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The European commission has failed to agree a proposed list of ‘safe countries of origin’ from which applications for asylum in the EU would automatically be rejected.

The European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini, tabled a safe list of eight African countries but agreement could not be reached on the list, which included countries such as Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Mauritius. Mali raised concerns over the practice of female genital mutilation and Botswana was criticised because it retains the death penalty and prohibits homosexuality.

Franco Frattini will return with a new list in two weeks’ time, which will include non-African countries but will exclude Mali.

The idea of establishing a common safe list is to avoid ‘asylum shopping’, in which people either submit multiple applications or select the country most likely to be amenable. The list will not rule out asylum cases from safe countries in exceptional cases, but refugees will need to make a strong case.

The list will require the approval of all 25 member states and, possibly under a pending EU courts ruling, the European Parliament.

Sig. Frattini emphasises that any list will not rule out asylum claims from any named safe countries if refugees face “individual persecution and risk”.

25 May 2006

 Last updated: 25/05/2006 10:42:00

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