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Ombudsman inquiry opened on how European Commission seeks to ensure protection of fundamental rights in border management operations by Croatian authorities

The European Ombudsman has opened an inquiry into a complaint from Amnesty International against the European Commission. The inquiry focuses on how the Commission seeks to ensure that the Croatian authorities respect fundamental rights in the context of border management operations.

Amnesty International and other organisations have raised concerns about border management by the Croatian authorities, drawing attention to alleged human rights violations linked to ‘pushbacks’ of migrants and other border operations. In the context of EU funding, which Croatia receives for border management operations, Croatia should have set up a ‘monitoring mechanism’ to ensure that border management operations are fully compliant with fundamental rights and EU law.

The complainant has raised doubts as to whether such a mechanism has been set up, and claims that the Commission has failed to verify that the Croatian authorities have done so or how the allocated funds have been spent.

The Ombudsman has set out a series of questions to the Commission and asked it to reply by 31 January 2021. The questions seek to establish the nature of the monitoring mechanism and how the Commission has verified it has been set up. If it has been created, the questions seek to establish how the Commission has verified its effectiveness and, more generally, how the Commission ensures that border management operations that receive EU funds ensure respect for fundamental rights.