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Archive - April 2018
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April 2018

Dutch Review Committee sees shortcomings in cooperation between European secret services (link):

"The domestic secret services in Schengen states exchange real-time data on terrorism and operate a database of individuals. A Dutch review of the cooperation has revealed several deficits. The data protection commissioners in the member states involved thus need to work together to ensure oversight."

See: Review report: The multilateral exchange of data on (alleged) jihadists by the AIVD (pdf)

Greece reinforces land border with Turkey to stem flow of migrants (Guardian, link):

"Athens rushes to counter fears of new crisis after arrival of nearly 3,000 people in April.

Greece has rushed to reinforce its land border with Turkey as fears mount over a sharp rise in the number of refugees and migrants crossing the frontier.

Police patrols were augmented as local authorities said the increase in arrivals had become reminiscent of the influx of migrants on the Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast. About 2,900 people crossed the land border in April, by far surpassing the number who arrived by sea, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said. The figure represents half of the total number of crossings during the whole of 2017."

CoE: Human Rights Commissioner: Europe’s duty to protect journalists (link):

"n an opinion editorial that more than 20 leading news outlets published today, ahead of World Press Freedom Day, Commissioner Mijatovic called on member states to improve the safety of journalists.

The article shows the extent of the threats journalists face in Europe, calls upon states to protect them and recommends concrete action that states should take.

Underscoring that the many threats that fuel insecurity among journalists in Europe are also undermining democracy, the Commissioner urges member states to increase the protection of journalists, end impunity for crimes against them, improve legislation and change the hostile attitude many politicians have towards the press.

“The murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Ján Kuciak and many other journalists were not due to fate, but to structural deficiencies in state institutions that should have protected them,” she writes. “This situation endangers journalists as much as democracy. It is high time that states acknowledge it and ensure the safety of journalists and other media actors."

And see: Times of Malta article (link)

UK-BREXIT: Barnier warns Brexit deal at risk over Irish border (euractiv, link):

"European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain Sunday (29 April) that “the time has now come to resolve the contradictions” over the Northern Irish border, ahead of a visit to the island.

Barnier, who will spend Monday and Tuesday on either side of the Irish divide, reiterated that the EU will not conclude an agreement with Britain until it details how there will be no post-Brexit return to a hard border.

“In case there is any doubt whatsoever about our commitment to this, let me be crystal clear: we will not conclude the withdrawal agreement with the UK unless we have such a solution included in the text,” he wrote in an article for Ireland’s Sunday Independent."

UK: Lord Dubs tables Brexit bill amendment to give young refugees sanctuary (Guardian, link):

"Refugee campaigner Lord Dubs has tabled a Brexit bill amendment to force the government to continue to give refugee children sanctuary post-Brexit.

Dubs has tabled an amendment to the European Union (withdrawal) bill that will include a specific provision for unaccompanied refugee minors stranded on the continent who have family in the UK already.

He said he found the Windrush scandal “shameful” and the amendment was important to ensure the “cold indifference” of the government was not the determining factor when it came to children seeking refuge for war and conflict zones."

Lesvos, Greece: Moria 35 Trial Ends in Conviction of 32 – But After 9 Months of Unjust Detention, the 35 will Finally be Free! (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"While all 35 defendants should soon be released from detention, a gross miscarriage of justice took place today at the Mixed Jury Court in Chios, Greece where a ruling of guilty was declared against 32 of the 35 defendants. The 35 were arbitrarily and violently arrested in Moria camp in Lesvos on 18 July 2017 following what started as a peaceful protest outside of an EASO office. This inherently unsafe verdict, reached despite an overwhelming lack of evidence, follows a week long trial which continuously violated fundamental principles of a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and brings into serious question the impartiality of both the Judges and Prosecutor in the case.

32 of the 35 defendants were found guilty of injury to public officials, but acquitted on all other charges. The three individuals detained by a firefighter outside Moria Camp were found innocent of all charges; the testimony against them discredited as inconsistent and lacking credibility as the firefighter misidentified the defendants in court. (...)"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25-29.4.18)

UK: Liberty wins first battle in landmark challenge to mass surveillance powers in the Investigatory Powers Act (link):

"In a landmark victory for privacy rights, the High Court has today ruled part of the Government’s flagship surveillance law, the Investigatory Powers Act, is unlawful – following a legal challenge from human rights campaigning organisation Liberty.

In this first stage of its comprehensive challenge to the law, Liberty focused on government powers to order private companies to store everybody’s communications data, including internet history, so that state agencies can access it. Liberty argued that retaining every person’s data in this way without limits and safeguards violates the UK public’s right to privacy. "

See: Judgment (Full-text, pdf)

Southern rim rebels against EU migration proposal - Opposition lowers chances of a deal by June (Politico, link):

"Five EU countries that sit on the bloc’s external borders are bucking a proposed overhaul of asylum rules, putting in peril efforts to strike a deal by June’s summit of European leaders.

The pushback from Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta — laid out in a three-page position paper obtained by POLITICO — comes as Bulgaria, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, is pushing a proposal aimed at revising the so-called Dublin Regulation and ending one of the bloc’s most bitter policy fights.

Their hard position comes on top of the longstanding opposition by the Visegrad countries — Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — to any effort by Brussels to force countries to accept refugees, or to set new restrictions on how asylum seekers might be returned to the first EU country they entered."

See: Dublin Regulation: Position paper of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain on the Proposal recasting the Dublin Regulation (pdf)

Germany-Tunisia: Germany assists Tunisia with electronic border surveillance system

The German Ministry of Defence is supporting Tunisia in the development of an electronic border surveillance system. An already-existing barrier is now being extended along the Libyan border to the border town of Borj AI Khadra in the Sahara. The recipient of the initiative is the Tunisian military, while the overall project is planned in cooperation with the US government and is being implemented by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The financial assistance received from Germany is vaguely stated by the government as a "double-digit million amount".

LGBTI activists in Turkey: Defending human rights in a climate of fear (AI, link):

"Most LGBTI people in Turkey today are living in more fear than ever before,” an activist tells me when we meet in a café in Istanbul on a cloudy day in February. She is too afraid for me to share her name.

“With the crackdown on freedom of expression, spaces for LGBTI people to be themselves are shrinking. They see no hope, no future. Many of us have either moved to other countries or are thinking of leaving.”

It is a far cry from the Turkey of even just a few years ago, when LGBTI organizations were increasingly visible and vocal (...)

Alarm over Hungary's treatment of migrant children at border (DW, link):

"The 47-nation Council of Europe — the continent's main rights grouping — accused Hungary on Friday of mistreating migrant children aged from 14 to 18 at its border despite past prompts to uphold Europe's Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Delegations that visited the zone in July and December last year found scores of unaccompanied migrant teenagers from countries including Afghanistan and Syria in confined container camps, surrounded by barbed wire and overseen by armed guards.

Council of Europe experts sad in the report to be published Friday that asylum-seeking children were also at risk of being "asked for sexual favors" to be moved up the lists of migrants waiting to enter Hungary."

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

Brave new world? the new EU law on travel authorisation for non-EU citizens (EU Law Analysis, link): Professor Steve Peers:

"Yesterday it was announced that a new EU law on travel authorisation for non-EU citizens to visit the EU had been agreed. This will affect millions of travellers a year, probably including British citizens after Brexit. In fact, as a UK citizen who often travels to the continent, it’s the first EU law on non-EU immigration that will have a direct impact on me. The law won’t apply for awhile, but in light of its future significant impact and some public confusion about who it will apply to and how it works, it’s worth explaining in detail."

Activists slam EU plan to force migrant kids to give fingerprints (rfi.fr, link):

"Activists have raised concerns about new EU plans to allow police to force migrant children to have their fingerprints taken. The aim is to prevent unaccompanied minors from going missing or ending up in the hands of criminal gangs. Critics say coercion is not the answer.

Under the proposal, EU member countries would be able to take the fingerprints of children as young as six, compared to the current age of 14."

Lesvos, Greece: Law And Order No Longer Applies 24/04/2018 (Eric Kempson Youtube, video, link)

Turkey says facing ‘new refugee wave’ after 30,000 Afghans arrive (euractiv, link):

"Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months, the Turkish government said Wednesday (25 April), after Amnesty International criticised the authorities “ruthless” decision to send more than 7,000 back to Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 29,899 Afghans had crossed into Turkey since January compared to 45,259 people in the whole of 2017, state news agency Anadolu reported."

UK-BREXIT: Northern Ireland papers: no simple solution to hard border, say UK officials Northern Ireland papers: no simple solution to hard border, say UK officials (Guardian, link):

"A series of leaked letters and briefing papers from the Northern Ireland executive – at least one of which was sent to Olly Robbins, the prime minister’s most senior Brexit adviser – lay bare the huge difficulties created by Brexit.

The political “difficulty” of accepting the EU’s backstop solution of keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union and a large bulk of single market legislation was discussed."

UK-BREXIT: The reality behind the €7 'Brexit bombshell visa' (euobserver, link):

"The reference to a "European visa" was misleading, but the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias), agreed on Wednesday, will impose "a travel authorisation fee of €7" on all "visa-exempt third country nationals" when it enters into life.

Etias, which is modelled on the US visa-waiver system, is designed to increase border security in times of mass migration and a heightened terrorist threat.

Visitors to the EU, including from the US, will have to file an online application, which will be cross-checked against EU states' crime databases and those of Interpol, the international police agency.

Most will get a travel permit "automatically and quickly" and the €7 fee will keep them covered for three years."

European Parliament: MEPs support reforms to speed up assessment of asylum requests in the EU (Press release, link):

"• Asylum requests registered in three days, admissibility assessed in one month
• Protection granted in six months (nine in exceptional circumstances)
• Right to a personal interview, free legal assistance and appeal
• Turkey cannot be considered a safe country of origin."

German court to rule on medical age tests for refugee minors (DW, link): "In Germany, a refugee's age is generally established in an interview with youth welfare officers. A court decision could soon require authorities to determine it with a medical exam, but those methods are controversial."

Swedish left divided over migration policy (New Europe, link):

"As the Swedes go to the polls in September 2018, divisions between left-wing coalition partners are becoming visible, especially on migration policy.

On Tuesday the Social Democrats announced their intention to pass a law that would link eligibility to social benefits with proficiency in Swedish. The law would apply for asylum seekers and immigrants. Moreover, the government would be able to stop benefits to newcomers that do not take the offer of Swedish language tuition."

