ASGI, within the In limine project, has made during 2019 and 2020 several requests for FOIA access aimed at highlighting the concrete functioning of the so-called redistribution procedures (or relocation) of people rescued at sea in recent years.
At this link you can find most of the documents and information collected on the subject: https://inlimine.asgi.it/procedure-di-redistribuzione-dati-e-sbarchi/
Recently we have had access to the SOPs currently used by EASO and the states where the disembarkation of people who are then transferred to other member states on the basis of “agreements” made on an ad hoc basis happens. It does not seem to the state that there is an “automatic” redistribution mechanism as the text of the “Malta Agreement” of September 23, 2019 suggested.
The SOPs provide for a 4-step procedure that is designed to be concluded in 4 weeks:
1 PHASE: Identification and screening after disembarkation (eurodac cat. 2); health screening; transmission of the list of nationalities and composition of the group (unaccompanied minors, women, families…) to the Commission and EASO; formal initiation of the procedure by the Commission and collection of offers of availability from member states (including criteria and restrictions that they may decide to apply)
2 PHASE: interview with the persons disembarked made by EASO and registration of the asylum request in the country of arrival (eurodac cat. 1); EASO makes the “matching” between asylum seekers and destination states and prepares a “redistribution list” to the Commission and destination states; acceptance of the list by the states
3 PHASE: second interview by the destination states (at the discretion of the individual states), alternatively – and upon request – EASO can make a second interview; acceptance/rejection of the transfer (in case of rejection of some of the persons proposed to the state, others may be proposed, if available); preparation of the transfer by the Dublin Unit ex art. 17(2) reg. Dublin. It is expressly stated that the consent of the applicant is required and that EASO takes care of this. Although it is necessary to obtain the consent of the person concerned to the transfer, it must still be possible for the applicant to oppose the transfer order through an “effective” remedy that guarantees the minimum right to obtain the suspension of the transfer order. In case of refusal of the transfer for security reasons, the disembarkation state should be made aware of all relevant information through the appropriate channels and services.
4 PHASE: Preparation and organization of the transfer (with the support of IOM if possible); transfer; reception and initiation of the asylum procedure in the destination state.
The text is interesting from several points of view, especially if read in the light of the proposals contained in the European Pact. Consider, for example, the role of European agencies and bodies that is increasingly central and the fact that procedures take place more and more close to the disembarkation place and moment and in derogation of the right to enter the territory even after the manifestation of the will to seek asylum.
Finally, we highlight two other aspects that seem to us problematic and that derive from the lack of clarity of the SOPs and the difficulty of obtaining information about the procedures. It is not clear, in fact, what is concretely the content of the interviews carried out by EASO and the States of destination, especially with reference to cultural guidelines and security, and it is not even clear the content of the right to information, necessary for the formation of consent to the transfer.