The European Commission has called for an urgent extraordinary meeting of the Management Board of EU border agency Frontex, which has been accused of “illegal pushbacks” of migrants in the Aegean Sea. EURACTIV’s partner Euroefe reports.
“After coordinating with President [Ursula von der Leyen] my services have asked, on behalf of the Commission, to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Frontex Management Board on 10 November, to discuss alleged push-back incidents in Greece and fundamental rights protection,” tweeted Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.
Following coordination with President @vonderleyen my services have asked, on behalf of @EU_Commission to convene an urgent extraordinary @Frontex Management Board meeting on 10 November, to discuss alleged push-back incidents in Greece and fundamental rights protection.#Frontex
— Ylva Johansson (@YlvaJohansson) October 28, 2020
Frontex has reportedly carried out so-called “illegal pushbacks” of migrants at least six times in the Aegean Sea, on the border between Turkey and Greece, according to investigations carried out by different media.
German weekly Der Spiegel revealed on 23 October that it had investigated these incidents in cooperation with Dutch digital non-profit media Lighthouse Reports and British investigative journalism website Bellingcat, as well as two TV broadcasters, the German ARD and the Japanese Asahi.
These media organisations have footage showing how Frontex agents have, since April, been carrying out “pushbacks” to prevent migrants from reaching European soil, an illegal practice.
One video shows one of the EU agency’s boats blocking the passage of a boat occupied by migrants, before overtaking them at high speed, thus causing large waves. The Greek coastguard then forces the boat to turn back towards Turkey.
For its part, Frontex denied the accusations and assured Der Spiegel that its agents protected the fundamental rights of migrants and respected their rights to non-refoulement, the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.
The Greek government has also categorically denied the accusations.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]