Search requests for missing Syrians soar, says Red Cross (DW, link):

"After dealing with up to 50 requests for missing Syrians, the Red Cross has said thousands more people have sought its help in recent months. Reunions, however, have seldom occurred, according to the aid organization

International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer told journalists at the UN late Wednesday that the organization had received some 13,000 tracing requests from Syrians over the past six months, compared to only 30 to 50 per month in the early years of the Syrian war."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: interoperability will give authorities unwarranted access to additional personal data

Interconnecting the EU's policing and migration databases would make "additional data visible to authorities who would otherwise not have access," according to the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), despite the Commission's claims that its "interoperability" proposals would make no such changes.

The not-so-secret life of boarding passes (Red Goat, link):

"Have you ever thought about what your boarding pass might say about you? I don’t mean “oh look at me, I’m flying in Emirates Business Class”, but what data you might be leaking publicly on that anachronistic piece of paper you discard in the seat in front of you. Turns out it is an awful lot more than you think…"

UK: The Infiltrator and the Movement: Infiltration into left-wing groups is just the sharp edge of an entire armory of political policing (Jacobin, link):

"...we know that around 150 undercover police officers infiltrated over one thousand British political groups across four decades, forming long-term relationships with women, fathering children, and engaging in some of the most radical direct action.

Police officers appeared in court under false names, stole the identities of dead children, and spied on the grieving families of black people killed in police custody. These sensational revelations have captured extensive media attention, but much of the scandal’s coverage has decontextualized the operations, neglecting their political aims and impacts. Undercover policing, in fact, is just the sharp edge of an entire armory of political policing."

EU wrestles with plan to force fingerprinting of migrant children (Politico, link):

"EU plans that would allow police to forcibly fingerprint migrant children have become the focus of intense wrangling among the bloc’s major institutions.

Under plans to recast the Eurodac system that established a fingerprint database for asylum seekers from outside the EU, the European Commission has proposed letting police take fingerprints from children aged 14 and older. Rights activists have condemned the idea, saying coercion amounts to violence and could traumatize children.

The proposal is the subject of negotiations between the Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament that began in September 2017. The next round of the talks takes place on Wednesday."

See: EURODAC: Trilogue document from 21 February 2018 including differing positions on forced fingerprinting of children

GREECE: Government Defies Court on Asylum Seekers: Reinstates Containment Policy That Keeps People Trapped on Islands (joint NGO statment, pdf):

"The Greek government’s move on April 20, 2018, overturning a binding court ruling ordering it to end its abusive policy of trapping asylum seekers on Greece’s islands raises rule of law concerns, 21 human rights and humanitarian organizations said today.

Rather than carrying out the April 17 ruling by the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, the government issued an administrative decision reinstating the policy, known as the “containment policy.” It also introduced a bill on April 19 to clear the way to restore the policy in Greek law. Parliament members should oppose such changes and press the government to respect the ruling."

EU: "Renewable retention warrants": a new concept in the data retention debate

A document circulated by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council makes the case for "renewable retention warrants", which are "intended to ensure the law enforcement needs to have certain data categories being retained by the electronic service providers and provide additional safeguard that the data retention regime would comply with the strict necessity principle as prescribed by the ECJ [Court of Justice of the EU]."

An Italian Court Decision Could Keep Rescue Boats From Saving Refugees in the Mediterranean (The Intercept, link):

"In August 2017, an Italian prosecutor ordered police to seize and impound the Iuventa, a ship operated by the German nonprofit Jugend Rettet, in Trapani, a port in western Sicily. The Iuventa is used to rescue migrants attempting the perilous sea crossing between North Africa and Italy, but the prosecutor said he was investigating the organization for alleged ties to human trafficking operations in Libya. The investigation relied on evidence gathered through the use of police informants, an undercover operative, tapped phone calls, and a recording device that police placed in the Iuventa’s bridge months earlier, and it purported to show the crew of the Iuventa coordinating with Libyan smugglers.

The Italians’ case for holding the ship, however, has been criticized by outside observers, who point to legal irregularities and gaping holes in the prosecutor’s narrative. This week, Forensic Architecture, a London-based research organization, released a new investigation that calls into question the key evidence in the three events pivotal to the case. Researchers with the organization, who shared their findings with The Intercept, argue that Italian police have withheld and distorted evidence in order to paint a picture of collusion. On April 23, a court in Rome will decide Jugend Rettet’s final appeal against the seizure of their ship. Whatever the court decides, the case will set an important precedent for humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean."

IRELAND: Tenders sought for facial-image software for public services card (The Irish Times, link):

"The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is seeking tenders for new facial matching software to support up to 20,000 registrations a week for the public services card and to transfer up to four million facial biometric records of Irish residents to a new database.

The department expects the contract value to be about €700,000, excluding VAT.

The card project has cost about €60 million to date and more than three million cards have been issued.

The public services card and its associated databases have been the subject of an investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner amid concerns about privacy and the legal basis on which it was built."

And see: DPC investigation into Public Services Card (Digital Rights Ireland, link): "We welcome the Data Protection Commissioner’s decision to extend her investigation into the Public Services Card. The Commissioner’s investigation is unprecedented in the Irish public sector. The card is essentially a national identity card. The database that lies behind it is an unofficial national population register in all but name. There is no apparent legal basis for a national population register, and no obvious requirement for it."

EU: Scientists step up opposition to EU funding of military research (Science Business, link):

"Researchers opposed to the EU’s decision to start funding military research are stepping up their pressure on Brussels with a fresh call for the new defence research programme to be axed.

A petition organised jointly by civil society groups in Belgium, the UK, Italy and Germany demanding the EU restrict its research vision to tackling the causes of conflicts now has more than 400 signatories.

“The EU, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, should instead fund more innovative and courageous research which helps to tackle the root causes of conflict or contributes to the peaceful resolution of conflict,” the petition says."

And see: Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups (EUobserver, link)

EU-LIBYA: Refugees International report: "Death Would Have Been Better": Europe Continues to Fail Refugees and Migrants in Libya

Today, European policies designed to keep asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy are trapping thousands of men, women and children in appalling conditions in Libya. This Refugees International report describes the harrowing experiences of people detained in Libya’s notoriously abusive immigration detention system where they are exposed to appalling conditions and grave human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and physical and sexual abuse.

EU-ITALY-LIBYA: Pushing Migrants Back to Libya, Persecuting Rescue NGOs: The End of the Humanitarian Turn (Part I) (Border Criminologies, link):

"The vessel Open Arms of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms... was informed by the Italian MRCC that the responsibility for coordinating the rescue lay with the Libyan authorities from that moment on. When the Libyan Coast Guard arrived, it requested the Open Arms to hand them over the migrants. The NGO crew refused, because Libyan ports are no ‘places of safety’ where rescued people can be brought according to international law...

This was not to be the end of the matter, however. Instead, the Italian authorities responded, first, by denying the Open Arms permission to bring the migrants to Italy, which has always been the landing point for NGO vessels acting under the coordination of the Italian MRCC. When the Open Arms was finally allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo, the Italian authorities confiscated the ship. The captain and the head of mission were subsequently charged with aiding ‘illegal immigration’.

...In this post, I argue that these incidents are part of a series of developments, which show that Italy is tightening its policy of containment to prevent ‘unwanted’ migrants from reaching European soil, while at the same time waging a war against humanitarian organizations. Through these actions, the government facilitates returns to Libya, which are carried out on Italy’s behalf by the Libyan coast guard and navy. In so doing, Italy is putting an end to its humanitarian turn and moving towards a more exclusionary management of the space of the sea."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-24.4.18)

Revamping the Schengen Information System: trilogue documents on police cooperation, border checks and returns

Statewatch is today publishing the most recent documents from the secret "trilogue" meetings on the new rules that will govern the Schengen Information System (SIS). The documents concern the rules on the use of the system for police cooperation, border checks and returns.

EU: Council of the European Union: Third country nationals (TCN) criminal records and creation of European Criminal Records -TCN database

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 - Revised four column table (LIMITE doc no 7521-18, pdf):

Council discussing its negotiating position - how dodgy deals are done - European Parliament to agree the procedure at the expense of the principle of collecting facial images?

"Political questions a) Use of delegated act for 'facial images'

The Presidency has the impression that the EP might agree to keeping Article 10 on 'implementing acts' basically as it stands - without prejudice to the time-limits, which still have to be discussed - on condition that the use of facial images be decided in accordance with the procedure for 'delegated acts' as proposed by EP in its Article 34a (AM 102). PRES understands the sensitivity of EP towards the use of facial images and considers that such a deal, if proposed, would be reasonable."

And see: Revised four column table (LIMITE doc no: 7520-18,119 pages, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Revision of DUBLIN rules

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council 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) (pdf). The Council developing its negotiatiing position which includes:

"discourage abuses and prevent secondary movements of the applicants within the EU, in particular by including clear obligations for applicants to apply in the Member State of first entry and to remain in the Member State that has been determined as responsible under the Dublin list of criteria."

And see: New Dublin: Reversing the Dynamics (LIMITE doc no: 7674-18, pdf). In the second and third phases of a (refugee) "crisis" the European Council takes over:

"The third phase of the mechanism (marked in red in graphic 2) defines the broad parameters that will come into play in the event of a severe crisis. The main responsibilities in this phase lie at the European Council level. Any measures adopted when this level of pressure is reached should be based on political direction from the leaders. As well as the European Council being able to upgrade or prolong some or all of the measures triggered during the previous phases, leaders may also decide upon extraordinary measures, depending on the scope and specific characteristics of the crisis at hand. All measures decided upon by the leaders will be operationalised by the Council and implemented by the Commission and Member States, in line with the directions and guidelines given by the leaders."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "A familiar pattern is emerging. Llike in the financial crisis the response to a new "refugee crisis" will lie with the European Council (EU "Leaders"). Responsibility will thus not rest with the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the Commission, the European Parliament or with Member States (and their governments)."

EU: Council of the European Union: Eurojust and Money laundering

• EUROJUST: Proposal of the European Parliament and of the Council for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) (LIMITE doc no: 7928-18, 331 pages, pdf): 4-column trilogue document with colour coding.

• MONEY LAUNDERING: Proposal for a Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders - Revised four column table following the third trilogue on 20 March and the technical meeting on 22 March 2018 (LIMITE doc no: 7525-18, pdf):

"In the fourth column, the texts as provisionally agreed during the technical trilogues are marked by green. Issues that were also discussed, but on which no (full) provisional agreement was reached yet, are marked by yellow."

