Frontex looking for judicial immunity

How to escape its legal responsibilities if it participates in exactions at the borders of Europe, this is a long-standing question of the European agency Frontex. The latest find of the European Union: negotiate immunity from the courts in the countries where the agency operates.

 

While the missions of Frontex, the European Border Guard and Coast Guard Agency, are diverse, the most visible is to coordinate monitoring missions at the external borders of the European Union at the request of the Member State of which it is a matter of monitoring the frontiers. These missions involve border guards and coast guards from different European countries. In the event of a violation of rights, which is not unusual at European borders, on one of these missions, who is responsible? The agents involved in the abuses, the State which detached them for this mission, the State the border of which they are keeping, Frontex agency which coordinates the operation? The European agency has so far benefited from this vagueness surrounding the issue of responsibilities.

But the European Union clearly wants to go further. As part of the outsourcing of surveillance of its borders, ie the transfer of surveillance mission to neighboring countries so as to constitute a glacis on the approach of European borders, Frontex will be brought to be deployed in the Western Balkans, Serbia and Macedonia. In Article 6 of the agreement under discussion between the European Union and Serbia concerning this deployment, the first attempts to impose immunity of officers deployed within the framework of Frontex in front of Serbian justice: « 1. Members of the team shall not be subject to any form of arrest or detention in the Republic of Serbia. » « 3. Members of the team shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia in respect of all acts performed by them in the exercise of their official functions. » « 4. Members of the team shall enjoy immunity from the civil and administrative jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia in respect of all acts performed by them in the exercise of their official functions. »

The Serbian side for the time being is disagreeing, asks that the agents deployed in the framework of Frontex be justiciable before the Serbian courts in the same way as the Serbian police officers and that the agency be held responsible for any damage caused by the agents under its authority.

Case to follow.

 

You can download here the English text of the agreement under discussion:

http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jul/eu-council-frontex-serbia-negotiations-text-restreint-9318-17.pdf

and here the analysis of the association Statewatch:

http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jul/eu-frontex-serbia.htm

 

 

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Greece: support the self-organised center City Plaza

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Amongst the self-organised centers which are involved in exiles support the City Plaza in Athens (see here and here) is one of the best known. It is now under eviction threat, and call for support.

 

You can sign the petition :

https://www.change.org/p/hands-off-city-plaza-and-all-squats

 

« Hands Off City Plaza and all Squats

Opened in Athens on the 22nd of April 2016, City Plaza was transformed from a hotel that had been abandoned for eight years into a project which has provided accommodation, food, medical support and education for over 1500 refugees from different countries, including many children, elderly, infirm and vulnerable people.

City Plaza is an alternative to the inhumane conditions of the refugee camps. It houses refugees in the heart of Athens and provides a home in which 400 refugees can live with dignity, safety and privacy; the kind of life not possible in the formal camps and detention centres.

But City Plaza is not only a housing project. It is a political project that proves it is possible to run one of the best housing spaces in Greece without employees, institutional funding or experts and exposes the fact that the state not doing so is a conscious decision. This decision physically and socially isolates refugees, placing them in camps, detention centres and hotspots, as well as reinforcing borders. City Plaza has played a central role in the refugee solidarity movement, leading the international campaign against the EU-Turkey deal, fighting for, and winning refugees’ rights to access education and healthcare.

City Plaza does not receive any funding from governments or NGOs. It is supported entirely by solidarity from Greece and around the world. People from all over the globe come to City Plaza to work and live together with the residents as an expression of their solidarity.

On June 7th, 2017, it was reported by multiple news outlets that City Plaza, as well as Papouchadiko and Zoodochou Pigis 119, two other squats in Athens, are being threatened with eviction. An eviction would result in the 400 plus residents of City Plaza, including over 150 children, being forced to return to the camps or to living on the streets of Athens. It is not only their home that’s under threat but also their safety and wellbeing.

With your solidarity and support we will be able to keep City Plaza open. Please sign and share this petition!

Connect:
Official Site (GR/EN)
Facebook (EN)
Facebook (GR)
Twitter

More about City Plaza:
Best Hotel In Europe (video)
Keep City Plaza Open (video)
A day in the life at City Plaza
We Are City Plaza »

 

Greece: support Steki social center

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Often squats or former squats, self-managed social centers open for years to host the exiled-e-s, which are fully involved in their organisation and decision making process. Yet their existence is precarious, and the Greek government has increased in recent months evictions.

In Thessaloniki, the Steki social center exists since 2004 and is since 2009 in the current building. An old electricity debt threatens its sustainability, and a call for support circulates.

http://keepstekipluggedin.com/

http://keepstekipluggedin.com/how-you-can-help/

 

Serbia: winter evictions

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The cold weather this January has not only touched Greece (see here, here and there). In this context in Serbia, the government destroyed the encampments in the vicinity of Subotica, near the border with Hungary.

 

 

The railway hangars sqatted as shelters in Belgrade were also evacuated. Médecins Sans Frontières is trying to cope with the situation when the authorities are trying to hinder humanitarian aid.

http://www.msf.org/en/article/migration-thousands-trapped-freezing-temperatures-greece-and-balkans

http://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/le-fil-de-l-info/les-dernieres-infos-o-refugiesbalkans-les-anciens-hangars-ferroviaires-a-belgrade-bientot-evacues.html

http://www.msf.fr/presse/revue-de-presse/paris-match-en-serbie-migrants-enfer-hiver

 

Exiles in Balkan’s winter : a Migreurop press release

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When winter becomes an additional element serving the European anti-migratory policies (see here and there), Migreurop denounces the way in which it can transform the hotspots of the Greek islands and the borders of the Balkans into a deathtrap as are the Mediterranean or the Sahara. Press Release:

 

http://www.migreurop.org/article2770.html

« The European Union cannot abolish winter:

it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’.

