European Parliament supports measure to fingerprint asylum seekers from age 6
The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Commission has supported a new measure that proposes to lower the fingerprinting age of asylum seekers from 14 to six, according to a report in New Europe.
The new measure, which is intended to facilitate children’s reunification with parents, was part of a package of amendments to revamp the Eurodac fingerprint database. In total, the amendments were approved with 35 yes votes, 10 no votes and 8 abstentions.
The MEPs also approved several other measures, including recording unaccompanied minors who disappear from reception facilities in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and reporting them as missing persons, providing European police force Europol with direct access to the Eurodac database to prevent terrorist attacks and common crimes, and allowing the search and comparison of facial images and other personal data in the database, such as name and identity document number when the information becomes available.
The European People’s Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament said the new EU law addresses situations when member states at the frontline cannot record fingerprints due to the high population 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.”
Similarly, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) has also praised the implementation of the new rules.
“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,” MEP Monica Macovei said. “This will also help prevent the situation whereby migrants attempt to ‘shop around’ for asylum by demanding political asylum in more than one country.”
Earlier this year, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published an opinion on the impact of proposed revisions to the Eurodac Regulation on children in response to the European Parliament’s requested for the agency’s opinion on a series of changes.