Europe stands accused of creating a proxy force in the waters off Libya to do what its own member states and agencies cannot do themselves without openly violating international laws: intercept unwanted migrants and return them to Libya. The EU and its border agency Frontex have long denied this accusation even as resources are channeled to the Libyan coast guard which has intercepted tens of thousands of people trying to reach Europe across the Central Mediterranean.
There is a confusion of actors at sea with a Frontex mission, an EU naval mission, member states’ maritime rescue centres and national coast guards, non-governmental organizations operating rescue vessels, as well as two separate Libyan authorities acting as coast guards. What role are Frontex and associated European air surveillance assets playing in the interception and return of asylum seekers by Libyan forces?
The darker version of events, supported by independent experts and humanitarian NGOs, declares that the capacity building is a fiction, serving as a thin layer of deniability over Frontex and Italian command and control over a Libyan interception force. In this version, the withdrawal of European vessels and the investment in aerial surveillance is about directing the interception operations.
What does the evidence show?
Author(s): Sara Creta et al.
Full Title: FRONTEX in the Central Mediterranean
Publisher or Journal: Lighthouse Reports
Year of Publication: 2021
Document Type: Article