Category Archives: Eastern Atlantic

Statewatch Analysis – “New EU rules on maritime surveillance: will they stop the deaths and push-backs in the Mediterranean?”

Statewatch last month released a new Analysis of the EU Regulation for Frontex-coordinated surveillance of external sea borders which is scheduled for a plenary vote in the European Parliament in April.  The Analysis, written by Prof. Steve Peers, Univ. of Essex Law School, reviews the enhanced protections to be afforded to intercepted or rescued migrants relative to the earlier Council Decision which was annulled by the CJEU.  The Analysis also highlights concerns with various provisions within the Regulation, including:

  • One significant concern with the Regulation is due to the fact that “the Regulation does not contemplate the scenario of migrants being intercepted in the territorial waters of third States.”  (Frenzen’s Note: This raises a serious concern in regard to the push-back and interception practices which have been carried out for many years within the territorial waters of Mauritania and Senegal within Frontex’s Operation Hera.  Additionally, prior to the Libyan revolution, Libya authorised Italy to conduct joint maritime patrols within Libyan territorial waters.  It is safe to assume that Frontex and some EU Member States will continue to seek the ability to intercept migrant boats within the territorial waters of third States.);
  • While the Regulation requires that migrants intercepted in the territorial sea or contiguous zone of an EU Member State be disembarked in that Member State, “this [requirement] is subject to a crucial exception: it is possible under the Regulation that a vessel that has made it this close to a Member State could still be ordered to alter course towards another destination.”;
  • While the bulk of the EU’s asylum legislation does not apply [to interceptions which occur outside of the territorial sea of a Member State,] the EU’s qualification Directive does – since there is nothing in the text of that Directive to limit its territorial scope. But the wording of the Regulation is confusing in this regard, since it does not refer to the detailed text of that Directive but rather to general standards on non-refoulement, which are different from that Directive in some respects….”;
  • Member States are required to “use all means” to identify intercepted migrants, assess their particular circumstances, and inform them of the intended place of disembarkation, in order to give the migrants the opportunity to assert a non-refoulement claim.  The Regulation states that the Frontex operational plan, “where necessary,” must provide for interpreters and legal advisors on shore. “[T]he Council Presidency points out the ‘wiggle room’ granted by the words ‘where necessary’ and ‘use all means.’”

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Frontex FRAN Report for Q2 2012

On 10 October Frontex released its FRAN (Frontex Risk Assessment Network) Quarterly Report for the Second Quarter of 2012 (April-June). As is always the case, the 70 page report contains a significant amount of information, graphs, and statistical tables regarding detections of illegal border crossings (land, air, and sea), irregular migration routes, detections of facilitators, detections of illegal stays, refusals of entry, asylum claims, returns, information regarding other illegal border activities, and more.  Here are some highlights (focusing on the sea borders):

Malta-  There was a significant increase in the number of Somalis reaching Malta. “Taking into account the professional planning of the trips, it is assumed that the modus operandi has changed and that Malta is now targeted on purpose, thereby replacing Italy as the preferred destination country for this nationality. The reason for this change has not yet been confirmed; however, in the past Malta resettled some Somali migrants in the United States and in some EU Member States, which might be acting as a pull factor.”

Spain-  “In this region there was a new modus operandi involving facilitators dropping off migrants in the Chafarinas Islands, a Spanish archipelago 2 nautical miles away from the Moroccan coastline.”

“As reported in the previous FRAN Quarterly, in February 2012 Moroccan and Spanish Ministers of Interior signed a police agreement to create two joint police stations in the Spanish (Algeciras) and Moroccan (Tangiers) territories to cooperate by exchanging operational information and best practices between different police services.”

Italy-  “Throughout the quarter, Italy and Tunisia cooperated efficiently to repatriate Tunisian nationals and so most migrants typically arrived undocumented to delay readmission.”

Central Mediterranean-    “[D]etections in the Central Mediterranean showed a seasonal increase but were much reduced (-86%) compared with the dramatic peak during the same period in 2011. Indeed, in the second quarter of 2012 detections in this region resembled the pre-Arab Spring levels reported during the summer of 2010. … The Central Mediterranean was recently affected by increased detections of Somalis, and a steady trend of Tunisians and Egyptians.”

“In Q2 2012, there were no Joint Operations running in the Central Mediterranean Sea, therefore Frontex and the FRAN community are unable to utilize intelligence obtained through the direct debriefing of migrants. However, valuable information has been obtained from interviews carried out by the Maltese authorities. Such preliminary interviews revealed that some of the Somali migrants arriving in Malta had been promised that they would be brought to Italy. They departed from an unknown location in Libya and travelled for up to three days in boats before either being intercepted by Maltese authorities or reaching the shore. The average fare was said to be around USD 1 000 per person.”

“Subsequent to the reporting period, JO Hermes 2012 was launched on 2 July and is currently planned to run until 31 October 2012 as a continuation of the deployment of JO Hermes Extension 2011, which ended just before the reporting period, on 31 March 2012. JO Hermes 2012 has been established to support the Italian authorities in tackling maritime irregular migration along the coasts of Sicily, Pantelleria and the Pelagic islands (Lampedusa, Linosa, Lampione).”

