Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal

In many cases, European authorities confiscate the phones of refugees after they have crossed the border in order to check their identity or to identify those helping them to flee. The people concerned do not always get their devices back. This means additional stress in the asylum procedure.

The Home Office in London admitted on Thursday that the blanket confiscation of migrants‘ mobile phones is illegal. According to the British daily Independent, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s lawyer told this to the High Court. The judges are hearing a case brought by three asylum seekers from Iraq and Iran. They were arrested in 2020 after entering the country in small boats across the English Channel. In December, an appeals court ruled that this did not constitute illegal entry.

The authorities detained the devices for at least three months following an order and examined them forensically. According to the newspaper, in search of phone numbers, messages, pictures, videos, traffic data and GPS coordinates the entire memory of the devices was read out. The plaintiffs‘ lawyers believe that the practice could affect hundreds or thousands of mobile phones a year. This is contrary to data protection and the European Convention on Human Rights, the British Home Office has now confirmed. The practice of pressuring asylum seekers to hand over their PIN numbers was also unlawful, it said. „Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal“ weiterlesen