[Opinieartikel van Andrea Ó Súilleabháin]
Frontex, the border management agency of the European Union, recently expressed an interest in adding drone technology to its array of surveillance tools. The potential deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would expand Frontex’s surveillance operations beyond Europe, in the service of developing what the agency obliquely calls a “common pre-frontier intelligence picture.” This is an alarming goal, given already widespread and unaddressed questions about Frontex’s compliance with international and European refugee and human rights law.
Regulations and amendments have increased Frontex’s powers since its founding, including the development and deployment of rapid border intervention teams (RABITs) to intercept migrants at sea before they reach European land in order to return them to their home countries. These operations give rise to growing concerns about the legality of Frontex missions and the exploitation of legal loopholes in maritime law and European border regulations.