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UNHCR comments on proposed E.U. Asylum Procedures Directive

Briefing notes

UNHCR comments on proposed E.U. Asylum Procedures Directive

28 March 2005

UNHCR has released a detailed set of comments on the proposed Asylum Procedures Directive on which EU states reached political agreement last April. The European Parliament still needs to issue its opinion on the directive, which will then have to be formally adopted by the EU Council. The directive regulates how decisions on asylum claims are made and sets minimum standards for procedures.

On 30 April last year, UNHCR issued a press release outlining our main concerns with this crucial piece of EU legislation. The points in that press release remain valid, including the concern 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. UNHCR drew 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.

The comments released today, however, go into much greater detail on these and other important issues. In all, UNHCR has made 96 observations in the form of annotations to individual articles and sub-articles of the draft directive.

The full 59-page document, and a four-page summary, will be posted on the UNHCR website later today.

UNHCR has 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.