Dublin II – Nomads by necessity and without any rights
The Dublin II Directive, introduced in 2003, stipulates that the country first reached by a refugee is responsible for processing that person’s application for asylum. As a result, the countries at the heart of Europe have abrogated their responsibility for refugees at the expense of those countries that are located on the external borders.
For many refugees, the odyssey begins with the first fingerprint: this ‘proof’ is stored in the EURODAC fingerprint database and determines that countries such as Greece or Italy are responsible for admitting the refugees into their territory. Refugees spend months, sometimes years, wandering around Europe without any rights in their struggle to reach a place where they might have a chance of leading a life in safety. They are stuck in prison camps and informal settlements, or risk their lives wedged under trucks or hiding in containers in an effort to reach their destination. Dublin II results in thousands of deportations within Europe each year, particularly to eastern and southern EU countries.
National and European courts are increasingly being called upon to rule whether deportations under Dublin II are actually permissible. The documentation prepared in the course of projects that monitor the catastrophic human rights situation of refugees in Greece was one of the factors that prompted the European Court of Human Rights to pass a ruling at the beginning of 2011 that resulted in the suspension of deportations to Greece. The untenable conditions in Italy, Malta and Hungary have also been occupying the courts more and more since transnational border-monitoring projects started intensively researching and documenting the situation of refugees in these countries.
With its decision in the case MSS v Greece on January 21, 2011 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made a clear sign, that deportations to Greece are considered to be violating peoples human rights. This decision marked a milestone in the struggle against Dublin II – specifically considering the case of Greece – which the latest’s since then have been stopped by almost all European member states.
While dublin II has been halted and Dublin III is being discussed as a reform of the actual system, some states continue deporting refugees silently back on the grounds of bilateral readmission agreements they have with Greece – among them Italy, Bulgaria and Macedonia.
Italy for example is returning constantly potential asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and persons who have family in other EU-states and could reunite on the grounds of Dublin II – without giving them any chance to apply for asylum or seek for protection upon arrival in the Adriatic ports or the Italian shore.
Networks, NGOs and critical academics are increasingly joining forces in an attempt to get the Dublin II Directive abolished. A close exchange of information with the migrants concerned has become the central point of focus ever since the noborder camp on the Greek island of Lesvos in 2009. After all, the biggest challenge facing the Directive, which has long since collapsed, is the ongoing movement of the migrants themselves.