European Parliament monitoring group report calls out Frontex transparency malpractice

Scathing report criticises Frontex for fundamental rights breaches and malpractices reducing transparency.

Still of the report’s author, MEP Tineke Strik. Credit: Strik’s twitter account.

This morning, the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) published the findings of its report on fundamental rights allegations of European border protection agency Frontex. The report was presented in the group’s parent Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament.

The FSWG was set up earlier this year after various allegations of malpractice in Frontex surfaced in the media, including (sometimes violent) pushbacks of immigrants wanting to seek asylum in the EU, the creation or toleration of dangerous situations in the Mediterranean Sea, obstruction of the institution of a functioning internal fundamental rights oversight mechanism, gross human and financial resource mismanagement, and what seems to have been a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) related to an access to documents request.

While the 19-page report predominantly addresses failures to protect fundamental rights and structural measures to be taken to improve the situation, the report also touches upon the question of transparency. Thus we find that the report reiterates an earlier report’s finding that Frontex overclassifies information, which it points out reduces transparency. The report further

…recalls the resolution of the European Parliament, in which it called on the Agency to refrain from seeking to recover the (excessively high) costs of external lawyers from applicants in court cases based on access to information requests.

The report was presented by its author, the Greens MEP Tineke Strik, and has already received coverage in various media. Strik has also called for the direct resignation or firing of Frontex’ Executive Director Fabrizio Leggeri, but admitted that she had not been able to convince other MEPs on the working group to sign onto this recommendation and had hoped for stronger-worded language.

The report forms a new escalation in an extremely difficult and tense period between Frontex and the European Parliament which oversees its activities. A previous resolution criticising Frontex malpractice appeared as recent as a few days ago.