17 December 2020
Writing for the European Policy Centre, Green MEP Tineke Strik denounces the fact that “pushbacks at our external borders have become a widespread practice, often accompanied by violence... Their systematic character reveals that they are not only a matter of practice but also of policies in many EU border countries.” She calls for a wider scope of the newly proposed monitoring mechanism, stricter enforcement of the rules, and stronger scrutiny from the European Parliament and Commission.
“When it comes to the use of violence and pushbacks, there can be no doubt about the breach of the fundamental rights and the Refugee Convention as referred to in Article 4 of the Schengen Borders Code (SBC). Furthermore, Article 14(1) of the SBC stipulates that the right of asylum and to international protection shall not be affected by the rules on the refusal of entry.”
“As many member states use the option of Article 2(a) not to apply the Return Directive in border areas, I have proposed to abolish this option in the recast of the Return Directive and make the application mandatory.”
Effective monitoring by member states' independent monitoring bodies is hampered by “lack of resources, a limited mandate or obstruction by authorities”:
“Most of all, the application of the obligatory monitoring mechanism should not be limited to the screening procedure but cover all border areas, as pushbacks are prone to take place out of sight; in forests and at sea. In addition, an effective monitoring mechanism cannot replace the right to an effective remedy against decisions taken during the screening procedure. Such a right should be added in the proposed Screening Regulation. With these improvements, the proposed legislation would contribute to fundamental rights compliance, as it would enable the Commission to enforce independent monitoring and judicial review.”
“The current practices teach us that obligations alone are no guarantee for compliance…In cases of reported pushbacks, the Commission has generally relied on the concerned governments’ denials. The Commission considers itself incapable of investigating allegations. This response is far from satisfactory.”
“Parliament should establish an inquiry committee scrutinising member states’ human rights violations at the Union’s external borders, and the roles of Frontex and the Commission.”
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