Project – “European Border and Coast Guard: Systemic Accountability in Practice”

Law is a product of social processes and the balance of power in society. Through their involvement in legal clinics, students participate in the bottom-up development of the law and attempt to shift the balance towards societal goals.

The students of the Roma Tre Legal Clinic on Migration and Citizenship have the opportunity to engage their voices in one of the core issues of European migration management of the time, the accountability of Frontex for human rights violations.

The project European Border and Coast Guard: Systemic Accountability in Practice, run by Mariana Gkliati (Leiden University, University of London), deals with the legal responsibility and accountability of Frontex for human rights violations.

The work of the agency is particularly sensitive to human rights violations. However, the ‘many hands’ involved in its joint operations make it difficult to allocate legal responsibility and hold the agency accountable before courts.

The project engages a large network of practitioners, journalists, civil society organisations, and policymakers.

It specifically aims at:

  • The next phase of the European Border and Coast Guard
    Assessing how the 2019 EBCG Regulation affects the responsibility and accountability of Frontex.
  • Coming into Focus
    Stepping from building the overall framework to focusing on responsibility in the specific activities of Frontex.
  • Systemic Accountability in Practice
    Engaging with society and materialising systemic accountability.

Via their participation in this international project, the local research unit of the Roma Tre Clinic is taking a hands on approach on migration and human rights law. They have the opportunity to learn by doing and are being trained in different forms of research, including organising, categorising and analysing sources of desk research, preparing and conducting empirical legal research. They further engage their pen in academic writing and reporting and the preparation of end publication products. Finally, they are able to expand their network and collaborate directly with key actors in the field.

In this educational environment, the students acquire practical and critical analytical skills that they can employ in their future work in or outside academia. They contextualize the knowledge they gain in the classroom and discover education in practice.


Mariana  Gkliati

Mariana Gkliati is a legal researcher at Leiden University specialising in the legal responsibility of Frontex for human rights violations. She teaches at the University of London at the Refugee Law Initiative’s MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies. In a consultancy capacity, she has advised, trained, and undertaken research for several national and international organisations.

Her work experience is shared among London, Vienna, Athens, and the Netherlands. She has previously worked at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and as a legal case reporter and commentator for Oxford Reports on International Law, while she has had an earlier carrier as a journalist.

See tweets under @MarianaGkliati.


The Roma Tre Local Research Unit – First Group

Chiara Maccari – Coordinator 

She holds a Master’s Degree in Law at Roma Tre University with a final thesis in International Humanitarian Law regarding the arms trade legislation. She’s the coordinator of the Front Office for migrants rights of the Roma Tre Migration and Citizenship Law Clinic and currently works as a trainee lawyer.

Stefania Attolini – Researcher

She’s a student attending the fifth year of a Master’s Degree in Law at Roma Tre University. She holds a scholarship as Junior Assistant at the Roma Tre Migration and Citizenship Law Clinic Front Office for migrants’ rights.

Michela Di Cicco – Researcher

She’s a graduating student in Law at Roma Tre Law Department, defending her final thesis on administrative detention and return operations of migrants in Italy. She attended the Roma Tre Migration and Citizenship Law Clinic in a.y. 2019-2020.


Useful links 

Statewatch Frontex Observatory

M. Gkliati, Frontex Return Operations and their Human Rights Implications, in Soysüren Ibrahim and Nedelcu Mihaela (eds), ‘Deportation of Foreigners: EU instruments, Nation-State practices and social actors’ involvement’, Bern: Peter Lang Editions,

C. Jones, J. Kilpatrick, M. Gkliati, Deportation Union: Rights, accountability and the EU’s push to increase forced removals, Statewatch, 2020,

Transnational Institute (TNI), Statewatch, Deportation Union: The role of Frontex, 14 December 2020

The new European Border and Coast Guard: Do increased powers come with enhanced accountability?, EU Law Analysis, 17 April 2019