Expert opinion: Dealing with refugees at the Greek-Turkish border is illegal

I have an expert opinion entitled No State of Exception at the EU External Borders in the first place.

It states that EU states may not suspend the right of asylum or refuse to accept asylum applications. Greece has acted illegally by suspending the right of asylum for one month. Pushbacks or deportations without an individual procedure violate EU and international law. Pushbacks or deportations without an individual procedure cannot be justified under EU law or European human rights law. Dealing with people on the Turkish-Greek EU external border violates the fundamental values of the Union such as the rule of law and respect for human rights.

You can find the full report under this Link

Expert opinion proves: Federal states may take in refugees on their own!

I've commissioned an expert opinion that, under the title: „Reception of refugees from the camps on the Greek islands by the German Bundesländer-Legal conditions and borders“ has been published. It states that the federal government may not refuse to accept some refugee children by the federal states. So the government is unlawfully rejecting existing offers. This does not mean that the federal states or municipalities are now responsible here. Above all, the Federal Government and other EU states must now act quickly with the EU Commission! The expert opinion has been planned for a long time and is now ready.

You can find the report under this Link.

My current assessment of the situation in Greece

Instead of talking about racist marauding gangs at the external borders, the Greek coast guard refuses to rescue people, attacks rubber dinghies and puts people's lives in danger. Anyone who shares the military rhetoric of "European shield" or an "attack on the EU" or supports the Greek demand for "maximum deterrence" agrees with the right-wing mob and racist violence. Because anyone who says: "We are under attack, violence at the borders is necessary" also says: "Strike, it's only self-defence". The European Commission, the German government and 26 other EU states capitulate to an autocrat with border guard perseverance slogans.

The inhumane policy of the last few days is a gift for Erdoğan. The last few days have shown that only a few thousand fugitives have to stand at the external borders and already fundamental rights and basic human rights are being abrogated. Greece denies people the right to apply for asylum and so far Ursula von der Leyen and most European governments seem to simply tolerate this.

The responsible politicians are overwhelmed by the situation and seriously expect Turkey to take in another million people from Idlib, while at the EU's external border children are being shot at with tear gas so that nobody can claim their right to asylum in the European Union.

There is an alternative to the current chaos and the breach of our European values. We must immediately organise humanitarian aid at the external borders. We must set contingents, evacuate people from the Greek islands in an orderly fashion and then check in various states who is in need of protection and who is not. Only through humanity and order can we find an answer worthy of Europe.

To respond to those seeking protection with violence and military rhetoric is absolutely unworthy of Europe.

For questions and further information please contact our press officer Krsto Lazarević at your disposal.

Humanitarian crisis in Greece: Germany & Europe must offer refugees protection

Click here for the Petition!

A humanitarian disaster is unfolding on the Turkish-Greek border: after the Turkish president Erdoğan opened the border with Greece, thousands of refugees have set out to apply for asylum in the EU. In Greece, the police use violence to prevent people from entering the country. 

the greek government declares deterrence in defence of the eu's external border. at the same time, greece has announced that it will suspend the right of asylum. for months, more than 40,000 people have been waiting in completely overcrowded camps on the greek islands. this situation on the islands is no longer tenable. journalists and aid organisations are being threatened by right-wing groups and the authorities are not protecting them. only a quick response from eu states can prevent further escalation. the federal government must also act quickly. 

What should have happened a long time ago is now all the more necessary: the European Union has a duty to support Greece in dealing with the situation by all means possible. Humanity and order must now be the guiding principles of the EU. This is a European emergency, not a Greek one. If we leave Greece alone now, we will contribute to further suffering, insecurity and instability. 

We therefore call for four immediate measures:

  1. The Federal Government should take in a quota of refugees from Greece and the Aegean islands. If Germany leads the way in Europe, other EU countries will follow more easily, and the goal must continue to be a fair and rapid redistribution of refugees within the EU. 
  2. The Federal Office for Refugees (BAMF) and the Federal Government may no longer block the family reunification of persons seeking protection in Greece with their relatives in Germany. Many refugees in Greece - including many unaccompanied children - have a legal claim to family reunification under the Dublin Regulation. The Federal Republic of Germany is responsible for their asylum procedure and they have to be transferred to their relatives in Germany. 
  3. The right to asylum is a human right: people seeking protection within the EU cannot be deported without an individual examination of their asylum application. The German government and the other EU countries must support Greece in such a way that refugees are registered at the EU's external border and then given access to a fair asylum procedure. Only fair asylum procedures can determine who is in need of protection and who is not. 
  4. Police violence against refugees must stop. tear gas and water cannons only aggravate hardship and do not solve anything. this is not how europe should deal with people seeking protection. journalists, lawyers and NGOs must be protected and must be able to do their important work unhindered. the federal government must work together with the eu to ensure that fundamental rights are respected at all levels. local authorities must enforce law and order instead of tolerating the violent mobs on the greek islands. 

