17 November - 7 December 2020

Including:

  • Frontex: Billion-euro border agency sues transparency activists
  • Locked up and excluded: Informal and illegal detention in Spain, Greece, Italy and Germany
  • European Parliament: compliance with migration control measures should be a condition for receiving EU development aid
  • UK: Deadly crossings: nearly 300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999
  • Addicted to denial: Greek government dismisses official report documenting pushbacks to Turkey

03 December 2020

European Parliament: Frontex director should resign, say Socialists & Democrats

The Socialists & Democrats group in the European Parliament, made up of centre-left parties from across the EU, is demanding calling for Fabrice Leggeri, director of EU border agency Frontex, to quit. The MEPs consider that Leggeri's performance at a recent hearing of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee, where "he failed to answer questions relating to the agency's involvement in pushbacks at the EU's external borders," warrants his resignation.


02 December 2020

Senegal: French and Spanish officers deployed to check documents at Dakar airport

Passengers at Dakar airport have recently passed through exit checks only to find themselves confronted by French and Spanish officials demanding to see their papers. The officials have reportedly been deployed as "mentors" for Senegalese border guards; their presence is part of "a joint operational program" between Senegal and the EU. Passengers at the airport say they did not see any Senegalese officials accompanying the French and Spanish guards - which raises questions over how exactly the "mentoring" program works - and have expressed indignation that foreign officials are deployed in such a manner, highlighting that it is impossible to imagine the situation in reverse.


02 December 2020

Frontex: Billion-euro border agency sues transparency activists

Frontex, the EU’s border and coast guard agency, has launched a case against independent activists Luisa Izuzquiza and Arne Semsrott, who last year lost a court case against the agency seeking greater transparency over its border control operations.


02 December 2020

Locked up and excluded: Informal and illegal detention in Spain, Greece, Italy and Germany

A new report from the Migreurop network looks at the changing practices of informal administrative detention used by four EU member states in 2019. A key argument of the report is that the detention of non-nationals is increasingly taking place "outside or at the margins of existing legal frameworks."


02 December 2020

Frontex officials preventing information on pushbacks reaching HQ, says report

A report in The New York Times says that Frontex officials have been discouraging the filing of reports on pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border.


02 December 2020

Frontex: thumbs-up for the "Management Board Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Legal and Operational Aspects of Operations"

Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of Frontex, has signalled his approval for a working group set up by the agency's Management Board that will look into recent allegations of pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border taking place with the agency's knowledge. However, the main focus of the working group seems to be the issue of "hybrid threats" to internal security. The relationship between the agency's alleged involvement in illegal activity and the possible existence of "hybrid threats" is unclear.


01 December 2020

UK-France: New measures against migration across the Channel announced

On 28 November, the UK and France signed the latest agreement aimed at cracking down on irregular migration across the Channel. The plan includes a doubling of the number of French police patrolling the coastline and the deployment of "cutting edge surveillance technology - including drones, radar equipment, optronic binoculars and fixed cameras."


30 November 2020

EU: Tracking the Pact: Turning European Union Territory into a non-Territory

"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."


27 November 2020

Spain: Ombudsman demands immediate closure of the Arguineguín migrant camp to protect human rights

The Spanish Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) has written to the interior ministry to demand the immediate closure of the camp set up by the government in the port of Arguineguín on Gran Canaria to host migrants who have arrived by sea. The Ombudsman says that the camp is putting people's physical integrity at risk, and people have been detained for longer than permitted by law. It would be possible for the Ombudsman to take legal proceedings in the case of inaction. The interior ministry insists it is working to dismantle the camp, which was set up following the recent arrival of large numbers of people via the crossing from West Africa.


27 November 2020

European Parliament: compliance with migration control measures should be a condition for receiving EU development aid

On Wednesday the European Parliament voted in favour of a report that says the provision of development aid by the EU should depend on recipient states' compliance with "migration management" measures. A last-minute amendment by the MEP responsible for the file reversed the original position of the report. Human rights groups have condemned the move.


27 November 2020

Italy: Release from immigration detention during the pandemic shaped by "gendered and racialised notions" of vulnerability and danger

A report by an international group of academics finds that although the Italian government took steps to release people from immigration detention due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the reduction "has been governed by selective logics of social control. Logics which have ultimately established a sort of ‘hierarchy of detention deservingness.’" This logic is centred on "gendered and racialised notions of 'vulnerability' and 'dangerousness'," with women and asylum-seekers released first, with other groups - homeless people, those with criminal records - continuing to be held and even being placed in detention during the pandemic.


27 November 2020

EU: Tracking the Pact: Mediterranean Subsaharan Migration Trade Union Network recommendations on the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum

In mid-September, prior to the European Commission's publication of the new 'Pact on Migration and Asylum', the Mediterranean Subsaharan Migration Trade Union Network issued a set of recommendations. The group called for a number of positive measures, including an increase in safe and legal channels for migrants to seek work in the EU, the simpification of entry conditions, more possibilities for individuals to regularize their status within the EU, an end to the detention of migrants, a halt to externalization policies and transparency over readmission agreements.


27 November 2020

EU: Deportations and 'voluntary' returns: Frontex plans and new mandate options, "effective and sustainable reintegration of returnees"

Five documents discussed by the Council of the EU's Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion in March this year.


