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January 2017

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-30.1.17): torture and executions in Libya detention centres; millions of euros for consultancy work on smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa; joint NGO report on eastern EU denial of access to asylum procedure; and more.

European Commission: Communication on building a European data economy

"As announced in the DSM [Digital Single Market], the Commission's objective is to create a clear and adapted policy and legal framework for the data economy, by removing remaining barriers to the movement of data and addressing legal uncertainties created by new data technologies...

...this Communication explores the following issues: free flow of data; access and transfer in relation to machine-generated data; liability and safety in the context of emerging technologies; and portability of non-personal data, interoperability and standards. This Communication also sets out suggestions for experimenting with common regulatory solutions in a real-life environment."

See: Building a European data economy (COM(2017) 9 final, pdf) and the accompanying Staff Working Document on the free flow of data and emerging issues of the European data economy (SWD(2017) 2 final, pdf)

EU-UK: BREXIT: Supreme Court on need for parliamentary vote on Article 50: judgment and analysis

The judgment in Miller: Representative Democracy Strikes Back (EU Law Analysis, link): "There are two main issues in the case: the role of Parliament in triggering the Article 50 process, and the role of devolved legislatures. Like the Supreme Court, I’ll take these two points in turn."

“So long (as) and Farewell?” The United Kingdom Supreme Court in Miller (European Law Blog, link): "Lord Neuberger started the announcement in the manner of a history lecture, detailing the United Kingdom’s accession to the then European Economic Community in 1973. This was a fitting introduction to a judgment which at times reads like a lesson in the UK’s constitution. Accordingly, this lesson encompasses the place that EU law occupies within this order. This post will attempt to provide a concise summary of the magisterial judgment, before providing some comment on the salient issues relevant to EU law."

The judgment: R (on the application of Miller and another) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Appellant) ([2017] UKSC 5]) and press summary (pdf)

EU: Commission: actions recommended for endorsement by EU heads of state or government at 3 February summit in Malta

The Annex to the Commission Communcation issued on 25 January: Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf) lists recommendation actions for the Member States to approve under the headings of:

See: ANNEX to the JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf)

And see: Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

USA: Government Accountability Office report on efforts to stop "high-risk travellers" flying to the USA

"CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] data show that it identified and interdicted over 22,000 high-risk air travelers in fiscal year 2015 through its predeparture programs. CBP officers at Preclearance locations determined that 10,648 of the approximately 16 million air travelers seeking admission to the United States through such locations were inadmissible. Similarly, CBP, through its IAP [Immigration Advisory Program], JSP [Joint Security Program], and RCLG [Regional Carrier Liaison Group] locations, made 11,589 no-board recommendations to air carriers for the approximately 88 million air travelers bound for the United States from such locations. While CBP’s predeparture programs have helped identify and interdict high-risk travelers, CBP has not fully evaluated the overall effectiveness of these programs using performance measures and baselines. CBP tracks some data, such as the number of travelers deemed inadmissible, but has not set baselines to determine if predeparture programs are achieving goals, consistent with best practices for performance measurement. By developing and implementing a system of performance measures and baselines, CBP would be better positioned to assess if the programs are achieving their goals." (emphasis added)

See: GAO: CBP Aims to Prevent High-Risk Travelers from Boarding U.S.-Bound Flights, but Needs to Evaluate Program Performance (pdf)

UK: Healthcare data to enforce the "hostile environment" for migrants

"Confidential NHS patient information is being shared with the Home Office to help the government trace suspected "illegal immigrants". NHS Digital – which describes itself as a “safe haven” for patient data – is handing over personal information to the Home Office as part of a new memorandum of understanding between the two bodies and the Department of Health, reports trade magazine Health Service Journal."

See: NHS hands over confidential patient info to Home Office in immigration crackdown (Migrants' Rights Network, link) and the memo: Memorandum of Understanding between Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Home Office and the Department of Health (pdf)

See also: NHS hands over patient records to Home Office for immigration crackdown (The Guardian, link) and joint letter: The NHS should protect patient confidentiality (The Guardian, link):

"The agreement of the NHS to hand over patient information to the Home Office immigration authorities (Report, 25 January) fills us with anger and dismay. Patient confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of an ethical and effective healthcare system. That is why, in the absence of a court order, the NHS does not share even the address of a patient with the police or any other public body, except in the most serious cases of harm to the person, involving murder, rape or manslaughter."

UK-IRELAND-EU: The possible impact of Brexit on the Common Travel Area (CTA)

"British prime minister Theresa May’s long-awaited speech on Brexit on January 17th made it clear that immigration is central to British concerns. Whether from fears about excessive numbers, xenophobia, a nostalgia for the past or a concern with sovereignty and the workings of supranational institutions, including the European Court of Justice, Britain has clearly signalled that it wishes to mark a distance from the EU and to resume full control of its own borders and immigration policy.

The Brexit negotiations will inevitably consider the precise manner in which broader current British concerns about immigration are interwoven with the future of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which has been around in one form or another since the 1920s and which has allowed Irish and UK citizens the freedom to move between, live and work in one another’s countries.

The outcome is unlikely to affect present-day Irish in the UK, although this may depend in part on whatever concessions other EU countries are willing to make regarding UK residents on their territories. It seems unlikely that either the UK or the EU would wish to punish each other’s citizens. However, future migrants are another matter."

See: How could Brexit impact future Irish emigrants to the UK? (The Irish Times, link) by Piaras Mac Éinrí

And Theresa May's speech: The government's negotiating objectives for exiting the EU (pdf)

EU-LIBYA: German report details Libya abuses amid pressure to stem migrant flows (The Guardian, link):

"Conditions for migrants and refugees in Libya are worse than in concentration camps, according to a paper sent to the German foreign ministry by its ambassador in Niger.

The German embassy in Niger has authenticated reports of executions, torture and other systematic rights abuses in camps on the refugee route in Libya, Die Welt cited the report as saying on Sunday.

The warning came as EU leaders prepare for a summit in Malta on Friday to discuss ways to control migration across the Mediterranean from Africa this summer, amid pressure from Italy to take decisive action."

EU-USA: Latest Update from the American Immigration Lawyers Association on Travel to the United States Ban (ILPA, link):

"The US Department of Homeland Security has been ordered by at least four federal courts not to implement the Executive Order known as the “Muslim ban.” The orders are temporary -- either for seven days or until further hearings -- so that those seeking to travel to the US might wish to do so now.

DHS has stated that they will comply with the court orders, but of course legal opinion remains divided about whether they are in fact interpreting them correctly. In the meantime, at least, DHS has “deemed” that the return of green card holders is in the public interest."

EU-USA: "The EU-US PNR agreement is dead. What is the EU, and what are EU citizens and residents, going to do about that?"

"With this Presidential decree, the EU-US PNR agreement is dead.

The next question is when EU institutions will recognize this legal fact, and what they will do about it.

In later sessions at the CPDP conference, some EU and US officials and government advisors tried to argue that the Privacy Shield agreement (1) doesn’t depend on the Privacy Act, and (2) to the extent it does, is made “enforceable” by the Judicial Redress Act.

If this were true, Privacy Shield might not depend on the decision by administrative agencies — which President Trump has now forbidden — to allow foreigners the same “privileges” to which US citizens are entitled under the Privacy Act.

We don’t buy that argument, and neither should European travelers or EU officials. The exceptions and limitations in the Privacy Act, even as it applies to US citizens, make the Judicial Redress Act essentially useless.

Whatever the merits of this attempt to salvage the Privacy Shield agreement, it doesn’t apply to the EU-US PNR Agreement. The PNR agreement clearly and explicitly depends on administrative action in favor of foreign citizens which President Trump’s executive order has now foreclosed"

See: Trump repudiates agreement with EU on PNR data (Papers, Please!, link) and the Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (pdf)

See also: The “Interior Security” Executive Order, the Privacy Act, and Privacy Shield (Lawfare, link)

UK: Legal aid cuts delaying prisoners' release, court will be told (The Guardian, link):

"Prisoners hoping to prepare for life outside jail are being forced to remain behind bars for years extra because they are no longer entitled to legal representation, the court of appeal is to be told.

Thousands of prisoners seeking places on offender behaviour courses that could pave the way to release are unable to challenge delays within the prison system because of government cuts to legal aid, three senior judges will hear next week.

The challenge brought by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service comes at a time of record prison populations in England and Wales and follows violent disturbances in HMP Birmingham in Winson Green."

EU: Commission offers €6 million for private expertise on irregular migration, smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa

The European Commission last week (25 January) published a contract notice offering up to €6 million for four years of work including research and analysis to inform EU policy-making on irregular migration; helping develop "awareness raising campaigns" targeted at non-EU nationals; and to draw up "needs assessments in priority third countries of origin and transit," including the development of "action plans in the area of population data collection, notably civil reigstries and biometric databases" in African countries.

See: European Commission, Tender specifications: Framework Contract for Technical and support services (TSS) in the field of Irregular migration and Legal migration (pdf)

EU: Joint NGO report on denial of access to asylum procedure in eastern EU Member States

"The report Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States presents the situation asylum-seekers often face at the eastern borders of the EU. The picture shown of Europe’s response to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is rather grim as presented by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria), Organization for Aid to Refugees (Czech Republic), Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) and the Legal-informational centre for NGOs (Slovenia), all members of ECRE – a pan-European umbrella organisation of refugee assisting NGOs. Increased border controls and the construction of physical and legal barriers restricting access to protection for people fleeing war and terror characterize this ‘scary new’ reality. Country responses cited in the report range from violent push-backs, through the denial of entry to proposed legislative changes restricting access to protection."

See: Press Release – Pushed Back at the Door (Organization for Aid to Refugees, link) and the report: Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States (pdf)

EU: Information sharing on counter terrorism in the EU has reached an all-time high (Europol press release, pdf):

"Europe is facing its most serious terrorist threat for over 10 years. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 marked a shift towards a broader strategy of Jihadist terrorism, and the so-called IS in particular, to intimidate Western countries with successive terror attacks across Europe. The potential increase of returnees from conflict zones requires vigilance from all involved actors.

The launch of the ECTC in January 2016 was the EU’s answer to this new threat. Its establishment, including the Internet Referral Unit (IRU) as a new capability to tackle unprecedented levels of online terrorism propaganda, was a major milestone for the EU security architecture. For the first time in the EU there was consensus, in the counter terrorism policy context, that a cornerstone for cooperation at EU level was needed to support national counter terrorism efforts.

Information sharing on counter terrorism, across European countries as well as through and with Europol, had reached an all-time high by the end of 2016. For instance, Europol held more than 10 times as much information on ‘person entities’ in its database, compared with January 2015 when the attack on Charlie Hebdo took place."

And see: One year of the European Counter Terror Centre: Infographic (pdf)

ITALY: Anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (Council of Europe, link):

"The Council of Europe Group of experts against human trafficking (GRETA) has published today a report on the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Italy. The report assesses the specific situation of forced returns of victims of trafficking from Italy and the identification of victims of trafficking among asylum seekers and migrants.

GRETA acknowledges the extreme difficulties which Italy is experiencing due to the unprecedented increase in the arrival of migrants and refugees, and the significant efforts made by the country, with the assistance of international organisations and civil society, to cope with the challenges posed by it.

The report, which was preceded by a visit to Italy in September 2016, reveals gaps in the detection of victims of trafficking among newly arriving migrants and unaccompanied children. Particular attention is paid to the situation of Nigerian women and girls, who have been arriving in Italy in increasing numbers and many of whom are likely to be trafficked for the purpose exploitation in Europe. GRETA raises concerns about the failure to identify them as victims of trafficking at an early stage, the disappearance of unaccompanied children from reception centres, and the manner in which forced returns of victims of trafficking to their country of origin take place."

See: Report on Italy under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for evaluating implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (pdf)

And: press release: Council of Europe anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (pdf)

EU-MALTA: Three projects planned for Malta’s security forces totalling €2.5 million (Malta Today, link):

"The Malta Police Force and the Armed Forces of Malta will be awarded €2.5 million to finance three project aimed at improving operations, according to Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Ian Borg.

Borg said that the managing authority has approved two projects to the Malta Police Force, valued at just over €1 million, which are aimed at enhancing and furnishing the IT operations rooms and offices of the national section of the Schengen Information System (NS-SIS), as well as extending the Automated Case Management System in order to aid the International Relations Unit offices in police investigations.

On their part, Borg said, the Armed Forces of Malta will receive €1.5 million to upgrade the AFM Integrated Communications systems, to keep on performing the necessary activities in order to fulfill EU obligations at the EU External Borders."

Belgium confronts Trump over travel ban (New Europe, link):

"Belgium announced its disagreement with Donald Trump’s latest decision on migration.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said: “We disagree with the ban on access to US territory for seven Muslim countries.”

“Belgium will not follow this policy and will ask for explanations through diplomatic channels,” said the head of the Belgian federal government.

“Migration policy is the responsibility of the US government and it is a sovereign decision,” admitted Michel. “But Belgium will follow the case closely to evaluate in particular the possible consequences for its own citizens”."

UK: London, 15 February 2017: Strikers & Spycops – from Grunwick to now (Eventbrite, link):

"Spycops and Strikers is part of a series of Grunwick 40 memorial events, organised in co-operation with the Special Branch Files Project, the Undercover Research Group and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.

Since the exposure of Mark Kennedy as an undercover officer inside the environmental movement in 2011, many more so-called #spycops have been found out by the activists they spied upon. We now know that since 1968, the Special Demonstration Squad infiltrated political and activist groups that they considered a threat, including the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, Anti-apartheid movement and CND.

We also know that prominent supporters of the Grunwick strike were bugged and followed and that there were attempts to infiltrate the strike committee. There is now a judge-led Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Pitchford Inquiry; should Grunwick strikers and their supporters be involved to find out more?"

