On 15-19 March 2021, ICMPD and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) organised a training for forced-return monitors at the Border Security Training Centre of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee in Schiphol, the Netherlands. This activity took place within the EU funded project Forced-Return Monitoring III (FReM III).
The training targeted forced-return monitors from national competent bodies that carry out or may carry out forced-return monitoring in accordance with Article 8(6) of the Return Directive (2008/115/EC) and those that are nominated to the pool of forced-return monitors established by Article 51 of European Border and Coast Guard Regulation (2019/1896). The training equipped participants with the overall competence to monitor and report on fundamental rights compliance in forced-return operations in accordance with international and EU human rights law.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and related measures in place, the training included a smaller group of participants with overall seven monitors from six different countries and one monitor from the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office. The comprehensive four and a half day training consisted of theoretical and practical sessions on relevant topics such as: legal framework, different types and phases of return operations; the Frontex mandate in return operations and the pool of forced-return monitors; fundamental rights and the role of monitors; the role of escorts and the use of coercive measures; and the impact of monitoring and coping strategies. The methodology applied included interactive lectures, various group exercises, discussion rounds, practical exercises and simulations.
The training was implemented by experts from the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office and the European Centre for Returns, fundamental rights and monitoring trainers from the Czech Republic, Greece and Romania, escort trainers from the Netherlands and Portugal 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.
According to Article 51 of the EBCG Regulation 2019/1896 Member States shall be responsible for contributing to the “[…] pool of forced-return monitors from competent bodies of the Member States who carry out forced-return monitoring activities in accordance with Article 8(6) of Directive 2008/115/EC […]”. In line with this provision, FReM III supports Frontex and Member States to further enlarge and institutionalise the Pool with qualified, trained and independent forced-return monitors.