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.



This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 22 March 2013
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