Will the EU reconsider Frontex’s role in light of accusations about violations of migrants’ human rights?

Visit of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC, to Poland. © European Union, 2017 / Date: 21/03/2017. Location: Warsaw – European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, Warsaw – Frontex. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Wojtek Radwanski.

The European border agency Frontex has been found to violate human rights and abuse its power to make excessive use of force and mistreat migrants according to latest research conducted by the ARD political magazine report München, the British Guardian and the search center CORRECTIV.

However, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has been denying all these accusations about infringement of human rights taken place at the EU external borders. More so, the agency claims that it has not received any complaints against its officers.

Background

Frontex has been by default tasked by the EU bloc to control the borders of the European Schengen Area in coordination with the authorities of the member states. Thus, Frontex has been empowered to manage the flows to the EU.  In 2015, the European Commission proposed to extend Frontex’s mandate and to transform it to a fully-fledged European Border and Coast Guard Agency which was approved by the EU Council and EU Parliament. Since then the agency has been massively expanded with 700 employees who are even expected to be increased to 10.000 by 2027 according to the European Commission. Furthermore, the budget is projected to be increased by more than 500% in the next two years.

Frontex violations

The reporters of the ARD political magazine report in Munich, the Guardian and the search center CORRECTIV had an inside look into internal documents of Frontex where officials of the agency are being described to used batons and pepper sprays to subdue displaced people as well as dogs to hunt them through forests as push-backs violating the international law. In particular, the guards were exercising excessive use of force in Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary but Frontex didn’t remove not even one of them and cases were happily closed, as it is usually the case in the EU bureaucratic monster.

What is more, another point that needs to be stressed refers to the deportation flights which have been organised by the EU agency. In these flights Frontex’s guidelines are not respected as minors were not deported with the accompaniment of an adult which raises serious concerns and doubts about the compliance of the Frontex code of conduct with international human rights. Are there any specific procedures followed in case of a suspected violation such as the latter?

Indeed, Frontex Code of Conduct stipulates that its Executive Director can take measures such as the immediate removal of the staff member from the activity and his reference to the authorities of the officer’s home Member State in order to take additional obedient sanctions. However, none of those took place in this case.

Frontex denies all accusations

However, the EU border agency has denied all accusations regarding any violations of maltreatment of migrants taken place in the EU borders. More specifically, Frontex responded through its twitter account saying that: “#Frontex categorically denies any involvement of its officers in violations of fundamental rights. We condemn any form of inhumane treatment, unprocessed returns and any other form of violence which are illegal under the European Charter for Fundamental Rights”.

EC’s response and Frontex’s accountability

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency is accountable to the European Parliament and the European Council in accordance with article 7 of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation. The EU executive body is the one to supervise Frontex. The European Commission has invested a lot in the success of this agency in order to fight migration crisis and must now conduct an investigation of Frontex violations which have caused doubts about its supervision. In particular, Mina Andreeva, Chief Spokeswoman of the EC, said that: “The European Commission is always concerned about reports of the mistreatment of migrants. Any form of violence and ill-treatment against migrants and refugees is unacceptable”. The Spokeswoman ensured also that the EC will “follow up the allegations with Frontex to determine if they are true and act accordingly”.

Asylum seekers should be treated fairly and with respect

If agencies like Frontex, which should be supporting the EU countries in the management of EU external borders, hunt refugees down, abuse them and prevent them from requesting asylum, then it is clearly not the way to handle migration crisis and manage the influx of migrants. The violation of the EU laws and the migrants’ human rights by Frontex should not be left unanswered and has to be treated accordingly by the executive body of the EU through rigid investigation in order to verify whether or not such incidents do occur.

All in all, it is crucial that the European Commission, which is responsible to oversee Frontex’s work and operations, takes into serious consideration the research of ARD political magazine report München, the Guardian and the search center CORRECTIV and control the agency’s tasks, authorities and increased power making sure that migrants are treated in a fair and decent way and asylum is provided to them when requested as per international law. It is imperative to see that the responsible EU officials don’t cover up the story and go on Summer holiday but instead they cast light on the crucial topic of human rights violations that Frontex is accused with.

The EU should not spend a bonanza of money from its budget to finance agencies which violate fundamental human rights opposing to its core values. The EU citizens’ money have to be well-spent at the moment when immigration has been a perennial issue for the bloc.

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Comments

  1. Matasaosuga says:

    Illegal Migrants have no rights

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