II.4/ Protection of fundamental rights and the principle of non-refoulement
1. No person shall, in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement, be disembarked in, forced to enter, conducted to or otherwise handed over to the authorities of a country where, inter alia, there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or from which there is a serious risk of an expulsion, removal or extradition to another country in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement.
2. When considering the possibility of disembarkation in a third country, in the context of planning a sea operation, the host Member State, in coordination with participating Member States and the Agency, shall take into account the general situation in that third country.
The assessment of the general situation in a third country shall be based on information derived from a broad range of sources, which may include other Member States, Union bodies, offices and agencies, and relevant international organisations and it may take into account the existence of agreements and projects on migration and asylum carried out in accordance with Union law and through Union funds. That assessment shall be part of the operational plan, shall be provided to the participating units and shall be updated as necessary.
Intercepted or rescued persons shall not be disembarked, forced to enter, conducted to or otherwise handed over to the authorities of a third country when the host Member State or the participating Member States are aware or ought to be aware that that third country engages in practices as described in paragraph 1.
3. During a sea operation, before the intercepted or rescued persons are disembarked in, forced to enter, conducted to or otherwise handed over to the authorities of a third country and taking into account the assessment of the general situation in that third country in accordance with paragraph 2, the participating units shall, without prejudice to Article 3, use all means to identify the intercepted or rescued persons, assess their personal circumstances, inform them of their destination in a way that those persons understand or may reasonably be presumed to understand and give them an opportunity to express any reasons for believing that disembarkation in the proposed place would be in violation of the principle of non-refoulement.
For those purposes, further details shall be provided for in the operational plan including, when necessary, the availability of shore-based medical staff, interpreters, legal advisers and other relevant experts of the host and participating Member States. Each participating unit shall include at least one person with basic first aid training.
The report referred to in Article 13 shall, based on information that shall be provided by the host and participating Member States, include further details on cases of disembarkation in third countries and how each element of the procedures laid down in the first subparagraph of this paragraph was applied by the participating units to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement.
4. Throughout a sea operation, the participating units shall address the special needs of children, including unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking in human beings, persons in need of urgent medical assistance, disabled persons, persons in need of international protection and other persons in a particularly vulnerable situation.
5. Any exchange with third countries of personal data obtained during a sea operation for the purposes of this Regulation shall be strictly limited to what is absolutely necessary and shall be carried out in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (16), Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA (17) and relevant national provisions on data protection.
The exchange with third countries of personal data regarding intercepted or rescued persons obtained during a sea operation shall be prohibited where there is a serious risk of contravention of the principle of non-refoulement.
6. Participating units shall, in the performance of their duties, fully respect human dignity.
7. This Article shall apply to all measures taken by Member States or the Agency in accordance with this Regulation.
8. Border guards and other staff participating in a sea operation shall be trained with regard to relevant provisions of fundamental rights, refugee law and the international legal regime of search and rescue in accordance with the second paragraph of Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004.