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Branimo Evropo (2890 bralcev)
Ponedeljek, 28. 9. 2009
Romana Z.

Evropska unija je zaprla še ena vrata, ki so omogočala tako beguncem kot ostalim migrantom iz afriških držav stopiti na evropska tla. Radikalni ukrepi Evropske unije imajo temu primerne posledice.

Roman Herzog je edini novinar in avtor audio dokumentarca We defend Europe, ki mu je bil dovoljen dostop do zapornikov in beguncev v libijskih centrih. Posnetim izjavam iz zaprtih centrov je dodal mnenja libijskih oblasti, tamkajšnjih NGOjev, združenih narodov in mednarodne organizacije za migracije IOM.

? Can you tell us something more about your first documentary?

In 2004 I did some work on Lampedusa. There was this case Cap Anamur. The boat Cap Anamur saved 27 refugees that tried to get to Europe in rubber boat. As the refugees were drowning, Cap Anamur, which was a humanitarian ship, tried to save their lifes and took them in accordance to international agreement to the next safe harbour. So, they wanted to bring them to Lampedusa. This was the political situation when European interior minister decided this illegal migration in the Mediterranean must be stopped. Cap Anamur is not only a symbol but also the exact date of the very important change in European policy. 22 June is the exact date of political change and I believe as important date as the fall of the wall. Frontex is just a coordinator, an agency of EU, who is really responsible. In Frontex operations military units of the member states collaborate to protect European borders. Actually they are saying they are defending the borders, but there is no aggression towards which they are defending the borders, they are just preventing asylum seekers and migrants to enter EU borders.

In 2004 I wanted to do the work on that already, I already had the first news about detention centers in Northern Africa states that were funded by European community. Then I continued that I wanted to do a work on Frontex and in 2007 luckily Germain NDR agreed and I was able to do this work which I wanted to do already in 2004. But in these 3 years, ofcourse, the political development has gone much more forward - we had Frontex, which was founded in 2005, we had more camps financed by EU, even in Libya. In this documentary, War in the Mediterranean, I wanted to do some sort of overview, show the development of European immigration politics 1998 to 2007. This is a long development.

It is European politics but it started as German politics because in 93, when they changed constitution this was the beginning of this what later on resulted as Fortress Europe which we have today. Because in 93, when the German constitution was changed; because Germany had to accept every asylum seeker asking for protection. In 92 we had 400.000 refugees asking for asylum. In these years we had right wing groups coming up and said this has to be stopped. There was no reason for that because Germany always integrated immigrants well. And from economic point of view there was no reason for that because economy players state that we need people working in Europe from abroad and this was just a harsh reaction. So the Germany implemented a rule, when you ask for asylum in one country you do not have the right to enter next country. This policy is becoming an European policy and now we have this model - all the border states, all the arrival states have to deal with bigger pressure.

Now they are externalizing but not to the member states but to the border countries like Russia, Ukraine and African states. And there are European member states dealing with dictatorship because there is no right to asylum guaranteed, no political freedom guaranteed or even human rights of the countries` residents in not guaranteed. In Tunisia we have a dictatorship where hundreds of thousands of Tunisians are imprisoned because of the political system. Human rights issues in this political decisions, especially in Frontex decisions, have no role.

? Can you tell us something more about Frontex? What is the legal foundation on which it operates?

Frontex is just an European agency, it is not an intergovernmental body or something. This means there is no parliament control over it. There is just a board of directors, interior ministers are in this control board but we have no independent control level on the legal level. Actually nobody knows what Frontex does, the plans are not published, no international organization, not even Amnesty, UN has the access to these information. Everything is secret, even simple things as normal conversation. When working on my PhD on Frontex I was half of year in Warsaw where they are based and it was impossible to do the research because every single paper is declared secret. So actually we have a body which is out of control. That is the most important point on which human rights organizations insist. It is very important that Frontex becomes more transparent. So why they keep everything secret? What comes out of this actions is what migrants tell us. The military forces in the Mediterranean borders and also in the eastern borders ... in Senegal, Morocco, according to Frontex, the boats with refugees and migrants are simply diverted in the international waters. According to Frontex this is legal acting. Some human rights groups and NGOs said their actions are illegal and made statements this cannot be true.

This is why NGOs did official studies and what came out was that in international waters countries are bound up to international agreements. In accordance to Geneva convention and human rights laws that diverting migrants and asylum seekers is not legal. But member countries and Fronex do so.

Some NGOs tried to go to Strasbourg and even if we have some little little success. There was a case when they returned the migrants and asylum seekers from Lampedusia already in 2004 and it was repeated again in 2007 and 2008. This was declared illegal by the European Court of Human Rights.

But there was no binding or punishment... because of the bilateral agreement - for instance between Lybia and Italy, they have been diverting the boats to Lybia.

The politics we have cannot be right, this is what human rights critics emphasize. Sentences of the European Court of Human Rights have no effect on concrete political executive level and that is problematic reality which should make us think about our democracy in our states.

?Why FRONTEX denied activities in Libya?

It is a normal thing Frontex does. Frontex is a coordinator and is not responsible, member states are responsible. Frontex is therefore just coordinating but Spanish, Italian or French boats divert. They always say it is captain's responsibility, but the captain does what Frontex coordinates. So they always say:"We are not doing that."

