Frontex ignores evidence of pushbacks - European Parliament reports
Resignation of Executive Director a first, but necessary, step
Today, the European Parliament’s Frontex Scrutiny Working Group releases its final report on its investigations into Frontex’s alleged fundamental rights violations.
The report clearly shows that there are violations taking place at the EU’s external borders and acknowledges that Frontex, the EU’s border agency, was aware of them and failed to act, a clear breach of its own regulation. The agency did not prevent these infringements, nor did it reduce the risk of future fundamental rights violations.
The Left has received mounting evidence of Frontex complicity in pushbacks at the EU’s external borders. This includes video footage provided by Frontex to the members of the Frontex Scrutiny Group during the investigation that shows a pushback by Greek authorities, witnessed in real-time by Frontex officers who do nothing.
While the report acknowledges the lack of action by Frontex, despite its awareness of pushbacks, it fails to clearly acknowledge the agency’s direct involvement in illegal pushbacks. During the investigation, right-wing groups prevented key witnesses and stakeholders from delivering direct evidence. This meant that victims, civil society groups who have documented evidence such as Border Violence Monitoring Network and Seawatch e.v. were refused a hearing, preventing MEPs from considering vital evidence that could have changed their assessment. Moreover, key Frontex witnesses of violations by the Greek Coast guard, such as members of the Frontex Danish crew that had refused to carry out an illegal action, declined to come.
Left MEP Sira Rego said: “We cannot share all the views of this report. It fails to hold Frontex responsible. The extreme right does not want to take into account the testimony of migrants. We need to consider what we have seen, otherwise the European Parliament risks being an accomplice to these rights violations”.
In the report, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri is criticised for his repeated failure to respond to fundamental rights violations and a refusal to “follow up on the many expressions of concerns, recommendations, opinions or observations submitted over the course of four years”.
MEP Cornelia Ernst added: “Leggeri has repeatedly lied to the Parliament. Our investigation shows that he acts like a king with absolutist methods of ruling, his latest attempt being the expansion of his cabinet to 63 staff members, all under the sole supervision of his head of cabinet. He ignores his obligations, refusing to implement key fundamental rights provisions. There is no excuse for this.”
The Left calls once again on Executive Director Leggeri to resign immediately. Over the course of his six-year tenure at Frontex, Leggeri has widely proven his unsuitability to head the agency.
Unfortunately, simply changing the leadership of the agency will not remedy violations of fundamental rights happening at the external borders. Frontex is just another element in the EU’s migration policy, which is based on the militarisation and externalisation of borders, on the dehumanisation of people and on the violation of their rights. Every day at Europe’s borders, asylum seekers are locked up in detention centres in deplorable situations.
The Left demands the abolition of Frontex and a profound rethink of EU border and migration policy.
About the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group
The Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee was created four months ago.
The mandate of the FSWG is to monitor all aspects of the functioning of Frontex, including its reinforced role and resources for integrated border management, the correct application of the EU acquis, and its execution of Regulations (EU) 2019/1896 and 656/2014.
At the time of its creation, in March 2021, the FSWG was requested to carry out a fact-finding investigation, gathering all relevant information and evidence regarding alleged violations of fundamental rights in which the Agency was involved, was aware of and/or did not act, internal management, procedures for reporting, and the handling of complaints.