January 27, 2017 -
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published an opinion on the impact of proposed revisions to the Eurodac Regulation on children. European Parliament had requested the Agency’s opinion on a series of changes as its scope changes in response to the region’s illegal immigration crisis.
Eurodac is the European Dactyloscopy fingerprint database, set up to examine applications for international protection. It was originally established in 2000, and updated in 2013. The system is used by EU and Schengen zone member states to confirm asylum seekers claims, and by law enforcement agencies.
The 14 opinions provided by the agency apply to three main areas of change pertaining to fundamental rights, the agency states in the opinion. The three main areas of change involve the expanded purpose, and therefore application of Eurodac, the extension of the mandated duration of data retention and lowering of the minimum age for collection from 14 to 6 years old, and the collection of an expanded range of information, including facial images.
Recommendations from the agency include avoiding the application of physical or psychological force to obtain fingerprints, gender and age sensitivity in collection of biometric data, and limitations to access of data for children under 14. The agency also recommends that that proposal be amended in part to increase checks and verifications for facial recognition, and to limit its use to cases that meet a comprehensive evaluation. Further study is also necessary to fully understand the degree of impact on children of the proposals, according to the opinion.
The European Commission instructed member state Italy to take migrants fingerprints by force, if necessary, according to a December 2015 report.