Tag Archives: West Africa

Migration: Civipol, the French multinational that sells security in Africa

The terrorism fever and the migrant crisis have contributed to change the international cooperation of the European Union. No longer only an instrument to close the gap with inequality, to build new commercial opportunities and for growth, the money allocated for international cooperation has also been invested to “instruct”, with lots of money, the countries with strong migratory pressure in order to stop the migrants before they cross the Mediterranean.

Security beats development. Forgetting, according to some observers, the respect of human rights. In this process of transformation, new mixed agencies have been created, far from being non-governmental, but neither public agencies. They are private companies with public funds, at whose command sit statesmen.

The projects of the Trust Fund for Civipol

After a year and a half from its inauguration,  the European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has an allocation of 2.8 billion. The principal scope, for which it was created, is to accelerate the intervention to fight the roots of the migratory phenomenon. The Sahel is an area in which some of the principal projects supported by the Trust Fund are concentrated. Here, the fourth most financed organization, after the UN organization against migration IOM and the German GIZ and Spanish FIAPP, public agencies of cooperation, is Civipol, French giant of formation and consultation in the field of security, with projects worth 44 million euro. To these, the French company adds a portion of the 46 million euro that the Trust Fund has allocated for “Border Migration Management,” a detailed project for the control of the frontiers in the Horn of Africa, headed by the German agency GIZ.

What is Civipol?

Civipol was created in 2001 as a supplier of services (audit, consultation, technical support and formation) for the French Ministry of the Interior. However, from 2006 onward, it has always had a more international vocation, obviously concentrated in the former French colonies. From a  “state company,” Civipol has become an international player of cooperation, almost as a totally private player. This way, the company becomes always more independent of public support, strong in its ability to be awarded projects outside of France.

Civipol knew how to make space for itself in a very competitive market; in 2016 it bought the Belgian Transtec, a company well known in the sector of consultation for projects of a humanitarian nature and cooperation for development, two of the fields among which the French were weakest. Furthermore, Civipol has a client portfolio which includes Michelin, the naval transport company CMA CGM and the communication company Data4. 40% publicly held by the Ministry of the Treasury, the rest is divided among Airbus DS and Thales with over 12%, then Morpho and Défense Conseil International (DCI – group tied to the Ministry of Defense) with about 10% and minor shareholders Allianz France and the company of the French airports, with just over 1%.

Furthermore, on the board of directors sit managers from large state agencies that participate in the capital of Civipol, the crème of the French industry. At the beginning of 2016, it had 59 projects in course for commissions of a total value of 94 million euro. The field “internal security,” that calls for the cooperation of Civipol with law enforcement, is what produces almost two thirds of the commissions, one fourth comes from projects of civil protection and the remaining 6% is derived from administrative consultation.

Violated Human Rights?

Is Civipol’s securitarian mission compatible with the prerogatives of international cooperation, like the promotion of human rights? Benoit Muracciole, formerly responsible for the campaign for arms control by Amnesty International France, now director of ASER (Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines), association for disarmament, claims “we believe that in the matter of security there has been a regression; private entities which are involved do not have the faintest clue about human rights.”

“Safeguarding human rights” is not a vague formula states Muracciole, but it is necessary to follow procedures that have been ratified at the level of the United Nations and Europe. They foresee principles sanctioned by international conventions, like proportionality, use of force as extrema ratio and the possibility of investigating police forces, untouchable in autocratic countries. “We have no idea if Civipol and other private agencies that do formation in the field of security in France and in the world follow these directives,” he adds, “In the documents one only frequently reads ‘human rights’ but it is not clear what it means.”

In 2015, the Cash Investigation program on France2 conducted an investigation on the repression of the protests against the regime in Manama, Bahrain – alimented by the Arab Spring – where, between 2011 and 2014, a strong opposition by the Shiite majority was born against the Sunni minority which supports the Al-Khalifa royal family.

From 2001, France has an agreement  of cooperation in the emirate with law enforcement. In particular, in 2008, companies like Civipol and DCI conducted courses of formation for the “democratic management of crowds.” However, those same law enforcement groups trained by the French killed dozens of demonstrators. Not only this, following the formation, France increased the sale of arms and security material, from 3 million euro to 27 million euro in 2011 when the protests erupted. A fact that raises different questions. Especially because Civipol is the organizer of Milipol, an international arms trade fair, in which private entities, governments and international agencies meet to reach new agreements.

It is one of the most important arms trade fair in the world. There are three trade fairs: in Paris, Doha and Singapore. Singapore hosted Milipol for the first time from the 4th to the 7th of April 2017; on its website, Civipol explains that 266 exhibitors from 36 countries, 4 thousand visitors and 70 delegates from 11 countries attended. However, in its FAQ section, the company states that it does not promote the sale of “equipment” nor security “materials.” Not even weapons.

