European border agency covered up human rights abuses in Greece: report

ANKARA

The European Union’s border agency has covered up illegal pushbacks of migrants by the Greek coastguard in Turkish territorial waters, a report from the bloc’s anti-fraud office revealed on Thursday.

According to the OLAF report, which was made public by Germany-based website FragDenStaat, Der Spiegel and Lighthouse Reports, Frontex concealed cases of possible human rights violations from its own fundamental rights officers , suspending aerial surveillance to avoid recording illegal activities, co-funding Greek units that carried out pushbacks and deceiving the authorities in charge of supervising the agency.

The report pointed out that key Greek officials say they have not read the report and that EU Commissioner Margaritis Schinas of Greece, whose portfolio includes migration, declined to say whether he himself had been briefed. allegations.

However, human rights advocates are calling on the EU to officially publish the report to allow victims of refoulement to use its findings in court cases, he added.

“The question in the years to come will be whether taxpayers’ money will continue to be used to help break the law at EU borders — or whether Frontex will be forced to comply with EU law. Schengen, who control Frontex through the Executive Board, apparently have little interest in such compliance,” said the report in Der Spiegel.​​​​​​​

Frontex stained folder

In recent years, Frontex has come under fire for allegations of ill-treatment of migrants, often putting their lives at risk.

Turkey and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values ​​and international law by putting migrants’ lives at risk vulnerable, including women and children.

Earlier this year, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri resigned amid the scandal.

Human rights groups have also documented other human rights abuses at EU borders where Frontex operates.

“Frontex has repeatedly failed to take effective action when allegations of human rights abuses come to its attention,” said Eva Cosse, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Its rapid growth into an EU executive agency, with increased powers, funding and legal responsibilities, makes it all the more urgent for Frontex to put in place effective tools to protect fundamental rights.”

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