EU court dismisses claim by Syrian refugees for damages from Frontex border agency

LUXEMBOURG (AP) — A top European Union court on Wednesday dismissed a claim by several Syrian refugees for damages from the Frontex EU border agency because they were returned to Turkey after landing in Greece, where they expressed a wish to be granted international protection.

The EU General Court ruled that “since Frontex does not have the power to assess the merits of return decisions or applications for international protection, that EU agency cannot be held liable for any damage related to the return of those refugees.”

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, widely known as Frontex, coordinates border control efforts.

The refugees arrived in Greece in 2016 but were returned to Turkey in a Frontex operation and eventually ended up in Iraq. They sought a combined 136,000 euros ($146,000) in damages.

The court insisted that “Frontex’s task is only to provide technical and operational support to the Member States. However, it is the Member States alone that are competent to assess the merits of return decisions and to examine applications for international protection.”