Czech cyber defence must not infringe on freedom, PM says (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"Prague, Jan 25 (CTK) - The Czech government coalition must know for certain that the planned extension of the military intelligence's powers in cyber security will not interfere with the freedoms of the citizens, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said yesterday.

The present legislation does not set the rules for cyber security of the country. A government-sponsored amendment to the law on military intelligence gives the intelligence the power to put active means of cyber defence in Internet networks. In extreme cases, the intelligence could launch a cyber attack.

The amendment is now discussed in the Chamber of Deputies."

UK-EU: European Parliament Study: Brexit and the EU: General institutional and legal considerations (pdf)

"This study was requested by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. It examines the political and institutional steps taken, or to be taken, both by the UK and by the EU in the context of the Brexit referendum vote, and into how matters may evolve in the coming months and years from a legal and institutional perspective.

It analyses, in broad terms, the possibilities for a future relationship between the Union and its departing member and the consequences that the departure of a large Member State may entail for the rest of the policies of the Union and for the Union itself. The study also briefly examines the potential for institutional progress that opens with the departure of the United Kingdom."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive

Latest version of the Council developing its negotiating position: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (LIMITE doc no: 5402-17, pdf): With 135 Footnotes giving detailed Member State positions.

"To ensure harmonisation and more convergence in asylum decisions and as regards the content of international protection in order to reduce incentives to move within the European Union and ensure an equality of treatment of beneficiaries of international protection that Directive should be repealed and replaced by a Regulation." [emphasis added]

This replaces the following objective in the current Directive:

"on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted."

"Suggested modifications (by the Presidency) are indicated as follows: added text is in bold and deleted text is in strikehtrough."

USA: Executive Order: Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (link):

See: Trump immigrant curbs cause chaos, panic, anger worldwide (Reuters, link):

"President Donald Trump's sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion and panic among travelers on Saturday, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights.

Immigration lawyers in New York sued to block the order, saying numerous people have already been unlawfully detained.

The new Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the moves would protect Americans from terrorism, in a swift and stern delivery on a campaign promise.

The bans affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. "

EU: Council of the European Union: EPPO, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) & Humanitarian visas

European Public Prosecutors' Office: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 5154-17, 156 pages, pdf): Almost agreed Council position prior to trilogue with the European Parliament. However, there is a problem, although most Member States agree on the text:

"One Member State (Sweden) announced that it would in any case not take part in the adoption of the European Public Prosecutor's Office."

This means that there will not be unanimity in the Council so it plans fast-track "enhanced cooperation" under second subparagraph of Article 86(1) TFEU.

Blue Card: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no 5336-17, pdf) The Council working out its negotiating position with 149 Member State objections/positions.

The term "Blue Card" is a euphemism for "legal migration" through which the EU will seek out skilled labour from the South and elsewhere to maintain its standard of living in the face of an aging population and shrinking work force.

Humanitarian visas rejected by the Council and Commission: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee (EU/Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, Liechtenstein): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 15602-16, pdf):

"the Chair reported that the European Parliament (EP) had recently sent the Presidency the four-column table containing new compromise proposals from the Rapporteur, in which the provisions on the humanitarian visa had been maintained. Furthermore, the Chair reported that the Rapporteur had let the Presidency know that he would not agree to put the humanitarian visa on hold and wanted to continue negotiations on the other outstanding issues.

AT, FR, BE, NL, HU, SE, SI, ES and PT were against continuing negotiations....

The Chair announced that a trilogue would be held to formally inform the EP of the Council's decision. COM said that the Commission was attached to its proposal but was also against the idea of a humanitarian visa."

EU-USA: Trump signs 'no privacy for non-Americans' order – what does that mean for rest of us? (The Register, link):

"US President Donald Trump may have undermined a critical data sharing agreement between the United States and Europe that internet giants rely on to do business overseas.

In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by the president this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.

Section 14 of the Enhancing Public Safety order reads:

"Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information."

By agencies, the president means the NSA, the FBI and so on.....

- The EU-US Privacy Shield, which does not rely on the protections under the US Privacy Act.

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement, which enters into force on 1 February. To finalise this agreement the US Congress adopted a new law last year, the US Judicial Redress Act, which extends the benefits of the US Privacy Act to Europeans and gives them access to US courts."."

Will this affect the EU-USA Umbrella Agreement on the exchange of personal data?

See: Enhancing Public Safety order (pdf) and Attorney-General Notice listing "covered countries" in EU.(pdf) This says in part that: "It is intended that no cause of action shall be afforded by the Judicial Redress Act retroactively with respect to any record transferred prior to the date of the DPPA’s entry into force on February 1, 2017."

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement and the Judicial Redress Act: Small Steps Forward for EU Citizens’ Privacy Rights (CDT.org, link):

"It does not provide citizens of EU countries with redress that is on par with that which US persons enjoy under the Privacy Act."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.1.17): New Frontex powers put into practice; Greece angry over border control demands; Turkey threatens to cancel refugee deal over coup soldiers; EU-Niger actions may backfire; and more.

EU: PNR: Belgium, France, Netherlands to introduce rail ID checks (AP, link):

"Belgium has sealed an agreement with France and the Netherlands to draw up passenger lists and introduce passport checks on Thalys and Eurostar international rail services.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon told VRT broadcaster Friday that the move will tighten security on the high-speed trains and help track criminals who might be using them.

"The aim is to have the system operational by the end of the year," Jambon said.

He noted that Germany has decided not to take part. Berlin attacker Anis Amri drove a truck into a central Berlin market on Dec. 19, killing 12 people. He died in a shootout with Italian police four days later after transiting to Italy through the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

"If the system works they can join in," Jambon said, noting that "there is an election coming up in Germany. Maybe that has something to do with (their decision).""

See an earlier article in response to the proposals: Passenger name regulation could destroy cross-border rail (Railway Gazette, link)

EU: Commemorating the Holocaust in revisionist times (EUobserver, link):

"This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which also marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, comes several months after Poland’s right-wing government passed a law making it illegal to use the term "Polish Death Camps", in an effort to emphasize the responsibility for the Holocaust remains that of the German Nazi regime which occupied Poland.

But banning the term points to a larger trend of Holocaust revisionism across Europe and a revival of nationalist politics whose targets range from Roma and Jews—groups targeted and murdered by the Nazis on "racial" grounds—to refugees, Muslims and other racial, national and religious minorities."

UK: Press release: Gulf Centre for Human Rights in another case against the UK Government (pdf):

"GCHR says UK government should hold firm on its commitment to comply with International Law.

GCHR has been granted leave to appeal so that it can challenge an apparent withdrawal by the UK government from its overarching duty to comply with international law. An article by the legal correspondent of the Guardian published on 26 January 2017 says that: “Threats to pull out of the European court of human rights, the election of Donald Trump and withdrawals from the international criminal court have reinforced fears that global laws are increasingly in danger of being undermined.”

The legal challenge focuses on the deletion from the ministerial code, a core constitutional document, of words setting out the duty to comply with international law. GCHR is determined to do all it can to hold the UK government to its commitments in the international arena."

EU-GREECE: "Solidarity" on refugees: official reports lay bare Greek government frustration with other EU Member States

Statewatch is today publishing two official reports that set out how the Greek government has sought to comply with other EU Member States' demands to control its borders and to prevent refugees leaving the country. Both reports show significant frustration with the failure of other Member States to meet their obligations to relocate refugees and to provide the necessary human and material resources to assist the Greek authorities.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Rapid introduction of new Frontex powers: EU and Member States prefer to shut the door and return refugees than relocate them

In 13 months (the year 2016 plus January 2017) EU Member States have "returned" 11,121 refugees but only relocated within the EU 8,123 refugees entering through Greece and Italy (the two main countries of entry) since September 2015.

EU: European Parliament: factsheet on the Common Security and Defence Policy

"The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) sets the framework for EU political andmilitary structures and for military and civilian missions and operations abroad. The 2016 EU Global Strategy lays out the strategy underlying the CSDP, while the Lisbon Treaty provides legal clarity on institutional aspects and strengthens the role of the European Parliament. The CSDP has undergone major strategic and operational changes recently. Faced with security challenges and popular demand for increased EU responses, the CSDP is continuing to evolve."

See: COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY (pdf)

EU-Turkey refugee deal overburdens Greek islands (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The refugee camp on the island of Samos was built for 850 people, but it hosts more than 1,800 at the moment. More than 600 people are living in 56 sometimes unheated containers, while others are sleeping in tents - or wherever they find a free spot to lie down. Ralf Kist, the Frontex team leader of the German mission, told DW "the conditions at the camp are improving," but current and former residents of the camp complain about a life of misery among mud, dirt and rubbish."

EU: e-Privacy Regulation: Good intentions but a lot of work to do (EDRi, link):

"The proposed draft Regulation contains a number of provisions which, if adopted and effectively implemented, should address some of the current gaps or lack of clarity in protection of the confidentiality of electronic communications and information stored on users devices. The process of consultation and polls have shown that citizens are concerned about their privacy and about how companies make use of their personal information online. Although the Commission has rightly identified and addressed most of the key issues and objectives in the proposal, strong forces seem to have watered down the text considerably, compared to the earlier version that was leaked in December 2016. For example, the reference to “privacy by design and by default” that was changed in Article 10 will need to be put back in order not to lower down the protections to the current “privacy by option”, options on the degree of online privacy that the browser would offer to the user."

See: Proposal for a Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (pdf)

And: the earlier leaked draft (7.5MB, pdf)

EU-AFRICA: Will the EU's anti-migrant smuggling efforts in Niger backfire?

"In the case of northern Niger, however, haphazardly designed anti-smuggling efforts come with an even greater danger: destabilizing one of the few pockets of stability in a volatile region. Aside from the promise of money from Europe, the reality is that the Nigerien government has few incentives to crack down on migrant smuggling, in part because doing so is fraught with political and security risks.

In northern Niger, migrant smuggling is part of a broader political economy that is thoroughly enmeshed within formal and informal political and security structures. In fact, Niger’s anti-corruption agency found that state security forces in the region would not be able to function if they did not take bribes paid by smugglers, and would otherwise be unable to purchase basic necessities such as fuel, spare parts for vehicles and food.

Government officials in Agadez have also conceded that everyone from drivers, fixers, landlords, shop owners, currency dealers and even local law enforcement are profiting from the economic boom. “Many are eating off these migrants,” Ahmed Koussa, an assistant to the mayor of Agadez, told the New York Times. Abdourahamane Moussa, deputy-secretary general for the regional government in Agadez, struck a similar tone speaking to the Wall Street Journal. “Migrants are buying things, consuming our goods, animating our economy,” he said. “People here are benefitting. … How can we stop it?”

See: The E.U.’s Hollow Success Over Migrant Smuggling in Niger (Refugees Deeply, link)

Migreurop press release: The European Union cannot abolish winter: it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

"At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’."

EU: Revision of Firearms Directive nearing completion

"The provisional deal with the Council on the updated EU firearms directive was endorsed by Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on Thursday by 25 votes to nine, with two abstentions. The revised law tightens the controls on blank firing and inadequately deactivated weapons like those used in the Paris terror attacks. It also requires EU countries to have a monitoring system in place for the issuance or renewal of licences and to exchange information with one another."

European Parliament press release: EU gun law updated to close security loopholes while protecting legitimate users (pdf)

And: Revision of the EU firearms directive: an overview (pdf): "In this background note you will find more information on what was agreed during the “trilogues” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators)."

EU-IRELAND: Gardaí to get access to top EU security database (Irish Independent, link):

"Gardaí are set to gain access to an EU-wide border security database for the first time next year.

The Government is in the process of ensuring officers can get access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II), which allows police and border guards across the EU to exchange information and see alerts about certain categories of wanted criminals or missing people.

The UK has access, but due to the financial crisis, plans here to develop the infrastructure to tap into the system had to be shelved.

"Ireland does not yet have access to the SIS II system, as funding was not available for the works required during the financial crisis," the Department of Justice told the Irish Independent.

"The Tánaiste expects An Garda Síochána should have access to the SIS II system in the course of 2018.""

UK: Spycop’s alias confirmed by public inquiry (The Ferret, link):

"The public inquiry into the policing scandal has confirmed the undercover identity of a police officer who is believed to have operated in Scotland.

The Pitchford Inquiry has confirmed that ‘Simon Wellings’ was the alias used by a so-called spycop who operated north of the border after infiltrating the anti-globalisation group, Global Resistance (GR).

Wellings is the latest spycop name to be confirmed by the inquiry, following ‘Marco Jacobs’ and ‘Carlo Neri,’ both of whom also worked undercover in Scotland according to campaigners."

See: Simon Wellings – profile of #spycop now up (Undercover Research Group, link) and: Undercover Policing Inquiry: Update on anonymity applications - N118 ("Simon Wellings") (pdf)

UK: Video: JUSTICE FOR CAMMELL LAIRDS 37 (GMB, link):

"37 men spent up to a month in jail in 1984 after being arrested at Cammell Laird, in Birkenhead, during a dispute over jobs. They were targeted to put off others involved in industrial action.

The group were on strike for 10 months and occupied part of the site, including a gas rig under construction, and were sentenced to jail in their absence for daring to stand up against the power of the state and all that it had to throw at them.

The men have fought for over 30 years to get the truth about what happened, even taking their battle to the European Parliament in despair, after having exhausted all legal and ‘Freedom of Information’ channels at national level to get access to information and justice.

Several of the men have since passed away and went to their grave with this injustice remaining unresolved and with no remedy or formal apology for their inhumane treatment and this sense of injustice remains with their families

The others are determined to carry on the fight."

