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    ISSN 1756-851X
    23 October 2016

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Observatory : Refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-23.10.16)

Statewatch Analysis: Civilizing the torture and execution trade (pdf) by Dr Steve Wright (Reader in Applied Global Ethics, Leeds Beckett University):

Earlier this month, the European Parliament and Commission finally agreed to outlaw the export, brokering and promotion of torture and execution equipment from Europe. Such equipment includes guillotines, hanging ropes, lethal injection drugs, multi-barbed steel ‘sting sticks’, electroshock batons and tools familiar to torturers of old, leg irons and wall cuffs to hang prisoners from walls and ceilings, thumbscrews, neck chains and other medieval paraphernalia....

Can we further civilize the security trade? I believe so, but only region by region. The 21st century has already become the epoch of the torturer. Only civil society can civilize state security practices further - as if people mattered.

UNHCR: (22.10.16): 319,826 arrivals in the Med in 2016: 168,873 in Greece, 145,982 in Italy. 3,654 dead/missing. Greek Ministry statistics: 21.10.16 number of refugees/"guests" in camps and their capacity (pdf): Greek islands: 15,378 refugees/"guests* and capacity 8,030. Voluntary" returns in 2016: 5,010 and Departures to Turkey 2016: 724.

Council of Europe: "Combating anti Gypsyism: Congress calls for better access to social rights and legislative measures"

"Strasbourg, 20 October 2016 At their 31st Session in Strasbourg, France, the memmbers of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities examined, on 20 October 2016, a report on the situation of Roma and Travellers, presented by John Warmisham (United Kingdom, SOC) and highlighting the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis, which is worsening discrimination against them and stirring anti-Gypsyism." See: Report (pdf)

EU: European Parliament Study: Turkey: How the pre-accession funds have been spent, managed, controlled and the monitoring system? (pdf): "This study follows up on the European Court of Auditors Special Report 16/2009 ‘The European Commission's management of pre-accession assistance to Turkey’. The European Commission has undertaken actions addressing the recommendations of the report but it is unclear how effective these actions have been, or are likely to be, in addressing the underlying concerns expressed in the report. In particular, understanding of the effectiveness and impact of European Union funding to Turkey is still very limited." [Emphasis added] See: European Auditors report (link)

UN: Press release: Special Rapporteur warns that situation for civil society remains ‘precarious’

“Unless there is renewed commitment from the world’s leaders, away from fear and control of their own people, and toward respecting the dignity of all, the situation will remain precarious for civil society globally,” the UN expert said.

EU: European Council offers approval for migration deals with African states

"European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to step up their efforts to curb illegal migration from African countries with the aim of replicating their success in halting inflows from Turkey over the past year..."  See: European Council conclusions on migration, 20 October 2016 (pdf) plus earlier Draft conclusions (11226/16, LIMITE, pdf)

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.10.16): including Council of Europe report on situation in Calais and Grand-Synthe camps.

UK-IRELAND: Undercover policing: fresh questions over Mark Kennedy's activities in Ireland

"GARDA CHIEFS and Scotland Yard commanders allowed British undercover policeman Mark Kennedy to spy on environmental groups in Ireland, including the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo. Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan wants Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to get some long-overdue and straight answers from her British counterpart when she meets Home Secretary Amber Rudd this month..."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.10.16): Turkey threatens to cancel refugee deal over visa row; refugees protest on Chios; plans for new Italian reception system; Greece to amend EU asylum reception law; and more.

EU: European Council meeting on 20-21 October: "maintaining and tightening control": draft conclusions focus on migration

Migration is the hot topic for the European Council meeting, and the focus is on maintaining and asserting control over the situation and pursuing further attempts to keep people out of Europe.

See: NOTE from: General Secretariat of the Council to: Delegations: European Council (20-21 October 2016) - Draft conclusions (11226/16, LIMITE, pdf)

UK: Armed drones: disquiet over government arguments on "targeted killing"

"We are disappointed that the Government’s response does not contain a full explanation of the Government’s “detailed and developed thinking on these complex issues”. We had hoped that the work we did in our inquiry, and our reasoned Report, deserved such an explanation. Rather, the Government declines to state its understanding of the law that applies to lethal drone strikes outside of armed conflict on the basis that this is “hypothetical”. We do not find this a satisfactory response."

