As the EURODAC system of fingerprinting asylum seekers becomes operational today, Jesuit Refugee Services European Director Fr John Dardis, issued the following statement: "The ongoing fight against illegal and irregular migration means that Europe is more and more restricting the rights of genuine asylum seekers. Governments are trying to prevent abuse of the asylum system; but it is important to ensure that asylum seekers are not abused by the system. "JRS is concerned about the association with criminality which fingerprinting brings. By fingerprinting asylum seekers, you are, in the minds of the public, criminalising asylum seekers. These are some of the poorest and most desperate people in the world. Because of this impression of criminality, States will make it even more difficult for those who have sought and received asylum to be accepted and integrated into society. "We wish to highlight the fact that anyone over 14 will be fingerprinted; this raises very serious human rights issues. "The phenomenon of so called 'asylum shopping' which has been put forward as a reason for introducing Eurodac, needs much more careful discussion. Asylum seekers who choose a particular State to lodge their claim are not necessarily abusing the system. They are perhaps doing so because they have family/friends there; this seems appropriate and legitimate if one is hoping to build a new life. "We are aware of the reasons governments are giving for the introduction of Eurodac, chief among them the prevention of the abuse of the asylum system and increased efficiency. Will it in fact result in greater efficiency? And even if it does, will this efficiency come at too high a price, at the price of human dignity and fundamental freedoms?" Source: JRS
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