And see: Draft consolidated text (7526-18, pdf) Also colour coded.

EU: Council of the European Union: 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 - Analysis of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 7986-18, pdf): Final compromise text as agreed in trilogue:

"approve the final compromise texts, as set out in Annex I and II to this note, as well as the draft declaration regarding the Schengen Associated Countries, as set out in Annex III to this note."

Torture victims and EU law (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"What happens if an asylum seeker faces severe mental health problems that cannot be treated in the country of origin? Today’s judgment of the ECJ in the MP case, following a reference from the UK Supreme Court, goes some way towards answering this question. (...)

In the Member States bound by the Returns Directive, the finding that the Charter applies to prevent such removal simplifies the process of guaranteeing the non-removal of “medical cases”. Furthermore, it should be recalled that the case law on that Directive guarantees health care and medical assistance.

Overall, then, today’s judgment has gone some way to ensuring greater protection, where necessary, for the most vulnerable migrants: torture victims and the terminally ill."

UK: Letter delivered to the Home Secretary by Neville Lawrence and others (Police Spies Out of Our Lives, link):

"Neville Lawrence and other victims of the spycops delivered a letter to Amber Rudd today, on behalf of ‘non-State core participants’ in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

The letter asks for the Home Secretary to intervene, and ensure that this Inquiry succeeds in its mission: to uncover the truth about undercover policing, and provide answers to those targeted by these covert, political policing units."

Why Journalists Covering the Refugee Crisis Face Moral Injury (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The refugee crisis saw many journalists confronted with trauma and hypocrisy on their home turf. Professor Anthony Feinstein discusses his latest work on the effects on those involved and their wider relevance.(...)

It’s asking different questions compared to previous work in which you fly off to a faraway country and witness things at a distance. Journalists saw things that they felt were morally reprehensible, and this upset them because it was sometimes their friends or their countrymen, or the government, who they faulted for this moral lapse"

1 75 illegal Migrants Caught at the Bulgarian Border in March (novinite.com, link)

"There is a double increase of detained migrants at the state border in March compared to February this year, according to data from the Ministry of Interior.

A total of 175 people without registration were detained at the entrance, at the exit and inside the country. In the first two weeks of April, there is also an increasing flow of people. Although there is an increase, the data show that there is still no room for pressure as it did in 2015 and 2016 at the same time."

Bosnia Failing to Protect Asylum Seekers - Country Appears Ill-equipped to Manage Increase in Arrivals (HRW, link)

"When you think of refugees in connection with Bosnia and Herzegovina, you may think of people displaced by fighting in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But today the country is facing a different kind of refugee crisis as it strains to safeguard the rights of a growing number of people from other regions who are seeking protection.

According to the UNHCR, 1,138 asylum seekers and migrants arrived to Bosnia between January 1 and March 3, more than the total for 2017. Most of them are from Syria, followed by Pakistan, Libya, and Afghanistan. Some are fleeing conflict and human rights abuses, while others are seeking a better life.

Government officials say they are managing the situation, a position echoed by UNHCR. But activists and NGOs say that the government is failing to adequately protect the rights of refugees who suffer in the streets without adequate food, shelter, and medical care."

EU: EURODAC: Trilogue document from 21 February 2018 including differing positions on forced fingerprinting of children

A document from the ongoing "trilogues" on the upgrading of the EU's Eurodac database highlights the differing positions of the Council and the Parliament over proposals to make it possible for children's fingerprints to be taken by force by national authorities.

UK: Homelessness, exploitation, failure: The price of May's anti-migrant project (politics.co.uk, link):

"The standard operating procedure of the May government is to outsource immigration enforcement to the public, embedding borders in all sorts of different aspects of our day-to-day life. One of the chief ways it does this is through the 'right-to-rent' scheme, which is a far more dangerous development than it sounds. Now we finally have an independent assessment of the operation, via David Bolt, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration."

See: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An inspection of the "Right to Rent" scheme (pdf) and: Home Office response (pdf)

SPAIN: Spanish police ‘ban yellow’ at Barcelona game (The National, link):

"AN outcry has followed moves by Spanish police to force Barcelona football fans to remove yellow tops worn in support of Catalan political prisoners at a cup final on Saturday.

Some had placards and Estelada flags confiscated and many were photographed by security forces during the high-profile Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Sevilla in Madrid.

Police targeted pro-Catalonia fans outside Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Videos posted later on social media showed yellow scarves and banners saying “Freedom for Political Prisoners” being torn from the hands of pro-Catalan supporters."

GREECE: Protest by migrants against imprisonment on Greek islands attacked by far-right

"Police forced dozens of migrants, most Afghan asylum-seekers, who had been camped out on the main square of Lesvos island’s capital since last week, onto buses and transported them to the Moria camp in the early hours of Monday after downtown Mytilini turned into a battleground on Sunday.

The operation was intended to end clashes that raged all night in the center of the eastern Aegean island’s capital after a group of some 200 men chanting far-right slogans attacked the migrants who had been squatting on the square since last Wednesday in protest at their detention in Moria camp and delays in asylum processing."

EU-ISRAEL: European Trade Unions, Political Parties, Human Rights Organisations and Faith Groups Call on the EU to Stop its Support to Israeli Military Companies (ECCAP, link):

"Today, on the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners, more than 150 European trade unions, political parties, human rights organizations and faith groups from over 16 European countries issued a call urging the EU to uphold its legal responsibilities and exclude Israeli military companies from EU Framework Programs.

This call – accompanied by an explainer video - comes at a time when at least 35 unarmed Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli snipers during three weeks of protests at Gaza’s border with Israel.

(...)

The signatories stress that “European taxpayers’ money is being channeled to military companies, among them many Israeli corporations, under the disguise of research and a promise that the technologies and techniques developed will be used solely for civilian purposes.”"

GREECE: Op-Ed: Moria 35 – Trial at the Gates of Fortress Europe (ECRE, link)

"Today begins the trial of the Moria 35, which will determine the fate of 35 individuals arrested following a protest outside the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Moria Refugee Camp on 18 July 2017. The stakes are high in this inherently political trial. The 35 face criminal charges for which they may receive 10 years in prison and probable deportation if found guilty.

(...)

Why then, despite the inherent weakness of the case and the overwhelming evidence of police brutality, has this managed to even come to trial?

We believe this prosecution is part of an ongoing policy to criminalize and silence those who question their hostile containment. It is the refugee and migrant community of Lesvos that is on trial, to collectively punish and provide a deterrence to anybody who dares to challenge a system which seeks to dehumanise and deny them their rights.

A call for international solidarity with the Moria 35 is not therefore just a call to support 35 individuals who are victims of cynical criminalization, it is a call to support a politically aware community demanding its rights."

And see: Opening of the 'Moria 35' trial on 20 April on Chios Island (Greece): Statement from the Trial Observation Delegation (pdf)

NORTHERN IRELAND: The cruel peace: killings in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement (The Detail, link):

"ENDING the Troubles in Northern Ireland stopped large scale violence, but lower level activity has lingered. Earlier this month, loyalists renewed their opposition to criminality. Now Paul Nolan reports how killings didn't entirely stop after the Belfast agreement in 1998, while few perpetrators have ever been convicted.

...In all, by April this year, a total of 158 people have died in what the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) refer to as security-related killings in the period since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement was signed in April 1998. The ruthlessness with which Ciaran Cummings was dispatched has been more than matched by the dissident republicans. Political violence has been an ever-present reality in what is called, without irony, the post-conflict period in Northern Ireland. "

FRANCE-ITALY: Far-right activists block Alps pass used by migrants (France 24, link):

"Around 100 far-right activists on Saturday tried to block a French alpine pass used by migrants in a bid to "ensure that no illegal immigrant can return to France".

Members of the rightwing Generation Identity (GI) movement trudged through the snow up to Col de l'Echelle near the border with Italy where they plan to spend the night.

The pass is a "strategic point of passage for illegal immigrants" entering from Italy, GI spokesman Romain Espino, told AFP, criticising what he called "a lack of courage of the public authorities"."

UK: Police mugshot database: IT failings hinder deletion of facial images (UKAuthority, link):

"Millions of facial images of innocent people cannot be deleted because IT failings make it too expensive, a Government minister has claimed.

The work would have to be done manually by local police forces, making the costs “difficult to justify”, a House of Commons committee investigating the controversy has been told.

The Home Office also admitted it does not hold the data on how many people have successfully asked for their mugshots to be deleted – amid suspicions that the figure is very low.

The admissions have come despite a High Court ruling six years ago that the mass retention of facial images, including of people charged with no offence, is illegal."

EU: The Khartoum Process: "needs-based reintegration assistance" for people returned to Sudan

In response to a parliamentary question from Kathleen Van Brempt MEP, the European Commission has provided some information on the Khartoum Process concerning migration within and from the Horn of Africa and its efforts concerning return and "reintegration" to Sudan: "The Facility will provide 4 200 already returned persons, including from Europe, with needs-based reintegration assistance that aims to address the social, economic and psychosocial dimensions of reintegration."

EU: Bulgarian Presidency of the Council and (lack of) transparency: And the winner is: Most opaque Bulgarian institution is Pavlova’s ministry (BulgarianPresidency.eu, link):

"Unlike any other EU country, Bulgaria created a ministry responsible for its EU presidency. It is led by Lilyana Pavlova, known for her devotion to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and for her ability to find shortcuts when others fail.

The research was presented this week by the Access to Information Program, an authoritative NGO that has been doing such evaluations for nearly ten years.

The most opaque Bulgarian ministry is Pavlova’s, the study finds. Despite the promises for transparency at the time of its launching, the institution’s website lacks basic features. It has not even published a list of the services provided by the institution, nor the internal rules for those services. The laws and regulations that are relevant to the work of the ministry are not mentioned. There is no information about the registers and databases maintained by the institution. There is no mandatory electronic form for submitting applications. Additionally, the site is not compliant so that it can be used by visually impaired people."

UK: Human rights groups publish ‘how-to’ guide to resist the ‘Hostile Environment’ (Right to Remain, link):

"In addition to forcing undocumented people into exploitation and destitution, the effects of the hostile environment reverberate well beyond its stated targets. By effectively outsourcing immigration control to the public and private sectors, the Government has given a green light to racism and discrimination in all areas of life, by fuelling suspicion of anyone who does not appear sufficiently “British”.

And ultimately, we increasingly live in a society in which we are all conditioned to show ID and have our interactions with the State logged, as the Government’s obsession with monitoring and policing migrants demands surveillance of every one of us.

