Major prize for research on EU border enforcement

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

An article examining the policing of European Union borders has been judged the best article published in the British Journal of Criminology in 2015. The prize, named in honour of criminologist Sir Leon Radzinowicz, is one of the most prestigious awards in criminology.

The article, by Katja Franko Aas of the University of Oslo and Helene O. I. Gundhus of the Norwegian Police University College, studies the workings of Frontex, the agency tasked with the management of the EU's external borders.

It highlights 'a persisting and fundamental incoherence and discrepancy' between a tough security response and the agency's public support for human rights ideals. As the authors note:

'On the other hand, Frontex seems to have appropriated the language of fundamental rights as a standard item of its self-presentation... The fact remains though that migrants’ lives remain imperiled and their deaths are not systematically counted nor analyzed as organizationally defined forms of risk. Nor is there a systematic evaluation of the consequences of Frontex operations and diversion practices for migrant security, for the right to life and for the principle of non-refoulement. There is therefore a persisting and fundamental incoherence and discrepancy between the discursive attentions paid to human rights and humanitarian ideals and the practical focus on minimizing risk as defined by the objectives of state security.'

Professor Sandra Walklate, Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Criminology, said:

'The editors always feel privileged to award the Radzinowicz Prize. It is especially pleasing this year to award it to an article that offers such original and timely insights into the dilemmas being faced when policing European borders. A must read for anyone making claims about the current condition in Europe'.

Read of summary of the article, 'Policing Humanitarian Borderlands: Frontex, Human Rights and the Precariousness of Life', here.