As Malta receives millions of Euros to fund maritime border control operations in collaboration with Frontex, members of the FRONTEXIT campaign denounce the security obsession blinding Europe and leading to increasing numbers of deaths.
Mos Maiorum is yet another battle in the war the EU has waged against an imaginary enemy.
Between 13 and 26 October, police forces of the Member States of the European Union (EU) are to conduct massive control operations both within the Schengen area and at its external borders.
A week after the commemoration of the tragedy of Lampedusa in October 2013, a “hunt on migrants” operation dubbed ‘Mos Maiorum’ is to be launched in collaboration with Frontex and Europol. The large-scale operation, coordinated by the Italian Interior Ministry, aims at intercepting and collecting personal data on fake document holders, rejected asylum-seekers and smugglers.
Besides the fact that the European Parliament does not seem to have been informed of the operation, the lack of clarity as regards the legal basis and the practicalities of the operations is particularly problematic. No information is available as to what these interceptions will result in, and whether joint return operations will be organised.
Once again, irregular stay is deemed a criminal act, despite the Court of Justice of the EU’s jurisprudence (El Dridi ruling which condemns the criminalisation of irregular stay). Once again, asylum-seekers are seen as potential abusers of the system. Once again, the collection of personal data is used to chase undocumented migrants.
This operation is reinforcing the fantasy of a criminal invasion in Europecriminal invasion in Europe. Frontex is used as a tool to implement discriminatory policies, and contributes to the violation of the rights of migrants and refugees, as demonstrated by the Frontexit campaign.
In spite of calls by civil society, the UN and the Council of Europe for facilitated access to the territory of the EU to put, and for an end to the growing death toll at the borders, the objectives of the Mediterranean Task Force have yet to be translated into concrete action. The absence of common rescue and reception mechanisms for migrants and refugees is at odds with the frenetic development of security-focused policies.
Mafia and criminal networks would not exist if legal entry channels were available to migrants and refugees.
Over 3,000 deaths in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2014, and the outcry against security-oriented migration policies is still falling on deaf ears.
Migration is not a crime. Migrants do not pose a threat. Refugees have the right to international protection. It is time that this murderous war against migrants, and symbolised by Frontex, stopped
As the European Council meets to adopt strategic guidelines that will shape future EU policies in the area of freedom, security and justice, “Incompatibility between Frontex’s activities and the full respect of fundamental rights persists,” reaffirms the Frontexit Campaign. Frontexit is publishing today pdf an overview (466 KB) of the information it has collected about the Agency since the campaign’s launch in March 2013.
We trust that the new guidelines will take into account the tragic death of 366 migrants off the coast of Lampedusa in October 2013, as well as the recommendations made by the Task Force for the Mediterranean, responsible for devising policies to avoid future deaths at sea. However, and despite the fact that dangerous crossings across the Mediterranean have been prompted by the reduction of legal entry avenues in the EU, the solution put forward by the Task Force seems to be oriented towards more, rather than less, border control.
Since its creation in 2004, Frontex’s role in EU migration policies has continued to expand. With a budget of 89 million Euros, it is the most funded agency in the European Union. The Agency’s growth, as well as its extensive use of quasi-military equipment and technologies reflects the EU’s increasingly security-centered approach to migration, which prioritises border control and surveillance over respect for human rights. Cooperation with Frontex also appears to be central to migration agreements concluded by the EU with third countries, whose main aim is to control migration flows even when “partner countries” are known for violating the human rights of migrants and refugees.
Since the launch of the campaign in March 2013, Frontexit and its members have collected extensive information regarding Frontex’s operations and internal procedures via several correspondences with the Agency as well as a field mission to the Greek-Turkish border. Findings – published in the attached overview – confirm that, despite recent amendments to the Agency’s mandate and founding regulation, aimed at further integrating human rights into Frontex's role and activities, these remain incompatible with the respect of fundamental rights.
Indeed, the Agency continues to operate with a disconcerting lack of transparency and in the absence of any accountability mechanism to address allegations of human rights violations, despite mounting evidence of Frontex participation in cases where EU member states have carried out push-backs and other abuses. The Agency's cooperation agreements with third countries – which do not require parliamentary approval – also appear to have the primary aim of preventing migrants from leaving these territories, in violation of the right to leave a country, including one’s own, and in potential breach of the right to seek asylum.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, the European Ombudsman as well as the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe have also raised concerns and questioned the Agency’s responsibility in human rights violations.
Be they detained, pushed back, rescued or have they lost their life at sea, migrants are hostages of an EU strategy that priorities security at the expense of human rights. As EU Heads of States are set to adopt strategic guidelines that will orient EU action, including on migration, for the next years, the Frontexit campaign calls on the EU and its Member States to use this as an opportunity to overhaul a policy that has already exacted a far too high toll in terms of human lives, and to put human rights at the center of their approach to migration. This should include conducting prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations during Frontex past and present operations, to ensure that those responsible are held to account.
The Frontexit campaign denounces the incompatibility between Frontex’s mandate and the respect for Human rights and European law. It asks the European Union to take note and act in order to stop the activities of Frontex.