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    03 May 2016
 

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JUNE 2016: STATEWATCHING EUROPE: European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary

Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU - a humanitarian emergency: Daily news and document updates


EU: The far right is weaselling into the mainstream, dressed up in suits (The Guardian, link): "We know the EU can act ruthlessly against a government it does not like – because we watched it try to smash the most anti-racist, pro-social justice government ever elected, in Greece last summer. Today the countries that stood alongside Germany in its attempt to boot Greece out of the euro are the same ones who refuse to take refugees, whose media and judiciaries are under threat. As Europe dithers in the face of the authoritarians and racists, the populations in the mature democracies that founded the EU should insist: our grandparents didn’t defeat fascism in 1945 to see it weasel back into the mainstream now, dressed in suits instead of uniforms, but trailing the same pathetic victimhood that excused the crimes of the past."

UK: ‘Like Hillsborough, Orgreave cries out for justice’ (The Justice Gap, link): "But for me there is an even bigger unresolved injustice that the establishment has dodged for more than 30 years and currently shows no signs of being willing to face up to.

I speak of course of the miners’ dispute between 1984 and 1985 in general and the so-called Battle of Orgreave in particular. I have written previously on the Justice gap about Orgreave and the details that prove there was a cover-up and a blatant attempt to pervert the course of justice by senior officers up to and including the then Chief Constable Peter Wright, who was of course still Chief Constable at the time of Hillsborough. The details are as damning as they are comprehensive. It’s what police officers and lawyers call an ‘open and shut case’."

EU: Commission denies free pass to Germany and Austria on border controls (Politico, link): "The European Commission plans to let EU countries impose internal border checks for another six months — including during the summer tourist season — before insisting on a return to free travel in the Schengen zone, according to officials."

The Commission will include proposals for regular monitoring, according to a quote from the document seen by Politico: “Border control should be targeted and limited in scope, frequency, location and time, to what is strictly necessary to respond to the serious threat and to safeguard public policy and internal security."

Such a system would not be entirely unfamiliar - Schengen states already undergo evaluations to assess their conformity with the Schengen Borders Code, as can be seen in these Council documents (pdfs): Schengen evaluation of AUSTRIA: Action plans to remedy deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation report in the field of:

And: Draft Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System by Austria (5864/1/16 REV 1, 10 February 2016) and Council Implementing Decision (6222/16, 16 February 2016)

More stories: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.5.16)

UK government 'running covert counter-extremism propaganda campaign' (Middle East Eye, link): "The British government is running a covert “propaganda” campaign intended to project its counter-extremism message to British Muslims through supposedly “grassroots” community organisations, a report published on Monday claims.

Several recent high-profile counter-extremism initiatives that appeared to be the work of non-government organisations were actually orchestrated by a media company, Breakthrough Media, with close links to the Home Office's Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), the report says."

See also: David Cameron to announce new extremist crackdown in Queen’s speech (Politics Home, link) and: Statewatch Analysis: UK: The new government’s assault on civil liberties (May 2015, pdf)

The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis (NYT, link):

"This is the third in a series of dialogues with philosophers and critical theorists on the question of violence. This conversation is with Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, Britain. His latest book, “Strangers at the Door” is published with Polity Press....

I don’t believe there is a shortcut solution to the current refugee problem. Humanity is in crisis —- and there is no exit from that crisis other than the solidarity of humans. The first obstacle on the road to the exit from mutual alienation is the refusal of dialogue: that silence that accompanies self-alienation, aloofness, inattention, disregard and indifference. Instead of the duo of love and hate, the dialectical process of border-drawing needs to be thought therefore in terms of the triad of love, hate and indifference or neglect that the refugee, in particular, continues to face."

