Head of EU Border Protection Resigns

Head of EU Border Protection Resigns

The head of the EU border protection agency Frontex, Leggeri, has vacated the post with immediate effect. He has been criticized for possible illegal pushbacks by people seeking protection in the Mediterranean.

Fabrice Leggeri is no longer head of the EU border protection agency Frontex, and the Frontex Board of Directors confirmed his immediate resignation. Until a new line is found, Aija Kalnaja will run the agency on an interim basis. She used to be, among other things, the deputy chief of the Latvian police.

The Frenchman Leggeri had come under pressure in connection with reports of human rights violations by Frontex at the EU’s external borders. The media had reported on illegal pushbacks of people seeking protection in the Aegean, in which Frontex is said to be involved. According to this, executives of the authority are said to have deliberately covered up the fact that Greek border guards were bringing refugees back to the open Mediterranean Sea.

The German aid organization Sea-Watch, which works to save boat people in the Mediterranean, called Leggeri’s resignation “overdue but insufficient.” The border protection agency is “systematically breaking human rights” and is a “symbol of deadly European isolation”, and it must therefore be abolished.

MEP Cornelia Ernst from the German Left Party, a member of a Frontex investigative committee, also welcomed the resignation. Leggeri was “actively involved in Frontex’s complicity in violating fundamental rights and covering them up,” she explained in Brussels. She also accused the border protection agency of serious structural problems. It is a “misconception” that Frontex’s involvement in human rights violations will end after Leggeri’s departure.

Spokesmen for the EU Commission in Brussels rejected the calls for a dissolution of Frontex. The agency fulfils a central role by supporting the member states in protecting the external borders and “at the same time upholding fundamental rights”. For this, however, Frontex must be stable and function well.

Image by Asurnipal (Wikimedia Common)/Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

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