Forum Réfugiés-Cosi, ECRE, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and their national partners are publishing a comparative study on how this Regulation is applied by States entitled: The Dublin II Regulation: Lives on Hold. This report shows that the Dublin system continues to fail both refugees and Member States. The research deals with the practice surrounding the Dublin II Regulation with respect to fundamental rights in 11 states: Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The comparative report and national reports are available at: www.dublin-project.eu. It reveals the harsh consequences of the Dublin system for asylum seekers whereby families are separated, people are left destitute or detained and despite the objectives of the Regulation, access to an asylum procedure is not always guaranteed.
One example of the suffering to families caused by the Dublin system is the case of a Chechen father separated from his new-born child by the Austrian authorities. While the baby had refugee status in Austria, his father was sent to Poland under the Dublin system. The father’s request to apply for family reunification once he was in Poland was refused by the Austrian authorities and so the father remained separated from his wife and child by the mechanical application of this system. The majority of people sent back to another country under Dublin are actually returned to the first State of irregular entry into the EU. Asylum seekers in the Dublin procedure are frequently treated as a secondary category of persons granted fewer entitlements in terms of reception conditions. Whenever there are shortages in the capacity of housing available for asylum seekers, those in the Dublin procedure are often the first affected by this. Access to accommodation in some Member States is not always ensured with some asylum seekers having to resort to Courts to access housing or even forced to building makeshift settlements themselves in order to find some shelter. Fewer than half of the agreed Dublin transfers are actually carried out, suggesting a vast amount of wasted bureaucracy. However, no comprehensive data on the financial cost of applying the Dublin Regulation has ever been published.
The soon to be adopted Dublin III Regulation contains some significant areas of improvement, such as the right to a personal interview, but maintains the underlying principles of the Dublin system and will not address all these deficiencies. Ultimately, the underlying principles of the Dublin Regulation need to be fundamentally revised to design a more humane and equitable system that considers the individual case of asylum seekers and their connections with particular Member States, and therefore favours refugees’ integration prospects in Europe.
For further information on the human cost of the Dublin system read the personal accounts of: An Iraqi family of asylum seekers whose imminent removal from Bulgaria to Greece under the readmission agreement between these two countries was only prevented through national court challenges and the involvement of the European Court of Human Rights to temporarily stop the removal. The story of Kazim, from Afghanistan is also very moving. Kazim had traveled from Germany to Sweden, where the authorities requested that Germany take him back. Germany accepted to take over responsibility for examining his asylum claim, but his application was rejected by the German authorities as being manifestly unfounded as he missed his asylum interview and was deemed not to have offered a reasonable explanation for his absence. Actually, he was still in Sweden as the Swedish authorities only sent him back two weeks after the scheduled interview. All the statements have been anonymised to protect identities.