The Forced-Return Monitoring III (FReM III) project just released a Gaps and Needs Analysis Report, analysing the national monitoring systems in twenty-two EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries.
The objective of forced-return monitoring is to document human rights compliance during the removal with a view to increasing transparency and accountability in the removal process, where the fundamental rights of returnees and principles could be at stake. The report summarises main findings of the gaps and needs analysis of national monitoring capacities of 22 FReM III partner countries. The methodology employed comprises secondary data analysis (i.e. desk research including information from various available sources and relevant reports of previous FReM projects), and primary analysis of data collected through a targeted survey of relevant National Monitoring Bodies (NMB) from all 22 FReM partner states. The main findings of the reports can be summarised as follows:
As regards the general monitoring mandate, limitations in existing legal mandate in certain partner states has been identified as a major gap not allowing National Monitoring Bodies (NBMs) to observe all stages of a return operation. In many MSs limited funding of NMBs was highlighted as a major issue. As a consequence, institutionalisation of an adequate standardised profile of a forced-return monitor as well as increased institutional funding have been identified as means to address the mentioned gaps.
With regard to the institutional capacity to monitor forced-return, NMBs´ restricted legal monitoring mandate and limited communication between institutions, particularly between the return enforcing institution and the NMB, have been indicated as important gaps which need to be addressed. The recommendations to address the mentioned gaps focus on the need for increased and formalised institutional cooperation as well as having a stable source of (increased) funding to also fund more trainings.
The existing gaps in terms of the preparedness of monitors are often the lack of sufficient time to prepare for a monitoring mission after receiving first information about an upcoming return operation. Lack of sufficient information at the disposal of monitors regarding upcoming returns further hinders the preparedness of monitors. To address some of these issues, the extension of preparation time as well as sharing more information have been stressed as possible solutions.
Similar to the gaps regarding monitors’ preparedness, the deployment of monitors is affected, among others, by inter-institutional communication between the return enforcing institution and the NMBs and here too, a better communication (also in terms of the content communicated to NBMs) is one of the means to fill the gap.
With regard to the monitoring process, the identified gaps in certain MS are: lack of an interpreter, lack of specific monitoring guidelines and lack of/late receipt of information about the returnees. The means to fill these gaps are the presence of an interpreter during the return process as well as putting in place of monitoring guidelines.
As regards the major gaps in the process of writing and submitting a monitoring report, lack of a reporting template, the absence of recommendations from monitoring reports, and unclear and limited use of and follow-up to monitoring reports by return enforcing institutions have been highlighted. As a result, there is a need for standard operation procedures for information sharing and improved collaboration and communication between the monitoring institution and the return enforcing institution. In addition, monitors need to have access to previous monitoring reports and there is also a need for more institutional discussion and reflection on the recommendations from monitors’ reports.
The most common gap in the process of following-up on monitoring reports is the lack of any such follow-up. Collaboration and information-sharing between the institutions conducting the monitoring, but also between return enforcing institutions and NMBs have also been mentioned as a notable gap. One suggested solution is to establish a formal follow-up procedure, particularly with regard to the recommendations from the monitoring reports.
The analysis was conducted by the FReM III project team at ICMPD, composed of staff members of the Migration Dialogues & Cooperation Directorate in collaboration with two researchers from the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate. It is worth noting here that while working on addressing the gaps and needs highlighted above, the Member States can benefit from the existing tools, guidelines and training materials developed in the framework of the FReM projects.