EU Migration Agency Director Grilled for Alleged Rights Abuses

THE DIRECTOR of Europe’s migration security agency, Frontex, has faced calls for resignation during a grilling by MEPs in Brussels over the agency’s alleged maritime crimes in the Meditteranean. 

Fabrice Leggeri’s agency allegedly employed so-called ‘pushback’ tactics in the eastern Meditteranean to prevent migrant ships from reaching EU waters. This would contravene international law and the EU’s own directives on fundamental rights.

The accusations stem from investigations made by Der Spiegel and other German media outlets and provoked the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner to demand an inquiry from the Ombudsman and Frontex’s board of management.

Leggeri argued that the difficult situation his agency encountered in the Greek and Turkish seas stems from both countries’ disagreements over territory claims, and blamed the lack of rights advisors on the EU’s own fund allocations. He pointed out that any abuses are the responsibility of the territory where they occurred, in this case, Greece.

He said that Frontex was ‘fully committed to fundamental rights monitoring’ and that ‘tactical command lies with the host member state’. However, most MEPs did not support the director’s claim that ‘we have not found any evidence of illegal acts’. The only support he received in Brussels was from the centre-right European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie Veld expressed her doubt that ‘we can trust you’, while the Socialist Group called for Liggeri to ‘resign following months of allegations on the agency’s involvement in illegal practises and violations of fundamental rights’.

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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...