On 13 May, the Ombudsman Office of the Republic of Moldova issued an order to appoint its Torture Prevention Directorate in charge of monitoring forced-returns. For the first time in the country’s history, it formally assigned a dedicated team of forced-return monitors. The act of appointment comes as a result of a series of earlier activities carried out within the framework of the project “Development of a Forced-Return Monitoring System in the Republic of Moldova” (FReMM). Those include a workshop with Moldovan stakeholders on sharing the EU good practices on forced-return monitoring and a meeting on agreeing the standard monitor’s profile for Moldova.
Moldova has only recently embarked on building a national forced-return monitoring system. Until now, it had no specific regulatory and institutional framework for carrying out monitoring of forced-return operations yet. In its capacity of national human rights monitoring body with a general mandate, the Ombudsman Office has taken a first step by issuing an internal order appointing its Torture Prevention Directorate to organize monitoring of forced-returns through a team of monitors with a mix of backgrounds including child protection, torture prevention, and claims investigation.
The Ombudsman Office recognises in its appointing act the importance of engaging civil society organisations in the monitoring process. This builds upon European good practices which is also being replicated within the FReMM project that is partnering with the Ombudsman Office and the NGO Law Centre of Advocates – an established local actor in the area of migrants’ rights and refugee protection. The project envisages a number of individual training and institutional strengthening activities that will be carried out with the Ombudsman Office’s Torture Prevention Directorate and its appointed monitors, with the Law Centre of Advocates, as well as with the Moldovan Bureau on Migration and Asylum that is in charge of enforcing returns. The appointing act tasks the mentioned Directorate with collecting all the materials made available or produced by the project (good practices, standard procedures, legislative amendment proposals, guidelines, curricula, contacts, etc.), documenting and sharing relevant lessons learned, and making proposals for further consolidation of a sustainable forced-return monitoring system in Moldova.
The FReMM project is supporting the Republic of Moldova to (1) refine the legal framework and mandate of the monitoring bodies, (2) establish monitoring guidelines and a sustainable framework for the monitoring bodies with clear division of responsibilities, (3) provide relevant training to the monitoring bodies and return enforcing institutions, and (4) enhance the legal grounds and procedural mechanisms for proper communication and coordination among the monitoring bodies and return enforcing institution. The project is implemented by ICMPD, and is funded by the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration.