The festive season is upon us, with Christmas fast approaching and the New Year just around the corner. In respect of immigration law, January 2014 also heralds the introduction of the Dublin III recast regulation in Ireland.
The Regulation comes into force on 14th January 2014 and shall apply to applications for international protection lodged after that date. The Dublin III regulation is the only ‘recast’ that Ireland has opted in to.
The purpose of the Dublin Regulation is to lay down the criteria and mechanisms for determining member state’s responsibility for examining an application for international protection, lodged in one of the member states by a third country national or a stateless person.
The main objectives of the amended Regulation is to enhance the efficiency of the functioning of the current Dublin Regulation, as well as to ensure higher standards of protection for the applicants who fall under the responsibility determination procedure.
In reports produced this year by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, (ECRE) it was highlighted that there are vast differences in the manner the Dublin Regulation is operated by member states. There are no common standards of information provision or reception conditions, and furthermore no common means to assess applicants’ vulnerabilities and special needs.
As a result of these contrasting practices, drastic consequences have ensued, including families torn apart due to government’s focusing on returning the asylum seeker to the country of first entry. Asylum seekers have spent months in detention and upon release, many have no guarantee they will have access to adequate housing and welfare support.
It is submitted that the new framework includes important amendments in this regard, including the right to information, individual interview, guarantees for minors, a framework setting out the conditions for when a person may be detained, right to effective remedy, a mechanism for early warning, preparedness and crisis management.
These new provisions may better enable people to judicially challenge transfers which may not be in accordance with their fundamental rights.
However, as noted by the JRS and ECRE, the core of this matter and the potential impact that the new Regulations will render depends on how they are implemented on a national level. For a European Common Asylum system to be effective, governments must correctly interpret and implement these regulations. Asylum seekers must have access to fair asylum procedures and decent reception conditions wherever they are in Europe.