“Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.” Article 12.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Europe is pushing border controls down south.
In order to improve the effectiveness of the fight against illegal immigration from sub-Saharan countries, Europe has undertaken an aggressive program in cooperation with the states bordering the Mediterranean and subsequently with the Sahelian countries. The aim is to reduce migratory movements in the Sahara region, but too often this is done without respecting human rights.
Since 2001, representatives of Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia in the south and Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal in the north) have “reached an agreement” on the issue of migratory flow management between Africa and Europe. The results of these agreements are clearly favourable to Europe which is expanding its control southwards.
The tightening of migration policy in the States of North Africa was confirmed at the Ministerial Conference on Migration in Western Mediterranean (Tunis, October 2002). While those measures initially concerned controls in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of Africa, they now extend to some states of the Sahel area.
Europe endowed itself with material and financial resources allowing it to ensure the control of its borders and also beyond its borders with the creation of several programs such as SIVE in 1998, a system of electronic surveillance of the southern coasts of Spain, Frontex in 2004 for the management of operations at the external borders of the EU or the Sahamed programme managed by Italy since march 2010. In addition, several inter-state agreements were concluded between European and Northern African states. These measures do not answer questions related to immigration, border control, and especially respect for human rights: they merely shift the problem elsewhere, out of sight of European citizens.
Migrants travelling to Europe face many dangers during their journey and have no protection. These journeys may have psychological or physical consequences. Migrants are often trapped in detention camp for a time ranging from a few days to several months. During this period there has been evidence of human rights being violated repeatedly. The migrants detained in unacceptable conditions have no access to information, are not able to talk to a lawyer and are then discharged without being able to take back their belongings or their money. They sometimes face torture, rape degrading acts. Refugees sometimes see their papers torn by police and Asylum Seekers never see their rights respected in defiance of international law. This continued disregard of human rights has been denounced by many organizations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch.
Moreover, this phenomenon of migration is a significant source of revenue for both carriers (and other private actors) and for States ‘agents who have established a system of taxation in complete illegality which strips migrants of their modest financial resources (police officers will ask money to migrants in a number of “check points”).
European Alternatives advocates for the establishment of a better, fairer and well-structured collaboration between the EU and third-countries in the area of border controls which will effectively take into account migrant rights.
Migreurop, Aux frontières de l'Europe, contrôles, enfermements, expulsions.
Frontex: The Movie (feat. noborder camp in lesvos 2009)