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    27 September 2016
 

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Observatory : Refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU


 Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.9.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: Encryption of data - Questionnaire (LIMITE doc no: 12368-16, pdf):

"Over lunch during the informal meeting of the Justice Ministers (Bratislava, 8 July 2016) the issue of encryption was discussed in the context of the fight against crime. Apart from an exchange on the national approaches, and the possible benefits of an EU or even global approach, the challenges which encryption poses to criminal proceedings were also debated. The Member States' positions varied mostly between those which have recently suffered terrorist attacks and those which have not. In general, the existence of problems stemming from data/device encryption was recognised as well as the need for further discussion.

To prepare the follow-up in line with the Justice Ministers' discussion, the Presidency has prepared a questionnaire to map the situation and identify the obstacles faced by law enforcement authorities when gathering or securing encrypted e-evidence for the purposes of criminal proceedings."
[emphasis added]

A number of questions to Member States concern whether judicial authorities have to agree access including:

"Under your national law, is there an obligation for the suspects or accused, or persons who are in possession of a device/e-data relevant for the criminal proceedings, or any other person to provide law enforcement authorities with encryption keys/passwords? If so, is a judicial order (from a prosecutor or a judge) required? Please provide the text of the relevant provisions of your national law." [emphasis added]

European Parliament: From 42 MEPs: Letter to Mr Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex concerning "Shoot First" policy (pdf):

"We are contacting you with reference to a number of incidents reports documenting the recurrent use of weapons by coast guards within Frontex operations to stop boats driven by suspected smugglers, injuring or killing refugees. The documents, published on August 22nd 2016 by the online publication.

The Intercept (“Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show”), show multiple cases of firearms use against boats carrying refugees by the Greek and FRONTEX’s operators leading to severely endangering refugees in the process. The reports cover a 20-month period from May 2014 to December 2015. Each case of firearms use — even if it resulted in someone being wounded — was described “as part of the 'standard rules of engagement' for stopping boats at sea”."

See: 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) also Frontex rules: Serious Incident Reporting (pdf).

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.9.16)

European Parliament Study: Overview on the use of EU funds for migration policies (pdf):

"The aim of this document is to give an overview of the use of EU funds on migration policies during the first two years (2014-2015) of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and present a preliminary budgetary outlook for 2016---2017 and the remaining MFF period, taking into account the uncertainties relating to the evolution of the migration situation and pressures on EU funding....

Within the current EU framework, potential changes in policy and practice to deal with the migration crisis are under discussion. Such changes include revisiting legislative instruments on asylum and legal migration, as well as (within an overall vision adapted to the needs of the crisis) the competences of the EU agencies involved in migration management. Any revision of the latter should involve a budget increase accompanied by the necessary staff reinforcements."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.9.16)

EU: Court of Justice of the European Union: Advocate General Sharpston considers that the Court should annul the measures maintaining Hamas and LTTE on the EU list of terrorist organisations on procedural grounds (Press release, pdf):

"the Council is precluded from relying on a list of terrorist attacks without those being shown in decisions of competent authorities...

the Council cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet, rather than in decisions of competent authorities, to support a decision to maintain a listing." [emphasis in original]

And Adocate General's Opinion - Tamil Tigers (pdf) and Hamas (pdf)

See: EU court recommends removal of Tamil Tigers and Hamas from terrorist list (euractiv, link):

"The European Union’s top court took a step toward confirming the removal of Hamas, as well as the Tamil Tigers, from an EU terrorism blacklist despite protestations from Israel and the Sri Lankan government.

An advocate general at the European Court of Justice, whose advice is usually followed by judges, recommended yesterday (22 September) that they reject an appeal by the Council of EU member states against the lower EU court’s decisions in late 2014 to remove both movements from the sanctions list due to flawed procedures."

EU/France/Germany: France and Germany: take on "itinerant crime groups" through cross-border cooperation, personal data exchange, predictive policing

The German and French delegations to the Council of the EU have proposed a set of conclusions on "property crimes committed in Europe by highly mobile organised crime groups," which they assert are "attributable to itinerant crime groups originating mainly from South-Eastern and Eastern Europe," who "belong to the field of organised crime or are considered one step away from organised crime." Despite the clear connection between the proposals and the possibility of ethnic profiling and discriminatory police action - "itinerant"=travellers=Roma - the draft conclusions make no reference to fundamental rights issues.

