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Decision in OI/4/2021/MHZ on how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) complies with its fundamental rights obligations and ensures accountability in relation to its enhanced responsibilities

Lunes | 17 enero 2022

This own-initiative inquiry assessed how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is complying with its fundamental rights and transparency obligations under Regulation 2019/1896 (‘the Frontex Regulation’), which expanded Frontex’s mandate.

The inquiry looked into how Frontex ensures the transparency of its ‘operational plans’, which define the parameters of its operations, and how it decides to suspend, terminate or not launch an activity due to fundamental rights concerns. The inquiry also assessed the monitoring of fundamental rights compliance in forced returns and Frontex’s guidance for the screening process of undocumented individuals who cross or attempt to cross an external EU border irregularly.

Based on the inquiry, the Ombudsman set out a series of suggestions to Frontex, with a view to improving its accountability. The Ombudsman encourages Frontex to be proactively transparent in relation to operational plans and the fundamental rights analysis on which its Executive Director bases decisions to launch, suspend or terminate operations. She suggests that Frontex issue specific instructions to ‘screening teams’ that carry out interviews of refugees. The Ombudsman also encourages Frontex to improve the monitoring of forced returns in which those escorting returnees are Frontex staff and to guarantee better reporting of monitoring operations.