UK: LONDON, 9 February 2017: Final conference of the BYTE project on big data

"BYTE will be hosting our project final conference on Capturing the benefits of big data and addressing legal, ethical and social challenges. The conference will include policy-makers, large industry, academics, civil society organisations, SMEs and legal experts.It will focus on the following priority areas for big data practice in Europe:

• Smart cities
• Healthcare
• Environmental data
• Data ethics
• Industrial innovation

The event will showcase BYTE findings and feature presentations by experts in urban transportation, genomics, geo-spatial data, open data and linked data."

See: FINAL CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT (Byte, link). The conference is free and open to all, registration is required.

UK: Morton Hall: another death in immigration detention (IRR, link)

"On 11 January an unnamed 27-year-old Polish man was found dead in Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire, the first death this year and the 29th death in immigration detention since 1989.

It was reported by the Unity Centre that the man was found hanged in his room at the centre. He had apparently been refused bail before Christmas as there was no surety and his girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time of the hearing, was unable to travel. Their baby was apparently born on the day of his death. Morton Hall, unlike most other removal centres, is run by the Home Office rather than a private company."

UK: Prison suicides rise to record level in England and Wales (BBC News, link):

"A record number of people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, figures show.

The Ministry of Justice said there were 119 self-inflicted deaths - 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since records began in 1978.

It also reported a record high of 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said prisons faced "long-standing issues that will not be resolved in weeks"."

See: Ministry of Justice: Safety in Custody Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales, Deaths in prison custody to December 2016, Assaults and Self-Harm to September 2016 (pdf)

And: Downsize prison to tackle suicide crisis (CCJS, link)

TURKEY-GREECE-EU: Turkey may cancel readmission deal with Greece after court's failure to extradite FETÖ soldiers (Daily Sabah, link):

"Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey will take necessary measures against Greece following the court's failure to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) soldiers involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt, to Turkey.

Çavusoglu said that Turkey may consider cancelling the readmission deal with Greece, which allows the latter to return illegal migrants -who traveled through Turkey- to Turkey, in order to be processed before they are sent back to their country of origin, TRT Haber reported.

He highlighted that the Greek court's ruling is a political rather than a legal decision, noting that it will have unavoidable implications for bilateral relations.

"They're not just petty criminals" Çavusoglu said, adding that the soldiers attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.17)

Italy: A refugee has drowned while tourists laughed and told him to ‘go back home’ [VIDEO] (The Canary, link):

"Shocking footage has emerged of the moment a refugee drowned in Venice, Italy. The man, thought to be from Gambia, a country which has been on the brink of war, died in the icy waters of the Grand Canal. But instead of helping him, onlookers filmed, laughed and told him to “go back home”.
“Let him die”

The man, named as 22-year-old Gambian Pateh Sabally, died on Sunday 22 January. He got into difficulties in Venice’s Grand Canal as tourist boats went past. But onlookers didn’t care. They filmed the man’s last moments, and shouted abuse.

One person can be heard saying “He’s stupid. He wants to die”. Another said “Go on. Go back home”. Someone else said ““Let him die at this point”. And in the video people can be heard laughing."

And see: 'Let him die' shout onlookers as African refugee drowns in Venice's Grand Canal - The Gambian man was left to drown while passers-by filmed the incident (IBT, link):

"Italian magistrates have opened an investigation after a Gambian man drowned on 22 January in Venice's Grand Canal in front of onlookers who filmed the incident, laughing and shouting racist comments."

USA: Draft Executive Order on Secret CIA Prisons Signals a Return to the Darkness of the Post-9/11 Period (The Intercept, link):

"A draft presidential order being circulated in the Trump administration could signal a return to the executive-branch lawlessness that followed September 11, 2001.

A draft of the executive order obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post calls for senior officials to consider re-opening the CIA’s network of secret prisons, where terror suspects were disappeared and deprived of their rights.

And by rescinding President Obama’s 2009 executive order that banned torture and closed the CIA’s prisons — where many of the worst abuses of CIA’s post-9/11 torture program took place – it paves the way for illegal torture to take place in secret.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer disputed the authenticity of the draft order on Wednesday, saying that it is “not a White House document,” and that he had “no idea where it came from.” But when asked whether the administration was considering re-opening black sites, Spicer refused to answer, saying he would not comment on the document."

See Draft Order (pdf)

UK-EU: BREXIT Article 50 Bill published (pdf) and Explanatory Memorandum (pdf)

The government has published its Bill and MPs are to get just five days to debate and scrutinise. The Bill contains two clauses and is 137 words long.

Brussels wants Schengen zone restored from mid-May, Germany sceptical (euractiv, link):

"The EU executive said yesterday (25 January) emergency border controls imposed within the bloc’s free-travel zone over the migration crisis should get a final three-month extension to mid-May, but Germany wants to keep them in place longer....

“We currently have temporary border controls in place. These are exceptional measures for an exceptional situation,” the bloc’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos said in proposing the extension. He made it clear, however, that he wanted to restore the chief achievement of European integration in full from then on: “It’s a question of three months to come back to normal.”

But Germany, which holds elections on 24 September in which immigration and security will be prominent issues, wants to be able to extend the measures for longer, diplomatic sources said.

With immigration into the European Union under tighter control than at the height of the crisis, that may be hard to justify. That is why Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, will today propose changing the legal justification for the border checks to security issues."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: The Assembly says no to online hate (link):

"Based on the report by Marit Maij (Netherlands, SOC), PACE has proposed, in a resolution, a set of measures to prevent and combat online hate. According to the adopted text, member States should strengthen their national legislation, so that it “allows for the effective prosecution of online hate speech, while fully respecting freedom of expression” and “covers all forms of online incitement to violence, bullying, harassment, threats and stalking”. These laws must take into account a whole range of characteristics, including “sex, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political or other opinion, and disability”, as grounds of protection."

See adopted: Resolution: Ending cyberdiscrimination and online hate (pdf)
Bulgaria’s EU justice monitoring report goes unnoticed (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission’s monitoring report on Bulgaria’s progress in improving its law-enforcement system went largely unnoticed, as its publication yesterday (25 January) coincided with the appointment of a caretaker government in Sofia, pending snap parliamentary elections on 26 March.

The European Commission on Wednesday published its reports on Bulgaria and Romania, under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up as a condition of the countries’ EU accession ten years ago, on 1 January 2007....

The CVM was set up as means to overcome deficiencies in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria in the fight against organised crime. The initial idea was that these deficiencies could be overcome in a couple of years. However, ten years later, the CVM monitoring is still ongoing, and will remain in place during Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the first half of 2018."

See: On Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (COM 43-17, pdf)

Eurotunnel: Death at the fences, profits for Goldman Sachs (Calais Research, link):

"At least 15 people were killed in or around the channel tunnel in 2015. Some were electrocuted, some run over by trains, some chased by police into traffic near the entrance. All these deaths were a direct result of people trying to get past the intensive security put in place by Eurotunnel, funded by the British and French governments, to stop them reaching England.

Responding to these deaths, Eurotunnel apologised for the inconvenience caused to its passengers. Its boss Jacques Gounon explained that the migrants dying at his door are “very far from poor unfortunates who seek refuge in England and have a right to a humanitarian approach”, but instead are “veritable commandos, well coordinated” who seek “to make politics and destabilise the government.”....

in 2015 Eurotunnel, which runs the tunnel under a concession lasting until 2086, made a €100 million profit. €97 million of this was paid out as a dividend and handed straight to its shareholders, international investment firms led by major shareholder and creditor Goldman Sachs. Despite this record year, Eurotunnel is demanding millions more in compensation from the governments for “lost earnings” due to the “migrant crisis”."

UK: Parents of Thames mystery death teenager accuse Met of racism Medha and Pradeep Chummun say not knowing what happened to their son made 'every day a battle' (IBT, link);

"Parents of Krishna Chummun, the London teenager whose body was pulled from the Thames in October 2015, have asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate the Metropolitan Police's handling of the case involving their son. The Chummuns say they want a murder investigation launched and accused the Met of racism in the mishandling of the case."

And See: 'They took him away and they didn't look after him – and now he's gone' - Mary Foxall’s world was turned on its head when her 19-year-old son Jake took his own life in a young offender institution (Guardian, link)

Germany to scrap ‘lese majeste’ law after Turkey row (euractiv, link):

"The German government voted Wednesday (25 January) to scrap a “lese majeste” law that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sought to employ against a popular German television satirist."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.1.17)

Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

On Thursday there will be an Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Malta under the Maltese Council Presidency. Among the issues under discussion will be the latest attempt to end the movement of refugees into Libya and then on to Italy. This is set out in a Joint Communication from the Commission and the EEAS (European External Action Service): Migration on the Central Mediterranean route, Managing flows, saving lives (JOIN 4-17,pdf)

While Commission President Juncker recognises that: "First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required" most plans are already known. Two new initiatives are speeding up the introduction of the "Seahorse Mediterranean Network" and sending the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to strengthen Libya's southern border controls. Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion (Press release, pdf)

UPDATED: EU-USA PNR: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

SWD: Commission Staff Working Document (SWD 14-17, pdf)

Response by the USA (pdf)

UK: Met police blasted for “abysmal” record on CCTV image collection (IFSEC, link):

"The Met police has an abysmal record when it comes to collecting CCTV images to aid prosecutions, their former CCTV chief has claimed....

Mick Neville, head of the Met’s Central Forensic Image Team until he retired two weeks ago, says the Met’s super recognisers – people with an exceptional talent for recognising faces – could solve thousands more crimes if the force trained officers to understand how to retrieve and use footage from London’s myriad network of video surveillance systems.

“The Met has the best system in the world for identifying suspects who are caught on camera in connection with crimes but it is not getting the images,” he said. “All these cameras are on and capturing images of suspects, but they are not being used to anything like their full potential.”

CCTV images were used in less than 2% of criminal cases in London during an eight month period last year, he said. This is despite the hug coverage afforded by the capital’s CCTV systems, with the average Briton caught on camera 70 times a day."

In 2011 the UK had about 1.85 million CCTV cameras

EU: Commission: Back to Schengen: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months (Press release, pdf):

"Brussels, 25 January 2017: European Commission: The European Commission has today recommended the Council allows Member States to maintain the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway for a further period of three months."

And see Proposal for: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 40-16,pdf)

EU races to meet Denmark-Europol deadline (euobserver, link):

"“Why the hell was such a point put to a referendum?”, German social democrat MEP Birgit Sippel said at an European Parliament (EP) hearing on Denmark and Europol, the EU’s joint police agency, on Tuesday (24 January).

She could barely hide her frustration with national votes that forced the EU to make convoluted derogations to keep people happy....

Under the “tricky” deal, Denmark would first be listed as a third-state in relations with Europol, on the same level as China, Norway, Canada and other countries.

A concrete co-operation deal could then be worked out, securing that the police co-operation continues in practice."

Council of Europe: Big Data: we need to protect the persons behind the data (link)

"Big Data is changing the manner in which the society can be understood. It provides valuable insights and offers opportunities for innovation, enhancing productivity and social participation."

See Guidelines (pdf)

Scotland: Victims of police spies condemn inquiry, demand meeting with Justice Secretary (COPs, link):

"Victims of police spying in Scotland have condemned the new inquiry into the scandal. They say Justice Secretary Michael Matheson did not speak to any of them before commissioning HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to investigate infiltration of political campaigns by officers from secret units. The activists targeted have branded the review as a whitewash, saying it lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims."

See full-text of: Letter (link)

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): The impact of the proposal for a revised Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights (link):

"The European Parliament asked the Agency to provide its Opinion on the fundamental rights impact of the proposed revision of the Eurodac Regulation on children."

See: The impact of the proposal for a revised: Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (pdf)

EU: Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (JHA) (link):

"The Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will meet in Malta on two separate days (the Home Affairs Ministers will meet on the first day and the Justice Ministers will meet on the second day) to discuss, in a more informal manner, matters that fall within their remit, and to set the way forward on specific issues. "

Hungary: You don’t know which direction this whole political system will go, says Balázs Tóth of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Budapest Beacon, link):

"As far as his outlook for 2017, Balázs says “there is definitely no reason to be optimistic.”

“If you would have asked me in 2010 whether I could imagine the developments that have taken place in Hungary over the past 6 years, I would have said ‘No’. But they did happen, and life goes on. I would say that most people in society don’t like this system, but there is a solid 25-30 percent base of voters who still support this regime, and that is enough to keep them in power. I can’t foresee what is going to happen in the future. We don’t know what Orbán meant when he said 2017 will be the year all the Soros-supported NGOs will be somehow excluded from public life. But if it gets any more serious than what we have seen so far, there may be cause for concern.”"

And see: Space for independent journalism will continue to shrink in 2017, says Direkt36’s András Petho (Budapest Beacon, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.1.17): understanding child migration in Europe; Malta reintroducing border checks for migration summits; humanitarian corridor from Ethiopia to Italy; and more.

UK: GCHQ director Robert Hannigan resigns (BBC News, link):

"The head of Britain's electronic surveillance agency GCHQ has resigned. Robert Hannigan, who has held the post of GCHQ director since 2014, said he was stepping down for family reasons.

He said he was proud of his work but that 20 years in public service roles had "demanded a great deal of my ever patient and understanding family"." Furthermore: "Sources have told BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera that the resignation was not the result of any concerns over policy in the UK or in the US."

See: Statewatch Observatory: EU-UK-GCHQ-USA-NSA: Data surveillance

And: Letter from Robert Hannigan to the Foreign Secretary (pdf)

HUNGARY: Hungarian NGOs prepare for government crackdown (Deutsche Welle, link):

"...as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's vision of illiberal democracy threatens to go global, Soros, 86, has been declared persona non grata in Hungary, and his "open society" ideals are under siege. In mid-January Orban's Fidesz party deputy singled out three Soros-funded NGOs - the human rights organization the Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ and anti-corruption body Transparency International - to be "swept out." The subject has been placed on the legislative agenda for the spring."