Greenpeace: TTIP Leaks (links): "Greenpeace Netherlands has released secret TTIP negotiation documents. We have done so to provide much needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on the treaty. This treaty is threatening to have far reaching implications for the environment and the lives of more than 800 million citizens in the EU and US."  Download All (RESTRICTED documents, ZIP file)

"ANOTHER DODGY DEAL" LITTLE OR NO PROTECTION FOR EU CITIZENS: EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: "UMBRELLA AGREEMENT": Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of an Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection, and prosecution of criminal offenses (pdf) and Annex (pdf)

And see: Statewatch Observatory: EU-USA general agreement on data protection and the exchange of personal data

EU: Legal Aid proposal: From Justicia Network: To: Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament Council of the European Union, and the Presidency European Commission, DG Justice (pdf):

The JUSTICIA European Rights Network, which brings together 19 civil society organizations from 18 EU member states, believes that an effective system of legal aid is vital to ensure that everyone, regardless of economic status, is treated fairly by the law.

The Directive on Legal Aid is the last in a series of groundbreaking directives that collectively have the potential to bring about significant improvements on defence rights across the EU. We are encouraged by the progress made on this file under the Dutch Presidency. As you enter the final stages of the trilogue negotiations we urge you to continue to work towards a strong and comprehensive Directive."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.4.16)

OMCT: World Organisation Against Torture: Greece: Ongoing crackdown on civil society providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers (pdf):

"The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing crackdown on civil society actors providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the Greek islands, even including judicial harassment against several groups and NGOs acting to protect migrants' rights, of Team Humanity Denmark....

on February 21, 2016 a last minute amendment was made to a Law voted by the Greek Parliament, in violation of several provisions of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedures. The new provision assigns the supervision and coordination of services provided to migrants and asylum seekers to the Greek Army and Minister of Defence, in newly established army-run facilities. This provision has led to a coordinated effort to stop civil society activities in camps that are not run by the army, through extensive threats of arrest and prosecution]. Moreover, several journalists and NGOs, including the Hellenic Action for Human Rights “Pleiades”’, are often not allowed access to army-run facilities....

The Observatory strongly condemns this crackdown on civil society actors in Greece, calls on the Greek authorities to put an end to the ongoing attempts to criminalise NGOs and volunteers working in the country in the field of humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum-seekers or otherwise prevent them from carrying out their work and urges them to lift the ban on civil society activists and journalists to enter army-run camps."

See also: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted (Statewatch) and NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control (Statewatch)

EU: After the 18 March EU-Turkey "Statement", the "Letter" of assurances from Turkey, yet another set of "letters": What is the legal basis on "non-binding" documents?

Council of the European Union: Standard Operating Procedures implementing the mechanism for resettlement from Turkey to the EU as set out in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016 - Endorsement (LIMITE doc no: 8366-16, pdf)

"Once endorsed by the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein meeting in the margins of COREPER, the Standard Operating Procedures will be formalised by way of an exchange of letters between the Commission and the Turkish authorities."

The following are excluded or NOT eligible:

"The person does not constitute a threat to public policy, internal security and public health;
A candidate who has refused admission to a particular Member State is no longer eligible;
Priority will be given to eligible persons who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly"

Fascism and the far right in Europe: country by country guide – part one (dream deferred, link)::

"Europe is witnessing a dangerous revival of fascist and racist populist parties and organisations. Over the next few weeks we are going to publish a series of articles analysing the scale of this threat.

We will focus on the countries where fascist and racist parties have made significant electoral and/or organisational breakthroughs. There are small fascist groups operating in several other countries, but with very small numbers and little impact. We intend to look separately at the situation in Russia at a later date and have not included it here."

Pro-Nazi nostalgia flourishes under new Croatia government (euractiv, link):

“Nostalgia” for a pro-Nazi past, spurning of ethnic minorities and pressure on the press: Croatian activists say an alarming climate of intolerance is taking hold under a new conservative government.

Since the ruling coalition took power in the European Union country in January, critics say authorities have turned a blind eye – and even contributed to – concerns over a far-right right surge. Last week, in response, angry Jewish, ethnic Serb and anti-fascist groups refused to attend a ceremony remembering tens of thousands who died at Jasenovac, the most notorious concentration camp under Croatia’s pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during World War II.

