An Effective Accountability Mechanism for Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency)

The ICJ issued a statement today on the occasion of an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, on an effective accountability mechanism for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.The ICJ was not able to read the statement during the interactive dialogue due to the limited time provided for NGO statements. The statement was as follows:

“The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes that the report (A/HRC/38/41) of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants recognizes the importance of monitoring mechanisms, access to justice, and accountability in the context of returns (para 78).

The ICJ, which is a member of the Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights, shares the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that the current implementation of an individual complaints mechanism for Frontex is “rather ineffective, since it largely relies on the discretionary powers of internal oversight bodies” and deficient in its follow-up procedure (para 84).

Furthermore, the ICJ considers that giving the Executive Director of Frontex competence to decide the merits of complaints creates a reasonable perception of bias. This, together with the lack of any requirement to publish its decisions, mean the existing complaint mechanism cannot constitute an effective remedy for human rights violations.

The ICJ is particularly concerned at these shortcomings in light of, as the Special Rapporteur noted, the “externalization of States’ obligations through the actions of international or regional organizations during return procedure” (para. 82). Such externalisation prevents victims of human rights violations from accessing effective remedies.

Finally, the ICJ notes that actions such as the closure of harbours to ships rescuing migrants, including refugees, are in clear breach of the international law of the sea and effectively prevent any access to legal remedies. Such actions should be condemned by this Council.

The ICJ supports the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation that States and international and regional organisations must ensure accountability for human rights violations and invites him to explore further such organisations’ responsibility in this regard under human rights law.”

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