Frontex was aware of human rights violations in Greece, German news outlet says

European Union border protection agency Frontex was aware of human rights violations and pushbacks by Greek forces in the Aegean Sea, German newspaper Der Spiegel wrote on Thursday.

Der Spiegel reported that a months-long investigation by the European Parliament led to the conclusion that Frontex had evidence of illegal push-backs by the Greek Coast Guard but “failed to address and prevent the violations of fundamental rights “.

In a report seen by German media, it was stated that despite numerous reports of alleged violations of the law, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri had never considered ending Operation Frontex. nor how to put an end to human rights violations.

“On the contrary, the executive director continues to claim that he is not aware of any information on violations of fundamental rights,” he said.

Frontex, which oversees the European Union’s external borders to 27 countries, is under pressure following a series of allegations of illegal refoulements of migrants, notably in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey. Charity groups and the media accuse Frontex of denying people their right to seek asylum.

On paper, Frontex is held legally responsible by the 27 member countries and the European Parliament.

At sea or at land borders, however, Frontex operations are controlled by the country in which they take place. In the Aegean Sea, where numerous pushbacks have been reported, the Greek coastguard is monitoring the agency’s operations. This is where the lines of responsibility get muddy.

Refoulements are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which stipulate that people must not be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety could be in danger because of their race, religion, nationality or affiliation. to a social or political group.

Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants wishing to enter Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start a new life. Turkey has also accused Greece of large-scale refoulements and summary deportations without migrants having access to asylum procedures, in violation of international law. He also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant violation of human rights.

The Turkish Coast Guard command rescued 5,693 irregular migrants who were pushed back by Greek forces in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas in the first half of 2021, according to data from the Coast Guard website.

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