How to escape its legal responsibilities if it participates in exactions at the borders of Europe, this is a long-standing question of the European agency Frontex. The latest find of the European Union: negotiate immunity from the courts in the countries where the agency operates.
While the missions of Frontex, the European Border Guard and Coast Guard Agency, are diverse, the most visible is to coordinate monitoring missions at the external borders of the European Union at the request of the Member State of which it is a matter of monitoring the frontiers. These missions involve border guards and coast guards from different European countries. In the event of a violation of rights, which is not unusual at European borders, on one of these missions, who is responsible? The agents involved in the abuses, the State which detached them for this mission, the State the border of which they are keeping, Frontex agency which coordinates the operation? The European agency has so far benefited from this vagueness surrounding the issue of responsibilities.
But the European Union clearly wants to go further. As part of the outsourcing of surveillance of its borders, ie the transfer of surveillance mission to neighboring countries so as to constitute a glacis on the approach of European borders, Frontex will be brought to be deployed in the Western Balkans, Serbia and Macedonia. In Article 6 of the agreement under discussion between the European Union and Serbia concerning this deployment, the first attempts to impose immunity of officers deployed within the framework of Frontex in front of Serbian justice: « 1. Members of the team shall not be subject to any form of arrest or detention in the Republic of Serbia. » « 3. Members of the team shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia in respect of all acts performed by them in the exercise of their official functions. » « 4. Members of the team shall enjoy immunity from the civil and administrative jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia in respect of all acts performed by them in the exercise of their official functions. »
The Serbian side for the time being is disagreeing, asks that the agents deployed in the framework of Frontex be justiciable before the Serbian courts in the same way as the Serbian police officers and that the agency be held responsible for any damage caused by the agents under its authority.
Case to follow.
You can download here the English text of the agreement under discussion:
and here the analysis of the association Statewatch: