This section contains information access to documents requests made by Statewatch to, or about, Frontex; and the documents released in response to those requests.
Public access to EU documents
Access to documents requests can be made under Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, particularly article 2, which states:
"(1)Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, has a right of access to documents of the institutions, subject to the principles, conditions and limits defined in this Regulation.
(2) The institutions may, subject to the same principles, conditions and limits, grant access to documents to any natural or legal person not residing or not having its registered office in a Member State.
(3) This Regulation shall apply to all documents held by an institution, that is to say, documents drawn up or received by it an in its posession, in all areas of activity of the European Union."
"Document" is defined in the Regulation as:
"any content whatever its medium(written on paper or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions falling within the institution's sphere of responsibility."
Exceptions are outlined in article 4, and the process of application in articles 6, 7 and 8.
Access to documents at Frontex
In 2020, Frontex's 'Transparency Office' - the department which processes and responds to these applications - stopped processing requests for access to documents by email. Instead, it forces those requesting access to use its online portal, which has obstructed the process of transparency through technical glitches and communication faults.
Despite a huge expansion in staff and financial resources as a result of the growth of the agency's legal mandate, Frontex has confirmed that "The Transparency Office has no budget allocation as it is made up of existing staff and relies on the entire agency to contribute." The agency has apparently not seen the value in improving its public transparency.
A number of the sub-sections listed below recount the process of the request, to demonstrate the obstacles and delays faced in seeking transparency from Frontex.
For more excellent resources on Frontex documents, we encourage you to visit:
Five-day human intelligence training for 14 Frontex officers.
Documents relating to Frontex contracts for AI-based capabilities research. Please note that we received more documents than displayed, which did not seem useful for public interest. However, please contact us at comms[at]statewatch.org if you are interested to know more.
Documents related to a contract between Frontex and GMV Aerospace and Defence S.A.U. for business analysts and IT specialists to redesign parts of the IRMA ("Irregular Migration Management Application") platform. The system is used for internationally coordinating deportations and IRMA 2.0, the target of the contract, will allow Member States to connect their national Return Case Management Systems (RECAMAS) to the central system and "the processes should become simpler, more efficient, more interlinked".
Basic training for category 1 standing corps on pre-return and return procedures, good practice manuals on the use of force and firearms, training implementation manual and summary of voluntary returns
Request for training materials, Management Board Decisions, operational plans and lists of authorised restraints for National Return Operations (NROs) and Joint Return Operations (JROs)
Documents concerning Frontex's Working Group on Advance Traveller Information. The agency released a number of documents in response to our request, but they were heavily censored, in many cases to the extent of being largely useless.
Documents concerning the adoption and implementation of Frontex's remit concerning deportations, as provided for in the 2016 Regulation.
Over 200 Serious Incident Reports filed by officials deployed on the agency's operations between 1 June 2016 and 1 June 2017.
Minutes from all the meetings of the Management Board of Frontex held between May 2014 and February 2017, obtained through an access to documents request to Frontex.
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