See: NOTE from: German and French delegtaions, 'Draft Council conclusions on organised domestic burglary' (12098/16, LIMITE, 12 September 2016, pdf)

Photo Exhibition “Reaching Europe – Refugees arriving on Lesvos” in the European Parliament: Tuesday 27 September at 18:30, in the ASP building (link):

"Ska Keller, spokesperson on migration and Vice-President of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, and Philippe Lamberts, Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group, are hosting the Photo Exhibition “Reaching Europe – Refugees arriving on Lesvos”next week in the European Parliament. The exhibition documents the arrival and the situation of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. All photos have been taken by Members of the Mytilini Photo Club.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Tuesday, 27 September, at 18:30. We will have the great pleasure and honour to welcome the photographers of the Myrtili Photo Club on this occasion, as well as refugees and activists from Lesvos."

If you want to attend the opening, contact us by Monday morning at 10.00, please at: ska.keller@ep.europe.eu

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): The coherent enforcement of fundamental rights in the age of big data (Press release,pdf):

"The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli, has announced that he intends to set up a Digital Clearing House to promote more coherent enforcement of EU rules. In a new Opinion, Coherent enforcement of fundamental rights in the age of big data, published today, he drew attention to the mounting concern at concentration of market power and personal data in fewer and fewer hands, with the internet experience characterised by ‘walled gardens’ and take-it-or-leave-it data use policies. This means that authorities need to work more closely to protect the rights and interests of individuals, like the right to privacy, to freedom of expression and non-discrimination."

And see: EDPS Opinion on coherent enforcement of fundamental rights in the age of big data 23 September (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.9.16)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Migration, security and fundamental rights: A critical challenge for the EU (Press release, pdf):

"It is vital that the reform of the EU’s border policy be further assessed to ensure its full consistency with the respect for the fundamental rights of those who enter and leave the EU.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “The EDPS understands the need for the EU to better address the challenges of migration, borders and refugees. However, we recommend considering additional improvements in the revised proposals which will involve a significant collection of data concerning non-EU nationals whose freedoms, rights and legitimate interests may be significantly affected. Border management and law enforcement are distinct objectives and need to be more clearly distinguished. Refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and ordinary travellers may require separate considerations”.

The EDPS recommendations to enhance data protection in these proposals relate in particular to retention periods, the collection of the facial images of travellers requiring visas, the use of sensitive information such as biometric data, and to security measures.

In his Opinions, the EDPS draws attention to the role of eu-LISA and Frontex performing specific processing operations such as those related to statistics, as well as to the situations of minors when subject to the collection of fingerprints."

See also: EDPS Opinion on the First reform package on the Common European Asylum System (Eurodac, EASO and Dublin regulations) (pdf), EDPS Opinion on the Second EU Smart Borders Package Recommendations on the revised Proposal to establish an Entry/Exit System (pdf) and Commission Press release:Commission launches discussion on future framework for stronger and smarter information systems for border management and internal security (pdf)

EU: Frontexit: A reinforced Frontex agency: EU turns a deaf ear to NGO’s warnings (pdf):

"More powerful than ever and enjoying complete impunity, the EU border management agency has a new name with a reinforced mandate. The European Union has indeed opted for an increase in the means allocated to deportation, control and external cooperation activities, with no regard for the rights of migrants and refugees....

Yet, the agency continues to put a number of rights at risk: first and foremost, the right to leave any country including one’s own; but also the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement, the right to personal data protection and the right to an effective remedy."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.9.16)

European Parliament Study: Obstacles to the right of free movement and residence for EU citizens and their families Comparative Analysis (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE and PETI Committees, presents a synthesis of in-depth studies in nine Member States in addition to broader EU and national research. Based on an analysis of selected provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK, it identifies the main persisting barriers to free movement for EU citizens and their family members. The study also examines discriminatory restrictions to free movement, measures to counter abuse of rights and refusals of entry and residence rights, in addition to expulsions."

And country Studies: UK (pdf), France (pdf), Spain (pdf) and Italy (pdf)

Greece: Lesvos: Golden Dawn supporters stir up ugly scenes and "Guantanamo-style" Moira detention centre set on fire

Nine arrested after Greek refugee camp burns (BBC News, link):

"Nine people have been arrested after a large fire destroyed parts of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Up to 4,000 migrants were evacuated from the camp, as the blaze destroyed tents and prefabricated homes. No fatalities were reported, but large areas of the camp, which was already crowded, were left unusable. The Greek government said it would send a ship to hold at least 1,000 people as a temporary overflow area.

Early reports suggested a riot broke out as rumours of imminent mass deportations to Turkey spread. Other witnesses said it was the result of an argument over food.

