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The request was part of the European Ombudsman’s inquiry from March 2012 into the implementation by Frontex of its fundamental rights obligations. Frontex was asked to provide information on its fundamental rights strategy, codes of conduct, the fundamental rights officer, the European Border Guard Teams and the closure of joint operations.
FRA’s response focused on existing FRA-Frontex cooperation as covered in the cooperation agreement between the two agencies, signed in May 2010. The agreement aims to mainstream fundamental rights in Frontex activities and covers Frontex activities such as research, training and capacity building, risk analysis and operations.
Examples of the interagency cooperation in practice include:
- Assisting in the drafting of the Frontex Fundamental Rights Strategy in 2011;
- Developing, in cooperation with UNHCR, a tailored fundamental rights training programme for Frontex staff;
- Contributing to fundamental rights training for border guards;
- Support in FRA data collection and analysis for its work on areas in which Frontex is active, such as the treatment of third country nationals at EU borders.
In addition, fundamental rights have been hard wired into Frontex’s amended founding regulation of October 2011. Part of this includes setting up a Consultative Forum to advise Frontex’s Executive Director and its Management Board on the fundamental rights aspects of Frontex’s activities. FRA has been actively involved in helping to shape the new forum. Alongside FRA, the forum will be made up of representatives from the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UN Refugee Agency, the European Asylum Support Office, the International Organization for Migration and nine civil society organisations.
The agency’s reponse to the European Ombudsman did not assess how far Frontex implements its fundamental rights obligations, since this is outside FRA’s mandate.