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Eurodac Regulation: Parliament committee report takes hard line on mandatory biometric registration of asylum-seekers
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A draft report to be submitted to the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) proposes that Member States should be obliged to introduce "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" administrative sanctions for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants who demonstrate "non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image."

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

"Member States may introduce administrative sanctions, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. These sanctions shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In this context, detention should only be used as a means of last resort in order to determine or verify a third-country national's identity."

The draft report, by European Conservatives and Reformists Group MEP Monica Macovei, proposes changing the word "may" to "shall", thus requiring Member States to introduce sanctions for people who refuse to submit to fingerprinting or the "capture" of their facial image for inclusion in the Eurodac database.

Under the current rules Member States are supposed to enter the fingerprints of all asylum-seekers in the Eurodac database in order to determine which Member State is responsible for their asylum application.

However, the authorities in numerous countries - primarily Italy and Greece, but also Austria and Germany - have not done so in order to evade responsibility for individuals should they move to another Member State. Under the 'Dublin' rules, the "country of arrival" is responsible for processing asylum claims.

In early 2015 the Commission drew up a set of "best practices" regarding the use of force for fingerprinting (Statewatch News Online, March 2015) and the introduction of "hotspots" in Greece and Italy has come with demands for systematic fingerprinting.

The draft report also proposes giving EU policing agency Europol direct access to all data contained in the Eurodac database, which stores biometrics and alphanumeric data and is likely to be expanded to include data on irregular migrants as well as asylum-seekers, in order to help enforce "return" decisions.

It is on the agenda of the LIBE committee for discussion on 9 March. The Commission proposed a new Regulation governing the Eurodac system in May 2016 (Statewatch News Online).

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