SZ 21.10.2021 Syrians take Frontex to court.
Evidence of illegal pushbacks is accumulating. It is important that these cases are consistently pursued through the courts. This is now the second case to bring unlawful conduct by EU border agency officials before the ECJ, following the action brought by frontline lawyers Omer Shatz and Iftach Cohen in May 2021.
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Syrians accuse Frontex
Munich – Dutch lawyers filed a lawsuit against Frontex before the European Court of Justice on Wednesday.
The EU border agency violated the fundamental rights of Syrian refugees who were pushed back from Greece to Turkey in October 2016, the lawsuit says, according to media reports. It is the first of its kind.
It could also put the EU on the spot because it appears to be backed up with particularly detailed documentation.
Previous reports of pushbacks, which Frontex had at least tolerated, were based on refoulements on the high seas, which are difficult to prove.
The complaint concerns a family with children aged two, five and seven. She landed on the Greek island of Milos, later arriving in Leros, where she was registered and expressed a wish to seek asylum.
Subsequently, she was told that she would be taken from Leros to Athens.
During a stopover on Kos, she had to transfer to a plane with two Greek and 42 Frontex officers and 18 Syrians, which then flew her to Turkey.
It was an illegal pushback, the complaint says; the family would have had the prospect of asylum but never been given the chance to claim it.
According to the EU’s agreement with Turkey, it was perfectly possible for Greece to bring Syrian refugees to the neighbouring country – but only after an asylum procedure including the right of appeal.
The children had also been treated in a humiliating manner during the flight.
According to the lawyers, they had first gone through the complaint procedure with Frontex, which is why they are only now filing the complaint.
The case “shows that Frontex is not fulfilling its duty to protect human rights”, one lawyer said, according to NRC Handelsblad. Thomas Kirchner