Joint statement: The EU AI Act must protect people on the move

PI joined 192 organisations in signing an open letter calling on the EU to ensure the upcoming AI Act prevents harms from the use of AI in migration control.

Key advocacy points

The EU AI Act must be updated in four main ways to address AI-related harms in the migration context:

  • Prohibit unacceptable uses of AI systems in the context of migration
  • Expand the list of high-risk systems used in migration
  • Ensure the AI Act applies to all high-risk systems in migration, including those in use as part of EU IT systems
  • Ensure transparency and oversight measures apply

The European Union Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) will regulate the development and use of ‘high-risk’ AI, and aims to promote the uptake of ‘trustworthy AI’ whilst protecting the rights of people affected by AI systems.
However, in its original proposal, the EU AI Act does not adequately address and prevent the harms stemming from the use of AI in the migration context. Whilst states and institutions often promote AI in terms of benefits for wider society, for marginalised communities, and people on the move (namely migrants, asylum seekers and refugees), AI technologies fit into wider systems of over-surveillance, criminalisation, structural discrimination and violence.
It is critical that the EU AI Act protects all people from harmful uses of AI systems, regardless of their migration status. We, the undersigned organisations and individuals, call on the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and EU Member States to ensure the EU Artificial Intelligence Act protects the rights of all people, including people on the move. We recommend the following amendments to the AI act:

1. Prohibit unacceptable uses of AI systems in the context of migration

Some AI systems pose an ‘unacceptable risk’ to our fundamental rights, which will never be fixed by technical means or procedural safeguards. Whilst the proposed AI Act prohibits some uses of AI, it does not prevent some of the most harmful uses of AI in migration and border control, despite the potential for irreversible harm.
The AI Act must be amended to include the following as ‘prohibited practices’:

  • Predictive analytic systems when used to interdict, curtail and prevent migration. These systems generate predictions as to where there is a risk of “irregular migration” and are potentially used to facilitate preventative responses to forbid or halt movement, often carried out by third countries enlisted as gatekeepers of Europe’s borders. These systems risk being used for punitive and abusive border control policies that prevent people from seeking asylum, expose them to a risk of refoulement, violate their rights to free movement and present risks to the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.
  • Automated risk assessments and profiling systems. These systems involve the use of AI to assess whether people on the move present a ‘risk’ of unlawful activity or security threats. Such systems are inherently discriminatory, pre-judging people on the basis of factors outside of their control, or on discriminatory inferences based on their personal characteristics. Such practices therefore violate the right to equality and non-discrimination, the presumption of innocence and human dignity. They can also lead to unfair infringements on the rights to work, liberty (through unlawful detention), a fair trial, social protection, or health.
  • Emotion recognition and biometric categorisation systems. Systems such as AI ‘lie-detectors’ are pseudo-scientific technology claiming to infer emotions on the basis of biometric data, while behavioral analytics are used to detect ‘suspicious’ individuals on the basis of the way they look. Their use reinforces a process of racialised suspicion towards people on the move, and can automate discriminatory assumptions.
  • Remote Biometric Identification (RBI) at the borders and in and around detention facilities. A ban on remote biometric identification (such as the use of facial recognition) is required to prevent the dystopian scenario in which technologies are used to scan border areas as deterrence and part of a wider interdiction regime, preventing people from seeking asylum and undermining Member States’ obligations under international law, in particular upholding the right to non-refoulement.

