New proofs of the involvement of Frontex in refugees push-backs – What is Polito doing with the contract?

Thanks to the Spiegel and, in Italy, to Luca Rondi at Altreconomia, we have now even more proofs of how Frontex is engaging in the violent pushback of migrants at EU’s frontiers.

On the basis of their work, I have written again to the Polytechnic of Turin’s Chancellor asking for clarity on our direct involvement with the Agency (back story, here) and, in particular, to the decision of the Polytechnic’s Senate not to rescind our contract for the production of maps to Frontex, but to pursue it simply by inserting a ‘clause’ in the agreement that should bind the Politecnico and #Frontex to respect human rights… (see here).

Turin, 18th March 2022

Dearest Chancellor,

Dearest Pro-Chancellor,

Dear Director and Vice-Directors of DIST, and representatives of Full Professors in the Academic Senate,

I am writing to receive clarification regarding the Frontex affair, on which the Polytechnic Senate expressed its opinion on 14 December 2021. Three months have passed since the resolution that provides for the inclusion of a so-called “binding clause” related to the observance of “respect for human and fundamental rights” both by the “researchers” and the “agency” involved in the agreement “Frontex OP/403/2020/DT”. If possible, I would like to understand a) whether this clause has been included; b) if it has been, how this has happened; c) if it has been, what guarantees and monitoring arrangements for compliance have been put in place.

I know that the last few weeks have seen your people, and our Athenaeum, taking action to offer support to refugees caused by the Russian conflict in Ukraine. However, it is important to emphasise that there can not be first and second-class refugees. The Frontex issue clearly draws attention to other conflicts (Syrian, first and foremost) and other geopolitical realities (such as the Sub-Saharan area) that we cannot ignore – especially when we engage, as DIST and Politecnico, in services with an Agency that has clearly, and repeatedly, violated the “human and fundamental rights of people”.

You will have read about the caos (Spiegel’s word) in which Frontex finds itself following the latest, recent revelations about its modus operandi. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to this new, damning evidence of Frontex’s active involvement in the cover-up of push-back operations in the open sea off the Greek coast.

Beyond personal opinions, and the interpretation that each of us has of the migrant “issue” and of the work of the EU and its agencies, there is at the very least an image problem in associating this Polytechnic with the work of Frontex. The consequences of our involvement with Frontex are something that no ‘clause’ can bind to change. We need to dissociate ourselves firmly, and urgently, with the work of such Agency.

Awaiting your kind reply, I send my best regards.

Michele Lancione

Full Professor of Economic and Political Geography
DIST, Polytechnic and University of Turin
Visiting Professor of Urban Studies, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield
PI, ERC Starting Grant “Inhabiting Radical Housing”.
Editor, The Radical Housing Journal | Corresponding Editor, IJURR


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