25 March - 16 April 2021

We are delighted to unveil our updated and improved Observatory on Frontex, focusing on its transparency and accountability, alongside a policy brief by Ilaria Aversa and Mariana Gkliati on ongoing investigations and inquiries into the agency's activities. This round-up includes news on Frontex's denial that it recruits informants (despite acquiring training to do so) and internal letters that shed light on the agency's failure to recruit fundamental rights officers and moves to restrain their independence. Further, plans are afoot to use AI as a "forecasting and early warning tool for migration" and set up a biometric population database in Senegal to facilitate the deportation of its citizens from the European Union. 

Elsewhere, APDHA reports that a record number of people (1,700) died while trying to reach Spanish territory in 2020, a protest against EU migration and asylum policies was held outside the CDU's headquarters in Berlin, and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was asked to explain inconsistencies between her testimony before the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee and the findings of an independent inspection on disused military barracks used to house asylum-seekers.  

A call for renewed action to protect the rights of migrants, refugees and people on the move across the globe came from the European Social Forum on Migration, in a Declaration by "300 social movements, civil society organisations, migrants' associations, unions, migrant and refugee people activists and academics". Evidence of such problems includes a Jesuit Refugee Service report on the pandemic's effects on asylum seeker reception facilities, the 10-year anniversary (without justice) of the "Left-to-Die" boat in which 63 people perished despite authorities knowing about it, while the expulsion of human rights defender Helena Maleno (of Caminando Fronteras) from Morocco reminds us that externalised EU migration policy leads to concerted EU and third-state attacks against solidarity, civil society and the right to information.

Regarding the European Pact on Asylum and Immigration whose adoption procedure is under discussion, the Council Legal Service identified problems in proposed measures, including the Commission resorting to "hybrid acts" by drawing on various legal sources in ways that undermine the EU legal order's coherence. 


14 April 2021

Senegal: biometric population database will facilitate deportations, restricted EU document confirms

The completion of a national biometric population database in Senegal would facilitate the forced removal of more Senegalese citizens from the EU by allowing for a “consolidated” identification procedure, according to a restricted European Commission document obtained by Statewatch.


13 April 2021

Spain: Government must take action to protect human rights defender Helena Maleno

An open letter is calling on the government of Spain to act to protect Helena Maleno, a human rights defender who has saved tens of thousands of lives and who was recently violently deported from Morocco, where she has lived for 20 years, and separated from her daughter in the process.


12 April 2021

EU: Artificial intelligence: "forecasting and early warning tool for migration" and "data spaces in law enforcement"

Two studies contracted by the European Commission on potential applications of "artificial intelligence" in home affairs were recently published: one concerning "a forecasting and early warning tool for migration"; and the other on "technical requirements for data spaces in law enforcement".


12 April 2021

The ‘Left-To-Die boat’ : ten years on, it’s more urgent than ever to obtain justice for the shipwrecked

A joint statement on the tenth anniversary of the 'Left-To-Die boat' case, in which 63 people died after being left adrift at sea despite multiple authorities and vessels knowing of their location and situation.


08 April 2021

EU: Tracking the Pact: Council Legal Service identifies problems with asylum and migration proposals

The Council Legal Service has been busy assessing measures proposed as part of the EU's Pact on Migration and Asylum and has identified a number of issues that need to be resolved if EU law is to be respected, according to a document obtained by Statewatch.


06 April 2021

EU: New report highlights impact of pandemic on reception facilities for asylum seekers

COVID-19 lockdown measures across Europe increased homelessness and destitution among asylum seekers due to evictions and the temporary closure of relevant administrations, says a new report by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).


06 April 2021

EU: Despite acquiring training on how to recruit informants, Frontex insists that it does not recruit informants

As previously reported by Statewatch, EU border agency Frontex acquired training from a private security company on the topic of “human intelligence”. Despite seeking lessons on “how to recruit an informant”, the agency has insisted that it does not recruit informants – rather, it “conducts interviews with migrants on a voluntary basis where the interviewed person's identity remains anonymous.”


01 April 2021

Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements of the European Social Forum on Migration

The Declaration, which is the outcome of a process involving "300 social movements, civil society organisations, migrants' associations, unions, migrant and refugee people activists and academics," calls for renewed action to protect the rights of migrants, refugees and people on the move across the globe.


31 March 2021

UK: Housing asylum seekers in disused barracks: "The Home Secretary must provide an explanation" for contradictory evidence

Home Secretary Priti Patel "must provide an explanation" for the contradiction between evidence she gave to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee and the findings of an independent inspection on disused military barracks being used to house asylum-seekers, says the chair of parliament's Home Affairs Committee.


30 March 2021

Germany: Protest against European asylum and migration policies at Christian Democratic Union headquarters

Press release from a demonstration organised at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Berlin. The CDU currently heads Germany's federal government. European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, is also a member of the party. According to the press release, the demonstration was against the "catastrophic and inhumane situation in camps at the European external borders," and the EU's asylum and migration policies more generally.


30 March 2021

Transparency and accountability of Frontex: re-launch of Statewatch Observatory and new policy briefing

Statewatch is today launching an updated and improved Observatory on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, providing a focal point for documentation and analysis on the role and activities of the agency. The re-launch of the Observatory is accompanied by a policy brief that provides an overview of all the ongoing investigations and inquiries into the activities of Frontex.


25 March 2021

Spain: More than 1,700 people lost their lives trying to reach Spain in 2020, the highest figure ever recorded

The Andalusian Association for Human Rights criticises the “vast resources” given to preventing migration, in contrast with the “absolute lack of investment in reception.” There was a 756% increase in arrivals in the Canary Islands in 2020.


25 March 2021

EU: Pushbacks scandal: Internal letters shed light on Frontex’s fundamental rights recruitment failures

As the work of the European Parliament’s working group scrutinising Frontex continues, we are publishing correspondence shared with the group by Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson. The documents shed new light on the dispute between the Commission and Frontex over the agency’s controversial attempts to recruit new staff for its Fundamental Rights Office.


 

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