5 June 2015

On 27 May 2015, a document was published by the European Commission presenting possible ‘best practices’ for Member States to ensure that the fingerprints of asylum seekers and irregular migrants are taken and recorded in the Eurodac database. This database is used to help determine which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application.

The paper follows a consultation with Member States following a rise in the number of irregular migrants and people seeking asylum refusing to cooperate with Member State authorities’ fingerprinting procedures. It is suggested that those who refuse to cooperate may be detained in order to verify their identity or nationality, or be informed that their request for international protection may be subjected to an accelerated procedure.

The use of physical coercion is also explored in the document, in particular when it can be demonstrated that there is no practicable alternative. The paper notes that when applied, it should be with the minimum level of coercion and that it must respect the dignity and physical integrity of the subject; although, an earlier questionnaire to Member States suggested that a majority of states do not condone the use of force during the fingerprint procedures for those applying for international protection.

The paper makes clear that Member States must ensure the respect of fundamental rights in this process, and should provide information, and counselling, to explain the rights and obligations to people undergoing fingerprinting as either an irregular migrant or an asylum seeker.


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 5 June 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.