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Project News: FReM III organises a Remote Thematic Workshop on Children

14 December 2020

On 3 December 2020, representatives from forced-return monitoring bodies and return enforcing institutions from 21 European countries, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) gathered during a remote Thematic Workshop on Children in Forced-Return Operations. ICMPD and FRA jointly organised the workshop within the framework of the Forced-Return Monitoring III (FReM III) project. The aim was to enhance the monitors’ knowledge and capacities in monitoring forced-return operations where children are present.

The half-day workshop was structured into three main sessions. Session 1 on the rights of the child and best interests of the child featured a presentation on the relevant legal framework by FRA, followed by a presentation from the Norwegian National Police Immigration Service on operationalising the best interests of the child during forced-return operations. They presented Safe, Secure and Responsible. Police Guidelines for Asylum Cases Involving Children, which they published in 2018 within a project aimed at defining police practices that protect children’s rights. 

Session 2 dealt with the preparation for a forced-return operation and the safeguards to consider when preparing to monitor a return operation. The PICUM Director presented the relevant recommendations from the Guidance to respect children’s rights in return policies and practices. Focus on the EU legal framework that PICUM published jointly with other non-governmental and international organisations in 2019. The presentation was followed by a discussion round among participants. 

During the last session 3 participants discussed the actual monitoring of forced-return operations where children are present and what specific children’s rights could be affected in each phase. In this session, the representative of the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office summarised the main observations since 2017 related to forced-return operations where children are present. The workshop results will feed into the further development of an e-learning platform and reporting application that is currently being developed within FReM III for the Frontex pool of forced-return monitors.

The FReM III project contributes to a functioning EU Return System in line with the EU Return Directive (2008/115/EC) with two specific objectives, namely to further establish the pool of forced-return monitors in line with the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) Regulation, and to further strengthen the national forced-return monitoring systems in Member States. According to Article 51(2) of the EBCG Regulation 2019/1896, [f]orced-return monitors with specific expertise in child protection shall be included in the pool. FReM III is implemented by ICMPD in cooperation with 22 partner countries, Frontex and FRA. The project is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union.

Download the workshop agenda here

For further information please visit the FReM webpage.