Report der Associación Por Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) für das Jahr 2019 und den erfolgreichen Versuch, Marokko in das Grenzregime einzubeziehen:
In January 2019, the Spanish government announced a plan to reduce the number of arrivals of people and boats to our coasts by 50%. At the time, few people thought that it would be possible to achieve this goal without addressing the root causes of migration behind the arrival of 64,120 people the previous year.
These root causes included the closure of the Sicilian channel by Italian authorities in 2018, the chaos and warfare in Libya (a key transit country in the Mediterranean migratory system), as well as poverty and social conflict in countries such as Morocco, which affected thousands of young people and forced them to flee.
The plan laid down by the Delegate Committee for Migration Affairs toward the end of 2018 did not, however, address these root causes. Instead, this plan depended on Morocco’s greater involvement in the control of migration flows – both in its mainland and maritime Search and Rescue responsibilities. In addition, the Spanish government planned to increase its immigrant detention and deportation capacity, by enhancing detention infrastructure as well as increasing resources allocated to detention, identification and deportation procedures along the Andalusian coast. At sea, the government sought to limit the actions of Salvamento Marítimo, the Spanish civil agency responsible for sea Search and Rescue operations, to the bare minimum by making the agency’s working conditions more precarious and by outsourcing some of its responsibilities to Morocco. This plan,
designed under the leadership of Spain’s vice president, Carmen Calvo, did not include protections of human rights.
In terms of the number of migrant arrivals, the plan has succeeded: only 26,916 people arrived to southern Spanish coasts in 2019 compared to 57,537 in the previous year – a 53% decrease. Arrivals by land through the borders of Ceuta and Melilla have dropped, albeit more moderately, from 6,583 in 2018 to 6,345 in 2019.
Moroccan cooperation has come at a high price. In 2019, the European Union transferred 140 million EUR to the Moroccan government for the control of illegal immigration. Part of this budget was administered by the Spanish government. For instance, in June, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the transfer of 26 million euros for the purchase of 750 vehicles, 15 drones, dozens of scanners and additional technical equipment to support Morocco’s border reinforcement efforts.
In addition to the EU funds, in 2019 the Spanish government contributed 32.2 million euros from its own Budget Contingency Fund. 4 This fund is typically used to cover unforeseen expenses and emergencies like natural disasters. In this current context, however, the government found it appropriate to use the Contingency Fund to partially cover expenses incurred by the Moroccan authorities in their collaboration activities with Spain and the EU concerning the surveillance of borders and the fight against illegal immigration toward Spanish coasts. Eligible expenses include fuel, regular maintenance, daily allowances, and payments to operational staff.
Morocco has claimed its role as a strategic partner in the EU’s and Spain’s anti-immigration strategy. According to Khaled Al-Zerouali, the Director of Immigration and Border Control of the Moroccan Ministry of Interior, Moroccan law enforcement forces have prevented 73,973 attempts of illegal entry into Spain and „rescued“ 19,554 migrants at sea.
Report von Forensic Architecture und ECCHR zum Urteil des ECtHR zu den Push-Backs in Melilla 2014
On 13 February 2020, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rendered a judgment in the case of ND and NT v. Spain, the first trial to address ‘pushbacks’—the cross-border expulsion of refugees and migrants—at Europe’s land borders.
The case concerns the pushback of two men from Mali and Ivory Coast at the Spanish-Moroccan border in Melilla in August 2014. ND and NT had crossed into the Spanish enclave of Melilla by climbing a series of fences at its border, along with a group of other migrants.
The group, including ND and NT, were handcuffed and returned to Morocco by Spain’s paramilitary Guardia Civil, without the opportunity to explain their circumstances or speak to a lawyer.
In its judgment, the Court found that those pushbacks did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In doing so, the Court introduced a new legal exception to human rights at Europe’s borders, creating a dangerous precedent: the Court stated that climbing the border fences was ‘culpable conduct’ on the part of ND and NT, who should have used legal entry procedures instead.
