Minds of my Generation

SIS II to centralize data of people who are not allowed entry into the Schengen area

12.04.2013. This week the ‘second generation’ Schengen Information System (SIS II) entered into operation. The new system, which will be one of the largest IT systems of its kind worldwide, includes a new system of ‘alerts’ issued in order to identify persons who are not entitled to enter and move freely in the Schengen area, as well as persons sought in relation to criminal activities, missing persons and stolen documents and property.

The use of biometric data (fingerprints and photographs) has been introduced to the database, which will be accessible to national border control, police, customs, judicial and vehicle registration authorities, as well as Europol and Eurojust.

Following the implementation of the Returns Directive, EU re-entry bans may accompany all return decisions. Member States are obliged to issue a re-entry ban if the person is forcibly returned or if they have not respected the order to leave the territory. According to the Directive, entry bans “shall not in principle exceed five years”.

Member States may enter an alert in the SIS system to flag people who have been issued with a re-entry ban. The Meijers Committee has argued that amendments to the Returns Directive and the SIS II Regulation are needed to clarify their scope of application, and secure proportionality and effective judicial review.

ECRE opposes the imposition of an entry ban on asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected and who are facing return, as removal should be considered a sufficient resolution to their situation. Furthermore, an EU-wide entry ban does not take into account possible changes in the countries of origin that may entail risk of persecution and force individuals to leave again after they have been returned.

Through the issuing of entry bans and SIS alerts, asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected could be refused access to all Schengen states despite the fact that huge differences exist between national asylum systems in Europe, making the asylum system a ‘lottery’.

According to the European Commission, it is guaranteed that no data from SIS II will be made available to third countries or international organisations.

The initial target date for the delivery of SIS II was March 2007 and the total cost of the project since 2002 has been 167,784,606 Euros.

Eu-LISA, the EU Agency for large-scale IT systems, which is already responsible for the operational management of the asylum database Eurodac and the Visa Information System, will run the new system.

For further information:

–         DG Home Affairs, Schengen Information System (SIS II) goes live (video), 9 April 2013

–         Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II),

–         Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority (JSA), Letter to Commissioner Malmström regarding the Relationship between the Return Directive and the SIS II Regulation , 11 December 2012

–         Meijers Committee, Note on the coordination of the relationship between the Entry Ban and the SIS-alert: an urgent need for legislative measures, 8 February 2012

Advertisements

Ireland’s asylum accommodation system of ‘Direct provision’ under fire

05.04.2013. The children’s charity Barnardos has strongly criticised the policy of moving child asylum seekers in Ireland into ‘direct provision’ reception centres when they reach the age of 18. The direct provision system requires asylum seekers to live in the state designated accommodation centres, without being allowed to work or study and being dependent on an allowance of €19.10 per week.

At the launch of a new report, commissioned by Barnardos and the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE), the Head of Advocacy at Barnardos, Catherine Joyce said that twenty years from now, the Irish will “look back in horror” at the way these young people were treated as soon as they were no longer legally minors. The move to direct provision creates uncertainty, fear, and can be detrimental to asylum seekers’ mental health, possibly undoing positive developments achieved through earlier successful care placements, the research has found.

The Irish Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, has responded to the report by calling for the government to put in place legal provisions for continued care for asylum seeking children, beyond their 18th birthday, saying that the current system represented a “fundamental flaw and deficit” in protection.

Other findings of the report were largely positive, welcoming improvements that have been seen in the care of asylum seeking children since the end of the hostel-based care system, which had been severely criticised for failing to provide vulnerable children with adequate care. However, according to the authors of the report, some consulted stakeholders, NGOs and advocacy groups in particular, were wary in their praise. Although better than the previous system, concerns remain over foster care for these children, and the report highlights that the process of matching individual children to appropriate foster families still needs improvement.

The foster care system in Ireland has been the subject of controversy in recent months following a report by Ireland’s Health Information and Quality Authority that revealed that hundreds of foster children in deprived areas of the country were being housed with unsuitable families.

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has an on-going campaign against housing children in direct provision accommodation. 23 April will be a nationwide day of action under the banner End institutionalised living:  Direct Provision – No place to call home. Further details are available from campaign@irishrefugeecouncil.ie

Academics have also levelled criticism at the system with Liam Thornton, Lecturer in Law at University College Dublin, maintaining that “a system that indefinitely denies a right to work no matter how long it takes to take a decision on  a refugee/subsidiary protection/leave to remain claim and forces some asylum seekers into communal living for years on end is not fit for purpose.”

