Left MEPs to lead investigation into EU border agency’s operations
With mounting controversy surrounding the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, Left MEPs, together with those from Renew and Greens, have today succeeded in setting up a permanent working group for investigating the agency’s alleged fundamental rights violations and management failure. For months now, The Left has been pressing for a proper inquiry into Frontex. Our MEPs had visited various locations in the Mediterranean in the past few years, and have heard testimonies about push backs and mistreatment of refugees and migrants – including by Frontex agents. In addition, The Left has long been calling for the resignation or dismissal of the agency’s executive director, Fabrice Leggeri, over his repeated denial of such crimes and failure to effectively investigate Frontex’s alleged involvement in reported push-backs in the Aegean sea, or to act over well-known violations in Hungary, for example. The setting up of the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) means MEPs will have a permanent mandate to investigate all aspects of the functioning of the border agency, including accountability but above all, whether it is in compliance or in violation of fundamental rights. During its first four months, the Working Group will carry out fact-finding investigations gathering all relevant information and evidence on alleged violations of fundamental rights that the agency was involved, was aware of and/or did not act, plus internal management procedures for reporting and handling of complaints. Two Left MEPs will be members of the Working Group, and amongst them is Sira Rego (Izquierda Unida), who said: “The creation of a Frontex Scrutiny Working Group is an important first step in ending the current impunity of the agency after numerous reports of fundamental rights violations. We have repeatedly called for the resignation of Executive-Director Leggeri, but there are also structural problems related to Frontex’s mechanisms and governance that need to be addressed immediately. This Working Group will be the space to do so. Despite attempts by other groups to water it down, we now have an instrument for putting forward concrete proposals to solve the current situation.” “We believe the Agency is out of control, and that the Commission and the member states are allowing such behaviour because it happens far away from the public eye. But thanks to journalistic investigations that have shown systematic human rights violations at our external borders, and the testimonies of thousands of migrants and refugees who have to deal with Frontex daily, the status quo cannot continue. We will keep fighting for a migration policy that fully complies with human rights,” she concluded.
“We as the Left in the European Parliament welcome the long overdue establishment of a permanent scrutiny working group on Frontex. During those all-important, first four months of the working group, we as the Left will scrutinise Frontex’s activities closely – especially with regard to the violation of fundamental and human rights. We will be gathering evidence and making concrete demands.”Said Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany).