« Mos Maiorum»: The hunt against undocumented migrants in Europe

Mos Maiorum is yet another battle in the war the EU has waged against an imaginary enemy.

Between 13 and 26 October, police forces of the Member States of the European Union (EU) are to conduct massive control operations both within the Schengen area and at its external borders.

A week after the commemoration of the tragedy of Lampedusa in October 2013, a “hunt on migrants” operation dubbed ‘Mos Maiorum’ is to be launched in collaboration with Frontex and Europol. The large-scale operation, coordinated by the Italian Interior Ministry, aims at intercepting and collecting personal data on fake document holders, rejected asylum-seekers and smugglers.

Besides the fact that the European Parliament does not seem to have been informed of the operation, the lack of clarity as regards the legal basis and the practicalities of the operations is particularly problematic. No information is available as to what these interceptions will result in, and whether joint return operations will be organised.

Once again, irregular stay is deemed a criminal act, despite the Court of Justice of the EU’s jurisprudence (El Dridi ruling which condemns the criminalisation of irregular stay). Once again, asylum-seekers are seen as potential abusers of the system.

Once again, the collection of personal data is used to chase undocumented migrants.
This operation is reinforcing the fantasy of a criminal invasion in Europe. Frontex is used as a tool to implement discriminatory policies, and contributes to the violation of the rights of migrants and refugees, as demonstrated by the Frontexit campaign.

In spite of calls by civil society, the UN and the Council of Europe for facilitated access to the territory of the EU to put, and for an end to the growing death toll at the borders, the objectives of the Mediterranean Task Force have yet to be translated into concrete action. The absence of common rescue and reception mechanisms for migrants and refugees is at odds with the frenetic development of security-focused policies.

Mafia and criminal networks would not exist if legal entry channels were available to migrants and refugees.

Over 3,000 deaths in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2014, and the outcry against security-oriented migration policies is still falling on deaf ears.

Migration is not a crime. Migrants do not pose a threat. Refugees have the right to international protection. It is time that this murderous war against migrants, and symbolised by Frontex, stopped.