Are Immigrants Entitled to Access Their Own Confidential Information?

A comprehensive study has been conducted on how European Union member states regulate immigrants’ rights to access confidential information related to themselves and to what extent national frameworks are consistent with European standards. In Estonia, the procedures and court practices were analyzed for the study by Uljana Ponomarjova, EHRC’s attorney.

“National security considerations play a key role in immigration-related procedures,” explains Uljana Ponomarjova. “A foreign citizen posing a threat is not granted the right to enter or reside in Estonia or any other EU member state. It is also possible to deny, for example, international protection if the applicant poses a threat to national security.”

Sometimes the threat is assessed based on classified data, which the applicant can access only in exceptional cases and to a certain extent. The European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights have established certain minimal guarantees regarding the right to effective legal protection in cases related to national security. Despite this, the domestic practices of EU member states vary and often do not align with court practices.

The recently completed comparative study maps how the right of applicants to know and access classified information collected about themselves is regulated in EU member states, and how national frameworks conform to European standards. The study also analyzes the conformity of the laws and practices of EU member states with the standards of ECHR and European Court jurisprudence when national security considerations are highlighted in cases involving immigrants, as well as the scope and effectiveness of legal protection against such administrative decisions.

The study was prepared by Katalin Juhász, a lawyer with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, under the project “Right to Know 2” funded by the European Integration and Migration Program. The document, resulting from international cooperation, is based on national studies conducted by local experts. From Estonia, Uljana Ponomarjova, a human rights center refugee law attorney, contributed to the study’s completion. The study covers all European Union member states, except Denmark and Italy.


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