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April 22, 2021

A walled world

Opinion

April 22, 2021

Companies that profit from selling surveillance technologies and border services to governments are actively lobbying countries to adopt more militaristic approaches to migration. In fact, the border and surveillance industry is now so profitable that it has become a keycommodity for major investment companies such as the Vanguard Group, BlackRock, or Capital Research Management, who invest on behalf of pension funds, insurance companies, university endowments or individuals' savings.

Over the past ten years, the global population of displaced people has grown substantially to at least 79.5million people, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. The agency estimates that since 2012, the number of refugees under its mandate has nearly doubled due to conflicts, including the war in Syria and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

The number of forcibly displaced people is expected to continue to rise, as it is growing even faster than the global population rate, due to conflict, economic insecurity and climate impacts that are forcing people to leave their homes.

However, instead of developing strategies to protect refugees and migrants, several governments around the world have focused their energies on building up borders to keep them out.

Over the last 50 years,63 walls have been built along borders or on occupied territory across the world. Authorities in the United States, Australia and the European Union have increasingly externalised their border controls to foreign countries, stopping displaced people from even arriving on their soil.

They have also been patrolling borders in ways that lead to the unlawful imprisonment, deportation and inhuman treatment of refugees and migrants. And these walls are not only physical, they are also digital, with governments around the world increasingly relying on artificial intelligence and biometrics.

Although governments are responsible for implementing these policies, it is companies that are lobbying, financing and profiting from the growth of the border and surveillance industry.

Governments are outsourcing border management to household name companies such as Accenture, IBM and Boeing, that provide surveillance technologies and services. And a newreport released on 9 April by the Transnational Institute (TNI), in collaboration with Stop Wapenhandel has identified that companies including Capital Research and Management (part of the Capital Group), BlackRock, Morgan Stanley and the Vanguard Group are financing this industry's expansion.

The result: more severe human rights abuses of refugees and migrants, with less accountability for the actors involved in perpetuating this abuse. “People on the move are increasingly confronted with a border security infrastructure specifically hired to treat them as a threat, to keep them out,” explained Daria Davitti, assistant professor in law at Nottingham University. “The levels of violence and abuse are unprecedented and in many cases unchecked.”

Excerpted: ‘Why You Should Be Concerned About the Rise of the Border and Surveillance Industry’

Commondreams.org