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February 2018

EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration (EUobserver, link):

"EU leaders agreed on Friday (23 February) to spend more on defence, security and "stemming illegal migration" in the next long-term budget, European Council chief Donald Tusk said.

After leaders held their preliminary discussion of the first post-Brexit budget, Tusk told reporters that many European heads of government were ready to contribute more money to the next budget cycle, that runs 2021-27.

"All the leaders approached [the budget] with open minds, rather than red lines," he stated.

Tusk however said that the EU Commission's ambitious deadline for reaching an agreement by the end of this year seemed "really difficult"."

EU: Council's internal security committee discusses use of "discreet checks" in the Schengen Information System

The Council of the EU is discussing how to improve the use of Article 36 alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS), which mandate "discreet checks or specific checks" on objects or persons linked to "serious criminal offences" and "for the prevention of threats to public security".

No public interest in whether the EU-Turkey refugee deal respects EU Treaties and international human rights? (European Law Blog, link):

"In practice, this Court jurisprudence turns the concept of overriding public interest and the subsequent public interest test established by the Transparency Regulation into a ghost concept with no practical relevance.

At the same time, the case also revealed something we would not have wished to learn: that the refugee deal was made based on extremely limited and hasty legal analysis, the substance of which was not and has not been made public. The implications of this for the substance of the legal advice is clear: if the analysis confirmed that the agreement was legally sound, then the Commission would have had no problem in allowing its disclosure, however its being kept in the dark all but confirms the suspicions regarding its contents. While this is something we already knew, it demonstrates the difficulty of running a Union in a manner consistent with its values, such as respect for fundamental rights. When things get rough, other matters tend to take priority. We refuse to believe that settling this balance is a matter of no significant public interest."

See: Judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU: Case T-851/16: Access Info Europe v European Commission (pdf)

UK: Yarl's Wood Centre detainees 'desperate' (BBC News, link):

"Detainees at an immigration removal centre are in a "desperate" situation, according to the shadow home secretary.

Diane Abbott visited the Yarl's Wood Centre in Bedford on Friday and raised concerns in Parliament on Monday.

The Labour MP accused the government of ignoring women who are on "hunger strike" at the centre.

The company which runs the centre, Serco, said some women were refusing to eat in the restaurant, but that it was not a hunger strike."

See: This Is Why Over 100 Women Are Currently On Hunger Strike Inside Yarl's Wood (The Debrief, link)

How Eastern European populism is different (Political Critique, link):

"Only in Europe’s post-communist east do populists routinely beat traditional parties in elections. Of 15 Eastern European countries, populist parties currently hold power in seven, belong to the ruling coalition in two more, and are the main opposition force in three."

EU’s new copyright law will effectively create censorship machines (The Next Web, link):

"This is one of those political-tech debates that could turn nasty.

Last week, the European Parliament’s MEP in charge of overhauling the EU’s copyright laws did a U-turn on his predecessor’s position. Axel Voss is charged with making the EU’s copyright laws fit for the Internet Age, yet in a staggering disregard for advice from all quarters, he decided to include a obligation on websites to automatically filter content."

EU: European Investment Bank proposes giving €2bn per year to "dual-use technology, cybersecurity and civilian security"

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has proposed providing financing of up to €6 billion over three years "in the areas of dual-use technology, cybersecurity and civilian security", in response to a December 2016 invitation from the European Council and ongoing suggestions from the Commission that more money is needed for EU security and military policies.

EU: Migrant border crossings remain challenging in some Member States (Fundamental Rights Agency, link):

"Stricter border management policies remain in effect in a number of Member States, according to Agency’s latest report on migration-related fundamental rights issues. Pushbacks and refused entry for asylum seekers are just some of the challenges facing migrants when trying to enter or travel through the EU. Harsh winter conditions are also making conditions difficult for migrants."

See: Periodic data collection on the migration situation in the EU: February Highlights (1 December 2017 to 31 January 2018) (pdf)

UK: The 12 Pakistani men from Rotherham you probably haven’t heard about (The Independent, link):

"If, after reading the headline, you for one reason or another presumed this had something to do with child sexual exploitation (CSE) because of the mere mention of a group of Pakistani men from Rotherham, then you have learnt lesson number one in structural racism. The presumption of guilt based on a stereotype of a race.

These 12 Pakistani men, what later became known as part of the “Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign”, were all charged with violent disorder and not CSE – and that’s why you’ve probably never heard about them. The Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign highlights how media sensationalism and dangerous political rhetoric leads to injustice, and makes justice a political act – not a legal one."

EU: Q&A: Defending Europeans’ Right to Protest (Open Society Foundations, link):

"Free speech is an indispensable element of a healthy civil society. Recently, the Open Society Human Rights Initiative’s Iva Dobichina spoke with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s Andrea Judit Tóth about how governments in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe are failing to uphold this fundamental right."

See: Monitoring the Right to Free Assembly in Nine Countries – 2017 (European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, link): "Recent years have seen an increased number and intensity of protests in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership region. At the same time, countries have experienced a significant increase in restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly. To ensure systematic monitoring of local laws and implementation, in 2016 ECNL and its local partners produced the first comprehensive country reports on assembly rights in five Western Balkan countries."

UK: Taser roll out amid Thames Valley officer assault rise (BBC News, link):

"A police force will issue Tasers to more frontline officers amid an increase in assaults on constables.

Thames Valley Police is set to Taser-train 130 response officers to take the total number equipped to handle the stun gun to 390, a 50% increase.

The force's federation announced the decision after a meeting with the Chief Constable Francis Habgood.

PC Craig O'Leary said 900 assaults on Thames Valley officers had been recorded since February 2017."

SPAIN: Tripling of arrivals by sea in 2017 shows need for safe migratory routes, says human rights group

The Andalusian Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) has called today for Spain to establish safe routes to access the country that will prevent people risking their lives at sea. The call comes alongside the presentation of the report 'Migratory Balance 2017', which demonstrates the notable increase in entries into Spain by maritime routes: 22,419 people arrived in 2017, almost tripling the number from the previous year.

Italian elections and the crisis of European democracy (Al Jazeera, link):

""Perhaps only a war can wake our country from slumber and give direction to our politics." Most people would be surprised to hear a young progressive utter these words in a cafe in Rome. But I have heard them more than once. And only a few weeks before the national elections on March 4, the question haunting Italy is familiar to many across the world: can democracy still bring about real change?

The global success of Babylon Berlin, the German TV series portraying life under the fragile Weimar republic, signals a rising European fascination for the tumultuous inter-war period. Comparing the situation today to the 1930s has become something of a political cliche on the continent. The sense of dancing on the verge of the abyss seems real enough: exploding inequalities, threats of ecological catastrophe, disruptive technological change and rising extremism. Psychological distress seems to have crossed all class barriers, with the ultra-rich hoarding cash, preparing for the apocalypse, and purchasing foreign passports.

Yet, in this very European obsession with historical repetition, one element seems too easily forgotten: the power of individuals to effect political change. "

EU: End of the infamous EU refugee "relocation" scheme

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "The states that failed to respond deserve to be named and shamed and will go down in history for their inhumanity."

In the autumn of 2015 the EU set up a relocation scheme to move 160,000 refugees and migrants fleeing from war, persecution,poverty and climate change from front line EU states - especially from Greece and Italy - to the other 26 Member States. Later this was reduced to 98,253: 63,302 from Greece and 34,953 from Italy to be relocated.