For further information:

–         Irish Refugee Council, State sanctioned child poverty and exclusion:  the case of children in state accommodation for asylum seekers, September 2012

–         Irish Refugee Council, Open letter to Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice, 2 November 2012

–         Human Rights in Ireland, The Direct Provision System: The Time for Change is Now, 27 March 2013

–         Irish Times, Inhumane asylum-seeker system needs radical reform, 23 March 2013

Amnesty International calls on Egypt and Sudan for action to end the brutal treatment of refugees kidnapped for ransom and trafficked to the Sinai

05.04.2013. Refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to extreme violence and brutality at the hands of human traffickers in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The refugees, most of whom are Eritreans kidnapped from three refugee camps in eastern Sudan, are trafficked by criminal gangs through Egypt to the Sinai peninsula, where they are held for ransom. Captives whose families cannot pay for their release are often murdered, while many others die from the beatings and violence they have suffered.

Amnesty’s interviews with survivors reveal extreme levels of violence, including rape, beatings and torture of other kinds, as well as people being set on fire, their corpses left to rot in the room where other victims are held. The captors reportedly demand sums of up to USD 30-40,000 from the victims’ families in order to secure their release.

Amnesty calls on Egypt to immediately investigate the compounds in the northeast Sinai where these people are said to be held, and to cooperate with countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea to put an end to the violence. Amnesty also urges countries to promptly investigate accusations that state officials, notably from Sudan, have been involved in kidnappings from refugee camps, and to improve security in the camps.

Finally, Amnesty also calls on countries of destination, the primary one of which is Israel, to improve training of personnel in contact with migrants to recognise victims of such abuses and to respond to their needs, as well as granting them access to a fair asylum procedure.

For further information:

–         Amnesty International, Press Release: Egypt, Sudan: Kidnap and trafficking of refugees and asylum-seekers must be stoppede, 3 April 2013

–         The Daily News, Human Trafficking in the Sinai, 19 March 2013

–         Van Reisen, M., Estefanos, M.; Rijken, C., Human Trafficking in the Sinai: Refugees Between Life and Death, October 2012

–         In-Depth News, Human Trafficking devastating the Sinai, 28 September 2012

–         Agenzia Habeshia, Sinai, the horror of the slave market, 7 March 2013

Interview with Adriano Silvestri, Head of Asylum, Migration and Borders Sector at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency

29.03.2013. “Joint operations outside EU waters must not lead to the circumvention of European fundamental rights safeguards”

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has published this week a report on fundamental rights at the EU’s Southern sea borders. The report provides an in-depth examination of practices in Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain and Cyprus in border surveillance and disembarkation procedures for intercepted migrants, and studies the fundamental rights challenges related to EU funding and Frontex operations.

The ECRE Weekly Bulletin spoke to Adriano Silvestri, Head of FRA’s Asylum, Migration and Borders Sector, about policies and practices that have an impact on migrants trying to reach Europe by sea as well as the measures needed to better protect their lives and fundamental rights, including the right to seek asylum.

What priorities have emerged from your research for the protection of the fundamental rights of migrants at sea?

The most fundamental rights of an individual, the right to life and the prohibition of refoulement, are at stake at sea. According to UNHCR estimates, over 1,500 people went missing or died in the Mediterranean in 2011 alone. A great deal of effort is being made to save the lives of migrants at sea, including cases where officers put their own lives at risk to go out in rough seas and rescue people. There is also a lot of valuable work being done by NGOs and international organisations, in Italy and Spain for example. But there’s still more that could be done. First of all, rescue operations have to be initiated immediately when information about a boat in distress at sea is received:  good coordination between the various national rescue coordination centres is very important to avoid delays.

In connection with this, there is a need to have clear rules about where to bring the intercepted or rescued migrants, because a lack of clarity about where to disembark them may also lead to delays. It is therefore important that Council Decision 2010/252/EU, which contained guidelines for Frontex-coordinated operations, but which was recently annulled by the Court of Justice, is soon replaced by a new instrument with strong protection safeguards.

