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EMN - European Migration Network, National Contact Point Belgium

Establishing Identity for International Protection - EU synthesis (EMN)

cover synthesis report
This Synthesis Report summarises the main findings of the EMN Focussed Study on Establishing Identity for International Protection: Challenges and Practices undertaken by EMN National Contact Points from 25 (Member) States.

The overall purpose of this study was to provide an overview of challenges facing national authorities in their efforts to establish the identity of applicants for international protection and for the return of rejected applicants, often in the absence of (valid) documentation. It also presents an overview and analysis of national practices and identifies several best practices plus sheds light on the possible effects that the absence of (valid) documentation has on third-country nationals’ application for international protection, or for the return to their (presumed) country of origin following a negative decision.

Whilst extensive statistics do not exist, experience in the (Member) States suggests that the absolute verification of the identity of the applicant, who could not produce (valid) documentation (e.g. a (valid) ID or passport) at the time of lodging the application for international protection, is often not possible. Instead, a practical approach seems to be to have an “attribution of identity,” rather than an absolute determination of identity.

In most (Member) States, the verification of the identity of an applicant who was unable to produce documentation at the time of lodging the application for international protection, is not regarded as a decisive factor in relation to the merits of the application.

(Member) States have generally responded to the challenge of (rejected) asylum applicants without valid identity documentation by enhancing and using a range of methods used to determine identity, drawing, for example, upon state-of-the-art technology (e.g. biometric analyses) and sophisticated databases of identity-related data. Where fingerprints and photographs fail to identify an applicant, alternative methods may be applied, such as interviews containing knowledge-tests tailored to the presumed country of origin, and language tests conducted by experts.

Establishing the identity of rejected applicants is also crucial to the implementation of an efficient and effective return policy and, ultimately, to safeguard the integrity of the EU's asylum systems. A third-country national cannot be returned when identity is not adequately established. The process is further complicated by the more strict demands made by receiving third countries. The lack of cooperation on the part of the returnee, or their attempt to mislead authorities (e.g. alteration of fingerprints, destruction of ID documents), may also severely obstruct the implementation of the return decision.

For more information and findings, please consult the synthesis report.

Specific information on the Belgian policy and practice in this field can be found in the Belgian contribution.

Other national contributions are avaiulable on the website of EMN Europe.