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February 2018

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 Commitee

- Unintended consquencies?
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."

January 2018

Rule of law in Poland: Civil Liberties MEPs urge EU member states to act swiftly (EP press release, link):

"MEPs back call for Poland to be declared at risk of breaching EU values

- MEPs’ concerns: separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and fundamental rights

- Treaties give power to EU leaders to act to stop a EU country from breaching EU values"

EU: Jo Leinen – Visegrad Four ‘attack European democracy’ (euractiv, link):

"The recent statement by the Visegrad Four on the future of Europe is “an attack on European democracy”, Jo Leinen, a respected federalist MEP (S&D, Germany), said in a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday (30 January), ahead of a key summit in February focusing on the 2019 European elections.

Leinen reacted on his blog to the statement by the four Central European countries (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) adopted at a meeting in Budapest last Friday."

See: VIsegard Statement (pdf)

Austria to dissolve neo-Nazi fraternity after songbook scandal (DW, link)

"Austria's chancellor has pledged to ban a controversial student fraternity for promoting neo-Nazi ideas. The group faced widespread criticism after reports revealed it had printed songbooks celebrating the Holocaust."

UK: Court of Appeal rules Government surveillance regime IS unlawful (Liberty, link):

"The Government is breaking the law by collecting the nation's internet activity and phone records and letting public bodies grant themselves access to these personal details with no suspicion of serious crime and no independent sign-off – meaning significant parts of its latest Snoopers’ Charter are effectively unlawful.

Judges at the Court of Appeal have today backed a challenge by MP Tom Watson, represented by Liberty, to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) – a previous law covering state surveillance.

DRIPA expired at the end of 2016 – but the Government replicated and vastly expanded the same powers in the Investigatory Powers Act, which started to come into force in 2017. Liberty is challenging this latest law in a major separate case, to be heard in the High Court later this year."

See the appeal judgment: Watson and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (30 January 2018, pdf)

UK: INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT: Liberty’s response to the Government’s consultation on the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 21 December 2016 regarding the retention of communications data (proposed amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and Communications Data Code of Practice) (link to pdf)

"In the interests of protecting fundamental rights in the UK and upholding the adequacy of the UK’s data laws to meet EU standards, the Government should implement serious reforms to the current data retention and acquisition framework in full compliance with the letter of the CJEU’s judgment, and the important individual privacy rights that underlie that judgment."

IRELAND: Soros group accused Sipo of mischaracterising Amnesty grant (The Irish Times, link):

"The George Soros-funded organisation behind a controversial €137,000 donation to Amnesty International Ireland has accused the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) of mischaracterising its communications over the grant.

The donation from the Open Society Foundations, the human rights campaigning group funded by the Hungarian-American billionaire, is at the centre of a standoff between Amnesty and the Government’s ethics watchdog.

Sipo has told Amnesty to return the money to OSF arguing it has contravened the 1997 Electoral Act.

The legislation prohibits foreign donations from third-party organisations for “political purposes.”

Amnesty maintains that the grant, which Sipo had no issue with in 2016, was not for “political purposes” but for “a human rights purpose” saying that it was used to fund its “My Body My Rights” campaign for women’s rights and seeking support to repeal the Eighth Amendment that bans abortion in Ireland. "

EU: MEPs want criminal records database for non-EU nationals (The Parliament, link):

"The legislation was approved on Thursday by Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee.

It will establish a database of third country nationals whose criminal record details are held by an EU country.

At present legal authorities across the EU exchange information via the European criminal records information service (ECRIS), but if, for instance, Belgium were to arrest and prosecute an individual from outside the bloc, they currently have no way of knowing if they might have a criminal record in Greece.

The new database will close the loophole by providing details of where such information is held and identification details such as fingerprints and facial images.

The new centralised data base will complement ECRIS, which EU countries already use to exchange information on previous convictions of EU citizens."

See: European Data Protection Supervisor Opinion on the proposal for a Regulation on ECRIS-TCN (pdf)

BREXIT: EU withdrawal bill needs major rewrites, Lords committee says (The Guardian, link):

"The EU withdrawal bill is fundamentally flawed and needs to be rewritten in several ways, peers have said, as the House of Lords prepares to debate the legislation this week.

The Lords constitution committee said that the bill as it currently stands risked “undermining legal certainty” and should be substantially changed, even though it has already been voted through the House of Commons.

The bill will be subject to fierce debate when it reaches the Lords on Tuesday and Wednesday, with remain-supporting peers expected to vote for a motion of regret that the public is not getting another say over Brexit."

See the report: House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (pdf)

Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights: Annual Activity Report 2017 (pdf):

"In the introduction to last year’s annual report, I claimed that 2016 would be remembered as a turning point for human rights protection in Europe. In a positive scenario, 2016 would be remembered as the year we hit bottom and began to bounce back. In a darker scenario, it would mark the beginning of the end of the post-war human rights system. Needless to say, there were few signs of an upturn in 2017.

What more can be done to arrest the negative trend? How can we turn the tide? In circumstances of serious backsliding in certain countries and issue areas, the Council of Europe needs to reinforce its core “business” - rule of law and human rights monitoring and the provision of advice. It needs to demonstrate to member states the benefits and the added value of this work. While navigating an extremely challenging environment in the short and medium-term, we also need to think strategically. In my view, one key strategic priority should be children and youth. Otherwise, Europe in the near future may lack a critical mass of people with a willingness and ability to defend Europe’s acquis of human rights, tolerance, and transnational co-operation.

My concern stems from the fact that children and youth were among the hardest hit by the economic crisis in many countries. Child poverty and youth unemployment were among the most widespread side effects of austerity policies. If we do not address these ills more effectively, what can we expect of many in this generation in the future? What will Europe mean to them, if anything? Why should they care about European integration, solidarity, even democracy? We cannot continue to leave so many young people behind." (emphasis added)

And see: Transcript of oral presentation of the report: Annual activity report 2017 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (pdf)

UK: Sara Khan is not the issue, it is how the state treats radicalisation (Middle East Eye, link):

"The appointment of Sara Khan as chair of the UK's Commission for Countering Extremism headed by the Home Office has raised eyebrows.

There are many within the Muslim community who argue that the appointment sends a chilling signal that the status quo will remain and that the existing dominance of the pro-"Prevent", pro-assimilation and indeed, the delegitimisation of Muslim resistant politics will become the norm.

Others say that a champion of human rights, community engagement and a challenging voice who is both Muslim and British can only be a good thing in a climate where there is a real lack of coherence as to what the problems or the solutions might be.

The fact of the matter is that it is too early to tell exactly how things will pan out; however, recent history has suggested that things may not go well at all."

See: New counter-extremism tsar Sara Khan faces calls to quit (BBC News, link)

EU’s move into military research divides European Parliament (Science|Business, link):

"A European Parliament meeting of MEPs and defence industry representatives on Monday descended into a heated exchange over money allocated to the EU’s first ever defence research programme.

At the heart of the clash was the question of whether the defence industry should get money from Brussels to perform research. The debate pitted MEPs from different parties against aerospace representatives and EU member states, revealing fissures over the EU’s historical move towards deeper defence integration.

Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer condemned the plan to fund, develop and deploy new high-end defence technologies. The defence industry is “a customer in a bar asking for more beer, and just dishing out money is not what we should be doing,” he said. "

German federal police use Trojan virus to evade phone encryption (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is using a Trojan virus as a tool to access data of suspected individuals on their smartphones before the information becomes encrypted by apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp, according to a report by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters WDR and NDR.

The BKA uses the controversial software, which it refers to as "source telecommunication surveillance," to take advantage of security gaps that exist unbeknownst to the public."

UK: British government’s new ‘anti-fake news’ unit has been tried before – and it got out of hand
(The Conversation, link):

"The decision to set up a new National Security Communications Unit to counter the growth of “fake news” is not the first time the UK government has devoted resources to exploit the defensive and offensive capabilities of information. A similar thing was tried in the Cold War era, with mixed results.


Details of the new anti-fake news unit are vague, but may mark a return to Britain’s Cold War past and the work of the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department (IRD), which was set up in 1948 to counter Soviet propaganda.... The history of IRD’s work is important to future debates on government strategy in countering “fake news”. The unit’s effectiveness is certainly open to debate. In many cases, IRD’s work reinforced the anti-Soviet views of some, while doing little, if anything, to influence general opinion.

In 1976, one Foreign Office official even admitted that IRD’s work could do “more harm than good to institutionalise our opposition” and was “very expensive in manpower and is practically impossible to evaluate in cost effectiveness” – a point worth considering today.

IRD’s rapid expansion from anti-communist unit to protecting Britain’s interests across the globe also shows that it’s hard to manage information campaigns. What may start out as a unit to counter “fake news” could easily spiral out of control, especially given the rapidly expanding online battlefield."

See: UK: Downing Street announces new unit to tackle 'fake news' (The Telegraph, link)

Poland moves to make phrase 'Polish death camps' a criminal offence (The Independent, link):

"Polish politicians have given the green light to a bill to criminalise statements which suggest Poland bears responsibility for crimes committed by Nazi Germany.

Phrases such as “Polish death camps” would be made a criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine.

The bill will also make it illegal to deny the murder of around 100,000 Poles by units in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army during the Second World War."

Anti-fraud office investigates EU asylum agency director (Politico, link):

"The executive director of the EU asylum agency is under investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, a document obtained by POLITICO shows.

It states that José Carreira is being investigated for alleged misconduct in procurement procedures, irregularities in management of human resources and possible breaches of data protection at the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

The two-page document was drafted by an investigator at OLAF. According to the text, the probe concerns “suspicions of misconduct by the executive director of EASO.” The investigation takes place “at least — but not exclusively — in the framework of the EU support in response to the refugee crisis in Greece.”

A spokesperson for EASO confirmed that the fraud office’s investigators had visited the agency on October 9 and again last week."

UK: Austria’s far-right fraternities brace for protests at annual ball (The Guardian, link):

"Students who want to be accepted into Austria’s secretive student fraternities have to prove their bravery by facing down the razor-sharp blade of an opponent’s sabre in a fencing duel.

But in a week in which Austria’s burschenschaften have come under assault from newspaper exposés and feminist pranksters, some of the country’s steadfast frat boys have started to flinch.

Austria’s vice-chancellor and Freedom party (FPÖ) leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, is expected to don the pill-box cap of his Vandalia fraternity on Friday night for an annual ball at Vienna’s imperial Hofburg Palace that will gather members of rightwing student societies from across Austria.

