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    ISSN 1756-851X
    17 August 2018
 

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EU: All visa applicants to be profiled and children fingerprinted for revamped Visa Information System

All applicants for short-stay Schengen visas will be automatically profiled by a set of "risk indicators" and children from the age of six and up will be fingerprinted, if the European Commission's proposals for the Visa Information System (VIS) are agreed as foreseen.

EU fears its Brexit talks are being bugged by British secret agents trying to obtain sensitive files (Daily Telegraph, link):

"The European Union's Brexit negotiators fear that they are being bugged by the British secret service after the UK obtained sensitive documents "within hours" of them being presented to a meeting of EU officials last month, The Telegraph understands.

A highly placed EU source revealed the security concerns as British negotiators were set to return to Brussels on Thursday to resume Brexit talks. The two sides remain far apart on the key issues of customs arrangements and Ireland, with Latvia's foreign minister warning on Wednesday that the risk of a 'no deal' outcome was now "50-50"."

Statewatch Director, Tony Bunyan, comments: "The UK agency that is capable of obtaining secret documents is GCHQ. While one of their role is gathering military intelligence they as less open about the gathering of what they call "diplomatic" intelligence from "friendly countries" which they have been doing for decades."

G20 in Hamburg: Data protection commissioner considers face recognition illegal (link)

"The Hamburg police have been researching facial analysis software for several years, which was then used for the first time after the G20 summit. The technology accesses the nationwide INPOL file for criminal offenders maintained by the Federal Criminal Police Office. The detection rates are meagre, but the system is still to be used permanently in Hamburg for the „processing of major events“."

Spain to take in 60 of the 141 Aquarius migrants: PM Sanchez (The Local, link):

"Spain and Portugal on Tuesday offered to take in most of the 141 migrants on board the Aquarius after it was given permission to dock in Malta, resolving a new standoff over the rescue ship

Madrid said it would accept 60 people, while Portugal offered to welcome 30, with the remainder distributed between France, Germany and Luxembourg, government sources in Malta and Spain said."

EU: Keeping the public in the dark: Council working parties will keep no minutes of meetings on next EU budget

The EU is heading for major new developments with the Commission's proposals for massively increased justice and home affairs budgets for the 2021 to 2027 period, but it seems that some things never change - transparency in the Council is set to be kept at an absolute minimum.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.8.18)

Humanitarian ship seeks European port for rescued migrants (euractiv, link):

"Human rights groups called on European governments on Sunday to tell a charity ship where it can dock and let more than 140 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean disembark in safety.

The Aquarius, run by Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), rescued 141 people in two separate operations off the Libyan coast last week."

Germany seals deal with Spain to return registered asylum seekers (euractiv, link):

"Berlin and Madrid finalised an agreement on Monday (6 August) that will see asylum seekers that reach Germany via Spain returned to the Iberian nation. Interior ministers of both countries signed the declaration and it will enter into force next Saturday (11 August) after Angela Merkel and Pedro Sánchez first settled on an agreement during the June EU Council summit.

German authorities will be able to send migrants back to Spain within 48 hours and will take care of the cost of the transfer. Spain will then proceed with their asylum applications. Non-accompanied minors are excluded from the agreement and will remain in Germany."

UK-EU: Schengen data fiasco - UK responsible for "very serious deficiencies" in its use of SIS

On 1 August 2018 the Council of the European Union circulated: Commission Implementing Decision establishing the report of the 2017 evaluation of the United Kingdom on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (LIMITE doc no: 11474-118, pdf)

Council of the European Union: Radicalisation, LEA Practical Advisor and JHA Working groups

Radicalisation: High Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation - final report: Follow up and work ahead (LIMITE doc no: 10239-18, pdf): Proposal for a Practical Advisor for Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no: 6243-REV-!-18, pdf): with detailed six-column charts. List of Council preparatory bodies (Doc no: 10925-18, pdf):: Justice & Home Affairs on p12.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.8.18)

Migrants' return to Libya by Italian boat could breach international law – UN - Vessel may have broken international law by returning 108 people rescued from Mediterranean to Tripoli (Guardian, link):

"An operation in which an Italian towboat rescued more than 100 people in the Mediterranean and returned them to Libya may have been in breach of international law, the United Nations has said.

According to the Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms, the Asso 28, an oil rig support vessel, rescued 108 people from international waters on Monday and took them to Libya, their country of departure."

UK: Arrmy 'on standby' for 'no deal' Brexit disruption (PoliticsHome, link):

"The armed forces are on standby to help dole out medicines, food and fuel to vulnerable communities if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal, it has emerged.

According to the Sunday Times, that includes a plan to draft in the armed forces to assist civilian authorities, with helicopters and army trucks used to transport medicines to people in hard-to-reach locations outside the Southeast of England.

The military would also be called on in the event of disruption at Britain's ports, it is claimed."

And see: Troops could patrol borders 'as a last resort' if there is no Brexit deal: Top civil servant says using Armed Forces to check travellers cannot be ruled out (Mail Online, link)

European Parliament Study: The EU-UK relationship beyond Brexit: options for Police Cooperation and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (pdf): and UK-BREXIT: House of Commons: Home Affairs Committee: UK-EU security cooperation after Brexit: Follow-up report (pdf):

EU: Court of Justice sets out grounds on which Irish courts must consider refusing European Arrest Warrant issued by Poland

The Irish High Court referred the case to the CJEU because of its concerns that changes to the judicial system introduced by the current Polish government are "so immense" that they have "systematically damaged" the "common value of the rule of law."