Last spring, to avoid taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and other regions in crisis, European Commission officials and members of the European Council implemented a ‘hotspot solution’ which evidently failed to take into account meteorological variables: in winter, temperatures drop and the cold is intense, even on the Aegean islands deserted by tourists. Nothing more than tent camps has been put in place for refugees to be ‘stored’ in while forced returns are organised, considered by European officials and leaders as the best solution to resolve the ‘migration crisis’.

It is clear that the European Commission and EU member states never really believed in ‘relocation’, a measure intended to ‘relieve’ frontline countries (Greece and Italy) and prevent the hotspots from becoming lasting sites for the banishing of ‘undesirables’. In fact, whereas the stated aim is to transfer 63,000 people from Greece to other EU countries by September 2017, less than 8,000 people have so far been able to benefit from this measure.

As a result, around 15,000 people are currently imprisoned in the hotspots on the Greek islands, battered by wind and snow; thousands of others are stuck in a state of humanitarian emergency and extreme cold on the ‘Balkan routes’ cut off by EU member states and their allies. Yet people trapped in these hotspots are placed under the direct authority of the European agencies and officials who must ensure that these sites do not become places of death. They can do nothing to increase temperatures; putting an end to winter is not within the EU’s remit. However, closing the hotspots and organising access to long-term reception and residence is within the power of European leaders. It is on the basis of these tent camps disappearing beneath the snow that their criminal policy will be judged. »

 

arton2770-1baecPhoto : Belgrade, January 2017 | (c) Danilo Balducci

 

Exiles in Balkan’s winter: a petition from Amnesty International

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Winter highlights the conditions of reception in Greece, especially in the hotspots of the Greek islands, created in the framework of European policy, and where the exiles sleep in tents under the snow.

Amnesty International calls on the European Commission to ensure that dignified reception conditions are in place, that resources are put in place to deal with asylum applications properly, and that the planned transfers to other EU countries are effectively realized.

You can sign the petition here :

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/refugees-freezing/

 

moria-hiverMoria’s hotspot camp, in Lesvos island.

Winter in the European Union’s refugees campings

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While the European Commission plans that asylum-seekers can be returned to Greece again under the Dublin III European Regulation, winter highlights the real conditions of reception. Often, tents in empty hangars, quite often, tents outdoors.

This is the case in Moria, on the island of Lesbos, one of the hotspots created by the European Union.

http://www.pappaspost.com/video-shocking-conditions-refugees-outdoor-camps-greece-moria-camp-lesvos-blanketed-snow/

http://blogyy.net/2017/01/09/le-vrai-visage-de-leurope-forteresse/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/unhcr-concerned-over-refugee-conditions-on-greek-islands/2017/01/06/1bd9153a-d40e-11e6-9651-54a0154cf5b3_story.html?utm_term=.4dbb62449014

– 28 ° in Bosnia and Herzegovina, – 27 ° in Serbia, the – 7 ° on the Croatian coast would appear to be mild if gusts of 140 km / h were not recorded a few kilometers away on the Montenegrin coast.

Through this cold one dies, and the list of dead exiles through the Balkans extends, in Bulgaria or Greece, near the borders.

http://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/le-fil-de-l-info/les-dernieres-infos-o-refugiesbalkans-une-refugiee-somalienne-morte-de-froid-en-bulgarie

http://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/le-fil-de-l-info/meteo-une-vague-de-froid-meurtriere-s-abat-sur-les-balkans.html

 

lesbos-7-janvierLesbos, refugees are stranded in the island as part of the European Union policy of “hotspots” at the borders and the agreement with Turkey (see here, here, here and there).

Greece: the City Plaza continues

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While Greece has covered itself with camps and has become a trap in which exiles are caught and blocked on their way to the countries of Europe where they hope to build their lives, an abandoned hotel was transformed into a self-organised welcome center. It was April 22, 2016.

The City Plaza celebrated the anniversary of its six months of existence from 10 to 13 November, through debates and activities for children. It also called for mobilization for the 18th of December, International Migrant’s Day. It is a place of hospitality in connection with the particularly lively social movement in Greece.

You can follow the activity of City Plaza hotel here :

http://solidarity2refugees.gr/city-plaza/

 

Greece : after the camps at the Macedonian border, eviction of the Pyraeus camp

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After Idomeni (see here and here), Polykastro et the other camps near the Macedonian border, the greek authorities have evicted and destroyed the Pyraeus Camp, near Athens.

https://www.facebook.com/HelpRefugeesUK/photos/a.123267671367248.1073741830.111893659171316/271369746557039/?type=3&theater

The material conditions in the overcrowded camps setteled by the Greek State are hardly better, as the recent reports of Pro Asyl and Catholic Relief Services show.

You can download Pro Asyl report here.

You can download Catholic Relief Services report here.

The asylum procedure in Greece remain widely unaccessible, as this report from the Greek Forum of Refugees shows.

You can download Greek Forum of Refugees report here.

 

Greece: a lawyers organisation sues the European Asylum Support Office

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The agreement between the EU and Turkey provides exiles arrived in Greece from March 20th 2016 to be returned to Turkey. But these people can apply for asylum on Greek soil, and more and more Greek courts consider that the return to Turkey is illegal, this country can not be considered safe for people seeking protection.

In this context the European Asylum Support Office, which works alongside the Greek authorities to deal with asylum requests, prevents the access of lawyers to the parts of the hotspots where applications for asylum are recorded and reviewed. For security reasons, of course, but security for whom?

The Lawyers Association of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, has therefore decided to sue the European Support Office on Asylum for this barrier to access to rights.

https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/op-eds/2016/06/15/new-security-on-greek-islands-reduces-access