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21st year reporting on civil liberties and the state in the European Union (updated 25.3.19) Editor: Tony Bunyan
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I spy: How Android phones keep tabs on our every move (EL PAIS, link):
"A study by two Spanish academics reveals the scope and lack of control over pre-installed apps.
As a consumer, you buy a new Android cellphone. It could be any brand, but it is likely to be an Android as they account for more than 80% of todays cellphone market. You open the box, press the On button and the phone connects to the internet. Without further ado, you have just triggered the most sophisticated surveillance machine to date for monitoring your routines."
You Cant Detain The Stubbornness of Freedom (PLAN C, link):
"Liberté, liberté! This chant belted out by 49 refugees and migrants in the moment of their landing at Lampedusa last Tuesday contains the real meaning of what has happened around the Mare Jonio over the last few days, Mediterraneas ship." And in: Italian, link)
European Parliament approves new copyright rules for the internet (link):
"Creatives and news publishers will be empowered to negotiate with internet giants thanks to new copyright rules which also contain safeguards on freedom of expression. MEPs adopted the directive in plenary by 348 votes in favour, 274 against and 36 abstentions."
See also: EU backs controversial copyright law (BBC News, link): "The European Parliament has backed controversial copyright laws critics say could change the nature of the net. The new rules include holding technology companies responsible for material posted without proper copyright permission."
And: Press Release: Censorship machine takes over EUs internet (EDRI, link)
European Network Against Arms Trade: PRESS RELEASE: EU Defence Fund provisional agreement sets dangerous precedentagainst democratic functioning of the EU (ENAAT, link):
"Yesterday the Industry & Research Committee (ITRE) of the European parliament (EP) adopted the provisionalagreement reached with the EU Council on a European Defence Fund for 2021-2027. The final vote in Plenarysession is planned on April 17. As it currently stands, this compromise text sets a dangerous precedent against the democratic functioning ofthe EU and in particular against the oversight role of the Parliament."
EU foreign policy normalises totalitarianism in the Middle East (Middle East Eye, link):
"Recent summit in Egypt highlights the hypocrisy of EU discourse on democracy and human rights,
Last month, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made it crystal clear to European leaders, who pride themselves on democracy and the universality of human rights, that his regime rejects these values. His actions underscored this, as Egypt carried out executions after a grossly unfair court process and advanced a bill that would amend the constitution to entrench Sisis power."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.3.18) including:
- Greece: Three years of "cruel, inhumane and cynical" treatment of migrants and refugees
- UK: Utter failure of Home Office has led to serious problems with every part of the immigration detention system
- Spain's migration agreements with Morocco have grave consequences for Mediterranean shipwrecks
EU: "Policing in a Connected World": Council looks to help police deal with "Novel Actionable Information"
A recent document produced by the Romanian Presidency of the Council takes up the issue of "Policing in a Connected World" and calls for the establishment of new networks and tools so that police forces across the EU can better make use of the "Novel Actionable Information" generated by the "explosion in the number of digital devices used, each generating more data, more diverse and complex types of data, and connections between data."
UK: House of Commons Library briefing: Brexit: contingency planning and powers (pdf):
"Media reports have speculated on whether the Government might be preparing to use its emergency powers conferred by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to manage various problems commentators have suggested may emerge after Brexit, particularly if there is no deal.
This briefing looks at emergency planning in the UK and specifically at the how emergencies are defined, how the Government may deploy its emergency powers to deal with them, and how this relates to no-deal planning."
NETHERLANDS: Dutch populist wins provincial elections after Utrecht attack (Reuters, link):
"An upstart populist party shocked the Dutch political establishment by winning the most votes in provincial elections after a preliminary count in the early hours of Thursday, boosted by a possible terrorist attack this week in the city of Utrecht.
...The most important short term impact is that Prime Minister Mark Ruttes center-right coalition will be forced to seek outside support to win Senate approval for laws passed by parliament. Provincial votes determine the composition in the Senate, where Ruttes government has lost its majority.
The big winner in the vote was the Forum for Democracy party, led by 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, which holds just two seats in parliament after entering politics in 2016. On current projections it will have an equal number of seats in the Senate as Ruttes VVD."
