19 November 2020
The European Ombudsman is taking aim at alleged human rights violations at the EU's borders. As well as a recently-announced inquiry into Frontex's compliance with its fundamental rights obligations, the watchdog agency is to investigate the alleged failure by Croatia to set up a human rights monitoring mechanism at the borders following receipt of EU funds, and the European Commission's failure to ensure that the country did so.
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"Amnesty International and other organisations have raised concerns about border management by the Croatian authorities, drawing attention to alleged human rights violations linked to ‘pushbacks’ of migrants and other border operations. In the context of EU funding, which Croatia receives for border management operations, Croatia should have set up a ‘monitoring mechanism’ to ensure that border management operations are fully compliant with fundamental rights and EU law.
The complainant has raised doubts as to whether such a mechanism has been set up, and claims that the Commission has failed to verify that the Croatian authorities have done so or how the allocated funds have been spent.
The Ombudsman has set out a series of questions to the Commission and asked it to reply by 31 January 2021. The questions seek to establish the nature of the monitoring mechanism and how the Commission has verified it has been set up. If it has been created, the questions seek to establish how the Commission has verified its effectiveness and, more generally, how the Commission ensures that border management operations that receive EU funds ensure respect for fundamental rights."
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