The Turkish President Erdoğan is using the suffering of refugees to exert pressure on the EU. A common European response to this is needed. It is important that we provide humanitarian aid and defend the rule of law in Europe. To this end, let us address this urgent petition with as many signatures as possible to the Federal Government and the European Council: Germany must offer refugees protection!

With European greetings

Erik Marquardt MEP , Sven Giegold MEP, Clara Anne Bünger and Ansgar Gilster

Click here for the Petition

Request: Attack on rescue ship Alan Kurdi by Libyan militias

In order to be able to exercise my parliamentary control function as a Member of the European Parliament, I have the opportunity to put questions to the European Commission. The Commission must answer these questions.
On 02/28/2020, I received answers from the Commission to the following questions:

Question for written answer E-003535/2019 to the Commission

Subject: Attack by Libyan militias on the rescue ship Alan Kurdi

Men fired warning shots and threatened with their guns on board, endangering not only the crew of the Alan Kurdi, but also some 90 people in distress at sea. The Libyan ships had no boat identification.
There is also information that Abd Al-Rahman Al-Milad, known as Al Bija, who is on an EU sanctions list for involvement in human smuggling, has again taken over as head of the Zawiya coast guard.

1. can it be ruled out that the militias involved in the attack or the regional unit of the Libyan coast guard in Zawiya are being financed or trained by the EU, or is it at all comprehensible which funds flow to which coast guard?

2. what information does the Commission have about the militias involved in the attack and what steps have been taken, for example, to press another Libyan coast guard to investigate the case?

3. according to a new decree issued by the government in tripoli, NGO vessels operating in libyan waters will in future be required to obtain a licence from the libyan authorities; how will the Commission help to ensure that the libyan authorities bring this decree into line with international law and do not apply it in international waters, for example in their sea rescue zone?

Answer from Ms Johansson
on behalf of the European Commission:

The Commission has always considered it a priority to support the capacity of partner countries to improve search and rescue services for sea rescue, and appropriate management of migration requires a balanced approach ranging from ensuring protection for people in need to strengthening border management.

The main recipient of EU funds from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the General Coastal Defence Administration under the Ministry of Interior of Libya, has so far received a series of basic training courses for nearly 100 staff. 477 Libyan Coast Guard and Ministry of Defence naval officers under the Ministry of Defence have received training on human rights and international law, among other things, in Operation Sophia. This training has been carried out following a review process which ensures that the officers concerned are not on the UN sanctions list. The head of the Coast Guard, Abd Al-Rahman al-Milad, on the UN sanctions list is under investigation. The Libyan Coast Guard has informed the Commission that he has been suspended from the operational service.

Libya has ratified the Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue Services and in December 2017 announced the Libyan Search and Rescue Zone, clearly establishing that the primary responsibility for coordinating rescue operations in the designated region lies with the Libyan authorities. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the projects and improve cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard and the General Coastal Defence Administration in the context of these projects and in the framework of the EU Integrated Border Management Support Mission. The Commission's objective is to assist Libya to assume responsibility in its territorial waters in compliance with international standards.

Thick board 2 - Criminalisation of civil society and refugee helpers

In this episode I talk to Hendrik Simon, who is facing up to 20 years in prison for saving lives in the Mediterranean as part of the Iuventa crew, and Sean Binder, who was in prison in Greece for over three months for saving and helping people in the Aegean.

This is not worthy of the European Union, which is why I have invited these two and many other activists to Brussels to talk about how to end the criminalisation of aid workers. They deserve our thanks, not jail.

"We are facing up to 20 years in prison and up to €15,000 fine per person we rescued from the Mediterranean."

Henrik Simon

"I spent over three months in prison for trying to help people."

Sean Binder

Link list to the show 

Study proves: Migration to Europe independent of sea rescue

The "Migration Policy Center" comes in the study "Sea Rescue NGOs: a Pull Factor of Irregular Migration?"concludes that people don't get on dinghies in the rubber dinghies in the Mediterranean because there are rescue ships there. This confirms the results of previous studies, such as "Death by Rescue"[ Door Closes ] And... Border Deaths in the Mediterranean.

The present study has investigated for the period from 2014 to October 2019, whether there is a correlation between the presence of NGOs and the number of people who set off from Libya on their way across the across the Mediterranean Sea towards Italy is related. The is not the case. The evaluation took place month by month over the period of five years. During this time, the political situation on the Mediterranean Sea has changed dramatically several times. Instead of rescuing people from distress at sea rescue people from distress at sea, civilian aid organisations have had to take over this task in recent years. have had to take over this task in recent years. But their work is not only made more difficult – often they are criminalised and intimidated for their humanitarian work and intimidated. This is often coupled with accusations that the sea rescue is increasing the number of people fleeing Libya. But the study shows once again that this connection does not exist.

