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Round-up of news stories from across the EU
14.3.16
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EU: A data dozen to prepare for reform (ICO, link): "Manchester becomes the capital of UK data protection this week, with 800 data protection practitioners heading to our conference in the city. And for the delegates heading to the north-west, top of the agenda will be considering the impending implementation of the data protection reforms agreed last December. The reforms encompass the General Data Protection Regulation, which will have direct effect, and a new Directive on data protection related to law enforcement.

The last pieces of work to finalise the texts continue apace, focused on translation and final legal checks. Once that happens, we’ll see final political agreement, hopefully around July and then a two year transition period to accustom ourselves to the new way of doing things."

EU: Fair Trials to launch new report on defence rights in Europe (Fair Trials, link): "Wonder why defence rights are still an issue for human rights defenders in 2016’s Europe? Discover what is at stake in the latest report of the Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP), Defence Rights in Europe: The Road Ahead.

The publication will be launched at a roundtable hosted by Fair Trials, together with MEP Nathalie Griesbeck at the European Parliament on 16th March. The event will gather MEPs, lawyers, academics and representatives of the European civil society to discuss challenges ahead for the defence of procedural rights across the Union, and build on the progress we’ve made so far."

MEDITERRANEAN: The Meaning of Russia’s Naval Deployments in the Mediterranean (Eurasia Daily Monitor, link): "Russian ships equipped with the advanced sea-launched Kalibr cruise missile will now be perpetually present in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Moscow’s naval operations connected to the mission in Syria. This is according to Admiral Aleksandr Vitko, the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) (RIA Novosti, February 19)."

POLAND: Life not too rosy in Polish jails (Radio Poland, link): "The country’s Prison Service says that 71,633 people are being held in Polish jails, which have a total capacity of 83,491.

"Although the situation has improved considerably in recent years when it comes to the population of penitentiary units, the minimum area of a residential cell in Polish jails is still barely three square metres per prisoner," said Dr. Ewa Dawidziuk of the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights.

That figure, she said, is among the lowest in the European Union."

And see: 2014 statistics for all Council of Europe states in: Prison capital: UK locks up more people than any other EU member state (Statewatch News Online)

UK regulator to scrutinise impact of financial crime rules on access to payment systems (Out-Law.com, link): "The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has said it will monitor ongoing reviews of financial crime regulations to see whether it helps to address its concerns about barriers to the indirect accessing of payment systems."

UK: Bar warns against online ‘lawyerless’ court plan (Law Society Gazette, link): "Proposals to introduce an online court mark a ‘fundamental departure’ from the adversarial system of justice, which could have ‘major implications’ for the judiciary and training at the bar, the Bar Council has warned.

Responding to an interim report from Lord Justice Briggs on the structure of civil courts, the bar said the proposals could lead to the departure of talented advocates to other areas of practice or from the bar altogether."

UK: Immigration Bill Latest: Government suffers two defeats in Lords (Migrants' Rights Network, link): "The government has twice been defeated in the Lords over its Immigration Bill. Peers voted to allow asylum seekers the right to work if their claims have not been processed within six months.

They also voted to allow overseas domestic workers to change employers without risking immediate deportation. This defeat for the government will give domestic workers the right to change their employer once in the UK and to remain in the country for up to two years after doing so."

UK: Ministry of Justice orders an urgent probe into former civil servants helping private firms to win multi-million-pound contracts (Mail Online, link): "The Ministry of Justice has started an urgent inquiry after The Mail on Sunday uncovered evidence that ex-civil servants were boasting of Government connections while working for private firms to secure multi-million-pound contracts in Britain and abroad.

This newspaper found several senior MoJ officials recently left Whitehall to take up jobs with a consultancy.

In the months before they departed, the consultancy’s UK branch had helped secure contracts worth more than £600 million for a controversial US firm to run probation services across swathes of the South East, and a Northamptonshire young offenders’ unit."

UK: The real impact of the legal aid cuts (New Statesman, link): "One morning in January 2014, Gloria Jackson was returning from the supermarket with her groceries when she saw five policemen standing near the door of her home in London. When she tried to pass and go inside, the officers told her that she was under arrest. Jackson, a 57-year-old NHS psychiatric nurse who worked with dementia patients, was searched in the street as her neighbours looked on, locked in the back of a police van and driven away."

USA: How new FBI powers to look through NSA intercepts will exacerbate mass incarceration (ACLU of Massachusetts, link): "The wall separating “foreign” intelligence operations from domestic criminal investigations has finally, fully collapsed. The FBI now plans to act on a rule change initiated by the Bush administration and finally massaged into actionable policy by Obama: Soon, domestic law enforcement agencies like the FBI will be able to search through communications collected under the mysterious authority of executive order 12333. Now, FBI agents can query the NSA’s database of Americans’ international communications, collected without warrants pursuant to Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. That law put congress’ stamp of approval on the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was widely denounced as totalitarian when the New York Times‘ James Risen exposed it to the world in 2005."

USA: The Next Front in the New Crypto Wars: WhatsApp (Electronic Frontier Foundation, link): "In Saturday’s edition of the New York Times, Matt Apuzzo reports that the Department of Justice is locked in a “prolonged standoff” with WhatsApp. The government is frustrated by its lack of real-time access to messages protected by the company’s end-to-end encryption. The story may represent a disturbing preview of the next front in the FBI’s war against encryption."

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