EU: Tracking the Pact: Council demands legal immunity for Frontex in Senegal "under all circumstances"

The negotiating directives for the proposed status agreement that would allow Frontex to operate in Senegal place a strong emphasis on the need for criminal and civil immunity of Frontex staff in Senegal "under all circumstances", while ensuring the most extensive executive powers possible.


Council negotiating directives (pdf) concerning a status agreement allowing Frontex to operate in Senegal focus on the tasks and powers of Frontex teams, privileges and immunities of those teams and of Frontex staff, fundamental rights, and the “situation of the Schengen associated countries”.

The directives appear to seek the most extensive authority possible for Frontex officers, whilst ensuring that the agency’s staff “should enjoy full immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the Republic of Senegal under all circumstances”. Specifically, they note:

  • Team members should be entitled to perform all the tasks and exercise all the executive powers required for border control”;
  • “they should be entitled to carry service weapons, ammunition and equipment and use them in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Senegal”;
  • “They should also enjoy immunity from civil jurisdiction of the Republic of Senegal for the acts performed by them in the exercise of their official functions”.

On fundamental rights, the directive notes that the agreement “should enshrine strong provisions on the respect of fundamental rights”.

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In agreements signed with Western Balkan states (based on an earlier, but similar, model status agreement), this has extended to a complaints mechanism of questionable efficacy, and the option to suspend or terminate operations in the event of rights violations occurring.

All status agreements on Frontex activities in non-EU states are based on a model agreement adopted by the Commission, which has been updated after the entry into force of the agency’s 2019 Regulation and allows for operations in any non-EU state. Formerly Frontex could only operate in states neighbouring EU external borders.

The status agreement will authorise Frontex to carry out joint operations and rapid border interventions in Senegalese territory (“necessary adjustments to the geographical scope may be made during the negotiations”). Negotiation and conclusion of an agreement is a high priority for the Council in actioning the Pact on Asylum and Migration, with the intention for Frontex to provide direct operational support to Senegal in the prevention of irregular migration and in the fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking.

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