See also: The New Dutch Disease Is White Nationalism (Foreign Policy, link): "An upstart far-right party in the Netherlands threatens to entrench xenophobia in one of Europes most progressive countries."
EU: Customs cooperation: Review of the legal framework to exchange information with (in) Member States, European Commission, Europol and Frontex - Evaluation report (15280/1/18 REV 1, LIMITE, 27 February 2019, pdf):
"Delegations will find in Annex the evaluation report on the review of the legal framework to exchange information with (in) Member States, European Commission, Europol and Frontex, which now includes comments from the Member States, the Commission, Europol and Frontex."
EU-HUNGARY: Systemic Error On Hungarys Extension of European Voting Rights to Non-Resident Citizens (Verfassungsblog, link):
"Last December, the Hungarian legislator adopted a rule that allows non-EU-resident Hungarian citizens to vote at the European Parliament elections. The law specifically refers to Council decision 2018/994 amending the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, adopted last summer. The new Article 9a allows Member States to grant their citizens residing outside the EU the right to vote, in line with their national electoral rules. Implementation done, EU conformity secured, nothing to see here. Or is there? This post illustrates how the hidden assumption of normality behind EU regulations can end up legitimizing illiberal moves."
UK: Spycops Victims Use Privacy Laws in Bid to See Files (COPS, link):
"...last year, the NPSCPs raised the point that under the new GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation]... they did actually have rights over their data in the hands of the Inquiry, and such rights were over all such data, not just what the Inquiry decided was important. What matters is not what the Inquiry wishes but what are the rights protected in law.
The Inquiry clearly realised there was an issue as they quickly ordered a hearing. That took place at the end of January, and it was a bit of a shambles. Only the NPSCPs lawyers effectively grasped the issues, necessitating a second hearing to address the legal points that had been raised.
The rest of this article sets out the legal points which will be discussed (links to all submission documents are here). Hopefully, it will assist anyone seeking to follow the arguments on the day and give a quick reference to the various paragraphs and articles which will be cited."
And see: How long will the undercover policing inquiry take? (BBC News, link)
Brexit and Extending EU Membership: The Legal Issues (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:
"This blog post was updated following the approval of the official decision extending EU membership. (...)
Apart from the legal issues directly related to the extension, next week is likely to see a number of crucial votes relating to the UKs imminent and future relationship with the EU. Time will tell what indirect effect they may have on the length and circumstances of the UKs extended EU membership and in particular whether the UK government and parliament is able to agree upon a way forward in the event that the withdrawal agreement is not approved."
Time for truth, recognition and reconciliation for Roma in Europe (euractiv, link):
"EU leaders must show that they take Roma rights and anti-Roma discrimination seriously. That means recognising their cultural identity and contribution to Europe, truth and reconciliation, argue a group of political leaders and campaigners. (...)
Approximately 10 to 12 million in number, the Roma constitute Europes largest ethnic minority, yet in many countries they are still viewed as second-class Europeans."
Who facilitated the Christchurch terrorists journey through hate? (IRR News, link):
"The context of war and the influence of the New Right intelligentsia cannot be left out of the reckoning when it comes to understanding the making of the New Zealand terrorist."
UK: Home Affairs Committee Report: Utter failure of Home Office has led to serious problems with every part of the immigration detention system, Committee warns (pdf):
"The Home Office has shown a shockingly cavalier attitude in its approach to immigration detention and overseen serious failings in almost every area of the immigration detention process, a new report by the Home Affairs Committee has found."
Spain's migration agreements with Morocco have grave consequences for Mediterranean shipwrecks, warn trade union and human rights group
Andalusia, 16 March 2019 - The General Work Confederation (Confederación General del Trabajo, CGT) and the Andalusian Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro-derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) have said in a press conference that the consequences of the recent agreements between Spain and Morocco on migration will have serious consequences for the human beings risking their lives in the Mediterranean.
EU: "Eliminating blind spots": customs data could be checked against SIS and Europol under interoperability plans
Plans to join up the EU's databases and information systems in the field of policing and migration are well underway, with the European Parliament and the Council having recently reached agreement on the basic rules for the "interoperability" initiative.
