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EU agency denies asylum seekers' rights, report says

By EARLE GALE in London | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-07-16 09:38

Immigrants climb over the border fence to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, in Fnideq, Morocco, May 18, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

A European Union report claims the bloc's border and Coast Guard agency failed to protect the human rights of asylum seekers trying to enter its jurisdiction.

Analysis of the activities of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, or Frontex, was released on Thursday after a four-month investigation led by eight members of the European Parliament known collectively as the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group.

Tineke Strik, the report's lead author, told The Guardian that the cross-party working group found that Frontex "did not fulfill its human rights obligations and therefore did not address, and therefore did not prevent, future violations".

Strik, a Green party lawmaker, told The Guardian that investigators found serious deficiencies at the agency, which were tasked with border control alongside the border guards and coast guards of individual EU member states.

She said people at the top of Frontex should resign as a result.

"We should consider, in the end, can we have confidence in this executive director to really implement those recommendations and really change it into a human rights sensitive agency?" she was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

Though investigators found no proof that Frontex was directly involved in the so-called pushbacks of boats full of asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea, Strik said the agency should have known it was happening and intervened.

Dozens of human rights organizations have criticized some EU member nations for pushing back boats full of asylum seekers, describing the activity as both dangerous and in contravention of international law.

Arbitrary expulsions

In addition, there have been reports of arbitrary expulsions of individuals upon arrival in the bloc, without proper assessment of their asylum status having been carried out.

The Financial Times quoted Felipe Gonzalez Morales, a UN special rapporteur on migrants, saying in May that such incidents "result in human rights violations incompatible with states' obligations under international human rights law".

Statewatch, a nonprofit organization monitoring civil liberties in the EU, noted that the report was scathing of Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of Frontex.

The document claimed he dragged his feet on the recruitment of fundamental rights monitors, while seeking to expand the size of his office to 63 people, which would have been double the size of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's office.

The BBC noted that the issue of how best to handle asylum seekers has been an important one in recent years, with more than 1.8 million illegal border crossings recorded in 2015 alone.

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