3 December 2015

On 2 December, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recommending the EU’s border agency Frontex to set up a mechanism allowing migrants and asylum seekers to make complaints about potential infringements of their fundamental rights during Frontex operations. The resolution is in line with the recommendation made by the European Ombudsman and would lead to greater transparency and better safeguards against human rights violations.

In conducting its primary role of managing the EU’s external borders, Frontex is involved in activities such as intercepting irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees at borders and at sea, search and rescue and joint return operations which encompass fundamental human rights obligations.  Although it is already obliged to comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Parliament was concerned that the human rights implications of Frontex’s work have not been adequately tackled. It noted that the complex working arrangements between Frontex and Member States leads to legal gaps in relation to responsibility and accountability.

It therefore recommended that individuals who consider that their rights have been breached should be able to lodge a confidential complaint against any border guard wearing the Frontex emblem. Whilst NGOs should also be able to make complaints, anonymous complaints should not be accepted to prevent abuse.

The resolution is not binding but is significant in the context of the upcoming review of the Frontex Regulation by the Commission later this month, with Commissioner Avramopolous promising to consider the recommendation.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 4 December 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.