Now officials are discussing a new report on the "interoperability of security and border management systems with customs systems" which proposes interconnections between a new EU-wide customs database, the Schengen Information System (SIS) and Europol data.
NETHERLANDS: 100 Teens Chant Geert Wilders, Attack Moroccan Family in Netherlands (Morocco World News, link):
"Being barged in on and beaten by nearly 100 teenagers in their own home was not how the Boukhizzou family imagined spending Monday evening.
The Moroccan family experienced a vicious attack at their home in Urk, the Netherlands. As the mother tried to defend her family, the attackers hit her and injured her daughter, throwing rocks and fireworks. But their main target was the Moroccan familys 18-year-old son, Soufyan.
The attackers shouted Geert Wilders while they attacked the family."
UK: Immigration removals stopped by injunction (BBC News, link):
"Hundreds of immigration removals are in doubt after the High Court ordered the Home Office to stop using a controversial "no warning" tactic.
A charity defending detainees has won an injunction after saying the policy breached the right to access justice.
Medical Justice said the policy prevented immigrants having a fair chance to put their case before they were put on a plane out of the country.
It said the policy had affected a huge range of people living in the UK.
These include members of the Windrush generation and victims of torture, it said."
See: Home Offices Removal Notice Windows Policy Suspended (Public Law Project, link) and the order: CO/543/1029 (pdf)
EU: Names of national authorities that drafted "interoperability" plans published following Statewatch complaint
The names of the authorities that made up the EU high-level expert group on information systems and interoperability, which was responsible for outlining the plans that have led to the interconnection of EU policing and migration databases, have been published by the European Commission following a successful complaint by Statewatch.
UK: Pro-Palestine students denied university access during Queen's visit (Middle East Eye, link):
"Pro-Palestine students at one of the UK's top universities have said they were denied university access over security concerns during a visit by the Queen on Tuesday.
Students at King's College London said they were barred from attending classes and sitting exams because of their political activity, a claim which appears to be supported by comments made by a senior university official, who said that students were blacklisted based on CCTV footage.
Coming one day into Israeli Apartheid Week, a range of actions in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the incident raises fresh questions about the increased securitisation of universities and tolerance of dissent on campus."
Greece: Three years of "cruel, inhumane and cynical" treatment of migrants and refugees (Doctors Wiithout Borders, link):
"Thousands of people remain trapped in overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary Greek island camps three years after the implementation of the European Union-Turkey deal, said Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today, calling on European leaders to immediately evacuate children and other vulnerable people from these locations.
The European Union (EU) and Turkey deal, signed three years ago today, is a set of policies aimed at preventing refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers from crossing irregularly from Turkey to Greece. These policies now trap about 12,000 men, women, and children in unsafe and degrading conditions in five Greek island camps, where they have little access to basic health services and suffer widespread misery."
In troubled waters: What does the the future hold for Operation Sophia? (Jacques Delors Institute, link):
"In a row over the disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea, the Italian government has brought the EUs maritime military Operation Sophia to the verge of collapse. As its current mandate expires on 31 December 2018, Lucas Rasche explores what the trouble about Operation Sophia is really about. In this policy brief he argues that a lack of responsibility sharing among EU member states has been responsible for the stalemate in negotiations over a new mandate and outlines three options for the future of Operation Sophia."
Council of Europe: Romania: anti-torture committee concerned about abuse of prisoners by staff, inter-prisoner violence and allegations of police ill-treatment (link):
"The Council of Europes Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has expressed concern about several persistent problems in Romanian prisons - including the abuse of prisoners by staff and inter-prisoner violence - as well as about numerous allegations of police ill-treatment.
In a report published today on a visit to the country in February 2018, the CPT says that it received a considerable number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of prisoners by prison staff, notably by members of the masked intervention groups based in four of the five prisons visited."