This is a good example of how politics are going on today without responsibility even in case for illegal action. Even the national state when they are accused they are sentenced but there is no follow up. Maybe they wait for a year or two and then they just continue doing that. On June 18th, the case when of 73 migrants died , even if Italians and also Malta saw them and they just left them in the sea. This is a new thing - now they are not saving lifes as they did before, now with new agreements and new policy, coordinated by Frontex, they just leave them in the see. Ofcourse, as we call it, at the moment they have cold feet because we are at the point when we will bring to Strasbourg a case where Frontex and directly member states will be accused of illegal practices and there will be talk about murder.

In your documentary War in the Mediterranean you managed to get the statement from Frontex that some units coordinated by Frontex sequester foodstuffs and fuel from the boats of illegal immigrants, thus forcing them to return from where they have sailed?

I was really shocked when I recorded that. During the conference the Italian Guardia di Finanza, who was the commander of the operations, said that Frontex operational plans are: diversion should consist in going on the boat, taking them the fuel, the food and leave them as much as they need to return from where they departed and therefore they should think twice if they want to go ahead. This is really cynical, but this was the statement! After that he never gave another statement and now he is not any more commander in Rome and fighting cameras instead of migrants. In the interview he was not denying that and just repeating that Frontex is a coordinator! And then he said: "We assure that the actions are in accordance to the law."

But the laws are being interpreted by different member states in different way. That was the most important trail to understand how we implement the laws. We have the laws but every member state in Europe can interpret the laws in one`s one ways and this is legal according to the European community and Frontex. It cannot be right that every state interprets the laws in its own way, we should have clear definition.

As Frontex is a coordinator it was not said they are doing that - it can be that way but what it was said was was :"Operational plans consist of going to the boat, requesting the food and the fuel..." They didn`t deny it, they cannot say it because it is true.
The plans are not public and this is what NGOs are asking for - for concrete actions and transparency of their missions.

?Were there any feedbacks from Frontex?

No, they didn't comment on that. Later on when other critics came Frontex just did a general statement that what they did are acting according to the human rights.

? Also they never replayed to the request to open information?

? Your last documentary We defend Europe was premiered these days. Can you tell us what is it about and what was the feedback?

For me this was the next step after the work on Frontex and European Camps in North Africa which I analyzed on the basis of the papers and interviews I had with migrants here in Europe. The next step is going there. I was very lucky. We were first journalist to get acces to Lybia to visit the detention centres and with patrols on their actions to see in Sahara to see what Libyan military is doing. I don`t think they are so happy with the results and with what came out because after that no journalist is allowed to get in. Even Amnesty and UN has no access to camps afterward. It is reaction to the reports Gabrielle Del Grande etc. wrote. We got the interviews from the inmates and from the prisoners and these interviews are very hard. People describe how they were tortured and how they have been there for years and how they have no medical assistance. They are beaten, they are put into prison cells, 4 to 5 meters, 50 people, obviously in inhumane conditions, without blankets, without nothing and they stay there for months, for years and the only way to buy freedom is to for 500 $.

We have other interviews with the refugee from Tripoli who was saying that he bought his freedom 13 times. For 5 years he has been trying to reach Europe and he has been imprisoned and bought his freedom 13 times. And he is a political refugee from Eritrea. This is a clear case of asylum seeker to whom the right was denied.
Libya always claims it has no political refugees because it is only a transit country. But we have interviews with refugees saying they would like to stay in Libya but they cannot stay in Libya because they have no protection. There are no possibilities for refugees. This is what the content of this documentary is - in what kind of situation EU is pushing Libya to do it. This is what the title of the documentary is, We Defend Europe: the soldier in the Sahara is explaining how he is proud of his work, fighting the migration. And he is proud of doing it for Libya but also for Europe. He defends Europe as Europe asked it. This is the perception of Libyan military forces and police and I think it should make us think.

? What were the feedbacks at the premiere, what are your expectations?

Feedback was very good and people were overwhelmed, it was much media and large audience. We had long discussions with guests, with Dagmawi Yimer, the author of very good documentary Come un uomo sulla terra. I am very satisfied with that. I receive mails and phone calls from people. People are shocked , they want to know what they can do. People are asking what they can do. Even one proposal came in that they would buy peoples freedom.

But apart from that I don't expect that it will change anything in politics. When I recorded the statement about Frontex operational plans I expected something should happen because this is really big news. But nothing happened. Now Amnesty is trying doing something on the European level. European community and European Commission... they know about that. The European community asked for a copy of my documentary, European Parliament asked for a copy . On the parliamentarian level it is interest, but Parliament has little little influence on European Commission. And European Commission is responsible but they are happy with the collaboration with Libya. They don't want to offer any more political protection in Europe and that is what we are confronted with. This has to be addressed by the bases of our democracy which is all the people who can pronounce themselves against this policy.

So the externalization of asylum system is already reality.
Yes, it is there right now.

Intervju z Romanom Herzogom je opravila Romana Z.
več informacij o delu Romana Herzoga se nahaja na naslednjh povezavah:


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