Western Mediterranean -   “Detections in the Western Mediterranean were almost equally comparable to Q2 2011…”

“JO EPN Indalo 2012 started on 16 May and is currently scheduled to run until 31 October 2012. So far the number of irregular migrants apprehended in the operational areas is almost double that of the same period in 2011. Analysis of the information provided by the Spanish authorities also indicates a new increasing trend in the number of Algerian and Moroccan migrants per boat since the beginning of 2012.”

Western Africa –  “[D]etections increased to a large degree, yet from lower bases, on the … Western African route (+29%).” “In the second quarter of 2012, there were just 31 detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, almost exclusively of Moroccan nationals.”

“As reported in previous FRAN Quarterlies, the Western African route from the north of Mauritania to the Western Sahara territory is being reopened by illegal migration facilitation networks. It has been inactive for years but recently an estimated 2 000 sub-Saharans (particularly from Senegal) settled in the Western Saharan coastal cities of El Aaioún and Dakhla and in the last few months ~20 000 Senegalese nationals have entered Mauritania along these routes to the north.”

“During the reporting period there was no Frontex operation relevant for the Western African Route.”

Eastern Mediterranean-  “Subsequent to the reporting period (July 2012), JO EPN Aeneas 2012 was launched and is currently scheduled to run until the end of October 2012. There are two operational areas, Apulia and Calabria, covering the seashore along the Ionian Sea and part of the Adriatic Sea.”

Here are extensive excerpts from the Report with a focus on the sea borders:

“Executive summary

Taken as a whole, in Q2 2012, detections of illegal border-crossing were reduced by nearly half compared to the same quarter in 2011 due to the simultaneous effects of the winding down of the Arab Spring and fewer Albanian circular migrants entering Greece. However, detections at the undisputed long-term hotspot for irregular migration – the Greek land border with Turkey – were some 25% higher than during the same period in 2011 due to increased detections of migrants from Bangladesh and particularly Syria. [***]

In the Central Mediterranean, where detections peaked in 2011 during the Arab Spring, migrants from Somalia were increasingly detected in Malta. Specifically, in May 2012 the arrival of Somali migrants in Malta increased significantly while Italy registered a decrease in the number of Somali migrants apprehended in Sicily and the Pelagic Islands. The detected Somalis were mainly young males many of whom had been imprisoned by police or military forces during their travels through Libya. Taking into account the professional planning of the trips, it is assumed that the modus operandi has changed and that Malta is now targeted on purpose, thereby replacing Italy as the preferred destination country for this nationality. The reason for this change has not yet been confirmed; however, in the past Malta resettled some Somali migrants in the United States and in some EU Member States, which might be acting as a pull factor. Also, there is some evidence that facilitation networks located in Malta have tried to forward migrants to Sicily. [***]

The Western Mediterranean route was apparently dominated by local migrants from Morocco and Algeria but with large numbers of unknown nationalities it is assumed that local migrants were also accompanied by long-distance migrants probably from sub-Saharan Africa. In this region there was a new modus operandi involving facilitators dropping off migrants in the Chafarinas Islands, a Spanish archipelago 2 nautical miles away from the Moroccan coastline. [***]

4.1 Detections of illegal border-crossing

Overall, in Q2 2012 there were 23 092 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which is a considerable if somewhat expected seasonal increase compared to the previous quarter, and a 44% decrease compared to the same period in 2011 amidst the influx of migrants during the Arab Spring. Taken as a whole, detections of illegal border-crossing in Q2 2012 were lower than in any other second quarter since FRAN reporting began. Most probably, the low number of detections was due to the overlapping effects of the end of the Arab Spring in its initial countries (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia) and far fewer detections of circular Albanian migrants in Greece. The vast majority of detections were at the EU external land border (77%). [***]

[***] Ranked third among border sections [after the Greece-Turkey land border and the Greece-Albania border section] in Q2 2012 was the blue border of Sicily, where Tunisians, Egyptians and Somalis were increasingly detected. [***]

Figure 2 shows the evolution of the FRAN Indicator 1A – detections of illegal border-crossing, and the proportion of detections between the land and sea borders of the EU per quarter since the beginning of 2008. The second quarter of each year is usually associated with improving weather conditions more favourable for approaching and illegally crossing the external border of the EU. Moreover, conditions that are more favourable for illegal border-crossing are also more favourable for detection. The combination of these two effects tends to produce the highest number of detections during the second quarter of each year. [***]

 2012-10-10_Frontex_FRAN_Q2_2012-FIG_2

Without question, during the second quarter of 2012 the migrants that were detected with the most increasing frequency were those from Bangladesh (+35%), Somalia (+62%), Algeria (+88%) and Syria (+639%) (Fig. 5). In fact, more migrants from Syria were detected than ever before (2 024). Detections of most of these nationalities were concentrated at the Greek land border with Turkey, with the exception of Somalis, who were mostly detected in Malta. Indeed, Somalis were particularly notable in that their detections were distributed across a very wide range of locations; as well as Malta and the Greek land border with Turkey, they were also detected in Sicily, Lampedusa and the Slovakian land border with the Ukraine. [***]

[M]igrants from Algeria were not only increasingly detected at the Greek land bor[d]er with Turkey, but also in the Spanish maritime region of Almeria and at the Romanian land border with Serbia.The latter case is assumed to represent secondary movements through the Western Balkans region.

