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Legal action against Frontex welcomed by Left MEPs

With mounting allegations of human rights violations and illegal pushbacks against Frontex, a group of lawyers and an NGO have today initiated legal action against the EU border agency’s executive director demanding  immediate suspension of all its activities in the Aegean.

Launched by Amsterdam-based Front-Lex, and the NGO Legal Centre Lesvos, the 34-page submission accuses Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri of being in breach of the agency’s own regulation (Article 46), and for the “numerous violations of fundamental rights and international protection obligations related to acts and omission in the Aegean Sea.”

Many of violations have been described being of “a serious nature and (are) likely to persist”, which, according to Article 46 should automatically lead to a suspension of its operations.

Should Leggeri fail to comply, legal action may be brought before the EU Court of Justice.

Amongst the accusations submitted today include Leggeri’s failure to comply with the agency’s due diligence obligations when launching Rapid Border Intervention Aegean operation in March 2020. In the process, Leggeri’s disregard for fundamental rights and international protection obligations points to a structural failure at the agency; the same reasons Frontex’s operations in Hungary had to be terminated at the end of January.

Leggeri is also accused of deliberately misleading members on the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee during two separate appearances – leaving out critical information on both occasions.

Commenting on the legal challenge, Sira Rego (Izquierda Unida, Spain), one of two Left MEPs on the EU Parliament’s new Frontex Scrutiny Working Group, welcomed the legal action:

“We warmly congratulate and support this courageous initiative in the fight for human rights.”

“This legal challenge has come amidst a growing number of open investigations against Frontex, including those by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the European Ombudsman, and soon, the Frontex Scrutiny Working group in the European Parliament.”

“Today’s development is further proof that Frontex is totally out of control. It is vital that we get to the bottom of the matter and put an end to the impunity that Frontex has hitherto enjoyed.”

“The Left in the European Parliament will do everything possible to find out what really happened and who is responsible, so that no rights can be violated again at the EU’s borders,” Rego concluded.

Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany), who also sits on the Scrutiny Group, echoed those sentiments:

“We fully support the legal action taken against Frontex today, requesting immediate suspension or termination of their activities in the Aegean Sea.”

“The submission not only once again underlines the numerous violations of fundamental rights and international protection obligations related to acts and omission of the Agency in the Aegean Sea, which are of a serious nature and likely to persist, it also highlights Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri’s failure – in good faith – to present all the facts in his two appearances before EU Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee. That is unacceptable.”

“The Frontex Scrutiny Group must take into consideration all the information entailed in this new legal action. Our group will work closely with Front-Lex and the Legal Centre Lesvos throughout this process, and we will ensure that real action will follow from the Scrutiny Group’s investigations,” she added.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Maso Notarianni on Flickr

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