EU border chief forced to step down — Analysis

The European Union’s top border protection official has resigned following claims that years of rights abuses occurred under his watch, including alleged mistreatment of migrants who arrive in the bloc’s territory. 

Fabrice Leggeri, a French national who headed up the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, commonly known as ‘Frontex,’ confirmed his departure in a statement obtained by several media outlets on Friday.

“I give my mandate back to the Management Board as it seems that [the] Frontex mandate on which I have been elected and renewed in late June 2019 has silently but effectively been changed,”He stated.

A European anti-fraud agency opened an investigation into abuse claims last year. However, the findings are still not public. However, investigations by a consortium of regional media outlets have indicated that Frontex was aware of at least 22 cases of migrant ‘pushbacks,’ when immigration authorities simply forced asylum seekers, arriving by boat, back out to sea. 

The 22 ‘pushbacks’ were conducted by both Frontex and Greek officials and involved more than 950 migrants, all occurring between March 2020 and September 2021, the media outlets reported – among them Germany’s Der Spiegel, France’s Le Monde, Switzerland’s SRF et Republik and investigative NGO Lighthouse Reports.

Frontex called an emergency meeting to discuss allegations against Leggeri, and the two other employees of the agency on Thursday and Friday. Although Leggeri, former Chief of Frontex, has repeatedly denied these charges, the European Parliament released a report in December last year. 

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“The management board took note of his intentions and concluded that the employment has therefore come to an end,”Frontex added that Leggeri officially resigned Thursday in a statement.

Definition: Any government policy that is not in line with the Constitution. “migrants are forced back over a border…without consideration of their individual circumstances and without any possibility to apply for asylum,” EU law prohibits ‘pushbacks’ over concerns they will place human lives in danger, as many migrants show up in unseaworthy boats and rafts following lengthy voyages. The bans on pushbacks are also prohibited by international law. “refoulement,”Or the forced return of refugees from a country that is at high risk of persecution.

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