The Scientific Services of the German Bundestag consider it against two international conventions that Libya prohibits a private rescue organisation from flying over high seas. The Berlin government agrees, but does not change the problem. Therefore, the International Civil Aviation Organisation cannot intervene either.
The ban on civilian flights for sea rescue in the central Mediterranean by Libyan authorities violates international law. This had already been confirmed by the Scientific Services of the Bundestag in an assessment at the end of June. Now the German government agrees with this assessment. The demand for permission to fly outside state territory is „contrary to the principle of freedom of overflight on the high seas“, according to the answer to a parliamentary question.
According to the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Libyan aviation authority oversees a Flight Information Region (FIR) that extends outside the twelve-mile zone over large parts of the southern Mediterranean. Before entering a FIR, pilots must register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and declare their destination. However, the central Mediterranean is considered uncontrolled airspace where no such declaration is required. Aviation authorities are not allowed to impose restrictions there, at best, they can only provide indications and information, the Bundestag assessment explains. „Sea rescue off Libya: Flight bans by Tripoli violate international law“ weiterlesen
Italian media no longer receive information about their country’s cooperation with the Libyan coast guard. Whether many millions of euros for equipment have been wasted there can now hardly be clarified. It also makes the EU border agency Frontex more opaque.
The Italian government has drastically restricted the right of access to administrative documents. In the future, information on cross-border security cooperation is to be kept secret from the public. A corresponding decree restricting freedom of information was signed by Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese as early as mid-March 2022, reports the newspaper Altreconomia. The reason given is the threat to national security or defense.
Particularly affected is the intergovernmental „border and immigration management“ with neighboring countries. For example, cooperation agreements and technical agreements between the military and police will no longer be issued. Separately mentioned in the decree is information on „problems in border areas.“ „Secret border surveillance: Italy drastically restricts freedom of information“ weiterlesen
A new monitoring system for Tunisian coasts should counter irregular migration across the Mediterranean. The German Ministry of the Interior is also active in the country. A similar project in Libya has now been completed. Human rights organisations see it as an aid to „pull backs“ contrary to international law.
In order to control and prevent migration, the European Union is supporting North African states in border surveillance. The central Mediterranean Sea off Malta and Italy, through which asylum seekers from Libya and Tunisia want to reach Europe, plays a special role. The EU conducts various operations in and off these countries, including the military mission „Irini“ and the Frontex mission „Themis“. It is becoming increasingly rare for shipwrecked refugees to be rescued by EU Member States. Instead, they assist the coast guards in Libya and Tunisia to bring the people back. Human rights groups, rescue organisations and lawyers consider this assistance for „pull backs“ to be in violation of international law.
With several measures, the EU and its member states want to improve the surveillance off North Africa. Together with Switzerland, the EU Commission has financed a two-part „Integrated Border Management Project“ in Tunisia. It is part of the reform of the security sector which was begun a few years after the fall of former head of state Ben Ali in 2011. With one pillar of this this programme, the EU wants to „prevent criminal networks from operating“ and enable the authorities in the Gulf of Tunis to „save lives at sea“. „EU pays for surveillance in Gulf of Tunis“ weiterlesen
The EU Border Agency charters private aircraft to monitor the EU’s external borders. First Italy and Croatia have ordered the flights, now Frontex also flies in the Aegean Sea, above the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The service will soon be supplemented by large drones.
Five years ago, Frontex installed a new service for the monitoring of the EU’s external borders. For flights of this „Frontex Aerial Surveillance Service“ (FASS), the agency charters twin-engine airplanes from European companies. Initially, the private aircraft were deployed on EU missions in the maritime „pre-frontier area“ of the European Union. These missions „Poseidon“, „Themis“ and „Indalo“ are under the leadership of Greece, Italy and Spain. Normally, all planes and helicopters inserted there come from police or border police from the EU Member States.
With the FASS airplanes, Frontex for the first time used their own assets, which is possible after a change of the Frontex regulation in 2016. Since 2017, Frontex offers the FASS service in bilateral agreements to EU Member States. Their operational differs from a regular Frontex mission, the agency sends the chartered surveillance flights in the central Mediterranean also to the Libyan Sea rescue zone and thus further south than in „Themis“. „Frontex Aerial Service: Reconnaissance for the so-called Libyan coast guard“ weiterlesen
For three years, Frontex has been chartering small aircraft for the surveillance of the EU’s external borders. First Italy was thus supported, then Croatia followed. Frontex keeps the planes details secret, and the companies also switch off the transponders for position display during operations.
The European Commission does not want to make public which private surveillance planes Frontex uses in the Mediterranean. In the non-public answer to a parliamentary question, the EU border agency writes that the information on the aircraft is „commercially confidential“ as it contains „personal data and sensitive operational information“.
Frontex offers EU member states the option of monitoring their external borders using aircraft. For this „Frontex Aerial Surveillance Service“ (FASS), Frontex charters twin-engined airplanes from European companies. Italy first made use of the service in 2017, followed a year later by Croatia. In 2018, Frontex carried out at least 1,800 flight hours under the FASS, no figures are yet available for 2019. „Frontex aircraft: Below the radar against international law“ weiterlesen
„Hera“ is the only Frontex maritime mission on the territory of a third country. A new agreement might extend this joint border surveillance
The EU border agency Frontex wants to bring back refugees picked up in the Atlantic Ocean to Senegal. The EU Commission should therefore negotiate a so-called Status Agreement with the government in Dakar. The proposal can be found in the annual report on the implementation of the Regulation for the surveillance of external sea borders. It regulates the maritime „operational cooperation“ of Frontex with third countries.
It would be the first agreement of this kind with an African government. So far, Frontex has only concluded Status Agreements with a number of Western Balkan countries for the joint surveillance of land borders. The only operation to date in a third country was launched by the Border Agency in Albania a year ago. „Frontex wants to disembark refugees in Senegal“ weiterlesen