European Parliament: Asylum seekers should not be detained

Institution of asylum “has been severely eroded in recent years" 12th March 2009: Members of European Parliament have welcomed the provisions mentioned in the latest Commission proposals that Member States shall not hold a person in detention for the sole reason that he or she is an applicant for international protection. MEPs consider that asylum seekers should, "as a matter of principle, not be placed in detention, in view of their particularly vulnerable position".

The European Parliament observed that legislative instruments relating to the first phase of the establishment of the common European asylum system have allowed the introduction of common minimum standards but not of equal conditions of access to protection throughout the EU.

It claims the Dublin system results in "a disproportionate burden being imposed on some Member States, in particular on those representing the external EU border".

The report drafted by Giusto Catania (GUE/NGL, IT), shows that the number of refugees has grown to more than 12 million in the past year, and there are huge discrepancies between Member States when it comes to the recognition rates of candidates to refugee status for certain third country nationals.

These recognition rates can vary from approximately 0% up to 90%, it says. The report was adopted with 593 votes in favour, 65 against and 18 abstentions.

MEPs regret that the concept of the institution of asylum, "an essential part of democracy and protection of human rights, has been severely eroded in recent years".

They call on the Commission to table a proposal for a revision of Frontex’s mandate in order to explicitly state that protection and human rights concerns are an integral part of the management of the EU external borders.

Moreover, the report asks that a single asylum application procedure and single standards for qualification as refugees or persons needing international protection be established, covering all requests for ‘international protection’ (refugee status, subsidiary protection and temporary protection).

Under the revised Dublin regulation asylum seekers should be granted the right to appeal against a transfer decision, the report says, adding that certain criteria relating to family, cultural and linguistic considerations should be given greater consideration in the decision as to which country is responsible for an asylum request.

MEPs consider that one of the objectives of the common European asylum system should be to set up effective solidarity mechanisms in order to improve the situation of countries with the greatest flows of asylum seekers.

Solidarity cannot be confined to the granting of financial resources, MEPs say, and call for the effective implementation of internal resettlement and relocation mechanisms on a voluntary basis as envisaged by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

MEPs have called on the Commission to consider the possibility of setting up a European mechanism for transferring international protection, under the supervision of the future European Asylum Support Office, to allow the movement of refugees in Europe upon their request and thus ease the burden borne by some Member States.

The report also calls for agreements and partnerships between the EU and developing countries (such as the Cotonou Agreement and the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership).

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