The European Parliament's civil liberties committee today endorsed a legislative agreement on the EURODAC database of asylum applicants' and refugees' fingerprints (1), which includes controversial proposals to allow law enforcement authorities access to the database. Commenting after the vote, Green migration and civil liberties spokesperson Ska Keller (MEP, Germany) stated:
"This agreement to allow law enforcement authorities access to the EURODAC fingerprint database flies in the face of asylum seekers' basic rights. The move means people who come to Europe seeking protection from persecution will be under suspicion as potential criminals from the moment they arrive.
"EURODAC was created to enable immigration authorities to identify asylum seekers, with a view to avoiding double applications. Allowing police authorities to access the data for a totally different purpose - to combat crime and terrorism - flies in the face of the data protection rights of asylum seekers and opens the door to discrimination.
"This regrettable legislative agreement, which came after a majority of MEPs caved to the demands of member state governments, even saw the removal of a basic safeguard previously adopted by the civil liberties committee, which would have at least removed the fingerprints of recognised refugees from the database. It also weakened the conditions under which police can access the database and prolonged the storage periods in certain cases. In short, it is a lazy compromise that reflects poorly on the EU and its commitment to protect fundamental rights."
(1) The legislative agreement, reached between Council and Parliament, will now be voted on by the European Parliament as a whole.