MEPs back proposal to fingerprint asylum seekers from age 6

EPA/OLE SPATA

Devices for the registration and identity management of refugees, including a notebook, fingerprint scanner, camera and printer for arrival documents, can be seen at the stand of the Federal Print Office at the CeBIT international computer expo in Hanover, Germany, 14 March 2016.

MEPs back proposal to fingerprint asylum seekers from age 6


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Asylum seekers as young as six will be fingerprinted according to new measures backed on May 30 by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Commission.  Under existing EU law, asylum seekers can be fingerprinted only from the age of 14.

As reported by ANSAmed, the new measure is aimed at facilitating children’s reunification with parents. The measure was part of a package of amendments to an overhaul of the Eurodac fingerprint database, which were approved with 35 yes votes, 10 no votes and 8 abstentions.

The MEPs also approved measures for unaccompanied minors, who disappear from reception facilities, to be recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and reported as missing persons. MEPs also voted to give the European police force Europol direct access to the Eurodac data base to prevent terrorist attacks and common crimes.

In addition to fingerprints, the system should also allow the search and comparison of facial images and other personal data, such as name and identity document number when this information is available.

According to the European People’s Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament, the new EU law addresses situations when member states at the frontline are unable to take fingerprints due to the high numbers of migrants arriving.

“From now on, facial imaging will be an additional feature stored in EURODAC which will help identify irregular migrants. Thanks to the extended scope, it will also be possible to monitor unwanted secondary movements of these persons around the EU,” said Jeroen Lenaers, EPP spokesman.

“One of the key priorities for the EPP Group has been to improve the process of identification of unaccompanied children from an early age in order to better guarantee their rights and speed up their asylum application procedures. In order to improve the security of EU citizens, we also insisted on giving effective access to Europol and we will continue striving for the full interoperability of EURODAC with Schengen and the Visa Information System and the Extry-Exit System of the EU, currently being negotiated”, added Lenaers.

In a similar vein, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) has welcomed the adoption of the new rules. MEP Monica Macovei said: “Extending the scope of the biometric data collected to include facial image, along with fingerprinting, will help prevent migrants using various means to avoid identification and therefore gain re-entry into the EU. This will also help prevent the situation whereby migrants attempt to ‘shop around’ for asylum by demanding political asylum in more than one country.”

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