Join statewatch e-mail list   
SEARCH Statewatch database   
    ISSN 1756-851X
    20 March 2018

Statewatch: News home page

News Online - current lead stories
Top 20 stories - See: Statewatch News or: What's New (all new items) and: Refugee crisis: Observatory
Follow us: | | Tweet

Support our work: Become a "Friend of Statewatch"
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-19.3.18) including: Lampedusa hotspot closed and: Irregular migration to Spain: a state of exception

UK: Anti-deportation activists face trial under terrorism-related charges

"On Monday a group of fifteen people will appear in court in Chelmsford, charged with terrorism offences. Their crime? Blocking the take-off of a plane deporting people from Britain against their will. The maximum sentence? Life in prison."

ITALY: Boat of Mediterranean rescue NGO impounded in Sicily in "promotion of illegal migration" investigation

The prosecutor of Catania (Sicily) ordered on Sunday 18 March the impounding of the boat of Spanish NGO Proactive Open Arms as part of an investigation into the potential "promotion of illegal migration" by the organisation, which late last week refused to follow the orders of the Libyan Coast Guard during a rescue operation.

SWITZERLAND-ECHR: Refusal by the Swiss courts to examine a compensation claim relating to alleged acts of torture in Tunisia: no violation

In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Nait-Liman v. Switzerland (application no. 51357/07) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority (fifteen votes to two), that there had been: no violation of Article 6 § 1 (right of access to a court) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Statewatch Analysis: Irregular migration to Spain: a state of exception (pdf) by Chris Jones

"In late 2017, a prison-to-be was converted into a detention centre by Spain’s interior ministry, and used to hold some 500 Algerian nationals travelling to the country by dinghy. One of them subsequently died, isolated in his cell. The majority of detainees have now been deported, and an official investigation into the death remains open, despite a preliminary verdict of suicide. The penitentiary centre, meanwhile, has now officially opened as a prison, but the episode highlights how the treatment of such situations as ‘emergencies’ – despite the fact that they have been ongoing for decades – leads to numerous and serious human rights violations."

UK: BREXIT: IRELAND: House of Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland report: The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland (pdf):

"The Committee has heard numerous proposals for how the UK and the EU could ensure customs compliance without physical infrastructure at the border. This is currently the case for enforcement in relation to fuel, alcohol and tobacco. These proposals address the question of compliance through mobile patrols, risk analysis, data-sharing and enforcement measures away from the border. However, we have had no visibility of any technical solutions, anywhere in the world, beyond the aspirational, that would remove the need for physical infrastructure at the border." [para 82]

EU: Court of Auditors: Special report 07/2018: EU pre-accession assistance to Turkey: Only limited results so far (link):

"mainly due to a lack of political will and because the Commission has made little use of conditions, EU assistance has insufficiently addressed some fundamental needs and the sustainability of results is often at risk. We therefore consider the effectiveness of the funding to be only limited and make a number of recommendations for improvements, including better targeting of funds and increased conditionality."

See: CoA: Report (pdf)

Shadow of British undercover police officer hangs over French "anarchist cell" trial

The role of exposed British undercover police officer Mark Kennedy has been raised in court proceedings in France, where eight members of an alleged "anarchist cell" are on trial charged with sabotaging high-speed railway lines in 2008 in what is known as the Tarnac affair.

Spain's free speech problems laid bare in ECHR ruling and new Amnesty report

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday 13 March that Spain violated the freedom of expression of two men who were convicted of "incitement to hatred and violence against the king and the monarchy" after burning photographs of the king during a demonstration in Girona in September 2007.

On the same day, Amnesty International published a new report highlighting numerous cases in which Spain's anti-terrorism laws have been used to target "social media users, journalists, lawyers and musicians", breaching the country's human rights obligations and leading to "increasing self-censorship and a broader chilling effect on freedom of expression in Spain."

EAW: POLAND-IRELAND: High Court judge wants ruling over 'immense' law changes in Poland (RTE, link):

"A High Court judge has asked the European courts for a ruling on the effect of recent legislative changes in Poland because they are "so immense" the High Court has been forced to conclude that "the common value of the rule of law" has been "systematically damaged" and "democracy in Poland" has been breached."