London: Launch of the Crispin Aubrey Archive on the ABC Official Secrets Act prosecution in 1977
On Thursday 28 March 2019 the Crispin Aubrey Archive on the ABC Official Secrets case is being launched by Crispin Aubrey Legacy Fund (CALF) and Statewatch. Place: May Day Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1DH Time: 18.00 - 20.00
On Friday 18 February 1977 John Berry, an ex-soldier who had worked for British SIGINT (signals intelligence) in Cyprus, met two journalists - Crispin Aubrey and Duncan Campbell - at his home. When Crispin and Duncan left the flat all three were arrested by the Special Branch under the Official Secrets Act. Their trial lasted for two years.
If you would like to come please send an email with "Crispin's ABC Archive Launch" in the subject line to:email@example.com
See also: Tony Bunyan: My brush with the D-Notice Committee: - Committee concerned that book "might wander unwittingly into areas of sensitivity from a security point of view" (Statewtch News)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-18.3.19) including:
- Italy delivers 50 off-road vehicles to fight irregular migration in Tunisia
- 45 migrants drowned between Morocco and Spain
- Human rights organisation propose "fair and predictable rescue system" for the EU
The globalisation of border control and peoples resistance (TNI, link):
"Forced to leave their homes to flee violence, war or poverty and invisible because they are vulnerable, large numbers of migrants disappear while travelling. This analysis of border control looks at the power and impunity of transnational corporations, militarisation, the externalisation of borders, Israels role as a laboratory for the wall industry and the criminalisation of international solidarity, among other issues."
UK: Changes to police bail has led to further delays and more uncertainty (The Telegraph, link):
"A landmark legal move introduced to prevent suspects spending months languishing on police bail, has backfired with people now spending even longer in limbo, official data has revealed.
Two years ago the Government changed the rules meaning police forces could only keep a suspect on pre-charge bail for a maximum of 28 days, unless there were exceptional circumstances.
It followed controversy over a number of high profile cases in which people were forced to live under a cloud of suspicion for long periods - sometimes years - before eventually being exonerated."
Guide to International Law and Surveillance (2.0) (Privacy International, link):
"This guide covers an array of topics, including the legality of mass surveillance operations, the law surrounding data retention, the extraterritorial application of human rights law and digital surveillance, and the international law on hacking for surveillance purposes. It is a handy reference tool not only for lawyers, but also for anyone engaging in campaigning, advocacy, and scholarly research.
Originally published in 2017, the guide has been updated to reflect the most relevant legal developments since then. This includes:
- New resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council;
- Extracts from the most recent reports of different UN bodies; as well as
- Extracts from the most recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
It also has a new section dedicated on the safety of journalists."
Bloody Sunday: One former British soldier to be charged over Northern Ireland massacre (Sky News, link):
"One former British soldier is to be charged with the murders of two men and the attempted murders of four others over the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry.
There was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for the other 16 ex-soldiers, said Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service.
Families and friends of the dead and injured said they were "disappointed" with the decision."
See also: Bloody Sunday: What happened on Sunday 30 January 1972? (BBC News, link) and: How Bloody Sunday prosecution punctures myth of British state as honest broker in Northern Ireland (The Herald, link)
Suspected neo-Nazis behind bomb threats across Germany: reports (DW, link):
"A suspected neo-Nazi extremist or extremists are responsible for a series of bomb threats across Germany in recent weeks, according to media reports.
More than 100 threatening emails signed off with "National Socialist Offensive," "NSU 2.0" short for National Socialist Underground or "Wehrmacht" have been sent to prominent politicians and state institutions since the end of 2018, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcaster NDR reported late Wednesday."
EXCLUSIVE: EU in talks with Egypt and other states over police data-sharing (Middle East Eye, link):
"European Union officials have begun talks with counterparts in several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt and Turkey, about proposed data-sharing deals that would allow Europol to exchange personal information about suspects with local law enforcement authorities.
In some circumstances, the deals could allow the transfer of data concerning a persons race and ethnic origin, their political opinions and religious beliefs, trade-union memberships, genetic data and data concerning their health and sex life.
The deals are being sought by the EU as part of efforts to bolster counter-terrorism policing across the continent despite concerns being raised about the human rights records of the countries by the blocs own data protection watchdog."