4.2 Routes

In 2011, detections of illegal border-crossing on the Central Mediterranean route peaked briefly during the period of turbulent sociopolitical developments in North Africa, known as the Arab Spring. In contrast, on the Eastern Mediterranean route, detections have followed a remarkably seasonal pattern over the last two years. Throughout 2011 detections in the Western Mediterranean (land and sea borders with Spain) steadily increased.

As illustrated in Figure 6, the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes reported the most detections of illegal border-crossing in the second quarter of 2012, and were characterized with seasonal increases consistent with previous years, aside the Central Mediterranean region during the Arab Spring.

2012-10-10_Frontex_FRAN_Q2_2012-FIG_6

In Q2 2012, there were 14 125 detections of illegal border-crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean route, an increase of 27% compared to the same period in 2011 (Fig. 6) rendering this region the undisputed hotspot for illegal entries to the EU during the current reporting period. Elsewhere, detections in the Central Mediterranean showed a seasonal increase but were much reduced (-86%) compared with the dramatic peak during the same period in 2011. Indeed, in the second quarter of 2012 detections in this region resembled the pre-Arab Spring levels reported during the summer of 2010. Detections in the

Western Mediterranean were almost equally comparable to Q2 2011, whereas detections increased to a large degree, yet from lower bases, on the Eastern Borders route (+103%), Western Balkans route (+50%) and Western African route (+29%).

These routes not only differed in their magnitudes over time but also in the composition of detected nationalities. Consistent with previous periods, detections on the Eastern Mediterranean route were dominated by migrants from Afghanistan, and more recently Bangladesh, Algeria and Syria. The Central Mediterranean was recently affected by increased detections of Somalis, and a steady trend of Tunisians and Egyptians. [***]

[T]he Western Mediterranean route was apparently dominated by local migrants from Morocco and Algeria but with large numbers of unknown nationalities it is assumed that local migrants are also accompanied by other long-distance migrants probably from sub-Saharan Africa. The exception was the much less used Western African route, which was exclusively affected by local migrants from Morocco.

4.2.1. Eastern Mediterranean route

Since data collection began in early 2008, the Eastern Mediterranean has maintained its status as a major hotspot of irregular migration. Detections have followed a remarkably seasonal pattern invariably peaking in the third quarter of each year and concentrated at the border between Greece and Turkey, with a shift from the sea border to the land border visible in late 2009 (Fig. 7). Unusually, at the end of 2011 detections of illegal border- crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean rote remained almost constant between the third and final quarters of the year, resulting in the first recorded example of a sustained peak of detections at that time of year. This was due to an unexpected increase in detections at the Greek land border with Turkey, particularly in October. [***]

2012-10-10_Frontex_FRAN_Q2_2012-FIG_7

Italian Ionian Coast: For some time there has been a steady flow of Afghans and, to a lesser extent, Pakistanis arriving in the Southern Italian blue borders of Calabria and Apulia with some increases during Q2 2012.

Subsequent to the reporting period (July 2012), JO EPN Aeneas 2012 was launched and is currently scheduled to run until the end of October 2012. There are two operational areas, Apulia and Calabria, covering the seashore along the Ionian Sea and part of the Adriatic Sea.

According to Croatian open sources* in July, some 65 Asian and African migrants presumed to be heading to Italy were found drifting some 47 nautical miles south of Dubrovnik due to a broken engine (Fig. 12). They had been drifting for two days. The migrants, who had departed from Greece, did not want to be rescued by the Croatian authorities as they wanted to go to Italy. After several hours of negotiations, the authority for search and rescue towed the sailing boat to the nearest Croatian port.

There was also a recent increase in the numbers of Bangladeshis, Iraqis, Moroccans and Syrians arriving in Apulia from Greece but these detections were in much lower numbers than other nationalities. [***]

4.2.2. Central Mediterranean route

Irregular migration in the Central Mediterranean massively fluctuated in size and composition during 2011, largely due to the political and civil unrest across North Africa, particularly in Tunisia and Libya. Since Q4 2011, the situation has significantly improved following better cooperation between Italian and Tunisian authorities concerning the return of Tunisian nationals.

According to FRAN data, in Q2 2012 there were just 3 685 reported detections of illegal border-crossing on the Central Mediterranean route, a massive decrease compared to the peak in last year in Q2 2011 but an increase compared to late 2011 and early 2012. The increase was almost entirely due to more detections of migrants from Somalia (1 094) combined with a steady stream of migrants still arriving from Tunisia. Several nationalities previously detected in high numbers particularly in 2011 were not detected in significant numbers, including Bangladeshis (72) and Nigerians (19).

Migrants from Somalia – During May 2012, the arrival of Somali migrants in Malta increased significantly while

Italy registered a decrease in the number of Somali migrants apprehended in Sicily and the Pelagic Islands. In most cases, groups of males, females and minors (or families) were found on board rubber dinghies with outboard motors. A few of the boats were detected in Italian territorial waters in some distress after the migrants had called the Italian authorities for help using satellite telephones. The boats that recently headed for Malta were either intercepted by Maltese patrol boats or made it to the island without being intercepted.