See also: Civil activists fear new crackdown in Hungary after Trump election (The Guardian, link) and detailed background on the Orban government's attacks on fundamental rights and the rule of law: Six years of Orbán, 600 laws and measures: EU "must show it is serious" about democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary (Statewatch News Online, November 2016)

EU: Becoming adult: Child mobility in the EU’s refugee crisis: What are the data gaps and why do they matter? (pdf) by Nando Sigona and Rachel Humphris:

"Child migration into Europe is diverse and often invisible in data and policy. Legal definitions, bureaucratic practices, rights and entitlements of child migrants vary across European states. While some segments of this population are visible in public debate and datasets, especially unaccompanied asylum seeking children, others are hardly visible, particularly dependent children to asylum seeking parents and undocumented children."

Via: University of Oxford: Border Criminologies (link)

And see a previous, more detailed paper by the authors: Global Migration Data Analysis Centre: Children and unsafe migration in Europe: Data and policy, understanding the evidence base (September 2016, pdf)

EU-MALTA: Schengen: Malta reintroducing border controls for high-level political summits on migration in February

The government of Malta is reintroducing controls at the country's air and sea borders between 21 January and 9 February, to "ensure internal security is maintained" for two high-level political summits focusing on migration that will be hosted by Malta as part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: Reintroduction of temporary border controls at the Maltese air and sea borders (20 January 2017, 5206/17, unclassified, pdf)

UK: SCOTLAND: Women's statement: Full investigation needed on undercover policing in Scotland (Police Spies Out Of Lives, link):

"The review into Undercover Policing set up by HMICS in Scotland is an insult to those of us who were spied on there. It is the Police investigating the police, with the people affected by undercover policing being given no voice. Our experience would lead us to expect a cover up. HMICS is staffed with ex-police, some of whom will return to policing with the force they are examining, and some of whom actually have links to undercover policing in Scotland. It is also limited to events from 2000. Those of us who were spied on in Scotland before that date will not even be included.

We call for a full Public Inquiry to get to the truth of what happened in Scotland, and in all the countries these undercover officers operated in. We call for everyone who was spied on to be given access to the police files held on them in all of these countries. These units were political policing units, akin to the Stasi of East Germany. They must be closed, and held accountable for their actions.”"

This condemnation follows the previous: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link) and see: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

UK: Lords Committee slams data sharing powers in Digital Economy Bill (Open Rights Group, link):

"The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee of the House of Lords has made some very critical recommendations about the data sharing proposals in the Digital Economy Bill.

In a report published today the Committee asks for the “almost untrammeled” powers given to Ministers in the Bill to be severely curtailed, and for all Codes of Practice associated with these data sharing powers to be laid before Parliament in draft for full approval before coming into force."

See the report: House of Lords: Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Digital Economy Bill: Parts 5-7 (pdf)

"Part 5 [of the Digital Economy Bill] contains a suite of new provisions (divided into seven chapters). These would very significantly broaden the scope for the sharing of information across government departments, local authorities and other public bodies. There are numerous powers to delegate important matters to regulations or codes of practice. Several broadly similar powers appear in each chapter of Part 5."

And: Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Digital Economy Bill: Parts 1-4 (pdf)

ITALY-ETHIOPIA: Caritas supports humanitarian corridor for Horn of Africa refugees (Caritas, link):

"Italy is opening a humanitarian corridor for refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia with the support of Caritas. An agreement with the Italian government was signed last week.

The women, men and children will come from refugee camps in Ethiopia. Once in Italy, Caritas will help the refugees through the project “Protetto. Rifugiato a casa mia” (Protected: a refugee in my home) which is in its third year of helping house refugees with members of local communities in Italy."

FRANCE: Far-right: the Front National: brief history and overview of electoral results

As presidential elections in France approach, a research note from the UK Parliament published after the European Parliament elections in 2014 provides an overview of previous electoral results of the far-right Front National (FN). The party will publish its new manifesto next month; last weekend (21 January) FN leader Marine Le Pen was the headline speaker at a "counter-summit" of EU far-right parties held in Koblenz, Germany.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.1.17): Commission needs to assess EU-Turkey deal human rights impact; Malta wants to return migrants to Libya; refugees in freezing weather in south-east Europe.

EU-Turkey deal: Ombudsman says that Commission must do more to assess human rights impact

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly has today issued a decision (pdf) that says the European Commission must undertake a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, which could be done by including a section on human rights in its future progress reports on the implementation of the deal.

MEDITERRANEAN: Malta wants EU-Libyan patrols to stop boat migrants (Malta Today, link):

"The Maltese government has presented home affairs ministers of the EU with a “non-paper” – diplomatic-speak for a political memo – calling for joint patrols with the Libyan navy in a bid to stop the influx of migrants through the Central Mediterranean route.

Malta has assumed the presidency of the European Union and is currently tasked with the delicate bid to push the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which forces EU member states to process any asylum claims presented at their borders.

In its aide-memoire to European member states, Malta has proposed placing European coast guard patrols just outside the extensive Libyan coast, in joint patrols with Libyan counterparts, who will then take intercepted migrant boats back to Libyan shores."

See also: EU needs Turkish-style migration deal with Libya - Maltese PM (Reuters, link) and more detail on EU-Libya cooperation to date: European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link)

EU: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users

Europol has written to national delegations in the Council of the EU expressing the concerns of law enforcement agencies regarding the use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technology, which hampers "cyber" investigations by making it impossible for officers to "link a particular cyber criminal's activity back to a particular IP address."

See: Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) and the Going Dark Problem - initial debate (5127/17, LIMITE, 16 January 2017, pdf)

UK: Police Taser their own race relations adviser in Bristol (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog has launched an investigation after officers Tasered a race relations champion who has worked to improve links between the force and the black community.

Judah Adunbi, 63, was Tasered by police outside his home in Bristol on Saturday when officers apparently mistook him for a wanted man.

Video recorded by a neighbour shows police scuffling with Adunbi as he tries to get though the gate of his home in the Easton area. He falls to the ground after a Taser is discharged. Adunbi said later he thought he was going to die."

EU-USA: Donald Trump and Europe: A salutary wake-up call (Voxeurop, link):

"With his clear-cut positions and confrontational attitude towards other powers, the thundering businessman who takes up office on January 20th has the merit of centering the attention of the majority of European countries. It's now time to transform this shared attitude into real politics, judges Bernard Guetta."

On the other hand: EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link)

USA: Drone wars, Guantánamo and "homeland security", from Obama to Trump

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, Barack Obama's presidency has been under serious scrutiny. Below is a selection of articles examining Obama's legacy in relation to drone killings; the research, development and deployment of "homeland security" policies and technologies; and Guantánamo Bay.

UK: ABC & Liberty email all headteachers about #BoycottSchoolCensus (Against Borders for Children, link):

"Today, Monday 16th January, every headteacher of primary and secondary schools and academies in England will have received an unprecedented e-mail jointly signed by Against Borders for Children (ABC) and human rights organisation Liberty.

We have asked headteachers to ensure all parents are informed of their right to either refuse the new nationality questions in the upcoming Spring School Census this week, on Thursday 19th January or retract data already collected in the Autumn School Census. The new census data was recently described in a House of Lords debate as having “all the hallmarks of racism”.

As campaigners we have also highlighted that the nationality data collection is explicitly linked to Home Office policy to reduce immigration. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) released in December also allows the Department for Education (DfE) to share the personal details of up to 1500 pupils with Home Office every month for immigration enforcement purposes."

And see: Refuse. Retract. Resist borders for children! (Right to Remain, link)

UK: Detaining torture survivors: the history of a policy facing legal challenge

An article published by Right to Remain gives an overview of the situation regarding the detention of torture survivors in the run-up to a forthcoming judicial review of the government's current 'Adults at Risk' policy, through which the government introduced in 2016 a more restrictive definition of torture than that previously used. The judicial review is based on legal challenges brought by Medical Justice, Duncan Lewis solicitors and Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

Selling the tools of state surveillance: how the work of a would be-cyberweapons dealer from India led to the detention of an Italian bodyguard in Mauritania

An article on the Bloomberg website tells the story of how the sales efforts of Manish Kumar, a 30-year-old from New Delhi who markets surveillance tools to governments through his company Wolf Intelligence, led to an Italian bodyguard being held in pre-trial detention in a Mauritanian military barracks (where he has now been for almost a year-and-a-half, accused of fraud and money laundering) after Kumar promised to provide the Mauritanian government with sophisticated covert mobile phone surveillance tools. The article gives an insight into the murky world of the cyber-espionage trade and the individuals involved.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.17)

EU-USA: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (COM 31-17, pdf)

"the report underlines the important role of Europol in carrying out its verification tasks of requests for data from the EU and proactively initiating a series of requests, thus helping to raise awareness of the TFTP among EU authorities.

The Commission also makes some suggestions to Member States to provide regular feedback on the TFTP data received from the US authorities to further improve the quality and quantity of information exchanged and encourages Europol to further continue its efforts in providing support to Member States. The next review will be conducted at the beginning of 2018."

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

EU: European Parliament: Briefing: Prison conditions in the Member States: selected European standards and best practices (pdf):

"In 2014, prisons across the EU were holding over half a million inmates, including both convicted persons, serving their final sentence, and persons accused of a crime. Living conditions in prisons are regulated by numerous laws and guidelines: from constitutional provisions to national criminal and penitentiary laws and international law principles."

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Spycops Activists Demand Meeting with Scottish Government (COPS, link){

"There has been emphatic condemnation of the terms of the Scottish inquiry into undercover policing. Not only is it a self-investigation by senior police, it is limited to the last few years of abuses. Although the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in 1968, the Scottish review will not examine anything before 2000....

Today, a group of the core participants who were also spied upon in Scotland have written to Michael Matheson requesting a meeting. Here is the text of their letter...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.1.17)

EU: High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability report
"A common repository would be a logical next step after a shared biometric matching service."

Report of the third meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Infomation Systems and Interoperability (dated 29 November 2016, just published): High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability Third meeting — 29 November 2016 Report (pdf)

UK-USA-Libya: Press releases: Supreme Court rules MI6-CIA rendition case against government can go ahead

The UK Supreme Court has [18.1.17] unanimously rejected the government’s attempts to prevent a case brought by victims of a British-American ‘rendition’ operation from being heard.

All seven judges ruled that a claim brought by an anti-Gaddafi dissident and his wife – who was pregnant when the couple were kidnapped, abused and forcibly transferred to a Libyan prison in 2004 – should be heard. Ministers had claimed that, because the operation was carried out jointly by MI6 and the CIA, it would be inappropriate for British courts to rule on activity which involved American officials – even if it involved kidnap, rendition and torture.

ECHR: Court: Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demo (link):

"Human rights judges ruled today that Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demonstration.

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary (application no. 10851/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an anti-Roma demonstration. Király and Dömötör – both of whom are of Roma origin – alleged that the police had failed to protect them from racist abuse during the demonstration and to properly investigate the incident."

See: Press release (pdf)

EU-TURKEY: UNHCR cannot monitor the rights of people returned under EU-Turkey deal

"What did the European Commission forget to tell us about the returnees of the EU-Turkey Deal?

So finally UNHCR stated formally, very quietly unfortunately, that has no unimpeded access to the returned refugees to Turkey and cannot monitor the returns under the EU-Turkey deal in any effective manner. In short they haven’t seen much of the returned refugees."

USA: Biometrics leads to arrest of accused child molester on the lam 17 years (arstechnica.com, link): "FBI says it matched suspect's passport photo with pics from nearly 20 years ago."

Anti-surveillance clothing: surveillance for commercial gain - not security purposes - is what really breeds resentment (IFSEC Global, link):

"There has been growing press coverage about anti-surveillance clothing and paraphernalia to counter the effectiveness of face recognition..."

And see: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (Guardian, link): "Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles that computers interpret as a face, in fightback against intrusive technology."

EU: Amnesty: major new report denounces Europe's "ever-expanding national security state"

A major new report from Amnesty International examines the expansion of security measures and states of emergency across 14 EU states in the last two years, warning that "the disturbing idea that Europe faces a perpetual emergency is beginning to take hold," because: "Powers intended to be exceptional are appearing more and more as permanent features of national law."

See: Amnesty International, Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe (link)

EU: Council of Europe: Human Rights Commissioner: Slovenia: Parliament must ensure that legislative reform on migrants complies with human rights obligations (link):

"Slovenian parliamentarians should reject amendments to the Aliens Act that are contrary to international human rights and refugee protection standards by which Slovenia is bound”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the President of the National Assembly of Slovenia.

Two of the proposed amendments recently introduced by the Government would allow the police to refuse entry into Slovenia and to arrest and summarily return foreigners who entered the country irregularly, even if they express the intention to apply for asylum in Slovenia. The parliament could activate these measures for a renewable 6-month period in case of a change of the migration situation in Slovenia that “threatens public order and internal security."

See: Letter (pdf)

UK: Detention Forum statement – the death at Morton Hall detention centre (link):

"We are saddened by yet another death in immigration detention last week in Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire. It has been reported by the Guardian newspaper that a young detained Polish man took his own life, leaving his baby and his partner behind. The baby was born on the day of the man’s death. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and communities.

This is the third death in UK immigration detention in five weeks, and comes at a time when the government’s commitment to detention reform is in serious doubt."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.1.17): Turkey: 330km of border walls built in 2016; new campaign in France against "solidarity offence"; over 100 dead after shipwreck; Spanish court case into migrant deaths re-opened; and more.

EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link):

"Donald Trump has predicted the crumbling of and eventual collapse of the EU. His damaging assertion was met with a depressingly limp response by the European Commission.

“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump told The Times and Bild newspapers.

Trump followed this up by saying the EU was “basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”

If the future of the EU is your business, this demands a swift rebuttal – to shore up diminishing confidence if nothing else. But we didn’t get that from the European Commission today.

Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the executive “had read the interview with interest”. Asked if that was all the Commission had to say, Schinas said, “Yes”."

EU: European Parliament studies: gender equality, obstacles to EU citizens' free movement in Poland

Three studies conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service: on gender equality policies in Spain; on the use of EU funds for gender equality Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK between 2014-16, and on obstacles in Poland to EU citizens' and their families exercising their rights to free movement and residence.

EU: European Parliament briefing: Review of dual-use export controls (pdf)

"Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. The regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement on the review of the dual-use export control system in 2014 and the European Parliament has since adopted several resolutions related to the issue. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure."

Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems (SIPRI, link) by Dr Vincent Boulanin

"Since 2013 the governance of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been discussed under the framework of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The discussion is still at an early stage, with most states parties still in the process of understanding the issues at stake—beginning with the fundamental questions of what constitutes ‘autonomy’ and to what extent it is a matter of concern in the context of weapon systems and the use of force. A number of states parties have stressed that future discussions could usefully benefit from further investigation into the conceptual and technical foundations of the meaning of ‘autonomy’.

This working paper is an attempt to respond to that demand. It aims to clarify some basic understandings about autonomy: what it is, how it applies to weapon systems, how it works, how it is created and what the key technological enablers are. It is based on a substantial review of the literature as well as a background series of interviews with experts from various expert communities."

TURKEY: 2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls (Hurriyet Daily News, link):

"Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers (205 miles) of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14.

According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers (119 miles) of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security.

The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria."

FRANCE: Migration: collective manifesto marks start of new campaign against the "solidarity offence" as government maintains border controls until July

Over 100 trade unions and local and national associations across France have signed a new manifesto that calls for an end to the "solidarity offence" and denounces the trials of "activists who are only helping people in very precarious situations, victims of dangerous, violent and even inhuman decisions," such as the farmer Cédric Herrou, who was recently tried for aiding illegal arrivals after helping people cross the border from Italy to France.

EU: Refugee crisis: More than 100 asylum seekers drown as boat sinks in the Mediterranean Sea (The Independent, link):

"More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad"."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta

A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

Thousands rally in Spain for ETA prisoner amnesty (The Local, link):

"Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bilbao in northern Spain on Saturday, calling for amnesty for prisoners of the Eta Basque separatist group.

Protesters in the Basque country, who hold this demonstration every January, held up placards of a finger pointing to the sky as they denounced the prison conditions endured by Basque separatists.

Almost all members of Eta, a group that gave up armed resistence to Spain in 2011, have been jailed but the movement has refused to disband.

They have been calling for an amnesty for their incarcerated members so they can be reunited with their families.

Basque newspaper Gara estimated the number of people in the Bilbao streets on a rainy day as 78,000, while police declined to give a crowd estimate."

AFRICA: Available evidence contradicts assumptions about African migrations

An important article by Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas:

"Africa is often seen as a continent of mass migration and displacement caused by poverty, violent conflict and environmental stress. Yet such perceptions are based on stereotypes rather than theoretically informed empirical research. Drawing on the migration and visa databases from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG project) and the Global Bilateral Migration Database (GBMD), this paper explores the evolution and drivers of migration within, towards and from Africa in the post-colonial period. Contradicting common ideas of Africa as a ‘continent on the move’, the analysis shows that intra-African migration intensities have gone down. This may be related to state formation and the related imposition of barriers towards free movement in the wake of decolonisation as well as the concomitant rise of nationalism and inter-state tensions. While African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental, since the late 1980s there has been an acceleration and spatial diversification (beyond colonial patterns) of emigration out of Africa to Europe, North America, the Gulf and Asia. This diversification of African emigration seems partly driven by the introduction of visa and other immigration restrictions by European states. Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future." (emphasis added)

See: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (pdf)

UK: 'Specific' terror evidence not necessary for RAF drone strikes (The Guardian, link):

"“Specific” advance evidence of a terror plot threatening UK interests is not legally necessary before launching pre-emptive drone strikes against suspects overseas, according to the the attorney general.

In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Jeremy Wright QC denied that the threshold for self-defence was being “watered down” but said not knowing the target, type or time of a terrorist attack should not prevent military action."

Wright has said that he is adopting the series of tests set out in: Principles relevant to the scope of a state's right of self-defence against an imminent or actual armed attack by nonstate actors (pdf) by Daniel Bethlehem.

EU: Malta Presidency of the Council: opinion piece by Maltese interior minister

"It is evident that this presidency is seen as a window of opportunity to reach common, tangible goals in the field of migration. The fact that Malta, given its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea, has been at the forefront of the migration crisis for so many years, makes us a credible, honest broker in this area.

Achieving progress in discussions on such matters between 28 Member States, all with their own different histories, cultures, realities and political agendas, is quite a tall order. Still, I am optimistic that, if we really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward. We owe it to our citizens: the very future of the EU depends on the decisions, as Member States, we will take in the coming few months.

We have a very specific priority: to arrive at an agreement on a comprehensive approach to migration. During these six months, my ministry is tasked with carrying forward work on the seven migration and asylum-related proposals that are on the table."

See: Realistic optimists at the helm (Times of Malta, link)

And: 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

EU: European Parliament briefing: Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (pdf):

"In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, in November 2015 the European Commission presented a package of measures aiming to tighten control on the acquisition and possession of firearms in the European Union, improve traceability of legally held firearms and enhance cooperation between Member States, as well as ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

The proposal to amend the current 'Firearms Directive' (Directive 91/477/EEC) was part of this package. It aims to ban some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use, as well as to include some previously excluded actors (collectors and brokers) and blankfiring weapons within the scope of the Directive. Stakeholders commented particularly on the proposed ban on some semi-automatic firearms and the obligation for collectors to deactivate firearms.

After several rounds of trilogue negotiations, the Council and Parliament reached agreement on the proposal in December. The text is now to be submitted for a vote in plenary at first reading."

Note: a plenary reading and vote is currently scheduled for 1 March 2017 (European Parliament, link).

Statewatch Analysis: Eight report on relocation and resettlement: Commission welcomes increase in relocations and ignores harmful systematic effects (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

In the eighth report on relocation and resettlement published on 8 December 2016, the Commission continued to welcome developments which are degrading Europe to ensure that the “emergency” its policies and the dysfunctional Schengen/Dublin system have predictably caused persists, particularly in frontline Mediterranean states (Greece and Italy).

Over a year after the start of implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration, the EU Action Plan on Migrations and in particular the roll-out of the hotspot approach in Italy and Greece, mounting evidence shows that far from assisting frontline states, they are being punished for shortcomings in implementing a dysfunctional model designed to penalise them.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.1.17)

UK: School governors forced to declare nationality to Government (inews.co.uk, link):

"Ministers have been accused of turning schools into “Border Control” after it emerged governors are being forced to declare their nationality to a Government register set up in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” scandal.

Concerns have been raised as to how the information about governors’ nationalities will be used, given the register was created in response to allegations that schools in Birmingham were being taken over by hardline Muslim groups. It has led to fears that the details are being collected as part of a crackdown on illegal migrants and the Government’s efforts to step up its national security measures. ‘

"Shameful’ :The policy affects the estimated 300,000 unpaid volunteers who make up England’s school governing bodies. Civil liberty campaigners have branded the move as “shameful”."

SCOTLAND: Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link):

"The announcement of the terms of reference for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s review into undercover policing manages to go beyond being meaningless, insulting those demanding answers for historical abuses by spycops, explains Dónal O’Driscoll."

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

USA: Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months (Independent, link):

"Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.

However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.1.17) including: EU migration control in the Sahel, Germany to return refugees to Greece from March; questions over push-backs in Spain and Serbia; Malta PM wants EU-Turkey-style deal with other states.

Interpol: Red Alert! How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders (Al Jazeera, link):

"Interpol is the world's largest policing organisation connecting 190 member countries in the battle against international crime.

But as representatives of the global law enforcement agency met at their General Assembly towards the end of 2016, they faced questions over a crucial crime fighting tool.

In 2015, Interpol issued more than 11,000 "Red Notices" on behalf of member countries. These alerts inform countries that an individual is wanted for serious offences. It's then up to authorities in different countries to decide what action to take.

But human rights groups have suggested that some countries have used Interpol wanted notices to target political dissidents and opponents across borders, often with devastating consequences.

People and Power sent Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae to investigate."

And see: People and Power: New documentary shows the impact of abusive INTERPOL alerts (Fair Trials, link):

"A new documentary has been broadcast, showing the devastating impact that INTERPOL Red Notices can have when used on the wrong people."

EU: Data retention and the law: Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson et al: Continuity and Radical Change (European Law Blog, link):

"The CJEU delivered its judgment in Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson on 21 December 2016. The Court had been asked by a Swedish and British court respectively to consider the scope and effect of its previous judgment in Digital Rights Ireland (discussed here). The judgment reflects continuity in so far as it follows in the line of this, and earlier judgments taking a strong stance on data protection and privacy. Yet, the degree of protection it offers these rights over competing interests, notably security, is radical. In particular, the Court unequivocally states that legislation providing for general and indiscriminate data retention is incompatible with the E-Privacy Directive, as read in light of the relevant EU Charter rights. While the judgment was delivered in the context of the E-Privacy Directive, the Court’s reasoning could equally apply to other EU secondary legislation or programmes interpreted in light of the Charter. This judgment will be a game-changer for state surveillance in Europe and while it offered an early Christmas gift to privacy campaigners, it is likely to receive a very mixed reaction from EU Member States as such. While national data retention legislation has been annulled across multiple Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany and Romania), this annulment has been based on an assessment of the proportionality of the relevant measures rather than on a finding that blanket retention is per se unlawful."

Background: Court of Justice of the EU

Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

Digital Rights Ireland case on the Data Retention Directive: The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages (The Guardian, link):

"A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.

Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

Privacy campaigners said the vulnerability is a “huge threat to freedom of speech” and warned it can be used by government agencies to snoop on users who believe their messages to be secure. WhatsApp has made privacy and security a primary selling point, and has become a go to communications tool of activists, dissidents and diplomats."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Court: Access to totalitarian archives data not to worsen (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The accessibility of archival sources from the totalitarian era will not worsen, but researchers must take into account the protection of delicate personal data if they publish them, the Czech Constitutional Court (US) ruled on Wednesday.

The US has turned down a proposal opposing the exception granted to historians thanks to which they have easy access to the documents from the Nazi (1939-1945) and Communist regimes (1948-1989).

For this, they do not need the consent of the living people whose sensitive personal data appear in the documents.

In some cases, the researchers need the consent by the living protagonists of past events with the subsequent publication of the documents."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. “There should be a political signal from the EU that it is ready to engage with Libya,” the Maltese premier insisted." (emphasis added)

EU-AFRICA: Is Europe’s coke habit funding terrorism? (African Herald Express, link):

"Europe’s cocaine may have a far more sinister journey than most users like to imagine.

The rising European cocaine market has led to South American traffickers using West Africa as a direct transit line into the region. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, $2 billion of Europe’s cocaine is passing through West Africa. Nigeria is seen as the path of least resistance into Europe due to high levels of corruption, low-governance, and the regions extreme wealth inequality.

Boko Haram is said to be one of the main beneficiary parties of the cocaine trafficking in the region. The African Union’s new police cooperation body against transnational crime, the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), claim trafficking is one of the main sources of revenue for the group and helps fund the violent terrorist attacks on civilians."

UK: Counter-terrorism money being spent on redacting evidence to inquiry on undercover policing (The Independent, link):

"Counter-terrorism money is being used to redact police evidence to an inquiry into undercover policing tactics, it has been revealed.

Nearly £750,000 from the counter-terrorism budget has been earmarked for an IT system to assess and redact material which might be sent to the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry, according to papers obtained from a Freedom of Information request and seen by the website PoliceOracle.com.

The inquiry, chaired by senior judge Sir Christopher Pitchford, was set up after it emerged that undercover officers including Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), had slept with activists while infiltrating protest movements."

Slovenia Aliens Act Proposal Worries Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Slovenian government backed an amendment to the existing Aliens Act on Thursday, introducing stricter procedures towards asylum seekers and refugees for a special six-month period – with a possible extension for another six months.

It is likely to be backed by the country's parliament in which the plan enjoys cross-party support.

Although the procedure would not apply to persons whose life is in danger if they are returned to their native countries, or unaccompanied minors, the provisions will empower police officers to refuse entry to most asylum seekers on the border.

Zajovic said Slovenia was trying to imitate recent moves by Hungary, which were unfortunately now being copied by the majority of countries on the "Balkan route", including Croatia, "where we have witnessed a lot of cases in which Croatian police deported refugees to Serbia without proper procedure”."

See: Amnesty International: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (link)

Cellebrite Sold Phone Hacking Tech to Repressive Regimes, Data Suggests (Motherboard, link):

"Cellebrite's hacking kit is one of the most popular forensics tools on the market, capable of circumventing passcodes and extracting a wealth of data from seized cellphones. US law enforcement agencies have invested heavily in the tech, but Cellebrite may have also sold its wares to authoritarian regimes with abysmal human rights records, such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, according to a large cache of data obtained by Motherboard.

The revelations raise questions around Cellebrite's choice of customers, whether it vets them, and what policies, if any, are in place to stop Cellebrite's technology from being used against journalists or activists."

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications (New York Times, link):

"In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people."

See: Procedures for the availability or dissemination of raw signals intelligence information obtained by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 (raw SIGINT availability procedures) (pdf)

USA-RUSSIA-UK: The Trump revelations: trumped-up?

Donald Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for author's credibility (The Guardian, link):

"His denials – at least some of them – were emphatic, even by the standards that Donald Trump has come to be judged by. The dossier, he said, was a confection of lies; he compared it to Nazi propaganda; it was fake news spread by sick people.