Agreements in Libya

The public shareholding of Civipol renders it a unique company. In fact, it has the French State as a great promoter. The best testimonial possible. For example, in Libya, since 2013, at every meeting between Libyan and French diplomats there has been talk of the services of Civipol within the negotiations. After all, every European government tries (rightfully so) to show off its industrial jewels abroad. And for France, Civipol is part  of this category. An obvious case goes back to May 2014, when, in Paris, the French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve proposed to his Libyan counterpart Saleh Mazeg Abderrahim al-Barassi a formation program for the Libyan military forces conducted by Civipol.

It was the time during which France was trying to become the most influential European power with the newly created Libyan government. Three months after the effective entry of Transtec in the French group during the autumn of 2016, Civipol is still in Libya supporting the NTC, the government of national unity, for the formation of new Libyan institutions through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “As of October 2013,” reports Africa Intelligence, “it has signed a contract for the formation of one thousand policemen and 64 Libyan officials.”

The project with the Janjaweed in Sudan

Over 65% of Civipol’s foreign commissions are in Africa. Of the 40 countries outside of the EU where Civipol is present, 35 are in Africa. Among them, there is one that has already raised much discussion in Europe. It is the agreement for the formation of border guards between Libya and Sudan, that has as its leaders GIZ, the German cooperative agency, the French equivalent Expertise France, the British Council, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNODC, the UN office for the fight against drugs.

The project is called “Border Migrations Management” and is worth 46 million euro. According to the magazine Africa Intelligence and the report published by a group of four euro-parliamentarians of the GUE (Group for the European United Left) after a visit to Khartoum, former Janjaweed militia received formation to become policemen of the new Sudan, the same who massacred civilians during the war in Darfur. One of these ex-combatants Mohamed Hamdan Dalgo, alias Hemiti, has said to have stopped over 300 migrants at the border between Sudan and Libya.

Hemiti, along with his militia, has been accused by Human Rights Watch to have conducted attacks against civilians in Darfur. Nevertheless, he has been placed at the head of the Border Guards. Not only, on August 3, 2016, Italy signed an agreement with the Sudanese police forces to expedite the procedures for forced repatriation. The two projects have yielded parliamentary inquiries, both in Rome and Brussels, because Sudan is not considered a country that respects human rights.

By Lorenzo Bagnoli

This investigation report – Diverted Aid – has been funded by the European Journalism Centre (EJC) via its “Innovation in Development Reporting Grant“.

Cover picture: EUCAP Sahel Mali. Training activity for civil police in the region. Credits: EU

Africa: EU uses development funds for migration control

Military equipment, police tranining, centers for repatriated migrants and computerized systems for the collection of digital fingerprints that will guarantee, in Europe, the identification of the country of origin of migrants therefore making easier their expulsion. The objective: control the migrations from Africa and reinforce for this scope the governments of the countries of origin and transit of those who would want to cross the Mediterranean.

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After more than a year from its creation, the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has allocated over 600 million euro for these types of projects. The Trust Fund has been criticized because it finances projects in countries with dictatorship and regimes accused of crimes against humanity, like Sudan and Eritrea. Following the mobilization of Ngo’s like Oxfam and Concord, the European Parliament also denounced that the Trust Fund – 2.8 million as of today – has been filled up with money funded by the Union for the fight against poverty. Which, this way, risks to be emptied.

The Relocation of the Funds

One of the first acts of the European Agenda on migration was the convocation of a Euro-African summit, in October 2015 at Valletta. In such occasion, the leaders of the European countries created the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, an instrument outside of the control of the European Parliament, with the objective of rapidly financing initiatives to “confront the deep-seated causes of irregular migration.”

Today, the Trust Fund has an endowment of 2.8 billion euro, almost 95% taken from instruments of the Union devoted to cooperation and humanitarian aid, in particular, from the European Development Fund, while only 152 million euro are from funds freshly added by the countries of the Union. The 2016 Report of the Trust Fund lists 106 projects approved to date for almost 1.6 billion euro. They are principally managed by public agencies of cooperation for the development of European countries and international organizations like IOM and UNHCR, but also in some cases, by private agencies like the subsidiary of the French Ministry of the Interior, Civipol.

The refusal of the Community of Sant’Egidio

In Mali, country in which development is so tied to the remittances of migrants (800 million dollars arrived solely in 2016 through official channels) to have a ministry for Malians abroad, the Trust Fund has approved a project of 25 million euro to consolidate the civil status registry that anticipates the creation of a computer archive of biometric data, or in other words digital fingerprints and other biological characteristics “to be used – one reads in the action document – for the identification of Malian migrants abroad in irregular situations.”