Detected Somalis were mainly young males (aged 18–24) with secondary education and low or no income. The main reason for the migration was socio-economic, but in some cases it was military conflict. In Q2 2012, there were no Joint Operations running in the Central Mediterranean Sea, therefore Frontex and the FRAN community are unable to utilize intelligence obtained through the direct debriefing of migrants. However, valuable information has been obtained from interviews carried out by the Maltese authorities. Such preliminary interviews revealed that some of the Somali migrants arriving in Malta had been promised that they would be brought to Italy. They departed from an unknown location in Libya and travelled for up to three days in boats before either being intercepted by Maltese authorities or reaching the shore. The average fare was said to be around USD 1 000 per person.

Migrants from Tunisia – Most Tunisian migrants detected arriving in the Central Mediterranean Region were young (18–35 years) unmarried males with a primary level of education and low previous incomes (EUR 80–180 per month). All interviewed migrants declared to have relatives or friends already in the EU, especially in Italy, and they arrived on boats containing on average 20 migrants (Fig. 13).

Throughout the quarter, Italy and Tunisia cooperated efficiently to repatriate Tunisian nationals and so most migrants typically arrived undocumented to delay readmission. Subsequent to the reporting period, JO Hermes 2012 was launched on 2 July and is currently planned to run until 31 October 2012 as a continuation of the deployment of JO Hermes Extension 2011, which ended just before the reporting period, on 31 March 2012. JO Hermes 2012 has been established to support the Italian authorities in tackling maritime irregular migration along the coasts of Sicily, Pantelleria and the Pelagic islands (Lampedusa, Linosa, Lampione).

4.2.3. Western Mediterranean route

Irregular migration in the Western Mediterranean region increased throughout 2011 from just 890 detections in Q1 2011 to 3 568 detections in Q3. In Q2 2012, there were 1 549 detections which almost exactly corresponds to the number of detections the year before in Q2 2011 (1 569). As was the case a year ago, most detections were of Algerians followed by migrants of unknown nationalities (presumed to be sub-Saharan Africans) and Moroccans.

Recently, the size of the sub-Saharan population coming from Algeria has increased in different settlements adjacent to the Melilla border fence. Criminal networks operate more easily in this north eastern region of Morocco and the Spanish authorities treat a large-scale illegal crossing of the fence to the Spanish side as a real possibility. Attempts to cross have been made in the past involving groups of dozens or even hundreds.

JO EPN Indalo 2012 started on 16 May and is currently scheduled to run until 31 October 2012. So far the number of irregular migrants apprehended in the operational areas is almost double that of the same period in 2011. Analysis of the information provided by the Spanish authorities also indicates a new increasing trend in the number of Algerian and Moroccan migrants per boat since the beginning of 2012. The improvement of the weather and sea conditions during the reporting period impacted on the number of boats detected, with a gradual increase of the number of arrivals during the peak period, which according to data from the last two years is from May to October.

Migrants from Algeria – According to information gathered during interviews, most Algerians were single male adults aged 19–36 on average, but there were also a few females and minors in good health. Most migrants belonged to the lower middle class and, despite having a high level of education compared to sub-Saharan nationals, they suffered from a generalised lack of opportunities, welfare and access to public health services. Nearly all the Algerian migrants spoke Arabic with a few French and English speakers, but all were undocumented to avoid repatriation after arriving in Spain. The majority had relatives or friends in EU Member States, mainly in France and Spain, who could help them to find a job and settle within the ethnic communities already established in these countries.

4.2.4. Western African route

In the second quarter of 2012, there were just 31 detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, almost exclusively of Moroccan nationals.

As reported in the previous FRAN Quarterly*, in February 2012 Moroccan and Spanish Ministers of Interior signed a police agreement to create two joint police stations in the Spanish (Algeciras) and Moroccan (Tangiers) territories to cooperate by exchanging operational information and best practices between different police services. The goal of this cooperation is to strengthen the efforts and improve the results against organized crime operating on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar involved in the smuggling of drugs, international terrorism, irregular migration and trafficking in human beings.

Following these developments, both International Police Cooperation Centres became operational during May 2012 (Fig. 14). The International Joint Police Stations are going to be integrated with National Police / Guardia Civil (Spain) and General Direction for National Security (Police) / Royal Gendarmerie (Morocco) staff for a rapid and effective exchange of information.

As reported in previous FRAN Quarterlies, the Western African route from the north of Mauritania to the Western Sahara territory is being reopened by illegal migration facilitation networks. It has been inactive for years but recently an estimated 2 000 sub-Saharans (particularly from Senegal) settled in the Western Saharan coastal cities of El Aaioún and Dakhla and in the last few months ~20 000 Senegalese nationals have entered Mauritania along these routes to the north.

During the reporting period there was no Frontex operation relevant for the Western African Route. [***]”

2012-10-10_Frontex_FRAN_Q2_2012-Annex Table 1_Sea Borders only

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Slight Decrease in Number of Migrants Arriving by Boat in Spain in First Half of 2012

Frontex reports a 3% decrease in the number of irregular migrants arriving by boat in Spain over the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011: 2,637 in 2011 versus 2,559 in 2012.  Most migrant boats attempt to reach the Spanish mainland along the coasts of Andalusia and elsewhere in eastern Spain.  Frontex reports an increase of 6.5% in the number of migrants reaching the Spanish mainland, but this increase is offset by a reduction in the number of migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands.

