The EU is not allowed to return refugees to countries where they face persecution. In 2017, the Commission therefore set up a backdoor for refoulement to North Africa. Published text messages now reveal how Frontex is providing aerial reconnaissance for the Libyan coast guard.
Four years ago, Frontex began setting up its aerial surveillance over the central Mediterranean. Under a new regulation from 2016, the European Border Agency is allowed to buy or lease its own equipment. With the change, the EU wanted to respond to the increasing number of people seeking protection at its external borders. Frontex has since invested hundreds of millions of Euros in charter flights with small planes from European companies that monitor the central Mediterranean and the so-called Balkan route with cameras and radar equipment.
For the now increasingly powerful agency, this flight service is of central importance, which is also reflected in the annual expenditure. This year alone, Frontex is spending a third of the budget earmarked for operations on aerial reconnaissance. Meanwhile, Frontex has supplemented its chartered aircraft with a drone with much greater endurance. „WhatsApp to Libya: How Frontex uses a trick to circumvent international law“ weiterlesen
Frontex wants to use a new platform to automatically detect and assess „risks“ on the seas of the European Union. Suspected irregular activities are to be displayed in a constantly updated „threat map“ with the help of self-learning software.
The EU border agency has renewed a contract with Israeli company Windward for a „maritime analytics“ platform. It will put the application into regular operation. Frontex had initially procured a licence for around 800,000 Euros. For now 2.6 million Euros, the agency will receive access for four workstations. The contract can be extended three times for one year at a time.
Windward specialises in the digital aggregation and assessment of vessel tracking and maritime surveillance data. Investors in the company, which was founded in 2011, include former US CIA director David Petraeus and former CEO’s of Thomson Reuters and British Petroleum. The former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gabi Ashkenazi, is considered one of the advisors. „Artificial intelligence: Frontex improves its maritime surveillance“ weiterlesen
Last week, the EU Border Agency decided on the multi-year deployment of large drones in the Mediterranean, now Italy is following suit. The contractors have already carried out tests for Frontex over the past two years.
The Italian Ministry of the Interior is providing €7.2 million for the operation of drones in the central Mediterranean. The police and the financial police, who is also responsible for border security, will use the unmanned aerial vehicles by day and night against irregular migration from countries such as Libya and Tunisia. The EU Commission is funding 50% of the procurement with money from the Internal Security Fund.
The contract was apparently awarded to the Italian arms company Leonardo. The firm is to provide up to 1,800 flight hours for an initial year. The drones will be stationed at the Sicilian airports of Trapani, Lampedusa or Ragusa. The Ministry of the Interior demands a deployment radius of about 550 kilometres. The contract has an initial term of one year and can be extended twice. „Italy and Frontex now monitor the Mediterranean Sea with large drones“ 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
A German public prosecutor’s office is investigating the shooting of the ship „Alan Kurdi“. Its crew could be caught between the fronts of two coastguards equipped and trained by different EU missions.
With the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS) and the Libyan Coast Guard and Port Security (LCGPS), two authorities with overlapping functions exist in Libya. The Ministry of Interior Coast Guard is a law enforcement agency operating within the 12-mile zone and along the coast, while the Ministry of Defence Coast Guard is responsible for territorial waters.
In a „marine strategy“, the Libyan unity government in Tripoli intends to reorganise the responsibilities of LCGPS and GACS. The two responsible ministries are supported in these efforts by the European Union in a „Maritime Sub-Working Group on Libya“ (MSWG). Central actors are the military mission EUNAVFOR MED, which cooperates with the Ministry of Defence, and the EUBAM Libya police mission, in which the EU cooperates with the Libyan Ministry of the Interior. „Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya“ weiterlesen
Many „foreign fighters“ return to their home countries, 40 Germans and 130 French citizens alone are to be transferred from Kurdish prisons. The authorities are collecting „battlefield evidence“ to bring them to court.
Many „foreign fighters“ in Syria or Iraq are citizens of EU member states, and after the defeat of the „Islamic State“ they return in part to their home countries. A total of 500 fighters and 900 supporters as well as 1,200 children and adolescents from 44 countries are said to be in the custody of Kurdish militias, but the figures are not substantiated. Without giving a source, the German magazine „Spiegel“ writes of 800 jihadists in total.
At least a dozen (Kurdish reports talk about 40) „foreign fighters“ are said to be detained by Kurdish militias, perhaps 130 from France. The Kurdish autonomous government is urging that they return to their country of origin and be brought to justice. Also the U.S. Government demands to bring these people to court at home, the issue was discussed at the recent meeting of the Global Coalition against IS. „Interpol investigates war crimes in Syria and Iraq“ weiterlesen
Under the neighbourhood policy the southern Mediterranean countries are supported with a police programme. Since 2004 measures in „cyberspace“ are on the agenda. Once again, this is the surveillance of social networks, upload platforms and video telephony.
The European Union wants to train North African countries in Internet surveillance. This is what Johannes Hahn, Commissioner responsible for EU neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, writes in his reply to a question by MEP Sabine Lösing. In an unnamed „partner country in the southern neighbourhood“, training courses on „social media investigations“ are to be held as part of the „Euromed Police IV“ police programme. Further measures are to be taken in the areas of „cyberspace and terrorism“. These include financial investigations and digital forensics. „European Union trains North African authorities to control the Internet“ weiterlesen
The German Ministry of Defence is supporting Tunisia in the development of an electronic border surveillance system. An already-existing barrier is now being extended along the Libyan border to the border town of Borj AI Khadra in the Sahara. The recipient of the initiative is the Tunisian military, while the overall project is planned in cooperation with the US government and is being implemented by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The financial assistance received from Germany is vaguely stated by the government as a „double-digit million amount“.  „Germany assists Tunisia with electronic border surveillance system“ weiterlesen
Libya is to become the first third-state to join the EU’s satellite-supported “Seahorse Mediterranean” network. The Italian military is currently setting up the necessary control centres, to be followed by a new application for a search and rescue zone, supported by Italy. In the end, the Libyan coastguard is to coordinate all maritime search and rescue missions itself.
Shortly after Muammar Gaddafi‘s fall from power in 2011, the European Union attempted to incorporate Libyan border surveillance into European systems. Just one year later, rebels in the first post-revolution government signed a declaration with the intention of establishing maritime situation centres in the capital Tripoli and in Benghazi. The Libyan coastguard, which is part of the military, was to be linked with the Mediterranean Border Cooperation Centre (MEBOCC) in Rome. Libyan border guards would then have been provided with information from the European states bordering the Mediterranean in real time, in order to prevent refugees from crossing to Italy and Malta. „A seahorse for the Mediterranean: Border surveillance for Libyan search and rescue zone“ weiterlesen
Tunisian border authorities are receiving equipment and training assistance from the German Bundeswehr and the Border Police in the course of a number of projects. Existing measures are now being extended. Manufacturers of surveillance technology stand to benefit.
The German Government is helping Tunisia pursue the ongoing development of an electronic border surveillance system. A section that has already been constructed is now being extended along the Libyan border to the border town of Borj El Khadra in the Sahara. This was disclosed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to a minor interpellation. The overall project is being planned together with the US Government. The intended recipient of this “training initiative” is the Tunisian military .
The American Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has been tasked with the concrete implementation of these measures. Costs of extending the installations are not known. The financial aid received from Germany is explained vaguely as being “in the tens of millions”. „Germany funds new border control technology in Tunisia“ weiterlesen