Forced Return Monitors Network Meeting: With every person’s dignity in mind


This week, the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office hosted members of the agency’s pool of forced return monitors and representatives of monitoring institutions from Member States and Schengen Associated Countries, as well as European Union’s and key international stakeholders.

It was an opportunity to exchange on the latest developments of forced return monitoring activities of the agency and explore ways on how to strengthen the work in this domain. Their main message is clear: returns are challenging, but they must always be respectful and humane.

The participants were welcomed by Frontex Deputy Executive Management Director Aija Kalnaja, who thanked them for their work and stressed the importance of the return monitors in the chain of migration management.

“Return monitors are very much needed. They are there to safeguard the legitimate right of people who are subject to returns,” Kalnaja said.

Her welcome was followed by an introduction from Frontex Fundamental Rights Officer, Jonas Grimheden, whose team of fundamental rights monitors is also represented in the Frontex Pool of forced return monitors with six members trained to participate in return operations.

Mr Grimheden stressed the independent character of both forced return and fundamental rights monitors. This quality allows them to report freely and openly on all cases of misuse or abuse of fundamental rights of returnees.

Who are the forced-return monitors and what do they do?

Forced return monitors observe and report on Frontex-supported return operations on the basis of objective and transparent criteria and cover the whole return operation from the pre-departure phase until the handover of returnees in the third country of return. 

Twice a year, the Frontex Fundamental Rights Office provides an overview of the findings and conclusions from the forced-return monitors' reports. They also include recommendations to be followed to ensure the compliance of fundamental rights during Frontex supported return operations, as well as examples of good practices.

In 2022, Frontex supported 287 forced-return operations by charter flights to 25 non-EU countries, out of which 208 had monitors on board.