Furthermore, all officers and institutions entrusted with border surveillance duties must be made aware that push-backs at sea are not allowed. This would lower the risk of refoulement.

Finally, cooperation with third countries should not lead to a situation in which European rights safeguards deriving from the European Convention on Human Rights are circumvented when operational tasks are undertaken outside of EU waters, i.e. in third countries’ territorial waters or on the high seas.

What can be done to assure the right to claim asylum at EU borders?

Firstly, it is extremely important that timely and effective information is provided about the right to seek asylum and about the procedures for doing so. Our research found that this is more effective where NGOs and international organisations are involved. The Praesidium project in Lampedusa, where a number of international humanitarian organisations cooperate with the authorities in managing arrivals, is an example of promising practice, as are the information sessions on asylum to new arrivals in Malta.

______________________________________________________________________________________

“All officers and institutions entrusted with border surveillance duties must be made aware that push-backs at sea are not allowed”

________________________________________________________________________

 

Secondly, there is a clear duty for all officers involved to refer asylum applications to the competent authorities. This should also be the case for officers deployed through Frontex or in joint operations.

There is also a need for those officers to know what an asylum request is. Without proper training it may not be easy to identify an asylum application, particularly where the word ‘asylum’ or ‘refugee’ is not used explicitly.  During the interview with the police to identify the person who has just arrived, questions should be phrased in a way that allows  migrants to say why they have left their own countries. And, of course, the interviews should be carried out with basic procedural safeguards in place, such as having an interpreter. From what we saw during our research, however, this is not always guaranteed.

Finally, the presence of NGOs and international organisations at the points of arrival is important for creating the trust that is necessary for migrants to come forward with their real concerns. For example, in Spain, upon disembarkation, all women and girls are first taken to the Red Cross offices, where they are given clean clothing, can take a shower, and have the opportunity to speak to a woman before police officers interview them. This creates at least a little bit of trust, especially in cases where the migrants have difficult or traumatic stories to tell.

The procedures employed after disembarkation are not only relevant for the right to seek asylum, but also for the identification of other categories of people who are at risk. In addition to identifying asylum seekers, it is also important to adapt the systems currently in place to identify suspected victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, as well as victims of serious crimes. Particularly in Spain, we have seen a relatively high number of women and girls who were victims of very serious criminal acts before coming to the country. A recent report by MSF in Morocco has also documented the violence that migrants are subjected to there.

What potential does the EUROSUR package have, in your view, to increase fundamental rights protection at sea, and what are the potential dangers of the legislation?

EUROSUR allows to link the information that is collected through surveillance at the national level and by Frontex. The system presents the opportunity to offer more and earlier information on people in distress at sea and encourages collaboration between various responsible national agencies and authorities. But there are also potential risks. First of all, the lifesaving potential of EUROSUR may not in effect be fully exploited. Secondly, Member States may share information contained in EUROSUR with third countries. If a Member State shares information about a group of persons trying to leave to seek safety with a country from outside the EU, and that country intervenes and stops them from reaching safety, the action by the Member State would in practice prevent individuals from seeking asylum.

______________________________________________________________________________________

“The lifesaving potential of EUROSUR may not in effect be fully exploited.”

________________________________________________________________________

 

Finally, there have to be some checks and balances imposed to make sure that personal data is not inadvertently shared, including in the form of pictures or videos. The proposed regulation has a number of safeguards: for example, it forbids the sharing of information with third countries if this could be used to violate the basic fundamental rights of the individual concerned. However, we need to see how these safeguards are implemented. The evaluation of EUROSUR should definitely also include a fundamental rights perspective.

What are the possible pitfalls involved in collaboration with third countries in border control operations at sea?

Third countries, with the exception of Turkey, are not bound by the European Convention on Human Rights or by EU law. So the countries from which the migrant boats usually depart operate under different legal standards. This has to be borne in mind during the planning of such cooperation.

Collaboration with third countries can take different forms. Sometimes it is about donating equipment or assets. If donated assets are used to violate human rights, that should certainly have implications for future donations. In addition, though, such incidents should also be followed by a dialogue between the donating EU state and the third country.

Collaboration with third countries can also mean sharing intelligence. If information on migrant flows is shared, there need to be controls or guarantees that this information will not be used by that third country to take action at odds with the migrants’ fundamental rights.

