MEPs name for Frontex chief to resign over migrant pushbacks

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Europe’s lawmakers from the Socialists and Democrats group on Tuesday urged the top of Europe’s Border and Coast Guard Agency’s (Frontex), Fabrice Leggeri to step down from his place, following months of allegations on the company’s involvement in unlawful practices and violations of elementary rights.
“In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign. After months of the S&D Group calling for explanations, Director Leggeri had the chance to set the record straight,” stated Kati Piri, S&D Vice-President for migration and LIBE member, earlier than including which might be nonetheless “far too many” unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in unlawful practices.
“As long as allegations hang over Frontex, its reputation remains severely damaged and in desperate need of repair. In our view, Director Leggeri is not the right person to fix the damage,” she added. 
The move by Europe’s lawmakers adopted a report by the German newspaper Der Spiegel in October, which revealed its investigation entitled “EU Border Agency Frontex Complicit in Greek Refugee Pushback Campaign.” The report discovered that video and different publicly obtainable knowledge counsel Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.” 
However, Leggeri denied allegations, supporting that “so far, no documents or other materials have been found to substantiate any accusations of violations of the law or the Frontex Code of Conduct by deployed officers.” He added that the company does “not tolerate any violations of the fundamental rights” in any of its actions. 
In one other report by the New York Times final week, Frontex got here once more underneath fireplace for having helped cowl up worldwide regulation violations, when a crew stated it was discouraged by company officers from reporting that they’d seen the Greek authorities setting a boatload of migrants adrift in Turkish waters.
Greece and Turkey represent key transit factors for migrants looking for to cross into Europe, of their effort to flee conflict or prosecution. Under worldwide regulation, pushbacks are thought of to be breaching worldwide rules, in circumstances the place migrants are expelled or returned to a rustic the place their life and security is perhaps in peril for causes associated to their race, faith, nationality, or membership in a social group or political opinion.
Earlier in July, throughout a listening to of the parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE), Leggeri had denied any information of pushbacks by the Greek authorities, aside from one occasion he labelled as a “misunderstanding.” However, Der Spiegel’s report confirmed that Frontex officers had been conscious of a minimum of six incidents the place the Greek authorities had carried out pushbacks, with out providing its assist to migrants in misery and regardless of the duty of the Code of Conduct of Frontex officers to forestall refoulements.
On November 10, the top of Frontex referred to as for the creation of an analysis committee to think about authorized questions associated to the company’s surveillance of exterior sea borders, in a bid to replicate member – states’ considerations about “hybrid threats” affecting their nationwide safety at exterior borders the place Frontex will deploy its standing corps. 
“Any allegation of misconduct or infringement of international treaties or fundamental rights in the framework of joint operations coordinated by Frontex is treated with grave concern and carefully investigated,” Leggeri stated.