News 06 Jul 2016
IRCT calls on the EU to protect and support victims of torture under the Dublin System

Today, the IRCT issued a position paper outlining the key measures to support and protect victims of torture that must be included in the reform of the Dublin Regulation. The paper highlights a number of concerns with the current European Commission proposal. These concerns include the absence of a mechanism to identify and respond to the special needs of victims of torture and restricting access to basic services and healthcare as part of ‘punitive’ measures to deter asylum seekers from leaving the country responsible for their claims.  

“We are seriously concerned about the downgrading in standards for victims of torture and other vulnerable groups in this proposal. The EU and its Member States must stop this ‘lowest-common-denominator’ approach to refugee protection and ensure that the needs of victims of torture are met,” said Mushegh Yekmalyan, Head of the IRCT’s European Affairs Office.  

The IRCT position paper recommends:  

  • The establishment of an identification mechanism, which should include a medical examination when necessary 
  • Specific safeguards for vulnerable groups to protect them against detention and accelerated procedures 
  • Special reception conditions for the care of victims of torture during the Dublin procedure 
  • No restrictions to basic social services and healthcare for asylum seekers who are in a country other than the one responsible for their claim
  • Prioritisation of vulnerable applicants for relocation once the relocation mechanism is triggered 

In May 2016, the European Commission launched a proposal for the reform of the current Dublin Regulation, which aims to rapidly determine the EU Member State responsible for assessing a particular asylum claim. Alongside the EURODAC Regulation – establishing a Europe-wide fingerprinting database for irregular entrants into the EU – the Dublin Regulation forms the cornerstone of the Dublin System.  

This system has been widely criticised by NGOs for its inefficiency and lack of focus on the needs of the individual asylum seeker. Flaws in the asylum procedures and reception conditions across the EU have meant that sending asylum seekers back to countries like Greece, Italy and Hungary may amount to cruel and inhuman treatment due to severe overcrowding and inadequate standards to meet the minimum needs of refugees.  

“The EU must reject the notion of punishing asylum seekers for leaving the country of determination. Victims of torture may have very good reasons for wanting to be in another country, including to join family or to access appropriate services. We know from decades of experience that being close to family and loved ones can have a very positive impact on the rehabilitation of victims of torture. The punitive measures are incompatible with international human rights law, including torture victims’ right to rehabilitation and should be scrapped by the co-legislators,” said Asger Kjærum, Director of Advocacy of the IRCT.   
 

To read more on the reform of the Dublin System, please see:  

IRCT Comments on the European Commission’s Proposal for the Reform of the Dublin System 

European Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) 

To read more on victims of torture in the European Union, please see: Falling Through the Cracks: Asylum Procedures and Reception Conditions in the European Union

"Mental health practitioners in general can convey to others stories and knowledge in such a way that the listener can identify with the torture victims.” - Dr. Karen Hanscom

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