De Jong votes against police access to European fingerprint databank for asylum-seekers

24 April 2013

De Jong votes against police access to European fingerprint databank for asylum-seekers

The European Parliament today voted in favour of a proposal to allow the use in the pursuit of criminals of a European databank containing asylum-seekers’ fingerprints, a move to which the SP is totally opposed, as Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: 'When EURODAC, as this databank is called, was established, I was involved in this myself. It was a sensitive matter, but it was necessary to the functioning of the European asylum system. To use this databank for an entirely different purpose is not only in conflict with its original purpose but also totally undesirable. In a state where laws are respected, people are innocent until proven guilty; that principle is now being turned on its head: asylum-seekers and recognised refugees are in fact presumed to be suspect. This decision is stigmatising.’

dennis de jongNot only that, but the databank’s practical need for effective detection is being restricted. 'States can already request the exchange of information such as fingerprints.’ De Jong points out, ‘but under current circumstances that only happens in the context of a precise request for data, a practice in keeping with the principle that you must have concrete evidence before you can take steps against a suspect. Perhaps this system takes more time, but it does prevent asylum seekers and refugees being seen as potential criminals.’

In the proposal voted on by the European Parliament, moreover, data on refugees who have received a residence permit will be available to the police and judicial authorities for three years. 'In the Netherlands it was agreed when the biometric passport was introduced that citizens’ fingerprints would not automatically be held in a police databank’, De Jong recalls. ‘It seems that we don’t feel the need to be so proper when it comes to refugees. Isn’t that discrimination on the basis of nationality?'

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