The Government’s attempt to create a hostile environment is dependent on the willing participation of people across society – but that will also be its downfall. Written by nine human rights groups, A Guide to the Hostile Environment explains the Government’s toxic vision and the action we can all take to dismantle it."

See: A guide to the hostile environment: The border controls dividing our communities - and how we can bring them down (pdf) and: The Windrush Scandal Shows Why the 'Hostile Environment' for Migrants Must End (Vice, link)

EU: Europol: European Migrant Smuggling Centre report: January 2017-January 2018 (pdf):

"Ruthless and violent criminals are increasingly providing smuggling services to irregular migrants to evade border controls, migration regulations and visa requirements. Most irregular migrants resort to the assistance of profit-seeking smugglers. With improved border controls, migrants are deterred from attempting to illegally cross borders by themselves and are diverted into the hands of smugglers who put migrants’ lives at serious risk and therefore pose a security challenge to the internal security of the European Union (EU). A pan-European response to efficiently disrupt migrant smuggling activities is still needed and the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (ESMC) is leading it by strongly supporting EU Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).

Migrant smuggling continues to represent a highly-profitable business in which criminal syndicates enjoy low risk of detection and punishment. The business model of criminals involved in migrant smuggling is continuously evolving and responding to the dynamics and the needs of the migratory flows impacting the EU. Migrant smugglers are becoming more and more organised, establishing sophisticated professional networks, operating transnationally from source towards destination countries.

According to the vast amount of data and information reported to the EMSC in recent months, targeting migrant smuggling therefore persists as one of the most relevant priorities. These factors highlight the need to continue developing comprehensive and coordinated responses across and between affected continents to efficiently combat migrant smuggling."

Press release: All you need to know about migrant smuggling in the EU (pdf)

At least 11 migrants dead, 263 rescued off Libya coast (Middle East Eye, link):

"At least 11 migrants died at sea and another 263 were rescued on Sunday in two separate operations off the coast of Libya, the country's navy said.

In the first operation, "a coastguard patrol... was able to rescue 83 illegal migrants and recovered 11 bodies in a rubber boat five nautical miles northeast of Sabratha," navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.

Sabratha is about 70km west of Tripoli.

"The 11 dead migrants drowned when the dinghy overturned but were recovered by the survivors and hoisted into the boat," said Mohamad Erhouma, a member of the nearby city of Zawiyah's coastguard."

GREECE: Red Cross warns surge in women and children arriving in Greece could spark emergency close to land border with Turkey (IFRC, link):

" The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning that a sharp rise in the number of people arriving in Greece from Turkey could signal the start of a summer emergency.

More than 1,000 people have made the dangerous journey by foot from western Turkey to north east Greece, crossing the major Evros river, since March. More than 100 people have arrived every day this week...

The closest official registration centre, in nearby Fylakio, is already overwhelmed which means those arriving to Evros have to make their own way to Thessaloniki to register – 430km away."

And: Refugees sleep in squares & parks as hundreds flock to Thessaloniki (Keep Talking Greece, link)

France's lower house approves bill to tighten asylum rules (Reuters, link):

"France’s lower house approved by a large majority on Sunday a bill that would tighten asylum rules after tense debates that created the first cracks within President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

One member of Macron’s party, Jean-Michel Clement, voted against the bill and said he would leave the majority.

“I am not sure we’re sending to world citizens the universal message that has always been ours,” the lawmaker said in a statement following the vote late on Sunday.

The French National Assembly voted in favour of the legislation by 228-139, with 24 abstaining. Debates are due to follow in the upper house, the Senate, in June. The National Assembly will have the last word on the bill."

See: Bill Could Undermine Asylum Seekers’ Rights - Amend Draft to Safeguard Access to Protection (Human Rights Watch, link)

EU officials fear new wave of migrants after Greek court ruling (euractiv, link):

"A top Greek court ruled on Wednesday (18 April) that migrants landing on Greek islands should no longer be held there while asylum claims are assessed, a decision raising alarm among EU officials in Brussels.

The prospect of new arrivals, often fleeing violence in the Middle East via Turkey, being able to quickly reach mainland Europe from the islands could undermine EU efforts to discourage people leaving Turkey.

An EU official described the ruling as a “big worry”."

Austria to seize refugees' mobiles and demand cash (The Local.at, link):

"Asylum seekers will be forced to hand over their mobile phones and up to 840 euros ($1,040) in cash to the authorities, under measures approved by the Austrian cabinet on Wednesday.

The money will be put towards the costs of their applications, while authorities will examine whether geo-location data from refugees' phones match their accounts of how they arrived in the country.

If the applicant is found to have previously entered another European country where the so-called "Dublin regulation" is in force, they could be sent back there."

CoE: Anti-torture committee: effective complaints mechanisms should be available to detainees across Europe (link):

"European states should ensure that persons deprived of their liberty have access to effective complaints mechanisms in prisons, police stations, immigration detention centres, psychiatric institutions and other places of detention.

This is a fundamental safeguard against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, warns the Council of Europe's anti-torture committee (CPT) in its annual report, published today."

See: CPT Annual Report (pdf)

UK: Prevent in the NHS: safeguarding or surveillance? (IRR News, link):

"A new and important report by Warwick University investigates counterterrorism in the NHS, revealing how lines are blurred between safeguarding and surveillance, security risk and social care and mental health and radicalisation."

UK: Fighting the hostile environment: interview with Bethan Lant of Praxis (IRR News, link):

"The shameful treatment of elderly Commonwealth citizens treated as illegal immigrants was brought to public attention by the Guardian’s report in March on the refusal of NHS cancer treatment to 63-year-old Londoner Albert Thompson. "

After Facebook scandal, MEPs argue the GDPR isn’t enough (euractiv, link):

"The EU needs more legal safeguards to prevent massive privacy breaches like the current scandal over Facebook and British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, MEPs from different political parties argued on Wednesday (18 April).

Even the bloc’s new data protection law known as the GDPR will not be enough to stop major data abuse, a chorus of legislators insisted at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

The GDPR, which will take effect on 25 May, has received an unexpected surge of praise since news broke last month that more than 80 million Facebook users’ data was analysed without their consent by Cambridge Analytica."

Cyprus granted protection status to 1,300 asylum seekers last year (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The 28 Member States of the European Union granted protection status to 538,000 asylum seekers in 2017, down by almost 25 percent, according to Eurostat.

Cyprus granted protection status to 1,005 Syrians (78 percent) to 75 Somalians (6 percent) and 50 Iraqis (4 percent) – the island's contribution was 0.24 percent of the total granted protection in the bloc."

Spain’s real rap battles (Politico, link):

"In a small venue in southern Madrid, Pablo Hasél is about to perform what could be one of his last shows before going to prison. The Catalan rapper will spend two years and one day in jail for glorifying terrorism and insulting the Crown and state institutions in one of his songs and a series of tweets.

(...)

“A generation of rappers has emerged with combative lyrics,” he adds. “[The state is] afraid because these lyrics reach a lot of young people, and they don’t want those people to get involved in the struggle for the rights that are denied us.”

Fellow members of that generation include Josep Valtònyc, a 24-year-old from Mallorca, who was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy. In December, 12 members of the group Insurgencia each received two-year terms for glorifying terrorism in a song. Also last year, César Strawberry, the lead singer of the metal-rap band Def con Dos, was given a one-year suspended sentence for tweeting a series of jokes about terrorist attacks and the Spanish king."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-18.4.18) including: Proactiva Open Arms case in Italy - analysis and documentation

Prepare to be fingerprinted: new EU proposals foresee mandatory biometrics in national ID cards

The European Commission has proposed a host of new measures aimed at "denying terrorists the means to act" which include the mandatory inclusion of two biometrics - fingerprints and a facial image - in all ID cards and residence documents for Union citizens and their family members issued by EU Member States.

EU: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): Final text of the Regulation as agreed in trilogues and to be adopted by Council and Parliament on 25 April 2018 (pdf):

"The ETIAS should provide a travel authorisation for third country nationals exempt from the visa requirement enabling to determine whether their presence on the territory of the Member States does not pose or will not pose a security, illegal immigration or a high epidemic risk. A travel authorisation therefore constitutes a decision indicating that there are no factual indications or reasonable grounds to consider that the presence of a person on the territory of the Member States poses such risks. As such a travel authorisation is in its nature distinct from a visa as it does not require more information or place a heavier burden on applicants than a visa does. Holding a valid travel authorisation should be a new entry condition for the territory of the Member States, however mere possession of a travel authorisation should not confer an automatic right of entry."

UK: Adrian McDonald: Police appeal over 'Taser death' upheld (BBC News, link):

"A police officer and a retired police inspector have won their appeal against a misconduct ruling over the death of a man who was Tasered.

Adrian McDonald, 34, died in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2014 after he complained of breathing difficulties.

Sgt Jason Bromley and Insp Richard Bills, of Staffordshire Police, were found to have failed in their duty of care at a hearing in September.

But their appeal has been upheld by an independent tribunal."

European Commission: Fourteeneth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2018) 211 final, pdf):

"This is the fourteenth Progress Report on the progress made towards building an effective and genuine Security Union and covers developments under two main pillars: tackling terrorism and organised crime and the means that support them; and strengthening our defences and building resilience against those threats."

UK: Theresa May's 'hostile environment' at heart of Windrush scandal (The Guardian, link):

"Theresa May was two years into her job as home secretary when she made her strategy explicit, telling the Telegraph in 2012 her aim “was to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”.

The outcry over the treatment of the Windrush generation of migrants in Britain legally, but sometimes without the paperwork to prove it, has exposed the scale of that strategy.

The hostile environment created by new legislation and regulation has meant migrants do not face border officials only when they enter the country for the first time, but as a constant part of daily life. They must prove their immigration status whenever they try to rent a property, open a bank account or access the health services. Landlords and employers become immigration enforcers – or risk hefty fines."

And see: The Windrush generation and the long history of not being quite ‘British’ enough (OpenDemocracy, link)

European Parliament study: Senegal: bastion of democracy, migration priority for the EU (pdf)

"Senegal has a long tradition of migration to the EU and other African countries, and today 5 % of its population live abroad. Remittances account for more than 10 % of GDP. As a priority partner in the Migration Partnership Framework, Senegal has been constructive in the political dialogue on migration, while maintaining its position that more should be done on legal migration into the EU. Senegal is one of the main benificiaries of the EU Trust Fund. Development cooperation, still at the core of relations with Senegal, has been structured to ensure increased coordination between the EU, Member States, and the Senegalese authorities. The challenge going forward will be to ensure that Senegal honours its commitments on the readmission of irregular migrants, and encourage progress on human rights."

