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    ISSN 1756-851X
    04 October 2015

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See Statewatch Observatory: EU refugee crisis - a humanitarian emergency: For daily news and document updates

Frontex asks for 775 border guards - refugees to be "nationality" screened (link):

"This is the largest number of border guards Frontex has ever requested in the history of the agency. The officers are to assist mainly Italy and Greece in the registration and identification of migrants coming from Libya and Turkey. “Since the beginning of this year over 470 000 migrants arrived in Greece and Italy alone. No country can possibly handle such high migratory pressure at its borders by itself. It is crucial that all those arriving in the EU are properly registered and identified,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Frontex requested 670 officers – mainly screeners, debriefers and interpreters to be deployed in Italy and Greece, in addition to 105 officers to be deployed at various external land borders of the European Union. The screening officers play a key role in helping authorities to determine the nationality of the incoming migrants in order to identify and register them. Debriefers gather information about the activities of smuggling networks." [emphasis added]

"Screening officers" will be carrying out "nationality screening" (Frontex in European Parliament hearing on 23 September 2015), followed by registration and fingerprinting after which refugees will be divided into two groups, those destined for "return" to their country of origin to be held in closed camps and those to be relocated in the EU through asylum procedures in open camps.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24 stories/documents: 2-10-15)

EU: Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): Data protection legislation of a Member State may be applied to a foreign company which exercises in that State, through stable arrangements, a real and effective activity (Press release, pdf) and Full text of Judgment (pdf) and: Persons whose personal data are subject to transfer and processing between two public administrative bodies must be informed in advance (Press release, pdf) and Full text of Judgment (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Cybercrime evaluation & UK and SIS

- Interesting detailed report: Evaluation report on the seventh round of mutual evaluations "The practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating Cybercrime" - Report on Slovakia (Declassified document no: 9761/1/15 REV 1 DCL 1, 139 pages, pdf)

- Putting into effect of the provisions of the Schengen acquis on data protection and on the provisional putting into effect of parts of the provisions of the Schengen acquis on the Schengen Information System for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - State of play (pdf): "agreed inter alia on a set of recommendations addressed to the United Kingdom and considered that further proceedings were necessary in order to conclude the evaluation with a view to adopting an implementing decision setting the date for the final putting into effect by the United Kingdom of the provisions referred to in Article 1(a)(ii) of Decision 2000/365/EC, in so far as they relate to the functioning of the SIS."

EU: What is the role of "hotspots"? A European Commission official told the parliament's LIBE (Civil Liberties) Committee this morning (Thursday) that the 'hotspots' concept would mean:

"People may be placed in closed centres for the return procedure
For relocation people will be the possibility of centres - which are open to a degree are necessary
Attempts will be made to convince them to stay in the reception centre in order to be resettled
Centres: Hotspots for relocation would be open centers and closed centres for returns"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"How many people are going to be forced to "return" and held in closed camps? The pre-screening process will be carried out by Frontex and member state officals who will decide who is to be "returned" - prior to them being allowed to make an asylum application. Will refugees being vetted for return have interpreters and lawyers to help and represent them? And is there a right of appeal?"

And see ‘Hotspots’ for asylum applications: some things we urgently need to know (EU Law Analysis, link) Also: Italy: Sicily ‘hotspot’ to be prison-like centre (euractiv, link): "It will be one of Italy's brand new hotspots for identifying newly-arrived migrants -- but as the Pozzallo reception centre in Sicily prepares its fingerprinting kits, the EU-led plan for these facilities is still plagued with unresolved issues... When Pozzallo becomes an official hotspot at the end of November, new arrivals will instead be obliged to provide their fingerprints as part of an asylum request, or be taken to a detention centre to await expulsion from Italy. The hotspots will be closed-door centres, sharply reducing the chance that people can flee and head north off their own backs. Those very likely to win refugee status -- Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis -- will be fast-tracked and taken to a separate centre, where they will be divided up and distributed to other countries within the European Union.... What will happen if Syrian or Eritrean nationals refuse to give their fingerprints, seeing as they cannot be expelled? Would they be kept in a detention centre until they change their minds?." Se also: Centro accoglienza Pozzallo primo hotspot in Italia (, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25 stories and documents, 1.10.15)