The scheme ended at the end of 2017 when just 21,729 had been relocated from Greece and 11,853 from Italy: The final summary was published by the Commission on 5 February 2018 (pdf) and one of the last full summaries was dated 3 November 2017 (pdf). A number of Member States took no refugees, some a few and some met or nearly met their commitments.

CoE: Anti-torture committee publishes a report on Portugal (link):

"Committee urges to tackle police ill-treatment and the poor treatment of prisoners."

See: Report (link)

*A* Labour Brexit policy – or *the* Labour Brexit policy? Comments on Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy speech (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"Time will tell whether today’s speech simply set out a Labour Brexit policy, designed as a short-term tactical shot across the bows of the Conservative party to be developed further later; or the Labour Brexit policy, left deliberately vague on many points to continue to serve as a compromise position designed to appeal to significant numbers of both Leave and Remain supporters. In any event, its political significance is that it creates a clear distinction between the Brexit policies of the two largest parties. "

EU: The "reflection process" on data retention: working documents discussed by Council published

A number of "working documents" discussed as part of the Council of the EU's "reflection process" on the mandatory retention of telecommunications data have been released following an access to documents request submitted to the Council by Statewatch.

The documents provide an insight into some of the issues that have been discussed by Member States' representatives and EU agencies, who since March 2017 have participated in a sub-group of the Council's Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX) to "facilitate a common reflection process at EU level on data retention in light of the recent judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.2.18 - 25.2.18)

Ankara ban on LGBTI events continues as Turkish courts reject NGO appeals (ILGA Europe, link):

"Two Ankara-based LGBTI NGOs Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) had challenged the ban in court, initiating their legal action days after Ankara's governorship made the announcement. Both NGOs called the ban illegal and asked for the decision to be revoked.

However, both NGOs’ appeals to halt the Ankara ban have been rejected by the city’s administrative courts."

UK: People vs Snoopers’ Charter: High Court to hear first part of Liberty’s landmark challenge to mass surveillance powers in the Investigatory Powers Act (Liberty, link):

"The High Court will tomorrow hear the first part of Liberty’s landmark legal challenge to the Government’s flagship surveillance law, the Investigatory Powers Act.

The challenge has been funded by donations from members of the public, who gave more than £50,000.

This hearing will focus on the first part of Liberty’s case against the Act – its challenge to government powers to order private companies to store everybody’s communications data and internet history so that state agencies can access it. Liberty argues that indiscriminately retaining every person’s data in this way violates the UK public’s right to privacy. "

Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union and repealing Directive 2013/32/EU (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 6238-18, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogues. Contains extensive Footnotes on Member State positions.

EU Law enforcement information exchange guidelines

The Council of the European Union has produced a proposal for a: Practical Advisor for Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no 6243, pdf) covering Interpol, Europol, SIRENE and the Liaison Officers' network.

It should be read together with: Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange (EU doc no: 6261-18, 283 pages, pdf). This is not a LIMITE document but it should have been see: COR 1 (pdf).

Bundestag study: Cooperation with Libyan coastguard infringes international conventions (link):

"“Libya is unable to nominate a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), and so rescue missions outside its territorial waters are coordinated by the Italian MRCC in Rome. More and more often the Libyan coastguard is being tasked to lead these missions as on-scene-commander. Since refugees are subsequently brought to Libya, the MRCC in Rome may be infringing the prohibition of refoulement contained in the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. This, indeed, was also the conclusion reached in a study produced by the Bundestag Research Service. The European Union and its member states must therefore press for an immediate end to this cooperation with the Libyan coastguard”, says Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party."

See: Research Services: Maritime rescue in the Mediterranean Rights and obligations of vessels under the SAR Convention and mani-festations of the principle of non-refoulement on the high seas: Overview (pdf)

EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration (euobserver, link):

"EU leaders agreed on Friday (23 February) to spend more on defence, security and "stemming illegal migration" in the next long-term budget, European Council chief Donald Tusk said.

After leaders held their preliminary discussion of the first post-Brexit budget, Tusk told reporters that many European heads of government were ready to contribute more money to the next budget cycle, that runs 2021-27. "

Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency? (euobserver, link):

"When the EU border and coast guard agency known as Frontex started in 2005, it had a €6m budget. Today it pulls in €320m and employs over 530 people, a staff number set to more than double in the next few years.

But its biggest change is elsewhere. Frontex has effectively become a law enforcement agency. Focus on migration has morphed into drug smuggling, document fraud, terrorism, and cigarette smuggling. It has even seized arms.

"I would not object if you define us as a law enforcement agency at EU level," Fabrice Leggeri, the agency's chief, told EUobserver on Tuesday (20 February)."

Nationalism in heart of Europe needles EU (BBC News, link):

"Not far away, at Hungary's southern border, the wind whips across the steppe, flattens the grass and whistles right up against the vast metal intricacy of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's border fence.

Few try to cross it these days. Even so a security patrol crawls, rather menacingly, along its barbed perimeter.

What is, for some, all about internal security, also represents this country's decision to prioritise national interest above that of the EU. It's a symbol of defiance.

It's also a vote winner."

After Bulgaria, Slovakia too fails to ratify the Istanbul Convention (euractiv, link):

"A wave of opposition in Central Europe to so-called “gender ideology” has led Bulgaria on 15 February, and then Slovakia yesterday (22 February) to oppose ratifying the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence."

European Par/liament: Brexit Literature Update 02/2018 (pdf)

Interoperability of EU databases - The Meijers Committee

- Unintended consequences?
Targeting third country nationals
- Casting a very wide net?

The Meijers committee have prepared: Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) 12 December 2017, COM (2017) 794 (pdf).

No, the EU Commission has not given up on ‘mass immigration’ (euractiv, link):

"Contrary to claims seen on some far-right websites, the EU Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, does not believe that “mass immigration” is unstoppable. EURACTIV.com looks into the allegations as part of the “Fact or fake” series, in partnership with France 24."

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress (euobserver, link):

"Hungarians perceive their country to have become increasingly corrupt in recent years, according to this year's edition of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, released on Thursday (22 February).

The annual ranking is based on a variety of surveys on corruption, including an assessment of business conditions and how often respondents encounter bribery in their country."

EU: Research agenda considers "non-lethal force by unmanned platforms" for civil and military use

The EU should prioritise research into the development of autonomous non-lethal weapons systems that can be used by both civilian and military agencies, according to a research agenda drawn up on the basis of input from EU institutions, Member States and "industry representatives".

Civil weaponry

According to the "civil-military research agenda for maritime security", which was compiled by the EU's Joint Research Centre at the end of last year, armaments may appear to be "a purely military topic" - but they are in fact something that "needs to be considered" by civilian institutions.

This is because to be "fully successful for both civil and military use," a "platform… should not exclude the option to host armed modules… systems used for guarding purposes in civil security may need to be capable to fend off attacks or disable intruders."

New Council returns and readmission strategy to target African countries

- By-passing formal readmission agreements: "a number of non-legally binding informal arrangements aimed at reinforcing cooperation in the area of return policy have been concluded with a number of relevant third countries."

- "The gap between the orders to leave the territory and the effectively implemented returns remains significant. In particular, cooperation with relevant African countries is still totally unsatisfactory."

