29 October 2015

A focus paper from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) puts forward a list of recommendations for authorities when taking fingerprints of asylum seekers to ensure that this process does not violate fundamental rights.

Under EU rules, all asylum seekers crossing borders must provide fingerprints for the EU’s fingerprinting database, Eurodac. This system is meant to allow for the swift identification and registration of asylum seekers to ensure the functioning of the Dublin system, which determines the Member State responsible for examining asylum applications.

ECRE has in the past expressed their concern over the proposed use of detention against asylum seekers who refuse to be fingerprinted on the grounds of establishing identity or nationality. In the same vein, FRA called for the deprivation of liberty to be used only as an exceptional measure when trying to obtain a person’s fingerprints.

Further, noting that there are limitations on how to enforce the obligation to take fingerprints so as not to violate fundamental rights, FRA compiled a checklist to assist authorities and offices assigned to taking fingerprints. It also has examined the impact of refusing to give fingerprints on the principle of not sending people back to life-threatening situations (non-refoulement), the right to liberty and the protection from disproportionate use of force.

For further information:


This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.