EU: Council of the European Union: Council Decision regarding the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled

- Presidency Compromise Proposal (LIMITE doc no: 7576-Rev-1-15, pdf)
- Previous version of above (LIMITE doc no: 7576-15, pdf)
- Guidance for further work (LIMITE doc no: 7321-15, pdf)
- Open Issues (pdf)  (LIMITE doc no: 5110-15, pdf)

EU: CALL AN END TO SECRET, CLOSED, TRILOGUES: NGO Letter to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament (pdf):

"We, the undersigned organisations, hereby express our concern regarding the pervasive use of so-called "trilogue" negotiations within the EU decision-making process. It is our view that the trilogues have, regardless of intent, become a means for EU institutions to bypass democratic good practices, prevent public participation and are contrary to the principles of transparency and accountability recognised under the EU treaties, including citizens' right to access public documents....

In light of the outlined problems, we are calling for a major reform of the trilogue process in order to end this unacceptable democratic deficit in the EU decision-making. We call for the publication of all documents in a timely and systematic manner.

Further, we ask that disclosure not be limited to the multicolumn meeting documents, but also to public access to the meetings and access to any reports or notes discussed over the course of the process, in line with the procedures for normal Parliament committee meetings. There is an overriding public interest in the timely and systematic disclosure of these documents in order to enable proper public scrutiny of EU decision-making."

Signed by 16 EU NGOs including Statewatch

EU: European Parliament study: The European legal framework on hate speech, blasphemy and its interaction with freedom of expression (446 pages, pdf):

"this study provides an overview of the legal framework applicable to hate speech and hate crime on the one hand and to blasphemy and religious insult on the other hand. It also evaluates the effectiveness of existing legislation in selected Member States and explores opportunities to strengthen the current EU legal framework, whilst fully respecting the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The study also provides the European Parliament with guidelines on dealing with hate speech within the EU institutions."

‘Hotspots’ for asylum applications: some things we urgently need to know (EU Law Analysis, link) by Frances Webber:

"Through the mechanisms it is setting up for the relocation of refugees from Italy and Greece, the EU is trying to regain control of refugee movement in the EU. The tough screening process it is setting up at points of entry into the EU seems designed as a crude instrument to separate out a minority of ‘good’ refugees from what EU ministers want to convince us are a majority of ‘bad’ economic migrants, and to dispatch the latter rapidly and efficiently. But life is not that simple, and the hotspots’ screening procedures could result in large numbers of people being returned to unsafe or unviable situations without proper consideration of their claims....

Frontex’s removal remit covers not just those whose claims are exhausted and so have no claim to remain on the territory, but also those who have not claimed protection. Does this mean that Frontex officials have a roaming mandate to go around Italy and Greece rounding up all those who have not registered a claim for asylum? The opportunity to claim international protection should be available at any time, up to the point of removal; but how will this right be guaranteed?

Without clear and robust safeguards in place, the EU's relocation package could turn out to be a figleaf for a quiet but massive removal operation against, rather than a protection operation for, those arriving on Europe's shores."

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: At the Weekly meeting of the Commission on 23 September 2015: Management of the refugee crisis: Commission shows the way forward (link) it was agreed that:

- "Restore the normal situation and reinstate Dublin transfers to Greece within six months
- Establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard and extension of the Frontex mandate (December 2015)
-  Legal migration package including revision of Blue Card (March 2016)
- Further reform of the Dublin Regulation (March 2016)
-  Proposal for a structured system on resettlement (March 2016)"

HUNGARY: The right of asylum has practically vanished in Hungary – Pardavi (, link):

"The right of asylum in Hungary has practically vanished because the refugees do not receive adequate care, applications for asylum are not fairly evaluated and very few receive refugee status, Hungarian Helsinki Committee co-chair Márta Pardavi says in her assessment of the status of refugees in Hungary. By continuously taking alarming political steps, Hungary will soon find itself in the same role as Greece, with one European court after another ruling that it is not a safe place to which to return refugees, says Pardavi, adding that if Hungary continues to visibly withdraw from every common European Union initiative to handle the refugee crisis, it will dig itself deeper in this game of denial."