See: Full-text of ruling (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 March 2018

UPDATE 11.3.18: - Final press release (pdf) - B Points Agenda (discussed, pdf) - A Points Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs agencies' counter-terrorism roles continue to expand

Two papers recently circulated to the Member States by the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator set out the EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies' current roles in implementing counter-terrorism policy and raise a number of suggestions for how things could develop in the future.

UK-NORTHERN IRELAND: How many murders can a police informer get away with? (The Guardian, link):

"As the judge wound up, it was clear that most of these 500 crimes had been committed within a few miles of the semi-detached house on the Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast where [Gary] Haggarty, a 46-year-old former tyre fitter, lived with his wife and son.

ENGLAND: House of Commons paper examines antisocial behaviour powers and the criminalisation of homelessness

"This briefing paper discusses the use of anti-social behaviour powers to ban activities often associated with rough sleeping, and concerns that an increase in the use of these powers is criminalising homelessness and is not addressing the root cause of the problem."

EU: New report: The Globalisation of Countering Violent Extremism Policies: Undermining human rights, instrumentalising civil society

The globalisation of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policies is the most significant development in counterterrorism policy in the last decade. What began as a rhetorical commitment from a handful of agencies has developed into a plethora of policies, deployed from Finland to the Philippines.

GREECE: Individual testimonies highlight "systematic pushbacks" of refugees in the Evros region

The Greek Council of Refugees' latest report documents pushbacks of refugees at the Greek border in the Evros region, which the organisation says violate "basic international obligations of Greece, and more specifically the principle of non-refoulement, the right of access to asylum and constitute inhuman or degrading treatment as well as exposure to threat to life or torture according to Article 3 of the ECHR."

Statewatch Briefing: The interoperability of Justice and Home Affairs databases (pdf) by Tony Bunyan:

The Commission’s proposal for interoperable centralised EU databases is justified on the threat posed to internal security by migration and terrorism. This conflation of threats has strong racist undertones based on fear of the “other”.

Building on the above the message is that as the plans only affect 218 million non-EU citizens, so there is no reason for EU citizens to be concerned as it will not affect them. The assumption that EU citizens are not concerned with the rights and freedoms of non-EU citizens is insulting.

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 March 2018

IIncludes: Interoperability between EU information systems: a) Interoperability Regulation (borders and visa) b) Interoperability Regulation (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) = Policy debate (EU doc no: 6396-18, pdf): Includes some new plans:

- systematic recording of border crossings of all EU citizens (...)
- centralised mechanism for advance passenger information (API), including the need for a centralised router, as well as its possible use for passenger name records (PNR)."
[emphasis added]

and should biometric datafrom national database (avaliable through the PRUM system be included on the planned Biometric Matching Service (BMS)?

Also under discussion is: Migration - overview of implementation and way forward (LIMITE doc no: 6283-REV-1-18, pdf).

EU: Asylum Procedures Regulation: Documentation

The new Asylum Procedures Regulation is now being discussed by the co-legislators - the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. To aid public discussions on the issues involved we publish here the key documents in historical order

EU: Fingerprint identification searches now possible in Schengen Information System

After a little less than two years of intense efforts, the eu-LISA Internal Security Systems Sector successfully launched the first phase of the SIS II AFIS platform. The platform enables the identification of a person from his/her fingerprints alone. The introduction of a biometric search capability in SIS II was achieved by eu-LISA in tight cooperation with ten Member States who showed both interest and willingness to use biometric queries once deployed at the Central System level. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia will soon be followed by more Member States.

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

The Statewatch website

In 2017 the Statewatch website had: 1,341,194 users sessions and 20,264,295 hits
- 111,766 users sessions a month and 1,688,691 "hits" a month.

Join Statewatch regular e-mail list for new stories: Join Statewatch news e-mail list

The Statewatch database now holds more than 34,000 records (news, features, analyses and documentation).

If you use this site regularly, you are encouraged to make a donation to Statewatch to support future research.

Statewatch is a non-profitmaking voluntary group founded in 1991, see: About Statewatch

Contributions to News Online are welcomed, please get in touch.

The Statewatch website is hosted by the Phone Co-op:

Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

Statewatch is registered under the Data Protection Act. Information supplied will be not be passed to third parties. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: 10 Queen Street Place, London EC4R 1BE.

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.