The EU Commission is concerned about “pushbacks” of migrants by Greek authorities and Frontex. Such actions are illegal under international law. The EU refers to the information provided by those affected and to video recordings.
Following media reports about the involvement of the EU border protection agency Frontex in the illegal repatriation of migrants by the Greek coast guard, the EU Commission is calling for clarification. “We are taking this matter very seriously,” said a spokesman for the Brussels authority on Monday. Both the Greek authorities and Frontex are expected to check such reports and guarantee full compliance with EU law. “The Commission is deeply concerned about reports of pushbacks or other forms of non-compliance with EU law.
The news magazine “Spiegel”, the ARD magazine “Report Mainz” and other international media had recently reported that Greek border guards were driving inflatable boats with migrants on board back towards Turkey in the Aegean Sea. They referred to information provided by those affected and to video recordings. Such so-called pushbacks are illegal under international law. According to reports, Frontex officials have been in the vicinity of several of these operations since April 2020.
Frontex allegedly did not take inmates
In one case, for example, a Frontex ship is said to have initially blocked an overloaded boat with migrants, but not to have accepted the inmates. Instead, the officers passed the boat “at high speed” and left the place. Further videos show how the Greek coast guard later pushed the dinghy back towards Turkey. In another case, a Frontex surveillance plane is said to have overflown the site.
The EU agency had already announced on Twitter that its boss Fabrice Leggeri was in contact with the Greek authorities “because of several incidents at sea in recent months”. These had confirmed that an internal investigation had been started. Frontex will continue to support Greece within the framework of its mandate and in full respect of fundamental rights and international law.
Human rights organizations have already accused Athens on several occasions of allowing illegal refoulement. Athens denies this.