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    ISSN 1756-851X
    16 January 2019

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EU: Bulgaria and Hungary are undermining the rule of law with "European supervision"

According to analyses published earlier this month by the website Verfassungsblog, the Bulgarian and Hungarian governments are undermining the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary whilst obtaining nominal approval for their actions from institutions such as the European Commission, the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe's Venice Commission (formally known as the European Commission for Democracy through Law).

PSNI agrees to publish policy on biometric data retention in court case settlement (Irish Legal News, link):

"The PSNI will publish a formal public policy on its retention of biometric data after settling a case brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC).

The NIHRC issued judicial review proceedings against the PSNI in December 2017 on behalf of an individual who wanted them to erase fingerprints and DNA retained after the individual was arrested in 2009."

Irish passport card holders to be fingerprinted under new EU rules

New EU rules on national identity cards and travel documents will "compel Ireland to introduce fingerprinting" of all holders of the Irish passport card, according to a document circulated by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU (pdf).

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.1.19) including:

  • Sea Watch and Sea Eye allowed to disembark in Malta
  • Man dies in Moria camp on Lesvos, Greece and Oxfam condemns conditions
  • Italian mayors oppose Salvini's migration decree
  • UN report on conditions faced by migrants and refugees in Libya

UPDATED: Statewatch Observatory: Creation of a centralised Justice & Home Affairs database The Observatory has been updated with new documents.

EU: New Schengen Information System rules in force: deportation decisions to be included, new types of police check permitted

At the end of December three new Regulations governing the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), the EU's largest database and information system for law enforcement and migration purposes, came into force.

UN report: Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya (pdf)

Northern Ireland's hidden borders (Verso, link):

"This [racial profiling at the borders between the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and mainland UK] is likely to become worse after Brexit, for a larger number of people, whatever solution is reached about the border... Operation Gull targets communities of colour, violates the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, and has no place Ireland. It’s time for Gull to go."

Europol to coordinate hacking authorities in Member States (link):

"European police should access computers and telephones with Trojan programs. Europol is now building up a "decryption platform“ in The Hague.

The European Union wants to support the Member States in intercepting telecommunications. Investigators should be able to penetrate private computers or mobile phones to install software to read encrypted messages. This was confirmed by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (MOI) in response to a question by a Left Party Member of Parliament. The focus is on the police agency Europol, which has been commissioned to set up a „decryption platform“.

See also: Statewatch Analysis: EU agrees rules for remote computer access by police forces (pdf)

Unravelling the concept of unconscious bias (IRR News, link):

"To mark the anniversary of the death of A. Sivanandan, the IRR examines how useful his ideas are for unravelling the recent turn in the UK to the concept of unconscious bias. effectively exonerates governments, institutions, organisations, even individuals, for it is unconscious, inevitable. But it can be remedied – through retraining and therapy for the individual. Unconscious bias (UB) is the child of neoliberalism."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-12.18-2-1-19) including:

UNHCR (31.12.18): 112,852 refugees arrived in the EU by sea and 6,782 by land
When governments turn against volunteers - the case of AYS
"Its an Act of Murder: How Europe Out sources Suffering as Migrants Drown

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement: Overview and First Observations (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"The recently agreed Brexit withdrawal agreement may turn out to be dead on arrival, or at some point not long after. Nevertheless, if the agreement is ratified, it is the basis on which the UK would leave the EU – unless the two sides agree to amendments to the text.

Since the agreement is both complex and legalistic, but also the subject of intense political debate, there’s a need for a summary and explanation of the text for non-lawyers. This blog post aims to do that by outlining the structure of the agreement and the main content of each part of it in turn. It does not aim to be exhaustive, but only to give a broad indication of what the agreement entails."

UK police are testing facial recognition on Christmas shoppers in London this week - Pick up some last minute presents and have your face scanned by algorithms (The Verge, link):

"Facial recognition technology continues to be trialled by police forces in the UK despite warnings of high error rates. In the latest test, the technology is being used to scan the faces of Christmas shoppers in London, with police hoping to spot wanted criminals."

Live Facial Recognition trial (Met Police, link) and see: Live Facial Recognition, (LFR) MPS Legal Mandate (pdf) and Metropolitan Police Service Privacy Impact Assessment (pdf)

GREECE: Suspended sentence for Spanish activist is "decisive" for decriminalising solidarity with migrants and refugees

The lawyer for a Spanish trade unionist given a suspended sentence of 17 months' imprisonment for trying to help a Kurdish refugee leave Greece has said the ruling is a "positive step" and "decisive to decriminalise solidarity" with migrants and refugees.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-17.12.18) including:

  • EU: Asylum: reducing rights by stealth
  • First footage of push-backs on the Croatian-Bosnian border
  • Investigations and prosecutions for crimes of solidarity escalate in 2018

EU: Future EU security budgets: working documents shed light on Member State concerns and priorities

From 2021 onwards, the EU will have a number of multi-billion euro budgets for internal security, border security and asylum and migration policy at its disposal. These budgets will likely be larger than any previous funds in these areas, but there has been little transparency over the discussions on the proposals in the Council. The documents provided here, obtained by Statewatch through an access to documents request to the Council, shed some light on different Member States' priorities.

MOROCCO: Statement issued by the People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees

"The People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees... announce our proposal to agree upon an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity of Action for the Full Rights of All Migrants and Refugees, women and men, based on the following considerations..."

POLAND: COP 24: Climate group: 14 activists banned by conference host Poland (MSN, link):

"KATOWICE, Poland — An environmental group said Monday that at least 14 foreigners have been detained or deported by Poland's Border Guard since last week's start of the United Nations climate conference in the south of the country."

EU: Three UN Special Rapporteurs raise concerns over proposed Regulation on online terrorist content (pdf):

"...we raise these matters of general concern. In particular, we wish to express our views regarding the overly broad definition of terrorist content in the Proposal that may encompass legitimate expression protected under international human rights law."

Talk by Aidan White (President of the Ethical Journalism Network) at the launch of Statewatch's Library & Archive on the value of preserving written history

At the launch of Statewatch's Library & Archive on Thursday 22 November 2018 Aidan emphasised the importance of preserving history in its original written form - which cannot be digitally manipulated into fake news and views. And to ensure accountability so that past struggles can inform the present and the future. For as Orwell wrote in 1984:

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Top reports

See: Resources for researchers: Statewatch Analyses: 1999-ongoing

SECILE Project:

Borderline: The EU's New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the "Smart Borders" Proposals (pdf) A study by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Written by Dr. Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen: "Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values - under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane."

How the EU works and justice and home affairs decision-making (pdf)

Statewatch's 20th Anniversary Conference, June 2011: Statewatch conference speeches

TNI/Statewatch: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf) by Ben Hayes

Statewatch publication: Guide to EU decision-making and justice and home affairs after the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, with additional material by Tony Bunyan

Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes

The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) by Tony Bunyan

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