Tuesday 19 June 2007, by European Parliament
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The application of the Prüm Treaty, signed on 27 May 2005 by seven EU countries, should facilitate the exchange of data from DNA and fingerprint databases to produce «a stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal migration», according to a report by Fausto CORREIA (PES, PT) and adopted by the European Parliament.
The Prüm Treaty was signed between Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Austria to ensure that precise personal information —including for the first time DNA and fingerprints data — may be exchanged swiftly and efficiently by national law enforcement officers to help combating terrorism and cross-border crime, including illegal immigration. MEPs support the idea of applying the Prüm treaty to all Member States but have approved a number of amendments to ensure that the supplying of data is not made automatically but only «when necessary and proportionate, and based on particular circumstances that give reasons to believe that criminal offences will be committed».
Furthermore, MEPs introduced an amendment to ensure that data collected under this Decision will not be transferred or made available to a third country or to any international organisation. This article is particularly relevant taking into account recent transatlantic disagreements regarding data exchange in the frame of security and fight against terrorism (PNR, cooperation on CIA extraordinary renditions).
Information stored in DNA
The collection of cellular material «for a particular individual who is suspected of having committed such a criminal offence», the report states, «shall take place only on the basis of national law and only for a specific purpose and shall meet the requirements of necessity and proportionality.»
According to the draft Decision, Member States will ensure access to DNA analysis files opened for the investigation of criminal offences, but each file will only include a reference number so the subject cannot be directly identified. Law enforcement agencies from all Member States will be able to access the databases and conduct automated searches by comparing DNA profiles. Only when the search shows a match between DNA profiles, authorities can then reveal the identity of the person or further personal data, always under the provisions of their national law (AM.
Access to fingerprints databases will follow the same rules. Finally, police authorities will also have access to vehicle registration data, with the possibility of conducting concrete searches only with the full chassis or registration number.
Other special categories of data concerning racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or health should be exceptional and follow stricter protection safeguards, added MEPs. Other specific requests by Parliament are the right of the data subject to see and correct inaccurate information and the need to implement dissuasive sanctions if the confidentiality of data is infringed.
Sport events and Council summits
Parliament supported the article which foresees that Member States will supply one another with personal data at big sport events and Council summits, if any final convictions or other circumstances give reason to believe that the data subjects will commit criminal offences at the event or pose a threat to security. Again, such data exchange needs to be proportionate and made on a case-by-case basis, stressed MEPs.
Time limit on information held
Additionally, the Chamber emphasised with an amendment that once the information exchanged has been used for the prevention of a concrete terrorist offence, whether these purposes «have been achieved or can no longer be achieved «, then, «the data supplied shall be deleted without delay... and in any event after no more than two years from the date of supply.». Recorded data in general will be kept for three years .
Finally, the draft Decision foresees other forms of stepping up border police cooperation, such as joint police operations, for which it is necessary to refer to what Member State’s law permits. Police officers involved in a joint operation in another Member State’s territory will carry their usual service weapons and wear their own national uniforms with a distinctive sign and an accreditation document.
«In urgent situations», added MEPs, «officers from one Member State may, without the prior consent of the ’host Member State’, cross the border between both and take any provisional measure to avert an imminent danger». In that case, officers will immediately inform the host Member State of their presence. It will be the host Member State who will assume responsibility for the measures taken by the officers crossing the border.
Source : European Parliament
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