On 22-25 June 2021, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) organised a training for the recently appointed forced-return monitors from the Republic of Moldova. This activity took place as part of joint efforts of the EU funded project “Forced-Return Monitoring III” (FReM III) and the project “Development of a Forced-Return Monitoring System in the Republic of Moldova” (FReMM) funded by the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration.
The training targeted forced-return monitors from the Moldovan Ombudsman Office that is the national independent body with overall human rights monitoring mandate, as well as from its partner NGO Law Centre for Advocates – an established local actor in the area of migrants’ rights and refugee protection. A number of participants from the Moldovan Bureau for Migration and Asylum – the return enforcing authority – have also been invited to attend as observers. In spite of the ongoing pandemic and restrictive measures in place, a total of 13 participants from among mentioned national stakeholders benefited from the training.
The comprehensive four-day training aimed to equip participants with the overall competence to monitor and report on human rights compliance in forced-return operations in accordance with international and regional human rights law. It consisted of theoretical and practical sessions on relevant topics such as: introduction to return and relevant terminology; different types and phases of return operations; human rights and the role of monitors; the role of escorts and the use of coercive measures; communication and coordination among relevant stakeholders; reporting principles; and the impact of monitoring and coping strategies. The methodology applied included interactive lectures, various group exercises, discussion rounds, numerous practical exercises and simulations.
The training was implemented by experts from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Fundamental Rights Office, European Centre for Returns), the Ombudsman's Offices of Greece and the Czech Republic, the Romanian National Council for Refugees, escort officers from Poland and Greece, as well as ICMPD. A member from the Council of Europe (CoE) European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) delivered a lecture on the CPT recommendations for return operations. To ensure proper tailoring to the Moldovan context, a trainer from Moldova has also been involved.
Moldova has only recently embarked on building a national forced-return monitoring system. This training provided for a timely support to the country’s needs for individual training of its future pool of monitors. The training curricula and materials are also made available to Moldovan stakeholders for their further institutional strengthening beyond the project life.