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    07 December 2016
 

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Observatory : Refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU


EU: DNA profiles to be included in the Schengen Information System?  

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels this year and last, EU and national officials began another round of discussions on how to increase information-sharing amongst law enforcement authorities across the continent. Amongst a flurry of proposals included in a new "roadmap" on information exchange is a suggestion to include DNA profiles in the Schengen Information System, the EU-wide policing and migration database.

The roadmap was drawn up in May 2015 within the Council and received political approval from national justice and interior ministers at the
JHA Council meeting in June 2016 (pdf): 'Theme 3' is "optimal use of European information systems", under which can be found item 11: "enhance the effectiveness of using the Schengen Information System (SIS)."

See: Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area (LIMITE doc no: 9368-REV-1-16, pdf)

Council of the European Union: From: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Subject: Foreign terrorist fighter returnees: Policy options (LIMITED doc no: 14799-16, pdf)

"Threat and risk analysis: Latest figures suggests that of the total number of European FTFs, around 15-20 % have died in theatre, 30-35 % have already returned and 50 % are still in Syria and Iraq (ie between 2.000 and 2.500 Europeans).... There are largely two categories of returnees: those in the majority that will drift back, and those who will be sent back on specific missions, which are of most concern.....

Given the changed Daesh communication focus in the West (no longer on building the Caliphate, territory, call not to travel to Syria or Iraq but instead staying home and committing attacks in the West), using returnees in our communication strategy to discourage future jihadi travellers from going to Daesh held territories may be less effective."

See also: Islamic State changing terror tactics to maintain threat in Europe (Europol press release, link) and Report (pdf)

Europol joins forces with counter-terrorism experts to undermine online terrorist propaganda (link):

"1814 pieces of terrorist and violent extremist online content have been assessed for the purpose of referral to online platforms during a two-day concerted action coordinated by Europol, in collaboration with representatives from dedicated units in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Romania. The processed content was in nine different languages and hosted by 35 online platforms. The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity by the concerned service providers, taken in reference to their own terms and conditions. ":

See also: Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees (Statewtch, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-12-16)

EU: The implementation of the hotspots in Italy and Greece: a study (Press release, link):

"“This is an experiment, a pilot model of registration and identification at the points of arrival that selects between people seeking asylum and people to be returned. Yet the hotspots currently apply practices and standards that are inadequate and disrespect fundamental rights” says Aspasia Papadopoulou Senior Policy Officer at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). “What we are witnessing in Italy and Greece is the consequence of an EU pressure shifting responsibilities to the national level,” says Aspasia Papadopoulou. “If the hotspots are to become permanent then we would have to see fundamental improvements including standards and safeguards – there is a need for independent monitoring by international organisations, NGOs, or bodies like the Ombudsman.”

The study is part of a project led by the Dutch Council for Refugees, in partnership with ECRE, the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and ProAsyl that aims to support monitoring of hotspots in Greece and Italy and the strengthening of legal assistance provision by local NGOs." And see Report (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Policies in the making: Exit-Entry System, EU Agency for Asylum & EURODAC and LEA access

- EES: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Preparation of further steps (LIMITE-14700-16, 157 pages, pdf): Council developing its position prior to trilogue meeting with the European Parliament:

- EU Agency for Asylum: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 (LIMITE doc no 14855-16, 93 pages, pdf): 136 Footnotes and number of Member State positions

- EURODAC and LEA access: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints... and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes (LIMITE doc no 14710, 94 pages, pdf): Including Member States' positions: And includes: It's OK to use coercion on vulnerable persons and minors "if permitted under national law":

EU-USA: Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting of 5 December 2016 (Press release, pdf) Including: "Both sides confirmed the completion of their internal approval procedures for the EU-U.S. Data Protection "Umbrella" Agreement, and welcomed this important step for strengthening data protection in law enforcement cooperation across the Atlantic. On that basis, the U.S Attorney General will now make the necessary designations under the Judicial Redress Act to allow the swift entry into force of the Agreement" [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5-12-16)

Greece: “Transfers To Mainland Against EU-Turkey Deal” (News That Moves, link):

"From Ta Nea: Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas stressed that the EU-Turkey deal does not include an option for transferring asylum seekers on the islands to the mainland and if the government does so it may lead to the agreement failing.

When asked why asylum claims take so long to process, the Minister replied, “We have 13,000 asylum applications in the islands, 50,000 applications on the mainland. We have a new asylum service that has existed for only three years in Greece, while the same services in France and Germany have fifty years of experience. I do not claim that our asylum service operates perfectly, but we are making progress.”

EU-USA: Transatlantic law enforcement data deal gets go-ahead from European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of the EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement' that, in theory, provides for the protection of personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes. Attempts left and liberal MEPs to have the text rejected and to seek the European Court of Justice's opinion on its compatibility with the Charter of Fundamental Rights were rejected. The agreement is unlikely to provide what it promises.

UK: The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Almost every utterance shouted alongside a specific racist attack was already a dominant ideological policy position. The hostile environment that Theresa May promised the country in 2012 has certainly become one on the ground."

See: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

UK: Snoopers’ Charter: why journalists (and the rest of us) should be afraid (The Conversation, link):

"With the passing of the Act we have taken a step into a new world of permanent surveillance that was not deemed necessary in 30 years of “The Troubles”, four decades of the Cold War or during two world wars. Home secretary Amber Rudd’s comment that it is “world-leading legislation” is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink. One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?"