UK: Serving soldier and self-confessed racist cleared of terrorism offence (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"A serving British soldier and white supremacist who kept a photo of himself giving a Nazi-style salute has been cleared of a terrorism offence.

Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, who collected a host of legally-held weaponry, pleaded guilty to having a banned canister of CS gas, which he kept in the drawer of a home he was renovating.

He had a photograph at the property in Llansilin, Powys, Wales, which showed him giving a Nazi-type salute at a memorial to his native Finland’s independence, in 1917.

A Birmingham Crown Court jury cleared him on Thursday of possession of a terrorism document – the Anders Breivik manifesto – and two counts of stirring up racial hatred relating to forum posts on a white nationalist website."

And see: Soldier Mikko Vehvilainen jailed for CS gas canister (BBC News, link)

ECHR: Belgium’s execution of a European arrest warrant in order to surrender the applicant to the Italian authorities did not breach the Convention (press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Pirozzi v. Belgium (application no. 21055/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

no violation of Articles 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned Mr Pirozzi’s detention by the Belgian authorities and his surrender to the Italian authorities under a European arrest warrant (EAW) with a view to enforcing a criminal conviction imposing 14 years’ imprisonment for drug trafficking."

HUNGARY: The European Commission’s shameful role in the victory of Fidesz (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"The Hungarian government had been allocating a disproportionately large part of EU money available for the 2014-2020 funding period before the national elections which took place on 8 April 2018: already 90 percent of the total EU funds was awarded by the end of 2017. Just within one month (December 2017), the Hungarian government allocated HUF 1660 billion (€5.36 billion) of EU money, i.e. one-fifth of the total sum foreseen for the seven-year period. This way the Hungarian government has created the impression among the public that its economic policies are extremely successful. The voters did not realise that the lavish disbursement of EU money temporarily hides the fact that this enormous amount of taxpayers’ money is used in a very inefficient way, which will certainly have grave consequences in the coming years."

EU: Commission's "e-evidence" proposals: "maximising risks for fundamental rights violations"

New proposals from the European Commission to make cross-border access to electronic data by police and judicial authorities "easier and faster" have been described as "a new legal shortcut to bypass existing measures, maximising risks for fundamental rights violations," by the civil society organisation European Digital Rights (EDRi), of which Statewatch is a member.

EU: Migratory flows in March: Fewer arrivals in Italy (Frontex, link):

"In March, 6 200 irregular border crossings were detected on the four main migratory routes into the EU, down 63% from the same month of last year.

In the first quarter of 2018, the total number of irregular border crossings halved to 18 800, mainly because of lower migratory pressure on the Central Mediterranean route."

UK: IOPC direct gross misconduct charges for five police officers in connection with the death of Sean Rigg, as High Court orders Met to reconsider suspension of one of those officers

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has today announced that they have directed gross misconduct charges for five officers involved in the death of Sean Rigg. Also today, an unprecedented second attempt by PC Andrew Birks to challenge a decision to block his resignation was successful, after the High Court ordered the Met Commissioner to reconsider a decision made in July 2017 to continue Birks’ suspension, pending decisions on disciplinary action.

ITALY: Sequestration of the Open Arms rescue boat and the case against the crew: background, documentation and sources

On 16 April 2018 Statewatch published an analysis entitled 'The seizure of the Open Arms boat as a paradigm of the European Union's war on human rights', examining the charges levelled at the crew of the boat and the vessel's sequestration in Sicily. This page provides background information and documentation relevant to the case and the broader situation.

Council of Europe: Prison statistics for 2016: increases in prison population rate and average length of imprisonment

The Council of Europe's recently-published annual prison statistics reports cover the year 2016 and show an increase from 2015 in the prison population rate (the number of prisoners per 100,000 of a country's population), the average length of imprisonment, the number of entries into penal institutions and the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for theft.

EU: Common European Asylum System: Qualification Directive: 6th trilogue - State of Play (178 pages, pdf): Four column document with the Commission proposal, Council and European Parliament positions and "compromise" column:

"In order to facilitate the reading, these parts have been highlighted in in the table below as follows:

- the parts in yellow concern cross-references to other proposals which depend on the finalisation of the CEAS package;
- the parts in in green mark the elements upo which agreement has been confirmed;
- the parts in blue mark the elements upon which the agreement reached at technical level has to be confirmed at political level.

New text in the fourth column compared to the COM proposal is marked in bold and new text compared to the previous version of the table is marked in underline. Deleted text in the fourth column compared to COM proposal is marked with […]."

And see: LIBE Commitee Agenda (pdf)

GREECE: Persisting problems in the asylum procedure (Aitima, pdf):

"One year ago, our organization released the report Asylum Seekers "ON HOLD¨ whereby we highlighted serious problems in the asylum procedure. We remain very concerned, because most of these problems persist and at the same time new ones have emerged.

PERSISTING PROBLEMS

- The access to the asylum procedure at the mainland remains difficult, given that all unregistered asylum seekers are referred to the problematic Skype procedure.
- The authorities still impose a geographical restriction on all new-comers to remain on the islands with disregard to the principle of proportionality.
- The European Asylum Support Office is still involved in the asylum procedure exceeding its competence under the relevant Regulation.
- Everyday service of the asylum seekers at the Regional Asylum Offices remains problematic.
- The authorities do not yet provide free of charge legal aid at 1st instance to asylum applicants.
- The Asylum Service cannot yet ensure adequate 1st instance examination of the asylum applications in all cases.
- The problem of the 3.100 appeals pending for over two years remains and what is more over 400 backlog cases have been added to that."

FRANCE: Bill Could Undermine Asylum Seekers’ Rights - Amend Draft to Safeguard Access to Protection (HRW, link):

"(Paris) – A bill before the French Parliament on immigration and asylum could jeopardize access to protection and should be revised, Human Rights Watch said today. The National Assembly will examine the bill in the week of April 16, 2018, and the Senate in May.

“Under the guise of providing a more effective asylum system, the bill includes a series of measures that would diminish access to protection,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch. “The few – albeit significant – positive measures in the bill cannot hide the concerns it raises for people who were at risk in their home countries.”

Human Rights Watch is concerned about the following measures:

Lack of fairness in accelerated procedures... Shortened deadline for appealing rejections... Removals would no longer be suspended pending appeal... Increased maximum detention period... Migrant children in detention"

EU moves to bring in whistleblower protection law (Guardian, link):

"Employees who blow the whistle on corporate tax avoidance or cheating on product standards would be entitled to special legal status under a draft EU law.

The European commission will next week propose legislation that intends to protect whistleblowers. Recent scandals have exposed the limited help available for people seeking to expose corporate behaviour in the public interest.

(...)

The law would give whistleblowers protected status, including the right to legal aid and possible financial support. Companies would be banned from firing or demoting whistleblowers and face “dissuasive” penalties for seeking to block employees seeking to uncover wrongdoing."

Don’t Compromise on Rights Protections in Poland (HRW, link):

"In just two years, the government has deliberately ignored key rulings of the country’s Constitutional Tribunal; added judges to make the Constitutional Tribunal more favorable to the government; forced almost half the Supreme Court judges to retire; and allowed the justice minister discretion to dismiss heads of ordinary courts.

Pressure from the European Commission has prompted Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to hint at a possible compromise, but these fall woefully short: publishing two-year-old Constitutional Tribunal rulings – while at the same time recognizing they won’t be implemented; slightly adjusting the retirement age of Supreme Courts judges – but effectively confirming the purge of a large number of them; and, finally, requiring the justice minister to consult with other judges before dismissing ordinary court presidents – while at least 130 judges (out of 300) have already been fired since August 2017. At the same time, the government confirmed it intends to keep the “essence” of the damaging reforms it has already implemented.

The reforms do nothing to address the commission’s concerns so shouldn’t stop the EU from moving forward with its action under Article 7. But the commission has a track record of accepting cosmetic changes as progress – Hungary being a good example.

Doing so here would be a profound mistake."

UPDATED: Migrants in Serbia still face difficulties, EU official says (euractiv, link):

"Migrants staying in Serbia are in a difficult situation and their integration into society should be enabled through education for minors and job opportunities for adults, a representative of the EU delegation to Serbia told EURACTIV.rs.

Nicholas Bizel said that many of the migrants have been in Serbia – which was on the so-called Balkan migration route at the height of the migrant crisis – for more than a year or even longer. He added that their chances of entering the EU are very slim and unlikely.

There are currently just over 4,000 migrants in Serbia, and in the first two months of 2018 more than 1,000 of them said they would seek asylum."

UK-LIBYA: Belhaj case: UK ordered to hand over file on Libyan torture (MEE, link):

"The British government has been ordered to hand over a top secret Metropolitan Police file that recommended charges against a senior MI6 officer for his role in the alleged illegal rendition and torture of opponents of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The High Court in London made the order on Thursday after lawyers for torture victims, including Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar, challenged a decision not to release a 400-page report which called for Sir Mark Allen of MI6 to be charged with misconduct in private office.

Government lawyers have been resisting its release in the ongoing legal claim by Belhaj and his wife who claim there were unlawfully “rendered” from Thailand to Libya in March 2004."

EU: Schengen Information System for returns: latest trilogue document

As part of its ongoing efforts to beef up the 'Security Union', the EU is establishing a new legal basis for the Schengen Information System which will increase the role that the database plays in deportations from the EU. The legal basis is currently being negotiated in secret 'trilogue' meetings between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. Statewatch is today publishing the latest trilogue document showing the Commission's original proposal, the positions of the Council and the Parliament and any compromises that have been reached so far.

Statewatch Analysis: The seizure of the Open Arms boat as a paradigm of the European Union's war against human rights (pdf)

This analysis is based on the charges levelled at Proactiva Open Arms and was published in the wake of the crew's interrogation and the impounding of the Open Arms rescue boat. It was written by the steering group (direttivo) of the Osservatorio Solidarietà della Carta di Milano, which was formally constituted in January 2018. It was originally published in Italian. A prosecutor has now ordered the freeing of the Open Arms, although judicial proceedings are ongoing.

Croatia Will Meet Technical Criteria for Schengen Area This Year (Total Croatia News, link):

"After meeting with the European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King in Zagreb on Friday, Interior Minister Davor Božinovic said that Croatia would meet the technical criteria to enter the Schengen Area by the end of this year.