That is, to favor repatriation. The same project will be realized in Senegal with 28 million euro. In both countries, the funds will be managed by the Belgian development cooperatin agency and by Civipol, which will take care of the computerization of the archive. The Community of Sant’Egidio, which initially had agreed to work as a consultant for the two projects, told us that they have withdrawn their adhesion. This happened because the initiative for the creation of the civil status registries, presented for various African countries, was only approved for Mali and Senegal, where Sant’Egidio does not have a sufficient presence on the territory, and not in Burkina Faso where the program for free child registration of the Community would have need of a new impulse.

We do not know why the project was approved by the Trust Fund in Mali and Senegal and not in Burkina Faso where Sant’Egidio would need the money to continue its work in favor of the protection of children’s rights against violations such as child marriages. We know, however, that unlike Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal are (together with Nigeria, Ethiopia and Niger) countries considered a priority by the EU for the  stipulation of agreements within the Migration Partnership Framework.

The critics of the European Parliament

“This way, one risks concentrating the aid towards the countries geographically interested by the routes towards Europe, forgetting the poorer countries”: Elly Schlein, Italian member of the European Parliament, claims in regard to the Trust Fund. “The objective of the cooperation for development is only one: the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality. I would like to understand how projects that are all aimed towards border management can reduce poverty and inequality. It seems to me that vice versa they risk further growth”, she says Schlein, who leads a working group on Migration and Refugee in the Development Committee of the European Parliament, adds. 7

Schlein’s affirmations are shared by the European Parliament, which has criticized the Commission for having “subtracted allocations for the objectives and the principles of the fundamental acts in order to distribute them through the Trust Fund,” denouncing how this represents “a violation of the financial rules and compromises the long term strategies of the Union.” In essence, the Trust Fund, though handling several billion euro of public funds, is not subject to the control of the democratically elected organ of the Union.

To the question posed to the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, his spokesperson answered affirming that “the European Union recognizes a tie between security and development” and that the support, as of now, concretizes in different ways, including the formation of law enforcement and their equipment “with the exclusion of lethal equipment.” In reference to the relocation of the funds, he objects, “The operation Trust Fund is in line with our procedures” and he lays claim to the transparency of the Trust Fund, citing the annual published report.

The Discrepancies in the Report of the Trust Fund

The interventions of the Trust Fund are distinguished on the basis of four priorities: the first two, or rather “economic development” and “resilience,” require actions linked to the fight against poverty, like the creation of jobs and the offer of aid to the populations in difficulty, but the objectives 3 “management of migration” and 4 “governance” – that absorb almost 40% of the resources of the approved projects – refer to interventions in favor of repatriation and the fight against irregular migration. Analyzing the 2016 Report of the Trust Fund, we noticed that the total per objective of the projects’ amounts, according to our calculations, did not correspond to the tables published in the first part.

Underlining this discrepancy to the team of the Trust Fund, we were told that this happens because the funds destined to projects having more than one objective have been considered by the authors of the report as corresponding wholly to the first objective cited; this way, in the report, the total of objectives 3 and 4 on migration management, results lower in respect to the results that we obtained dividing equally among the objectives.

The Trust Fund and the new routes

Philippe Renault, director of the French agency of cooperation (AFD) – that in Niger manages along with Civipol the project “Support to justice, security and the management of the frontiers” worth 30 million euro – wants to underline what distinguishes the actions of the cooperative agency from those of the private company, “We work towards the strengthening of the Nigerian agency for the fight against irregular migration while Civipol supports the police and law enforcement.”

“Unlike Civipol,” he adds, “we put our funds at the disposition of the Nigerian government through the responsible ministry.” The project, that allocates 20 million euro to the government as “support to the budget”, 6 to AFD and 4 to Civipol, aims to apply law 36/2015 against human trafficking. Issued by the Nigerian government, after pressure from Europe, this law in the last months, on one side, has resulted in a reduction of departures towards Libya from the Nigerian region of Agadez, also called the “door of the desert” for its strategic position along the routes of the Sahara, on the other, in the establishment of dangerous alternatives that pass through Mali and Chad.

“The alternative routes, created after the closing of the traditional passages, avoid urban centers and are therefore more dangerous,” adds Olivier Neola, head of EUCAP Sahel Niger, the mission of the European Commission to assist and sustain the security forces in the country. “Thanks to the experience we have accumulated on the territory, we collaborate on the projects of the Trust Fund for security,” Neola affirms. This happened for the project worth 41.6 million euro for the creation of “rapid response units” within the law enforcement  of five countries of the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad) managed by the Spanish cooperative agency FIIAPP. According to the tentative budget that was published, 28 million euro are destined for the equipment of law enforcement.