The nine people arrested under suspicion of starting the blaze included people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Senegal, Syria and Cameroon, the AFP news agency reported, citing a police source. Additional riot police have been dispatched to the island."

See also: Fire At Moria: Thousands of Refugees Flee (News That Moves, link) and see: EU: Migrants to stay on Greek islands despite fire (ekathimerini.com, link)

Statewatch correspondent reports (20.9.16): "Volunteers trying to get in to help. There are a lot of fascists around after weekend fascist rally who stirred up the locals, pretty ugly. The volunteers got in around the back in the end through a hole in the fence. At the weekend people trying to get in were greeted by angry mobs."

Lesvos, Greece: Moria hot spot on fire – 4,000 evacuated, among them 150 unaccompanied minors (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The hot spot in Moria was set on fire on Monday night after clashes between migrants and refugees groups of different nationalities. Some 3,000 to 4,00 people have been evacuated. Around 150 unaccompanied minors were brought in safety into a state nursery home.

The volume of the damage is not known, some tweet from the area that the camp has burned down. Greek police told foreign reporters that “all tents have burned down and some prefabricated units. A total disaster?

According to official figures, a total of 5,600 refugees and migrants are on the island of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean Sea. Some 4,000 are estimated to be in the Moria hot spot, the rest in the reception center of Kara Tepe."

See also: Thousands flee as blaze sweeps through Moria refugee camp in Greece - An estimated 4,000 people have been forced to leave the camp on Lesbos as strong winds fan the flames (Guardian, link)

Comment: Moira is a closed detention centre with "Guantanamo-style" fencing, razor wire, steel cabins and floodlights. It holds refugees mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan and over a hundred unaccompanied children. Adjacent to it is the "open" Kara Tepe camp.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.9.16) including Lesvos, Bulgaria, Hungary, EU "flexible solidarity"

Lesvos, Greece: “NGOs Out Of Kara Tepe Camp”

"From ANA-MPA, the Lesvos municipal council has requested all NGOs leave the island’s Kara Tepe refugee camp. Mayor Spiros Galinos accused aid groups working there of “deceiving him,” claiming they were helping create a new refugee camp without his knowledge. The resolution was passed during an emergency council meeting and includes almost all aid groups operating at Kara Tepe, adding that the municipality should have exclusive jurisdiction over the camp, limiting NGOs to support roles. Galinos called the meeting after media reports that a new camp was being built at a former military base. Work was halted after Defence Minister Panos Kammenos intervened." and

Lesvos in Migration Crisis: Situation at risk of getting out of control with protests, attacks and unwanted NGO’s (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Hundreds of residents of Moria village and surrounding areas on the island of Lesvos took to the streets on Monday morning protesting the presence of refugees and migrants outside the hot spot of the same name....

The protest rally turned really ugly when extremists from the ultra right-wing Golden Dawn who joined the protest attacked three women, one of them a volunteer at a refugees reception center. The woman was transferred to the local hospital for treatment. According to local website Empros.net, the police that was present did nothing to hinder the attack.

According to the same website, the injured were four university student attacked by 15 GD members while others from the same party were shouting “throw them to the sea...

Kara Tepe [over the road from the Moira camp] has been a model refugee camp, often visited by international VIPs who come to Lesvos to express solidarity with the refugees.”

(19.9.16) Report from Mytilene: "Neonazis are having gatherings all over town."

When is "solidarity" not "solidarity"? When Its "flexible": ‘Flexible solidarity’ becomes new tool in response to refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"The Bratislava summit marks a turning point in the evolution of the EU’s response to the migration crisis, as Germany and other Western nations appeared to accept the Visegrad Group’s alternative to relocation and migrant quotas, called ‘flexible solidarity”.

At the summit, the Visegrad Group (V4), consisting of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, submitted an appropriately-titled Joint Statement consisting of proposals for the future of the Union after Brexit.....

The idea that relocation doesn’t work seems to be accepted by Germany. The European Commission is the only one to religiously promote the concept."

See: Papering over overt racism: Visegard Group: Joint Statement of the Heads of Governments of the V4 Countries Bratislava, 16 September 2016 (pdf):

"Concerning migrations, it is necessary to halt the number of irregular migrants and to guarantee the security of the EU, the Member States and individual citizens. The countries of the Visegrad Group have therefore been underlining that enhanced cooperation with third countries, including with Turkey, whether transit or origin, as well as protection of EU external borders are key tools."

Bulgaria: Report from the project: Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants (pdf):

"Since 2013, Bulgaria, as an external border of the EU, has experienced an unprecedented for its history number of migrants passing through its territory, primarily asylum seekers and refugees. The majority of the arriving migrants are subjected to administrative detention, where the decisions made by the administrative bodies appear to be dictated by policy rather than by individual and objective assessment.

