Feasibility Study: Independent human rights monitoring mechanism at the external borders of the EU

May 2022

Fea­si­bi­li­ty Stu­dy on the set­ting up of a robust and inde­pen­dent human rights moni­to­ring mecha­nism at the exter­nal bor­ders of the Euro­pean Union

This stu­dy was pre­pa­red against the back­drop of mul­ti­ple deve­lo­p­ments in the manage­ment of the exter­nal bor­ders of the Euro­pean Uni­on. In recent years, the manage­ment of the­se exter­nal bor­ders has beco­me incre­a­singly robust. The pro­vi­si­on of direct finan­cial sup­port from Brussels to the front­li­ne Sta­tes has been pre­sen­ted as a mani­fes­ta­ti­on of Euro­pean soli­da­ri­ty and com­ple­men­ted by a signi­fi­cant incre­a­se in the powers and resour­ces of the Euro­pean Bor­der and Coast Guard Agen­cy (Fron­tex). Yet this expan­si­on of powers and means appears to have come at the expen­se of respect for the fun­da­men­tal rights of migrants who (attempt to) cross the exter­nal bor­ders of the EU. Des­pi­te the obli­ga­ti­ons incum­bent upon natio­nal and Euro­pean bor­der guards to respect the fun­da­men­tal rights of all migrants, a con­si­derable num­ber of credi­ble reports have high­ligh­ted widespread vio­la­ti­ons of rights. None­theless, the­se reports appe­ar to have been rou­ti­nely dis­mis­sed by the rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties, with limi­ted legal and poli­ti­cal con­se­quen­ces. This has led to a per­cep­ti­on of a lack of poli­ti­cal over­sight and judi­cial con­trol of events at the Euro­pean bor­ders, which can result in impu­ni­ty for vio­la­ti­ons com­mit­ted, inclu­ding pos­si­ble cri­mi­nal offences.

Against this back­ground, the stu­dy first estab­lis­hes the rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween moni­to­ring and poli­ti­cal over­sight as well as judi­cial con­trol and scru­ti­ni­ses the cri­te­ria and princi­ples that con­tri­bu­te to effec­ti­ve human rights moni­to­ring at the bor­ders: inde­pen­dence of the moni­to­ring bodies; their ade­qua­te man­da­te, fun­ding and powers; trans­pa­ren­cy and publi­ci­ty of their work; requi­re­ments in terms of exper­ti­se; and the impor­t­ance of soli­da­ri­ty bet­ween moni­to­ring bodies in Euro­pe as a corol­la­ry of the Euro­pean soli­da­ri­ty on the side of the bor­der guards.