Dublin Returnee Monitoring Project (DRMP)
That the strained Italian asylum system does not always comply with applicable legislation is by now widely acknowledged. When procedures under the Dublin III Regulation nevertheless result in a decision to return a vulnerable person to Italy, the conditions related to this person’s return to Italy should be documented, to encourage Member States’ authorities to make better-informed decisions with regard to Dublin returns to Italy.
The Dublin Returnee Monitoring Project (DRMP), jointly implemented by the Swiss Refugee Council (SFH/OSAR) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), aims at documenting the return conditions of vulnerable persons returned to Italy under a Dublin procedure, and to make the data thus collected available to the relevant authorities and to the public.
Aim of the project
The Swiss Refugee Council (SFH/OSAR) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) started the joint project in 2016 and have since documented the return conditions (access to the asylum system and reception conditions) of vulnerable persons returned to Italy from a number of EU Member States and associated countries. Data are collected through interviews with the returned persons, implemented by local collaborators over a period of several months starting from the day of their return. Thus far, the data show that access to the asylum system and reception conditions for vulnerable persons returned to Italy under a Dublin procedure are often not in line with legal requirements.
According to standing international case-law on Dublin returns (such as the judgments of the ECtHR in M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece and later also in Tarakhel v. Switzerland, and in a similar vein the rulings of the CJEU in N.S, Abdullahi and more recently also C.K. and others v. Slovenija), any state bound by the Dublin regulation should abstain from returning a person under the regulation not only when there are ‘systematic flaws’ in the asylum system of the country to which the person would be returned, but also exceptionally when there are real and proven risks of inhuman and degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (or within the meaning of Article 3 of the ECHR) upon return of the person.
By systematically collecting and publishing data on the conditions of vulnerable persons already returned to Italy under the Dublin Regulation, the SFH/OSAR and DRC hope to be able to prevent the infringement of the rights of vulnerable persons under international, European and national law by the return of such persons to Italy under the present circumstances. The first report of the project was published in 2017 and can be found here, the publication of a second report is foreseen for 2018. Already, the report has been referred to by the judiciary of an EU Member State to sustain a judgment, annulling a decision to transfer a person to Italy under the Dublin procedure. The SFH/OSAR and DRC hope that this will become common practice in the future.
How it works: documents for returnees
If possible, vulnerable persons that will be returned to Italy under the Dublin Regulation are informed about the project already in the transferring Member State. They are provided with this information sheet or at least with the contact information of OSAR and/or DRC, and consequently asked for their consent to join the project by signing the Power of Attorney. The collaborating person in the transferring Member State may note down relevant information regarding the transfer in the Referral Form, based on which OSAR or DRC will alert a local collaborators involved in the project, who will contact the returned person before or right after the transfer to Italy has taken place. After being transferred to Italy, the Dublin returnees will be interviewed by persons collaborating with OSAR and DRC in Italy in order for OSAR and DRC to document their situation in Italy.
How it works: documents for collaborators
Local collaborators are asked to become involved in the project based on their commitment to the objectives and values shared by OSAR and DRC. They are asked to sign a Contract of Collaboration and may be given a Confirmation of Collaboration, which will help them to identify themselves to the returned person or to relevant authorities. In case the collaborators need to make use of the services of an interpreter, they may use the Terms of Collaboration for Interpreters, which describes the role of the interpreter within the project. For a description of data protection measures that should be taken into account by all involved, the Terms of Collaboration offer a detailed overview of these and other measures. For further information the contact persons at SFH/OSAR or DRC can be consulted.