operation Sophia. The purpose of the CIC is to “facilitate timely and two-way information exchange for analytical and operational use between Op Sophia and the relevant JHA agencies without creating new entities or changing their legal framework.”
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