EU: Military might: Commission proposes €5.5 billion per year for defence research and equipment

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (30 November) a €5.5 billion 'European Defence Fund' that would provide EU funds of €500 million per year for military research and development and €5 billion per year "from national contributions" for "Member States to develop certain assets together to reduce their costs." The Commission wants the EU to "demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-16 and 1-12-16)

EU: European Council: 15-16 December 2016: Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13936-16, pdf) :

On Migration: "assess and reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assess progress on the compacts with the five selected African countries in terms of arrivals and returns," and

"assess progress on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future, on the basis of a report from the Presidency."

Regarding Members States the Council has to try and appease those against "responsibility and solidarity in the future", while hoping the European Parliament will unblock discussions on the Qualifications Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Regulation and the Resettlement file.

On Internal Security: Review progress on: "systematic checks against the relevant databases, that must be interconnected, of all persons crossing the Union's external borders, including nationals from EU Member States; the entry/exit system; the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS); combatting terrorism; firearms; anti-money laundering; Passenger Name Record (PNR); and enhancing effective cooperation with electronic service providers." [emphasis added]

EU: Rights groups expose flaws in EU counterterrorism directive (euractiv, link)

"The European institutions reached an agreement yesterday (30 November) on a directive that is aimed at better equipping the EU with instruments to counter terrorism. But civil rights groups warned that it risks undermining fundamental freedoms.

A political agreement on the directive was reached by EU government representatives in the European Council (COREPER) yesterday, following negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and Parliament are expected to sign off on the 37-page text without changes later this month."

Also: EU terror law risks making protest a crime (euobserver, link); "A new anti-terror law backed by EU states contains rules that could be used to crack down on civil dissent. Endorsed at the political level on Tuesday (30 November) by most EU states, the directive on combating terrorism has riled human rights activists for its vague notions of terrorism. The bill borrows heavily from recent laws in France that allow the authorities to tell internet firms, without any judicial oversight, to block sites that "glorify" terrorism. "

And see background: Directive on combating terrorism (Statewatch, SEMDOC)

Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link):

"In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Directorwho attended the court hearing said: “This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism-related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.” Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling"

EU: ALDE on Europol report leak (New Europe, link):

"The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) in the European Parliament has called on Europol director, Rob Wainwright, and Sir Julian King, the Security Union Commissioner, to clarify the facts related to a leaked report. According to an ALDE press release, the leak relates to a breach in Europol’s security rules. The Dutch investigative television show Zembla reported that a Europol staffer took dossiers home and copied them to a backup drive that was linked to the internet.

“This is extremely shocking. Europol was aware of this security incident since September, yet its director decided not to inform the parliament during a joint meeting of the European parliament and the national parliaments on Europol scrutiny just two days ago,” Sophie in’t Veld, ALDE spokesperson for data protection, said."

See: ALDE press release (link) and also: Secret Europol terror data found online (BBC News, link)

EU-Turkey: European Parliament: EU-Turkey relations: “We are entering a new phase” (Press release, pdf):

"More than 10 years after EU-Turkey accession talks started, MEPs adopted a resolution on 24 November calling for the negotiations to be suspended until the Turkish government ended its disproportionate and repressive response to July's failed coup. Ankara replied by threatening to let thousands of migrants pass through to Europe. Greek EPP member Manolis Kefalogiannis, head of Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, commented: “We are entering a new phase in EU-Turkey relations”."

UK: Home Office ‘To Integrate Surveillance Cams With Police Database’ (link):

"The Law Enforcement Data Service is to include two existing police databases as well as the nationwide Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. The Home Office has been accused of operating a “burgeoning surveillance capability” outside of parliamentary oversight as it continues to expand the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)."

See: Surveillance Camera Commissioner - Annual report (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.11.16)

EU-UK: House of Commons: European Scrutiny Committee: Europol: opt-in Debate (pdf):: "Given this wider context, would opting into the new Europol Regulation be an anomaly at a time when the UK is seeking to loosen rather than strengthen its ties with EU institutions and agencies and to develop alternative methods of cooperation on policing and security matters? Conversely, would opting in help to bridge the gap between the UK’s existing security arrangements with EU partners and agencies and the equally strong ties which the Government intends to develop once the UK has left the EU?"

GREECE-TURKEY-FRONTEX: E.U. Border Agency Still Unaccountable on Refugees’ Rights (Refugees Deeply, link): "Last month, 10 Syrians boarded a flight organized and staffed by the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, on the Greek island of Kos, believing their destination was Athens. Instead, they landed in the Turkish city of Adana.

The Syrians had wanted to seek international protection in Greece, and carried documents indicating their intention to initiate asylum procedures. They were never given deportation orders or offered an opportunity to mount a legal challenge to their deportation."

EU: Encryption: five Member States want Europe-wide laws, access to documents request shows

"Five EU countries said they want the European Commission to propose legislation that would make it easier for police to crack through encryption technology.

Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Hungary all want an EU law to be created to help their law enforcement authorities access encrypted information and share data with investigators in other countries."

See: Five member states want EU-wide laws on encryption (EurActiv, 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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