26 November 2020

EU: Tracking the Pact: Meijers Committee analysis of asylum proposals

The Meijers Committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law have analysed a number of the proposals published as part of the European Commission's Pact on Migration and Asylum. The committee examines the Asylum Screening Regulation, the Asylum Procedures Regulation, the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation, the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation, the Strategy on the Future of Schengen and provide some general comments. Serious concerns are expressed over the proposals, in particular with regard to the use of detention, limits to legal assistance for individuals seeking protection, a lack of oversight mechanisms and the situation for unaccompanied children, amongst other things.


25 November 2020

UK: Deadly crossings: nearly 300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999

A new report documents the nearly-300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999. The report, by the Institute of Race Relation, the Permanent People's Tribunal London and Gisti, aims to "challenge the idea that the result of this massacre is misfortune" and lays the blame squarely on the action - and inaction - of the British and French authorities. It seeks to document the stories of those that have died at the border and calls for fundamental changes to the model of criminalisation and securitisation employed on both sides of the Channel.


24 November 2020

UK: Divesting from immigration policing – the abolitionist challenge

Liz Fekete of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) argues that campaigns for migrant and refugee rights have often taken an implicitly 'abolitionist' approach - but that now is the time to make abolitionist demands more prominently, in order to dismantle the 'law and order' approach to immigration that has caused, and continues to cause, so much harm to individuals and society more broadly.


24 November 2020

‘This is hypocrisy’ – A Q&A with Giulia Tranchina on European migration policy in Libya

"Few know as much about the daily horrors facing migrants and refugees in Libya as Giulia Tranchina. For years, the London-based immigration solicitor specialised in asylum and human rights work has been in daily contact with refugees in Libya via messaging apps, spending much of her free time trying to expose their plight. Tranchina’s work on Libya has been covered by numerous international media, including The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, The Times, The New York Times and many others. In this interview, Tranchina discusses European efforts to keep refugees and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean and how UN agencies often fail to protect them."


24 November 2020

Proceedings of the conference “Externalisation of borders: detention practices and denial of the right to asylum”

The event, organized by ASGI in the framework of the projects Sciabaca and Oruka, was held in Lagos, Nigeria from 25 to 27 February 2020.


24 November 2020

Frontex awards €50 million in border surveillance drone contracts to Airbus, IAI and Elbit

The EU border agency, Frontex, recently awarded contracts for border surveillance by drone to the companies Airbus, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit. For Airbus and IAI, the contracts follow on from trial flights conducted in 2018. The surveillance arrangement will see one of the three companies contracted for specific missions in response to calls from Frontex. The agency expects to seek "2000-3000 contracted hours [of surveillance] in total" every year; the deal will initially run for two years but maybe extended for two more.


24 November 2020

Greek authorities ordered pushback to Turkey, documents show

Internal emails obtained by EUobserver show that the Greek authorities ordered that a group of people be pushed back to Turkey. The case came to public attention earlier this year when a Danish coast guard vessel operating in the Aegean as part of a Frontex mission refused to carry out the orders. Despite mounting evidence, the Greek government continues to deny that its officials have ever been involved in any form of pushback, and the revelations also raise questions for EU border agency Frontex.


20 November 2020

Addicted to denial: Greek government dismisses official report documenting pushbacks to Turkey

In the face of well-founded accusations from NGOs and journalists, the Greek government has continuously and vehemently denied that its officials engage in pushbacks at the borders. Now the Council of Europe's anti-torture committee (CPT) has documented the practice and it also demanding that it halt - but the Greek government is sticking to the same line.


19 November 2020

Greece: Moria: Logbook of horrors

In the smouldering ruins of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, a journalist found a logbook kept by employees of the International Organization for Migration tasked with looking after unaccompanied minors. Although unaccompanied children were housed in a so-called "safe zone", entries in the book reveal it to be anything but.


19 November 2020

European Ombudsman to investigate human rights violations at Croatian borders

The European Ombudsman is taking aim at alleged human rights violations at the EU's borders. As well as a recently-announced inquiry into Frontex's compliance with its fundamental rights obligations, the watchdog agency is to investigate the alleged failure by Croatia to set up a human rights monitoring mechanism at the borders following receipt of EU funds, and the European Commission's failure to ensure that the country did so.


19 November 2020

New reports explore migration, racism and digital technologies

Three recent reports take a close look at the ways in which the increasing use of digital technologies in migration management and border control can compound existing forms of discrimination and inequality, at the same time as creating and contributing to new types of discrimination.


18 November 2020

Frontex: multi-million euro contracts signed while lobby register still in the works

Frontex has issued 21 calls for tender with an estimated value of over €210 million since the entry into force of its new Regulation in December 2019.


17 November 2020

Frontex: will a Management Board "sub-group" find the truth about pushbacks?

On Tuesday last week, an extraordinary Frontex Management Board meeting was called by Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, following allegations that the agency has been involved in illegal pushbacks of migrants from Greece. During the meeting, the Commission presented questions for Frontex to answer by the end of the month, when another Management Board meeting will be held. A "sub-group" has now been set up by the Board to investigate allegations of abuse and other matters.


 

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