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EU: Frontex’s lack of transparency on Libyan cooperation to be heard in court

Ahead of a hearing at the General Court of the European Union, in which Frontex, the EU border agency, will be questioned over its lack of transparency in relation to its involvement in maritime interceptions and subsequent human rights abuses against refugees and migrants in Libya, Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Refugee Rights Researcher, said:

“Frontex uses planes and drones to spot any people trying to reach safety in Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, before then alerting the Libyan coastguards. As a results, refugees and migrants are routinely intercepted by Libyan coastguards and returned to Libya, where they face arbitrary detention and torture on a mass scale.”
Matteo de Bellis

“Frontex must be transparent about its role in any operations that may have led to human rights violations against refugees and migrants. Without such transparency, any pledges the agency makes regarding human rights protections will be tokenistic and will not lead to the positive changes that the agency promises.”

Amnesty International will attend the hearing in Luxembourg to observe proceedings and support efforts to advance justice for refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean.

Background

On 11 October 2023, at 14:30 CEST, the General Court of the European Union will hold a hearing on the case Naass and Sea-Watch v Frontex. The case focuses on Frontex’s refusal to disclose documents relating to its surveillance activities in the central Mediterranean on 30 July 2021, when the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted about 20 people in the Maltese Search-and-Rescue Region and returned them to Libya.

Sea-Watch, which was operating Seabird 1, an aircraft, and Sea-Watch 3, a rescue vessel, witnessed the operation and subsequently investigated the incident, together with other organizations. Sea-Watch, assisted by the NGO FragDenStaat, asked Frontex to disclose documents detailing its aerial operations and its cooperation with Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities. Frontex refused to disclose the documents and Sea-Watch filed a lawsuit against Frontex in April 2022 before the General Court of the EU.

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