2. Expand the list of high-risk systems used in migration

While the proposal already lists in Annex III the uses of ‘high-risk’ AI systems in migration and border control, it fails to capture all AI-based systems that affect people’s rights and that should be subject to oversight and transparency measures.
To ensure all AI systems used in migration are regulated, Annex III must be amended to include the following as ‘high-risk’:

  • Biometric identification systems. Biometric identification systems (such as mobile fingerprint scanners) are increasingly used to perform identity checks, both at and within EU borders. These systems facilitate and increase the unlawful and harmful practice of racial profiling, with race, ethnicity or skin colour serving as a proxy for an individual’s migration status. Due to the severe risks of discrimination that come with the use of these systems, lawmakers must ensure the EU AI Act regulates their use.
  • AI systems for border monitoring and surveillance. In the absence of safe and regular pathways to the EU territory, people will cross European borders via irregular means. Authorities increasingly use AI systems for generalised and indiscriminate surveillance at borders, such as scanning drones or thermal cameras. The use of these technologies can exacerbate violence at the borders and facilitate collective expulsions or illegal pushbacks. Given the elevated risks and broader structural injustices, lawmakers should include all AI systems used for border surveillance within the scope of the AI Act.
  • Predictive analytic systems used in migration, asylum and border control. Systems used to generate predictions as to migration flows may have vast consequences for fundamental rights and access to international protection procedures. Often these systems influence how resources are assessed and allocated in the migration control and international protection contexts. Incorrect assessments about migration trends and reception needs will have significant consequences for the preparedness of Member States, but also for the likelihood that individuals can access international protection and numerous other fundamental rights. As such predictive systems should be considered as ‘high-risk’ when deployed in the context of migration.

3. Ensure the AI Act applies to all high-risk systems in migration, including those in use as part of EU IT systems

Article 83 of the AI Act lays out the rules for AI systems already on the market, at the time of the legislation’s entry into force. Article 83 includes a carve-out for AI systems that form part of the EU’s large-scale IT systems used in migration, such as Eurodac, the Schengen Information System, and ETIAS. All of these large-scale IT systems - which foresee a capacity of over 300 million records – involve the automated processing of personal and sensitive data, automated risk assessment systems or the use of technology for biometric identification. For example, the EU plans to subject all visa and ‘travel authorisation’ applicants to automated risk profiling technologies in the next few years. Further, EU institutions are currently considering an update to Eurodac to include the processing of facial images in databases of asylum applicants.
The exclusion of these databases would mean the safeguards in the EU AI Act do not apply. This blanket exemption will only serve to decrease accountability, transparency and oversight of AI systems used in EU migration control, and lessen protection for people impacted by AI systems as part of EU large-scale EU IT systems. Due to the exemption from regulatory scrutiny of these systems, the EU AI Act would lead to a double-standard when it comes to protecting fundamental rights of persons, depending on their migration status.
The EU AI Act should be amended to ensure that Art. 83 applies the same compliance rules for all high-risk systems and protects the fundamental rights of every person, regardless of their migration status.

4. Ensure transparency and oversight measures apply

People affected by high-risk AI systems need to be able to understand, challenge, and seek remedies when those systems violate their rights. In the context of migration, this requirement is both urgent and necessary given the overwhelming imbalance of power between those deploying AI systems and those subject to them.
The EU AI Act must prevent harm from AI systems used in migration and border control, guarantee public transparency, and empower people to seek justice. The EU AI Act must be amended to:

  • Include the obligation on users of high-risk AI systems to conduct and publish a fundamental rights impact assessment (FRIA) before deploying any high-risk AI system, as well as during its lifecycle.
  • Ensure a requirement for authorities to register the use of high-risk - and all public - uses of AI for migration, asylum and border management in the EU database. Public transparency is essential for effective oversight, particularly in the high risk areas of migration where a number of fundamental rights are at stake. It is crucial that the AI Act does not allow carve-outs for transparency measures in law enforcement and migration.
  • Include rights and redress mechanisms to enable people and groups to understand, seek explanation, complain and achieve remedies when AI systems violate their rights. The AI act must provide effective avenues for affected people, or public interest organisations on their behalf, to challenge AI systems within its scope if they are non-compliant or violate fundamental rights.

