Concerns about Frontex drive

Human rights group Amnesty International has sent a letter to Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, expressing concern that the operation of 175 border guards from the European Union’s border monitoring agency, Frontex, at the Greek-Turkish border could result in migrants who deserve refugee status being deprived of their rights. In its letter, the rights group said that it understands that Frontex guards have been instructed to show respect for the human rights of undocumented migrants intercepted while trying to cross the border. But it said it remained unconvinced «that this treatment could be guaranteed in practice.» The group expresses doubts about the type of training undergone by the Frontex guards and «whether they have been equipped to recognize people in need of international protection.» It is also doubtful, the letter notes, of the abilities of legal and other experts that have been recruited by Greek authorities to help the guards at the border. There are also concerns regarding progress by the authorities in creating adequate reception centers for the migrants and the extent to which AI and other human rights groups will be able to have access to migrants being detained in these centers. Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Union Office in Brussels, stressed the need for «a clear framework of cooperation between Greek authorities and Frontex to allow for the revision of decisions regarding the treatment of undocumented migrants when necessary.» On Saturday, Papoutsis traveled to the Greek-Turkish border to welcome a contingent of 175 border guards from Frontex. According to officials, in just a few days, the team has significantly curbed the influx of migrants into Greece. There had been no reports by late last night regarding an official response by Papoutsis’s office to Amnesty International’s letter.