The General Court of the European Union dismissed the action for damages brought against Frontex for its role in the pushback of a Syrian family (Case T-600/21) on 6 September 2023. An appeal against the General Court’s judgment has now been lodged before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Syrian family in question were illegally deported to Turkey in October 2016, shortly after arriving in Greece, in a joint operation conducted by Frontex and the Greek authorities. During the return operation, the family, including the children, were separated from one another and each escorted by border guards, in violation of the rights of the child.

It is the first time that a damages claim has been brought against Frontex before the EU General Court for its role in illegally deporting people in violation of their fundamental rights. The judgment of the General Court leaves open fundamental and important issues which are raised in the appeal to the Court of Justice.

The central question is, how should Frontex's mandate be understood? Regulation 2016/1624 (‘the Frontex Regulation’) clearly confers a monitoring task on Frontex to ensure respect for human rights. Thus, Article 34 of the Frontex Regulation states that Frontex is required to establish "an effective mechanism to monitor the respect for fundamental rights in all the activities of the Agency." The General Court’s ruling leaves entirely unclear what that means in practice. For which activities can Frontex be held accountable, and to whom? In a Union based on the rule of law, power must be accompanied by accountability. That central question cannot be allowed to remain unanswered.

The Syrian family is being represented by Marieke van Eik and Lisa-Marie Komp of Prakken D'Oliveira, together with former Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston who is working pro bono with the legal team. Furthermore, the case is supported by the Dutch Council for Refugees, Stichting Democratie en Media and BKB.

For media about the case, see for example:



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