Networks of Control: A Report on Corporate Surveillance, Digital Tracking, Big Data & Privacy

"In their report, Wolfie Christl and Sarah Spiekermann explain how a vast number of companies have started to engage in constant surveillance of the population. Without peoples’ knowledge a network of global players is constantly tracking, profiling, categorizing, rating and affecting the lives of billions – across platforms, devices and life contexts. While special interest groups have been aware of the corporate use of personal data for a while now, the full degree and scale of personal data collection, use and – in particular – abuse has not been scrutinized closely enough."

EU: Europe Wishes to Inform You that the Refugee Crisis Is Over (Foreign Policy, link):

An extensive overview of the evolution and development of the European response to the refugee crisis over the last two years. Amongst the author's interviewees is European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who considers Member States' disregard for their commitments to "relocating" refugees from Italy and Greece to be "morally wrong". Meanwhile the Dutch permanent representative to the Council of the EU is keen to note that there is "a grip on the flow" but the "worry now is slippage" - that is, people leaving the squalid camps of Greece and travelling elsewhere in the continent.

SWITZERLAND-ECHR: Unlawful surveillance by an insurance company of a road accident victim breached her right to privacy (pdf): "The Court held that... the secret surveillance ordered had interfered with Ms Vukota-Bojiæ’s private life, even though it had been carried out in public places, since the investigators had collected and stored data in a systematic way and had used it for a specific purpose. Furthermore, the surveillance had not been prescribed by law, since provisions of Swiss law on which it had been based were insufficiently precise. In particular, they had failed to regulate with clarity when and for how long surveillance could be conducted, and how data obtained by surveillance should be stored and accessed. There had therefore been a violation of Article 8."

Judgment: Case of Vukota-Bojic v. Switzerland (application number 61838/10, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.10.16)

EU: European Commission: Report back on so-called "Partnership Frameworks" with African countries - who have agree to the return and readmission of refugees or suffer "the consequences" for aid and trade deals:

- Managing migration effectively: Commission reports on progress in the implementation of the Partnership Framework with third countries (Press release, pdf)

- First Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 700-16, pdf)

- Annex 1 (pdf)
Annex 2 (pdf)
Annex 3 (pdf)

See original policy decision (7 June 2016): Communication: on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 385-16, pdf) and related documentation: New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch News Online, 7 June 2016)

EU: Commission presents REFIT evaluation of the Visa Information System (link):

"As part of the Commission's better regulation agenda, ensuring that EU legislation remains fit for purpose, the Commission has today adopted an Evaluation Report on the implementation of the Visa Information System (VIS), analysing the use of fingerprints at the EU's external borders and the use of biometrics in the visa application procedure....

The evaluation found that the VIS meets its objectives and functions well but would need to be further developed to respond to new challenges in visa, border and migration policy. VIS remains one of the most advanced systems of its kind, with close to 23 million visa applications and 18.8 million fingerprints registered by the end of March 2016."

- Report on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Visa Information System (VIS), the use of fingerprints at external borders and the use of biometrics in the visa application procedure/REFIT Evaluation (COM 655-15, pdf)

See also: Impact assessment: Staff Working Document: SWD 328-16 (pdf) and SWD 327 (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.10.16)

EU: European Commission: European Agenda on Security: First report on progress towards an effective and sustainable Security Union (Press release, pdf):

"The present report is the first of a series of monthly reports on the progress made towards an operational and effective Security Union, as requested by President Juncker in his mission letter addressed to Commissioner Julian King. The monthly reports will highlight action taken by the EU institutions and EU Agencies in the area of security and will identify where more efforts are needed. The next progress report is foreseen for November 2016." and includes:

"Work is also ongoing as regards the Commission's legislative proposal for an EU Travel and Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) to provide prior checks for visa-exempt thirdcountry nationals travelling to the Schengen area, which will be presented by November.

