EU border agency says 'no evidence' of migrant pushbacks

EU border agency Frontex said on Thursday that it had found no evidence of rights violations, after being accused of pushing migrant boats back to sea.

But the agency’s management board said it had not been able to finalise all its investigations, nearly half of which still require further examination.

Turkish authorities have repeatedly accused Frontex officers in Greece of involvement in returning boats of Europe-bound migrants back into Turkish waters, a claim backed by international media reports.

In October, senior EU officials pressed Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri over concerns the agency’s actions were violating migrant’s right to seek asylum. 

Having reviewed the evidence, the management board said that "on the basis of the information provided, it could not establish evidence of fundamental rights violations".

But the board said it remained “very concerned” over Frontex’s failure to provide information on three incidents on which it “could not yet draw any conclusions”.

The EU’s anti-fraud office launched an investigation into Frontex in January.

Frontex has been rapidly expanded in recent years, as the European Union seeks to take a more direct role in controlling its borders and reduce liability on national governments.

In February, Turkey opened its borders with Greece to migrants seeking entry to the European Union, resulting in chaotic scenes as thousands sought to make the journey.

Greek officials in March said they had stopped nearly 10,000 migrants crossing the land border with Turkey. At least two people were killed during the response by Greek security forces.