ESRI/EMN Ireland has published research that sheds new light on how data are managed within the international protection procedure in Ireland.
Biographical data such as names and date of birth, biometric data such as fingerprints, and details on a person’s protection claim, are collected in the various phases of the procedure. These data form the basis of a person’s application for international protection. The report finds that data protection safeguards are implemented in each phase. A lack of interoperability of databases as well as technical limitations are among the challenges highlighted.
The research is part of an EU-wide study conducted by the European Migration Network, which is funded in Ireland by the European Commission and the Department of Justice.
Three phases of data collection
Phase one of data collection is the registration phase. It is a preliminary interview, conducted with the applicant at the border or at the International Protection Office (IPO). The application is registered, and its admissibility is assessed. Basic biographical data are collected as well as other data, such as fingerprints and the reason the person is seeking international protection.
Phase two is conducted at the IPO and is where the application is formally lodged. In this phase, further biographical data are collected, including on the applicant’s family members, their profession, and greater detail on the grounds of their protection claim.
Phase three is the examination phase. It comprises a personal interview and a questionnaire. The questionnaire re-collects some data collected previously, and also collects further details on the grounds for protection. The IPO launched a shortened questionnaire at the end of June 2021. A personal interview is then conducted, in which the grounds of the international protection claim are examined.
Challenges and recent developments
Some of the key challenges faced in data management reported by the International Protection Office were the limited interoperability of databases as well as certain technical limitations.
The Advisory Group Report on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process Report (October 2020), the Catherine Day Report, made a number of recommendations as regards case processing and the use of information technology in the international protection procedure. The report recommended, among other things: allowing applicants and/or their representatives to track their application, the introduction of audio recording of interviews and improving data sharing procedures between government departments.
In February 2021, in the ‘Justice Plan 2021’, the Department of Justice sets as an objective the development of a fully digital, customer-centric immigration service and aims to complete an end-to-end review of the international protection process.
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