Božinovic discussed several security topics with King, including border surveillance and the implementation of the European directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime.

Božinovic expects that the motion in second reading, which was adopted by the government on Thursday, would be passed by parliament in a week or so. He assessed the directive as important in the joint fight against terrorism, organised crime, money laundering and access to substances for home-made explosive devices."

HUNGARY: “We are the majority”: A euphoric demonstration of unity (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"I must admit that I was somewhat skeptical about predictions concerning the size of the demonstration planned for yesterday. In the past, there were so many calls for demonstrations that turned out to be small or medium-size gatherings of a few thousand. There was a lot of moaning about the Hungarian people’s inability or unwillingness to stand up for their rights. How often did we hear that Hungarians are sheep-like creatures who are ready to suffer any abuse as long as their leaders appeal to their nationalistic instincts? But the fact is that a fortuitous combination of factors has converged that offers an opportunity to change history. It might have taken Hungarians eight years and a third “sweeping victory” by Fidesz, but there are signs that the opposition will gain strength in the next months and years."

Italy grants citizenship to more people than any other EU country (The Local, link):

"Italy granted citizenship to over 200,000 people in 2016, more than any other country in the European Union.

The 201,600 people who became Italian accounted for a fifth of nearly a million new EU citizens that year, according to the latest figures from European statistics office Eurostat.

Italy approved some 23,600 more citizenship requests compared to 2015, an increase of 13 percent. The new passports went notably to people originally from Albania (18.3 percent of the total), Morocco (17.5 percent) and Romania (6.4 percent)."

See: EU Member States granted citizenship to almost 1 million persons in 2016 (Eurostat press release, pdf) and: Acquisition of citizenship statistics (Eurostat, link)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: interoperability of biometric databases poses fundamental risks and must be widely debated

In an opinion published today the European Data Protection Supervisor warns that the European Commission's proposals to interconnect the EU's large-scale biometric databases would "change the way in which fundamental legal principles in this area have traditionally been interpreted," and calls for a "wider debate on the future of information exchange in the EU, the governance of interoperable databases and the safeguarding of fundamental rights."

EU: Confiscation orders: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders - Revised four column table following the third trilogue on 20 March and the technical meeting on 22 March 2018 (LIMITE doc no: 7525-18, pdf): Four- column document with the Commission proposal, the positions of the Council and the European Parliament and the "compromise" position:

"In the fourth column, the texts as provisionally agreed during the technical trilogues are marked by green. Issues that were also discussed, but on which no (full) provisional agreement was reached yet, are marked by yellow.

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed""

Italy: The Taranto Hotspot: Unveiling the Developments of EU Migration Management Policies (Border Criminologies Blog, link):

"Guest post by Carlo Caprioglio, Francesco Ferri and Lucia Gennari. Carlo is a researcher and activist. He is currently a PhD Candidate in Legal Philosophy at Roma Tre University. Carlo’s research focuses on migration law, administrative detention, labour exploitation and clinical legal education.(...)

In this piece, we take the hotspot of Taranto as a case study through which to explore the changes that migration and border control policies have undergone in the country. Since 2014, the EU Commission has played a leading role in defining migration management policies in member states. As depicted in EU official documents (such as the ‘Agenda on migration’ and the Commission's proposals for new regulations on the European asylum system; see here, here and here), these policies aim to prevent the arrival of migrants in Europe, as well as migrants’ mobility across the EU internal borders."

EU: CJEU: An unaccompanied minor who attains the age of majority during the asylum procedure retains their right to family unification (Press release, pdf):

"Such an application for family reunification must however be made within a reasonable time, in principle within three months of the date on which the minor concerned is recognised as having refugee status.!

See: Judgment (pdf) and: Childhood’s End? The Court of Justice upholds unaccompanied child refugees’ right to family reunion (EU Law Analysis, link)

EU: MEPs demand triggering Article 7 against Hungary (euractiv, link):

"MEPs are demanding the launch of an infringement procedure against Hungary for breaching ‘core EU values’, just days after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s sweeping election success.

The demand is made in a draft report by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, published on Thursday (12 April), which lists 12 breaches. These include the weakening of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary, corruption, restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and intimidation of the media, non-governmental organizations and research institutions.

It also expresses concerns over violations of fundamental rights of refugees and minorities."

Hungarian journalists admit role in forging anti-migrant 'atmosphere of fear' (Guardian, link):

"Employees of state TV network describe how channels pumped out pro-government messaging ahead of Victor Orbán’s election victory this week."

More than 1,650 migrants crossed Greece's northeastern border in March (ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 1,650 migrants crossed Greece’s Evros river that marks the country’s northeastern border with Turkey in March, despite the high water levels during winter, data from police arrests showed on Friday.

According the police, 1,658 people were detained after entering the country from the river last month, compared with 262 people arrested for illegal entry the same period last year. Most of the arrivals are Syrian and Iraqi families who brave the cold weather to attempt the perilous journey across the border."

Croatia ratifies convention on women's rights despite protests (DW, link):

"Croatian lawmakers have backed a treaty safeguarding women and girls in the face of right-wing and Catholic opposition. Critics of the Istanbul Convention argue that it will indirectly legalize gay marriage."

Greece: Arrivals on the islands: Hellenic Ministry figures show that as of 12 April there were 15,267 refugees on the islands, including 8,465 on Lesvos.

Belgian police begin experiment into use of Tasers (The Bulletin, link):

"Fourteen local police forces around Belgium have begun a one-year trial of Tasers, under a pilot project launched by interior minister Jan Jambon.

The year-long experiment could lead to Tasers being rolled out nationally. The weapon allows an officer to deliver an electric shock intended to disable someone resisting arrest. However, use of the weapons in other countries has led to fatalities.

Police union SLFP raised concerns about the introduction of Tasers last year, threatening to strike over the issue. The union said the use of such weapons is not covered by any legislation in Belgium - leaving the individual officer responsible alone for their actions.

Police in Charleroi refused to take part in the tests, wanting more legal clarity. "No risk analysis was put forward," said a Charleroi police spokesman. "We wanted to know what were the risks involved, and the cases in which we should not use it.""

FRANCE: Thousands of police deployed to destroy ten-year-old land occupation in France

Since 9 April some 2,500 police officers have been engaged in the destruction of a ten-year old land occupation near Nantes known as the ZAD, which was originally established in 2008 to try to prevent the construction of an airport. Police have fired stun grenades and tear gas and have been accompanied by bulldozers that have razed the houses and other buildings constructed on the site. Residents of the land and supporters from further afield have attempted to stop the police operation with barricades and by throwing various projectiles including molotov cocktails.

EU: UNHCR Desperate Journeys report provides snapshot of changing refugee movements to Europe

Despite a drop in the number of refugees and migrants reaching Europe last year, the dangers many face along the way have in some cases increased, according to a new report by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, setting out changing patterns of movement.

The Desperate Journeys report found that sea arrivals to Italy, mostly from Libya, have drastically reduced since July 2017. This decrease has continued in the first three months of 2018, with a 74 per cent drop compared to last year.

UK: Counter-Terrorism Review Project: Sunset Clauses (link):

"There are numerous ways that Parliament can engage in counter-terrorism review. Parliamentary committees, such as the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Home Affairs Select Committee, and the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, can conduct inquiries into counter-terrorism policies and practices and produce reports on various features of the UK’s anti-terrorism laws. MPs and Lords can ask questions of Government Ministers in Parliament, requesting information on specific aspects of counter-terrorism. Parliament scrutinises new anti-terrorism legislation. One additional route of parliamentary counter-terrorism review is the Sunset Clause.

(...)

Sunset clauses offer Parliament a rare opportunity to engage in counter-terrorism review – one that is has to date not made significant use of. As part of this project we will be evaluating Parliament’s participation in counter-terrorism review, with a view to proposing reforms that will ensure that state counter-terrorism practices – including its anti-terrorism legislation – are effectively held to account."

GREECE: U.S. Spy Planes Land on Crete (Greek Reporter, link):

"As tension over Syria builds up, two U.S. spy planes have landed at Heraklion airport in Crete.

The MC-12S EMARSS and MC-12W Liberty planes have been used in recent missions over Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS-S) has a suite of signal-snooping gear to track and listen in on enemy communications, as well as the ability to record full-motion video during the day or at night."

GERMANY: NOTHING TO HIDE documentary examines "passive public acceptance of massive corporate and governmental incursions into individual and group privacy and rights"

"NOTHING TO HIDE is an independent documentary dealing with surveillance and its acceptance by the general public through the “I have nothing to hide” argument. The documentary was produced and directed by a pair of Berlin-based journalists, Mihaela Gladovic and Marc Meillassoux. It was crowdfunded by over 400 backers.

NOTHING TO HIDE questions the growing, puzzling and passive public acceptance of massive corporate and governmental incursions into individual and group privacy and rights."

NETHERLANDS: Cabinet prepared to compromise on Big Brother law after referendum defeat (Dutch News, link):

"The government is planning to make changes to a new law giving greater phone and internet tapping powers to the Dutch security services following last month’s ‘no’ vote in a referendum.

The amendments include a commitment to state explicitly that tapping cable communications should be as ‘closely targeted as possible’ and that more guarantees should be included when information is exchanged with foreign security services, Dutch media report on Friday.

The Volkskrant says the cabinet is prepared to make six concessions to the ‘no’ campaign, including making information gleaned from doctors and journalists more secure."

And see: Secret service watchdog warns about alliances with foreign agencies (Dutch News, link)

GERMANY: West German intelligence used Munich Cathedral as a secret listening post (The Telegraph, link):

"The Catholic church in Bavaria is demanding answers after it emerged that West German intelligence installed a secret listening post in Munich cathedral during the Cold War.

The twin towers of the Frauenkirche cathedral, with their distinctive domed tops, have long been a symbol of Germany’s third city.

But a few days ago it emerged that, unknown even to the church authorities, the north tower also contains a secret radio antenna and listening post.

The equipment was installed by West Germany’s BND intelligence service to monitor suspected spies and foreign diplomats during the Cold War, according to a report in Spiegel magazine."

EU: Nations in Transit 2018: Confronting illiberalism (Freedom House, link):

"Key Findings

UK: Government to announce £9m dark web crackdown to tackle paedophiles, drugs and arms dealers (The Independent, link):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd is set to announce £9m to boost the fight against paedophiles, drugs and arms dealers operating in clandestine corners of the internet.