Yet days earlier, Strache had to insist “fraternities have nothing to do with the FPÖ”, after prosecutors started to investigate the songbook of one of his party colleague’s fraternities for containing lyrics mocking the Holocaust."

UK: From government to the arms and security industry: The Revolving Door (CAAT, link):

"- Every year ministers, civil servants and military chiefs pass through the “revolving door” between government and the arms and security industries.
- The allure of lucrative future jobs represents a serious conflict of interest for our public servants."

UK: DECLASSIFIED (Mark Curtis, link):

"This is an expanding collection of declassified documents on UK foreign policy. It includes: original government documents and transcripts from the National Archives in London; articles by Mark that analyse these declassified files; and media articles that cover such files.

The aim is to eventually build a fully comprehensive and searchable collection of declassified British documents and articles – to make these much more accessible to the public than currently. The aim is also to document material gained from Freedom of Information answers by the government and eventually to systematically submit FOI requests. In addition, the project seeks to encourage and support researchers to undertake research at the National Archives to publish more documents."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-28.1.18)

NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values (The Intercept, link):

"The National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. But earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change: It removed “honesty” as its top priority.

Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on NSA.gov, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”

On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page – which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive – and replaced it with a new version. Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted. The agency’s new top value is “commitment to service,” which it says means “excellence in the pursuit of our critical mission.”

EU: Consumer advocates outraged after top court rejects class action lawsuit against Facebook (euractiv, llink):

"Consumer advocates have urged the European Commission to propose legislation allowing for collective EU lawsuits after the bloc’s top court rejected a class action against Facebook on Thursday (25 January).

The US tech giant celebrated a partial victory after the European Court of Justice ruled that Austrian privacy lawyer Max Schrems could not represent 25,000 consumers in a lawsuit against the company."

See: CJEU: Press release (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Minister Informal Meeting, Sofia, Bulgaria - 25-26 January 2018:

Media Advisory (pdf)

"The informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs ministers will be held on 25-26 January 2018 in Sofia. The meeting will start on 25 January with the home affairs working sessions, dedicated to migration and asylum, and to borders and security. On 26 January the meeting will continue with the justice working sessions, dedicated to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and to the Brussels IIa Regulation (Recast)."

EU court: Asylum seekers must not be forced to take 'gay tests' (BBC news, link):

"Asylum seekers must not be subjected to psychological tests to determine whether they are homosexual, EU's top court has ruled. "

UK: Brexit: Home Affairs Committee: Oral evidence: Home Office delivery of Brexit: policing and security co-operation

The Home Affairs Select Committee is carrying out an Inquiry into the effect of Brexit on Justice and Home Affairs issues. The last Oral evidence session (pdf) was on 23 January 2018. The Committee Chair asked Mr NIck Hurd (Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, Home Office):

"Q117 Chair: Can you confirm it is still the Government’s intention to stay in all of the existing information databases?

Mr Nick Hurd: Correct."

Eugenics, free speech, double standards (IRR News, link): by Sophia Siddiqui:

"Discredited racial theories are discussed in secret academic forums, while Muslim and BAME students face extreme surveillance on campus. So why the double standard?"

GERMANY: Secret mobile phone surveillance by German authorities on the rise: report (The Local.de, link):

" German security authorities are increasingly using mobile phones to secretly locate suspects, according to a media report published on Tuesday.

More and more, in order to determine the location of suspects, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) are using mobile phones to send out hidden text messages, according to a report in Handelsblatt.

In the second half of 2017 alone, the BfV sent out around 180,000 such messages. In the same period the previous year, the BfV did this about 144,000 times.

By using this technique, security authorities can find out exactly where mobile phones are and create profiles of a suspect’s movements. Though the phone can confirm receipt of the message, the messages go undetected in that they are not displayed on the receiver's screen."

SPAIN-EU: Spain to cross-reference passenger flight information with police databases (El País, link):

"The Passenger Name Record (PNR) – one of the most controversial tools used by governments against Jihadist terrorism – is ready to take effect in Spain. Every day, the list will cross-reference three million passenger data with police databases from the Intelligence Center for Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime, the future home of the National Office for Passenger Information (ONIP). This center will store and transfer the personal traveler information sent by the airline companies. The Data Protection Agency will audit the system."

EU: Security Union: Commission follows up on terrorist radicalisation (press releae, pdf):

"Today, the European Commission reports on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union, including priorities like countering radicalisation, enhancing cybersecurity and protecting public spaces.

As security is identified as a key priority in the Joint Declaration on the EU's legislative priorities for 2018-19, the Commission is also setting out a number of measures to be taken over the coming months to strengthen support to Member States and speed up EU work. The Commission will continue to drive progress ahead of the September informal leaders' meeting on security, announced in the Leaders' Agenda."

And see: European Commission: Thirteenth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2018) 46 final, pdf)

Peace expert: EU’s soft power is most effecive when it is least used (EurActiv, link):

"Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize five years ago, the EU is no longer “a great actor of peace”. It should not rush into creating its own army unless the US decides to pull back its troops, Dan Smith told EURACTIV.com in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Dan Smith is the director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He spoke to EURACTIV.com’s Editor-in-Chief Daniela Vincenti."

And see: MEPs support first ever EU programme on defence industry (Foreign Affairs Committee press release, pdf): "Member states efforts to cooperate more on defence and develop European products should get the EU support, provided it ends the overlaps in defence industry, said committee MEPs on Tuesday."

The lead committee for the file (Industry, Research and Energy, ITRE) has yet to adopt its position.

UK: Downing Street announces new unit to tackle 'fake news' (The Telegraph, link):

"Theresa May is creating a new national security unit to counter "fake news" and disinformation spread by Russia and other foreign powers, Downing Street has announced.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the new national security communications unit would build on existing capabilities and would be tasked with "combating disinformation by state actors and others".

It comes after the Prime Minister accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake news in an attempt to "weaponise information" and sow discord in the West.

Her spokesman said: "We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives. The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected, complex challenges.""

UK-INDIA: Immigration minister signs data sharing agreements with India on criminal records and returns (Home Office press release, pdf):

"Two documents, known as memorandums of understanding (MOUs), were initialled by Minister of Immigration Caroline Nokes and Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Thursday (January 11).

The new two-way deals reflect increased co-operation between the 2 countries which already enjoy a close relationship.

The MOU on criminal records exchange will lead to British and Indian law enforcement bodies sharing criminal records information, fingerprints and intelligence. This will assist the police in protecting the public from known criminals, including sex offenders. It will also allow the courts in both countries to access more information to support tougher sentencing decisions.

Meanwhile the agreement on returns paves the way for a quicker and more efficient process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who have no right to be in the UK to India. This has proven difficult in the past due to some Indians not having the required paperwork or travel documentation for them to be accepted back in their home country."

EU: Europol's FOIA on data retention with Carrier Grade NAT (Hermes, link)

"Most telecommunication operators doing CGNAT (Carrier Grade Network Address Translation), in order to comply with data retention regulation, end-up logging each and all of our internet activity.

On 13th October 2017, Europol and the Presidency of Council of European Union, organized a workshop with 35 policy-makers e Law Enforcement officials from all around europe, in order to discuss about the “increasing problem of non-crime attribution associated with the widespread use of Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technologies by companies that provide access to the internet”.

In Italy we’ve appealed to the Data Protection Authority asking for inspection across all telecommunication operators in order to verify in great details which are the exact information elements logged to comply with data retention laws.

Below we publish in full the Europol answer including all the attachment obtained as a way to foster public debate, research and investigation on the topic by the data protection community."

Background: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users (Statewatch News Online, 20 January 2017)

UK: Ethan Stables trial: Neo-Nazi 'planned Pride event machete attack' (BBC News, link):

"A neo-Nazi's plan to attack people with a machete at a gay pride event was foiled after he told people about it on Facebook, a court heard.

Police were tipped off about Ethan Stables' plan to attack the New Empire pub in Barrow, Leeds Crown Court heard.

The 20-year-old from Barrow denies preparing an act of terrorism and threats to kill.

Prosecutors said the "white supremacist" had a "deep-seated hatred" of minorities, especially gay people."

Croatia and USA Agree on Stronger Justice and Home Affairs Cooperation (Total Croatia News, link):

"Croatia's Minister of the Interior Davor Božinovic met with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke during his visit to Washington on Friday.


Also discussed was the inclusion of Croatia in the Visa Waiver Program, and it was pointed out that the strengthening of cooperation, which was agreed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was an important contribution to achieving this goal. The US emphasised the importance of information exchange, notably on air passengers.


The Croatian Ministry of Interior and the US Department of Homeland Security signed an implementing agreement on enhancing cooperation in preventing and combating serious crime."

MEDITERRANEAN: Human smugglers operate as ‘independent traders’, study finds (University of Cambridge, link):

"First study to model the organisation behind trade in illegal border crossings shows no “Mafia-like” monopoly of routes from Africa into Europe via Mediterranean. Instead, myriad independent smugglers compete in open markets that have emerged at every stage of the journey.


Dr Paolo Campana from Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology conducted the research using evidence from the 18-month investigation by Italian prosecutors that followed the Lampedusa shipwreck, in which 366 people lost their lives.

The work included data from wiretapped telephone conversations between smugglers at all stages, testimonies collected from migrants, interviews with police task force members, and background information on offenders.

“The smuggling ring moving migrants from the Horn of Africa to Northern Europe via Libya does not appear to have the thread of any single organisation running through it,” said Campana, whose findings are published today in the European Journal of Criminology."

UK: Ex-spy centre chief warns tech companies to change or face tough new laws (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"Big technology companies face a crackdown over extremist content unless they take action to police themselves better by the end of the year, the former head of GCHQ has indicated.

Robert Hannigan, who was director of Britain’s electronic surveillance agency between 2014-2017, said that international information platforms were behaving more responsibly than in the past, but are only beginning to get the message."

UK: Drones and the law: The Distant Drone of the Future (CrimeLine, link):

"Given the paucity of drone-specific legislation, prosecutors seeking to convict individuals for misuse of these devices will have to rely on the general criminal law. Fortunately, the breadth of certain offences means that such an approach is workable. The alleged offence in the South Yorkshire helicopter case, misconduct in public office, is notoriously difficult to prove and clearly inapplicable to the private use of drones. However, other offences are better suited to the task. In particular, harassment legislation provides useful tools for police and prosecutors. These offences are applicable to almost any factual situation and focus on what the defendant ought to have known about the consequences of their actions. Any physical contact between a drone and a complainant could equally be dealt with as a common assault (there being no requirement for direct physical contact between the defendant and another individual).

In short, the general criminal law seems well equipped to deal with potential drone-related offences, even if the ANO is not. The basic problem with the ANO’s drone provision is their focus. These regulations are the main legislation secondary governing mechanised flight in UK airspace and, quite rightly, focus on safety. Doubtless, the relevant law makers were more concerned with mid-air collisions than aerial voyeurism. It is a testament to the flexibility of English law that even new technologies can be accommodated within the existing framework without the necessity for legislative change. It is to be"

UK: Met officer faces no charges over death of Rashan Charles (The Guardian, link):

"A police officer will not face charges over the death of Rashan Charles, a young black man who died after a police pursuit in London, the Crown Prosecution Service has announced.

A common assault charge had been considered against the Metropolitan police officer in connection with the 20-year-old’s death on 22 July 2017 after he was apprehended by police in Dalston, east London."

And see: Update on the investigation into the death of Rashan Charles (Office for Police Conduct, link): "The ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Rashan Charles in Hackney in July 2017 has identified conflicting available advice given to police nationally about searching people suspected of placing drugs or other packages in their mouths... That investigation remains ongoing but there have been two significant developments.

Firstly, we referred a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last month (December 2017) to consider whether the officer involved in Mr Charles’ restraint may have committed common assault by continuing to restrain Mr Charles after he became unwell. The CPS confirmed last week that no further action will be taken against the officer on that matter due to insufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction."

UK: Benjamin Zephaniah on how Colin Roach’s death inside Stoke Newington Police Station sparked a movement 35 years ago (Hackney Gazette, link):

"The death of Rashan Charles, and its aftermath, has tragic echoes of the case of Colin Roach. The 21-year-old was shot inside Stoke Newington police station 35 years ago, with the community convinced cops had a hand. Poet Benjamin Zephaniah was at the first protest after his death, he tells the Gazette."

USA: Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: Trump signs bill renewing NSA's internet surveillance program (Reuters, link):

"U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he signed into law a bill renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, sealing a defeat for digital privacy advocates.


The law renews for six years and with minimal changes the National Security Agency (NSA) program, which gathers information from foreigners overseas but incidentally collects an unknown amount of communications belonging to Americans.

The measure easily passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week despite mixed signals posted on Twitter by Trump and narrowly avoided a filibuster in the Senate earlier this week that split party lines. The measure had drawn opposition from a coalition of privacy-minded Democrats and libertarian Republicans."

And see: NSA deleted surveillance data it pledged to preserve (Politico, link): "The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and apparently never took some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information wasn’t destroyed, according to recent court filings."

UK: Biometrics: MPs concerned over huge police mugshot database that still has "no real rules"

"Ministers face a parliamentary inquiry over the storing by police of 20 million mugshots – including of many people not convicted of any crime – after a senior MP warned the practice raises “fundamental civil liberty issues”.

A Commons committee is poised to launch the probe after running out of patience with the Government, which has failed to act on the controversy almost six years after it was ruled unlawful by the High Court.

The court warned of the “risk of stigmatisation of those entitled to the presumption of innocence”, adding that it would be particularly harmful in the cases of children."

UK-FRANCE: 'Sandhurst Treaty' on border control cooperation: full-text, plus other documents agreed at UK-France summit

""French President Emmanuel Macron met Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, during a French-UK Summit at Sandhurst on 18 January 2018, where they signed a new protocol on migration control.

The “Sandhurst Treaty” is an addition to the Touquet Agreement, which is a bilateral treaty dating back to 2003 and signed between France and the UK that has allowed for juxtaposed border controls. The agreement has been criticized as imbalanced in making France responsible for all asylum seekers refused entry into the UK."

UK: Lincolnshire Police spend £250k on taser upgrades (The Lincolnite, link):

"Some £250,000 has been spent on new tasers to help protect frontline officers and the public in Lincolnshire.

From this week 212 new TaserX2 devices will be rolled out across the force to replace the current model.

The new Home Office-approved device has a number of features that will aim to improve safety and accountability in the county:

Officers authorised to use tasers must undergo rigorous training with an initial course of four days, covering the law around how tasers can be used, decision making, human rights and the considerations required for any use of taser."

EU: Council of the European Union: latest text of the proposed e-Privacy Regulation

"While covering a complex subject matter, this proposal is one that the Presidency recognises as important for the completion of the Digital Single Market and is therefore committed to put considerable efforts towards seeking compromise solutions in order to strike the delicate balance between an adequate level of privacy protection and sufficient incentives for innovation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-22.1.18)

EU: Council of the European Union: Data protection and EU institutions, bodies and agencies

Proposal for a 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 [First reading] - Progress report (15861-17, 373 pages, pdf) Includes 4-column positions of the Commission, Council, European Parliament and "compromise":

"In these meetings, many issues were agreed upon, subject to the condition that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. However, it proved not possible to reach an overall agreement on the Regulation by the end of this year, mainly due to the differing positions of the co-legislators regarding the scope of the draft instrument.

With this note, the Presidency informs delegations about the state of play in the negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament on the Regulation on data protection by Union institutions and bodies."

EU: Commissioner to face awkward questions from MEPs over EU home affairs and migration spending

On the morning of Tuesday 23 January European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, responsible for home affairs and migration, is to appear before the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control to answer: Written Questions on the 2016 Discharge to the Commission (pdf). They pose a number of awkward questions.

EU: Council of the European Union: International Protection: latest version of the proposed Dublin Regulation, chapters I-III

DUBLIN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 15991-17, pdf) and see COR 1 (pdf)

"Delegations will find below the revised texts of chapters I to III of the Dublin Regulation. The suggested modifications are based on the outcome of multilateral and bilateral discussions held under the Slovak, Maltese and Estonian Presidencies, and on the on oral and written comments made by Member States in the Asylum Working Party during the first examination (...)

It is understood that all delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the whole proposal. The following delegations have indicated previously that they also have parliamentary scrutiny reservations: CZ, ES, HR, HU, LT, LV, PL, SI, UK."

Finding Your Voice: Forget About Siri and Alexa — When It Comes to Voice Identification, the “NSA Reigns Supreme” (The Intercept, link):

"These and other classified documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has developed technology not just to record and transcribe private conversations but to automatically identify the speakers.

Americans most regularly encounter this technology, known as speaker recognition, or speaker identification, when they wake up Amazon’s Alexa or call their bank. But a decade before voice commands like “Hello Siri” and “OK Google” became common household phrases, the NSA was using speaker recognition to monitor terrorists, politicians, drug lords, spies, and even agency employees.

The technology works by analyzing the physical and behavioral features that make each person’s voice distinctive, such as the pitch, shape of the mouth, and length of the larynx. An algorithm then creates a dynamic computer model of the individual’s vocal characteristics. This is what’s popularly referred to as a “voiceprint.” The entire process — capturing a few spoken words, turning those words into a voiceprint, and comparing that representation to other “voiceprints” already stored in the database — can happen almost instantaneously."


"The table immediately below sets out details of the Special Demonstration Squad officers whose cover names have been confirmed by the Inquiry. It will be updated as further details can be published.

The details given of groups/areas of deployment are provisional, and are provided to enable members of the public to identify whether they may have known officers who were deployed undercover and to prevent cases of mistaken identity. They are not intended to be a comprehensive list of groups with which the officer may have interacted, and do not constitute a factual finding by the Chairman that any group was or was not targeted. These are matters which remain under investigation.

As the former Chairman said in his opening remarks, all those with relevant evidence to give about the deployment of any of these officers are encouraged to contact the Inquiry in confidence. If you had contact with any of the following undercover police officers whilst they were using the cover names set out below then we would like to hear from you. Please see the contacts page for ways to get in touch with the Inquiry in confidence.:"

UK: Findings from investigation into the death of Karl Brunner published following inquest (policeconduct.gov.uk, link):

"We have found no evidence that would justify disciplinary proceedings for any officer involved in the restraint of Karl Brunner prior to his death in Bedford in May 2016.

Early in the investigation we recommended that Bedfordshire Police ensure that its officers are aware of their obligation to treat anyone who may have swallowed drugs as a medical emergency and to ensure they are taken directly to hospital.

On the day of his death Bedfordshire police carried out a pre-planned stop on Mr Brunner based on intelligence that he was in possession of drugs. He was stopped near the bus station in Midland Road at about 12.30pm".(...)

And see: No officers to be disciplined over Karl Brunner's death (ITV News, link)

LGBT in Britain - Trans Report (link):

"Based on the experiences of more than 800 trans and non-binary people who took part in our research with YouGov.

- One in eight trans employees (12 per cent) have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer in the last year

- Half of trans people (51 per cent) have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination

- A quarter of trans people (25 per cent) have experienced homelessness."

Download Report (pdf link).

UK: Officers cleared over Emma Caldwell murder leaks inquiry (stv.tv/news, link):

"Seven police officers investigated over their handling of an inquiry into leaks in the Emma Caldwell murder case have been cleared.

The officers obtained communications data without permission in an attempt to identify a Sunday Mail reporter's anonymous source.

However, an investigation has now ruled that there was no misconduct and the officers have returned to regular duties."

Civil society under threat, Fundamental Rights Agency finds (link):

"“A thriving democracy needs a healthy civil society. Unfortunately, the EU’s own civil society is facing a pattern of threats and pressures in many parts of the EU. Addressing this unacceptable situation should be a high priority for policy makers at EU and national levels,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty."

See: Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU (pdf)

Italy approves military mission in Niger, more troops to North Africa (Reuters, link):

"Italy’s parliament approved on Wednesday an increased military presence in Libya and the deployment of up to 470 troops in Niger to combat migration and the trafficking of people toward Europe (...)

Military intelligence for Europol (link):

"The EU plans to strengthen the linkages between its internal and external security structures. In future, military information will increasingly be used in combating terrorism and organised crime. Cooperation is being tested first in the field of migration.

