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EU adds face photos to EURODAC fingerprint database

European Parliament and Council negotiators yesterday agreed to updated rules intended to reinforce the EURODAC system, which is designed to store and search data on asylum applicants and irregular migrants.

In addition to fingerprints, negotiators agreed to collect more data from applicants including passport photos and alphanumerical data (name, ID or passport number) and that data should be registered in the EURODAC system before a decision on admission is made through the resettlement procedure.

They also agreed to lowering the age for obtaining fingerprints and face photos of minors from 14 to 6 years. The statement released said that “Force should never be used on minors to take fingerprints or facial images. However, as a last resort, and where permitted by relevant EU or national law, a ‘proportionate degree of coercion’ may be applied to minors, while ensuring respect for their dignity and physical integrity.”

EU police agency Europol will also be able to query the database in a more efficient way in order to detect and prevent terrorist offences and other serious crimes.

According to the announcement the updated system would improve the safety of refugee children, help immigration and asylum authorities better control irregular immigration to the EU, detect secondary movements and facilitate readmission and return to migrant’s countries of origin.

“Today’s provisional agreement will ensure that people do not submit asylum applications in multiple countries, while respecting the commitments to EU and international law,” explained Rapporteur Monica Macovei (ECR, RO). “It will also address fears of threats to internal security by registering and storing the data of irregular migrants. Obtaining the fingerprints and facial images of minors aged 6 years old and above will be crucial to help identify and trace missing children and establish family links, while preventing them from ending up in the hands of human traffickers and smugglers.”

The agreed text now needs to be formally approved by the Civil Liberties Committee, Parliament as a whole and the Council of the EU before entering into force.