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    ISSN 1756-851X
    22 May 2018

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EU: Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations

Frontex, the EU's border agency, has been heavily criticised for failing to provide adequate staff and resources to its own Fundamental Rights Office, a problem that "seriously hinders the Agency's ability to deliver on its fundamental rights obligations."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.5.18) including: Germany to open "mass holding centres" for asylum seekers; new EU proposals on Visa Information System and Immigration Liaison Officers

PRESS RELEASE Last Rights Project announces the agreement and signing of the Mytilini Declaration (Lesvos, Greece, link):

"On the 11 May 2018, following two days of discussions between experts from across the world, the Mytilini Declaration was agreed. We believe this is a landmark in establishing the rights of and duties toward all those who experience suffering because of the death or disappearance of their loved ones as a result of migrant journeys and we now call upon all countries and international bodies to ensure that these rights are respected and that the standards contained in the Declaration are implemented as a matter of urgency."

See: "The Mytilini Declaration for the Dignified Treatment of all Missing and Deceased Persons and their Families as a Consequence of Migrant Journeys" (pdf)

EU: Ombudsman sends Special Report to Parliament on lack of Council legislative accountability (link):

"European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has for only the second time during her mandate sent a Special Report to the European Parliament, on her inquiry to improve the accountability of the Council’s legislative work.

The Ombudsman issued a number of Recommendations to the Council of the EU in February, following a year long inquiry, including that it systematically record Member State positions both in its preparatory meetings and in COREPER (ambassador) meetings; and that it draw up clear and appropriate criteria for the classification of Council documents as the current practice severely limits their timely accessibility.

The Council however failed to respond to the Recommendations by the legal three-month deadline on 9 May, and so given its importance for the democratic legitimacy of the EU, the Ombudsman decided to call now on Parliament’s support.

“Europeans need to know what their national governments are doing in Brussels, especially when making new EU laws which affect their daily lives. Making more information public would also help discourage national ministers from ‘blaming Brussels’ for EU laws they themselves helped to shape and adopt.(...)

The Ombudsman found that the Council’s current practices constitute maladministration. In particular, she criticised the Council’s failure to record systematically the identity of Member States taking positions in preparatory bodies, and the widespread practice of restricting access to legislative documents while the decision-making process is ongoing (the so-called ‘LIMITE’ marking)."

See: Report (pdf)

EU: Immigration liaison officers network: Commission proposes EU-level coordination

The European Commission has proposed introducing EU-level coordination of the existing network of immigration liaison officers (ILOs), made up of some 500 national officials who work in non-EU countries to gather information and intelligence with the aim of "preventing and combating of illegal immigration, facilitating the return of illegal immigrants and managing legal migration."

Greece changes asylum rules to fight camp overcrowding (ekathimerini, link)

"Greece’s parliament approved legislation Tuesday that is designed to speed up the asylum process for migrants, ease the overcrowding at Greek island refugee camps and to deport more people back to Turkey."

EU: UK Select Committee on the European Union: Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations (pdf):

"The UK’s departure from the EU places a question mark over its future participation in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations. As an EU Member State, the UK has influenced the development and planning of all missions and operations, and has led the EU’s flagship antipiracy operation, EU NAVFOR Somalia (Operation Atalanta). After Brexit, the framework for the UK to participate in these missions and operations is unclear, and subject to negotiation.(...)

The Government has set out high-level aspirations for co-operation with the EU on CSDP missions and operations, including involvement in “mandate development and detailed operational planning”. The level of influence the Government seeks goes well beyond the scope of the existing model for third country participation. Prospects for changes to this model are uncertain."

BREXIT: A simple chart from the Commission emphasising "third country" status for the UK: Slide on the EU/UK Possible Framework for the Future Partnership Discussions (15 May 2018, pdf).

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-14.5.18) including: Sudan's feared secret police aid European migration policy; the rise of 'hostile environments' for migrants; new report on externalisastion of EU borders

EU: Warnings over proposed new Europol partners in Middle East and North Africa

The European Commission has proposed agreements that would let policing agency Europol exchange personal data with eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa - but the political situation and lack of data protection rules in many of them has raised the alarm amongst MEPs and human rights advocates.

Orban Vows to Transform Hungary in Push Toward Illiberalism (Bloomberg, link):

"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his new government would enact “big changes” over the next four years and he saw no need to revisit his controversial break with liberal democracy, which has roiled the ex-communist nation’s relations with the European Union.

EU: Budget proposals foresee big boost for spending on security, migration and border control

The European Commission has published proposals for the EU's budget for 2021-27, with significant increases foreseen in spending on internal security - with a proposal for a 180% boost compared to the 2014-20 period - and on migration and border management, with a 280% increase.

EU: Interoperability: latest Council text of the proposed Regulation on borders and visa

"Delegations will find hereafter the text of the proposal for the aforementioned Regulation, as revised by the Presidency, based on the outcome of discussions at DAPIX: interoperability of EU information systems on 17-18 April and 2 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments."

UK: British Government apologises to rendition victims

The British Government has today apologised to Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar for the UK’s role in their 2004 abduction, torture, and rendition to Libya.

The apology, delivered today in Parliament by the Attorney General Jeremy Wright, comes in a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to the family. It follows a mediation with the Government and a personal meeting between the Attorney General and the couple, in which they described their ordeal to him.

EU: 87 European organisations call on Hungary to withdraw proposed laws targeting groups working with migrants and refugees (pdf):

"The new Hungarian parliament which will first assemble on 8 May is set to vote on draconian and regressive legislation which could arbitrarily restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of civil society. The proposed laws would further undermine and stigmatise organisations working to defend the human rights of migrants and refugees."

GREECE: Moria 35 Update - 26 of the 35 remain detained - 7 face imminent deportation

Seven of the #Moria35 face deportation on Thursday 10 May 2018. In a process fraught with procedural violations, they have had their applications for asylum rejected. After over a year of dehumanizing treatment, from Moria Camp, to the vicious attack by the police, followed by nine months of unjust imprisonment, they now face being sent to Turkish prison, and likely deportation to the countries they fled.

EU: Interoperability: Member States want "substantial changes" to Entry/Exit System; questions over "red links" and the role of Frontex

A "non-paper" issued by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU is seeking Member States' views on a number of issues related to interoperability, including proposals from national authorities for "substantial changes" to the Entry/Exit System which "may lead to significant delay in the start of operation of the system" and "higher complexity and cost for development," but with "no guarantee that they will deliver the desired result/effect."

EU: Legal action against Italy over its coordination of Libyan Coast Guard pull-backs resulting in migrant deaths and abuse

Seventeen survivors of a fatal incident in which a boat carrying migrants found itself in distress off the coast of Libya filed an application against Italy today with the European Court of Human Rights. The applicants included the surviving parents of two children who died in the incident.

GREECE: Rescuers from Denmark and Spain cleared of human trafficking by Greek court (The Local, link):

" A Greek court on Monday cleared three Spaniards and two Danes of trying to help illegal migrants enter Greece through the island of Lesbos while taking part in Aegean rescue missions.

"The accusation has not been proven," the judge said after the trial in the Lesbos capital Mytilene."

HUNGARY: Desperate times call for new measures (Migszol, link):

"In the current situation, we find that we, unfortunately, cannot function the way we used to. We have no way of being in touch with detained asylum seekers, and even if we did, we would risk becoming targets of state-sponsored hate campaigns, also we would risk their personal safety during the asylum procedure."

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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