Rights of refugees violated under Dublin system – Study

The Dublin Regulation that identifies which European State is responsible for deciding on an asylum application has turned 10 but not improved the way asylum seekers are treated, a new report shows.

Forum Réfugiés-Cosi, ECRE, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and their national partners, have published a comparative study on how this Regulation is applied by States. The report entitled “The Dublin II Regulation: Lives on Hold” shows that the Dublin system continues to fail both refugees and Member States.

It reveals the harsh consequences of the Dublin system for asylum seekers whereby families are separated, people are left destitute or detained and despite the objective of the Regulation, access to an asylum procedure is not always guaranteed.

One example of the suffering to families caused by the Dublin system is the case of a Chechen father separated from his new-born child by the Austrian authorities. While the baby had refugee status in Austria, his father was sent to Poland under the Dublin system. The father’s application for family reunification once he was in Poland was refused by the Austrian authorities and so the father remained separated from his wife and child by the mechanical application of this system.

The majority of people sent back to another country under Dublin are actually returned to the first State of irregular entry into the EU.

Asylum seekers in the Dublin procedure are frequently treated as a secondary category of persons granted fewer entitlements in terms of reception conditions. Whenever there are shortages in the capacity of housing available for asylum seekers, those in the Dublin procedure are often the first affected by this.

Access to accommodation in some Member States is not always ensured with some asylum seekers having to resort to Courts to access housing or even forced to building makeshift settlements themselves in order to find some shelter.

Fewer than half of the agreed Dublin transfers are actually carried out, suggesting a vast amount of wasted bureaucracy. However, no comprehensive data on the financial cost of applying the Dublin Regulation has ever been published.

The soon to be adopted Dublin III Regulation contains some significant areas of improvement, such as the right to a personal interview, but maintains the underlying principles of the Dublin system and will not address all these deficiencies. The application of the Regulation will require close monitoring from the European Commission in order to ensure its correct implementation by all Member States, the report says.

Ultimately, the underlying principles of the Dublin Regulation need to be fundamentally revised to design a more humane and equitable system that considers the individual case of asylum seekers and their connections with particular Member States, and therefore favours refugees’ integration prospects in Europe, the report recommends.

Just recently a 19-year-old asylum seeker from Ivory Coast set himself on fire at Rome’s Fiumicino airport to avoid being deported. The teenager, who is currently hospitalized, had been sent back to Italy from the Netherlands under the Dublin system.

At the airport, he was informed that his asylum application had been rejected and that he had to leave Italy.

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