Forced return monitoring systems - 2020 update

The EU Return Directive (2008/115/EC) in Article 8 (6) introduced an important fundamental rights safeguard for third-country nationals ordered to leave the EU because they do not or no longer fulfil the conditions for entry and/or stay. According to the directive, Member States must provide for an effective forced-return monitoring system.

Since 2014, every year, FRA has been publishing an annual update of the forced return monitoring systems EU Member States have set up under Article 8 (6) of the Return Directive. The update describes the different indicators for an effective forced return monitoring system, including the organisation responsible for monitoring forced return, the number of operations monitored in 2019, the phases of return operations which were monitored, the number of staff trained and working as monitors, and whether the monitoring body issued public reports about their monitoring activities.

Whereas all EU Member States have some forms of return monitoring in law, in practice, gaps remain. For example, in Germany and in Sweden the main monitoring entity is closely connected to the authority responsible for returns. Without sufficient separation between the two, a monitoring system cannot be effective.

In some EU Member States, only very few operations are monitored or the monitoring does not cover all phases of return.

Developments over the years also show that the implementation of national monitoring systems is not linear. Particularly where it is project-based or based on a temporary agreement between the authority and the monitoring entity, an adequate forced return monitoring system may be in place for some time but gaps reemerge when funding comes to an end.

The table below compares developments in EU Member States and the United Kingdom over the past five years. The overview does not cover the pool of forced return monitors under the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex.

Forced return monitoring systems – State of play in 27 EU Member States and the United Kingdom - 2020 update
Country Organisation responsible for the monitoring Independent system to monitor forced returns in operation
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
AT Human Rights Association Austria (Verein Menschenrechte Österreich)
BE General Inspectorate of the General Federal Police and the Local Police (AIG) (Inspection générale de la police fédérale et de la police locale, Algemene inspectie van de federale politie en van de lokale politie)
BG Ombudsman (О̀мбудсманът), Centre for the Study of Democracy
CY Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman)
CZ Ombudsman, Public Defender of Rights (PDR) (Veřejný ochránce práv, VOP)
DE** Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge);
Fora at various airports:
Berlin-Brandenburg, Frankfurt, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia;
Nationale Stelle zur Verhütung von Folter  
(✘) (✘) (✘) (✘) (✘)
DK Parliamentary Ombudsman (Folketingets Ombudsmand)
EE Estonian Red Cross (Eesti Punane Rist)
EL Greek Ombudsman (Συνήγορος του Πολίτη)
ES Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo)
FI Non-Discrimination Ombudsman (Yhdenvertaisuusvaltuutettu)
FR General Inspector of All Places of Deprivation of Liberty (Contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté) ✘***
HR Croatian Law Centre (Hrvatski pravni centar)
HU Prosecution Service of Hungary (Magyarország ügyészsége)
IE* No monitoring system in law
IT National Guarantor for the Rights of Persons Detained or Deprived of Liberty (Garante nazionale dei diritti delle persone detenute o private della liberta' personale)
LT Lithuanian Red Cross Society (Lietuvos Raudonojo Kryžiaus draugija)
LU Luxembourg Red Cross (Croix-Rouge luxembourgeoise)
LV Ombudsman’s Office (Tiesībsarga birojs)  
MT Monitoring Board for Detained Persons
NL Inspectorate of Justice and Security (Inspectie Justitie en Veiligheid)
PL Various NGOs, e.g. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Rule of Law Institute Foundation, Halina Nieć Legal Aid Centre, MultiOcalenie Foundation
PT General Inspectorate of Internal Affairs (Inspecção-geral da Administração Interna, IGAI)
RO Romanian National Council for Refugees (Consiliul Național Român pentru Refugiați, CNRR) (NGO)
SE** Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket)
SI Caritas Slovenia
SK** Slovak Humanitarian Council (NGO)
UK* Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons (HMIP), Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs)

'Independent system to monitor forced returns in operation' means that a monitoring entity different from the authority responsible for returns has been appointed and has carried out some monitoring activities during the year.

* Ireland and the United Kingdom are not bound by the Return Directive (2008/115/EC).

** In Germany, Slovakia and Sweden, in 2016, 2017 and 2018 the monitoring body appointed by law was an agency/entity belonging to the branch of government responsible for returns. Thus, FRA considers that it is not sufficiently independent to qualify as ‘effective’ under Article 8 (6) of the Return Directive. In Germany, the effective forced return monitoring system, operated by NGOs at certain airports, covers only parts of the country.

***  In France, the “Contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté” did not monitor any forced return operations during 2016.

(✘) Partially operational
Not operational
Information not applicable

Source: FRA, 2020

Find additional data on forced return monitoring systems in our interactive data explorer.

The information on this page is up to date as of 2 July 2020.