Lena Karamanidou und Bernd Kasparek gehen in einem Bericht sehr detailliert der Frage nach, wie es eigentlich mit Frontex und Accountability, insbes. angesichts von Grundrechtsverletzungen bestellt ist.
Sie zeichnen alle existierenden Mechanismen nach, zeigen, wie die implementiert sind, und untersuchen, ob die was taugen. Das tun sie wenig überraschender Weise nicht, und die Agentur tut auch alles, um jegliche Kritik abzulenken (wir nennen das patterns of evasion).
Weiter gibt es in dem Bericht zwei Fallstudien, einmal zu den pushbacks im Evros, und zu der Frontex-Operation in Ungarn, an der Grenze zu Serbien. Die erste Fallstudie haben wir auch gekürzt als Blogeintrag zugänglich gemacht.
Lena Karamanidou hat den Report in einem Beitrag auf Twitter zusamnmengefasst:
1/ The report on #Frontex accountability that my colleague Bernd (not on twitter) and myself have been working on for several months was published yesterday! It’s a long one, so here’s a thread summarising our key findings.
2/The report explores the #Frontex accountability regime – legal provisions and mechanisms to monitor human rights practices at the external borders of the EU, and hold Frontex and border guards of member states accountable. We focus a lot on implementation and practices.
3/Our analysis draws mainly on Frontex internal documents released by FOI requests to us and other applicants through the http://asktheeu.org platform. Most of these are stored in http://aleph.occrp.org.
4/ We also conducted interviews with the Frontex Press Office and members of the Frontex Consultative Forum, its advisory body on human rights.
5/The report also draws on repeated fieldwork we did in Evros between 2018 and 2020, informal conversations, and information on Frontex activities a lot of people shared with us. We owe a very big thanks to them.
6/Our key findings: there are very serious deficiencies in the design and implementation of current arrangements and mechanisms. To put it bluntly, they fail in monitoring human rights violations or holding any actors accountable – FX, national border guards, deployed officers.
7/Many reasons for this: vague legal framework, unclear provisions, underfunded mechanisms (esp the Fundamental Rights Officer), absence of independent mechanisms – they are all internal to Frontex or rely on member state bodies.
8/The two key bodies – the Fundamental Rights Officer and Consultative Forum have no decision making powers – only the Executive Director does.
9/ Some examples of failures: very few complaints are submitted – the individual complaints mechanism is not very accessible; lack of information in key areas like border guard stations and airports where returns take place; many limitations on who can complain and when.
10/Very few Serious Incident Reports (SIR) are submitted compared to violations reported by NGOs, human rights organisations and the media. E.g. only 3 SIRs were submitted in 2016 in Hungary. This was used to justify not withdrawing from operations at the HUN/SRB border
11/Only 6 SIRs were submitted between 2017 and 2019 on #pushbacks in #Evros. Compare this with the sources in this thread by @joelhdz
Uncertain if Frontex deployed officers have the appropriate training or willingness to identify & report HR violations.
12/There are significant shortcomings in reporting and investigating violations committed by Frontex deployed officers. Several accounts by people pushed back from #Evros to TUR (& an FRO report) implicate German-speaking officers; we found no proof that any were investigated.
13/Therefore, we can describe the monitoring and accountability regime as a fig leaf: Frontex (& other actors e.g. from the EU Commission) invoke its provisions and mechanisms when Frontex are criticised on their human rights record and practices.
14/Yet this strategy ignores that the regime is not effective in what it was designed to do: prevent, monitor, address human rights violations. Frontex also employs four other strategies to evade accountability:
15/An instrumental approach to information produced by internal reporting systems. It informs decisions despite their weaknesses. But also #Frontex disregards inconvenient recommendations by CF and FRO (e.g. Hungary 2016) & stays silent on info/data from surveillance capabilities
16/While maintaining that presence in operational areas enhances compliance with human rights, #Frontex also claims to be absent from specific areas where violations occur systematically. Examples: the transit zone at the HUN/SRB border and the ‘frontline’ at the GR/TUR border.
17/Frontex deflects responsibility for investigating human rights violations to national authorities. However, theyre not (too) critical towards them. There are public expressions of support that ignore systematic & extensive HR violations (e.g. F. Leggeri on #Evros, 02/04 LIBE).
18/Frontex tries to control public information on its activities at many levels: internally towards the CF; towards the European Parliament; towards the public through impeding access to internal documents under Reg. 1049/2001, even adopting ’scare‘ tactics towards critics.
19/ Lack of transparency also weakens #Frontex accountability: most internal documents are not available publicly; have to be requested via FOIs. E.g.: who and to what extent is responsible for HR violations depends on decisions on the ground and operational plans – not public.
20/ Our findings suggest that Frontex’s attitude towards accountability remains problematic. Decisions and practices related to human rights are subject to the political imperative of controlling the external borders of the European Union, which is the key task of Frontex.
21/ Border management, including supporting member states in controlling the external borders of the EU, are consistently prioritised over human rights considerations, to the point that they appear as irreconcilable.
22/ This system affords little justice for victims of human rights violations – they can only seek remedies in national and EU Courts, but this would require considerable resources and is subject to complex legal arrangements.
23/Frontex will hire 10.000 European border guards until 2027. It will be the first European police force with an executive mandate. The agency’s flawed accountability regime reveals a lack of checks and balances in the European project. This relates to how democratic the EU is.