On 20 March 2013, as part of the Frontexit campaign launched by members of the Migreurop network and its partners, two representatives of Malian organisations have become victims of the EU’s border externalisation policy and of arbitrary decisions by private companies whose employees are acting as border guards. Securicom is one of many security firms to which airlines have outsourced the responsibility of travel document validation during check-ins and when boarding flights to Europe. This strategy aims to avoid paying carriers’ penalty fines imposed by the country of destination if a passenger were to be refused entry upon arrival.
The privatisation of migration controls – usually the competence of border authorities – has given extensive yet almost uncontrolled powers to security companies, leading to profiteering, human rights violations and ludicrous situations.
For instance, on 19 March, although they were holding perfectly legal documents, Securicom refused our Malian colleagues access to the Bamako/Brussels flight via Lisbon on the ground that the visas stamped on their passports were fake. They were finally able to take a Bamako/Brussels flight via Abidjan only after they bought another ticket and were given a certificate by the Dutch authorities proving the authenticity of their visa. However, Securicom was also carrying out checks when they transited through the Ivory Coast. The company claimed – contradicting common sense and arithmetic – that the date of their respective return flights (4 and 6 April 2013) extended the length of visa’s validity (which was valid until 14 April 2013) and that our colleagues would need to book another return ticket to meet the legal requirements to enter Belgium. The Securicom office in Abidjan then booked two return tickets for 30 March from Brussels to Abidjan. What about their return to Bamako? Securicom’s disproportionate zeal resulted in our colleagues finally reaching their destination after a 31-hour journey at the cost of two extra return tickets per person.
Migreurop’s members are, once again, shocked by these arbitrary practices which cast suspicion on citizens from Southern countries. We are outraged at the consequences of European policies which infringe on free movement. We denounce the externalisation and the privatisation of EU border controls outside its territory which hinders the organisation of meetings between citizens from the North and the South of the Mediterranean.