Deportation flights violating migrants’ rights, says Ombudswoman

Procedures regarding onboard medical and language assistance are not being followed

Footage showing alleged police aggression against an undocumented migrant on a deportation flight to Dominican Republic.EL PAÍSundefined

Spain’s Ombudswoman has accused authorities of violating the basic rights of foreigners who are deported by air to their home countries by failing to provide legal aid, linguistic assistance or medical support.

Soledad Becerril called for an end to the policy, saying it only “adds to the pain and suffering of people trying to escape war and hunger, or who are simply looking for a better future.”

Becerril accuses Frontex, the European agency that charters deportation flights from EU member states, of “practices that contravene its code of conduct.”

Becerril’s report notes that Frontex did not order the presence of a physician on several deportation flights that it monitored. On others, there was no interpreter. The migrants were sometimes not informed about the possibility of filing a complaint against violations of their fundamental rights.

The study also underscored the absence of an onboard defibrillator or refrigerator to store medicine.

“On all monitored deportation flights, there was no video recording as stipulated in the code, especially for difficult cases,” adds the study.

Becerril also wants officers accompanying deportees aboard flights to be identified, and says that protocols need to be established for dealing with children and pregnant women. “These cases should have no contact with people other than their own families,” says Becerril.

But Frontex has rejected any responsibility for the conditions on deportation flights, underscoring that this falls to the member states.

“We don’t have any medical personnel. This must be provided by the country organizing the flight, just like the monitoring, the interpreters and the bodyguards,” said Gil Arias Fernández, deputy executive director at Frontex.

Frontex spent €1.85 million last year on seven flights carrying 400 deportees from different EU member states, returning them to Pakistan, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

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