- "Partnership Framework" in Africa: Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This policy is best seen as asking EU Member States to use their histories of imperialism, oppression and exploitation to get African states to sort out the EU’s problem."

See: Bulgarian Council Presidency "Draft" Note to Member States on:
"Enhancing the returns from the European Union" (LIMITE doc no: 6047-18, pdf)

European Ombudsman ‘Fast-Track’ - Help in accessing EU documents faster (link) and Press release (link):

"The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has introduced a new fast-track procedure to deal with access to documents complaints.

Under the new system the Ombudsman will be able to take a decision within two months of receiving the complaint.

Access to documents decisions can be prioritised in this way as – unlike other complaints alleging maladministration – the institution will in general have already fully outlined its reasons for its decision when the Ombudsman receives the complaint. "

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Towards a digital ethics: EDPS Ethics Advisory Group (pdf):

"Ethics and the law each have an important role in our societies. Convergence allows us to put the human being, their experience and dignity at the centre of our deliberations.

This report by the members of the EDPS’s Ethics Advisory Group engages thoughtfully with this question. The report presents the main shifts provoked by the digital revolution and the impact they have on the values we hold dear."

GERMANY: What's in Your Police File? (Our Data Our Selves, link):

"In this article, we shed light on a number of databases collected by police and security forces in Germany, including the specific kinds of data they collect, how it is used to profile and categorise individuals - in particular activists and human rights defenders - and how this information is shared. We also examine the existing policies for data protection and the vulnerabilities that activists may face as a result."

CATALONIA: Mediapro sees Civil Guard report as an "attack on freedom of expression" (El Nacional, link):

"Multimedia group Mediapro describes a Civil Guard report which names their president, Jaume Roures, as a possible member of the "executive committee" behind the Catalan independence process, as an "attack against freedom of creation, expression and thought".

According to a statement from the group, the report, submitted to Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, came with a DVD attached including the 1-O documentary produced by the company "as proof of the involvement of Jaume Roures and Mediapro in the plot to proclaim the independence of Catalonia"."

EU will not lift visas unless Turkey eases terrorism laws (euractiv, link):

"The European Union told Turkey today (16 February) it would not ease travel requirements for its citizens unless Ankara softens counter-terrorism laws that the bloc says are excessive.

The EU has been taken aback by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security crackdown following a botched coup in 2016 that saw some 50,000 people, including journalists, arrested and 150,000 more, from teachers to judges to soldiers, sacked or suspended from their jobs.

That has soured the bloc’s relations with its NATO ally that is also instrumental in keeping a lid on Middle East immigration to Europe."

May's Brexit transition demand 'would penalise EU citizens' (Guardian,link):

"Unthinkable for EU to agree to PM’s key demand on citizens’ rights, says Verhofstadt.

Theresa May’s demand that EU nationals coming to the UK during a Brexit transition deal should enjoy fewer rights than those already in the country would amount to “penalising citizens”, Guy Verhofstadt has said. (...)

e said: “It’s not acceptable for us that rules will continue without change for financial services, for goods, for whatever other business, and only for the citizens, their situation will change. That is penalising citizens.”

He added: “For us that is not acceptable. We do not even want to be talking about it.”

ECRIS-TCN trilogue discussions: four-column document and Council position on EP amendments

Council of the European Union: ECRIS-TCN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU No 1077/2011 - Four column table with Presidency suggestions/comments (LIMITE doc no: 5505-18,104 pages, pdf): Four column document setting out: Commission proposal, European Parliament amendments, Council general approach and "compromise" position."

And see: Questions concerning the EP amendments (LIMITE doc no: 5730-18, pdf):

"In view of the first trilogue, which is scheduled for Wednesday 7 March, the Presidency (PRES) would like to obtain a view of the positions of the Member States on the EP amendments. PRES would also very much appreciate Member States bringing forward arguments that could be used during the negotiations.(...)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.18-17.2.18)

Far-right parties re-register to access EU funds (euobserver, link):

"Two far-right European political parties are now officially registered, opening European parliament funding opportunities for 2019.

The far-right nationalist Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) was listed as registered at an independent oversight authority on Wednesday (14 February).

APF members include politicians from the Greek neo-nazi Golden Dawn party and Germany's NPD, another ultra-nationalist political party with a neo-nazi ideology."

Council of the European Union gets to work on the interoperability of EU databases

The Council of the European Union is working out its negotiating position - prior to trilogue discussions - on the: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 - Examination of Presidency revised text of Articles 1-32 (LIMIITE doc no: 5758-18, pdf):

"Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough. (...)

Footnote 1: General scrutiny reservations by: CY, CZ, DE, EE, ES, FI, FR, IT, LT, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SK, SI, UK, CH."

Council of the European Union: European Investigation Order (EIO): Directive 2014/41/EU on the European Investigation Order - Transposition (5908-REV-1-18,pdf):

"Member States will find attached information provided by the Commission services on the transposition by Member States of the Directive and on the measures that have been transmitted to the Commission in application of Article 36(3) of the EIO Directive (situation on 12 February 2018). Twenty-two Member States have notified measures to the Commission: BE,CZ, DE, EE, EL, FR, HR, IT, CY, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SI, SK, FI, SE, UK."

See: Directive regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters (pdf)

And see: European Judicial Network: Summary (link)

BREXIT: Theresa May to warn EU not to put ideology before citizens' safety - PM to propose new UK-EU security treaty to close gaps that terrorists could exploit (Guardian, link)

"The EU could put its citizens at risk if it allows ideology or rigid institutions to blind its leaders to the need to cooperate against terror threats, Theresa May will say on Saturday, proposing a new UK-EU treaty on intelligence and security."

And see: Sky News coverage (link)

Comment: The speech seems to call for a new Treaty on justice and home affairs and the Common Security and Defence Policy - a return of a "third pillar style" arrangement?

INDIA: What Is It Like To Live In The World’s Biggest Experiment In Biometric Identity? (Huffpost, link):

"As of October 2017, India had issued 1.18 billion identity cards. There are big differences between states, but across the entire country, Aadhaar now covers 99 percent of the adult population, 75.4 percent of children between five and 18 years old, and 41.2 percent of children between zero and five. The system is meant to make it possible to "target delivery" of essential government services; there are least 87 different schemes linked to it, including education access, pensions, scholarships for minorities, farming subsidies, school meals, and healthcare. (...)

In closing old gaps in service provision, Aadhaar has opened new ones, and the system has thrown settled lives into disorder and confusion. Many of those who need government services the most are also the most likely to fall through these new gaps in the system: poor migrants, children, the rural elderly, caste and tribal minorities, the visually impaired, the physically disabled, and more." (...)

Throughout history, identity systems—from the first paper passports to modern digital programs like Aadhaar—have been used to define people in different ways. Who's eligible for government welfare, and who isn't; who gets treated with humanity by the state, and who doesn't. They define individuals as either acceptable or unacceptable in the eyes of people with power."

French woman faces charges for 'aiding' asylum seekers (Al Jazeera, link):

""I'm going to continue," Landry told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview from Menton, a town in southeastern France near the border with Italy.

"I know I'm within my rights and I want to assert my rights."

But Landry said those rights were put in question during an incident last July.

According to the activist, she was standing on the French side of the Menton-Vintimille border crossing between France and Italy when she witnessed Italian police forcibly return two young men to French territory. (...)