However, it is the practical aspect of collaboration with third countries that is most problematic. Just because these joint operations take place outside EU Member States or EU waters, they must not lead to the circumvention of European fundamental rights safeguards.

______________________________________________________________________________________

“[Following the Hirsi case] immigration cooperation with third countries to prevent migrants from leaving in the first place is likely to increase”

________________________________________________________________________

 

Do you believe that readmission agreements thus far concluded with third countries include sufficient safeguards for migrants?

The 13 readmission agreements concluded at EU level do not involve the countries from which the boats depart. Some EU agreements contain specific human rights clauses, but not all. In 2011, the Commission undertook an evaluation of the EU readmission agreements, suggesting a number of safeguards that should be included in the future; one example would be a system of suspension in the case of persistent or serious violations of the human rights of readmitted persons.

Agreements concluded by EU Member States are often informal; arrangements that are not necessarily made public, are not accessible and thus not under public scrutiny. It is therefore very difficult to know what sort of safeguards, if any, are incorporated, and that, in our view, is one of the areas where more work is necessary.

What impact do you think the ECtHR judgement on the Hirsi case will have on border controls and return operations of the EU Member States, whether they act under the aegis of FRONTEX or not?

I believe that it will become more difficult for States that are party to the ECHR to carry out push-backs at sea as they were carried out by Italy to Libya in 2009. I also believe that immigration cooperation with third countries that looks at ways of preventing migrants from leaving in the first place is likely to increase.

It has been reported that Syrians who have applied for visas from the region to travel to European countries to re-join relatives and escape the war have had their request denied. Due to the impossibility for these families to legally seek and access protection, they will resort to illegal means of entry through procurement of false documentation and often dangerous routes, including by sea. What are your recommendations to reduce the need for people to take such a dangerous journey?

Just as during the civil war in Libya back in 2007, most Syrian refugees are remaining in their own region.

However, it is true that there have been incidents at sea involving Syrians. For example, last September a boat with 60 migrants, including children, capsized near Izmir with fatal consequences, and these incidents are of course a very dangerous sign.

______________________________________________________________________________________

“Fishermen are afraid that they could be subject to prosecution for facilitating irregular entry if they bring migrants to shore without first obtaining permission from the authorities.”

________________________________________________________________________

What are the obligations and the disincentives for shipmasters to render assistance or rescue migrants at sea?

The duty to render assistance to people in distress at sea applies to everybody. Refusal to assist is a criminal offence for every shipmaster in the countries covered by our research. Overall, in our interviews with shipmasters and fishermen, we got a very clear message that the duty to render assistance is seen as a humanitarian tradition and, as such, extremely important.

At the same time, there are also disincentives for fishermen to intervene. Firstly, there is a financial cost associated with assisting people in distress at sea, as the fishermen usually are requested by the authorities to wait near the people they have rescued until the rescuers arrive, and that causes them to lose time when they would otherwise be working. Secondly, fishermen are afraid that they could be subject to prosecution for facilitating irregular entry if they bring migrants to shore without first obtaining permission from the authorities. This is an issue I think that should be followed up more closely and, at EU level, a revision of the 2002 Facilitation Directive should be considered. Finally, rescue operations are very dangerous. Fishing boats and other boats may jeopardise their own safety when attempting to take a large group of migrants onto their boat, so these can sometimes prevent an immediate rescue operation from taking place, particularly under rough sea conditions.

______________________________________________________________________________________

“joint processing of asylum applications could contribute to ease tensions on where to disembark migrants intercepted or rescued at sea”

_______________________________________________________________________

 

Do you think expert teams from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) should be involved in Frontex maritime operations in order to ensure the right to claim asylum?

I think there is definitely scope for more collaboration at European level between Frontex and EASO. First of all, EASO has the potential to provide support to the asylum and reception systems in third countries, and hence to lower the risk of abuse, exploitation, and the lack of recourse to justice there.

Secondly, resources permitting, EASO and Frontex could certainly collaborate more closely, particularly in briefing Frontex officers before they start asylum operations. EASO could also provide operation-specific guidance on certain risk factors: how to identify asylum applications, where these should be referred, how to access interpreters and so on.