EFE quoted Gil Arias, Frontex deputy director, as stating that “[t]he decline [in Spain] is in line with the trend of the EU…” where there has been an overall reduction of more than 50% in the number of irregular migrants crossing land and sea borders of Member States during the same six month period: 74,200 in 2011 versus 36,741 in 2012.   Arias noted that the number of arrivals in Spain is “insignificant” relative to the overall EU, accounting for about 7% of the EU total with Italy accounting for 12% and Greece 67%.

Note that there are other media reports which provide slightly different figures from those reported by Frontex.  Europapress reported that an estimated 3,000 migrants have been rescued so far this year (apparently though late July) along the Andalusian coast by rescue services.

Click here, here, here, and here for articles. (ES)

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AI Report: S.O.S. Europe – Human Rights and Migration Control

Amnesty International today has released a report, “S.O.S. Europe: Human Rights and Migration Control,” examining “the human rights consequences for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers that have occurred in the context of Italy’s migration agreements with Libya.”

The Report is accompanied by the “the launch of Amnesty International’s ‘When you don’t exist campaign‘, which … seeks to hold to account any European country which violates human rights in enforcing migration controls. When you don’t exist aims to defend the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and around its borders. …  Today, Europe is failing to promote and respect the rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees. Hostility is widespread and mistreatment often goes unreported. As long as people on the move are invisible, they are vulnerable to abuse. Find out more at www.whenyoudontexist.eu.”

Excerpts from S.O.S. Europe Report:

WHAT IS EXTERNALIZATION?

Over the last decade, European countries have increasingly sought to prevent people from reaching Europe by boat from Africa, and have “externalized” elements of their border and immigration control. …

European externalization measures are usually based on bilateral agreements between individual countries in Europe and Africa. Many European countries have such agreements, but the majority do not publicize the details. For example, Italy has co-operation agreements in the field of “migration and security” with Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia,2 while Spain has co-operation agreements on migration with Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Mauritania.3

At another level, the European Union (EU) engages directly with countries in North and West Africa on migration control, using political dialogue and a variety of mechanisms and financial instruments. For example in 2010, the European Commission agreed a cooperation agenda on migration with Libya, which was suspended when conflict erupted in 2011. Since the end of the conflict, however, dialogue between the EU and Libya on migration issues has resumed.

The European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders of the Member States of the EU (known as FRONTEX) also operates outside European territory. FRONTEX undertakes sea patrols beyond European waters in the Mediterranean Sea, and off West African coasts, including in the territorial waters of Senegal and Mauritania, where patrols are carried out in cooperation with the authorities of those countries.

The policy of externalization of border control activities has been controversial. Critics have accused the EU and some of its member states of entering into agreements or engaging in initiatives that place the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers at risk. A lack of transparency around the various agreements and activities has fuelled criticism.

This report examines some of the human rights consequences for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers that have occurred in the context of Italy’s migration agreements with Libya. It also raises concerns about serious failures in relation to rescue-at-sea operations, which require further investigation. The report is produced as part of wider work by Amnesty International to examine the human rights impacts of European externalization policies and practices.

[***]

AGREEMENTS BETWEEN ITALY AND LIBYA

[***]

The implementation of the agreements between Libya and Italy was suspended in practice during the first months of the conflict in Libya, although the agreements themselves were not set aside. While the armed conflict was still raging in Libya, Italy signed a memorandum of understanding with the Libyan National Transitional Council in which the two parties confirmed their commitment to co-operate in the area of irregular migration including through “the repatriation of immigrants in an irregular situation.”8 In spite of representations by Amnesty International and others on the current level of human rights abuses, on 3 April 2012 Italy signed another agreement with Libya to “curtail the flow of migrants”.9 The agreement has not been made public. A press release announced the agreement, but did not include any details on the measures that have been agreed, or anything to suggest that the present dire human rights predicament confronting migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya will be addressed.

[***]

HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATION BEYOND BORDERS

Human rights and refugee law requires all states to respect and protect the rights of people within their jurisdiction: this includes people within the state’s territorial waters, and also includes a range of different contexts where individuals may be deemed to be within a certain state’s jurisdiction.

[***]

States must also ensure that they do not enter into agreements – bilaterally or multilaterally – that would result in human rights abuses. This means states should assess all agreements to ensure that they are not based on, or likely to cause or contribute to, human rights violations. In the context of externalization, this raises serious questions about the legitimacy of European involvement – whether at a state-to-state level or through FRONTEX – in operations to intercept boats in the territorial waters of another state, when those intercepted would be at a real risk of human rights abuses.

A state cannot deploy its official resources, agents or equipment to implement actions that would constitute or lead to human rights violations, including within the territorial jurisdiction of another state.

