Memorandum by JUSTICE
INQUIRY INTO THE PHYSICAL CONTROLS AT UK
PORTS OF ENTRY
JUSTICE is soon to publish a report on the Schengen
Information System (SIS)
which is based on research as the system is working in four EU
member states. Its focus is on the human rights implications of
this large database. In May 1999 the UK formally applied to join
the SIS, although it does not intend to access or enter information
relating to "unwanted aliens" under Art. 96 of the Schengen
Convention, it is expected that the SIS will be operational at
UK ports of entry within two years.
In this note, we refer to some points arising
out of our findings which may be relevant to the above inquiry.
The SIS was set up for two different purposes:
to guarantee public order and security through crime controls
and to underpin provisions on free movement of persons through
immigration controls. The number of entries give an idea of the
balance between these two purposes: the majority (around 8.4 million)
are in relation to "objects" such as stolen cars and
documents, where the data is held for policing purposes. Of the
1.3 million entries relating to individuals, around 89 per cent
are held on "unwanted aliens" for immigration purposes.
Only 7 per cent of the entries on individuals have a connection
In terms of the UK application to join the policing
side, it will essentially be joining a large-clearing house to
check on stolen objects, rather than to identify individuals as
On the immigration side, we question whether
the UK will be able to maintain a stance of partial participation
in the longer term, particularly in view of the Government's intention
to participate relatively fully in the new Title IV immigration
and asylum measures. This dilemma has already been raised by the
Commission in relation to travel rights of third country nationals
legally resident in the EU.
Although the UK says that it does not intend at present to participate
in this part of the Schengen acquis (as incorporated into Title
IV), applications for visas and residence permits for such persons
are required to be checked against Art 96 entries before being
granted. In fact, full SIS participation may well be seen as a
prerequisite to signing up to aspects of Title IV. This would
be on the basis that all member states must play their part in
ensuring that those persons identified as unwanted aliens do not
enter the EU, irrespective of who has made the SIS entry.
It seems inevitable that political pressure
will be brought to bear on the UK both to enforce Art 96 alerts
at its borders and to enter "unwanted aliens" itself.
As our research highlights a number of concerns in relation to
Art 96 entriesparticularly in relation to the implications
for individual safeguardsany application by the UK to join
this part of the SIS as well would need to be carefully examined.
Our report is due to be published in early June.
If, however, the Committee would like to have more details of
our research findings before then, please let us know.
Legal Policy Consultant
7 April 2000
15 The report, The Schengen Information System:
a human rights audit, was published in December 2000. Back
Commission Opinion on the request by the UK to take part in certain
provisions of the Schengen acquis, IP/99/550. 20 July 1999. Back