Asylum: MEPs tighten internal security and improve safety for refugee children
- Europol should have direct access to the EURODAC database holding fingerprints of asylum seekers
- In addition to fingerprints, also facial images, names and ID-numbers should be stored in EURODAC, if available
- Children from the age of six should be fingerprinted to facilitate tracking and family reunifications
Europol should have access to fingerprints and names of asylum seekers; refugee children should be fingerprinted to keep them safe from traffickers, MEPs say.
The EU police agency Europol should be able to search the EURODAC database of asylum seekers’ fingerprints to detect and prevent terrorist offences and other serious crimes, Civil Liberties MEPs said in a vote on Tuesday.
In addition to the fingerprints currently stored in EURODAC, the system should also make it possible to search and compare facial images and alphanumerical data, such as the name, ID or passport number of an asylum seeker, where this information is available, MEPs say.
To improve the safety of refugee children and especially that of unaccompanied minors, MEPs want kids from the age of six to be fingerprinted, to make it possible to identify and trace missing children and establish family links. Children who have gone missing from reception facilities should also have their data recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and be registered as missing persons.
MEPs stress that fingerprinting must be done in a child-friendly manner, by staff who have received child-sensitive training and the minor should be accompanied by a responsible adult. Detention of minors should be prohibited, they add.
The amendments to the draft regulation were approved by 35 votes, to 10 with 8 abstentions. MEPs also agreed to open up negotiations with member states in view of a final agreement.
The proposal for an update of the EURODAC regulation was part of the first package of proposals to reform the Common European Asylum System put forward by the European Commission in May 2016.
The EURODAC database holds and makes it possible to compare fingerprints of asylum seekers in the EU. It was set up in 2003 in relation to the Dublin system, to enable EU member states to determine if an asylum seeker had already applied for asylum in another country.