09 December 2020
A petition for the resignation of Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri, launched by the campaigning organisation We Move Europe, has gained over 57,000 signatures within one week.
The petition was launched in response to allegations that the agency is complicit in, or aware of, illegal pushbacks of people at sea by the Greek coast guard.
Following a hearing in front of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) on 1 December, MEPs from the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group have called for Leggeri’s resignation.
According to the agency’s governing legislation, it is the executive director’s responsibility to ensure that Frontex terminates or suspends any operation in the event of “violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations… that are of a serious nature or are likely to persist.”
Either Leggeri was aware of such incidents and did not declare them, say the S&D group, or he was not aware and therefore incompetent as director. We Move Europe are now echoing this call, arguing that Leggeri has failed to uphold his responsibility.
However, it is unclear how his removal from the organisation would address more structural, long term issues of lack of operational transparency, reliance on internal accountability mechanisms that shut out external scrutiny, under-resourcing of the agency’s fundamental rights office, and weak democratic accountability to Parliament and Council.
While journalists and civil society organisations have exposed problems with Frontex’s structure and operations, and some MEPs have tried to extract satisfactory answers from Leggeri, the petition’s author says “the voices of outrage from citizens like us are missing. Will you join me in calling on Leggeri to resign?”
Those signing the petition are also advised that “[g]etting rid of Leggeri can only be a first step, but it’s a crucial one if we’re going to have any chance of abolishing FRONTEX [sic] at all”.
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