Study on the exchange of information between European countries regarding persons excluded from refugee status in accordance with Article 1F Refugee Convention

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international information exchange on 1F-excluded individuals.
The study uses a variety of research methods to answer these questions; interviews with relevant stakeholders in six focus countries (Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom), an analysis of literature, relevant rules and regulations and policy documents and a survey distributed via the European Migration Network (EMN).
On a national level, information exchange is generally well organised, both within the immigration authorities and with other actors such as security services and specialised investigative and prosecutorial bodies. Internationally, the information exchange about 1F exclusion is much more limited. Immigration authorities hardly ever share information about 1F-excluded individuals with foreign law enforcement actors. Information exchange with foreign counterparts is also very unusual. ‘Like-minded’ countries to a very limited extent exchange information on an ad-hoc basis by means of bilateral of multilateral arrangements. Existing information systems such as Eurodac and SIS II are neither used, nor suited to include information on 1F exclusion. Compared to the immigration authorities, law enforcement and prosecution services have a more established practice of exchanging information.
With respect to desirability of enhancing information exchange, they study suggests that the majority of respondents favour enhanced information exchange, because it could promote better informed decision making by immigration authorities, might help in identifying individuals who may pose a security risk and could be beneficial for prosecuting perpetrators of international crimes. Some respondents, however, stress that it is important to balance the scale and nature of problems stemming from a current lack of information exchange against the ‘costs’ of implementing changes or developing a system that would enhance information exchange.
In terms of feasibility of enhancing the exchange of information between immigration authorities, the study identifies four issues that need to be taken into account: firstly, it has to be acknowledged that a consistent European approach to Article 1F is currently lacking; secondly, it has to be acknowledged that information stemming from asylum procedures in principle needs to be treated confidentially; thirdly, that the limits posed by the purpose limitation principle should be taken into account; and fourthly, questions arise as to what type of information should be shared, when it should be shared and with what number and type of actors.`The study concludes by identifying three possible ways in which the exchange of information on 1F exclusion could be enhanced: using or tailoring existing common European information systems such as Eurodac and SIS II; having states close bilateral or multilateral arrangements on information exchange on 1F exclusion between immigration authorities; or distributing lists with information about 1F-excluded individuals. In terms of privacy, efficiency and practical use all have their strengths and weaknesses.
On the short run, enhancing information exchange on 1F exclusion is not a self-evident priority for many states. The scale and nature of the problems caused by the current lack of information sharing are difficult to assess. For this reason it is arguably challenging to garner wide support for the adaptation of existing systems or the creation of a new system that allows for more information exchange. The urgency of finding an all-inclusive solution is further undermined by the lack of a consistent approach to, and different prioritisation of, 1F exclusion in Europe. At the same time, as the scale and nature of the refugee influx has been changing, attention for 1F exclusion seems to be growing and the number of exclusions may in the near future be on the rise.
Those states already willing to take steps in promoting information exchange could consider creating a European Exclusion Network. Except for the question which institution or organisation should host or facilitate such a network, there seem to be no major objections against creating such a network. In particular when initiated by a limited number of like-minded states, setting up a network would not require very substantial investments. Such a network will support participants in getting more acquainted and come to increasingly trust each other, which allows them to take steps to develop Memoranda of Understanding which would enable formal exchange of information about individuals.
A network, however, will also have to overcome challenges. If information on 1F exclusion would be available to more states, the question remains what these states want to and can do with that information. Besides, both a European Exclusion Network and MoU’s do not entail an infrastructural solution for exchanging or storing information. Immigration authorities are arguably most interested in having access to an information system which enables them to identify whether or not an applicant has previously been excluded in another country or not. Currently existing data-sharing systems, however, have significant shortcomings with respect to including information on 1F exclusion.
As a final point for consideration, the authors argue that although enhanced international information exchange between immigration authorities could lead to the identification of more 1F-excluded individuals who cross European borders, that in itself would not solve the fundamental problem of how European countries, and Europe as such, deal with non-returnable 1F-excluded individuals. In addition to discussing possible modes of information exchange, an exclusion network could also be useful in shaping a consistent post-exclusion policy.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEigen Beheer
Commissioning bodyUDI Noorwegen
Number of pages83
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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