On 4 May 2016, the European Commission released its first package of proposals as part of a broader reform of the Common European Asylum System, foreseen in the European Agenda on Migration adopted in 2015. Part of this package consisted of the efforts to reform the system for determining the Member State responsible for examining international protection claims in the Europe Union (commonly known as the Dublin System). In July 2016, the European Commission launched further proposals to convert the recast Asylum Procedures Directive to a Regulation and to recast the Reception Conditions Directive.
The IRCT strongly advocates for asylum procedures and reception conditions that respect and address the specific needs of torture victims. This series of position papers outlines the IRCT's position on the recent proposed reform of the Common European Asylum System. The papers present the IRCT's position on the 2016 proposed reform of the Dublin System, Asylum Procedures Regulation and the recast Reception Conditions Directive, focussing specifically on the impact on victims of torture.
The IRCT supports the introduction of a two-stage assessment process for identification of torture victims among asylum seekers and the fact that it mandatorily involves health professionals. Early identification is key to ensure that torture victims have access to rehabilitation and to the specific support they are entitled to.
However, the IRCT is concerned about the principle of sanctioning asylum seekers for perceived non-compliance with procedures, the concept that people from “safe” countries should be sent back and the continued use of accelerated and border procedures as well as immigration detention.
Main recommendations for reception conditions:
- The two-stage early identification scheme should be adopted.
- The right to rehabilitation for torture victims should always be guaranteed, even in cases of non compliance by the asylum seeker or of exceptional circumstances.
- Applicants with special reception needs should always be guaranteed access to appropriate reception conditions.
- Applicants with special reception needs should systematically be exempted from detention.
Main recommendations for asylum procedures:
- Torture victims should never be returned to a country where they do not have access to rehabilitation services.
- Torture victims should systematically be excluded from the accelerated and border procedures regardless of availability of adequate support.
- The duration of the asylum procedure should take into consideration the time needed for rehabilitation to have an effect.
- Applications should not be rejected when asylum seekers fail to comply with obligations.
Main recommendations for the Dublin System:
- A vulnerability assessment should be carried out before a decision is made on the responsible Member State (meaning right after the admissibility check) in order to allow vulnerable asylum seekers to access the special procedural guarantees and appropriate reception conditions to which they are entitled while waiting for their transfer, which may occur several weeks or months later.
- Vulnerable applicants should be prioritised for relocation under the corrective mechanism, in the same way they are prioritised for relocation under the existing emergency relocation schemes.
- The information resulting from the vulnerability assessment should be circulated to the final country of destination in an appropriate manner in order to take the applicant’s special needs into account for the entirety of the procedure.
- In line with relevant case law, asylum seekers who are in a country other than the one responsible for their claim should be entitled to healthcare and other basic services, as determined by RCD, with additional guarantees provided for vulnerable applicants such as children, pregnant women and torture victims.