Ms Rudd will use a speech to say increasing crime being carried out on the dark web means law enforcement agencies need additional capacity to tackle the problem.

She will also set out some new funds for fighting illegal online activity at community level, which will see police forces set up cybercrime units in local areas."

Do we need new international law for autonomous weapons? (Defense News, link):

"WASHINGTON ? As the United States, Russia and China continue to push forward in their development of unmanned autonomous weapon systems, questions surrounding how these new weapons will be governed and regulated are becoming more salient.

This week, parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) will be meeting at the Hague to discuss the definition of “meaningful human control,” a term that is central to the ongoing regulation discussion."

And see: We’re running out of time to stop killer robot weapons (The Guardian) by Bonnie Docherty

HUNGARY: OSCE limited election observation mission: Statement of preliminary findings and conclusions (pdf):

"The 8 April parliamentary elections were characterized by a pervasive overlap between state and ruling party resources, undermining contestants’ ability to compete on an equal basis. Voters had a wide range of political options but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing constricted the space for genuine political debate, hindering voters’ ability to make a fully-informed choice. The technical administration of the elections was professional and transparent.

Fundamental rights and freedoms were respected overall, but exercised in an adverse climate. Access to information as well as the freedoms of the media and association have been restricted, including by recent legal changes. While the electoral legal framework forms an adequate basis for democratic elections, recent amendments were a missed opportunity to hold inclusive consultations and address prior ODIHR recommendations."

CoE: Anti-Torture Committee calls for a co-ordinated European approach to address mass migratory arrivals in Italy (link):

"The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today a report on an ad hoc visit conducted in Italy to examine the situation of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty in the so-called “hotspots” and immigration detention centres, in a context of large-scale arrivals from North Africa.

The CPT recognises the significant challenges faced by the Italian authorities regarding the influx of new arrivals by sea. It also acknowledges the substantial efforts in carrying out rescue operations and in providing shelter and support to the hundreds of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants currently present in the country. In this framework, the CPT recalls the need for a co-ordinated European approach and support system to address the phenomenon of mass migratory arrivals."

And see: Executive Summary (pdf) and Full report (pdf)

European Parliament: EU must fund civil society organisations to safeguard EU fundamental values (Press release, link)

By 25 votes to five against the Civil Liberties Committee call for a new European Values Instrument to support civil society organisations which are active at local and national level in promoting EU fundamental values.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are facing difficulties to secure enough funds to develop and perform their activities independently and effectively, Civil Liberties MEPs say on Monday."

See aslo: Resolution - full text (pdf)

EU: Meijers Committee: Note on the use of soft law instruments under EU law, in particular in the area of freedom, security and justice, and its impact on fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law (pdf):

"The Meijers Committee notes an increase in recent years of the use of soft law instruments in EU law in areas relevant to fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law.1 Soft law instruments may have different denominations, such as opinions, recommendations, guidelines or best practices.(...)

This is in particular problematic in the areas of EU law where fundamental rights of individuals are most at stake: the area of freedom, security and justice, and related areas. (...)

The European Commission and other EU bodies do not only adopt opinions and recommendations, but also other documents which can be called soft law, such as guidelines, communications, codes of conduct, notices, inter-institutional agreements, conclusions, statements, resolutions,5 as well as working documents/non papers and best practices. These instruments are often used but they do not have a basis in the Treaties."

New EU fines will apply to 'old' data breaches (euobserver, link):

"Companies operating in the EU that are currently hiding serious data breaches similar to those that rocked Facebook last month better disclose those before 25 May, or be prepared to pay serious fines.

On that date, the EU's new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will come into force. The new EU bill will require that companies that process personal data inform the relevant data protection authority in case of a data breach."

Greece: Lesvos: Migrant arrivals continue, riot breaks out at Moria camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Authorities say a total of 607 migrants and refugees reached Greece’s eastern Aegean islands between Thursday and Tuesday.

More specifically, 418 arrivals were recorded on Lesvos, 120 on Samos and 69 on Chios. According to official data, a total of 1,173 migrants and refugees have reached the Greek islands since April 1.

Meanwhile, reports Tuesday said that a medical clinic was seriously damaged during riots at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos late Monday."

Council of the EU: Note from the Bulgarian Presidency on international law enforcement cooperation and information exchange: Proposal for a Practical Advisor for Law Enforcement Information Exchange (6243/1/18 REV 1, 28 March 2018, pdf):

"Delegations will find in annex a proposal for the Practical Advisor for Law Enforcement Information Exchange.

The Practical Advisor aims to provide the Member States' law enforcement officers with brief practical information. It is presented in a user-friendly and structured way to support everyday work and to be used for training purposes or for instant consultation.

With regard to this, the Presidency invites the Member States to discuss the document and to share their opinion about the appropriate place of the Practical Advisor - as an Annex to the Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange, as a standalone document, etc."

Includes an overview of existing channels for international law enforcement cooperation and "Recommended DOs and DON'Ts" on information exchange.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-9.4.18) including: UN urges France to take provide for migrants' and asylum seekers' basic needs; statement by five of the Moria 35

Hungary votes to keep prime minister and right wing in power

""BUDAPEST —Viktor Orban, Hungary’s staunchly anti-migrant prime minister, was reelected Sunday after his right-wing Fidesz party was projected to win a supermajority of seats in parliament. The resounding victory will probably permit Orban’s government to continue with democratic backsliding."

NORTHERN IRELAND: New figures reveal scale of unsolved killings from the Troubles (The Detail, link):

"TWENTY years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement over one third of killings carried out in Northern Ireland during the Troubles are still being investigated by police, The Detail can reveal.

There were over 3,200 homicides in Northern Ireland from January 1969 to the signing of the agreement on April 10 1998, while hundreds more people were killed elsewhere in violence linked to the conflict.

New figures obtained by The Detail show that 1,186 of the Northern Ireland deaths are still part of the caseload of the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The figures represent an increase on numbers reported last year. "

UK: Shocking inspection report of Harmondsworth detention centre (These Walls Must Fall, link):

"An inspection report published today reveals the dark, unacceptable nature of immigration detention in the UK.

Harmondsworth is Europe’s largest immigration detention centre, with a capacity to hold up to 676 people for the purposes of immigration administration and enforcement. A new inspection report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons has found “considerable failings” in safety and respect for detainees, people being held for excessively long periods, and in contravention to the detention rules that are supposed to protect vulnerable people, including survivors of torture. The Inspectors found that large numbers of men with mental health problems were being held in prison-like conditions."

See: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Report on an unannounced inspection of Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre Harmondsworth site (pdf) and: Action Plan (pdf)

Why the ECHR Decided not to Revise its Judgment in the Ireland v. The United Kingdom Case (EJIL: Talk!, link):

"The European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) recently rejected a request by Ireland to revise its judgment in the 1978 Ireland v. The United Kingdom case, where the Court found that the use by the then U.K. government of five techniques of interrogation on fourteen individuals amounted to “inhuman and degrading treatment” in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”), but did not rise to the level of torture. In the recent revision request Ireland asked the ECtHR to revise the original judgment, based on evidence that has recently become available, and to find that the five techniques did amount to torture.

The Court rejected Ireland’s request, a decision that was met with disappointment by human rights advocates. Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager remarked that this was “a very disappointing outcome, for the men and their families” and argued that the Court “missed a vital opportunity to put right a historic wrong.” Without taking away from the anguish of the fourteen individuals who suffered and continue to suffer as a result of being subjected to the harsh interrogations, it is necessary to understand the reasoning behind the Court’s decision and challenge the notion that it was a denial of justice."

See press release: ECHR rejects Irish request to find torture in 1978 judgment against UK (pdf) and: Full-text of Judgment (pdf)

EU Court Condemns the EU Legislative Process for Lack of Transparency: Time to Open Up? (Opinio Juris, link):

"It is sometimes cases on obscure administrative processes that become landmark judgments in the ever constant building of our democratic legal systems. In the US Marbury v. Madison was a case that at the time attracted little attention as the subject matter related to respect of procedures in judicial appointments. This notwithstanding it came to be the legal milestone of constitutional review in the US legal system.

In the European Union one of these cases was decided on 22 March: Emilio De Capitani v. Parliament. As it will be outlined below, it is a technical case that goes to the heart of the procedure of one of the fundamental institutions in a democracy: Parliament."

And see: Statewatch Briefing: Another step towards ending EU law-making through secret trilogue meetings (March 2018)

IRELAND: Thousands attend protest demanding action on housing crisis (RTÉ, link):

"Up to 10,000 people have taken part in a protest in Dublin demanding action to end the housing crisis.

Organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, a central aim of the protest is to get the Government to declare an emergency.

Marchers gathered at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square before marching down O'Connell Street and on to the Customs House for a rally.

They pointed to the latest figures showing nearly 10,000 people are in emergency accommodation."

UN urges French government to provide for basic needs of migrants and asylum seekers in Northern France (ECRE, link):

"UN human rights experts are urging the French government to provide safe drinking water, sanitation services and emergency shelter for migrants and asylum seekers in Calais, Grand-Synthe and other areas along the Northern coast of France.

(...)

The experts also called for an end to harassment and intimidation of volunteers and NGOs providing humanitarian aid. They urged France to fulfil its obligations and promote the work of human rights defenders."

See: France urged by UN experts to take effective measures to bring water and sanitation services to migrants (UN press release, pdf)

Refugees: Greece Statement by 5 of the accused of the Moria 35 – Take action!

"On the 20 April, we are scheduled to attend trial in Chios after waiting nine months, trapped on Lesvos, while 30 of our brothers unjustly have waited in prison for this same time period.

Our humanity has been denied since we stepped foot in Europe, the supposed cradle of democracy and human rights. Since we arrived we have been forced to live in horrible conditions, our asylum cases are not taken seriously, and most Africans are denied residency in Europe and face deportation. We are treated like criminals, simply for crossing a border that Europeans can freely cross." (...)

Statewatch Analysis: Suspicion files: German police databases on political activists (pdf) by Matthias Monroy:

German authorities use a number of databases that collect data on political activists, even if they hadn't been sentenced or tried. Names are stored if people have had their identity checked, or if they have registered a demonstration under their name. Many are recorded under false designations. Such entries have raised concerns around them being used for further repression, including the revocation of journalists’ accreditation. Discriminatory and stigmatising labels have also been applied to people whose data is held by the police.