And see Helsinki Committee: NO COUNTRY FOR REFUGEES – New asylum rules deny protection to refugees and lead to unprecedented human rights violations in Hungary (pdf) and The Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s opinion on the Governments amendments to criminal law related to the sealed border (pdf)

EU: REFUGEE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: Spreading Anti-Migrant Sentiment is Endangering Lives, IOM’s Swing Warns World Leaders (IOM link):

"United Nations – At the opening of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing warned that growing anti-migration sentiment in Europe is unnecessarily endangering the lives of migrants, while ignoring the overall benefits that migration has historically provided to the world..... Swing called on them to ensure that migration is governed in a responsible and humane fashion. One in seven people on the planet is a migrant – one billion in total – and billions more are impacted by migration daily. “Migrants cannot remain just a number to be counted,” said IOM’s Director General. “Governments must ensure that migrants’ rights are truly protected once and for all. This General Assembly, in its historic 70th year, presents world leaders with the opportunity to acknowledge that migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable.”

EU-USA: US government statement challenges the EU Court of Justice: Safe Harbor Protects Privacy and Provides Trust in Data Flows that Underpin Transatlantic Trade (US EU Mission, link):

"the Advocate General's opinion rests on numerous inaccurate assertions about intelligence practices of the United States..... The United States does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone, including ordinary European citizens."

See: CJEU: According to Advocate General Bot, the Commission decision finding that the protection of personal data in the United States is adequate does not prevent national authorities from suspending the transfer of the data of European Facebook subscribers to servers located in the United States (pdf): "The Advocate General considers furthermore that the Commission decision is invalid" and see: Opinion: Full-text (pdf)

EPIC(USA): Statement: Advocate General Correctly Determines that Safe Harbor Fails to Protects Privacy and Does Not Establish Trust, Threatening Data Flows that Underpin Transatlantic Trade (link)

US embassy defends 'invalid' EU data pact (euobserver, link): "The United States has spoken out against a European Court of Justice opinion which invalidated a 15-year old data-sharing pact. The US embassy to the EU on Monday (28 September) said a preliminary judgment by Yves Bot, the court’s advocate general, was based “on numerous inaccurate assertions about intelligence practices of the United States"."

EU: 499,826 refugees have arrived: See UNHCR: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response (detailed information, link): 2,962 dead/missing. 129,000 people have arrived in Italy and 368,394 in Greece: Map: arrivals on Greek Islands (pdf)

Press Release: Extreme Poverty during the refugees’ journey (Greek Forum of Refugees, link): "The Greek Forum of Refugees strongly feels the need to present and denounce the conditions that the refugees are dealing with, as soon as they arrive, in the European continent. The continent, that started values such as Democracy and Solidarity, proves being unable to apply them practically. Europe can do and offer, much more than what has been done until today. The GFR receives every day messages from European citizens that would like to offer help. Unfortunately, the leaders' policies, worldwide, do not keep up with this movement and the least that we can do is to denounce it." Press release: Greek (pdf) and English (pdf)

Security services accused over Aamer's lengthy detention - Supporters of Briton’s last Guantánamo detainee celebrate as questions remain as to why his release took so long (Guardian, link): "The post 9/11 world was just a few days old when Shaker Aamer was first imprisoned. Captured by Afghan bounty hunters while attempting to flee from Kabul with his pregnant wife and their three children, he was sold on twice, and found himself in US hands. By the end of the year he was being held at the notorious interrogation centre that American forces and the CIA had established at the Soviet-era airfield at Bagram, north of the capital.

