Bruxelles, 6 dicembre 2016. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della Conferenza “Do increased deportations mean more orderly migration?” organizzata da The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) e dall’eurodeputata Birgit Sippel (S&D).
First, I would like to thank Birgit Sippel and PICUM for organizing this important conference.
To the question you ask – “Do increased deportations mean more orderly migration?” – my answer is clearly negative. Increased deportations to countries like Turkey, Libya, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan are deliberately ignoring the reasons of mass flights. They seem to forget that wars, conflicts, State failures which push millions of people out of their country are the consequences of European and US military and foreign policy choices, for which we bear a special responsibility.
It’s an externalisation of European asylum and migration policy, and when I say externalisation I mean de-responsabilisation and something more: EU governments and institution are increasingly falling prey to fear: to be precise, fear of the fear felt by a growing number of EU citizens and voters, incapacity to lead and explain them that the affluence of refugees in our countries represents a mere 0,2 per cent of the EU populations. Roosevelt used to say: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. But we are experiencing something more vicious. The governments themselves are frightened by the fear of their own citizens and voters. Externalization is part of a politics of fear, and that’s the reason why we often have the impression that the EU agenda of migration is de facto in the hands of the extreme rights, and of special private interests representing the security industries.
European governments and institutions are trying to be reassuring, repeating that refugees are returned in safe countries. But the opposition coming from judicial authorities and researchers is growing: their conviction is that readmission agreements, whether bilateral or managed by the EU, infringe the rules of international law on asylum, in particular the principle of non-refoulement recognized in the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. The rules are equally infringed when the migrant is returned to transit states, where he risks being exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment and to a second return to his origin country. Some readmission agreements, also at national level, have been criticized by the EU Courts.
I am thinking in particular of the agreement between Italy and Libya concluded in 2001 (between Berlusconi and Qaddafi) that gave rise to the European Court of Human Rights’ case “Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy”, in which the Court found Italy guilty of violating several articles of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The list of migrant’s returns is long. I personally followed two grave cases: the Italian decision last year to return 20 Nigerian women victims of trafficking, and the deportation of 40 Sudanese migrants to Sudan, last summer: in this case, the forced deportations were prepared and facilitated by an agreement signed on Aug. 3 between Sudan and Italy.
These kind of agreements are extremely dangerous, because they link development aid to migration control. In the Italian-Sudanese deal, they also tend to be secretly negotiated between law enforcement authorities and not by Foreign ministries, excluding the national Parliament from any decision. The same happens in the EU institutions, as we have seen with the EU-Turkey agreement: it has been renamed “statement”, and the scrutiny by European Parliament was avoided. The EU-Turkey agreement has become a role model, imitated in the consecutive Migration compact proposed by the Italian government last April. Exactly the same happened last October 2 with the Joint Way Forward Agreement of the EU with Afghanistan, rebaptised “declaration” to avoid – again – scrutiny by this Parliament. There is a method, in European madness.
Let us consider this last agreement, which allows Member States to deport an unlimited number of asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Amnesty International and many human rights groups were appalled to see that EU has put the condition for development aid in return for Afghan citizens.
It’s time to stop lying and fearing. Migrants and refugees returned to Afghanistan or Sudan or Eritrea face greatest dangers, these countries are not safe and that’s all. It’s not true that Afghanistan is safe and stable, as pretended by the US administration. The suffering of the people is increasing, the control of entire provinces by the Taliban has never be so extended since 2001. Isis is controlling parts of the country. It’s simply untrue what has been guaranteed last march in a non-paper written by the Commission and the European External Action Service: that there are “safe zones” in Afghanistan where migrants can be returned notwithstanding the general insecurity of the country.