But Landry, who works with the French branch of Amnesty International and Anafe, a group that provides assistance to foreign nationals at French borders, now faces criminal charges for her actions."

UK: DEATHS IN CUSTODY: CPS decides not to charge Sussex police officers involved in the events surrounding Duncan Tomlin’s death (INQUEST, link):

"The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced today that criminal charges will not be brought against any of the Sussex police officers involved in the events surrounding Duncan Tomlin’s death. This is the second time that the CPS has decided not to bring charges against the officers. The original decision was reconsidered by the CPS following a Victim’s Right to Review by the family in January 2017.

Duncan died on 29 July 2014 in Haywards Heath. He became unresponsive after being restrained by police and placed into a police van.

The question of whether there will be disciplinary proceedings in respect of any of the officers are still being considered by the IOPC and Sussex Police."

And: Six Devon and Cornwall police and detention officers to face gross misconduct action following the death of Thomas Orchard (INQUEST, link)

Spain proposes EU-Morocco accord to Frontex (InfoMigrants, link):

"Madrid has proposed to the European Union an agreement with Morocco similar to the deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants entering the country illegally. In 2017, there was a 100 percent increase compared to the year before.

"Morocco is making an enormous effort to loyally ensure cooperation with Spain on immigration", Security Minister Jose Antonio Nieto was quoted as saying by newspaper ABC. The government of Mariano Rajoy "is constantly conveying to Frontex", the European border agency, ''the need to start a strategically organized policy to deal with migrant issue'', added Nieto.

The minister recalled that what he called a "very solid alliance" established with Turkey had given results as illegal arrivals in Greece went down 77 percent last year."

UK: Sadiq Khan's £15m investment in tackling knife crime under fire as MP highlights 'racial bias' of stop and search methods (Get West London, link):

"Figures released by the BBC reveals the alarming reality of London's knife crime epidemic.

In 2017, more than 4,000 of the 19,243 people who were cautioned, reprimanded or convicted for carrying a knife in England and Wales, were under the age of 18.

This is the highest number for almost a decade.

The report added that there was more knife crime in the capital than anywhere else in the country, with nearly 150 knife crimes occurring per 100,000 people.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan began 2018 by giving an additional £15 million investment to New Scotland Yard to tackle London's knife crime culture.

However, not all politicians agree with his approach and Mr Khan has come under fire over plans to increase stop and searches."

And see: Stop and search: young black men share their experiences (BBC News, link): "Young black men from London speak to BBC Newsnight about their experiences of stop and search. "

Six journalists given life sentences in Turkish court, local media reports (Press Gazette, link):

"A court in Istanbul has sentenced six journalists accused of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt to life prison terms, according to Turkey‘s state-run news agency."

Five million euros for Europol’s “decryption platform” (link):

"The EU is looking to improve its capabilities to circumvent and crack encryptions. Member states are to invest in hardware and software with Europol coordinating these efforts.

The police agency Europol is set to receive a further 5 million euros to reinforce its capabilities with regard to decrypting content, as was reported by the European Commission in its Thirteenth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union. According to the report, the money will be set aside in the Europol budget for 2018. The Commission had already pledged these funds in its twelfth progress report, but did not disclose the amount until 24 January. Prior to this, the EU home affairs ministers had called for further support at their December meeting.""

Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills (euobserver, link):

"Germany's minister of state for Europe expressed concern on Thursday (15 February) over draft legislation - known as the 'Stop Soros bills - put forward by the Hungarian government, warning that it could make NGOs' work with migrants "impossible".

Michael Roth said in a statement that he had "clearly expressed our concerns" to the government of prime minister Viktor Orban. "

European Commission: WHERE’S AVRAMOPOULOS? Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner from Greece who is responsible for migration, home affairs and citizenship issues, seems to have disappeared from Commission appearances since a scandal broke involving pharmaceutical bribes in Greece dating back to his time as the country’s health minister. It’s been noted around town that Avramopoulos has no public appearances or major meetings scheduled for the whole month of February. Other commissioners average 11 appearances." (link)

Council of Europe: Protection of children against sexual abuse in the circle of trust: workable strategies (link):

"In a new report published today, the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Committee analyses the strategies used by 26 European countries(*) to protect children against sexual abuse in the circle of trust (extended family and persons close to the child who exercise influence over the child)."

CoE: Commissioner for Human Rights: Sweden should enhance protection of asylum seekers and persons with disabilities (link):

"“Sweden’s renewed commitment to participate in the relocation of asylum seekers and to increase resettlement are positive signals, but it’s time to lift the restrictions imposed on asylum seekers at the height of the 2015 migration crisis”, says the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, in a report released today following his visit to the country in October 2017."

See: Report (pdf) and Swedish government response (pdf)

European Ombudsman: Ombudsman says Member States must open up their opaque negotiations on EU laws

"The Ombudsman specifically criticises the Council’s failure systematically to record the identity of Member States taking positions during discussions on draft legislation, and the widespread practice of disproportionately marking documents as not for circulation, or LIMITE (,,,)

“It’s almost impossible for citizens to follow the legislative discussions in the Council between national government representatives. This ‘behind-closed-doors’ approach risks alienating citizens and feeding negative sentiment,” said Ms O’Reilly."

See: Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case OI/2/2017/TE on the Transparency of the Council legislative process (link)

And:see: Statewatch Observatory on FOI in the EU (from 1992 onwards)

ECHR: Two members of the terrorist organisation ETA sustained inhuman and degrading treatment after their arrest (Press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Portu Juanenea and Sarasola Yarzabal v. Spain (application no. 1653/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in its substantive and procedural aspects.

The case concerns allegations of ill-treatment sustained by Mr Portu Juanenea and Mr Sarasola Yarzabal when they were arrested in 2008 by officers of the Guardia Civil and at the beginning of their incommunicado police custody.(...)

The Court held, by four votes to three, that Spain was to pay 30,000 euros (EUR) to Mr Portu Juanenea and EUR 20,000 to Mr Sarasola Yarzabal, in respect of non-pecuniary damage."

Statewatch: Market Forces: the development of the EU security-industrial complex - Executive Summary now available in Spanish (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-12.2.18) including: how the Hungarian government uses the law to repress civic spirit; how refugee and migrant solidarity groups across the EU are confronting the hostile environment

Cybercrime: UK response to Council of the EU's recommendations

The UK has set out its response to 12 recommendations on preventing and combatting cybercrime made in a September 2015 report by the Council of the EU, covering issues ranging from investigation and prosecution, to legislation and mutual legal assistance.

UK: ‘Custody image’ deletion request figures revealed (BT, link):

"Police received only a trickle of requests to remove images from a vast collection of mugshots after a new deletion regime was unveiled, an investigation reveals.

Hundreds of thousands of people were given the green light to ask forces to erase photographs under a Government review published last year.

But figures obtained by the Press Association indicate that only a small number have lodged applications."

See also: Biometrics: MPs concerned over huge police mugshot database that still has "no real rules" (Statewatch News Online, 24 January 2018)

UK: Disquiet over discreet introduction of portable fingerprint scanners for police

"Police in the UK have started using a mobile fingerprinting system that lets them check the identity of an unknown person in less than a minute. Fingerprints collected on the street will be compared against the 12 million records contained in national criminal and immigration fingerprint databases and, if a match is found, will return the individual’s name, date of birth and other identifying information."