There are understandable motives that force people on the dangerous crossing. Libya is a politically disrupted state, where refugees and migrants from refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are threatened by torture, enslavement, sexual abuse and existential poverty. The people don't get on the rubber dinghies because there are boats to rescue them. There but more people die when there are no ships to rescue them.

In most cases, people do not wear life jackets and are not equipped with communication or navigation tools navigation equipment. Many cannot swim. The completely overcrowded boats are usually unable to reach the next safe place on their own. reach the next safe place. This alone puts people in distress at sea.

There is no evidence to support the assertion that people make their escape presence of lifeboats, there is no evidence. Nevertheless such connections are repeatedly brought into the discussion. Thus the FDP recently claimed in a Tweet of October 8, 2019, that Seehofer's promise, to take in people rescued from distress at sea in Germany would drive more people on the Mediterranean Sea.

Spiegel Online writes under the title: "More rescuers, more refugees - why this is so not true", which the results of the previous studies, which are now confirmed by the new study. confirmed by the new study. The migration scientist Matteo Villa collected data on how many migrants departed from the Libyan coast from the beginning of January to the end of June 2019, and Libyan coast and on how many of those days boats from private sea rescue sea rescue NGOs were in operation. His conclusion is that on the 31 days that NGOs were operating in the Mediterranean, the tugboats sent an average of sent 32.8 people out to sea; on the 150 days when no NGOs were present, the tugboats were present, the traffickers sent an average of 34.6 people on their way. Villa's conclusion, according to Spiegel Online: "The pull factor does not exist."


Sea Rescue NGOs: a Pull Factor of Irregular Migration?

Death by Rescue

Border Deaths in the Mediterranean

Inhumane conditions at Croatia's external EU border

At the beginning of August I visited the Bosnian city Bihać on the EU's external border and saw conditions there that are absolutely inhumane. The place has become a bottleneck for people seeking protection because they can't get any further from here. In Bihać you can see homeless refugees everywhere on the street because there is not enough space in the shelters. 

even worse is the situation in the informal camp Vučjak, which is located on a former garbage dump in the middle of nowhere. people are being driven up like cattle by the police, surrounded by mosquitoes and land mines. far too many men are crammed together in tents that are far too small, even the water has been turned off there in the meantime. the red cross is still distributing small lunch packages, but they are not enough. medical care is no longer available there after a team of volunteers led by the german photographer Dirk Planert was expelled from the country. the reason: they did not have a work permit. however, you cannot get a work permit either, because it is not an official camp. the conditions there are so bad that iom and unhCR do not want to become active, because they say that this would be tantamount to recognition of the camp. yet this camp should not exist at all. 

Although minors enjoy special protection, children are also included in Vučjak. I spoke to an eleven-year-old who told me that he was forcibly returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Croatian border police. What should I tell this eleven-year-old child about the EU community of values?

Escaped shows us his destroyed smartphone.

The Croatian police cannot simply send people seeking protection back to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Anyone who crosses the border into the EU has the right to apply for asylum. But this right is literally being trampled underfoot. A report by Amnesty International documents how the Croatian police mistreat people. In addition, their money is taken from them, their mobile phones are destroyed and some even have their shoes taken away. These are not excesses by individual police officers. This is systematic violence ordered from above. Individual police officers have already addressed Croatian media and said that they will be threatened with sanctions if they refuse to use this brutality against fugitives. 

It would be the task of the EU Commission to clearly identify this daily breach of law and, in addition to border protection, to ensure that an independent control authority is set up at the border. But the Commission has so far turned a blind eye. When Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Croatia shortly after her election as Commission President, she did not mention the daily breach of law at the EU's external border. The Commission also spoke out in favour of admitting Croatia into the Schengen area. I too would like Croatia to become a member of the Schengen area soon. But I would also like us to ensure that basic human rights are respected at Croatia's EU external border before then. Croatia will take over the EU Council Presidency on 1 January and the hard winter is approaching for the people in Vučjak and Bihać. 

I, along with other Members of Parliament, have expressed this criticism in a letter to the Commission, and we have asked it to work to improve the situation.

We must do everything in our power to find a quick solution and prevent people there from freezing to death on our external border. This situation deserves more attention. We must help Bosnia-Herzegovina to provide decent housing for people, but we must also demand that Bosnia-Herzegovina work on a sustainable solution. In addition, the illegal and violent deportations by the Croatian border police must stop.

Everyone deserves dignified treatment, regardless of their passport, and in Europe everyone has the right to an asylum procedure based on the rule of law.

Further information