The EU’s Frontex border agency should set up a system to handle complaints about alleged breaches of the fundamental rights of migrants and asylum seekers, say MEPs in a non-binding resolution passed on Wednesday. In the plenary debate before the vote, Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos promised that the Commission will take up this idea when it reviews the Frontex regulation in December.
The resolution, passed by 488 votes to 114 with 33 abstentions, backs the European Ombudsman’s recommendation that Frontex set up a complaints mechanism on fundamental rights infringements occurring in the course of its operations.
Filing complaints against any border guards wearing the Frontex emblem
The mechanism should become “a first-instance body for complaints”, MEPs say and recommend that any individuals who consider that their rights have been breached by border guards wearing the Frontex emblem should have the right to lodge a complaint. To ensure that the complaints mechanism is not abused, anonymous complaints should not be accepted. However, third parties should also be able to submit complaints on behalf of complainants who may prefer not to disclose their identity.
Complaints against guest officers sent by EU member states
As Frontex has no powers to initiate disciplinary proceedings against persons other than its own staff and no authority to sanction member states or their officials, MEPs recommend that the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office should forward any complaint against an officer seconded from a member state to the relevant national authority. They call on Frontex and the member states to cooperate closely to ensure complaints against guest officers are followed up properly.
Need for additional resources and special protection for vulnerable groups
MEPs call for additional resources to ensure that the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office is adequately equipped and staffed to handle complaints. They also stress the need for special protection of unaccompanied minors, women victims of gender-based persecution, LGBTI persons and other vulnerable groups.
Note to editors
The European Ombudsman’s recommendation that Frontex set up a mechanism for dealing with complaints about fundamental rights infringements arising from its work was made in a special report following the Ombudsman’s 2012 own-initiative inquiry on Frontex’s fundamental rights obligations.
Most participants in Frontex operations are guest officers sent by EU member states other than that hosting the Frontex operation. These guest officers may only perform tasks and exercise powers under instructions from, and as a general rule in the presence of, border guards of the host member state.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution
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