UK: James Matthews: Former British Army soldier who fought against Isis in Syria faces terror charge (The Independent, link):

"A former British Army soldier who fought against Isis in Syria is to be charged with a terror offence.

James (Jim) Matthews has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 14 February to be formally accused of attending a “place used for terrorist training”.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the 43-year-old would be charged with travelling to “a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism on or before 15 February 2016”."

HUNGARY: Operation Starve & Strangle: how the government uses the law to repress Hungary's civic spirit (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) and Hungarian Helsinki Committee, pdf)

"On 18 January 2018, the Hungarian government launched the ‘ Stop Soros ’ package, a proposal of three laws that target civil society organisations... These laws follow up on the 2017 NGO Law on foreign-funded organisations (Act LXXVI of 2017) over which the European Commission has decided to refer Hungary to the EU Court of Justice. The 2017 NGO Law requires that NGOs receiving foreign funding over €24,000 register on a separate list, report and publicly label themselves as ‘foreign-funded’ or face sanctions.

The latest proposal comes amidst a wider effort to stigmatize specific individuals and non-governmental organisations, and has been presented as a bid to stop ‘illegal migration’, to ‘strengthen the protection of borders’ and to ‘protect Hungary’s national security interests’. The proposed measures will affect a number of areas key to the functioning of civic life in Hungary. Despite their name, they not only target those who allegedly engage in supporting or funding ‘illegal migration’, but through less-conspicuous provisions also target the wider group of NGOs."

And see: “Observer”: The Stop Soros bills–Hopefully only propaganda and nonsense (Hungarian Spectrum, link)

EU: Commission responses to parliamentary questions: Dublin returns to Greece; arrivals in Sardinia; European Tracking Solution; Europol internet monitoring platform

Recent responses from Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, to questions from MEPs on

UK: Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Identity Documents Act 2010: Memorandum from the Home Secretary to the Home Affairs Committee (pdf):

"This memorandum provides a preliminary assessment of the Identity Documents Act 2010 and has been prepared by the Home Office for submission to the Home Affairs Committee. It is published as part of the process set out in the documents Post Legislative Scrutiny – The Government’s Approach (Cm 7320).


All of the provisions of the Act have now been commenced in full (see Annex A)."

UK: Body worn video rolled out to Taser officers in Crewe (Crewe Chronicle, link):

"Body worn video (BWV) has been rolled out to Taser officers in Crewe this week.

The cameras were introduced to firearms officers last year, and the second phase of the programme will see a further 140 cameras introduced to the Constabulary.

These will be made available to 264 Taser officers and 10 football spotters to help capture evidence as it happens.

The first 12 cameras were installed at Crewe LPU on Wednesday and are now being used by Taser officers."

UK: Goverment urged to act after web company accused of storing neo-Nazi material on UK servers (i News, link):

"The Government is under pressure to clarify the law on extremist material online after a key internet company was accused of storing the website content of a banned neo-Nazi group on servers in Britain.

Anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate said it had found material put online by NS131, an alias of National Action , a virulent far-right group recently banned as a terrorist organisation by the Home Office, being stored on servers in London and Manchester operated by Cloudflare."

EU: The Hierarchy of Hate: Mixed Signals in the Combat against Hate Speech (Verfassungsblog, link):

"There is a number of varying thresholds to free speech regulation set out by relevant legal tools, namely Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the EU’s Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia and the Additional Protocol to the Cybercrime Convention. These variations, discussed below, can do nothing but confuse countries. Moreover, threshold or no threshold, anti-hate speech legislation developed on an international and European level has a major flaw, which goes against principles such as solidarity and equality. More particularly, apart from the justifiable direction of the ICERD, these frameworks are marred by what I refer to as the hierarchy of hate, namely the arbitrary focus on particular types of hate speech, such as racist speech, and the simultaneous disregard for other genres such as homophobic speech."

POLAND-UKRAINE: Memory Wars: The Polish-Ukrainian Battle about History (Verfassungsblog, link):

"The Polish-Ukrainian conflict on memory is a deplorable result of political abuse of history from both sides: the two countries strive to monopolize the past to glorify their history and protect their national dignity. They simplify complex events to construct historical narratives which describe themselves as heroes or victims but never perpetrators. Thereby, both states violate basic principles of freedom of speech.

The Polish-Ukrainian case proves well that a clash of historical narratives should not be solved with the use of criminal sanctions. Criminal law, by its very nature, is an ill-suited moderator for public discussion on history but a powerful and dangerous weapon in memory wars which pose a threat of fueling real conflicts in the future. The escalation of memory wars should challenge Europe to reconsider its principles of mnemopolitics including a ban of the use criminal sanctions as a means of politics of memory."

EU: Enforcing the Rule of Law in the EU: What can be done about Hungary and Poland? Part II, Michel Waelbroeck and Peter Oliver (blogdroiteuropéen, link):

"In an earlier post, we set out our concerns about the decline of the rule of law in the EU with particular reference to the two Member States where the problem is most acute and indeed systemic. First of all, we showed how the harmful effects of such persistent unlawful action are not confined to the Member States concerned, because the principle of mutual recognition is undermined and because the ensuing corruption (which is especially evident in Hungary) is almost bound to have a negative impact on the EU’s budget.

Next, we concentrated on two recent and unprecedented developments, namely the Commission’s proposal to the Council to take action under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union and the Court’s Order to Poland to put an immediate end to logging in the primeval forest of Bialowieza, failing which it would be required to pay a fine of €100,000 per day.

In the present post, which is likewise based on our very recent article in the Cahiers de droit européen (see the bibliography below), we shall focus on the steps – other than recourse to Article 7 TEU – which the EU can usefully take to exert pressure on these regimes to observe the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, as they are required to do by Article 2 TEU."

UK: Metropolitan Police officer guilty of assaulting man during arrest (IOPC, link):

"A Metropolitan Police officer who forced a man’s head against a wall during an arrest has been convicted of common assault.

PC Kashif Mahmood, based at Stoke Newington police station, was found guilty at Hendon Magistrates Court on Friday 9 February following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation. He will be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates Court on 19 February.

PC Mahmood was investigated as the result of a complaint made after a man sustained a cut to his head on 5 May during an incident at a police cordon in Clapton, east London."

Statewatch has updated its: Observatory on the European security-industrial complex

What is the European security-industrial complex?

The European security-industrial complex is a term used to describe the confluence of interests within the European Union between the 'homeland security' industry and politicians and state officials dealing with security policies..

BREXIT: The Running Commentary Begins: Annotation of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement (EU Law Analysis, link): by Professor Steve Peers:

" Yesterday, the EU Commission for the first time proposed the text of part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. From the legal point of view, ultimately the withdrawal agreement (if it is successfully negotiated and comes into force) will be the key legal text governing the Brexit process as such (there will be post-Brexit treaties governing the future relationship between the EU and the UK).

Due to its importance, I will provide what the UK’s Prime Minister once disdainfully referred to as a ‘running commentary’ on the draft text of the agreement as it develops. Several caveats apply (...)".

See also: Guide to Brexit sources (link)

EU: Intergroupon LGBT RIghts: Parliament urges Commission and Member States to guarantee freedom of movement LGBTI families (ep.eu/press-releases, link):

"Today, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on protection and non-discrimination with regard to minorities in the EU Member States. The resolution contains strong wording on the free movement of LGBTI families."

