EU tightens identity checks on migrants and asylum seekers for ‘security reasons’

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Under the European Immigration and Asylum Charter, “screening” of migrants who have entered the EU irregularly or who have applied for asylum will become mandatory. The aim is to establish their identity and investigate whether they should be considered a “security risk”. This calls for the expansion of the database system in the European Union, and the adoption of new rules that allow access to a central registry of individuals convicted of criminal offenses in the member states of the European Union by law enforcement agencies.

A new amendment adopted by the European Commission to its Immigration and Asylum Charter, which requires the examination of criminal records of asylum seekers in the European Union to ensure their identities and whether they constitute a “security risk”.

The new amendment, which came as part of a very long series of amendments to the Basic Charter proposed in 2019, was part of a series of rules, aimed at adopting new screening mechanisms for asylum seekers and individuals crossing borders irregularly, largely aligned with ” Verifications for third-country nationals who apply for short-stay visitor (short-stay) visas to EU countries.

According to the amendments, existing security database systems used by member states to investigate the identities of asylum seekers will be expanded.

A “European search portal” will be created that will include criminal records registered in the European Union for third-country nationals, as well as Europol and INTERPOL databases. All government and public (European) bodies will have the right to access all the data provided by the portal, which is stored on a private platform.

The checks will include the entry and exit system, the European Travel Information System and the Schengen system, and the visa information system containing the data of non-EU citizens convicted in one of the member states (fingerprints, facial photos, biographical data…).

Fears of violations of the rights of immigrants

According to State Watch, a website that monitors civil liberties in the European Union, the relevant authorities have also adopted some changes to the terminology they were using to identify certain files, such as replacing the term “threat to internal security or public policy” with the term “security risk.” , referring to individuals who may “pose a threat to the public policy, internal security or international relations of any of the member states.”

Human rights observers and activists have expressed their concerns that sharing biometric data and personal records on such a large scale constitutes a violation of the civil liberties of the people concerned.

 

The SchengenVisaInfo website, which tracks the conditions and laws of entry and living in the bloc, reported that the relevant authorities have made efforts to protect the data of migrants under scrutiny.

The legal text explains that step as follows: Member States must ensure that only the examination authorities responsible for identification or verification and security audits have access to the databases stipulated in Article 10 and Article 11 of this regulation.

However, regardless of the entities specified by the legal text, all entities will have the possibility to use the European search portal and access the platform data, with the addition of certain modifications and classification of some data.

European legislators and legal advocates of these amendments and measures considered that it is possible for many to classify these measures as a process of “criminalizing immigration”, under the pretext of rejecting people who may pose certain security risks to the countries concerned. During discussions within the Commission, they considered it necessary to link aspects of the (European) criminal justice system with the EU’s immigration and asylum systems, in order to increase the possibilities of excluding individuals considered to be a security risk.

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