For the third time in 2012, a group flight of deportees left Düsseldorf on Tuesday, 17th of April, headed for Belgrade (in Serbia). Germany, with the assistance of FRONTEX (the European agency charged with the management of member-states’ external borders), has been carrying out a policy of systematic expulsion against the Roma community, at a sustained pace of one to two group flights each month, in the direction of  Serbia or Kosovo. 

Since 2006, FRONTEX has been coordinating the organisation of these so-called “joint” flights between different member states of the EU, which serve to deport irregular migrants. The German government has confirmed that, over the course of 2011, the federal police participated in 21 such operations, organised and financed by FRONTEX, notably headed for Kosovo and Serbia.

In view of the human rights texts that prohibit collective expulsions (European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights), the legality of this new means of collective deportation, coordinated by FRONTEX, is contestable. In announcing the deportation of a considerable number of asylum-seekers whose cases had been dismissed by means of accelerated assessment procedures – in a move intended to send a strong message to the Serbian authorities – Germany has been increasingly aligning itself with a policy of “collective expulsion”, as defined and condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2002 in its Conka ruling. What’s more, the prevailing situation of the Roma community in Serbia shows that we can seriously doubt Germany’s respect for its obligation to protect expelled persons against inhumane and degrading treatment.

This deportation demonstrates yet again the extent to which FRONTEX, whose mandate notably includes the possibility to initiate and coordinate conjoint return flights for member-states of the European Union, legitimises and normalises practices in direct contradiction to fundamental human rights. Further, it illustrates the way in which EU member states contract out the dirty work of their deportation policies.

We firmly oppose such practices of mass expulsion, coordinated – or even initiated – by FRONTEX on behalf of the EU and its members. Such expulsions risk reinforcing prejudice and discriminatory perceptions against this ethnic group that is already the most discriminated against in the EU, as well as immigrants as a whole. Leaving aside the discrimination to which it exposes deportees in their return country, we condemn this expulsion policy on the grounds of the means it employs, which constitutes a manifest violation of human rights. 

Signatories:

Migreurop

Chachipe a.s.b.l.

Rom e.V., Köln

Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen

Project Roma Center, Göttingen

European Network against Racism (ENAR)