Finally, it would be interesting to start exploring the possibility of jointly processing asylum applications in the EU, as these could contribute to ease tensions on where to disembark migrants intercepted or rescued at sea. EU Member States collaborate in the field of issuing visas; experience gathered by consulates could be a starting point for exploring joint processing of asylum claims. If the European Union would go in this direction, an enhanced role for EASO could also be envisaged. Clearly, joint processing of asylum applications would only be a first step which would need to be accompanied by solidarity mechanisms to share responsibility for persons found in need of international protection as well as for persons who, after a fair procedure, have been channelled into return procedures.

First ever campaign to raise awareness of forced migration in Estonia

29.03.2013. ECRE member organisation, the Estonian Human Rights Centre (EHRC), has launched a campaign to inform the Estonian public about the issue of forced migration. This is the first campaign of this kind in the country where, according to EHRC, both politicians and the general public still treat asylum purely in the context of economic migration, not understanding refugees’ particular need for protection.

The campaign brings refugees’ difficult experiences to people’s attention in an easily accessible way and aims at communicating the basic information about who is a refugee and what are their needs in order to counter the circulation of negative myths about them. Estonia receives a very low number of asylum applications; in 2012 it received the fewest of any EU country – only 75.

UK Border Agency to be dismantled due to ‘closed, secretive and defensive’ culture

29.03.2013. The UK Home Secretary, Theresa May has announced that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is to be dissolved and transformed into two separate units, an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement department. Neither of the two new units will have agency status, but will operate from within the UK Home Office and report directly to ministers.

Theresa May said that the separation of UKBA from the Home Office had led to a ‘closed, secretive and defensive’ culture and that its performance is ‘not good enough’. This follows a recent statement by the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee that successive UKBA Chief Executives had presided over ‘chaos’ and ‘calamitous inefficiency’.

UKBA has been plagued throughout its existence by criticism, including the most recent report by the Home Affairs select Committee, revelations of huge backlogs of pending visa and asylum cases, allegations of mistreatment, and of mix-ups in migrants’ data records. The British and Scottish Refugee Councils have commented on the news that they agree with the assessment that UKBA was not fit for purpose; however they are cautious in their praise, emphasising that time will tell if this move will lead to positive change. Both expressed the hope that this restructuring will be taken as an opportunity to develop a more humane asylum system that puts protection of refugees and asylum seekers’ rights at its heart.

The chairman, along with other members of the Home Affairs Select Committee, raised some concerns directly following the announcement. This included the question as to how a radical change in culture will be achieved given that the new units will be staffed by the same people, with the same leadership, in the same buildings, carrying out the same tasks, touching on the concern that this is merely a re-branding exercise.

For further information:

–         Migrants Rights Network, Theresa May announces UKBA to be scrapped, 26 March 2013

–         New Statesman, Without the UK Border Agency, what will happen to those seeking sanctuary on our shores?, 28 March 2013

ENAR: Muslim women face double discrimination across EU Member States

22.03.2013. Muslims continue to be one of the main groups facing discrimination across Europe, in particular in the areas of employment, education and housing, according to the Shadow Report on Racism in Europe 2011-2012. launched by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) this week.

The report, based on the findings in 26 EU Member States, shows that Muslim women are more likely than men to experience discrimination and abuse across the EU, facing multiple discrimination on the basis of both sex and religion. In France, for example, 85% of Islamophobic attacks target women, while Muslim women in the UK face much higher levels of unemployment than average, despite often high levels of education and a desire to work.

Islamophobia is a ‘mainstream’ prejudice that pervades all parts of society, not only extreme right-wing elements; it is often legitimised by mainstream politicians, and exacerbated by biased coverage in the media, the report argues. The study highlights that social projects aimed at the elimination of discrimination or the empowerment of ethnic minority communities have often been the first victims of government spending cuts.

The report recommends that a mechanism be established to collect reliable, comparable data on racism in all Member States.

For further information:

–         ENAR, Key findings on Muslim communities and Islamophobia, 20 March 2013

–         ENAR, Recycling Hatred: Racism(s) in Europe today, February 2013

War in Syria contributes to increase in asylum claims

22.03.2013. Violence around the world, including in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, contributed an 8% increase in asylum applications in industrialized countries during 2012, according to UNHCR’s report on asylum trends in 44 industrialised countries.