The European Union is planning the establishment of "Crime Information Cells“ (CIC) for the exchange of data between the police, military and secret services. The intention of the players involved is to reinforce the “external dimension of internal security”.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17.1.18) including: camps: protest in Bamberg, Germany; Greek conditions "horrific", Macron says never again to camps in Calais

UN: "Facts and evidence", not "panic and fearmongering", required in online radicalisation debate

A global review of recent research on the "online violent radicalisation" of young people has found that there is a "scarcity" of empirical enquiries and the issue "has yet to attract a critical mass of studies for the research to be credible in its conclusions and recommendations."

This underlines the need for "policy that is constructed on the basis of facts and evidence, and not founded on hunches – or driven by panic and fearmongering," says the report's authors.

EU: Speech on interoperability proposals given to LIBE committee by Security Commissioner Julian King, 15 January 2017 (pdf):

"National authorities should have the information they need, when and where they need it, with all the safeguards offered by our fundamental rights framework. And our information systems should provide them with data that is timely, complete, accurate and reliable.

By closing down the gaps terrorists and criminals can exploit, we can cut down on identity fraud, strengthening our external border and internal security.

The question now is how to turn this general consensus on the objectives into practical action: to agree swiftly, and then implement, a legislative text that can make a real and significant operational difference for those on the ground."

GERMANY: Bamberg refugees 15.1.2018 Press release: For immediate release: Statement: Against inhumanity! Stop the camp system! We´re refugees, not prisoners! (pdf) and Deutsch (pdf):

"The AEO camp in Bamberg is worse than a prison. Currently 1400 refugees are housed here, the total capacity is 3400. We, refugees living in the camp, will not take anymore the constant harrassment and inhuman treatment. Our demand is for a life in dignity. On Wednesday 17th January 2018 we are going out and taking our demands on the streets. We are calling for all inhabitants of the AEO Bamberg, as well as groups and individuals to join us in solidarity for this peaceful demonstration through the town of Bamberg."

Welcome to new era of global digital censorship (Politico, link):

"It’s dangerous to ask tech companies to decide what’s legitimate free speech.


Freedom of speech advocates warn of an Orwellian digital dystopia where government apparatchiks dictate what we can read and write on the web. For those worried about online safety, the new rules will force tech companies to finally take responsibility for what is posted on their platforms, which have more users, collectively, than countries have citizens.

Whatever side you’re on, these developments offer a glimpse at the future of the internet: one in which more online messages, videos and posts will be deleted because of legislative decrees or, more likely, preemptive censorship by tech companies that fear regulatory reprisal."

Can an EU Country Forbid You from Being with Your Spouse? (HRW, link): "What Happens When a Government Does Not Recognize Your Same-Sex Marriage."

BREXIT: May faces tougher transition stance from EU amid Norway pressure (Guardian, link): "Exclusive: Norwegian officials tell Brussels they may seek radical rethink of their terms if UK has access to single market for key sectors."

And see: EU leaders say UK can reverse Brexit decision if it wants to (Guardian, link): "Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker say door to EU remains open if Britain changes its mind on Brexit."

EU: MEPs to vote on stricter EU export controls on cyber-surveillance tools (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link):

"Next week in Strasbourg, MEPs will vote on proposals to impose much stricter rules on the exports of surveillance technology.

The move is seen as vital in order to prevent authoritarian regimes from spying on their own citizens.

The relevant technology could include devices to intercept mobile phones, hack into computers, circumvent passwords or identify internet users.

The fear is that such technology could possibly be used for human rights violations.

The vote in Parliament is on the recast of the control of exports, transfer, brokering, technical assistance and transit of dual-use items."

UK: Campaigners criticise "political" decision to reject undercover policing legal aid bid (The Herald, link):

"CAMPAIGNERS have accused the Scottish Legal Aid Board of making a “political” decision by rejecting a legal aid application on an inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland.

Tilly Gifford, who exposed an attempt by police to infiltrate her environmental group, last year won the right to challenge the failure of the Scottish and UK Governments to launch a probe into the so-called “spy cop” scandal.

However, the Scottish Legal Aid Board has declined to support her funding bid on the grounds it would be “unreasonable”. This is in spite of legal aid being granted to pursue a similar case in Northern Ireland."

See: Public Interest Law Unit press release: Legal Challenge in respect of undercover policing operations in Scotland (pdf)

UK-EU: Brexit doesn't mean Brexit for migration control initiatives: UK to stay on Khartoum Process steering committee

Despite the UK's foreseen departure from the EU in March 2019 it plans to remain on the steering committee of the Khartoum Process, an EU-funded migration control initiative that involves partnerships with dictatorships such as Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan.

EU: Resisting Ill Democracies in Europe: new study provides "practices and strategies for civil society"

"From emerging democracies in transition, illiberal governments have rapidly transformed Hungary and Poland into ill democracies, have attempted to do so in Croatia, and are slowly and carefully entertaining an illiberal platform in Serbia, according to the new case study Resisting Ill Democracies in Europe.

The findings, published in English, Croatian, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian by a group of human rights organisations, are based on their study of ill democracy in Croatia, Hungary, Poland, and Serbia."

UK: "Hostile environment" faces criticism from parliamentary committee as new migration checks on bank accounts come into force

"The government needs to end its reliance on its error-hit “hostile environment” policy towards illegal migrants because it is not only deeply distressing to those involved but also undermines the credibility of immigration enforcement, MPs have said.

The Commons home affairs select committee says the longstanding lack of any official analysis of the scale and nature of illegal immigration has allowed anxiety over the issue to grow unchecked, and it calls for the publication of an annual estimate based on exit check data."

EU: Public consultation on EU funds in the area of security (European Commission, link):

"In 2018, the Commission will make comprehensive proposals for the next generation of financial programmes for the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, which is the EU's long–term budget. The Commission's proposals will be designed to make it possible for the EU to deliver on the things that matter most, in areas where it can achieve more than Member States acting alone. This requires a careful assessment both of what has worked well in the past and what could be improved in the future. This consultation is an integral part of the process and its objective is to collect the views of all interested parties on how to make the most of every euro of the EU budget."

See: Market Forces: the development of the EU security-industrial complex

SPAIN: Prison Time for Church Protest Against Abortion Reform (Liberties, link):

"The Spanish Supreme Court has confirmed the one-year prison sentence against five young people who interrupted a church mass in February 2014 to protest against reforms to Spain's abortion law. They were found guilty of violating religious freedom. According to the court, the aim of the defendants was to "clearly prevent the religious act", and the exercise of the right to freely express their opinions cannot suppress the right of others to participate freely in their religious ceremonies, when they are carried out in places specifically designated for worship."

NETHERLANDS: PNR: Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information (Dutch News, link):

"Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus has submitted a draft law to parliament which will require airlines to hand over all their information about passengers to the military police.

The information will go to a new police unit for analysis with the aim of tracking down terrorists and major criminals, the minister said. The new law stems from the European Passenger Name Record directive, which is now being incorporated into Dutch law.

Grapperhaus expects the legislation to complete its passage through parliament before the summer.

Information about passengers – including details about baggage, payments and addresses – will be kept for five years. It can also be shared with other countries, Europol and the regular Dutch police force."

FRANCE: Video emerges of man in flames after being tasered by French police (The Local, link):

"A video showing a man engulfed in flames after being tasered by French police in Paris has gone viral in France after being published on social media this week.

The video (see below) dates back to July 2013 but was only posted online this week.

The shocking images, filmed through a body camera worn by a policeman, show the arrest of a man in Place de la Nation, south east Paris.

Details around the arrest remain unclear, but it appears the man was already injured from a preceding incident.

USA: TASERS: The neurocognitive effects of a conducted electrical weapon compared to high intensity interval training and alcohol intoxication - implications for Miranda and consent (Forensic and Legal Medicine, link):

"In our current study, we compared the neurocognitive effects of an exposure to a CEW to another exertion regimen, as well as to alcohol intoxication given the latter has significant established case law with regard to the Miranda waiver and consent. Such a comparison may offer more insight into the clinical/legal significance of any measured changes. As with the prior studies, the neurocognitive performance decrements of the CEW and exertion regimens, found only in one measure in this study (of three), were transient, and here, non-significant. Only alcohol intoxication resulted in statistically significant performance declines across all measures and these were persistent over the study period. Given that the neurocognitive changes associated with the CEW were non-significant, but were significant for alcohol intoxication, and given that current case law does not use intoxication as a per se or bright line barrier to Miranda and consent, our results do not suggest that a CEW exposure should preclude waiving of Miranda rights or obtaining consent."

HUNGARY: Hungary to hold election on April 8, PM Orban's Fidesz ahead in polls (Reuters, link):

"Hungary will hold a parliamentary election on April 8, President Janos Ader announced on Thursday, a contest likely to give Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party a third successive term in power.

Orban has used the past eight years in office to rewrite the constitution and centralize power, filling posts at the central bank, the State Audit Office and the prosecution with party loyalists."

And see: “Observer”: An action befitting a dictatorship (Hungarian Spectrum, link): "Let me cynically sum up: a party soldier at the head of ÁSZ [State Audit Committee] acts beyond his authority, attempting to cripple financially the opposition parties and annihilate the biggest one, charges all of them with the same alleged offense — a situation that has existed for years and has previously passed muster with ÁSZ, while providing no detailed justification of its findings and how the fines were arrived at. This assault on the opposition just before the elections happens to benefit the ruling “illiberal” regime, which has a long record of actions against the democratic institutions, and which in this case amended legislation to facilitate the collection of precisely such fines."

HUNGARY: Private security guards told to protect government offices from journalists (Atlatszo, link):

"Security guards working at government offices need to watch out for journalist and if any members of the media turn up nearby the buildings that they are protecting, they have to notify the department responsible for building staffing, maintenance and operations."

UK: Britain increases arms exports to world’s most repressive regimes by nearly a third since Brexit vote (i, link):

"Britain has dramatically increased the value of weaponry and defence equipment it sells to the world’s most repressive regimes since vows by senior ministers to expand arms exports after the Brexit vote.

Figures seen by i show that the Government cleared export licences worth £2.9bn in the 12 months after June 2016 to 35 countries considered “not free” by Freedom House, a respected international think-tank. The figure represents a 28 per cent increase on the 12 months before the Brexit vote."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-14.1.18)

March for Justice: Bloody Sunday Programme 2018 Context 2018 (link):

"Bloody Sunday was a local event. All of the 28 dead and wounded came from the general Bogside/Creggan quarter of Derry, population around 35,000. There was no one in the area who didn’t know the family of at least one of the victims. The massacre was experienced as a communal wound, the pain of which still throbs and won’t ease until all of the families can feel that truth has been told and justice done.