Meanwhile, the recommendation of the Parliament on the necessity of not changing the scope of the funds already allocated seems to have been ignored by the Commission, that in September presented the project of a European Fund for Sustainable Development, to promote private investments in the countries with whom there is an interest in signing agreements, to facilitate migration control and repatriation. It is a fund of 1 billion euros managed by the European Investment Bank, that would receive a contribution from the European Union of 750 million in cash for the guarantee. Of the 750 million euro in cash expected to form it, 400 of which should to be taken, once more, from the European Development Fund. This way, the Fund established in 1957 to favor the escape from poverty of the ex colonies, which has become the principal European instrument for the fight against poverty (30.5 billion euro in the period 2014-2020), is always more often used to keep citizens of these countries away from the European Fortress.

By Ludovica Jona

This investigation report – Diverted Aid – has been funded by the European Journalism Centre (EJC) via its “Innovation in Development Reporting Grant“.

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Civipol, the French multinational that sells security in Africa

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The majority of African migrants move between countries on the continent

Immigration to the West accounts for less than 50% of all global migration according to data from the United Nations. Most people move from one non-Western country to another, yet their stories are rarely told. Journalism about immigration focuses overwhelmingly on those coming to North America and Western Europe, even though individuals who move within the Global South make up the majority of refugees and migrants.

Claire Adida, the author of Immigrant Exclusion and Insecurity in Africa: Coethnic Strangers, published this year, wrote to me in an email:  “Africans migrate in Africa all the time, looking for economic opportunity, interacting with members of their host societies, carving out a life for themselves away from their hometown. They have been doing this for generations.”

Adida, who is also Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California-San Diego, added: “Yet we know very little about these communities, their struggles and successes, and we have very little data. This is therefore a phenomenon that remains very much informal and poorly understood.”

In her new book, Adida explores the diversity of immigration experiences in urban West Africa. The book is one of the first to explain immigration integration in the developing world.

Immigrants, for example, make up 3% of Ghana’s population. At least 80% of immigrants who come to the West African nation are from other African states, according to a report from the International Organization for Migration (IMO). Many come from neighboring states, such as Nigeria.

Most economic migrants arrive to Ghana from neighboring countries, partly because Ghana is a part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The economic partnership of fifteen West African countries was founded in 1975, and aims to foster free migration within its borders.

Ghana’s borders have recently become even more porous. Beginning in July, the country began to offer tourist visas on arrival to citizens of all 54 African Union (AU) member states. Historically, it has been more difficult for Africans than for American and European tourists to travel within their own continent.

While in Ghana’s capital in June, I met a group of Nigerian immigrants selling cellphones along the streets of Madina, a bustling neighborhood on the outskirts of Accra. One of them, Henry Nnamdi, 33, held up a shiny red Samsung, and explained that he left three young kids to move to Ghana four years ago to earn more money for his family.

In the same market was Charles Moses, 30, another mobile phone salesman. He came to Ghana only six months ago, after the Nigerian government demolished his clothing boutique in order to build a bridge.

While his lack of knowledge of local languages has made meeting new friends difficult, “We Nigerians mingle with Ghanaians very easily,” he said. Nnamadi and Moses are some of the thousands of Nigerian immigrants who come to Ghana each year, largely to find opportunities for work.

While many migrants who leave neighboring countries to come to Ghana are unskilled laborers, some bring important trades to the country.

“I decided to move to Ghana because I wanted to learn an approach to medicine in an Anglophone country,” Van Nam Glouzon, 30, a doctor originally from Ivory Coast explained to me. Glouzon, who also speaks French and Russian, noticed that most medical research is written in English, and believed practicing in an English-speaking country would allow him to stay on the cutting-edge of his field.

According to research conducted at the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies, a significant number of male migrants who came to Accra reported that moving delayed marriage. Many said they had trouble renting a room, which delayed marriage even further.

Not all people who come to Ghana from neighboring countries are male. Nearly half of them are women, the University of Ghana report indicated. Olivia Ogechi, 26, is one of them. She moved from Nigeria’s southern Imo State in order to pursue nursing school in Accra.

Continue reading on Africa is a country

By Louise Matsakis

Cover picture: Charles Moses, 30, a new immigrant from Nigeria’s southeastern Anambra State, smiles in front of the wall of a house in Madina, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Accra that is home to many Nigerians. Image credit: Louise Matsakis.

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