Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency condemns any form of inhumane treatment and violence and adheres to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Fundamental rights are at the core of all the agency’s activities. They are integrated into the Frontex Codes of Conduct, the Common Core Curricula for border guards, specialised training for border surveillance officers or officers conducting forced return operations.
The Code of Conduct obliges every officer who has a reason to believe fundamental rights of any person were violated, either by witnessing such violation directly, or by hearing about it, to report this immediately to Frontex in form of a Serious Incident Report.
All reports related to potential violation of fundamental rights are immediately passed on to the agency and Fundamental Rights Office, an independent body established to advise the agency and monitor compliance with fundamental rights in all its activities.
Frontex officers did write such reports in the past and the agency immediately contacted the authorities of the countries concerned and informed the European Commission. It should be noted however that while the agency can suspend an officer deployed by Frontex, it does not have the authority over the national border police forces nor does it have the power to conduct investigations in the EU Member States.
All those measures – specific guidelines for officers, training, monitoring by independent experts, the Fundamental Rights Office and Consultative Forum (an independent advisory body on fundamental rights comprised of European and international organisations and NGOs) are intended to make sure the appropriate checks and balances are in place.
Another such measure is the complaints mechanism which allows anyone who believes their rights have been violated by a Frontex deployed officer to lodge a complaint.
The agency fully abides by the principle of transparency and provides access to its documents, to the general public. In the past years Frontex released hundreds of documents to EU citizens.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency is fully accountable to European institutions. Frontex reports on its activities to the European Parliament and the Council, and the two institutions exercise supervision. The agency’s Executive Director regularly attends hearings at the European Parliament and European Council meetings. Also the European Court of Auditors and the European Ombudsman oversee the agency’s budget and its functioning.
Frontex is governed by the Management Board comprising heads of border authorities from all EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries and two representatives from the European Commission.
The agency’s Fundamental Rights Officer also briefs the Frontex Management Board on any incidents on a regular basis.
Frontex acts within the remit of its mandate, as defined by the legislator to make sure officers deployed by the agency are properly trained, all alleged violations are reported and that information on alleged human rights violation is immediately brought to the attention of the national authorities who can conduct an investigation.