EP calls on Frontex to review operations in Greece over migrant pushbacks

A police car patrols along a steel fence along Evros river, Greece's river border with Turkey, near the village of Poros on June 8, 2021. - The area is where the Greek State has chosen to deploy a new anti-migration arsenal including cameras, radar and a 40-kilometre (25-mile) steel fence over five metres high. (Photo by Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP)

The European Parliament has passed a resolution urging Frontex, the European Union agency for common external border management, to “scale down and repurpose” its operations in Greece amid serious and persistent allegations of violent and summary pushbacks of migrants, the TR724 news website reported on Friday.

The resolution, adopted with 366 votes for and 154 votes against on December 14, was based on a fact-finding mission conducted on Frontex by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

While noting the progress made under the new Frontex management, the report underlined that more needed to be done to ensure the agency’s compliance with fundamental human rights.

The resolution said the agency should limit its operations to field presence and monitoring in the event of persistent noncompliance by a member state.

The former head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, was forced to resign in April 2021 after criticism over the agency’s alleged complicity in pushbacks and an investigation launched into him by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud agency, although the details of the investigation were not disclosed.

In recent years Greek and international human rights organizations have documented how Greece has systematically pushed back asylum seekers and committed other human rights abuses to prevent people from entering the EU.

According to their reports, the illegal pushbacks and unlawful return of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey are not rare incidents and reflect the official policy of the Greek government as well as the covert acquiescence of some EU institutions.

In January of this year the Stockholm Center for Freedom released a report focusing on how pushbacks have devastating consequences for Turkish asylum seekers, most of whom are immediately arrested on political grounds upon their return to Turkey.

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