Whatever happened there may explain why Aamer has languished for so long at Guantánamo, remaining behind bars long after every other British national and resident had been set free. The interrogators that MI6 and MI5 had sent to Bagram were warned that they must not take part in the torture that was being inflicted on the inmates; all received written instructions that “we cannot be party to such ill treatment nor can we be seen to condone it”. In practice, this meant that they would remove themselves from the room before the abuses began."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20 stories and documents, 25.9.15)

UK-GCHQ: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities (Intercept, link):

"The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.... more than two dozen documents being disclosed today by The Intercept reveal for the first time several major strands of GCHQ’s existing electronic eavesdropping capabilities.

One system builds profiles showing people’s web browsing histories. Another analyzes instant messenger communications, emails, Skype calls, text messages, cell phone locations, and social media interactions. Separate programs were built to keep tabs on “suspicious” Google searches and usage of Google Maps."

EU-PNR (Passenger Name Record): European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): EU PNR: EDPS warns against unjustified and massive collection of passenger data (Press release, pdf):

"the EDPS published his Second Opinion on the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime, he said that there is a lack of information to justify the necessity of an EU PNR scheme....

Since the proposed EU PNR scheme is likely to cover at least all flights to and from the EU, and may also involve intra EU and/or domestic flights, more than 300 million non-suspect passengers would potentially be interested by the EU PNR proposal. Building on his earlier Opinions on PNR addressing the same issue, the EDPS says that the available information does not justify why the massive, non-targeted and indiscriminate collection of passengers' personal information is necessary and why it is urgently needed.

The EDPS points out that the EU legislator must ensure that it fully complies with the strict requirements laid down by the Court since the Court, applying the Charter, looks with great scepticism upon any measure which, like the Data Retention Directive, would ‘appl[y] to persons for whom there is no evidence capable of suggesting that their conduct might have a link, even an indirect or remote one, with serious crime’."

and Full-text: Second Opinion (pdf)

REFUGEE CRISIS: EUNAVFOR: Meijers Committee: Military action against human smugglers: legal questions concerning the EUNAVFOR Med operation (pdf):

I. There are no indications that combating migrant smuggling contributes to the restoration of international peace and security or to ending the ongoing humanitarian crises;
II. Without express consent from third states or authorization from the UN Security Council, the EU lacks jurisdiction over vessels or assets in third-country territorial waters;
III. Without express consent from third-country coastal states or authorization from the UN Security Council, there is no clear legal basis for coercive measures against vessels or assets on the high seas;

SPECIAL: EU Ombudsman investigating secret "trilogue" decision-making but:
The Council challenges the right of the European Ombudsman to conduct an inquiry into secret "trilogues" (which decide most EU legislation)

In May 2015 Emily O'Reilly, the European Ombudsman, began an Own-initiative Inquiry on the "transparency of trilogues (pdf), But the Council of the European Union challenges the right of the Ombudsman to carry out such an inquiry: Council response to the Ombudsman (pdf). "Trilogues" are meetings of the two EU co-legislators: the Council of the European Union (the 28 EU governments) and the European Parliament (with the European Commission in attendance). The purpose of trilogues is to speed up decision-making by agreeing new legislative measures quickly at 1st reading.

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, comments: "The Council's objection to the Ombudsman's competence is totally unfounded"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "Over 80% of all new EU laws are agreed in these secret trilogues - they should have no place in a democracy worthy of the name - they should be held in the open with full public access to documents so that we can see what is being decided in our name."

As part of the Inquiry the Ombudsman has organised a Consultation meeting (link) on 28 September 2015 (10.00 - 12.00 in Room JAN 4Q1 of the European Parliament in Brussels).

Statewatch was amongst the first to criticise secret trilogues: See: Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit (September 2007, pdf) - European Parliament: Abolish 1st [and 2nd] reading secret deals - bring back democracy “warts and all” (pdf) - Proposed Commission changes to Regulation on access to documents fail to meet Lisbon Treaty commitments (pdf)

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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