Brexit: Irish border paradox puzzles EU lawyers (euobserver, link):

"European Commission lawyers have tried and failed twice already to draft a text designed to make last year's Brexit deal on the Irish border into a legally-binding document, two EU sources told the Bloomberg news agency. The EU and the UK agreed in 2017 there should be no hard border with Northern Ireland, but the UK also wants to leave the EU customs union, creating the need for border checkpoints."

How refugee and migrant solidarity groups are confronting the hostile environment (IRR News,link) by Frances Webber:

"A review of recent pan-European developments in the criminalisation of solidarity. New developments are emerging in the criminalisation of solidarity, as the hostile environment principle, familiar to us in the UK, is adapted to other European contexts, further shrinking the space for solidarity.(...)

It was back in November 2017 that the IRR published its research, Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity. At that time, we sent a copy the European Commission, asking them in a covering letter to reconsider the decision they made in March 2007. Two months later, at the end of January, the Commission finally replied. Their response (read it here) does not address the cases we presented, but argues that it is for member states to decide whether conduct is criminal or not. This entirely misses the point: a mandatory humanitarian exemption would not only set clear limits on states’ ability to criminalise acts such as rescue assistance if a humanitarian motive was established. It would also – and this perhaps explains the Commission’s reluctance – send a clear signal to states that there are limits to an anti-humanitarian political culture that, in abandoning refugees, criminalises humanity."

EU: ETIAS: Trilogue discussions on: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (377 pages, pdf): State of play: Commission proposal, Council position, European Parliament position and "compromise" position.

See also: Four-column on the amendments to the Europol Regulation based on ETIAS (pdf)

EU: What’s next for acquired rights of EU27 and UK citizens? Anticipating the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"While attention during the Brexit talks has been focussed on the two sides’ negotiation positions, and on the measure of agreement reached so far (notably the December joint report, discussed further here), in the long term the most important text on EU and UK citizens’ acquired rights after Brexit will be the withdrawal agreement itself – assuming it is agreed and ratified. Once a draft withdrawal agreement is produced (which is reportedly likely soon) we can offer a ‘running commentary’ on it, but in the meantime here are some thoughts about what to look for."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.2.18-7.2.18) including: European Commission position on situation for refugees in Chios "at considerable odds with the factual situation"

EU: Council Legal Service note ponders how to involve the Council's EU Military Committee in decision-making on Defence Industrial Development Programme

See: Speaking Note of the Council Legal Service representative at the EUMC meeting held on 15 January 2018 (5490/18, LIMITE, 19 January 2018, pdf)

UK: Offender tagging scheme is 'catastrophic waste of public money' (The Guardian, link):

"The Ministry of Justice’s programme to introduce the next generation of satellite tracking tags for offenders has been “fundamentally flawed” and proved “a catastrophic waste of public money”, MPs have concluded.

The long-promised programme to introduce the GPS tags is already five years behind schedule and more than £60m over its £130m original budget.

The Commons public accounts committee (PAC) report published on Wednesday discloses that when the system is finally rolled out next year it will rely on the same technology that was available when the programme was launched in 2011."

See the report: House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts: Offender-monitoring tags (pdf)

GREECE/TURKEY: Investigation: Coercive 'voluntary' deportations leave refugees trapped in jail and facing torture (Al Araby, link):

"A "voluntary" returns programme being heavily marketed to refugees is leaving them stranded in inhumane conditions in Greek and Turkish jails for months at a time, and facing imprisonment and torture once they return to their home countries - if they are ever able to get there at all.

For many refugees arriving in Greece and Turkey, whose claims for asylum are rejected, the International Organisation for Migration's Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme is effectively the only alternative to brutal jail systems. They are forced to give up their right to appeal their asylum decision in order to escape six or 12 months of confinement by accepting "voluntary" return.

...asylum seekers who have experienced the programme told The New Arab they were misled into accepting inhumane conditions, detention and torture, after joining a programme one lawyer called "a fist in a velvet glove… wrongful, coercive and distasteful"."

UK: ‘A brick wall of silence’: the latest from the Undercover Policing Inquiry (CCJS, link):

"On Monday 5 February, 2018, the Undercover Policing Inquiry held another hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice. The hearing dealt with seven more requests from former undercover police officers who wish to have their real and cover names concealed from the public.

Although the Inquiry was due to be nearly completed by now, substantive evidence hearing are not likely to even begin before 2019.

Extraordinarily, although the Inquiry has a budget in the millions, a 33-person team, and 25 legal representatives working on behalf of the various ‘core participants’, the amount of useful information to have emanated from its operations is thus far dwarfed by the tiny Undercover Research Group operating, in its own words, on a ‘shoe-string budget’."

Azerbaijan’s interior minister attends 21st meeting of European Police Congress in Berlin (Azertag, link):

"Azerbaijan`s Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov has embarked on a working visit to the Federal Republic of Germany to attend the 21th meeting of the European Police Congress in Berlin.

The Congress, which was opened by German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior Gunter Krings, focuses on the topic “Better linked up security".

The European Police Congress was organized by the Behorden Spiegel with support of national and European authorities.

With its two-day main program and more than 25 panel sessions, where numerous further strategic and technical topics are discussed, and about 1,500 national and international participants, the European Police Congress is Europe´s leading conference-fair on homeland security."

UK: Deaths during or following police contact: Statistics for England and Wales 2016/17 (pdf):

"This report presents figures on deaths during or following police contact that happened between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017. It provides a definitive set of figures for England and Wales, and an overview of the nature and circumstances in which these deaths occurred.

This publication is the thirteenth in a series of statistical reports on this subject, published annually by the IPCC. To produce these statistics, the circumstances of all deaths referred to the IPCC are examined. We decide whether they meet the criteria for inclusion in the report under one of the following categories:
• road traffic fatalities [there were 32 in 2016/17]
• fatal shootings [six]
• deaths in or following police custody [14]
• apparent suicides following police custody [55]
• other deaths following police contact that were subject to an IPCC independent investigation [124]"

UK: More questions than answers raised by official report on undercover policing in Scotland

A report published today by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS) says that there is "no evidence" that officers from Police Scotland "infilitrated social justice campaigns", and that the inspectorate "believes" that between 1997 and 2007 the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) deployed 11 undercover officers to the country, while the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) deployed nine. The review does not suggest that there were any issues with these deployments - a view that has been questioned by campaigners.

IRELAND: National biometric database for accessing public services: Identifying problems with mooted Public Services Card (Irish Examiner, link):

"If you aren’t currently registered for the PSC or its SAFE2 database in Ireland, you can be denied access to essential services in violation of your human rights.

The PSC requires users to provide a facial image biometric scan. Other pieces of identifying information can be combined across agencies into the Single Customer View database accessible by certain public agencies.


One way to push back against this regime is to refuse it. However, you are not allowed to refuse the PSC card in many circumstances which appear to be inconsistent.

...the PSC has now been made the only acceptable form of identity verification for services including social welfare payments, child benefit, school transport, treatment benefits, driver’s license applications, age verification, school grant appeals, and online health and revenue portals.


If a person is does not consent to their private details being held in databases in order to access essential services, there needs to be legislative basis for it. There is no clear legislative basis for the PSC."

