Magazine article European Social Policy

Asylum: Procedures Directive May Lower International Standards, Unhcr Warns

Magazine article European Social Policy

Asylum: Procedures Directive May Lower International Standards, Unhcr Warns

Article excerpt

The EU's newly-adopted Asylum Procedures Directive has been sharply criticised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Reacting to the Directive's formal adoption by EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on December 1, the UNHCR warned it "may lead to breaches of refugee law if no additional safeguards are introduced". It is especially concerned that the Directive enables fast-track rejection of asylum claims from people who come from or have travelled through a country deemed 'safe' by the EU member state assessing their claim. And it is miffed because the Directive permits failed asylum-seekers to be removed from EU territory before the outcome of their appeal is known. The UNHCR says it is "disappointed by the failure of member states to live up to their commitment to international asylum standards".

Under Article 27 of the Directive, member states can apply the safe-third-country concept if the non-EU state in question meets various criteria e.g. there is no risk of the person being tortured (non-refoulement). Article 29 of the Directive invites the European Commission to propose a 'minimum common list' of safe third countries of origin (i.e. from where the asylum-seeker has come) in two years' time. This list was originally supposed to be annexed to the Directive itself but member states could not agree which countries were safe. The future list will be adopted by qualified majority, with the European Parliament only consulted, the article says. Article 39 of the Directive enables failed asylum-seekers to appeal against removal orders issued against them but it does not absolutely prevent them being expelled before a final decision on their claim is taken. …

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