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    Francken neglects privacy in asylum policies

    © Belga
    The parliamentary Privacy Committee is considering whether the measures proposed in respect of asylum seekers provide enough protection for them.
    © Belga

    Two opinions, which the newspaper “Le Soir” has had sight of, invite the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, to rectify bills which fall within the remit of the harmonisation of European asylum law. These opinions are encouraging the Secretary of State to guarantee respect for privacy.

    Amongst the measures, approved at parliamentary committee level, features the possibility for authorities to access GSM data or the Facebook profile of an asylum seeker whose application is being processed. Otherwise such individuals may be placed in a so-called “closed centre”.

    Requested by the deputy, Benoît Hellings (Ecolo), the Privacy Committee is considering the freely given consent by the asylum seeker, whilst the threat of detention hangs over them. The committee also stresses the lack of guarantees enabling both the avoidance of measures and arbitrary decisions. Using the same line of reasoning, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) proposes less intrusive methods be favoured, and that the possibility of remedies should arise.

    The bills are on the order of the day for Thursday’s parliamentary plenary session. However, the possibility has not been excluded that the opposition solicits the Council of State for new amendments. This would postpone the full examination of the bill’s text.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times