Frontex interim director underneath investigation –


Aija Kalnaja, the interim head of the EU’s border guard company Frontex is underneath investigation by the EU anti-corruption watchdog (OLAF), it was confirmed to EURACTIV on Friday (16 December).

The European Fee and member states have been knowledgeable of the investigation on 23 November, whereas members of the European Parliament weren’t. Lighthouse ExperiencesMediapart, and Der Spiegel made information of the investigation public on Friday, however the motive for the investigation stays unknown.

“I used to be notified by OLAF that I’m an individual of concern in a single case, which consists of two separate occasions. I cooperate with OLAF totally, overtly and unconditionally to make clear the info,” Kalnaja instructed EURACTIV.

She additionally mentioned that “attributable to confidentiality of the investigation”, it isn’t potential to supply particulars now.

“As quickly as it will be legally potential, I’m obtainable to debate the small print”, she added.

An EU Fee official instructed EURACTIV that such a query must be requested to OLAF which “are unbiased”.

OLAF confirmed EURACTIV that there’s an “ongoing investigation concernin Frontex”, nonetheless, “as investigations are ongoing, OLAF can’t subject any additional feedback” to “defend confidentiality” of such an investigation.

Earlier woes

Frontex was beforehand headed by Fabrice Leggeri, who resigned in April 2022 when the company was investigated in an anti-fraud probe, once more by OLAF, with Kalnaja changing him advert interim.

The earlier investigation, made public in mid-October of this 12 months, revealed that the EU company’s guards lined up the unlawful pushbacks of migrants on the border on a large scale in a violation of human rights between 2020 and 2021.

The OLAF overview discovered that no less than six pushbacks concerned Greek coastguard ships that had been co-financed by Frontex.

In a press launch in mid-October, the EU border guards company responded that “these have been practices of the previous”.

“As a way of systematically addressing shortcomings, the company and its administration board have agreed to take numerous remedial measures”, Frontex acknowledged.

The European Parliament hosted, on the 30 of November, a listening to with three Frontex director candidates for the subsequent administration proposed by the EU Fee.

Kalnaja is amongst these candidates, along with Terezika Gras, the present state secretary on the Croatian Inside Ministry, and Hans Leijtens, a high-ranking army official from The Netherlands.

Through the debate, the respect for human rights and transparency relating to the EU Parliament and the general public have been amongst EU lawmakers’ essential issues.

On 20 December, Frontex’s board will determine whether or not Kalnaja can be confirmed as a director or not. In the meantime, the European Parliament civil liberties committee expressed its desire for the Dutch candidate, Leijtens.

Based on Mediapart, and Der Spiegel, such an investigation will doubtless stop the the affirmation of Kalnaja’s place.

Elevated presence

Within the meantime, the Council began negotiations in November to enhance the presence and powers of Frontex additionally in third international locations, similar to these within the Western Balkans, permitting them to “train govt powers” similar to border checks and registrations.

Frontex has already been noticed in Albanian airports over the past 12 months, and it has an current settlement with the county, which was the primary of its sort with a non-EU nation.

Allegations of pushbacks involving Frontex guards have been reported in Albania, and the border between Greece and Turkey.

Earlier this week, EURACTIV lined a Human Rights Watch report that accused Frontex of involvement within the operation of drones and plane used to watch migrants within the Mediterranean. The data was then used to push again migrants to Libya the place they face violence and torture in detention camps.

The exercise occurred in 2021, primarily from a ground-control station at Malta Worldwide Airport. Since that 12 months, over 32,400 folks have been captured by Libyan authorities at sea and forcibly returned to the nation. HRW reported {that a} third of those interceptions have been made following intelligence gathered by Frontex.

“The use by the EU’s border company, Frontex, of aerial surveillance to allow the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrant boats, understanding that migrants and asylum seekers will face systematic and widespread abuse when forcibly returned to Libya, makes Frontex complicit within the abuse,” Human Rights Watch and Border Forensics mentioned when publishing the analysis.

“So long as Frontex operations are designed to allow interceptions by Libyan forces, the border company and the EU needs to be held accountable for his or her position within the abuses suffered by folks returned to Libya,” they added.

The report concludes that Frontex’s strategy is designed “to not rescue folks in misery however to stop them from reaching EU territory.”

Supply hyperlink