CONCLUSION

Agreements between Italy and Libya include measures that result in serious human rights violations. Agreements between other countries in Europe and North and West Africa, and agreements and operations involving the EU and FRONTEX, also need to be examined in terms of their human rights impacts. However, with so little transparency surrounding migration control agreements and practices, scrutiny to date has been limited.

[***]

RECOMMENDATIONS

Amnesty International urges all states to protect the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, according to international standards, This report has focused on Italy.

THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD:

  • set aside its existing migration control agreements with Libya;
  • not enter into any further agreements with Libya until the latter is able to demonstrate that it respects and protects the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and has in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognizing claims for international protection;
  • ensure that all migration control agreements negotiated with Libya or any other countries are made public.

EUROPEAN COUNTRIES AND THE EU SHOULD:

  • ensure that their migration control policies and practices do not cause, contribute to, or benefit from human rights violations;
  • ensure their migration control agreements fully respect international and European human rights and refugee law, as well as the law of the sea; include adequate safeguards to protect human rights with appropriate implementation mechanisms; and be made public;
  • ensure their interception operations look to the safety of people in distress in interception and rescue operations and include measures that provide access to individualized assessment procedures, including the opportunity to claim asylum;
  • ensure their search-and-rescue bodies increase their capacity and co-operation in the Mediterranean Sea; publicly report on measures to reduce deaths at sea; and that Search and Rescue obligations are read and implemented in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of refugee and human rights law.”

Click here (EN), here (EN), or here (FR) for Report.

See also www.whenyoudontexist.eu

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2012 Frontex Annual Risk Analysis

Frontex posted its 2012 Annual Risk Analysis (“ARA”) on its website on 20 April.   (The 2012 ARA is also available on this link: Frontex_Annual_Risk_Analysis_2012.)  The stated purpose of the ARA is “to plan the coordination of operational activities at the external borders of the EU in 2013. The ARA combines an assessment of threats and vulnerabilities at the EU external borders with an assessment of their impacts and consequences to enable the Agency to effectively balance and prioritise the allocation of resources against identified risks….”

Highlights include:

  • 86% of the detections of irregular migrants in 2011 on the EU’s external borders occurred in two areas, the Central Mediterranean (46%) and the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily on the land border between Greece and Turkey (40%);
  • The 64 000 detections in 2011 in the Central Mediterranean were obviously linked directly to the events in North Africa.  The flow of Tunisians was reduced by 75% in the second quarter of 2011 as a result of an accelerated repatriation agreement that was signed between Italy and Tunisia;
  • There is a very high likelihood of a renewed flow of irregular migrants at the southern maritime border.  Larger flows, if they develop, are more likely to develop on the Central Mediterranean route because of proximity to Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt;
  • Irregular migration in the Western Mediterranean towards Spain remains low, but has been steadily increasing and accounted for 6% of the EU’s detections in 2011;
  • Cooperation between Spain and Mauritania, Senegal, and Mali, including bilateral agreements and the presence of patrolling assets near the African coast, are the main reasons for the decrease in arrivals on the Western African route in recent years.  The situation remains critically dependent of the implementation of effective return agreements between Spain and western African countries.  Should these agreements be jeopardised, irregular migration is likely to resume quickly;
  • The land border between Greece and Turkey is now an established illegal-entry point for irregular migrants and facilitation networks;
  • According to intelligence from JO Hermes, women embarking from North Africa to the EU are in particular danger of being intimidated by their smugglers and forced into prostitution;
  • Austerity measures being implemented by Member States are likely to adversely affect operational environments of border control by reducing resources and by exacerbating corruption;
  • There is an intelligence gap on terrorist groups active in the EU and their connections with irregular-migration networks.  The absence of strategic knowledge may constitute a vulnerability for internal security.

Selected excerpts from the ARA:

“Executive Summary

[***] Looking ahead, the border between Greece and Turkey is very likely to remain one of the areas with the highest number of detections of illegal border-crossing along the external border. More and more migrants are expected to take advantage of Turkish visa policies and the expansion of Turkish Airlines, carrying more passengers to more destinations, to transit through Turkish air borders and subsequently attempt to enter the EU illegally. [Turkey reported an increase in 2011 of 26% in air passenger flow. See p. 12 of ARA.]

At the southern maritime borders large flows are most likely to develop on the Central Mediterranean route due to its proximity to Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, where political instability and the high unemployment rates are pushing people abroad and where there is evidence of facilitation networks also offering facilitation services to transiting migrants. [***]

There is an increasing risk of political and humanitarian crises arising in third countries which may result in the displacement of large numbers of people in search of international protection towards the land and sea borders of the EU. [***]

Various austerity measures introduced throughout Member States may result in increasing disparities between Member States in their capacity to perform border controls and hence enable facilitators to select those border types and sections that are perceived as weaker in detecting specific modi operandi. Budget cuts could also exacerbate the problem of corruption, thus increasing the vulnerability to illegal activities across the external borders. [***]

3. Situation at the external borders

[***] 3.2 Irregular migration

[***] Consistent with recent trends, the majority of detections [in 2011] were made in two hotspots of irregular migration, namely the Central Mediterranean area and the Eastern Mediterranean area accounting for 46% and 40% of the EU total, respectively, with additional effects detectable across Member States.  [***]