Greece: 94 migrants rescued off Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The Greek coast guard has rescued 37 migrants and refugees from a rubber dinghy off Lesvos island in the eastern Aegean, according to reports Friday. (...)

Also Friday, the crew of a vessel belonging to the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex rescued 57 migrants from an inflatable dinghy off Lesvos."

Comment: According to official Greek Ministry figures there are now over 8,000 refugees on Lesvos. Betwen 28 March - 3 April 592 refugees arriced on the island.

UK-BREXIT: House of Commons Library: Brexit: Gibraltar update (pdf):

"the Spanish Government has repeatedly expressed interest in obtaining joint control of Gibraltar’s airport which is located on the isthmus that joins the Rock to the Spanish mainland. The Spanish Government regards the isthmus as not being covered by the Treaty of Utrecht by which the Rock was ceded to the British Crown in 1713.

There is concern that if the UK and Spain are unable to arrive at a bilateral agreement by the autumn of 2018, this could hold up the conclusion of the overall Withdrawal Agreement. The Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on the EU wrote to the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis MP, on 28 March 2018 expressing concerns about the UK-Spain bilateral discussions and seeking reassurance that Gibraltar would be fully covered by the transitional arrangements for UK exit."

U.N. rights watchdog urges Hungary to halt hate speech, protect refugees (Reuters, link):

"A U.N. rights watchdog called on Hungary on Thursday to crack down on hate speech by politicians against minorities including Roma and Muslims, and repeal a law allowing police to expel irregular migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum."

EU: Privacy regulators in hotseat over future of ‘fundamental’ website owners list (euractiv, link):

"The internet is at risk of becoming fragmented if online databases that show who owns websites are shut down after the EU’s new data protection law takes effect next month, the head of internet domain organisation ICANN has warned."

France to extend internal EU border checks (euractiv, link):

"France said Wednesday (4 April) it has decided to extend border checks with countries in Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone until the end of October because of the persistent threat of terrorism.(...)

A European Commission spokesman confirmed “we received notification from France this week” to extend controls for six months beyond the 30 April expiry date."

SWEDEN: 'Being cash-free puts us at risk of attack': Swedes turn against cashlessness (The Guardian, link):

"It is hard to argue that you cannot trust the government when the government isn’t really all that bad. This is the problem facing the small but growing number of Swedes anxious about their country’s rush to embrace a cash-free society.

Most consumers already say they manage without cash altogether, while shops and cafes increasingly refuse to accept notes and coins because of the costs and risk involved. Until recently, however, it has been hard for critics to find a hearing.

“The Swedish government is a rather nice one, we have been lucky enough to have mostly nice ones for the past 100 years,” says Christian Engström, a former MEP for the Pirate Party and an early opponent of the cashless economy.

“In other countries there is much more awareness that you cannot trust the government all the time. In Sweden it is hard to get people mobilised.”

There are signs this might be changing. In February, the head of Sweden’s central bank warned that Sweden could soon face a situation where all payments were controlled by private sector banks. "

UN: Centralizing Human Rights in the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (Just Security, link):

"Human rights and counter-terrorism are mutually reinforcing and complementary. In practice, the promotion and protection of human rights has all too often been a mere afterthought to counter-terrorism regulation within the UN architecture. This revision of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy offers a meaningful (if highly contested) political space in which translation of lofty and abstract human rights values could be mainstreamed into global policies and practices. While human rights constitute an independent pillar of the GCTS, as well as a cross-cutting imperative in the other pillars of the strategy, the objective of mainstreaming human rights protection throughout the UN counter-terrorism architecture is a long way from being fulfilled. This review of the GCTS provides an important moment to address the prominence and support given to Pillar IV in the work of the relevant UN entities, and ensures that the commitments made to human rights protection under pillars I and III are fully translated in the practice of the architecture as a whole, and benchmarked for delivery and functionality."

UK-EU: Brexit: the final countdown (Liberty, link)

"The first draft of the Agreement – published by the UK and EU last week – gives legal form to many of the hot topics of Brexit, from the rights of EU nationals living here, to how much money the UK owes the EU.

(...)

The Withdrawal Agreement also covers areas like justice, security and data transfers, where the UK and EU wish to continue cooperation. Negotiations have already begun on standalone treaties in these areas, which could be concluded as early as next year.

The potential content of these treaties raises serious concerns for fundamental rights. Taking justice and security as an example, the UK opted out of a raft of rights protections relating to cross-border extraditions and investigations. These gaps in protection were tolerated while the UK remained a member of the EU – arguably because laws like the Charter of Fundamental Rights provided a backstop – but with the Charter’s future in the UK uncertain, it’s vital that any future treaty explicitly protects rights we’ve opted out of in the past."

UK-EU: Thousands of children of EU parents at risk of falling through the cracks of Brexit, University of Birmingham research reveals

Thousands EU citizens and their family members living in the UK under EU law are at risk of ‘falling through the cracks’, with their rights of future residence in question after Brexit, Eurochildren researchers say.

UK: Undercover policing inquiry: core participants express serious concerns over anonymity for police officers

Core participants in the UK's undercover policing inquiry have aired serious concerns over the ongoing complete anonymity afforded to former undercover police officers by the inquiry's chair, Sir John Mitting, which is preventing them from finding out the truth of what happened to them.

Macedonia apologises for role in CIA's secret rendition programme

The Macedonian government has expressed "sincere apologies and unreserved regrets" for its role in the abduction and torture of German citizen Khaled el-Masri as part of the CIA's "rendition" programme.

A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe (The Guardian, link) by Richard Stallman:

"Journalists have been asking me whether the revulsion against the abuse of Facebook data could be a turning point for the campaign to recover privacy. That could happen, if the public makes its campaign broader and deeper.

Broader, meaning extending to all surveillance systems, not just Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is necessarily a big change, and requires powerful measures.

The surveillance imposed on us today far exceeds that of the Soviet Union. For freedom and democracy’s sake, we need to eliminate most of it. There are so many ways to use data to hurt people that the only safe database is the one that was never collected. Thus, instead of the EU’s approach of mainly regulating how personal data may be used (in its General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR), I propose a law to stop systems from collecting personal data."

Cross-border law enforcement access to data: USA CLOUD Act enacted; civil society organisations demand meaningful participation on new Council of Europe text

"President Trump has signed the CLOUD Act, requiring internet companies to hand over personal data to U.S. law enforcement agencies, no matter where that data is stored. The Act also allows the executive branch to create agreements with foreign countries to provide direct access to personal data stored in the United States."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.3-2.4.18) including: EU wants migration control at heart of next EU-Africa agreement; Fundamental Rights Agency warning over biometric IT systems' interoperability; leaked audio of forced deportation

Italy summons ambassador in diplomatic row after French police cross border to test migrant for drugs

"Italy summoned the French ambassador for consultations on Saturday after armed French border patrol agents used an Italian train station to force a Nigerian train passenger to provide a urine sample for a drug test."

ECHR: The right not to be tried or punished twice only applies to courts in one and the same State

In its decision in the case of Krombach v. France (application no. 67521/14) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case concerned Mr Krombach’s criminal conviction in France for events in respect of which he submitted that he had previously been acquitted in Germany. The facts concerned the circumstances surrounding the death of Kalinka Bamberski in 1982 at Mr Krombach’s home in Germany. The case raised the question of the right not to be tried or punished twice (ne bis in idem).

NORTHERN IRELAND: Policing in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement (The Detail, link):

"FOR those engaged in the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement, the future of policing was a central, but seemingly intractable problem.

As a source of debate, controversy and conflict for many years, the issue of a fair, representative and impartial police service went to the very heart of the conflict transformation endeavour.

Now 20 years post Good Friday, have we seen the new beginning to policing which was promised? Let’s start with some basics. There is a new name - ‘the Police Service of Northern Ireland’ and a new crest representing the symbols of the past and the present. Catholics now make up 31.5% of the total number of officers (although only around 19% of police staff), and there is a new, representative Policing Board to hold the Chief Constable to account.

Indeed, the PSNI are the most accountable police service in the European Union and the Policing Board is the most powerful independent policing authority. In general, public satisfaction in policing is high - with around three quarters of those recently surveyed believing the police were doing a good job. "

EU: Final report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation

In January 2018, the European Commission set up a high-level group of experts ("the HLEG") to advise on policy initiatives to counter fake news and disinformation spread online. The main deliverable of the HLEG was a report designed to review best practices in the light of fundamental principles, and suitable responses stemming from such principles.

UK: New report reveals that the UK police are secretly downloading content from suspects' mobile phones on a massive scale

Privacy International have today published a new report examining technology UK police forces are secretly deploying, which enables them to download all of the content and data from people's phones. 'Digital Stop and search: how the UK police can secretly download everything from your mobile phone' is based on Freedom of Information requests to 47 police forces across the UK about their use of such 'mobile phone extraction' technologies.

SCOTLAND: Independent Advisory Group on the Use of Biometric Data in Scotland publishes final report

The Independent Advisory Group on the Use of Biometric Data in Scotland has published its final report examining the retention of custody images by Police Scotland and "the use and retention of biometric data more generally in policing to seek to establish an ethical and human rights based framework".

Migration control must be at heart of next EU-Africa pact, says EU (EurActiv, link):

"The EU will put migration and security at the heart of its agenda in talks on a successor to the Cotonou Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific nations (ACP), a leading EU official said on Monday (26 March).

“The EU’s new partnership with Africa must do more with migration [policy]. We must partner with Africa to fight trafficking and migrant smuggling,” said Koen Vervaeke, managing director for Africa at the European External Action Service (EEAS) at the Chatham House think-tank in London.

“However, we also want to improve mechanisms for the legal migration of Africans to come to Europe.”

Talks between the EU and ACP community will begin later this year on a successor to the Cotonou agreement, the EU’s 20-year Partnership Agreement with the 78 nations, which was signed in Cotonou, Benin, in 2000.

The new agreement will also address growing inward migration to African countries."

UK: Police targeting of dead man's sister 'probably influenced by racism' (The Guardian, link):

"The police’s decision to launch a surveillance operation against a woman whose brother had been unlawfully killed in a police station was likely to have been influenced partly by racial discrimination, a leaked report by a watchdog concluded.

Janet Alder and her barrister were put under surveillance by police during the inquest into the death of her brother, Christopher. The surveillance team followed them to a hotel and car park and attempted to eavesdrop on their private conversations.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), now called the Independent Office for Police Conduct, found there was “evidence to support the conclusion that discrimination and bias is likely to have been a factor” when police initiated the surveillance."



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