Report von Alarm Phone, Borderline Europe, Mediterranea – Saving Humans, Sea-Watch
Remote control: the EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean
Over recent years, the EU and its Member States have progressively reduced Search and Rescue (SAR) activities performed by their institutional actors, such as Coast Guards, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCCs) and military missions, i.e. EUNAVFOR MED. Instead, the EU has (re)-built the so-called Libyan Coast Guards (scLYCG) by financing, equipping, training and politically legitimizing them. These efforts culminated in June 2018 with the notification to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of a new SAR Region to be coordinated by the Libyan authorities. At the same time, NGOs carrying out vital SAR operations have been criminalised
Despite the fact that the scLYCG is effectively a militia with documented involvement in systematic human rights violations and human smuggling,1 EU institutions and Member States provide technical, logistical, and political support, and often even direct operational coordination. The aim is to make the scLYCG intercept migrant boats before they can reach European SAR zones, or even – as recently documented2 – within them. Interceptions carried out by the scLYCG within a European SAR zone represent a further stage of escalation.
Alarm Phone, borderline-europe, Mediterranea and Sea-Watch, activists and NGOs present at sea, have directly witnessed and documented illegal push- and pull-backs to Libya. We have observed the complete incapacity of the Libyan authorities to competently coordinate SAR events, which have resulted in a high number of fatalities. We have also witnessed the deep ties between European military and Coast Guard forces with the scLYCG in severe breach of several international laws and conventions. This report provides detailed reconstructions of three SAR events that substantiate this claim and that are emblematic of a form of EU-Libyan cooperation that has prompted the interception and return of tens of thousands of people by the scLYCG to Libyan torture camps.
These reconstructions are based on our first-hand observations at sea, and they include communications with European and Libyan authorities, overheard radio communications between different authorities, and distress calls from people in distress at sea.
– In case 1 we show how the Italian MRCC repeatedly refused to take coordination responsibility for the rescue of a distress case whilst still obviously coordinating air assets to monitor the wooden boat in distress. The boat in distress was intercepted by the scLYCG more than 12 hours after authorities were alerted for the first time.
– In case 2 we demonstrate how an EUNAVFOR MED aerial asset directly coordinated with the scLYCG to intercept escaping migrants. The position of two rubber boats spotted by aerial assets was provided exclusively to the scLYCG despite the presence of NGO vessels in the area. The scLYCG were then able to intercept the migrants and return them to Libya.
– In case 3 we detail how the Italian navy ship Comandante Bettica ignored the request for urgent intervention in a distress case that involved a group of migrants who first reached out to the Alarm Phone and was then spotted by Sea-Watch’s reconnaissance aircraft Moonbird. Instead of rendering assistance, the Italian ship deployed a helicopter to assist the scLYCG to conduct a pull-back operation to Libya.
These cases could only be documented due to the presence and monitoring activities of NGOs active in the central Mediterranean and the Alarm Phone. Nonetheless, much of what goes on at sea remains unreported due to the shrinking operational space granted to NGOs and the limited information on distress cases and interceptions by authorities made available to them. The practices reported in this document can therefore be assumed to be exemplary of a more pervasive pattern of criminal and state-sanctioned behaviour by EU authorities.
There are a number of ways in which EU authorities and Member States have facilitated and even directly contributed to systematic ‘refoulement by proxy’ operations.3 As it has already been noted, through the creation of a new SAR region under the coordination of the so-called Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (scJRCC) Tripoli and the direct provision of naval assets, EU actors have delegated responsibility to the Libyan authorities and become complicit in the systematic interception and return of people seeking to escape from Libya. The cases documented in this report show in stark relief the crucial role played by EU aerial surveillance in mass interceptions off the coast of Libya, which have been expanded over recent months.4 EU aerial assets are deployed to spot migrant boats from the air and to then guide the scLYCG to the location of escaping boats. This aerial surveillance has led to the capture of tens of thousands of people and their return to the Libyan war zone.
In effect, Europe is delegating its ‘dirty work’ to Libyan forces which depend on donated military assets as well as surveillance and coordination activities undertaken by EU institutions and Member States. This report provides exclusive data and an analysis of how the collaboration between the EU and the scLYCG works operationally, with a focus on the aerial coordination provided by EU assets and authorities. It also proves that if NGOs were permanently barred from operating at sea, few of the criminal practices reported here would be known.