EU: Frontex unveil Border and Coast Guard Agency unifrom
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Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri was accused of facilitating the destruction of incriminating evidence of an illegal pushback by the Greek coastguard in a European Parliament report. The group of MEPs probing the EU’s Warsaw-based border and coastguard suggested video evidence gathered by one of the agency’s drones had been deleted. In April 2020, Frontex filmed migrants trying to reach Greece from Turkey, when they were intercepted by the Greek coastguard.
They were left abandoned in their dinghy in Turkish waters after the craft’s engine was removed, it was claimed.
The report by Dutch MEP Tineke Strik said Mr Leggeri “requested’ that Frontex’s fundamental rights officer “remove all information gathered”.
It was also claimed that he had the incident reclassified on the grounds that it did not involve any human rights violations.
Ms Strik put the allegations to Mr Leggeri, she said yesterday.
The Dutch MEP said he told her there was a risk of a “hybrid threat” from Turkey and that the “political situation” needed to be taken into account.
Ms Strik insisted this version of events was not supported by Frontex’s video.
She said there was “no sign at all of actions by the Turkish authorities”, adding: “There was only the Greek coastguard and that rubber boat, so I cannot think of any justification of acting in that way.”
Frontex dismissed the report, saying its authors had concluded that “there is no evidence of the agency’s involvement in any violation of human rights”.
A spokesman said that there had been “no deletion and no reclassification”.
The Agency insisted that the Greek coastguard handed the migrants back to their Turkish counterparts, who then towed away their craft.
But the EU Parliament report has ramped up pressure on Mr Leggeri to reconsider his position as head of Frontex.
Iratxe Garcia Perez, leader of socialist MEPs, said its findings “recommend an urgent change in the Frontex culture, to bring it in line with our values and principles”.
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She added: “This can only be achieved with new leadership.”
“We S&Ds have been calling for a change for months. I hope the Commission and the Council will listen now,” the Spaniard told the Politico website.
Left-wing MEP Cornelia Ernst said: “Leggeri must resign immediately.”
Malik Azmani, vice-president of the Renew Group of liberal MEPs, said Frontex should be doing a better job.
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He said: “The report does contain many concrete recommendations aimed at improving the functioning of Frontex and improving its compliance with its mandate.
“Frontex is going to become more important in the coming years and grow into one of the largest EU agencies.”
Mr Azmani insisted it is “essential” that the agency “starts functioning properly in order to establish control on the increasing flow of migrants to the EU”.
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