The boycott was a “brave and correct decision in the face of the wave of neo-fascist Ustasha nostalgia which is sweeping Croatia”, said Efraim Zuroff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish rights organisation".

UNHCR Daily report (28.4.16):

"In Greece, Alternate Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas has agreed to the permanent presence of lawyers in two accommodation centers (Elaionas in Athens, and Moria on Lesvos island), following a meeting with the head of the Athens Bar Association.

The Ministry said the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) has also expressed an interest in offering legal aid to refugees in Moria." [emphasis added]

Statewatch Comment: Does not the Ministry know that under the Asylum Procedures Directive refugees have the right to legal aid? Why is it not ensuring that it is available to all?

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.4.16) inc: EU-Turkey a balanced partnership "without renouncing our principles"

EU-TURKEY "Dodgy deal": Legal concerns met?

UNHCR reports (27.4.16):

"In a letter to the European Commission sent on Tuesday, 26 April, the Turkish government pledged to bolster legal protection to non-Syrians upon return to Turkey as part of the EU-Turkey Agreement. This follows previous assurances concerning Syrians and the fact that all returned Syrians could be granted or re-avail themselves from temporary protection. These pledges aim to support the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement by addressing the remaining legal concerns hampering its full implementation." [emphasis added]

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"If this "letter" addressees legal concerns about the EU-Turkey "dodgy deal" why has it not been published? Does it commit Turkey to fully signing up to the Geneva Convention? If not it is worthless.

First we had the EU-Turkey deal in a "Statement" (18 March) and now an unpublished "letter" - neither of which are legally binding. In their desperate haste to shut the borders the EU is neglecting the basic tenets of lawful decision-making"

European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos to the Committee on Federal and European Affairs of the Bavarian Parliament on 26 April (pdf)

"To paraphrase an old saying information is security. We will respond to the terrorist threat effectively when we make our information systems interconnected, interoperable, and searchable..."

The Commissioner argues for a "Single Search Interface" where: "all data is searchable with just one click" - this requires major changes to laws on the book where acess is limited or prescribed. And see: Statewatch Analysis: Commission proposals on migration and internal security databases: a new list of old “needs” (pdf)

"Both the EU and Turkey need each other, as equal partners. This is a balanced partnership, one where we aim for each side to deliver on its commitments, but without renouncing our principles or conditions."

Many would argue that the EU wanted a deal at any price - even if it means tearing up all human rights and asylum law adopted since 1945.

"We must remember an element of political context: while we are working on these issues, we are witnessing the worrying rise in left and right wing violent extremism."

In context "right wing violent extremism" is carried out by extreme nationalists, racists and fascists. While what is characterised as "left wing violent extremism" is anti-racist and anti-fascist responses to the former - which is a piece of perverse logic.

Council of Europe: Thorbjorn Jagland: Europe's human rights and security are at risk through populist nationalism (Press release, pdf) and Annual Report: State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law: A security imperative for Europe (pdf):

"“Europe is currently struggling with many serious challenges, including terrorism, migration andconflict. This is being successfully exploited by nationalists and populists in many places, and trustin national and European institutions is dwindling,” said the Secretary General.

“At the same time, we still see many important gaps in the laws and practices that our memberstates have in place, and basic human rights including free speech, freedom of assembly and theright to privacy are increasingly being restricted."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon hit out 'increasingly restrictive' EU refugee policies (dailysabah.com/europe, link):

""I am concerned that European countries are now adopting increasingly restrictive immigration and refugee policies," Ban said in a speech to the Austrian parliament.

"Such policies negatively affect the obligation of member states under international humanitarian law and European law." His comments came a day after the Austrian parliament adopted one of Europe's toughest asylum laws, as the country's political leaders struggle to halt the surging far-right which is leading in presidential polls."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives (pdf)

"The 2012 Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime acknowledges that hate crime victims are particularly vulnerable and stresses their right to protection in accordance with their particular needs. EU Member States should strive to improve access to justice for such victims, both by supporting victims in reporting their experiences to the police and by improving the police and judiciary’s responses. This report aims to encourage such efforts."


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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