Background and documentation: Warnings over proposed new Europol partners in Middle East and North Africa (Statewatch News, 14 May 2018)
EU-UK BREXIT: Extension and elections: We need to talk about Article 50 (EU Law Analysis, link):
"Its 261-word text is now infamous. It is brief, at times laconic, and leaves many things unsaid or uncertain. So, what does - and doesnt - Article 50 permit?"
States should enable NGOs to access funding foreign funding, say Venice Commission experts (link):
"In the wake of recent challenges to the independent functioning of associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Council of Europe's constitutional legal experts today adopted a report on standards with respect to foreign funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Council of Europe member states."
See Press release (link)
EU: Security Union: new measures agreed to introduce biometric identity cards and a new database for convicted non-EU nationals
MEPs approved this week new measures that will introduce mandatory fingerprinting for national identity cards and a controversial new database to make it easier for the authorities to find information on any previous criminal convictions handed down against non-EU nationals. The Parliament also agreed its position for a revamped Visa Information System that will permit the profiling of all short-stay Schengen visa applicants.
ECHR: Three judgments: detention of and lack of care for unaccompanied minors in Greece and France violated rights; UK terrorism powers lacked safeguards
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) recently handed down three important judgements concerning the unacceptable detention of unaccompanied foreign minors in Greek police stations; the failure of the authorities to provide care for an unaccompanied foreign minor living in a camp in Calais; and a lack of safeguards in UK legislation that gave "immigration officers the power to stop, search and question passengers at ports, airports and international rail terminals."
EU: CCBE recommendations on the establishment of international rules for cross-border access to electronic evidence (link to pdf):
"This paper is the CCBEs [Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe] response to a number of recent developments concerning the establishment of international rules for cross-border access to electronic evidence for the purpose of criminal investigations, especially as regards so-called direct cooperation between law enforcement authorities and service providers.
...The creation of mechanisms which no longer require an MLAT to enable law enforcement authorities to compel international data transfers has, as a consequence, the removal of the checks and balances that are built into MLATs regarding the exchange of data between the EU and the U.S. or the countries who are parties to the Budapest Convention.
In the context of the negotiation of the proposed EU-U.S agreement as well also as the negotiations concerning a Second Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, the CCBE therefore strongly calls upon the EU institutions to adhere to the following principles so as to prevent any potential conflicts with European law, to create sufficient safeguards and legal remedies against third country surveillance measures and to ensure the protection of legal professional privilege and professional secrecy:"
EU: Biometrics, extended travel surveillance, internal-external "synergies": Presidency note outlines future counter-terrorism priorities
A note produced by the Romanian Presidency of the Council sets out the EU's response to terrorism since 2015, highlights the main measures adopted and calls for a "reflection process on the way forward" in a number of areas including: "interoperability and extended use of biometrics"; implementing the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive and possibly extending its scope beyond air travel; and "synergies" between internal and external policies, amongst other things.
EU: Saving lives in the Mediterranean: human rights organisations propose plan for "a fair and predictable rescue system"
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have sent an action plan for "a fair and predictable rescue system in the Mediterranean Sea" to Carmen Daniela Dan, the internal affairs minister of Romania, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-12.3.19) including:
- Council Presidency: "progress" in migration cooperation with Libya should be repeated across North Africa
- Criminal investigation against Spanish human rights activist Helena Maleno closed
- Bulldozers demolish migrant camp in Italy
EU: Commission's latest report on the Agenda on Migration praises "progress" and calls for further work
Last week the European Commission published its latest report on the European Agenda on Migration, praising work that has "brought irregular arrivals to Europe down to the lowest level recorded in 5 years." At the same time, it highlights the need for further work as part of the EU's "comprehensive approach", putting particular emphasis on cooperation with Morocco.
UK: Chagos Islanders treatment leads to fears of new Windrush scandal (The Telegraph, link):
"Chagos Islanders are at risk of becoming the next Windrush scandal, lawyers have warned after third generation families were threatened with deportation.
Lawyers acting for the families say hundreds are being subjected to the Government's "hostile" environment policy and have accused the Home Office of unfairly deporting children, who have been educated and raised in Britain, once they turn 18.
Many of the families first moved to Britain in 1967, when they were forcibly removed from their Indian Ocean home by the British government.