The current project “Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants” examines this proposition, while aiming to contribute to increasing the transparency in the decision-making process for the administrative detention of migrants in Bulgaria and to the adopting of transparent and just detention practices that are in line with the principles of proportionality and individual assessment defined in international and European law."

Statewatch: SECILE (Securing Europe through Counter-terrorism: Impact, Legitimacy and Effectiveness): Report Summary: Eine Bestandsaufnahme der EU-Terrorismusbekämpfungspolitik und Überprüfungsmechanismen: Zusammenfassung der Ergebnisse von State-watch für das SECILE-Projekt (pdf)

And see: Taking stock of EU Counter-terrorism policy and review mechanisms: Summary of Statewatch’s findings for SECILE project (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16-18.9.16): news, reports and documents

The Bratislava Declaration - appeasing "extreme or populists" causes?

EU: European Council meeting: The Bratislava Declaration and The Bratislava Roadmap (16.9.16, pdf):

In his "State of the Union" address Commission President Juncker said:

"“The recent terrible events in the Mediterranean have shown us that Europe needs to manage migration better, in all aspects. This is first of all a humanitarian imperative. I am convinced that we must work closely together in a spirit of solidarity.”

In response to "extreme or populists forces", which include a number of EU Member States, the EU promises to try and complete "Fortress Europe".

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "The " principles of responsibility and solidarity" and hunanitarianism have patently failed so the EU answer is to concede to and appease "extreme or populists forces" arguments."

See also Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the Bratislava summit (pdf): "Never to allow for the return of uncontrolled refugee flows of last year and to ensure full control of our external border to get back to Schengen. We are determined to continue our co-operation with Turkey and Western Balkans but also to establish migration compacts with African countries" and STATE OF THE UNION 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission 14 September 2016 (pdf)

EU: Corncil of the European Union: EU Border Guard and Maritime Safety Agency

- Extending Frontex's roles: REGULATION on the European Border and Coast Guard and amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (176 pages, pdf): Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.

- European Border and Coast Guard: final approval (Council press release, pdf)

- REGULATION amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (pdf):

Final text as agreed with the European Parliament.Involves all EU maritime roles in cooperating with Frontex and other agencies for the purpose of gathering intelligence, border control and search and rescue:

"National authorities carrying out coast guard functions are responsible for a wide range of tasks, which may include maritime safety, security, search and rescue, border control, fisheries control, customs control, general law enforcement and environmental protection.... strengthen their cooperation, within their mandate, both with each other and with the national authorities carrying out coast guard functions, in order to increase maritime situational awareness and to support coherent and cost-efficient action....

providing surveillance and communication services based on state-of-the-art technology, including space-based and ground infrastructure and sensors mounted on any kind of platform...

enhancing the exchange of information and cooperation on coast guard functions including by analysing operational challenges and emerging risks in the maritime domain..."

Push-Backs at the Greek-Macedonian border violate human rights (Pro Asyl, link):

"From Idomeni to Strasbourg: Refugees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR

Strasbourg/Berlin/Frankfurt, 14 September 2016 – Eight individuals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are resisting the violation of their human rights on the route across the borders of Europe. They submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against their unlawful push-back from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the border camp Idomeni in Greece in March 2016. The claimants assert that FYROM’s practice of collective and often violent expulsions breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Pro Asyl provide support for the complaints. They see these legal proceedings as an important step in the struggle against push-backs at European borders and for refugees’ fundamental “right to have rights.” The applicants are represented by ECCHR’s cooperating attorney Carsten Gericke from Hamburg."

See: ECHR Case report

UK Foreign Secretary: Britain says EU mission should turn back migrant boats (Reuters, link):

"A European Union naval force deployed in the Mediterranean should turn back migrant boats after they leave Libya and prevent them from reaching Italy, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday. ...

"I think personally (the boats) should be turned back as close to the shore as possible so they don't reach the Italian mainland and that there is more of a deterrent," Johnson said, speaking alongside his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.

"I think I am right in saying we have turned back about 200,000 migrants," Johnson said, before a nearby diplomat hastily corrected him. "Sorry, saved, saved. Thank you. We have saved 200,000 migrants and turned back 240 boats."

It is illegal to turn back migrant boats once they reach international waters..."

See: Britain’s Foreign Secretary Gets it Wrong on Boat Migration from Libya - Forcing Migrants Back is Uninformed and Inhumane (HRW, link)


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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