The Frontex Management Board has adopted an updated Fundamental Rights Strategy that governs the way the European border and coast guard agency applies fundamental rights standards and principles in all its activities. The document, which replaces a 2011 version, is the result of thorough consultations between all in-house units and partners.
The Fundamental Rights Strategy describes the impact fundamental rights have on Frontex activities related to integrated border management. It contains the requirements to comply with the agency’s international and European obligations, while explaining what it means to respect, protect and promote fundamental rights of those who cross the EU borders.
The practical guidance of fundamental rights in the context of the agency’s activities further relates to analysis-based planning, joint operations and return, cooperation with the Member States, as well as officers and authorities of non-EU countries. The Fundamental Rights Strategy also covers the responsibilities of participants in Frontex operational activities and the fundamental rights in education and training, research and innovation.
The strategy includes several operational instructions. For example, it states that border checks and border surveillance (sea, land and air) “shall be conducted in a way that ensures respect for, protection and promotion of the fundamental rights of those on the move and puts in place safeguards for children, including the presence of members of the teams with special training on child protection as soon as possible”, and “timely identification and referral to the competent national authorities shall be among the principal considerations of effective, rights-based border control”. In addition, “disembarking, forcing people to enter, conducting them to or handing them over to the authorities of a country where inter alia, there is a serious risk of being subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where life or freedom would be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of expulsion, removal or extradition to another country in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement, is prohibited”.
The Fundamental Rights Strategy will be elaborated into an Action Plan. This will include practical fundamental rights safeguards that guide the implementation of Frontex operational activities. The Action Plan will align with the Work Program of the agency, to comply with its mission and operational goals within the framework of European Integrated Border Management.