UNHCR issues commentary on key EU asylum law
GENEVA, March 29 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency said today that it has released a detailed set of comments about the proposed Asylum Procedures Directive on which European Union states reached political agreement in April 2004. The Directive regulates how decisions on asylum claims are made and sets minimum standards for procedures through the 25-nation EU.
The European Parliament still needs to issue its opinion on the Directive, which will then have to be formally adopted by the EU Council.
UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva that "if some of the Directive's provisions are incorporated into individual states' national laws without additional safeguards, they may result in violations of international law."
He said UNHCR was drawing "particular attention to the rules governing the designation of 'safe' countries, and those which allow EU countries to deport certain categories of asylum seekers before their appeal has been heard."
Redmond said that a UNHCR press release, issued on April 30, 2004, outlining the refugee agency's main concerns with this crucial piece of EU legislation, "remains valid." However, the agency's views are laid down in much greater detail in the full 59-page document, and five-page summary released today.
In all, he said, UNHCR has made 96 observations in the form of annotations to individual articles and sub-articles of the draft directive.
UNHCR has also issued a similar full commentary and summary on the Qualification Directive - which lays down the definition of who qualifies as a refugee and who qualifies for subsidiary protection.
These two directives were the last - and arguably most important - in a series of five major pieces of legislation drawn up during the first phase of harmonization of EU asylum law.