At his press briefing on Wednesday, the president-elect dared the world’s media to scrutinise the 35 pages of claims, before throwing down a challenge – where’s the proof? Nobody had any. Case closed.

But in the rush to trample all over the dossier and its contents, one key question remained. Why had America’s intelligence agencies felt it necessary to provide a compendium of the claims to Barack Obama and Trump himself?

And the answer to that lies in the credibility of its apparent author, the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, the quality of the sources he has, and the quality of the people who were prepared to vouch for him. In all these respects, the 53-year-old is in credit."

And: Trump 'compromising' claims: How and why did we get here? (BBC News, link):

"Donald Trump has described as "fake news" allegations published in some media that his election team colluded with Russia - and that Russia held compromising material about his private life. The BBC's Paul Wood saw the allegations before the election, and reports on the fallout now they have come to light."

GERMANY: Wikileaks publishes classified documents from inside German NSA inquiry commission (Electrospaces, link):

"On December 1, Wikileaks published 90 gigabytes of classified documents from the German parliamentary commission that investigates NSA spying and the cooperation between NSA and the German foreign intelligence service BND. The documents include 125 files from BND, 33 from the security service BfV and 72 from the information security agency BSI.

It should be noted though that all documents are from the lowest classification level and lots of them are just formal letters, copies of press reports and duplications within e-mail threads. Nonetheless, the files also provide interesting new details, for example about the German classification system, BND's internal structure, the way they handled the Snowden-revelations and the use of XKEYSCORE."

The post is being regularly updated as new information is found in the documents published by Wikileaks (link).

Germany to return refugees to Greece starting in March (Al Jazeera, link):

"Germany has decided to start returning newly arrived asylum seekers to Greece starting in mid-March, according to an interior ministry spokesperson, effectively reversing a five-year suspension of such transfers owing to the poor conditions there.

(...)

A German interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that Germany would reinstate the Dublin rule in two months' time and return newly-arrived asylum seekers to their first EU port of call.

"In line with the recommendation from the European Commission, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15," said the spokesman, Tobias Plate."

See: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

United Nations Special Rapporteur: On the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Civil Society Guide: A handbook for using the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf)

And: Checklist Implementation: A step-by-step checklist for monitoring implementation of the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf):

"We are pleased to announce the launch of Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai's latest report, the "10 Principles Civil Society Guide", which is designed to help civil society advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of assemblies domestically.....

The Guide provides suggestions, tools and inspiration to CSOs as they consider how they might push for the implementation of the practical recommendations in their own context. It is divided into four parts: Section 1 gives background on the practical recommendations report. Section 2 focuses on how CSOs can determine authorities’ compliance with the practical recommendations. Section 3 discusses methods for gathering the evidence necessary for monitoring compliance and building advocacy arguments. Lastly, Section 4 provides real-life examples of research and advocacy tactics which have been used to advance rights in the context of protests."

Tribute to John Berger 1926 – 2017 (IRR News, link) by Jeny Bourne:

"John Berger, writer, art critic and poet has died. John Berger, anti-imperialist, socialist man and peasant has died.

It is perhaps inevitable that the establishment should claim John Berger for their own, as the famous critic who provided the BBC and them with ‘Ways of Seeing’ in 1972 – and that despite his Marxism. It was and still is a milestone in interpreting art and ‘the gaze’. But he did not live his life in compartments or by accepting borders –geographical or disciplinary. For many of us who now mark his passing, his greatness lies in his practice as a committed and true intellectual and internationalist...."

‘Terror’ charges against environmental activists dropped as undercover police involvement comes to light (The Canary, link):

"‘Terrorism’ charges have been dropped against environmental activists spied on by a British undercover police officer. The activists lived in the village community of Tarnac, France. And the undercover police officer – dubbed a ‘spycop’ – was Mark Kennedy, who worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The court dismissed [French] the appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the SNCF (French railways). It ruled [translation] that: "There are insufficient charges to show that the offences were committed by any individual or group whose purpose was to disturb public order, to intimidate, or to cause terror."

The Canary can reveal that, in January 2016, a UK source provided the defendants with crucial evidence implicating Kennedy and his police supervisors in the case.

Who were the ‘Tarnac 9’?

The Tarnac 9 were four men and five women, aged 22 to 34, who were environmental activists. French authorities were investigating them, and subsequently arrested them after a series of dawn raids in November 2008."

Scotland: Police Inspectorate to probe undercover operations by 'rogue' units and sex spy officers (The Herald, link):

"A review of undercover policing in Scotland will examine the covert operations involving rogue former officers who had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will confirm this morning that its probe will include the activities of two notorious London-based units since 2000, which covers the G8 summit in Gleneagles nearly twelve years ago.....

Scottish Government Justice Secretary Michael Matheson directed HMICS to carry out a separate review of undercover policing in Scotland and the watchdog’s terms of reference will be published today.

Stage one will be an “initial scoping” exercise that will gather the views of “key stakeholders”. The second part will examine the operational delivery of undercover policing since the establishment of Police Scotland in 2013. "

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

US military tests swarm of mini-drones launched from jets (BBC News, link):

"The US military has launched 103 miniature swarming drones from a fighter jet during a test in California. Three F/A-18 Super Hornets were used to release the Perdix drones last October. The drones, which have a wingspan of 12in (30cm), operate autonomously and share a distributed brain. A military analyst said the devices, able to dodge air defence systems, were likely to be used for surveillance."

And see: A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves - Once launched, the swarm can decide for itself how best to execute a mission.(technologyreview.com, link)

Austria wants to discriminate against EU workers (euobserver, link):

"EU citizens should be barred from taking jobs if a qualified Austrian has applied to the same position, says Austria's centre-left chancellor.

Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday (11 January) accused east European nations of "exporting their joblessness to Austria" and wants local employers to prioritise Austrians unless no other candidate is available."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.17)

EU needs more nudging on travel data, says DHS chief (fcw.com, link):

"The European Union needs to do more to share biometric data for travelers bound for the U.S., according to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

In a Jan. 5 exit memo, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said expanding and encouraging information sharing with foreign governments, state and local law enforcement, the private sector and "our federal interagency partners" within DHS is critical to future border security."

New paper: "Boundaries of Law: Exploring Transparency, Accountability, and Oversight of Government Surveillance Regimes" (pdf) has been published by: Douwe Korff, Ben Wagner, Julia Powles, Renata Avila and Ulf Buermeyer:

"Bottom-line conclusion: "The discrepancy between continuing government surveillance practices and the relevant international human rights and rule of law standards is breath-taking.

The resulting concentration of secret power in the hands of intelligence agencies may prove deeply corrosive to democracy, commerce, and the rule of law. However, in most of the countries studied, citizens and their elected representatives still have the ability to call the State to order and establish appropriate checks and balances on its surveillance powers.

Guided by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles, this report proposes a set of standards for minimum transparency, accountability and oversight of government surveillance practices." (p. 11)"

USA: The Trump revelations

John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI - Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump - ‘Unverified and potentially unverifiable’ reports published by BuzzFeed (Guardian, link)

And in case you missed it: The Trump allegations file (pdf, link)

See also: Ex-British intelligence officer 'behind Trump Russia dossier' named (BBC News, link) and Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, 'terrified for his safety' and went to ground before name released (Telegraph, link) 

and BBC claims a second source backs up Trump dossier (The Week, link) and also: BBC correspondent: Ex-British intelligence officer ‘not the only source’ for Russia’s Trump dossier (RAW Story, link)

European Parliament: New Rules of Procedure (pdf) Now in force.

German ministers agree on tougher rules for migrants posing security risk (euractiv, link):

"Germany’s interior and justice ministers, representing the two blocs in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, agreed on Tuesday (10 January) on tougher measures for asylum seekers whose documents are not in order or who are deemed to pose a security threat."

And see: German ministers agree tougher rules for migrants posing security risk (Reuters, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.1.17)

European Commission: Privacy and telecommunications package

Digital Single Market – Stronger privacy rules for electronic communications (Press release, pdf)

Proposal for a: Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (COM-10-17, pdf)

Proposal affecting EU Institutions: Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC (COM-8-17, pdf)

Communication: Exchanging and Protecting Personal Data in a Globalised World (COM-7-17, pdf)

Q & A (pdf): Includes:

"Processing of communications content and metadata is conditioned to consent.

Privacy is guaranteed for content of communication as well as metadata – for example who was called, the timing, location and duration of the call, as well as websites visited. Metadata linked to electronic communications have a high privacy component and need to be deleted or made anonymous if users did not give their consent, unless the data is needed for billing purposes."

Note: Proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation would repeal the current ePrivacy Directive.

A New Era of Mass Surveillance is Emerging Across Europe (Just Security, link):

"Conclusion

Across Europe, from Poland to Austria, from Italy to Sweden, parliaments have been adopting expansive domestic and foreign surveillance legislation in recent months and years. This wave of legislation, pushed by populist agendas and public outrage in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on European soil, is a flagrant disregard to decades of jurisprudence by the ECtHR and more recent jurisprudence by CJEU, and it puts in danger privacy protections across the continent. The leaders of Germany, France and the UK are setting a dangerous precedent which echoes within the European Community and far beyond it: Mass surveillance by governments has become the new normal.

To show how much has changed, it’s worth remembering the speech German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave to the German Parliament, just three years ago, in January 2014, when she warned Western governments against promoting surveillance policies that collect everything that is “technically possible.” She noted that these foreign mass surveillance programs not only “sow distrust,” but send the wrong signal to “billions of people living in undemocratic States.” The end result, she concluded, “is not more security but less.”

EU plans first laws on robotics (euractiv, link):

"A European Parliament committee will look Thursday (12 January) at a draft resolution relating to the regulation of robotics. The text could become the basis for the first European legislation on automation and robots. ...

The report in question is not a legislative initiative, rather it is a set of recommendations to be sent to the European Commission, asking the executive to draw up a legal framework for the civilian use of robots. If the text gets approval then the first European-wide law on robotics could be just over the horizon."

See also: European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf)

Expulsion of seriously ill migrants: a new ECtHR ruling reshapes ECHR and EU law (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In what is possibly one of the most important judgments of 2016, Paposhvili v. Belgium, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has memorably reshaped its case law on when Article 3 ECHR (which bans torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment) applies to the expulsion of seriously ill migrants. In a unanimous judgment, the Court leaves behind the restrictive application of the high Article 3 threshold set in N. v. the United Kingdom and pushes for a more rigorous assessment of the risk of ill-treatment in these cases.

For us at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, it was a thrill to intervene as a third party in such an important case. In our third party intervention we submitted that Paposhvili offered a unique opportunity to depart from the excessively restrictive approach adopted in N. We are delighted that the Grand Chamber has seized the opportunity to re-draw the standards in this area of its case law in a way that does fuller justice to the spirit of Article 3."

UK: Policing Hillsborough: What the new Thatcher papers reveal (Undercover Research Group, link)

"Repost of Evan Smith’s highly recommended blog Hatful of History, 10 January 2017.

The newly released files discussed here confirm what the Hillsborough campaigners have always maintained: ‘For the Thatcher government in the wake of Hillsborough, the focus was on crowd control and dealing with unruly elements of football crowds. The actions of the police, at this point in time, were never questioned by the government.’

Evan (@Hatfulofhistory) is an Australian-British academic interested in history, politics and criminal justice issues mostly related to activist and left-wing past and alternative scenes."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.1.17): refugees at risk of freezing to death; French police accused of stealing migrants' blankets; Germany threatens to cut development aid; and more.

UK: Letter to the government on review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO)

Letter from the Public Law Project to the Lord Chancellor Re: Proposed review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (link to pdf):

"We are writing further to your statement in Parliament earlier this month that you would shortly be announcing the timeline for the review of LASPO which the Government is committed to undertaking by April 2018. PLP welcomes the Government’s intention to conduct a review into the LASPO legal aid reforms which have had far reaching implications for access to justice in England and Wales."

And see: Legal aid cuts are a major human rights issue (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The recent sharp cuts to civil legal aid have hurt not only those people already in the most pain, but the integrity of the justice system itself. That’s the grim conclusion of Amnesty’s year long research into the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) on access to justice in the UK."

UK: Free Movement and Deportation: Nonjudicial Restrictions on the Right to Work are Lawful (United Kingdom Immigration Law Blog, link):

"Like countless other European citizens, the Lithuanian claimant, Lauzikas, came to the UK to work the construction industry. He entered the UK in 2012. However, in June 2014, a row with his former wife’s current partner led him to first threaten and then shoot the man with a BB gun. He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm and in January 2015 he received 14 months’ imprisonment. Serving seven months on remand entitled him to immediate release and he received notification of his liability to be deported and detained... In February 2015, a decision was made to make a deportation order... An appeal was lodged against the deportation decision and removal directions were cancelled after parallel judicial review proceedings were issued. Lauzikas remained in the country but was nevertheless detained until the tribunal granted him bail.

The present judicial review application was mounted on the basis that an employment restriction imposed on Lauzikas constituted an unjustified and disproportionate interference with his right of free movement as an EU worker, and that the interference was also impermissible under domestic law because the home office had no power to impose restrictions where an individual was bailed to appear before the tribunal. Thirlwall J held that the right to work is a “qualified right” which is “an aspect of the freedom of movement.” Explaining that no authority existed on the central EU law point in this case, her Ladyship refused the application because the effect of suspending removal was to merely allow him to stay in the UK in order press his legal rights. Moreover, during that time he was provided accommodation and modest financial support. So no breach of his rights occurred for him to pursue remedies against the executive."