It is this which, 46 years later, drives the annual commemoration."

See: Calendar of Events (link)

Brexit bill leaves a hole in UK human rights (The Observer, link):

"British civil rights groups sound a warning in the Observer over effects of EU withdrawal legislation. A human rights deficit will be created by the government’s EU withdrawal bill, leaving many different groups in society without adequate protection, leading civil rights bodies warn in a letter published in the Observer.(...)

Among others, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Amnesty International, Liberty, the Fawcett Society and National Aids Trust warn that the bill, which is returning to the House of Commons on 16 January, “will not protect people’s rights in the UK as the government promised”. They say: “This is in large part because the bill removes the EU charter of fundamental rights from our law.”

What is the Spanish migration control industry, and why does it matter? (ODI, link):

""In the last decade, €896 million of public funding was channeled through 1,000 contracts to 350 companies involved in the Spanish migration control industry. These companies both run the machinery, and profit from it. How these companies use and exploit the industry will have long-term effects on any sensible, global migration policy."

UPDATED: UK planning to consolidate biometric databases, consider expanding Surveillance Camera Code application (Biometric Update, link):

"The UK’s Home Office is planning to consolidate its IDENT 1 and IABS biometric databases into one central platform for fingerprint, DNA, and facial image data by spring of 2019, UKAuthority reports.

The contracts for IDENT 1 and the Asylum Biometric System (IABS) expire in March and April of next year, and rather than renew them, they will be combined as part of the Home Office Biometric (HOB) Programme. A previously posted information notice suggests the new contract could run from six to ten years, and cost £198 million to £308 million, and UKAuthority reports the Home Office has begun testing the market for single service management capability. (...)

The government’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, has called on the government to bring major surveillance camera deployments such as the one used by Transport for London to be included in the Surveillance Camera Code, which is currently only required for local government systems, in his fourth annual report."

See: Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Annual Report 2016/17 (pdf):

"The future capabilities of surveillance camera systems is a key theme within this report. The advent of integrated surveillance technologies (cameras, sensors, analytics, biometrics, smart systems) means that the ability of the State and indeed the commercial sector to physically and intrusively track the citizen in public spaces is well and truly upon us."

UK: Biometric database advances raise major issues of control and accountability

The total number of DNA profiles held by the police in the UK at 31 December 2016 was:6,530,647.and

Number of fingerprints held on IDENT 1 for all forces as at 30 September 2016: Arrest Records: 23,836,130 and Subject Ten-Print Fingerprints: 7,962,091.

"big data’ will change the relationship between the citizen and the state in a country that has sometimes thought of freedom as having a civil realm over which the state has minimal knowledge or control; that privacy and liberty are conjoined. As in the specific case of facial images discussed above, these developments have been the subject of little public or Parliamentary scrutiny and it is unclear under what governance arrangements they will operate.." (...)

some of the emerging biometrics will be more complicated to assure. Some commercially available biometric software now uses machine learning or neural networks to improve analytic ability but, by doing so, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to understand how that software is determining possible matches. This is often referred to as the ‘Black Box Problem’ because it runs the danger of black box modelling, unchecked by human intervention, becoming the basis for decision making. This scientific problem raises issues for ethics and governance (...)

Last year’s report drew attention to this rapid development in the police’s use of facial images and the need to consider technical quality, management, interpretation and governance. The recent Review proposes leaving all these issues solely in the hands of the police without any independent oversight or assurance to reassure the public, especially those individuals whom the 2012 Court judgment described as “entitled to the presumption of innocence”.It is now almost five years since the Court held that the police retention of facial images was unlawful, yet we still do not have a clear policy in operation to correct that situation." [emphasis added]

See: Biometrics Commmissioner Annual Report 2016 (pdf)

EU: Civil Liberties Committee divided over dual status and inclusion of facial images on new database of third country nationals convicted of a crime in the EU

On Thursday 11 January the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE)discussed its negotiating position on: On 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) (pdf). The Committee was divided on two major issues: inclusion of those with dual status and the inclusion of facial images on the central database.

Italy/Sudan: ASGI and ARCI appeal against mass deportation to Sudan deemed admissible by the ECtHR

At a press conference in Rome's Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI) on 11 January 2018, lawyers of the Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione (ASGI) and members of ARCI (vice-president Filippo Miraglia and Sara Prestianni, in charge of its observatory on externalization), spoke about the case they brought before the European Court of Human Rights, after it was admitted. Lawyer Salvatore Fachile, who submitted the case, noted that there were numerous violations of the ECHR regarding the expulsion of over forty Sudanese citizens from Italy in August 2016, and that the case was submitted following a mission the following December by ASGI lawyers alongside Sara Prestianni and some MEPs during which they met five of the deportees.

Their interviews did not focus too much on their treatment after their return to Sudan in order to protect the applicants from any possible reprisals, a decision which appeared to be justified after even the delegation were subjected to an "unpleasant" interrogation, Prestianni noted. Hence, it focused on the treatment they received in Italy, which is the key issue in the complaint.

War Resister International: Resisting police militarisation (link):

"Our new police militarisation resource can be used to explore the militarisation of policing by country and by topic (using the themes found underneath the map), with links to articles that examine cross-cutting issues in greater depth. Blue countries have a full profile written on them whereas orange countries have some content but their profiles are not yet complete."

BREXIT: European Parliament Briefing: The (ir-)revocability of the withdrawal notification under Article 50 TEU pdf):

"This in-depth analysis examines the issue of the possible revocation of a withdrawal notification under Article 50 TEU. In light of the ongoing negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the EU, the possibility for the UK to revoke its withdrawal notification has become a significant political and legal/institutional issue. The analysis examines the case of the revocation of a withdrawal notification under public international law and under the EU law as well as the various positions expressed so far on the matter."

Tusk warns against ‘Game of Thrones’ in Balkans (euractiv, link):

"EU chief Donald Tusk warned in an emotional speech on Thursday night (11 January) against having a “game of thrones” in the Western Balkans, as Brussels seeks to encourage the region’s efforts to reform, leave behind ethnic hostilities and join the bloc."

And see: UK House of Lords Select Committee on International Relations: The UK and the future of the Western Balkans (pdf)

EU top court told same-sex spouses have residence rights (BBC News, link):

"A senior adviser to the European Union's top court has backed a Romanian gay man's right to have his US husband live with him in Romania.

EU countries should recognise the right of all spouses to residency even if they do not allow gay marriage, according to the advocate general for the European Court of Justice.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Romania. "

New rules to speed up freezing and confiscating criminal assets across the EU (European Parliament, press release, pdf):

" easier for member states to request seizure of criminal assets in other countries
- compensating victims will take priority
- 9% of criminal proceeds in the EU are never confiscated."

When Memory does NOT die (IRR News, link): By Liz Fekete: The legacy of A. Sivanandan, who passed away on 3 January, is being widely noted.

UK-EU: BREXIT: European Parliament Briefing: Jurisdiction upon and after the UK’s withdrawal: The perspective from the UK Constitutional Order (pdf):

"The UK is a dualist state, which gives domestic legal effect to international treaties only to the extent provided for in Acts of Parliament or other secondary legislation. However, UK courts may choose to take account of non-UK courts’ rulings if they choose.

The UK government intends the usual rules of UK law to apply to any CJEU rulings after exit day, but proposes that CJEU rulings adopted before that date will still have some legal effect in domestic law, to ensure legal certainty and continuity.

There will be an Act of Parliament to give effect to the withdrawal agreement, but its impact on the legal effect of CJEU rulings in domestic law remains to be seen."

Commission: 120 minutes to remove illegal online content (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission is demanding social media platforms share illegal content with police amid broader threats of imposing EU-wide legislation to enforce the takedown of such material.

In a closed-door meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (9 January) between several EU commissioners and some 20 firms, the commission also demanded swifter removals.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous said removals should not take more than two hours."

Luxleaks whistleblower wins appeal (euobserver, link):

"A Luxembourg appeals court has overturned a previous verdict to fine and put on probation Luxleaks whistleblower Antoine Deltour, but upheld a similar one against his former colleague Raphael Halet. The decisions, on Thursday, are subject to further appeals. The two men, who used to work for accountancy firm PwC, were accused of stealing documents from their employer in 2014 to lift the lid on Luxembourg tax deals with multinationals."

Czech Republic: Czech voters to give verdict on president's anti-immigrant populism (Guardian, link)

"Jirí Drahoš, main challenger to incumbent Miloš Zeman, pledges to ensure that country will face the west if he wins poll on Friday.

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has been accused of promoting a climate of “vulgarity, incompetence and corruption” as the Czech Republic heads into a presidential election widely seen as a referendum on his controversial brand of anti-immigrant populism and the country’s place in the western alliance."

Declaration of 4th Summit of South EU states: "Bringing the EU forward in 2018" (IBNA, link):

"We, the Heads of State and Government of the Republic of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, have convened in Rome for the fourth Summit of the Southern European Union countries.(...)

We are strongly committed to a common European migration policy, to prevent irregular flows as well as to address the root causes of mass migration in dialogue and cooperation with the countries of origin and transit. We are determined to strengthen our partnerships with those countries, particularly in Africa. The full implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, in an Aegean where international law is respected, is needed. Given concrete success achieved in the external dimension of migration in recent months, adequate funding to existing financial instruments should continue, including the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the EU-Turkey facility , also with a view of establishing fully funded financial instruments in the next MFF."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.1.18): news from France, Greece, Mediterranean; new research and reports.

After EU agencies jointly test maritime surveillance drones, Frontex moves on to aerostats

The use of drones and manned aircraft for maritime and border surveillance was a key focus of a recently-concluded pilot project involving Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

The project's final report (see the summary, below) was published in December 2017 and states that "the Host Member States (Spain, Italy and Greece) appreciated the surveillance services delivered," and considers that "the best way forward for cooperation between Agencies might be a new framework contract for aerial surveillance."

EU: Eurodac: Austria dismisses fundamental concerns over coercive fingerprinting of six-year-olds

EU: Common European Asylum System (CEAS): Qualification Regulation trilogue document

Four-column document outlining the institutions' positions and potential compromise text, for discussion in a secret trilogue meeting today (10 January 2017).

