Frontex border agents to be deployed in Belgium

Agents from the European border agency Frontex can be deployed on Belgian territory to assist the federal police with border controls, the Chamber has ruled. MPs approved a bill by Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt and Interior minister Annelies Verlinden on Thursday evening.

The decision means that up to 100 Frontex agents may be deployed at airports, seaports and the Eurostar terminal at Brussels Midi station. The bill sets the legal basis for Frontex staff to accompany foreign nationals who are deported. Currently, only airport police are able to perform that task. 

Verlinden said the deployment would be linked to strict conditions. Frontex agents will have to work under the supervision of the federal police and abide by the same rules relating to the use of firearms and coercion.

Civil society organisations such as 11.11.11, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen and Amnesty International are concerned that Frontex’s deployment in Belgium will open the door to human rights violations. The agency has been criticised previously in relation to “pushbacks” of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean. Some members of coalition parties PS and Ecolo abstained in Thursday's vote for that reason.


Frontex director Hans Leijtens speaks to Frontex agents from Germany and Greece along the Bulgaria-Turkey border, February 2024 © PHOTO NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP

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