The sharpest rise refers to asylum requests from Syrians who are now the second largest group of asylum seekers in the 44 industrialised countries, following Afghanistan, and numbering 24,800, 6% of the total.

Within the EU, 21,427 asylum applications by Syrians were registered in 2012. An increase is reported in every country except Greece. Although there was an increase in irregular arrivals of Syrians in Greece, asylum applications by Syrians remained low in the country, where serious concerns remain regarding the difficulties faced by refugees in accessing asylum procedures.

In total, 479,300 asylum applications were made in the 44 industrialised countries in 2012, out of which 296,700 were made in the 27 EU Member States, a 7% increase on 2011 for the EU. Whilst applications increased by 38% in the Nordic states and especially Sweden, in contrast applications decreased by 27% in the Southern European states. Italy in particular recorded a drop in applications of more than a half, receiving 15,700. This decrease is attributed to a reduction numbers of North African asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Within Europe, Germany received the highest number of asylum applications, with 64,500, second globally after the United States. France and Sweden followed, with 54,900 and 43,900 applications respectively. When looking at numbers of asylum seekers in industrialised countries in relation to population, however, Malta receives the most (21.7 per 1,000), followed by Sweden, Liechtenstein, Norway and Cyprus.

EP: Helping migrants access employment without discrimination is key to integration and growth

22.03.2013. In a resolution approved this week, the European Parliament has called for a concerted effort to attract well-qualified migrants to the EU, and to assist them in achieving their potential through skilled employment. To this end, the report makes a number of recommendations; it emphasises that open and tolerant societies are more likely to attract skilled workers, and urges the removal of administrative barriers to and the tackling of discrimination in employment of migrants.

Furthermore, the resolution urges the prompt establishment of a mechanism to recognise foreign qualifications and diplomas, alongside a system for effective skills evaluation in cases of absence of documentation, which is often a problem for refugees.

Finally, it also urges Member States to remove obstacles and to allow asylum seekers to access the labour market as quickly as possible in order to facilitate their integration and allow them to contribute to society.

According to the resolution, since 2000, approximately one quarter of new jobs in the EU were created through the contribution of migrants.

Unaccompanied children and victims of torture will not be excluded from accelerated and border asylum procedures in revised Asylum Procedures Directive

22.03.2013. Unaccompanied asylum seeking children and victims of torture and other serious forms of violence will not be exempt from accelerated and border asylum procedures, as established in the compromise text of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive agreed by the European Parliament and the Council this week.

According to the text agreed, such applicants should only be excluded from accelerated or borders procedures where it is considered that adequate support cannot be provided in the framework of these procedures. A recital specifies that applicants in need of special procedural guarantees should be provided with adequate support including sufficient time in order to create the conditions necessary for their effective access to procedures and substantiate their application.

The final compromise allows for the processing of asylum applications of unaccompanied children at the border including for those children transiting so called “safe third countries”, and under certain conditions for children using fake documents. In addition, unaccompanied children’s asylum applications can be dealt with in inadmissibility procedures and be refused free legal assistance for the purpose of appeal procedures in case their appeal is considered to have a “no tangible prospect of success”.

The final agreement on the special procedural guarantees for both categories of vulnerable asylum seekers departs completely from the 2011 amended Commission proposal which simply excluded vulnerable persons from such procedures. The Commission had also proposed to exclude them from the application of the safe third country concept and admissibility procedures as well as the possibility to make free legal assistance at the appeal stage conditional on the appeal being likely to succeed.

Currently accelerated and border procedures in the EU are widespread and in certain Member States imply extremely short time frames, such as in Bulgaria and the UK (detained fast track) where first instance decisions are taken within 3 days. Under these procedures, appeals have to be submitted within 7 days in Bulgaria and within 2 days in UK (detained fast track procedure).

The special safeguards for victims of torture and unaccompanied children were the main outstanding issue in the recast of the Asylum Procedures Directive to be agreed between the EU co-legislators. Following this political agreement, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (LIBE) is expected to vote on the text in April.

A political agreement on the recast of the Eurodac regulation allowing the access to asylum seekers’ fingerprints for law enforcement purposes has also been agreed this week.

For further information:

–         ECRE, Comments and Recommendations on the Amended Commission Proposal to recast the Asylum Procedures Directive, 1 September 2011