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Jorrit Rijpma on Frontex and Greece’s illegal return of migrants

More and more reports appear in de media claiming that Frontex, the organisation coordinating the joint border control of the European Union, has been helping the Greek coastguard to stop asylum seekers at sea. In doing so, has Frontex endangered the lives of migrants?

Jorrit Rijpma (centre) on TRT World with two other experts

In an interview on English language Turkish news channel TRT World Jorrit Rijpma, Professor of European Law, discusses whether Frontex acted illegally in this situation. 'What is illegal, is to push people back at the border. That is illegal is terms of international law, refugee law and European Union law’, Rijpma says. He added that Frontex has a special role. 'Frontex doesn’t have its own border guards. It coordinates the cooperation between Greek border guards who are being helped out by colleagues from other Member States.'

How should Frontex now be acting in this role? 'Frontex doesn’t have the power of commanding control over the Greek border guards. But what it can do, is to say: we will not participate in any of this. The Executive Director should say: my organisation will not coordinate, support, fund, or help in any way in pushbacks.’

Frontex must try to stop this practice. 'It has to be very clear from the outside – there shall be no pushbacks in whatever operation is coordinated by Frontex. Frontex itself always says: we are complying with all European and international human rights. And yet, they allow these operations in which pushbacks are taking place.’

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