Central Mediterranean route

[***] Initially, detections in the Central Mediterranean massively increased in early 2011, due to civil unrest erupting in the region, particularly in Tunisia, Libya and, to a lesser extent, Egypt. As a result, between January and March some 20 000 Tunisian migrants arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa. In the second quarter of 2011 the flow of Tunisian migrants was reduced by 75% following an accelerated repatriation agreement that was signed between Italy and Tunisia. … Since October 2011, the situation has eased somewhat due to democratic elections in Tunisia and the National Transitional Council successfully gaining control of Libya. However, the situation remains of concern, with sporadic arrivals from Tunisia now adding to arrivals from Egypt. There are also some concerns that the flow from Libya may resume. [***]

Eastern Mediterranean route

[***]Undeniably, the land border between Greece and Turkey is now an established illegal-entry point for irregular migrants and facilitation networks. [***]

Western Mediterranean route (sea, Ceuta and Melilla)

Irregular migration across the Western Mediterranean towards southern Spain was at a low level   through most of 2010. However, pressure has been steadily increasing throughout 2011 to reach almost 8 500 detections, or 6% of the EU total. A wide range of migrants from North African and sub-Saharan countries were increasingly detected in this region. It is difficult to analyse the exact composition of the flow, as the number of migrants of unknown nationality on this route doubled compared to the previous quarter. This may indicate an increasing proportion of nationalities that are of very similar ethnicity and/or geographic origin.

The most common and increasingly detected were migrants of unknown nationality, followed by migrants local to the region, coming from Algeria and Morocco. There were also significant increases in migrants departing from further afield, namely countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria and Congo.

In 2011, two boats were intercepted in the waters of the Balearic Islands with Algerians on board, having departed from the village of Dellys (Algeria) near Algiers. However, most migrants prefer to target the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Western African route

The cooperation between Spain and key western African countries (Mauritania, Senegal and Mali), including bilateral agreements, is developing. They are one of the main reasons for the decrease in arrivals on the Western African route over the last years, as is the presence of patrolling assets near the African coast. Despite a slight increase at the end of 2010, detections on this route remained low in 2011, almost exclusively involving Moroccan migrants.[***]

3.3.4 Trafficking in human beings

[***] According to information received from Member States, the top nationalities detected as victims of human trafficking in the EU still include Brazilians, Chinese, Nigerians, Ukrainians and Vietnamese. In addition, victims from other third countries like Albania, Ghana, Morocco, Moldova, Egypt, Indian, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic have also been reported, illustrating the broad geographical distribution of the places of origin of victims. Most THB cases are related to illegal work and sexual exploitation in Europe.

In some cases, the distinction between the smuggling of migrants and THB is not easily established because some of the migrants are initially using the services of smugglers, but it is only later, once in the EU, that they may fall victim to THB. According to intelligence from JO Hermes, this is particularly the case for women embarking for illegal border-crossing from North Africa to the EU. Once in Europe, some of them are intimated by their smugglers and forced into prostitution.

A worrying trend reported during JO Indalo is the increasing number of detections of illegal border-crossing by minors and pregnant women (see Fig. 15), as criminal groups are taking advantage of an immigration law preventing their return. Although it is not clear whether these cases are related to THB, women and children are among the most vulnerable. Most of these women claimed to be from Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon and were between the fifth and ninth month of pregnancy. Minors were identified as being from Nigeria, Algeria and Congo.

Another modus operandi is for the criminal groups to convince their victim to apply for international protection. Such modus operandi was illustrated by the verdict of a Dutch court case in July 2011, when one suspect was convicted for trafficking of Nigerian female minors. The asylum procedure in the Netherlands was misused by the criminal organisation to get an accommodation for the victims. The victims were forced to sexual exploitation in several Member States. [***]

5. Conclusions

[***] 1. Risk of large and sustained numbers of illegal border-crossing at the external land and sea border with Turkey

The border between Greece and Turkey is very likely to remain in 2013 among the main areas of detections of illegal border crossing along the external border, at levels similar to those reported between 2008 and 2011, i.e. between 40 000 and 57 000 detections per annum. [***]

Depending on the political situation, migrants from the Middle East may increasingly join the flow. In addition, migrants from northern and western Africa, willing to illegally cross the EU external borders, are expected to increasingly take advantage of the Turkish visa policies, granting visas to a different set of nationalities than the EU, and the expansion of Turkish Airlines, to transit through the Turkish air borders to subsequently attempt to enter the EU illegally, either by air or through the neighbouring land or sea borders. As a result, border-control authorities will increasingly be confronted with a wider variety of nationalities, and probably also a greater diversity of facilitation networks, further  complicating the tasks of law-enforcement authorities.

This risk is interlinked with the risk of criminal groups facilitating secondary movements and the risk of border-control authorities faced with large flows of people in search of international protection. [***]

3. Risk of renewed large numbers of illegal border-crossing at the southern maritime border

The likelihood of large numbers of illegal border-crossing in the southern maritime border remains very high, either in the form of sporadic episodes similar to those reported in 2011 or in sustained flows on specific routes originating from Africa.