Signed by:
Access Now, International
Albanian Media Council, Albania
AlgoRace, Spain
Algorights, Spain
AlgorithmWatch, Germany
All Faiths And None, United Kingdom
Àltera APS, Italy
Alternatif Bilisim (Alternative Informatics Association), Turkey
Amnesty International, International
ARCI, Italy
Are You Syrious, European
ARSIS Asociation for the Social Support of Youth, Greece
Asociación Nacional Presencia Gitana, Spain
Asociación Por Ti Mujer, Spain
Aspiration, USA/International
Association for Integration and Migration, Czech Republic
Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), Italy
ASTI Luxembourg – Association de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés, Luxembourg
AsyLex, Switzerland
Avaaz, International
Baladre, Spain
Bits of Freedom, Netherlands
Blindspots, Germany
Border Criminologies, United Kingdom
Border Violence Monitoring Network, Europe
Bürgerrechte & Polizei/ CILIP, Germany
C.N.C.A. Coordinamento nazionale comunità accoglienti, Italy
Catalina Quiroz-Niño, Spain
CEDA – Center for Muslim Rights in Denmark, Denmark
Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP), International
Center for Muslim Rights in Denmark (CEDA), Denmark
Centre for Democracy & Technology, International
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Nigeria
Centre for Peace Studies, Croatia
Civil Liberties Union for Europe, European
CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium
Collective Aid, Bosnia Herzegovina
Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR), Spain
Comisión Legal Sol, Spain
Comitato per i Diritti Civili delle Prostitute APS, Italy
Comite de Apoyo a las Trabajadoras del sexo CATS, Spain
Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, South Africa
Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium
Czech Helsinki Committee, Czech Republic
D64 – Zentrum für Digitalen Fortschritt e. V., Germany
Derechos Digitales, Latin America
Digital Society, Switzerland
Digitalcourage, Germany
Diotima – Centre for gender rights & equality, Greece
Državljan D / Citizen D, Slovenia
Electronic Frontier Finland, Finland/European
Elektronisk Forpost Norge (EFN), Norway
Equipo del Decenio Afrodescendiente, Spain
Erletxe, Spain
Estonian Human Rights Centre, Estonia
EuroMed Rights, Regional (Europe/Middle East/North Africa)
European Anti poverty Network, European
European Center for Human Rights, European
European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), Europe
European Civic Forum, European
European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), European
European Digital Rights (EDRi), European
European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), European
European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, Denmark
European Network Against Racism (ENAR), European
European Network for the Promotion of Rights and Health among Migrant Sex Workers (TAMPEP), Netherlands
European Network On Religion and Belief (ENORB), European
European Network on Statelessness, European
European Race and Imagery Foundation, Netherlands/Switzerland/Germany
European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA), Europe/Central Asia
Fair Trials, International
FAIRWORK Belgium, Belgium
Fem-R, Finland
Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research, Athens, Greece
Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity, Greece
Glitch, United Kingdom
Global Data Justice project (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society), Netherlands
Greek Forum of Migrants, Greece
Hacklab-ferro, Spain
Haringey Welcome, United Kingdom
Health Action International, Netherlands
Hermes Center, Italy
Homo Digitalis, Greece
HumanRights360, Greece
I Have Rights, Greece
In-Exile and Refugees Solidarity movement, International
Institute Circle, Slovenia
Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), UK / Germany / International
International Detention Coalition, International
International Federation For Human Rights (FIDH), International
International Federation of ACAT (FIACAT), France
International Women* Space Berlin, Germany/European
IRIDIA Cener of Defense of Human Rights, Spain
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Ireland
IT-Pol, Denmark
Iuridicum Remedium, Czech Republic
Ivorian Community of Greece, Greece
Kif Kif vzw, Belgium
KISA – Equality, Support, Antiracism, Cyprus
Koapanang Africa Against Xenophobia {KAAX], South Africa/International
KOK – German NGO Network against Trafficking in Human Beings, Germany
La Strada International, Netherlands, Spain
Lassane Ouedraogo – Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland, Ireland
Lawyers for Human RIghts, South Africa/International
Legal Centre Lesvos, Greece
Ligue Des Droits De L’Homme, France
Ligue des Droits Humains, Belgium
Migrant Tales, Finland
Migrant Women Association Malta, Malta
Migrants Organise, United Kingdom, Germany/International
Migreurop, France
Mobile Info Team, Greece
Moje Państwo Foundation, Poland
Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Ireland
NGO Legis, Republic of North Macedonia
Novact, Spain
Open Rights Group, United Kingdom
Open Society Foundations, International
Panoptykon Foundation, Poland
Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), International
Politiscope, Croatia
Privacy International, International
Privacy Network, Italy
Prostitution Information Center (PIC), Netherlands
R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, Mexico
Racism and Technology Center, Netherlands
Red de Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe, Spain
R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales
Red Española De Inmigración Y Ayuda Al Refugiado, Spain
Red Umbrella Athens, Greece
Red Umbrella Sweden, Sweden
Refugee Law Lab, York University, International
Refugee Legal Support (RLS), Greece/United Kingdom/France
Refugees International, United States
Revibra Europe, European
Salud por Derecho, Spain
Samos Volunteers, Greece
Sea-Watch, Germany/European
Sekswerkexpertise, Dutch Platform for the advancement of sex workers rights, Netherlands
Sex Workers’ Empowerment Network, Greece
SHARE Foundation, Serbia/South East Europe
SOS Malta, Malta
SOS Racismo Gipuzkoa, Spain
STAR-STAR Skopje, North Macedonia
Statewatch, European
Stichting LOS, Netherlands
Still I Rise, International
StraLi for Strategic Litigation , Italy
Subjective Values Foundation, Hungary
SUPERRR Lab, Germany
SW Digitaal, Netherlands
Symbiosis – School of Political Studies in Greece, Greece
Tamkeen for Legal aid and Human Rights, Jordan
Taraaz, International
The App Drivers and Couriers Union, United Kingdom
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, United Kingdom
Today is a New Day, Institute for Other Studies, Slovenia
Trans United Europe/BPOC Trans network, Netherlands
Utrecht University, Digital Migration Special Interest Group, Netherlands
Waterford Integration Services, Ireland
Yoga and Sport With Refugees , Greece


