Conclusions from the Final Report on Operations in the Aegean Sea
On 5 March 2021, the Management Board of Frontex met to discuss the findings of the final report provided by the Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Legal Operational Aspects of Operations in the Aegean Sea. The report criticizes, inter alia, Frontex’s monitoring, recruitment, and reporting procedures.
Of the 13 incidents investigated, eight were resolved to the effect that no third-country nationals were turned back in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. Regarding the remaining five incidents, however, the facts could not be clarified beyond doubt.
In consequence, the Management Board used the report to call on Frontex to revise its own reporting system in order to make it more efficient. Proposals to improve the system include:
- Clear documentation of the allocation of responsibilities within the agency to ensure that all staff and the members of the Frontex Management Board can fully exercise their duties;
- Setting minimum requirements for the qualification of experts in the Frontex Situation Centre (FSC);
- Ensuring serious incident reports concerning alleged violations of fundamental rights are always reported to, and assessed by, the Fundamental Rights Officer;
- Providing that every operational plan should include a transparent reporting mechanism;
- Establishing a systematic monitoring of the above reporting mechanism;
- Clarifying the relationship between systems to protect whistle-blowers and exceptional reporting of serious incidents;
- Ensuring clear communication of these systems to staff and team members, including mandatory training sessions;
- Immediate recruitment of 40 Fundamental Rights Monitors, to be in place by 5 December 2020.
Additionally, Frontex shall submit a proposal for the establishment of a transparent process to follow-up on serious incident reports concerning potential violations of fundamental rights. The Frontex Management Board will monitor the implementation of the report’s findings.