Irregular-migration flows at the southern maritime borders are expected to be concentrated within one of the three known routes, i.e. the Central Mediterranean route, the Western Mediterranean route or the Western African route. Larger flows are more likely to develop on the Central Mediterranean route than on the other two routes, because of its proximity to Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, where political instability and high unemployment rate among young people is pushing people away from their countries and where there is evidence for well-organised facilitation networks.

On the Western Mediterranean route, the situation remains of concern because of the increasing trend of illegal border-crossing reported throughout 2011. According to reported detections, the situation on the Western African route has been mostly under control since 2008 but remains critically dependant of the implementation of effective return agreements between Spain and western African countries. Should these agreements be jeopardised, irregular migration pushed by high unemployment and poverty is likely to resume quickly despite increased surveillance.

The composition of the flow is dependent on the route and the countries of departure, but includes a large majority of western and North Africans. Mostly economically driven, irregular migration on these routes is also increasingly dependent on the humanitarian crisis in western and northern African countries. Facilitators are increasingly recruiting their candidates for illegal border-crossing from the group that are most vulnerable to THB, i.e. women and children, causing increasing challenges for border control authorities.

4. Risk of border-control authorities faced with large numbers of people in search of international protection

Given the currently volatile and unstable security situation in the vicinity of the EU, there is an increasing risk of political and humanitarian crises in third countries resulting in large numbers of people in search of international protection being displaced to the land and sea borders of the EU. The most likely pressures are linked to the situation in North Africa and the Middle East. In addition, the situation in western African countries like Nigeria may also trigger flows of people in search of international protection at the external borders. [***]

6. Risk of less effective border control due to changing operational environment

At the horizon of 2013, the operational environments of border control are likely to be affected, on the one hand, by austerity measures reducing resources, and on the other hand, by increased passenger flows triggering more reliance on technological equipment.

Austerity measures have been introduced throughout Member States in various forms since 2009. The most obvious examples are found in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the Baltic countries. These measures could result in increasing disparities between Member States in their capacity to perform border controls and hence enabling facilitators to select border types and sections that are perceived as weaker in detecting specific modi operandi.

Budget cuts could also exacerbate the problem of corruption, increasing the vulnerability to illegal activities across the external borders.

Austerity measures will inevitably impact on the efficacy of border-control authorities in detecting and preventing a wide array of illegal activities at the borders, ranging from illegal border-crossing through smuggling of excise goods to THB. [***]

8. Risk of border-control authorities increasingly confronted with cross-border crimes and travellers with the intent to commit crime or terrorism within the EU

[***]There is an intelligence gap on terrorist groups that are active in the EU and their connections with irregular-migration networks. The absence of strategic knowledge on this issue at the EU level may constitute a vulnerability for internal security. Knowledge gained at the external borders can be shared with other law enforcement authorities to contribute narrowing this gap.”

Click here or on this link: Frontex_Annual_Risk_Analysis_2012, for 2012 Frontex ARA.

Click here for Frontex press statement on the 2012 ARA.

Click here for my post on the 2011 ARA.

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Analysis, Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Frontex, Mediterranean, News, Reports

3 Year Anniversary of 25 Deaths Off Lanzarote, Canary Islands

15 February marks the third anniversary of the deaths in 2009 of 25 migrants, including 17 children.  The boat capsized 20 metres off the coast of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.  There were 6 survivors.  Local officials and organisations are marking the anniversary today with a memorial ceremony.

Click here for article. (ES)

Click here (ES) here (EN) and here (ES) for articles from 2009.

EFE/Martínez de Cripan

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Filed under Eastern Atlantic, Morocco, News, Spain

Increase in Numbers of Migrants Reaching Spanish Coast in 2011

The Spanish Ministry of Interior and the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) both released reports regarding the numbers of migrants who reached Spain by sea in 2011.  APDHA reports larger numbers of arrivals and deaths in 2011 than the official governmental report.

The report from Spanish authorities states that a total of 5,443 migrants were known to have reached Spanish territory by sea, including the Canary Islands, in 2011.  This represents an increase over 2010 when 3,632 persons are known to have arrived, but represents a substantial reduction in total numbers compared to the peak year of 2006 when over 36,000 migrants reached Spain by sea or by entering the North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla.

According to Spanish authorities, 340 migrants reached the Canary Islands by sea in 2011, an increase over the 196 who arrived in 2010, but significantly fewer that the over 31,000 migrants who reached the Canary Islands in 2006.  3,345 migrants reached Ceuta and Melilla by sea, by being smuggled into the territories, or by otherwise crossing the border fencing.

The Guardia Civil reported that 29 migrants are known to have drowned in 2011, but some NGOs believe the numbers of deaths are much larger.

APDHA in its report  issued last month stated that it believed a larger number of migrants reached Spain.  The APDHA report was based on a survey of publicly available information.  It estimates that 8,867 people reached Spain (compared to the 5,443 reported by authorities).  APDHA also reported that 84 migrants are known to have died and at least 114 were known to be missing in 2011.

Click here and here for Spanish Ministerio del Interior report. (ES)

Click here and here for the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía report. (ES)

Click here1, here2, here3, here4, here5, here6, here7, here8, here9, here10, here11, and here12 for additional articles.  (ES)

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Filed under Algeria, Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, Frontex, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, News, Reports, Senegal, Spain