Angela Daly, Professor of Law & Technology, Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, Dundee Law School and International Research Fellow, Information Society Law Center, University of Milan, Italy
Asli Telli, Research Associate at WISER, The Social and Economic Research Institute at Wits University
Chiara De Capitani, PhD researcher in International Law at the Università di Napoli L’Orientale
Claudia Aradau, Professor of International Politics, Department of War Studies and Principal Investigator of the ERC Consolidator Grant Security Flows, King’s College London
Cristina Del Biaggio
Douwe Korff, Emeritus Professor of International Law, London Metropolitan University and Associate, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford
Dr Arjumand Bano Kazmi
Dr Derya Ozkul, Senior Research Fellow, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
Dr Grace S. Thomson
Dr Koen Leurs, Associate Professor , Department of Media and Culture, Utrecht University
Dr Niovi Vavoula, Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Migration and Security at Queen Mary University of London
Dr Philipp Seuferling, LSE Fellow, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science
Dr Sarah Perret, Research Associate, Department of War Studies, King’s College London
Dr. Jan Tobias Muehlberg imec-DistriNet, KU Leuven, Belgium
Edward Hasbrouck
Elisa Elhadj, PhD Candidate KU Leuven & Research Fellow at the Center for AI and Digital Policy
Francesca Meloni, Lecturer in Social Justice at the School of Education, Communication & Society, King’s College London
Judith Membrives i Llorens, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Luis H. Porras, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Marc Bria Rmírez, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Mary Gitahi, RLO study Uganda Lead Researcher, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
Mirjam Twigt, Postdoctoral Fellow IKRS, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo!
Nabila Hamza
Prof. Markus Krebsz, The Human-AI.Institute
Senior Research Associate’ in the Department of Anthropology & Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg
Theodora Christou, Queen Mary University of London
Trivik Verma, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management in Delft University of Technology
Victoria Canning, Associate Professor of Criminology, University of Bristol
Yassine Boubout