See: Qualification Regulation (pdf)

UK: Protecting Abusers from Embarrassment (COPS, link):

"The Undercover Policing Inquiry has announced five new applications by anonymity from former undercover police officers. The police want the real and cover names to be withheld in all five cases, and the Inquiry intends to comply.

The officers’ risk assessments, published in heavily redacted form, cover a number of elements of their deployment.

The controversial use of dead children’s identities for cover names is addressed, and none of the officers say they did it (one says they didn’t even have a cover name). They are all asked if they had relationships with people they spied on, and none of them admit this either."

Calls for Government to limit ‘collateral damage’ caused to families by immigration enforcement (Bristol University, link):

"Political pledges to reduce immigration are splitting up families, according to new research which urges the Government to revise its policies in order to reduce ‘collateral damage’ inflicted on partners and children.

In the first study of its kind, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), researchers at the University of Bristol explored how a precarious immigration status impacts on family life.

Between 2014 and 2017, they followed 30 families consisting of foreign national men at risk of deportation and their British or European partners and children."

Spanish Rock Band Fined for Comments During Concert (Liberties, link):

"A court in Murcia, Spain, has confirmed the fine of €700 for the singer of the band Rokavieja for disturbance of public order. During a concert in 2016, the local police had to evict a person from the venue who had lit a flare. The singer responded by shouting "Let's see if you can hold him" and singing the popular refrain "Too much police, too little fun". According to the judge, these expressions "in a packed public gathering and as a direct response to the intervention of the police in light of an infraction" were not appropriate and could have triggered grave reactions from the audience."

New EU members in the Balkans by 2025?

"The EU is preparing to pledge a 2025 deadline for the next wave of enlargement, but Balkans disputes could hold things back.

"The Western Balkans partners now have a historic window of opportunity. For the first time, their accession perspective has a best-case timeframe," the commission is to say in a strategy paper to be adopted either on 7 or 14 February.

"With strong political will, the delivery of real reforms, and lasting solutions to disputes with neighbours, Montenegro and Serbia should be ready for membership by 2025," the text is to add, according to a draft seen by EUobserver."

Council of the European Union: Return of Ethiopians, Cybercrime, Legal Migration, Money-laundering and Eurojust

Including: READMISSION: Admission procedures for the return of Ethiopians from European Union Member States (LIMIITE doc no: 15762-17, pdf) Note this is not a readmission agreement (to which the European Parliament would have to agree).

UK: Battling for the truth: the rights of bereaved families (The Justice Gap, link):

"Like no one else, the bereaved search for answers. The inquest process hinders them at every turn. Patchy legal rights, funding and coronial guidance prevent families from fully participating in the inquests of their next of kin. Where the death occurred in police or prison custody, shining a light on all the circumstances surrounding the death can be especially difficult."

And see: Report of the Chief Coroner to the Lord Chancellor Fourth Annual Report: 2016-2017 (pdf):

"upward trend in deaths in state detention. There were 574 deaths in state detention (excluding DoLS [Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards]) in 2016. This represents an increase of 26% over 2015. Of the 574, many concerned deaths in prison or police custody under section 7 of the 2009 [Coroners and Justice] Act. Deaths in custody are of particular concern to coroners. Many coroners make reports to prevent future deaths from such cases."

Spain: Covert video surveillance of supermarket workers led to privacy violation (CoE, link):

"Supermarket cashiers suspected of theft had their privacy breached after their employer used hidden video cameras to spy on them. In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of López Ribalda v. Spain (application no. 1874/13."

And see: Judgment (Press release, pdf)

Council of the European Union: EU-Africa, European Investigation Order, Radicalisation and SIRENE-SIS

EU-AFRICA: Fifth African Union - European Union Summit (Abidjan, 29 - 30 November 2017) - Political declaration (LIMITE doc no: 15554-17, pdf). Text of Declaration

EIO: Directive 2014/41/EU of 3 April 2014 regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters - Competent authorities and languages = Paper by EJN (15211-REV-1-17, pdf): Detailed report on 18 Member State implementation including the UK: "ENTRY INTO FORCE: 31 July 2017 for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; 22 May 2017 for Gibraltar."

• RADICALISATION:  Interim report of the High Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLCEG-R) (LIMITE doc no: 14816-REV-1-17, pdf): "Interim Report (Preliminary Findings and Recommendations)"

SIRENE: Development of the SIRENE Bureaux in the framework of the Schengen Information System - Council conclusions (7 December 2017) (15560-17,

"Delegations will find in the annex the Council conclusions on the development of the SIRENE Bureaux in the framework of the Schengen Information System, as adopted by the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) on 7 December 2017 (...) Welcomes the considerable contribution of the Schengen Information System, including SIRENE cooperation, in protecting the area without internal border checks, especially in the context of the current challenges of migration and terrorism within the Schengen area."

Rising nationalism and the EU's split with the East (DW, link)

"What's wrong with the EU? Poland and Hungary, who only joined the bloc 13 years ago, are increasingly turning to nationalism. DW examines a phenomenon that has been smoldering for some time.(...)

Once upon a time, the European Union was a desirable destination for former Eastern Bloc countries. Twenty-five years ago, to be exact. Today, the European alliance faces major difficulties with some of its most recent additions — and vice versa. Poland and Hungary enjoy the EU as a money machine, but reject any kind of centralism emanating from Brussels. They also view Western Europe's multi-cultural aspects as a threat.

Instead, Warsaw and Budapest have begun to define new old values: the fatherland, the Christian faith, family. Similar political and social ideals have emerged in the Czech Republic and Slovakia: a counter-movement to the relatively open societies of Western Europe.""

PNR for all: UN Security Council mandates worldwide air travel surveillance and profiling, biometric collection, terrorist watchlists

In the name of "preventing, detecting and investigating terrorist offenses and related travel," all UN Member States must develop systems for processing and analysing Passenger Name Record (PNR), Advance Passenger Information (API) and "fingerprints, photographs, facial recognition, and other relevant identifying biometric data", according to a UN Security Council resolution (no. 2396) agreed on 21 December 2017.

SPAIN: Catalonia in deadlock, and why that is a European problem (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Let me say it quite clearly: the Catalan conflict is our problem. Not the Catalan problem, not the Spanish problem, only. It is our common European problem. All European citizens, and particularly the European institutions, should be concerned about it, and should collaborate to find appropriate solutions. The fact that the conflict is “stuck” right now is bad news for everyone in the EU. And yes, finding a solution is the primary responsibility of Catalans and Spaniards. But all Spaniards are European citizens, we are all part of a common political project with the rest of European peoples, a project based on the fundamental values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law, peace, and well-being, among others. And we all share the responsibility to promote such values across the Union, and all peoples have a clear duty of solidarity among themselves. Catalans and Spaniards are failing so far to find solutions to the problem. But it is our European common problem and our common responsibility to try to help them. More specifically, EU institutions should be doing much more of what they have done so far. I blame them for their passivity in the last couple of months."

USA: The Man Behind the Mask (Jacobin, link):

A history of the conversion of tear gas from a chemical weapon for use on the battlefield, to its normalisation and commercialisation as a tool available to police forces "to subdue mobs and criminals". "At one time, tear gas was only deployed on the battlefield, not against civilian protesters. Then Amos Fries came along."

UK: Probe into claim that police spy set fire to Debenhams could end by July (The Guardian, link):

"A Scotland Yard investigation into an allegation that an undercover police officer set fire to a high street department store while infiltrating animal rights campaigners could be completed by July.

Since April last year, the Metropolitan police have been investigating a claim that the undercover officer, Bob Lambert, planted an incendiary device in Debenhams in Harrow, London in July 1987, causing £340,000 of damage.

A court has heard that police estimate that their investigation could be concluded by the middle of this year."

SCOTLAND: SNP Government urged to publish undercover policing review after receiving the report two months ago (The Herald, link):

"JUSTICE Secretary Michael Matheson has been urged to publish a review of undercover policing after it emerged the report had been sitting on his desk for over two months.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) submitted the piece of work on November 2nd, but no publication date has been announced by the SNP Government.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Once the report’s findings have been fully considered, arrangements will be made to lay the report in the Scottish Parliament.”"

Civil society to monitor counter-terrorism and anti-extremism measures in the OSCE (Fair Trials, link):

"December 11, 2017 - Last week in Vienna, the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) – which brings together non-governmental organisations in Europe, Eurasia and the US – issued the Vienna Declaration on Preventing Security Measures from Eclipsing Human Rights.

The Declaration built on a meeting coordinated by Fair Trials (supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs) bringing together NGOs from across the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), officials from the OSCE and representatives of OSCE countries. The aim of the meeting was to better understand the human rights impact of the OSCE’s work on counter-terrorism and anti-extremism. The meeting resulted in civil society recommendations to help the OSCE improve the compatibility of its work in this area with human rights standards."

See: Vienna Declaration: Preventing security measures from eclipsing human rights (pdf)

UK: Blacklisting: the need for a public inquiry (including a Manifesto Against Blacklisting) (IER, link):

A new book by Dave Smith and Alex Just: "In his thoughtful account of the conspiracy, which incorporates the first-hand experiences of blacklisted workers and their families, the author leads readers through the multitude of obstacles faced by the victims. It concludes with a call for a public inquiry that forces those involved to publically account for their actions; and a detailed Manifesto Against Blacklisting"

Mapping a World From Hell: 76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror (TomDispatch, link):

"The Costs of War Project has produced not just a map of the war on terror, 2015-2017 (released at TomDispatch with this article), but the first map of its kind ever. It offers an astounding vision of Washington’s counterterror wars across the globe: their spread, the deployment of U.S. forces, the expanding missions to train foreign counterterror forces, the American bases that make them possible, the drone and other air strikes that are essential to them, and the U.S. combat troops helping to fight them. (Terror groups have, of course, morphed and expanded riotously as part and parcel of the same process.)

A glance at the map tells you that the war on terror, an increasingly complex set of intertwined conflicts, is now a remarkably global phenomenon. It stretches from the Philippines (with its own ISIS-branded group that just fought an almost five-month-long campaign that devastated Marawi, a city of 300,000) through South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and deep into West Africa where, only recently, four Green Berets died in an ambush in Niger.

No less stunning are the number of countries Washington’s war on terror has touched in some fashion. Once, of course, there was only one (or, if you want to include the United States, two). Now, the Costs of War Project identifies no less than 76 countries, 39% of those on the planet, as involved in that global conflict."


Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping (Consumer Watchdog, link):

"Internet giants Amazon and Google are slashing prices and offering supposed deals on their “digital assistants” this holiday season, but a study of patent applications associated with the devices reveals plans for massive surveillance of users’ homes, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

Consumer Watchdog said that a study of patent applications filed by Amazon and Google with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals a vision for an Orwellian future in which digital assistants eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits to children’s movements and the books on bedside tables. They would know when you go to sleep and whom you wake up with.

The patents reveal the devices’ possible use as surveillance equipment for massive information collection and intrusive digital advertising."

Who Remains at Guantánamo? (one small window, link):

"Contrary to what is sometimes assumed, Barack Obama did not close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in January 2010, as he had promised. Instead, on the day that he left presidential office in January 2017, there were still 41 prisoners held at the prison he once called a “misguided experiment”.

Under Donald Trump, the experiment continues pretty much as it did under Obama. In spite of Trump’s threat to “load up” Guantánamo with “bad dudes”, the prisoner count has remained consistent. Interest in the issue and the fate of the prisoners has otherwise fallen so far below the radar that it is not surprising that many people believe it is a closed chapter of history.


Only two of the remaining 41 prisoners have been there since early 2002 and none were captured by the US military. Over half were sold to the US by the Pakistani authorities, and the majority were held at CIA black sites – secret torture facilities around the world – before they arrived at Guantánamo."

Taking the EU-Turkey Deal to Court? (Verfassungsblog, link):

"The three orders have been appealed to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The strict admissibility requirements laid down in the Plaumann ruling place an important constraint on the CJEU. If the case had been brought by the European Parliament, which was entirely sidestepped in the process leading to the deal, instead of dealing with issues of admissibility, the CJEU would be looking at the substance of the matter. This case illustrates how the checks and balances built into the system can be completely bypassed when the EU institutions collude with Member States to act outside the Treaty framework." [emphasis added]

See also: The EU-Turkey Statement or the ‘Refugee Deal’: The Extra-Legal Deal of Extraordinary Times? and: The EU-Turkey Deal in Front of the Court of Justice of the EU: An Unsolicited Amicus Brief (SSRN, links)

Hungary: Release Ahmed H and stop abusing terrorism laws (Amnesty, link):

"Ahmed has been labelled a terrorist and jailed for 10 years after using a megaphone to call for calm during clashes at the Hungarian border.

In August 2015, Ahmed left his family home in Cyprus to go and help his elderly parents and six other family members flee Syria and find safety in Europe. One month later, they found themselves among hundreds of refugees stranded at the Hungarian border after police fenced off the crossing with Serbia.

Clashes broke out as some refugees attempted to get through. Hungary’s police responded with tear gas and water cannon, injuring dozens. Some people threw stones, including Ahmed. But news footage also clearly shows Ahmed using a megaphone to call on both sides to remain calm.

For this, a Hungarian court found him guilty of an “act of terror”, under Hungary’s extremely vague counter-terrorism laws, and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Does this sound like terrorism to you?"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Inquiries, ‘collusion’ and seeking truth in Loughinisland killings (Irish Times, link):

"Next Friday morning, a group, mostly men, mostly late middle-aged, hope and expect to hear a ruling from Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey in the Royal Courts of Justice in Chichester Street in Belfast for which they have long campaigned.

Members of the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association, they went to court last year to challenge the report of the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, into the 1994 Loughinisland killings .

Twenty-four people were gathered in The Heights Bar in the Co Down village on June 18th, 1994, watching the Republic of Ireland vs Italy in the World Cup, when two UVF members wearing boiler suits and balaclavas walked in shortly after 10pm.

Shouting “Fenian bastards”, one opened fire with an assault rifle, unleashing more than 60 bullets. Six men died, including Barney Green (87). Five were wounded. The gunmen laughed as they ran away."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-7.1.18)

The Logic of Leaks, reconsidered (LIMN , link)

"Are leaks fast and slow? Does their “illicit aura” matter? Naomi Colvin dives into the debate about leaking and the politics of journalism today. (...)

Journalistic practice is undergoing a period of radical upheaval in the digital age and leaks are a major part of the process whereby the formation of narratives has been opened up to wider scrutiny. Aspects of 2016’s agenda will inevitably give pause to those who closely followed the contours of Cablegate, but scholars of these trends must take care not to confuse cause and effect. The development of isolated information communities has not been caused by leaks, but it has made clearer some of the social and political problems that have been coming to a head since 2008. Not least of these is a widespread sense of institutional failure and corresponding alienation from conventional political narratives.

Leaks, particularly when accompanied by public access to source material, have provided some of the few instances where that divide has been successfully negotiated. Those who misidentify leaks as the problem therefore run the risk of embracing deeply anti-democratic norms. Without a reality check, this could become self-perpetuating."

UK: The road to anti-racism (IRR News, link):

"A unique project tells the tale of how militant anti-racists in the 1970s helped create the multicultural London now taken for granted."

A. Sivanandan 1923 – 2018 (IRR News, link): A. Sivanandan, the Director Emeritus of the Institute of Race Relations and founding editor of Race & Class has passed away.

"The Institute of Race Relations would like to thank everyone who has sent tributes and messages of condolences following the death of A. Sivanandan on Wednesday 3 January. As his family and friends mourn his passing, we invite you to leave tributes and personal memories below."

See links: Read about A. Sivanandan here
Race & Class: The A. Sivanandan Collection (free to download)
Soundcloud: An interview with A. Sivanandan by Avery Gordon for the 2013 Historical Materialism conference
Race & Class: On ‘lived theory’: an interview with A. Sivanandan by Avery Gordon (subscription only)

USA: Wilderness of Mirrors: Documents Reveal the Complex Legacy of James Angleton, CIA Counterintelligence Chief and Godfather of Mass Surveillance (The Intercept, link):

"Veteran CIA officer Cleveland Cram was nearing the end of his career in 1978, when his superiors in the agency’s directorate of operations handed him a sensitive assignment: Write a history of the agency’s Counterintelligence Staff.(...)

He had served two decades in the clandestine service, including nine years as deputy chief of the CIA’s station in London. He knew the senior officialdom of MI-5 and MI-6, the British equivalents of the FBI and CIA, the agency’s closest partners in countering the KGB, the Soviet Union’s effective and ruthless intelligence service.

Cram was assigned to investigate a debacle. The Counterintelligence Staff, created in 1954, had been headed for 20 years by James Jesus Angleton, a legendary spy."

A seahorse for the Mediterranean: Border surveillance for Libyan search and rescue zone (link):

"Libya is to become the first third-state to join the EU’s satellite-supported “Seahorse Mediterranean” network. The Italian military is currently setting up the necessary control centres, to be followed by a new application for a search and rescue zone, supported by Italy. In the end, the Libyan coastguard is to coordinate all maritime search and rescue missions itself.(...)

Unlike the ships in the EU military mission EUNAVFOR MED or merchant ships, the Libyan patrol boats would be able to escort the rescued parties on board back to Libya without infringing upon the principle of non-refoulement enshrined under international law. Thus the creation of such a coordination centre means a nightmare for hundreds of thousands of refugees and independently-organised rescue missions that have been repeatedly shot at by coastguard units. There is already evidence about the Italian navy’s involvement in such a facilitating return of migrants to Libya."

European Parliament: Brexit: the Constitutional Relationship of the United Kingdom with the European Union (link): Useful sources from the parliament and others.

UK: Tribunal rules against total secrecy over UK drone strikes (Guardian, link):

"Court imposes limits on ability of government to reject information requests on national security grounds.

The government’s power to block requests for information on national security grounds has been significantly curtailed by a tribunal ruling over targeted killings of British jihadists abroad.

Although attempts to obtain the legal advice given to the prime minister before RAF drone strikes in Syria in 2015 were dismissed, the court said officials could not rely on a blanket ban preventing the release of all relevant details.

The upper tribunal administrative appeals chamber decision, handed down shortly before Christmas, said freedom of information requests in such sensitive policy areas should be subject instead to qualified exemptions in which security concerns are balanced against wider public interests."

EU rebels Poland, Hungary show united front (euractiv, link):

"Poland and Hungary are winning the battle against the EU over immigration, the two countries’ premiers said Wednesday, with Hungary’s Viktor Orban predicting “a year of great confrontations” with Brussels.

“The dial is turning in our direction,” Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in Budapest, showing a united front with Orban in his first bilateral trip since being appointed last month.

The European Union is taking Hungary, Poland and also the Czech Republic to court over their refusal to accept EU mandatory quotas for asylum-seekers decided by a majority of member states in 2015."

Spycops victims forced to seek crowd funding for participation in Undercover Policing Inquiry (Byline, link):

"A crowd-funder by victims of undercover policing has reached over half of its £10K target, but questions remain as to why they have to do this in the first place, when millions have already been spent by the police and state."

UK: Government widens legal aid scope for prison law (Law Gazette, link):

"Legal aid will be restored for three areas of prison law following a Court of Appeal judgment, the government has confirmed.

In Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service v the Lord Chancellor, the court ruled that the high threshold required for a finding of inherent or systemic unfairness was satisfied in the case of pre-tariff reviews by the parole board, category A reviews (those whose escape would be highly dangerous), and decisions regarding placement in close supervision centres. The threshold was not satisfied in relation to decisions about offending behaviour programmes and courses, and disciplinary proceedings where no additional days of imprisonment or detention can be awarded.

This week Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, a prison charity, posted a letter on Twitter from the Ministry of Justice confirming that an amending statutory instrument has been laid before parliament, extending criminal legal aid to the three areas where the court ruled against the government."

UK-EU: Police cooperation: official UK guidance recommends avoiding use of European Investigation Order "where possible"

Official guidance for UK police forces says that they should "always where possible" bypass the European Investigation Order (EIO) and "try to maintain police cooperation activity through existing routes," despite admitting that the EIO "is likely to have significant and positive effect on UK investigations with evidence and information held overseas becoming much easier to access."

EU: Access Info calls for greater transparency of Council of the EU in submission to European Ombudsman (link):

"Madrid, 3 January 2018 – Access Info has recommended that the Council of the European Union significantly increase transparency of the legislative process, in particular by providing the public with details on the positions that EU Member States take in negotiations on legislation.

These recommendations were submitted to the European Ombudsman’s consultation held as part of her enquiry into transparency of the Council, which is based in large part on the case of Council v. Access Info Europe, won by Access Info on 17 October 2013, in which the Court of Justice of the EU established the right of the public to access documents containing the names of Member States putting forward legislative proposals, even at early stages of debate."

