According to a multi-media survey, the EU’s border agency tolerates abuses against migrants. The agency has defended itself, explaining that it does not have authority over the behavior of border police.
Frontex, the agency responsible for the EU’s external borders, is under fire from critics, accused by several European media – especially the British Guardian and the German ARD channel – of condoning abuses committed against migrants by Bulgarian, Hungarian and Greek border guards, and to have itself violated human rights.
Relying on “hundreds of internal documents Frontex”, the investigation conducted by these media outlets shows among other things that the staff of the agency let the border guards track down asylum seekers with dogs, resort to pepperspray or witheld care from them. These are some of many abuses that have been regularly “classified without continuation” by Frontex, according to the accusers.
They also reported that agents were directly involved in the expulsion of unaccompanied minors or sedated asylum seekers during their deportation, again relying on an internal Frontex document.
For its part, the Warsaw-based European agency, which has played a greater role since the migration crisis that started in 2015, categorically rejected the “involvement” of its agents in a “violation of fundamental rights”.
Cited by AFP, the agency explained that it carries out “a mission of support to the agents of the countries concerned” and that it has “no right of insight or investigation” on the actions of the local authorities. To date, no complaint has ever been filed against one of its members, it said.
“It should be noted, however, that while the agency may suspend an agent deployed by Frontex in its operations, it has no authority over the behavior of local border police and the power to conduct investigations in the territory of the EU,” Frontex added in a statement.
Frontex has 600 agents deployed in Greece, 93 in Bulgaria and 13 in Hungary, helping local forces in border control, the fight against false documents or the identification of stolen cars. In the field, these agents work “in teams” with the local border guards and can question the migrants, but also “stop and bring them back to the centers,” says a manager.
These agents, about 2 000 in total, have the obligation to report any violation of the rights of migrants. It is on the basis of these reports “compiled and brought to the attention of the countries concerned” of acts committed by their officials that the outlets accused Frontex of condoning the mistreatment of migrants.