However, although first and second generation Islanders are entitled to British citizenship, the problem arises for third generation children if they are born overseas."
UK: Policing: use of force against children increases and disproportionately affects ethnic minorities
The use of force by police officers against children has increased significantly in recent years and disproportionately affects those who are black or from other ethnic minority groups, according to a new report by the Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE).
Racist crime up sharply in east Germany's Saxony state (France 24, link):
"Far-right and racist crime rose sharply last year in eastern Germany's ex-communist state of Saxony, new data showed on Thursday.
Reported offences -- including mainly assaults but also threats and arson attacks -- increased by 38 percent to 317, with a total of 481 victims, said victim's support group RAA Sachsen.
Saxony is home to the city of Chemnitz where a German man's fatal stabbing, allegedly by asylum seekers, sparked mass protests in September which saw neo-Nazis rampaging through the streets targeting people of foreign appearance."
UK: Ministers woo foreign cops accused of heavy-handed tactics at British arms fair (Mirror, link):
"Senior ministers have attended a British arms fair for foreign police forces, many of whom face criticism for human rights abuses and heavy-handed policing.
Both Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Security Minister Ben Wallace spoke at the three-day Security and Policing fair in Farnborough.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid was scheduled to attend the Home Office-run event, but had to pull out of the event due to the escalating knife crime crisis.
British-made small arms, surveillance and border security equipment were on show for overseas governments."
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 7-8 March - documentation
Final press release (pdf) Background Note (pdf) "B" Points agenda for discussion (pdf) "A" points:legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) an "A" Points non-legislative adopted without discussion, pdf)
EU: Open letter to MEPs: oppose mandatory fingerprinting for national identity cards
An open letter from five NGOs calls on MEPs in the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) to oppose the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting for national identity cards, as required by the proposed Regulation on strengthening security standards for identity cards and residence documents.
See: Open letter to the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee: Oppose mandatory fingerprinting for national identity cards (pdf)
AI: Europes shameful failure to end the torture and abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya (link):
"Catastrophic impact of Europes migration policies
Most of the people currently held in Libyas detention centres were intercepted at sea by the Libyan coastguard, which has enjoyed all kind of support from European governments in exchange for preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores.
Through the donation of ships, the setting up of a Libyan search and rescue zone, and the construction of coordination centres, among other measures, European taxpayers money has been used to enhance the Libyan capacity to block people attempting to flee Libya and hold them in unlawful detention. And this was done with no conditions attached, even if such cooperation results in gross human rights violations like torture."
No agreement on asylum possible before EU elections, EU member states admit (euractiv, link):
"EU interior ministers on Thursday (7 March) failed to conclude an overhaul of the blocs migration policy, meaning that under the Juncker Commission, no further progress can be expected on a dossier expected to take centre stage at the European elections.
After the proposal of a package of laws to overhaul the European asylum system, five of the seven laws have been agreed.
However, EU member states have been deadlocked for more than a year on the most important one: the planned harmonisation of the blocs asylum procedures and the controversial question of relocation quotas for refugees across the bloc."
A DE PROFUNDIS FOR THE ASYLUM REFORM (Politico,link):
"EU interior ministers gathering in Brussels today are expected to make it clear: The planned reform of the EUs asylum rules is dead. Its the official day to conclude that theres no agreement on asylum, one EU diplomat told our own Jacopo Barigazzi. Were talking about seven items that compose the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), spanning from resettlement to taking (and exchanging among EU countries) fingerprints at borders, to new powers for the EUs asylum agency EASO."
Border controls in Bavaria and Austria: Police to extract mobile phones (Matthias Monroy, link):
"With the takeover of the sovereign border security, the Free State is also using new technology. The extraction of telephones is supposed to help in the detection of smuggler networks. Another application is contactless identity verification. The projects are perfecting the expansion of biometric EU databases."
Hungary in Focus (Green European Journal, link):
"The past decade has seen Hungary, with prime minister Viktor Orbán at the helm, on a steady course to become one of the most substantial threats to democracy and rule of law in the European Union today. While right-wing populists wax hysterical about immigration, fundamental European Union values are being corroded from within. In an increasingly polarised Hungary, political divisions have come to represent the gaping divide between open and closed society."