EU-UK: Brexit: Commission position paper on "transitional arrangements" and EP briefing on implications for readmission of migrants

The European Commission has published a position paper on "Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement" that "translates into legal terms the principles laid down in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April and 15 December 2017 and in the supplementary negotiating directives annexed the Council Decision [sic] of 29 January 2018." Meanwhile the European Parliament has published a briefing paper on the implications of Brexit for readmission: "the act of returning... persons to their state of origin, or in limited circumstances, to another state."

EU: Hamburg police searching for G20 protesters Europe-wide

"The Hamburg police want to significantly expand their controversial search operation for alleged “rioters” and “violent criminals” on the periphery of the G20 summit in July 2017. The measure is part of a massive stepping up of state powers at home and corresponds to the plans of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Union parties (Christian Democratic Union-CDU/Christian Social Union-CSU) for coordinated policing practices across Europe."

EU: Greece: Chios: NGO complaints about the treatment of refugees to the European Commission and its response

"After considering your response, we found your assessment of the current situation to be at considerable odds with the factual situation we daily witness on the ground"

NGOs on Chios complained to the European Commission about the treatment and conditions of refugees on the island: Complaints to the Commission signed by 11 NGOs (dated: 6 November 2017, pdf):

"We, the undersigned voluntary organisations, have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years. We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island."

Council of the European Union: Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange (EU doc no: 6261-18, 283 pages, pdf). This is not a LIMITE document but it should have been see: COR 1 (pdf):

"Document ST 6261/17 ADD 1 REV 1 should bear the distribution marking "LIMITE"."

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights: Closing of investigation in 6 February 2014 Ceuta police operation causing 15 deaths (Press release, pdf)

"Four years of impunity: Spanish judge refuses to hear survivors and to fully investigate lethal push-back at Ceuta border
Berlin/Madrid 5 February 2018 Four years ago on 6 February at least 15 people died and several more were injured during a brutal push back operation by the Spanish Guardia Civil - a paramilitary police force - at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the beach of El Tarajal.

On 28 January 2018 the judge in charge of investigating these events closed the case against officers of the Guardia Civil for the second time. This decision came though the regional court already quashed a similar decision in January 2017, explicitly ordering the identification, location and hearing of direct victims and witnesses. Subsequently two victims now residing in Germany informed the judge of their willingness to testify. However the judge hindered their participation in the investigation by closing it without hearing them."

See also: Case study (pdf) and: More than 125 NGOs call on the European Parliament to declare 6 February the 'Day of Victims of Borders' (El Diario, link): More than 125 European organisations will call this Tuesday, on the fourth anniversary of the death of 14 migrants at El Tarajal in Ceuta, for the EU institutions to officially recognise 6 February as the 'European day of Victims of Borders'. It is foreseen that the petition will be registered during the morning at the Spanish office of the European Parliament, in Madrid.

EU: Asylum Procedures Regulation: latest Council text with Member State positions

The Council is developing its negotiating position on the proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation, part of the legislation on the revamped Common European Asylum System. There are 300 footnotes showing Member States' positions, many of which have been deleted in the censored version officially published by the Council.

UK: Police Self-Investigators are Doorstepping Spycop Victims (COPS,link):

"Once again, police self-investigations have been contacting activists who were spied on, asking for co-operation.

The latest activity centres around Operation Sparkler/Operation Nitrogen, which is examining evidence that undercover police officer Bob Lambert planted incendiary devices in the Harrow branch of Debenham’s in 1987."

EU: Centralised biometric database for convicted third-country nationals: European Parliament negotiating position published

On 25 January the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) adopted its position on the proposed European Criminal Records Information System for Third-Country Nationals, which will be a centralised EU database holding identity data on non-EU nationals convicted in a Member State. This will allow national authorities to see which Member State(s) hold information on previous convictions of non-EU nationals, to whom they will then be able to make a request for that information.

ITALY: From Overcrowding to Dirty Mattresses: A Visit to Lampedusa (Liberties, link):

"After the suicide of a Tunisian migrant on 5 January and the outbreak of a large fight at the end of the month, Italy's national guarantor for people deprived of liberty, Mauro Palma, visited the hotspot of Lampedusa. The results of this visit were presented at a press conference on 24 January.

During his press conference, Palma said he was extremely concerned to find that, both legally and materially, the situation he found on Lampedusa was exactly the same as one year ago, meaning that none of the recommendations he gave a year ago has been implemented by the authorities."

Inside the EU’s flawed $200 million migration deal with Sudan (IRIN, link):

"As millions of dollars in EU funds flow into Sudan to stem African migration, asylum seekers say they are increasingly trapped, living in a perpetual state of fear and exploitation in this key transit country.

In interviews with over 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum seekers in Khartoum and the eastern city of Kassala, as well as local journalists, and lawyers working on behalf of refugees, IRIN has documented allegations of endemic police abuse, including extortion, violence, and sexual assault.

The pattern of corruption and rights violations uncovered feeds into broader concerns over whether the EU’s migration policies are making a difficult situation worse."

UK: Lancashire fracking security guard denies assault charge (Lancaster Guardian, link):

"A security guard at a Lancashire fracking site has appeared in court charged with assaulting a protestor and criminal damage.

Ebrima Jagne, of Levens Grove, Blackpool, appeared before magistrates in Lancaster on February 1 charged with assaulting protestor Louise Boyle outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Little Plumpton on June 1 2017.

He is also accused of destroying her camp bed.

The 33-year-old had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are understood to be the first brought against security staff at the Preston New Road site."

UK: Woman reveals police spy tricked her into relationship in 1970s (The Guardian, link):

"A woman has disclosed how she has discovered after 40 years that she was deceived into a sexual relationship by a police spy.

The woman, known as Mary, said the discovery was “very embarrassing and upsetting”. “I feel very used by him, and by the state, invading my privacy and my body,” she added.

She was a young leftwing student in the 1970s when she was tricked by the undercover officer, who had adopted the fake identity of Rick Gibson.

The woman made the discovery last month after a public inquiry, led by a judge, Sir John Mitting, confirmed in August that Gibson had infiltrated leftwing groups between 1974 and 1976. "

Europol head fears loss of UK influence after Brexit (BBC News, link):

"Britain will lose influence on cross-border policing and security after Brexit, the outgoing head of Europol has told the BBC.

Rob Wainwright steps down in April, after nine years, as talks begin on what happens once the British flag leaves the Europol boardroom table.

"There will be a loss of influence, there's no doubt about that," said Mr Wainwright.


Mr Wainwright, who was recently revealed to have been an MI5 agent before moving to Europol in 2009, reflects the strong British involvement in shaping the priorities and protocols of cross-border police co-operation and law enforcement in the EU.

The UK is the second largest contributor to Europol information systems and is copied in to 40% of the institution's data messages. "

UK: Liverpool: A Broken Prison in a Broken System (Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, link) by Joe Sim:

"On January 19th, the Chief Inspector of Prisons published a lacerating report on the state of Liverpool prison. It highlighted, in bleak detail, the ‘abject failure of HMP Liverpool to offer a safe, decent and purposeful environment’. Conditions were the worst the Inspectorate had ever seen.