Judgment: Jonas Lauzikas v Secretary of State for the Home Department ([2016] EWHC 3215 (Admin)) (pdf)

UK: Campaign for a free press: Section 40 jeopardises press freedom (Index, link):

"Index on Censorship has for the past four decades published the work of censored writers and artists. Now we face the possibility of censorship thanks to a UK government law that means — as a publisher that refuses to sign up to a regulator approved by a state-created body — we could end up paying both sides in a legal dispute even if we ultimately win the case. The law, Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, as it stands is a danger to a free press."

See: #FreeThePress (link):

"#FreeThePress
Say NO to section 40 and Leveson Part 2.
Press freedom, the lifeblood of democracy, is under attack.

But you can do something about it."

And: What is Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? (Index, link)

Greek asylum claims spike due to backlogs (EUobserver, link):

"Greek asylum applications registered a massive jump late last year, but experts pin it mainly to a backlog.

The Greek Asylum Service noted a 593 percent increase of asylum applications in November alone, or around 7,600 claims, compared to 2015's monthly average of 1,100.

The spike appears to be broadly linked to a large-scale pre-registration programme launched over the summer and a doubling of staff at the Greek Asylum Service."

EU: Cybersecurity: report on the implementation of the Network and Information Security Directive

A brief report from the Commission to national delegations in the Council's 'Horizontal Working Party on Cyber Issues', issued in early December 2016, outlines the situation regarding implementation of the EU's Network and Information Security Directive.

EU: Refugees living in snow and sub-zero temperatures at risk of death

"Humanitarian agencies have warned that without adequate housing refugees in Greece may die as the country continues to be gripped by freezing winter weather.

Parts of the country have seen more than a metre (three feet) of snow and temperatures as low as - 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and communication lines and roads are out of action on several islands.

In Moria, a large camp on the island of Lesvos, around 15,000 people are still living in overcrowded conditions in thin summer tents."

SCOTLAND: RENDITION: Cops slammed over Scottish airports CIA torture flights probe as campaigners demand update (Daily Record, link):

"Police Scotland have been condemned for “incredible” delays in their probe into the use of Scots airports for CIA torture flights.

More than three years into their investigation, they have refused to reveal what progress has been made.

Campaigners say there is an urgent need to know what part Scotland played in rendition – where US prisoners were sent to be tortured overseas in the wake of 9/11 – ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency.

It is feared Trump, who has advocated “a lot worse than waterboarding”, may reinstate rendition in the US war on terror."

French police 'stealing blankets from migrants', charity warns (The Independent, link):

"Police in Paris have been accused of putting migrants’ lives in danger by stealing their blankets in the heart of winter.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also warned of “systematic police violence” targeted at the hundreds of migrants forced to sleep rough on the streets of Paris due to overcrowding in the capital's only reception centre.

MSF accused police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queue for a place in the shelter in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of La Chapelle."

Germany threatens to cut development aid to countries that refuse rejected asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believe that countries that cannot accept rejected asylum seekers may not receive development aid, according to recent interviews.

In an interview with news magazine "Der Spiegel," Gabriel said, "those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid."

During an interview on German broadcaster ARD, de Maiziere agreed, saying he "fully supports this idea.""

UK: Blurring the line between slavery & migration: Operation Magnify goes public with 97 workers arrested (Right to Remain, link):

"Trafficked to the UK as a slave, you live an invisible life. Not only are you subjected to slavery by the traffickers, as an undocumented migrant you have very limited rights to healthcare, housing or any social support. If you are being exploited, beaten or abused and you go to the police, you face being arrested, imprisoned and deported back to a home country you risked all this just to escape. And what happens to the perpetrators, who traffic human beings as slaves? They will be “warned that they could face fines.” So, not much."

EU: NGOs demand Commission deny Oettinger human resources portfolio (EurActiv, link):

"A group of NGOs has called on the European Parliament to oppose the proposal by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to put Günther Oettinger in charge of supervising human resources for the EU executive.

Ten organisations, including Transparency International EU, state that they believe that Oettinger is unsuitable for the Commission portfolio.

“Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October,” the NGOs state.

Oettinger, who has been embroiled in numerous scandals, was nominated by Juncker to take over the portfolios of Budget and Human Resources from his Bulgarian colleague Kristalina Georgieva, who left for a position at the World Bank, which began on 1 January."

See: Joint letter from ten NGOs (pdf): ILGA-Europe, European Women's Lobby, Transparency International EU, European Network Against Racism, Corporate Europe Observatory, IPPF European Network, Oxfam Interational, Volonteurope, Stitching ERGO Network, Lobbycontrol.

EU: European Parliament: Anti-euro Italian opposition party to join ALDE? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"On Sunday morning, Beppe Grillo, the leader of the main Italian opposition party, the 5 Star Movement, made a shock announcement, indicating that he intends to join the European liberal family, ALDE. If that were to happen, the 5 Star Movement would become the dominating force in the ALDE group in the European Parliament, currently headed by the staunch federalist Guy Verhofstadt. This would have far reaching implications on the EU’s policy in the coming years. "

UK-EU: Brexit and data protection: Why the UK is unlikely to get an adequacy determination post Brexit (Amberhawk, link):

"Happy New Year (and welcome back to the daily grind).

This blog adds two further reasons why I think a post-Brexit UK is very unlikely to offer an adequate level of protection in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

One reason relates to recent comments made by Prime Minister Mrs May about human rights. The other relates to the non-compliance of the national security agencies with their existing data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)."

The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data” (link):

"With the statement “Data protection is all well and good, but in times of crisis like these, security takes precedence” the German Minister of the Interior called in March 2016 for a restructuring of EU databases. Major information systems, including biometric data, will be centralised on a step-by-step basis. The planned population register also affects EU citizens."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.1.17)

Police Scotland ordered to improve after probe into covert work (The Ferret, link):

"Unpublished reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner show that Police Scotland has been ordered to make improvements to the way it undertakes covert activity.

The Ferret has obtained two recent Police Scotland inspection reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner (OSC). The OSC provides independent oversight of public bodies that have powers to conduct covert surveillance and place staff undercover as “human intelligence sources,” through the RIPA and RIPSA laws.

Although the reports are heavily redacted in places, they nevertheless reveal several previously undisclosed failings at the national police force.

The Ferret is publishing extracts from the reports today along with renewed calls from politicians and campaign groups for further independent investigations into police surveillance."

USA: Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in last month of election, now claims it didn’t impact one voter (Think Progress, link):

"President-elect Trump says that information published by Wikileaks, which the U.S. intelligence community says was hacked by Russia, had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign."

And see: Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (pdf)

A template for protecting human rights during the ‘refugee crisis’? Immigration detention and the expulsion of migrants in a recent ECtHR Grand Chamber ruling (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On the 15th of December 2016 the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber handed down its judgment in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, which partially reversed the Chamber ruling issued on the 1st of September 2015. The case is about immigration detention at the Italian borders (including the island of Lampedusa) and the expulsion of aliens from Italy to Tunisia. Whilst the events took place in 2011, during that peculiar time which was in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, the issues raised before the Court by the applicants and the principle outlined by the judgments appears relevant to the current refugee crisis and its management by the European Union Institutions and Member States."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

Austrian defence minister eyes plan to overhaul EU migrant policy (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s defence minister has drafted a plan that would revamp the European Union’s migrant policy by establishing a ceiling for migration and only permitting applications for asylum from outside the EU....

Doskozil’s plan also calls for the creation of asylum centres in countries such as Niger, Jordan and Uzbekistan, potentially using existing facilities of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Migrants who were denied asylum or those who entered the EU illegally but could not be returned to their home countries would be transferred to “protective zones” that were linked to asylum centres, the newspaper said."

European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf):

"The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee commissioned this study to evaluate and analyse, from a legal and ethical perspective, a number of future European civil law rules in robotics."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.17)

EU: Viewpoint: More externalisation of migration control by Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (senior researcher, Barcelona Centre of International Affairs, CIDOB)

We pay but others do it. This first and foremost has been the response of the European Union to the so-called "refugee crisis". Under the title of the European Agenda on Migration, in May 2015 the European Commission proposed a series of measures to stop what it called "the human misery created by those who exploit migrants." This document established as a priority cooperation with third countries to jointly address the causes of emigration. In practice, this cooperation has been limited to promoting the readmission of irregular migrants, border control and the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees in third countries. The EU's agreements with Turkey (March 2016) and more recently with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia (June 2016) represent the implementation of this approach.

Also available in pdf format.

UK: From Orgreave to Rotherham – the trials and tribulations of South Yorkshire Police (The Conversation, link):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s decision to rule out a public inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” is once again back in the spotlight after being publicly condemned by North East Derbyshire Council. The Labour-run council is now calling on Rudd to “think again” about her decision not to order a full probe into the notorious miners’ strike clash between South Yorkshire Police and striking pitmen.....

And in 2016, the conduct of South Yorkshire police was once again called into question at the conclusion of a trial of ten Asian men accused of violent disorder. ...

The Rotherham 12 case triggered a national campaign in support of the arrested men. This was backed by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign whose members attended the trial to show support. Both groups have drawn parallels between the Rotherham 12 case and the treatment of the miners at Orgreave."

IP addresses as personal data - the CJEU's judgment in C-582/14 Breyer (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In the Breyer case the CJEU was asked by the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) if dynamic IP addresses are personal data within the meaning of the EU Data Protection Directive and to what extent they can be stored and processed to ensure the general operability of websites. Mr Breyer, the applicant in this case, is a German politician and privacy activist. He visited various websites of the German federal institutions. The information about the IP addresses of the visitors (or more precisely of the owners of the devices from which the websites were visited) as well as the information about the name of the accessed web page or file, the terms entered in the search fields, the time of access and the quantity of data transferred is stored in the log files after the visit. "

Governments playing irresponsible charades on counter terrorism (sophieintveld.eu, link):

"It has become boringly predictable: after each terrorist attack, in a knee-jerk reflex one minister after the other urgently and loudly demand more collection of personal data. Last year French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was on a crusade for the mass collection of flight passenger data (PNR), this week Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon uses the Berlin terrorist attacks to push for a scheme that had been on his wish list for some time: the collection of all travel data of passengers on international bus and train trips.

Before that, it was bank account data, mass surveillance of the internet and telecommunication, biometric data, or any other personal data you can think of. Each time "fighting terrorism" is the justification for more mass surveillance. Anyone who dares to ask critical questions about necessity, proportionality, fundamental rights or indeed effectiveness of those schemes, is lambasted for hampering the fight against terrorism."

See also: Belgium prepares to present passenger data plans to rest of EU (euractiv, link): "In response to a number of terror attacks, Belgium wants greater control over who travels on its trains, buses and boats and will present its plans at the next meeting of EU interior ministers at the end of January. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports."

French farmer on trial for helping migrants across Italian border - Cédric Herrou, who was previously arrested for aiding eight Eritreans, faces up to five years in jail and €30,000 fine if convicted (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer, who has become a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and giving them shelter, has gone on trial for aiding illegal arrivals. Cédric Herrou is one of three people to appear before courts in southern France for assisting people fleeing to Europe.

The 37-year-old activist, accused of “helping undocumented foreigners enter, move about and reside” in France, faces up to five years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,500) fine if convicted.... He has been unapologetic about helping people travelling through Europe via the often perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!” he told supporters outside the Nice court on Wednesday, where a crowd of about 300 people gathered."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.1.17): Migrant dies of hypothermia after crossing Evros; German govt seeks new powers; Finnish asylum applications drop massively in 2016; 112 people rescued in Mediterranean.

GREECE: Migrant dies of hypothermia as gov't tries to improve camps (ekathimerini, link):

"As authorities seek to improve living conditions for migrants at reception centers around the country amid forecasts of another cold snap later this week, a 20-year-old Afghan man died of hypothermia early on Tuesday after crossing the Evros River in northern Greece.

The man’s body was found in a field near the Greek border town of Didymoteicho after police were alerted by another Afghan who said he had traveled with him across the river.

Temperatures in the area plunged to -14 Celsius (7 Fahrenheit) on Monday night and are expected to drop even further from Thursday."

FINLAND: Neo-Nazi group member gets 2-year prison sentence for Helsinki Railway Station attack (YLE, link):

"A founding member of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement was handed a two-year prison sentence on Friday for aggravated assault after drop-kicking a passerby during the group’s demonstration at the Helsinki Railway Station in September. The victim sustained head injuries and later died. The prosecution says it will appeal."

Helping those who helped Snowden: appeal for refugee families in Hong Kong

"A group of Montreal lawyers is urging the Canadian government to help impoverished asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who say they have faced harassment for having housed whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.

The lawyers have launched a Canadian organization named For the Refugees to raise money for the families and to lobby Ottawa to give them sanctuary as they come under pressure in Hong Kong – a jurisdiction known for being tough on asylum-seekers."

See: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden (The Globe And Mail, link)

The story that revealed the families that helped: Edward Snowden’s Guardian Angels (Handelsblatt, link) and the fundraising project: Canadians Help Snowden’s Guardian Angels (FundRazr, link)

German state of Brandenburg may not deport far-right victims (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The German state of Brandenburg will not deport asylum seekers if they have been victimized by right-wing violence.

Local media reported on Tuesday that Brandenburg's Interior Ministry had asked local authorities to use the leeway available to them to make sure foreigners whose asylum applications had been rejected, but who had been victims of right-wing attacks, could stay in the country.

With the decree issued on December 21, the Interior Ministry implemented a resolution Brandenburg's parliament had passed in April. The directive posits that victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes of a certain severity should be allowed to stay in Germany. This includes crimes such as attempted murder, assault, arson and bomb attacks, but also kidnapping, theft, blackmail, public riots and sexual offenses.

Asylum seekers who have committed a crime or share responsibility for a violent incident are exempt from the new rule."

GERMANY: Cologne police screen hundreds of North African men (Al Jazeera, link):

"Police in the German city of Cologne say they screened hundreds of men "seemingly of African descent" on New Year's Eve as part of a precautionary measure in reaction to last year's allegations of robberies and sexual assaults.

