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Hotspots for refugees in Italy and Greece have led to "serious fundamental rights violations"
10.3.17
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A major study on current EU policies and practices regarding refugees warns that the "hotspot" system of detaining, registering and processing migrants "has led to instances of serious fundamental rights violations in both Italy and Greece," and that the failure of EU Member States to meet their commitments under the relocation scheme should "be taken seriously as a threat to the rule of law at the EU level, which may warrant exploration, as well as formal enforcement action."

The report: Implementation of the 2015 Council Decisions establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and of Greece (pdf) by Elspeth Guild, Cathryn Costello and Violeta Moreno-Lax

The study, carried out for the European Parliament, examines the main features of the relocation scheme and how it has functioned in practice; the "hotspot approach"; the role of the European Asylum Support Office and other EU agenies with regard to refugees arriving in the EU; and current proposals for the 'Dublin IV' system of responsbility for asylum applications.

On hotspots, the report notes:

"hotspots have not helped in alleviating pressure on the Italian and Greek systems. On the contrary, they increase burdens, because of structural shortcomings in their design and implementation and due to continuing applications, exacerbating the flaws of the Dublin system that the relocation scheme intended to repair.

The study, therefore, recommends a return to the original purpose of the Relocation
Decisions, with the ‘hotspot approach’ regaining its international protection rationale,
recognising the needs and rights of the forced migrants concerned."

With regard to relocation, it argues that while there are "various practical obstacles... on the ground" in Greece and Italy:

"the main problem is the lack of cooperation from receiving States. The result is that asylum seekers lack information on relocation, and are often left waiting, frustrated, and anxious."

With regard to proposals to include provisions on relocation in the new 'Dublin IV' system, currently under discussions, the report recommends that:

"asylum seekers be fully involved in the relocation process, be provided with ample reliable information on the range of options available to them, and have their preferences taken into account. Family unity must be granted priority (over and above relocation), in line with fundamental rights obligations and also due to its practical potential to facilitate integration in the host community. Asylum-seekers with family members in the EU should not have their claims deemed inadmissible. Legally, the human rights principles of family unity and best interests of the child take priority over any admissibility criteria.

...The engagement of civil society is key in making relocation work properly in this regard; the active participation of asylum seekers is an essential part of making relocation effective and durable; The establishment of a clearing-house system, as many Member States have for young people seeking university places, for asylum seekers relocation; key tenets of the ‘Dublin without coercion’ model, taking full account of asylum seekers agency and dignity, should be incorporated into any replacements of the Dublin III Regulation and Relocation Decisions."

The report: Implementation of the 2015 Council Decisions establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and of Greece (pdf) by Elspeth Guild, Cathryn Costello and Violeta Moreno-Lax

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