FRONTEX involvement in pushback operations

report München, The Guardian and De Correspondent evaluated “serious incident reports” of Frontex and accuse the agency’s staff to not only tolerate violent pushbacks of refugees and migrants but also to actively participate in unlawful treatment.

“Citing Frontex documents, the Network reported that national guards used nightsticks and pepper spray to subdue displaced people, and dogs to chase them through forests.”

These accusations are especially made against Greek, Hungarian and Bulgarian border guards.

Border Violence Monitoring confirms these allegations, based on the monitoring we have been doing at the Serbian-Hungarian border since 2017 and together with our partner Mobile Info Team on the Greek-Turkish border for the last couple of months.

Comparing the first case report of violent pushbacks from Hungarian authorities in our database (from January 2017) to the most recent one (July 2019) reveals a constant practice of unlawful behaviour by Hungarian authorities that the agency who declares to envision “the European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice” still denies.

Further, Border Violence Monitoring witnessed two cases of FRONTEX officers being potentially involved in illegal push-backs from Hungary to Serbia (see links below).

The argument that with a larger number of FRONTEX officers the border practices can be better monitored should be critically questioned on the basis of these allegations. If the employees are deployed to check the practices at the border, this is a laudable effort that could at best prevent the illegal actions of the national units. However, if they are also involved in human rights abuses, it is necessary to question the extent to which the European Union supports these practices through EU funds and staff. It is essential that this evidence is included in the debates in order to question the scope and capabilities of FRONTEX, especially in the Western Balkans.