By early Sunday, police had received reports of two women being sexually assaulted in Cologne. One suspect was arrested.

Cologne's police said in a tweet on Saturday, the men were stopped at two main train stations in the city so that officers could question them and check their identities. "

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (The Guardian, link):

"The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face."

BELGIUM: A (Slightly) Common Front Aims to Save the Rule of Law in Belgium (Liberties.eu, link):

"A group of signatories* including civil liberties organizations, lawyers and judges sent a letter to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers so they can urgently take action following the Belgian secretary of state for migration and asylum decision not to accept to deliver a humanitarian visa or a three months laissez-passer to a Syrian family."

UK: Leaked government document names ‘vetted’ organisations in receipt of £1.2 million in PREVENT funding (CAGE, link):

"A Home Office document titled ‘Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue’ leaked by Public Interest Investigations highlights in full organisations and projects vetted and funded by the government to deliver the controversial PREVENT strategy nationally."

See: an overview of the document: Prevent Strategy - Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue (Powerbase, link) and the document: Home Office: Office for Security and Counter Terrorism: Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue: Prevent Strategy (link to pdf)

Background: UK 'grassroots' anti-extremism campaign produced by Home Office (Middle East Eye, link)

GERMANY: Interior ministry "wish list": strengthen central government security, policing and deportation powers

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has announced a series of proposals that revolve around giving the German federal government more power over security agencies, cyber attacks, policing and deportations; permitting the deployment of the military internally; expanding the scope of the proposed EU Entry/Exit System and loosening the the EU definition of "safe third countries".

Bulgaria Opens Investigation into Munitions Found in Syria (OCCRP, link):

"Prosecutors in Bulgaria have opened an investigation after munitions produced in the Balkan country were reportedly found in Syria.

The district prosecutor in the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa launched its probe in December, local media reported last week, after the reported discovery of stocks including high-caliber ammunitions and grenades in areas of eastern Aleppo recently captured from rebels."

ITALY: Riot after death in detention centre near Venice

"A revolt by migrants in a centre near Venice ended Tuesday but a political row erupted about the reception of migrants in Italy. The revolt at the centre at Cona near Venice ended after migrants protested overnight by holing up in some containers, setting fires and barricading 25 volunteers, after the sudden death of a young Ivorian woman, Sandrine Bakayoko. The migrants said the emergency services were slow in responding, a charge the services rejected.

The young Ivorian woman proved to have died of a thrombosis, the autopsy said Tuesday. Venice prosecutor Lucia D'Alessandro said "the cause of the young woman's death has been established. It was a bilateral pulmonary thrombo-embolism". Violence or contagious disease have been "totally" ruled out, she said."

See: Italy: revolt in migrant centre near Venice ends (ANSA Med, link) and: Transfer of Cona migrants begins (ANSA, link): "The transfer of migrants from a reception centre near Venice that was at the centre of a revolt on Monday night got under way on Wednesday with the arrival of two coaches to take them to similar facilities in the neighbouring Emilia Romagna region."

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars (The Intercept, link):

"Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen."

UK: 2016: A Year Of Black Lives Matter In Britain (The Debrief, link):

"For better or worse, Brexit has forced people in the United Kingdom to discuss race like never before. But Brexit has also been a catalyst for not just talk, but action. 2016 might have been the year of Brexit, but it was also the year of Black Lives Matter finally coming to the U.K."

UK: Slavery trafficking victims crippled by fear in UK (Al Jazeera, link):

"The British government estimates that there are around 13,000 people in modern-day slavery in the UK in 2014. And it's on the rise: Police and other authorities identified 3,266 people last year thought to have been the victims of modern-day slavery, up from 946 in 2011, 46 percent of whom were identified as male, and many had mental health issues.

At the safe house, victims are given a 45-day minimum reflection and recovery period, which is often extended to over 90 days, to help them consider their next step. During this time, they are offered financial, legal, medical support and counselling, as well as help finding a job and accommodation.

While many people manage to move on successfully and turn their lives around during the period, mental illness in others puts them at a severe disadvantage, often leading them to destitution and a risk of re-trafficking."

UK: Human rights are under threat – just when we need them most (The Guardian, link):

"There is one almighty fight coming, and it’ll be about human rights in the UK. Those who want to protect our national and international commitment to human rights need to mobilise in defence of those rights now.

An unwillingness on the part of the UK government to withdraw from the European convention on human rights has, up until now, been the major protection of the human rights settlement in the UK – we cannot sign up to a human rights regime internationally and yet deliver a lesser level of domestic protection. That would put the UK in breach of its international obligations.

Crucially, that unwillingness to withdraw has now gone. In consequence the UK settlement is seriously at risk, and the adherence of the world to human rights is in danger of being reduced by the UK signalling a massive reduction in its international commitment to human rights."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.1.17): including refugee solidarity activists on bail; Malian consulate in Paris occupied; Dublin returns from France to Norway to Afghanistan; conditions on Greek islands "infuriating"; and more.

UK: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology: briefing on nuclear security

"In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was “one of the greatest threats to global security”. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them."

See: POSTNOTE: Nuclear Security (pdf)

Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert (The Guardian, link):

"Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100m installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure”, a security expert has said.

The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra.

“Reclaim your home,” Rubin told a conference of hackers and security experts, “or someone else will.”"

UK: The bigger picture about refugees

This article provides official statistical data on asyulm claims in the UK up to June 2016, resettlement to the UK (prinicpally through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee camps in Europe. It was originally published in the newsletter of Bristol Refugee Rights and is republished here with permission.

GREECE: Refugee solidarity activists arrested in Greece freed on bail

Two activists who were last week arrested in Greece and charged with facilitating illegal immigration were released from preventive detention on Friday 30 December and will have to pay €2,000 within 12 days to obtain permission to leave Greece until their trial takes place.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Interior Ministry wants to enable public to use legally held weapons against terrorists (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech Interior Ministry plans a constitutional law to strengthen the right to use legally possessed arms to provide security and enable their owners to defend themselves against terrorists during attacks similar to those by lorries in Nice and Berlin last year.

The ministry would like to push through the draft amendment, which it has submitted to parliament, by the October general election.

The ministry points out that the possibilities of state bodies to quickly and efficiently prevent casualties and other damage are limited during such attacks. This is why it wants to enable the owners of legally possessed firearms to intervene against terrorists."

And: Czechs prolonging anti-terrorist measures till Friday (link): "The tightened security measures taken over the December Berlin terrorist attack will be in force at least until Friday [6 January], Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists yesterday."

FRANCE: Malian consulate in Paris occupied due to "corruption" and EU-Mali agreement

RFI reported on 31 December 2016 that an occupation of the Malian consulate in Paris undertaken by the migrant collective 'Clean Hands' had been continuing for a week, after the group entered the building on 23 December.

One of the occupiers, Samba, told RFI that there were no consular staff remaining in the building, and that: "We have changed the reception into a refreshment bar," and that people were using the space to eat and drink.

The collective has denounced the "corruption" within the consulate and problems and delays with obtaining documents and information.

Migrants protest after reported attacks in Zagreb (EurActiv, link):

"Around 50 migrants staged a protest in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Monday (2 January) claiming they have suffered attacks by unknown assailants, state-run HRT television reported.

The protesters gathered in front of an asylum seekers centre where they are housed, carrying banners saying “Refugees are not criminals” and “We came for peace.”

The migrants claimed that several of them were attacked in the city at the weekend, and accused the police of failing to respond to their reports of violence."

FRANCE: DUBLIN REGULATION: Dublin to Norway, flight to Kabul (Passeurs d'Hospitalités, link):

"There are many ways to come to Europe. One of them, by Russia, to Norway, crossing the border between the two countries, up in the north.

People seeking asylum in Norway and receiving a negative response often continue their migration to other countries. But if they apply for asylum in Norway, they risk being sent back there, as having their finger prints there will make the country responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin III European regulation.

This puts them in a potential chain reaction of expulsions. In fact, in November, Roman had been sent back to Norway and from there to Afghanistan, without even having time to file an appeal once arrived in Norway. In mid-December 2016, a joint Swedish-Norwegian flight had resulted in the removal of 22 people, including 9 from Norway to Kabul under the agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan.

Hashim is now facing the same risk."

Global executions in 2016 (Reprieve, link):

"Countries with close links to the UK and EU continued to occupy the ranks of the world’s most prolific executioners in 2016, research by international human rights group Reprieve has found.

In Saudi Arabia, over 150 people were executed for the second year running... In Pakistan, the authorities continued to execute scores of prisoners from the country’s 8,000-strong death row. A total of 419 prisoners have been hanged since a moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in December 2014.... In Iran, the government continued to hang hundreds of prisoners, nearly half of whom who were arrested for alleged drug offences... China continues to keep the number of executions a closely-guarded secret, but is widely believed to remain the world leader, with the death toll estimated in the thousands."

The war on cash has already been lost (Money Week, link):

"To its growing army of critics, cash is a pointless relic. It is costly and inefficient, both to manufacture, process and protect. Even worse, it mainly exists to facilitate crime, to finance the black economy, and to help people avoid tax. On top of that, it prevents central banks from driving interest rates significantly below zero, and so traps the economy in a recession. The sooner we get rid of it, the better.

The trouble is, ordinary people don’t seem to see it that way. They like cash more than ever. A new study of 18,000 people in seven countries in the International Journal of Central Banking found that cash was still overwhelmingly the dominant method of payment.

(...)

Finally – and admittedly this is conjecture – people sense that purely electronic money hands too much power to governments and regulators, and hang onto cash because they value its relative freedom. Cash is not just relatively secure compared with the alternatives, it is also very hard to trace. Not many of us are money launderers or drug dealers.

But lots of people might well have a sense that a world where there was no cash, and every payment was made by card or on the phone, would also be one where everywhere they went and everything they did was logged and recorded. They don’t feel comfortable with that – and rightly so. People like cash – it just won’t be possible to get rid of it."

GREECE: Conditions for Refugees on Islands are ‘Regrettable and Infuriating’, Says MSF Head in Greece (Greek Reporter, link):

"Living conditions for refugees on Greece’s islands is “regrettable and infuriating”, the head of the MSF (Doctors without Borders) mission in Greece, Clément Perrin, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday.

Perrin said families with newborn babies or small children are still living in tents even as temperatures have dropped to five above Celsius during the night. According to MSF data, in Samos there are 329 tents available for 100 people – 120 of which are outside the hotspot – without heating and access to hot water. In Moria camp, Lesvos, apart from the prefabricated housing units which house families, the rest of the refugees live in tents without heating and hot water is only available in the morning, which causes large queues.

“Greek authorities promised months ago they would improve living conditions on the islands, but very little has been done,” Perrin said. “Very little has been done for the most vulnerable refugees, while they were supposed to have been transferred to the mainland several weeks ago.”"

UK: Former MI6 chief warns against introducing electronic voting (Politics Home, link):

"The former head of MI6 has warned that introducing electronic voting could leave British elections open to the risk of cyber attack.

Sir John Sawers said a traditional pencil and paper ballot was "much more secure" than using phones or computers to cast a vote.

But the Commission on Direct Democracy, spearheaded by Commons Speaker John Bercow, has called for electronic voting to be available in time for the next general election in 2020."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.1.17) including Lost at sea: The search for missing refugees, New Italian government seeks migration crackdown and Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

EU   Opening up secret trilogue decision-making awaits court decision

On 15 April 2015 Emilio de Capitani (Freegroup, link) applied to the European Parliament for documents summarising negotiations between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament in secret trilogue meetings... having been refused access to the requested documents Emilio de Capitani took the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) where the case is pending.

In response to the European Ombudsman the Council says it will not move on making trilogue four-column documents public until the CJEU rules in the Emilio de Capitani case.

See: Decision of the European Ombudsman on Own-initiative inquiry OI/8/2015/FOR concerning transparency of trilogues (LIMITE doc no: 15107-16, pdf) and Background: Statewatch Analyses:

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)
A missed opportunity to open up secret trilogue decision-making in the EU (July 2016).

Portugal to extradite CIA agent over Milan imam abduction (The Local.it, link):

" Portugal plans to extradite to Italy a former CIA agent convicted over the 2003 abduction of a radical Egyptian imam, a case that highlighted the controversial US secret rendition programme. Sabrina de Sousa, arrested at Lisbon airport in October 2015 under a European warrant, said Friday that the extradition procedure was due to start "after January 3rd".

De Sousa and 23 others were convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 over the kidnapping of Abu Omar from a Milan street in an operation allegedly led jointly by the CIA and the Italian intelligence services."

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for: Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 15275016, 72 pages, pdf) The Council developing its position on the infamous "Legal Migration" proposal. With 152 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting on 14 December are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with […] ... "

Based on the Commission's: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (COM 2020-10, pdf)

"Demographic ageing is accelerating. As the baby-boom generation retires, the EU's active population will start to shrink as from 2013/2014. The number of people aged over 60 is now increasing twice as fast as it did before 2007 – by about two million every year compared to one million previously. The combination of a smaller working population and a higher share of retired people will place additional strains on our welfare systems."

Put forward just after the "Returns Directive" which aims to remove resident "illegal" migrants and refugee from the EU. This proposal seeks in the face of an ageing population and smaller workforce to recruit skilled labour from the global south to maintain the EU's standards of living through:

"A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ sets the objective of the Union becoming an economy based on knowledge and innovation, reducing the administrative burden on companies and better matching labour supply with demand. Measures to facilitate the admission of third-country national highly skilled workers have to be seen in that broader context....

in order to remain an attractive destination for talents and skills, Europe must compete in the global race for talent. Strategies to maximise the opportunities of legal migration should therefore be developed, including the streamlining of existing rules." [emphasis added]


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