The ECJ has now handed down its ruling, which sets out what the Irish courts must take into consideration if they are to refuse to surrender the wanted individual - on the same day that Amnesty International has warned that attempts to "further undermine judicial independence" in Poland "must be resolutely rejected."

EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.7.18) including:

  • New EU "disembarkation" and "controlled centre" concepts build on the hotspot model;
  • New Frontex proposals may appear in early September;
  • Spanish Supreme Court rules government must keep implementing EU relocation scheme

UK: Home Office annual report on use of "disruptive and investigatory powers" by security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies

The government has published the third iteration of its transparency report on the use of disruptive and investigatory powers.

The report sets out the way in which disruptive and investigatory powers are used by the security and intelligence agencies as well as law enforcement to tackle the threats posed by terrorism, organised crime and hostile state activity.

EU: Managing migration: Commission expands on disembarkation and controlled centre concepts - Both concepts follow the model of the "hotspots" in Italy and on the Greek islands

The European Commission has published two "Non-Papers" on disembarkation points outside the EU in north Africa and "Control Centres" inside the EU:

"Following the call by EU leaders at the June European Council, the Commission is today expanding on the concept of controlled centres as well as short-term measures that could be taken to improve the processing of migrants being disembarked in the EU, and giving a first outline of the possible way forward for the establishment of regional disembarkation arrangements with third countries. Regional disembarkation arrangements should be seen as working in concert with the development of controlled centres in the EU: together, both concepts should help ensure a truly shared regional responsibility in responding to complex migration challenges." See - Press release (pdf)

Italy to keep accepting stricken migrants during EU talks (euractiv, link):

"Italy agreed on Monday (23 July) to continue accepting migrants rescued at sea, at least until a broader EU strategy to address fair distribution of people can be defined.

Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said after talks in Berlin with German counterpart Heiko Maas that EU partners would seek a solution on migration policy within the next five weeks.

“During this time, we ensure that ships with rescued people can dock in Italy,” he told reporters, confirming the “will of our government” to hammer out “common positions with our EU and NATO partners”.

SPAIN: Government must continue implementing EU refugee relocation scheme, rules Supreme Court

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the country must continue to implement the EU's refugee relocation scheme, having relocated less than 13% of the 19,449 refugees in Italy and Greece that it was committed to under the rules that came into force in September 2015.

EU: Travel surveillance: Commission demands PNR Directive implementation by 14 Member States as 'Informal Working Group' settles in

The European Commission has sent "letters of formal notice" to 14 EU Member States for failing to to implement the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive by the deadline of 25 May 2018.

Meanwhile, an 'Informal Working Group' set up by the Council to assist with national implementation of the Directive appears to be steadily expanding - Australia, Canada and the USA have all participated in meetings and invitations have been sent to Japan and the United Nations, according to a recent document.

UK: Legal judgment finds successive foreign secretaries unlawfully gave GCHQ free rein to collect our data

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) today (23rd July 2018), held that, for a sustained period, successive Foreign Secretaries wrongly gave GCHQ unfettered discretion to collect vast quantities of personal customer information from telecommunications companies.

ITALY: President called on to uphold the constitution as government ministers violate the separation of judicial and political powers

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, of the far-right Lega Party, is determined not to let migrants rescued in the Mediterranean land in Italy and in doing so has been using the rescued people as pawns, keeping them without a port of safety for days on end.

The appeal remains open for signatures by individuals, groups and associations in Italy and abroad on change.org: FACINOROSO E' CHI, RESPINGENDO I PROFUGHI, CALPESTA LO STATO DI DIRITTO ( link)

EU-HUNGARY: At last the EU acts: Migration and Asylum: Commission takes further steps in infringement procedures against Hungary (Press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for non-compliance of its asylum and return legislation with EU law. The Commission has also today sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary concerning new Hungarian legislation which criminalises activities that support asylum and residence applications and further restricts the right to request asylum.(...)

The new legislation – so-called "Stop Soros" by the Hungarian authorities – criminalises any assistance offered by any person on behalf of national, international and non-governmental organisations to people wishing to apply for asylum or for a residence permit in Hungary. The laws also include measures which restrict individual freedoms, by preventing anyone who is subject to a criminal procedure under these laws from approaching the transit zones at Hungary's borders, where asylum seekers are held. Sanctions range from temporary confinement to imprisonment of up to 1 year and expulsion from the country." [emphasis added]

UK: British Transport Police "ignorance" of covert surveillance law leaves court "astonished"

The British Transport Police (BTP) has been condemned by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) for a covert surveillance operation directed at a former police superintendent whose subsequent arrest was then the subject of a "gratutitous" press release. He was charged with five counts of sexual assault and found innocent. The judgment highlights the "disturbing lack of familiarity with the relevant requirements of [the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act] by almost every officer who was involved."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-18.7.18) including: Europol proposals on migrant smuggling; Libyan Coast Guard left two adults and a baby to die; Austrian Presidency proposals on asylum


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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