UK: Macpherson, twenty years on: Diversifying the police wont end institutional racism (Northern Police Monitoring Project, link):
"In this article, Remi Joseph-Salisbury and Laura Connelly of the Northern Police Monitoring Project discuss institutional racism and the limits of calls to diversify the police force (estimated read time: 6 minutes).
Its twenty years since the publication of the Macpherson report into the police handling of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Macphersons key finding was that the Metropolitan Police were institutionally racist, a charge that has been levelled at other forces, including Greater Manchester Police. Last month, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, lauded the transformative effect the report had on policing but lamented that we still have much more to do. But the truth is, little has changed.
At every level of policing, racism endures as a problem. From stop and search and inclusion in gang databases, to the use of tasers and deaths following police contact, Black people are disproportionately likely to be harmed by the police."
UK: Secret document reveals police 'blacklisting' (BBC News, link):
"A secret police document has revealed how the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch helped the illegal blacklisting of trade unionists - preventing them from getting jobs because of their political views.
In one case, detectives suggested one individual was a terrorist, despite the claim being wrong.
The illegal practice - exposed ten years ago - involved major construction firms accessing secret files on 3,000 workers and their union activities."
Background: Every Man a Capitalist: The long history of monitoring unsuitable workers in the UK (August 2013)
EU: Commission promises transparency for all groups influencing EU policy
The European Commission has agreed to publish documents on the work of a high-level group that shaped the EU's military research programme and has said that any future such groups should be subject to the same transparency rules as other Commission-appointed expert bodies.
EU: Identity cards: there is still time to oppose the EU's 'fingerprinting Regulation'
On 11 March the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) will vote on the proposed 'fingerprinting Regulation', which will make it mandatory for all national identity cards in the EU to include two fingerprints and a biometric photograph.
The full-text of the Regulation as agreed between the Parliament and the Council in secret trilogues: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on strengthening the security of identity cards of Union citizens and of residence documents issued to Union citizens and their family members exercising their right of free movement - Confirmation of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (Council document 6402/19, LIMITE, 22 February 2019, pdf)
MEPs in the LIBE committee, who are due to vote on the text on the evening of 11 March, can be contacted via the European Parliament website (link).
EU: NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex's respect for fundamental rights
The Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights has expressed "serious concerns about the effectiveness of Frontex's serious incident reporting mechanism," saying that it should be revised and that the border agency must "take additional measures to set up an effective system to monitor respect for fundamental rights in the context of its activities."
The inadequacy of the serious incident reporting (SIR) mechanism is raised in the latest annual report of the Consultative Forum (pdf), which is made up of nine civil society organisations, two EU agencies and four UN agencies and other intergovernmental bodies. It was established in October 2012 to provide independent advice to the agency on fundamental rights.
European Parliament Study: Understanding algorithmic decision-making: Opportunities and challenges (pdf):
"This study reviews the opportunities and risks related to the use of ADS. It presents policy options to reduce the risks and explain their limitations. We sketch some options to overcome these limitations to be able to benefit from the tremendous possibilities of ADS while limiting the risks related to their use."
Stop Soros Law Left on the Books The Return of the Red Tail? (verfassungsblog.de, link):
"The Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled on 28 February 2019 that the criminalization of facilitating illegal immigration introduced by the so-called Stop Soros legislative package targeting human rights NGOs does not violate the Fundamental Law.
Shocking as it may seem at first glance, the judgment seems to mitigate the effects of the law by giving it a specific interpretation largely compatible with international human rights standards. This case, however, reminds us again how difficult it is to evaluate the judgments of a constitutional court operating in an illiberal political regime."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.2-4.3.19) including:
- Officials knew EU military mission made migration more dangerous
- Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report
- Common European Asylum System legislation - still going nowhere fast
ITALY: The measure of a minister: Salvini paints a racist death threat as a demand for security
A racist death threat directed at a young Senegalese man has been described by the Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini as a request for "security and legality."