Government ministers, old and new, should be ashamed of the callous immorality displayed in Liverpool, as should prison service managers and many, though not all, of those who work in the institution. The report demonstrates a moral and political dereliction of duty which, if it happened in other organisations, would be unequivocally condemned, and indeed, could result in prosecutions. Why has this not happened in this case? As ever, a culture of immunity and impunity prevails when it comes to taking any action against those who either fail to do their job, or fail in their duty of care towards prisoners. Until such action is taken, and state servants are held accountable for their actions, through the utilisation of provisions in the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to investigate deaths in custody, as the charity INQUEST has called for in the case of Woodhill prison, then this will not be the last report of its kind."

See: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Liverpool (pdf)

Bulgaria: 21 asylum seekers to be indicted for riot at refugee camp (Sofia Globe, link):

"During the height of the refugee crisis, when far more refugees were in Bulgaria, a riot erupted at the refugee camp in the Bulgarian town of Harmanli. A total of 21 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, who allegedly took part in the riot, are now being indicted by the local District Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecution accuses the refugees, four of whom are minors, to be responsible for “hooliganism with boldness and cynicism” and for the destruction of property. The damage supposedly amounts to 85,000 leva.

The cause of the riot in Harmanli, which broke out on November 24, 2016, will not be part of the trial. Neither will police officers who allegedly attacked and beat refugees who were not even part of the riot."

POLAND: Calling Murders by Their Names as Criminal Offence – a Risk of Statutory Negationism in Poland (Verfassungsblog, link):

"On the eve of the international commemoration of the Holocaust Remembrance Day (27th of January), the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament approved a law on the defamation of the Polish State and Nation, causing extremely harsh reactions from the Israeli side, joined within days by tens of international organisations, the US Administration, and, most importantly, Holocaust survivors themselves. None of the arguments against the law convinced the Polish legislator to reconsider the legislation and just five days later, during a nightly sitting, the Senat, the upper chamber of the Polish Parliament, approved the memory law. It now awaits the signature of the Polish President to become a binding law.

...the official reason for submitting the new law to the Polish Parliament, or rather an amendment to existing legislation, has been fully justified – to stop the use of the term “Polish concentration camps” and “Polish death camps” anywhere in the world, a reason with which we have no argument whatsoever. Clearly, no such camps have ever existed. There have been, however, a number of German Nazi concentration camps designed and operated fully by the German occupiers of Poland. And yet, the idea has been abused, and instead of introducing civil remedies supporting requests of withdrawal of the term “Polish camps” from the media, the Polish Parliament decided mistakenly to use criminal sanctions and extending the sanction to any case of “attributing responsibility to the Polish State or Polish Nation”. This approach appears not only to be ineffective but also to suppress the freedom of historical debate and generally the freedom of speech by restricting the range of acceptable interpretations of historical events with a view, primarily, to eliminating those that present Poles as anything less than heroic, in particular as those who assisted Germans in committing Nazi crimes against Jewish people."

EU and military and security industry meet on future of EUROSUR (Stop Wapenhandel, link):

"On 6 and 7 February EU and member states' officials meet up with military and security companies for the 'Industry Day on Border Surveillance and Integrated Border Management' in Brussels. The aim of the day is to discuss the future development of EUROSUR, the EU border monitoring and surveillance system. This shows again the close connections between the EU and the European military and security industry and the influence the industry has on EU border policies.

The Industry Day, organised by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) of the European Commission, includes speeches and presentations by leading officials from DG HOME, the border security agency Frontex and the European Defence Agency. A speech on 'The role of industry' will be delivered by Giorgio Gulienetti, Head of National and International Technical Collaborations with Italian arms producer Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and chair of the Integrated Border Security Working Group of the European Organisation for Security (EOS). EOS is one of the main lobby organisations of the European military and security industry.

Antisemitic incidents in UK at all-time high (The Guardian, link):

"Antisemitic hate incidents have reached a record level in the UK, with the Jewish community targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year, figures indicate.

There were 1,382 antisemitic incidents recorded nationwide in 2017 by the Community Security Trust.

This was the highest tally that the trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism, has registered for a calendar year since it began gathering such data in 1984. The figure rose by 3%, compared with a total, in 2016, of 1,346 incidents – a tally that itself was a record annual total."

IRELAND: PNR: Government approves proposals on counter-terrorism legislation (RT'É, link):

"Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said the Government has approved his proposals on counter-terrorism legislation, which will require details of passengers on flights entering or leaving the State.

The proposals come under the European Union directive - Passenger Name Record (PNR) - that Ireland signed up to and must be implemented by 25 May this year.

PNR means airlines will have to provide advance passenger information to authorities here and in other EU countries.

Mr Flanagan said the shared intelligence resource is significant in the fight against terrorism."

UK: Bristol police Taser autistic man with the mental age of a seven-year-old (Bristol Post, link):

"A man with learning difficulties was tasered by police and charged with assaulting an officer - in a case that collapsed when his mother discovered CCTV of the incident.

The autistic man, Paul, who has a mental age of seven, could have been jailed had the trial gone ahead - until his mother provided the damning evidence.

She obtained CCTV footage from The Laurels sheltered accommodating in St Paul's where the then-25-year-old lived - showing a different version of events from those provided by police."

And: Taser training for police as levels of violence increase (North Somerset Times, link): "A rise in violence has seen more than 350 Avon and Somerset police officers trained to use a Taser in the past year."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1.18-4.2.18)

Irish court refuses man's extradition because of Brexit (Guardian, link):

"Supreme court judges rule UK will have left EU by the end of the company director’s sentence.

Ireland’s supreme court has declined to extradite a company director wanted for fraud to London because by the time he finishes his prison sentence the UK will have left the EU.

The surprise decision in Dublin is an early sign of the disruption Brexit may inflict on legal cooperation across the continent. A fresh extradition treaty between the two countries could be needed."

Polish Crackdown Ahead of Climate Talks (HRW, link):

"Bill Will Limit Protests During COP24 Summit.

In mid-January, the Polish parliament passed a government-sponsored bill which, will hamper the rights of environmental activists to protest at UN climate talks in December and subject them to government surveillance. President Andrzej Duda signed the law on January 29.

The summit, known as the COP24, taking place in the southern city of Katowice, brings together states parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and thousands of experts, journalists, businesses, and nongovernmental groups."

Bulgarian PM criticises EU’s migration approach (New Europe, link):

"Speaking at a conference on security and migration management in the Western Balkans in Brussels on Thursday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov lambasted the EU’s migration and asylum policy, calling it “a complete failure”.

Borisov, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency on the European Council, offered a number of solutions that could deal with the ‘chaos’ that resulted from the EU’s existing approach towards migrants.

Part of his initiatives may face misunderstanding among other member states.

Borisov was particularly abrupt when speaking about the migrant issue and repeatedly countered the claims of Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship, who earlier called the EU’s relocation and resettlement scheme “a European success story”."

Amnesty denounces Italy-Libya migration deal, says time to release thousands trapped in misery (New Europe, link):

"Ahead of the first anniversary of Italy signing a deal with Libya on measures to stop refugees and migrants from travelling to Europe, thousands of people remain trapped in Libyan detention camps where torture is commonplace, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

“One year ago, the Italian government, backed by their European counterparts, agreed on a dodgy deal with the Libyan government that has trapped thousands. People are being forced to endure torture, arbitrary detention, extortion and unthinkable conditions in detention centres run by the Libyan government,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office."

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