See: European Ombudsman Consultation On Transparency of the Council of the EU - Submission by Access Info Europe (link to pdf)

Researchers find a string of security vulnerabilities affecting GPS services (computing, link):

"GPS and location-tracking services could be vulnerable to a string of newly discovered vulnerabilities, dubbed "trackmageddon", according to two security researchers.

In a paper, Vangelis Stykas and Michael Gruhn claim that key security problems could expose users of GPS services to tracking by third parties.

The services are described as databases that harvest geolocation data from a range of connected devices, including child trackers, car trackers and pet trackers."

Here's How Privacy Is Violated in Estonia (Liberties, link):

"It seems that privacy is not a concern to E-stonia, where data protection laws allow government agencies to access users' personal data, which ICT companies retain despite EU law.

The government of Estonia likes to promote the country as a digital society. There is much to be happy with: many state services are delivered with minimal hassle and projects like the so-called e-residency and internet voting are innovative and potentially transformative. However, unlike Estonia’s Nordic neighbour Sweden, the e-state is built upon a foundation that does not fully take into account basic human rights such as protection of personal data."

European Parliament study: EU and Member States’ policies and laws on persons suspected of terrorism-related crimes (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee), presents an overview of the legal and policy framework in the EU and 10 select EU Member States on persons suspected of terrorism-related crimes. The study analyses how Member States define suspects of terrorism-related crimes, what measures are available to state authorities to prevent and investigate such crimes and how information on suspects of terrorism-related crimes is exchanged between Member States. The comparative analysis between the 10 Member States subject to this study, in combination with the examination of relevant EU policy and legislation, leads to the development of key conclusions and recommendations."

How Europe's New Internet Laws Threaten Freedom of Expression (Foreign Affairs, account required) by David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:

"For some years now, Americans have been demanding that Internet companies deal with online ugliness—from misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of abuse to disinformation, propaganda, and terrorist content. The public fever is justifiably high. As The New York Times breathlessly editorialized about Facebook and fake news shortly after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, “Surely its programmers can train the software to spot bogus stories and outwit the people producing this garbage.” And yet, while Congress hauls company lawyers up to Capitol Hill hearings and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other technology companies struggle to address public concerns, U.S. legislation to restrict online content seems as unlikely today—for constitutional and political reasons—as it did before November 2016 (bracketing such things as child exploitation and imminent threats of violence, subjects strictly regulated offline and on).

Meanwhile, as Americans collectively fret over an Internet gone bad, Europe regulates, unconstrained by the legislative paralysis or solicitousness toward corporate America present in Washington. At every level—executive, legislative and judicial, union and state—Europeans are moving to impose restrictions on the expression that Internet companies can permit on their platforms. Although these moves reflect legitimate concerns about the abuse of online space, many risk interfering with fundamental rights to freedom of expression. What’s more, the possibility of this trend spreading beyond Europe is high."

The article concludes:

"The proposals above [such as those in the Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online and Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive], however, risk leading to a shrinking of space in the most important forums for expression available in history. They will be hard to contain in practice, principle, or in terms of geography. To the extent that they involve outsourcing adjudication to private actors, they limit the possibility of democratic accountability. They should be reconsidered, limited, and enforced through the traditional tools of the rule of law."

EU: Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on implementation of benchmarks for Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries (Commission press release, pdf):

"The Commission is today reporting on the continuous fulfilment of the visa liberalisation benchmarks by the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as well as the Eastern Partnership countries (Georgiam Moldova and Ukraine). The report shows that, whilst the visa liberalisation requirements for the countries concerned continue to be fulfilled, action is required in a number of specific areas to preserve their sustainable implementation.


Today's report is the first assessment under the new monitoring mechanism for the eight countries that have concluded visa liberalisation dialogues with the EU. The assessment shows that all eight Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries have demonstrated strong commitment to meeting the necessary requirements and have undertaken important efforts to implement a number of far-reaching reforms set out under the visa liberalisation process. It is now imperative that those reforms are sustained and that the countries do not backtrack on their achievements. Today's report focuses on the areas where further actions are required, in particular irregular migration and readmission, fight against corruption and money laundering as well as public order and security."

See: First Report under the Visa Suspension Mechanism (COM(2017) 815 final, pdf) and: Staff Working Document (SWD(2017) 480 final, pdf)

UK: Asylum offices 'in a constant state of crisis', say whistleblowers (The Guardian, link):

"Staff in the Home Office’s asylum directorate are undertrained, overworked and operating in a “constant state of crisis”, two whistleblowers have claimed, as applicants endure long waits to have their case dealt with due to internal pressures.

The Home Office staff have also told the Guardian that asylum case workers are making poor decisions about applications because they are under pressure to focus on more profitable visa applications. Despite a “shocking increase in complaints (from applicants) and MP enquiries questioning delays”, they say caseworkers have been told to brush off all enquires and “just give standard lines” of response when called to account."

And see: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An inspection of asylum intake and casework - April-August 2017 (pdf)

UK: Investigation after man dies in Staffordshire prison (The Sentinel, link):

"An investigation is underway after a prisoner died at one of the region’s biggest jails.

The inmate at HMP Dovegate, near Uttoxeter, was pronounced dead yesterday afternoon (December 22).

Serco, which runs the prison, confirmed the man’s death this morning (December 23) but has not yet released details of his age or name.

A post-mortem will now be carried out to establish why he died before a report is prepared for the coroner ahead of an inquest being opened.

It is understood prison staff had tried to save the man but their attempts were unsuccessful."

Germany's populist AfD seeks to turn online 'censorship' to its advantage (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party complained on Tuesday that its politicians had been the victim of censorship online. This followed news that Cologne's police had pressed charges against two leading AfD politicians, in response to provocative tweets about "barbaric, Muslim, group-raping hordes of men," as one of them had put it.

These developments coincide with the introduction of a new law forcing social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to respond to requests to delete offensive content more quickly."

EU: Poland refuses Middle Eastern migrants (euronews, link):

"It might be a brand new year but the European Union is already facing the same old problems.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says his government won't meet the EU's mandatory refugee quotas set to help take the burden off Italy and Greece.

"We are invariably of the opinion, formulated by Law and Justice ahead of the elections of 2015, that we will not be receiving migrants from the Middle East and Northern Africa in Poland," Morawiecki said during an interview with Radio Poland.

That doesn't mean the country isn't pulling its weight, Morawieski said."

UK: Nuno Cardoso: Police investigated over death of black law student who was restrained in van (The Independent, link):

"A law student who wanted to be the “best lawyer in the country” has become the fifth young black man to die after being restrained by police officers this year.

The mother of Nuno Cardoso, 25, demanded “justice” for her son after he collapsed in the back of a police van in Oxford.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said four Thames Valley Police officers involved in the incident were under investigation.

Mr Cardoso, who was originally from London, was arrested and restrained after an assault was reported in the early hours of 24 November.

“At around 5.30am, Mr Cardoso was being taken to a police station in the back of a police van when officers reported that he had become unwell,” a spokesperson for the IPCC said."

BELGIUM: PNR: From January 1st airlines to start conducting identity checks at boarding gates (The Brussels Times, link):

"Airlines operating in Belgian airports must, beginning with Belgian Airlines, from January 1st conduct a “compliance check”.
This means that passenger identity will from now on be checked at the boarding gate. Identity documents will be compared with the boarding card.

Kim Daenen, Communications Manager and Spokesperson of Brussels Airlines, says, “This is a visual check.” She goes on, “We will check if the surname on the identity card is identical to that printed on the boarding card. This check will be effected at the boarding gate for each flight both from and to Belgium.”

This new measure falls within the context of the PNR measures (Passenger Name Record), which anticipates that airlines will send passenger data to the crisis centre 48 hours before the flight, and a second time upon the flight landing. Brussels Airlines will send this data, effective from January 1st. Strictly speaking, other Belgian airlines will be implementing the measure at a later date."

Council of the European Union: Eurojust, ECRIS, ETIAS

• Eurojust: Proposal of the European Parliament and of the Council for a Regulationon the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) - Follow up of the third trilogue of 6 December 2017 (LIMITE doc no: 14306-REV-2-17, pdf): 296 pages: Four column trilogue document with Commission proposal, Council position, EUropean Parliament "Orientation" position and "compromise" position.

• ECRIS: Proposal for a Directive amending Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA, as regards the exchange of information on third country nationals and as regards the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), and replacing Council Decision 2009/316/JHA- Outcome of the discussions in the (JHA) Council on 8 December 2017 (LIMITE doc no: 15450-17, pdf):

"On 8 December 2017, the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) reached a general approach in relation to the above mentioned proposal for a Directive, as revised in the light of the proposal for a Regulation (see doc. 15448/17).

UK still maintains a Parliamentary scrutiny reservation.

The text of the draft Directive as agreed, which is set out in the Annex, will constitute the basis for the negotiations with the European Parliament in the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure (Art. 294 TFEU)."

• ECRIS: General approach to above agreed by the Council prior to trilogue meetings with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 15448-17, pdf)

• ETIAS: 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 (LIMITE doc no 15840-17, pdf):

"ETIAS is an automated system set up to identify security, illegal migration or public health risks associated with visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen Area. It will gather information to allow for advance processing on those visitors prior to their travel.(...)

At the last trilogue, the main political issues, as listed in document 15127/17 (+ COR 1), have been provisionally agreed, pending confirmation by the co-legislators. The Presidency debriefed delegations on the outcome of this trilogue at the JHA Counsellors
meeting on 18 December. All delegations that took the floor regarded the compromise reached on these issues as generally positive. Some delegations used this opportunity to ask the Presidency some clarifications and to outline their views."

• ETIAS: See as referred to above:151217-17 (LIMITE doc, pdf) and: 15127-17-COR-1 (LIMITE doc no: pdf)

EU should ban Austria presidency, French appeal says (euobserver, link):

"France's former foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, has called on the EU to boycott Austria's upcoming six-month presidency of the Council of the EU as well as Austrian ministers belonging to the country's far-right coalition party. (...)

The letter was co-signed by Benjamin Abtan, the founder of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, and Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, founders of the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France group.

They said that other EU leaders have met the rise to power of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) in Austria with "silence and a guilty apathy", and that they were "concerned" about the party's "ideology of hatred"."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.12.17-1.1.18)

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