UK: Sean Rigg: Sister Marcia Rigg-Samuel vows to continue fight (Sutton & Croydon Guardian, link):
" The sister of Sean Rigg has vowed to continue her fight for justice after a police misconduct panel dismissed allegations against five officers involved in his fatal detention.
Marcia Rigg-Samuel has fought an 11-year battle since her brother, a 40-year-old with schizophrenia, died after being restrained by Metropolitan Police officers.
But on Friday (March 1) a disciplinary panel dismissed all allegations against police constables Andrew Birks, Richard Glasson, Matthew Forward, Mark Harratt and Sergeant Paul White."
See: Officers involved in Sean Rigg arrest and detention cleared of gross misconduct (IOPC, link)
UK: Right to Rent breaches human rights law and fuels racism, High Court rules
"The Right to Rent scheme is a vehicle for racism and xenophobia, a High Court judge has ruled."
European Parliament study: Access to legal remedies for victims of corporate human rights abuses in third countries (pdf):
"European-based multinational corporations can cause or be complicit in human rights abuses in third countries. Victims of corporate human rights abuses frequently face many hurdles when attempting to hold corporations to account in their own country. Against this backdrop, judicial mechanisms have increasingly been relied on to bring legal proceedings in the home States of the corporations. This study attempts to map out all relevant cases (35 in total) filed in Member States of the European Union on the basis of alleged corporate human rights abuses in third countries. It also provides an in-depth analysis of 12 cases and identifies various obstacles (legal, procedural and practical) faced by claimants in accessing legal remedy. On the basis of these findings, it makes a number of recommendations to the EU institutions in order to improve access to legal remedies in the EU for victims of human rights abuses by European based companies in third countries."
Drone Surveillance Operations in the Mediterranean: The Central Role of the Portuguese Economy and State in EU Border Control (Border Criminologies, link):
"While the Portuguese government does not currently have a single helicopter operating in order to control and fight forest fires that have caused more than 100 deaths in the past two years, much EU and national public funding goes into technology aimed at the control of racialized bodies and the observation of earth from space. At the same time, there is considerable concern among experts that surveillance technology used for military means and border security will be rolled out over the entire population in the future for general policing purposes. For this reason, it remains important to keep an eye on which technologies are receiving large public funds and what are its possible uses."
Diego Garcia, Chagos Islands legacy of displacement and torture (Cage, link):
"The torturous history of some 2000 Chagossian people was finally recognised this week by the United Nations, who issued a statement insisting that the UK return the island territory to its residents, to enable them to go back home and administer the island as is their right.
But what has been missed by mainstream media outlets, is how closely the shameful history of Chagos Island renamed Diego Garcia by the UK after early Spanish explorers, and as an echo of a Catholic invocation mirrors its current function as a US military base, administered by the UK, and leased to the US, to run operations as part of the War on Terror."
See: ICJ Advisory Opinion of 25 February 2019: Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 (pdf)
GREECE: Athens: suspicious death of a Nigerian man in Omonia police station
On Tuesday 26 February several anti-racist collectives and migrant associations organised a demonstration in downtown Athens to demand truth over the death of Ebuka Mamashoubek, a 34-year old Nigerian father-of-two, at the police station of Omonia.
EU: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report
The Commission Services together with the EEAS (European External Action Service) have produced the latest: GAMM update (LIMITE doc no: 6363-19, 43 pages, pdf):
"GAMM UPDATE: 11 February 2019
This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."
European Parliament: Study: Disinformation and propaganda impact on the functioning of the rule of law in the EU and its Member States (pdf):
"The study formulates recommendations on how to tackle this threat to human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It specifically addresses the role of social media platform providers in this regard."
And: Briefing: Reform of the Dublin system (pdf):
"An agreement on the balance between responsibility and solidarity regarding the distribution of asylum-seekers will be a cornerstone for the new EU asylum policy. Although Parliaments LIBE committee adopted its positon in autumn 2017, the Council has been unable to reach a position on the proposal."
EU declines to match UKs citizens rights guarantee (euractiv, link):
"The European Union will not match the UK governments decision to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the event of a no deal Brexit, and a Commission spokesperson insisted on Thursday (28 February) that the bloc would not negotiate mini deals."
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