Why DER SPIEGEL Is Publishing the EU Investigative Report on Pushbacks

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Why DER SPIEGEL Is Publishing the EU Investigative Report on Pushbacks

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By: Giorgos Christides and Steffen Lüdke | spiegel.de | 13 October 2022

Why DER SPIEGEL Is Publishing the EU Investigative Report on Pushbacks

The report is composed of 20 witness interviews, includes months of investigative work and fills more than 120 pages: The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has been thorough. Investigators searched the offices belonging to the leadership team of then-Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri and they scoured WhatsApp messages and emails.

The OLAF report led to Leggeri's resignation in spring 2022. But what the investigators have uncovered goes far beyond questions of individual liability. Even though it wasn’t the main focus of the investigation, the report relentlessly exposes how Greek border guards in the Aegean Sea abandon refugees at sea on inflatable life rafts to prevent them from exercising their right to apply for asylum.

Numerous media outlets, including DER SPIEGEL, revealed the illegal practice of pushbacks of refugees  at Europe's external borders to the public many months ago, but the Greek government has nonetheless dismissed the reports as "fake news."

At the same time, the OLAF report shows how Frontex, the European border agency, has been complicit in these egregious human rights violations

  • In repeat incidents, Frontex management withheld cases of possible human rights violations from its own fundamental rights officer.

  • The agency suspended its aerial surveillance to stop recording violations of the law.

  • It co-financed some of the Greek units that carried out the pushbacks.

  • According to the report, it misled the bodies that are responsible for overseeing the agency.

  • And although it should be clear after reading the report that the pushbacks were of a "serious nature or are likely to persist," Frontex did not terminate the joint operations as stipulated by Article 46 of the agency's regulations.                                                                  Read more

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