Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

EU commission backs passport confiscation of jihadist suspects

  • Plans are afoot in several member states to confiscate the travel documents of suspected jihadists (Photo: afagen)

The European Commission has endorsed national plans to seize travel documents of suspected jihadists.

A handful of governments have either enacted laws to confiscate the documents or are in the process of doing so. The plan is to stop EU nationals from travelling to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside Islamic militants.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Up to 5,000 EU nationals are foreign fighters, says Europol (Photo: FreedomHouse2)

“The commission would support this type of initiative if it were taken by member states,” EU commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud said Friday (16 January).

The Brussels executive says police need to update the EU-wide Schengen information system (SIS) with the changes to passports’ status.

The system alerts border guards, police, customs officials, visa and judicial authorities throughout the border-free Schengen area of anyone not supposed to be in the EU or suspected of having committed a crime.

The European commission’s political support comes on the heels of a number of national initiatives to clamp down on potential foreign fighters as police conduct widespread anti-terrorism raids.

Over two-dozen people were arrested on Friday in German, French, and Belgian police sweeps, reports the Associated Press.

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last week and the deadly Belgian stand off on Thursday evening is adding pressure on governments to react.

Among the anti-jihadist hopefuls is Denmark whose parliament on Friday debated a bill proposed by the justice ministry in December.

The Danish bill allows police to withdraw passports, refuse a request to issue a passport, and impose a travel ban.

Passports can be held up to one year at a time with the possibility of renewing the ban should new evidence emerge that the person remains a security risk.

Anyone suspected of the intention to participate in a militant tour abroad and who is considered to pose a serious threat to public security in Denmark or other states falls under its scope.

The bill includes a fast-track provision on judicial oversight for anyone who contests having their passports taken in the first place.

It also entitles those whose travel documents were seized to apply for a temporary passport in case of funerals or work.

If passed, the bill will become law on 1 March.

France has also stepped up its laws.

On Wednesday, the government passed a decree that would prevent people from leaving the country to join IS’ ranks.

French anti-terror laws call for severe penalties for those found guilty of condoning or provoking terrorism with fines of up to €100,000 or seven-year jail sentence if it is done online.

In Germany, existing legislation allows authorities to seize passports of nationals intent on joining any number of Islamic militant training camps.

But Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas has since extended the offence to national ID cards in their crackdown against foreign fighters.

The ID cards, under the German proposal, could be held for up to three years.

The UK, for its part, introduced a counter-terrorism and security bill last November.

It allows authorities to seize and temporarily retain the travel documents, including passports, of anyone suspected of an “involvement in terrorism-related activity”.

The UK government says it is needed because current powers do not allow authorities to cancel a passport when someone is about to leave the country.

Greek EU commissioner challenges bribery allegations

Dimitris Avramopoulos says he will mount a legal challenge to reveal the identities of people behind allegations that he, along with other former Greek ministers, had accepted money from a Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

Rights watchdog to visit Turkey over rule of law

The Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, is heading to Ankara next week. The trip follows new plans by Ankara to meet EU demands for reforms in areas like anti-terror legislation.

News in Brief

  1. Belgian PM to host 11 EU leaders ahead of summit
  2. Tusk all but rules out pan-EU candidates in 2019 elections
  3. Tusk: EU budget agreed before 2019 elections 'unrealistic'
  4. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  5. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  6. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  7. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  8. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  9. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  10. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  12. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP

Latest News

  1. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  2. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  3. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  4. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  5. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  6. We are not (yet) one people
  7. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  8. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds