Forced returns: Ombudsmen/NPM discuss follow-up of Frontex action

The Ombudsman, acting as the National Prevention Mechanism (NPM), participated in meetings organized by the Greek Ombudsman, with the support of the Council of Europe, on 22 and 23 February, in Athens, to discuss the follow-up of returns foreigners by air carried out by Frontex monitors.

This meeting, in which the Portuguese MNP was represented by its coordinator João Costa, follows a first international approach to the theme, which took place in October 2018.

The existence of external controls on Frontex monitors and the greater sharing of information were consensual aspects between representatives of National Prevention Mechanisms/Ombudsmen present. The creation of a platform to carry out such external control is being considered, with the participation of National Prevention Mechanisms and possibly other authorities under the aegis of the Council of Europe.

Created on 26 October 2004, Frontex is a European agency whose purpose is to coordinate cooperation between EU countries in the management of their external borders.

In May 2013, following the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Ombudsman was given the responsibility to act as an independent national mechanism for the prevention of domestic torture – MNP.

It is the responsibility of the MNP to regularly examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in places of detention. The NPM also has the power to make recommendations to the competent authorities to improve the detected deficiencies or repair situations that are not compatible with the international obligations assumed by the Portuguese State.