In addition, swift negotiations and adoption of the Commission proposal for systematic checks of EU citizens crossing the external borders by the end of 2016 and the establishment of an EU Entry-Exist System (EES) are necessary to enhance security at the external EU borders."

and see: First progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 670-16, pdf)

The proposal for a EU Travel and Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) to provide prior checks for visa-exempt thirdcountry nationals travelling to the Schengen area present a major problem for relations with the USA .(See below)

EU-USA visa row on the cards: Many visa-free entrants "stay within the territory of the Schengen area for several years continuously."

The long-standing EU-USA row over the US visa-free entry to the EU is soon to come to a head. Last week we reported on the EU-USA JHA Senior Officials meeting 8-9 September 2016 where the EU proposal to "impose temporary visa requirement for US nationals" went down like a lead balloon. At the same time the EU has been trying for years to get the USA to give visa-free entry to five EU Member States. Now changes to visa-free entry are planned as part of the Entry Exit System.

See: Proposals for planned Regulations on the Entry-Exit System and Touring Visa: Duration of short-stay in the Schengen area - Extension of that duration under bilateral agreements concluded by Member States with third countries - Draft regulations on Entry/Exit system and Touring visa (LIMITE doc no: 12114-16, pdf)

UK spy agencies 'broke privacy rules' says tribunal (BBC News, link):

"UK spy agencies broke privacy rules by collecting large amounts of UK citizens' data without adequate oversight, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled. Complaints about data collection by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 were put forward by campaign group Privacy International. The ruling said that some of the bulk collection did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. But it added that proper statutory supervision was put in place last year. It was a "highly significant judgement", Privacy International said"

See also: UK security agencies unlawfully collected data for decade, court rules - Investigatory powers tribunal says secret collection of citizens’ personal data breached human rights law (Guardian, link)

And: Full text of IPT Judgment (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-16.10.16)

Greece: East Aegean islands: Ministry figures show that that 07.30 on 14 October 2016 there were:

- 15,318 "Guests" and only capacity for
-   8,008 in "reception"/detention centres - includes 89 refugees who arrived early that morning

Seven migrants killed when their boat, reportedly fleeing, collides with Greek coast guard vessel (Japan Times, link)

"LESBOS, GREECE – A wooden boat carrying dozens of migrants from Turkey to Europe sank Thursday near the island of Lesbos after colliding with a Greek coast guard vessel, leaving at least seven people dead, including four children, rescuers said.

The boat sank within minutes of the crash with a 30-meter (100-foot) patrol vessel on Thursday morning, in circumstances that were being investigated. The first bodies to be retrieved were those of a woman, two young girls and a baby, the coast guard said.

Three other victims, “a woman, a man and a minor,” were found later, the coast guard said as Greek rescuers backed by a Portuguese ship and an EU border agency Frontex helicopter combed the waters for the missing.

The 31 survivors who were brought to safety had reported a total of eight people missing. An AFP photographer who witnessed the crash from the shores of Lesbos said the boat went down just two or three minutes after the collision, which took place some 2 km (1.2 miles) from land."

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill is about to become law – here's why that should terrify us (Open Democracy, link): "The evidence that these powers are all needed is thin indeed. And the cost to all of our privacy is huge." The IP BIll as at 12-9-16 (pdf): The Bill is now before the House of Lords.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.10.16)

UPDATED: EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 13-14 October 2016, Luxembourg: Final: Press Release: 13 and 14 October 2016 (pdf)

"B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points Agenda - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A"Points non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) See: Background Note (pdf).

After the publication of: Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link) and full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) 42 Members of the European Parliament wrote to Frontex: Letter to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex concerning "Shoot First" policy (pdf).

The Director of Frontex has now responded to the MEPs' Letter: Response to Letter from MEPs on: Recurrent use of weapons by coast guards within Frontex operations (pdf):

Frontex Executive Director, Fabrice Leggeri replies that in; "half of the incidents reported, the weapons were shot into the air, with no possible harm to anyone and thus in full respect of the principles of necessity and proportionality."

He seems to be unaware of how frightening it is for shot to be fired "in the air" or towards a boat of refugees. In the remaining cases (that is half): "shots were fired upon attempts by facilitators to violently ram the patrol vessel.. officers are entitled to the right of self-defence."

When it comes down to specific cases they come under each EU Member States's law - Frontex is not responsible.

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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