Europe’s Guantanamos


The European Union takes illegal immigration seriously. The poverty that pervades Africa and Asia has made Europe a magnet for migrants looking for a better life.

The leaders of Europe see migration from these poor continents  as a threat to  the prosperity that so many Europeans enjoy.

A threat so serious as to require draconian measures that shimmer with the similarity of the barbarous human rights violations that accompanied WWII.

In an extensive report by Migreurop, the human rights violations that the EU’s restrictive immigration policies are responsible for shatter preconceptions that Europe has any concern for the rights of humans who are not a member of their exclusive club.

Subcontracting The Dirty Work

Part of the current immigration control strategy of the EU is to encourage third nations, such as Libya, to stem the flow of migration before it can reach the EU’s borders.

In fact, the EU has allocated 60 million Euros from 2011-13 to Libya so that it can “offer greater assistance in the field of health care and to fight illegal immigration“. (emphasis added)

Italy, in particular, has given Libya 10 million Euros to fight irregular immigration in the Sahara and in the Mediterranean.

To African nations overall, the EU has made available 250 million Euros from 2004-08 and again for 2009-13 largely to “aid third countries to ensure a better management of migration flows”.

In the superficial sense, the above seems innocuous; substantively, it is a different story.

In Libya, there are 20 known immigrant detention camps. A report by Fortress Europe documented the conditions of these camps:

These camps are often “old warehouses fitted out for the purpose of detention and guarded by the police. […] The accounts talk of detentions that have lasted months and, in some cases,years, without any trial, in unbearable conditions with up to 60 or 70 people in cells measuring six metres by eight, with a single toilet. Women are systematically victims of sexual violence by the police.

The first-hand accounts of these camps are more descriptive and thus induce greater outrage:

We are 600 detainees in Misratah, all of us Eritreans. There are around a hundred women and fifty children. The first group of 450 people has been inside for a year and a half, the others were taken there four months ago […] Before taking us to the centre they took everything from us. Some had refugee papers that the police ripped up. Some women were raped by officers. At least seven people have been admitted into hospital with nervous breakdowns. […] We don’thave any medical care. We sleep on the floor in groups of 60. In the daytime, the heat is unbearable and makes the stench from the toilets riseback up the pipes. We are given three drums of water to drink, for 600 people. At night, it is cold and we don’t have any covers”

“There were 78 of us in a cell measuring six metres by eight. […] We were so hungry. A plate of rice could be shared between eight people”.[…] There was one toilet for 60 people.[…] “There were lice and fleas everywhere, in the mattress, in the clothes, in your hair. […]Sometimes, the police came into the room, they picked up a woman and raped her in front of us.

A European Commission in 2004 mildly criticized the conditions in these camps, yet stated that they are acceptable in the view of the general context.

The general context being something like the very important fight against “illegal immigration”, akin to the abandonment of all principles in a fight against “terror”?

Most definitely.

Even outside of the detention centers in Libya, the migrants fare no better, or worse: If the Libyans cannot deport some migrants, they simply abandon them in the desert.

The description of these camps is nothing short of arbitrary torture. If the Libyans, or other African flash points of migration, are keeping the migrants away from Europe’s borders, Europe has not and still does not hesitate to be an accomplice to known torture and other serious human rights violations committed by its partners. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.

The EU Rings Hollow

Ever since the United States employed Guantanamo as a prison to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects, the European Union has been one of the more notable voices in advocating for its closure, stating that the fight against terrorism should be done “firmly and tenaciously” but at the same time  “cannot be waged in breach of international law and at the expense of established basic, shared values such as respect for human rights, the rule of law and the relevant Geneva Conventions.”

Yet in its fight against “illegal immigration”, the EU acts quite similarly to its US counterparts in endorsing the abandonment of established “basic, shared values such as respect for human rights, the rule of law and the relevant Geneva Conventions”. But given the United States recent descent into the more repressive immigration tactics practiced by the EU(See SB1070), the criticism has, alas, not been reciprocal.





Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Europe’s Guantanamos”

  1. Tweets that mention Europe’s Guantanamos « El Gringo Gigante -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bryan Johnson and Bryan Johnson, Bryan Johnson. Bryan Johnson said: Europe's Guantanamos. #immigration #torture #humanrights […]

  2. World Spinner Says:

    Europe's Guantanamos « El Gringo Gigante…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: