EUROPEAN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
– BORDER SURVEILLANCE
Lampedusa : chronique de drames annoncés
Gdr-Elsj: par Henri Labayle, CDRE. “On ne peut qu’être étonné de la compassion provoquée par le spectacle dramatique que nous infligent les eaux du sud de la Méditerranée, au large de Malte comme de l’ile de Lampedusa. Interroger Google en tapant le nom de cette île aux eaux paradisiaques ne fait plus surgir des listes d’hôtel mais le sinistre décompte de centaines de morts et de disparus, souvent femmes et enfants de familles dévastées.
Sans que l’émotion de l’opinion publique italienne et européenne soit feinte, elle n’en est pas moins aveugle et sourde. Voici bien longtemps que des plages espagnoles à celles de Lampedusa ou au canal de Sicile, des drames abominables se jouent dans une parfaite indifférence, hormis celle des ONG et des chercheurs attachés à décrire l’impasse des sociétés occidentales face à la pression migratoire. Faut-il pour autant ouvrir le procès (facile) de l’Union européenne, de ses dirigeants, de ses agences comme Frontex ? Rien n’est moins certain…”
MEPs approve EU border surveillance system
Euobserver: “MEPs on Thursday (10 October) gave the green light to a new European Border Surveillance system, Eurosur, due to go live early in December.
The system is meant to co-ordinate border surveillance among member states through so-called national co-ordination centres.
Each contact point would feed near-live data streams directly to the EU border agency, Frontex.
Frontex in turn would then issue alerts when necessary.
The European Commission says the system is needed to better inform national border control authorities of attempts by people to cross the Mediterranean.
Thousands are estimated to have died in recent years as they seek to come to Europe. Last year alone, over 1,500 are known to have perished or gone missing, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Last week, around 300 died a kilometre off the Italian island of Lampedusa when their boat caught fire and sunk.
Critics say the real purpose behind EU border surveillance plans is to stop the flow of irregular migrants and asylum seekers from ever reaching the coastlines in the first place. And that saving lives is secondary.
The current Eurosur text puts emphasis on preventing irregular migration but adds that it also should “contribute” to the protection and saving of lives at sea.
The Greens, who campaigned for a stronger emphasis on saving lives, say this is not enough.
“The clear purpose of Eurosur is fighting irregular migration,” German Green Ska Keller told this website on Wednesday (9 October).
She pointed out that the regulation says member states can obtain additional “capacities” to fight irregular migration but not to save lives.
“Co-operation only happens for fighting irregular migration, not for saving lives at sea,” she said…”
Migrant deaths prompt calls for greater EU-wide response
Euobserver: “The migrant and refugee boat tragedies off Europe’s Mediterranean coast have prompted Italy to step up border patrols and for Malta to ask for more assistance from member states and the EU.
Enrico Letta, Italy’s prime minister, said they are set to launch an “air and naval package” on Monday (14 October), reports the BBC.
The additional police and coastguard vessels would triple Italian-led patrols in the area.
The primary purpose of the extra patrols would be to rescue migrants, noted Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino.
By the end of September, some 30,000 people had attempted to cross over the Mediterranean and into Italy this year alone.
Many are fleeing poverty, war, and persecution.
The official death toll of the migrant boat tragedy off the Italian island last week has since climbed to over 350.
Another 33 died on Friday in a separate incident as their boat capsized in international waters between Malta and the Italian island.
The boat was transporting 400 people. Some were migrants but most are said to be refugees from war-torn Syria.
The boat, which had debarked from the western Libyan port of Zwara, sank after Libyan gunmen shot at it.
The Libyan militiamen reportedly robbed the passengers, followed the boat for several hours, and then opened fire…”
EU looks to ‘hybrid drones’ for legal shortcut on migration
Euobserver: “Hybrid aerial surveillance drones are being considered by the EU border agency, Frontex, for future operations with member states.
The kit, so-called optionally piloted aircrafts (OPA), can carry a pilot but can also be operated by remote control.
They are useful because they circumvent EU laws which prohibit fully unmanned drones from flying in commercial airspace.
Flying unmanned craft next to normal passenger or cargo planes over the EU would require amending numerous national and EU-level laws and safety hurdles – a process that is likely to take years.
But putting someone on board as an additional safety feature gets around the problem, even if the real pilot is operating the craft from a ground station.
The Warsaw-based Frontex is looking at OPAs as a long term option.
“If you are going to invest in this kind of equipment, you need to use it for the next 10 to 15 years,” Frontex head of research Edgar Beugels told this website…”
– JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS
– – HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Traffickers using 880,000 people as slave labour in EU
The Independent: “At least 880,000 people are forced to work in slave labour conditions across the European Union, part of an illicit trafficking industry worth billions of pounds to criminal gangs each year, a European Parliament committee has estimated.
Cases of slave labour have been reported across all 28 members of the bloc, with women and children particularly vulnerable to exploitation, according to the report on all aspects of organised crime, corruption and money laundering, which is due to be presented to MEPs next week.
Of the nearly one million slave labourers in the EU, 270,000 of them are trapped in a life of sexual exploitation. Trafficking and enslavement “are very lucrative forms of crime”, the report notes, with the trafficking in human beings estimated to earn criminal gangs €25bn (£21bn) a year.
High unemployment and prolonged recessions, as nations grapple with the economic crisis, have increased the dangers of exploitation, the report said, as people moving around the bloc looking for work “can sometimes provide [organised crime] with new victims”. “The economic crisis of recent years has resulted in significant changes in the areas of interest of organised crime, which has been able quickly to identify the new opportunities being offered,” it said.
It is not just the human toll worrying EU officials. Corruption and organised crime are estimated to be costing Europe’s struggling economies €670bn a year. Goods being trafficked into the EU and between member states include human organs, weapons, drugs and even nuclear substances, according to the report, which pulled together data from Interpol, Europol and the United Nations…”