EU border agency hit with allegations of migrant rights abuse

Published 06.08.2019 00:05

The European Union's border agency Frontex denied any wrongdoing yesterday with regard to alleged violations of the human rights of immigrants at external EU borders and on deportation flights.

According to internal Frontex documents seen by German broadcaster ARD, British newspaper The Guardian and human-rights research center Correctiv, the agency has been turning a blind eye to human rights abuses of immigrants at external EU borders, in Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece, among others.

Some immigrants reportedly suffered excessive use of force, attack by pepper spray and mauling by dogs. Violations reportedly happened also on deportation flights, with unaccompanied minors being deported and handcuffs overused.

"Frontex categorically denies any involvement of its officers in violations of fundamental rights," the agency said in an email to dpa.

"Frontex... condemns any form of inhumane treatment, unprocessed returns and any other form of violence which are illegal under the European Charter for Fundamental Rights."

At the same time, the agency "does not have the authority over the behavior of the national border police forces nor does it have the power to conduct investigations on the territory of the EU member states," it said. Migrants attempting to reach Europe by land were stopped in North Macedonia. To curb migrants entering the impoverished country en route to EU territory, Bosnia-Herzegovina earlier this year called for legislative changes to enable border deployments of the army while accusing the EU of failing to manage the crisis. More than 9,000 people from Asia and North Africa entered Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro since the beginning of 2018, including 3,000 over the past month, and a similar number managed to cross into EU member Croatia.

Due to the lack of a common response to migration inflows from northern Africa via the Mediterranean, migrants have been facing the same unwelcoming approach from EU countries. Italy, along with Malta, Greece and Spain, has handled the lion's share of migrants arriving in the EU via the Mediterranean in recent years, a state of affairs that these countries deem unacceptable. The Mediterranean is among the most dangerous routes for people trying to flee Africa and the Middle East for Europe. At least 426 people have died since the beginning of the year after setting off from Libya, according to SOS Mediterranee. However, countries including Italy and Malta have regularly refused rescue boats safe harbor.

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