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Archive - November 2019
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December 2019

Statewatch Workshop on Northern Ireland: THE LEGACY OF COLLUSION

Statewatch Workshop on Northern Ireland: Thursday 30 January 2020: 18.00 - 20.00 at:

Statewatch, c/o: MAYDAY ROOMS, 88 Fleet St, London EC4Y

If you would like to come to the Workshop please send an email with "NI Workshop book" in the subject line to:

statewatch-off@geo2.poptel.org.uk:

Brexit: Johnson condemned for dropping pledge to replace family reunion law (Guardian, link):

"Lawyers warn loss of reunion rights for unaccompanied refugee children will put them in danger.

The loss of family reunion rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children will leave them with “no options” except taking dangerous routes and using smugglers, charities in France and Greece are warning.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, faced criticism after he told parliament he had dropped a promise to replace the EU law that allows child refugees stranded in Europe to reunite with family members in the UK after Brexit.

Clare Moseley, the director of Care4Calais, said the news was devastating for those working with young asylum-seekers."

Greece: Unaccompanied Children at Risk - Arriving Alone in Island Camp, They Face Insecurity, Neglect (HRW, link):

" Hundreds of unaccompanied children on the Greek island of Lesbos are exposed to inhuman and degrading living conditions, Human Rights Watch said today. Children, unable to secure a place in the overcrowded specialized accommodation for unaccompanied children, face unsanitary and insecure conditions sleeping rough, sometimes in the open, in other formal and informal parts of the camp on the island.

“Hundreds of lone children on Lesbos are left to fend for themselves, sleeping on mats and cardboard boxes, exposed to worsening and dangerous weather conditions,” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Greek authorities need to urgently make sure these children are safe and cared for.”

Europol: SIRIUS: European Union Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019 (Press release, link):

"A new Europol report aims to draw a picture of the status of access of European Union (EU) Member States to electronic evidence held by foreign-based online service providers in 2018. The report presents data in relation to the volume of requests from EU Member States to online service providers; the main reasons for refusal or delay of EU requests; and the main challenges in the process from the perspective of the different stakeholders.

Manuel Navarrete, Head of the European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol: “This is the first time such an exercise is carried out in a systematic way and including survey with judicial authorities, law enforcement from all EU Member States and input from over 12 online service providers. The information gathered gives indications of short-term actions, which could be taken to improve the swiftness of this process.”

European Parliament Study: The European Commission package of ETIAS consequential amendments - Substitute impact assessment (pdf):

"This assessment concludes, inter alia, that the Commission package expands the scope of the European Criminal Record Information System for Third-Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN) beyond the purposes stated in the ECRIS-TCN Regulation. This expansion constitutes a serious interference with the rights to respect for private life and to protection of personal data.

The necessity of this interference is called into question due to the potential overlap between the Schengen Information System (SIS) and ECRIS-TCN. The assessment moreover finds that the provisions on the automated processing of ETIAS application files also entail interference with the rights to respect for private life and protection of personal data.

It also highlights the existence of data quality issues and calls into question the relevance of certain data stored in EU information systems. That said, it finds the provisions on access by the ETIAS Central Unit and the ETIAS National Units relatively well balanced and recommends certain clarifications."

Europe is home to a grave humanitarian crisis – but Brussels looks the other way (Guardian, link):

"In a Greek refugee camp, adults are being stabbed or raped, while children freeze. This suffering shames our continent.(...)

The lack of a proper processing system has created a state of dreadful limbo, where people live in horrendous conditions without an end in sight. Some have been waiting more than two years to receive news about their asylum application.(...)

How could I be proud to be European – or even worse, proud to be a European representative – when I am standing idly by while people are dying avoidably, right here in Europe? The very place that pledges to become a leader in digital technology is also the continent that allows people to starve and die only five hours from Brussels."

EU: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): Commission note explaining the "consequential amendments" to the ETIAS Regulation (pdf)

The note argues that changes to the legal basis of the European Criminal Records Information System for Third-Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), extending its scope so that it can be used for border checks, are "marginal".

UN experts decry rise in migrant detentions in Greece (InfoMigrants, link):

"UN experts on arbitrary detention have urged the Greek government to make urgent changes to the detention of migrants, stressing that the country was in continuing violation of various international standards.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) presented its preliminary findings after visiting 20 detention-related facilities in Greece during the first two weeks of this month.

In the report, the delegation highlighted multiple areas of concern ranging from lacking access of detained asylum seekers to interpreters and legal help to inflationary use of detention to prison overcrowding and various other issues involving both the criminal justice system and migration."

See: Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Preliminary Findings from its visit to Greece (2 - 13 December 2019) (UN, link)

EU: The “reliable neighbour” must recognise the rights of migrants, at last! (EuroMed Rights, link):

"On this 18 December 2019, International Migrants Day, EuroMed Rights joins the calls from several organisations of promotion and defence of human rights and asks the European Union (EU) and its Member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 18 December 1990.

To this day, 55 states have ratified the Convention. Neither a single European state nor countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean like Tunisia are part of this list.

The EU benefits economically from migration but refuses to recognise the rights that should be guaranteed to all migrants. The Convention does not add anything to the European or national protection instruments already in existence, but it clarifies the rights of migrant workers by reminding the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

GREECE-TURKEY: Videos Show Apparent Illegal Pushback of Migrants (Der Spiegel, link):

"The Greek government has repeatedly denied carrying out illegal "pushbacks" at its land border with Turkey. No asylum seekers, Athens insists, have been forced back across the Evros River into Turkey without a fair asylum process -- even if numerous refugees been claiming otherwise for years.

Now, videos provided to DER SPIEGEL and analyzed by the Forensic Architecture research collective, show for the first time what appear to be exactly these kinds of pushbacks taking place on the Evros. Six active and former police officers and soldiers have also independently told DER SPIEGEL that pushbacks are systematically carried out on the Evros."

State advertising as an instrument of transformation of the media market in Hungary (East European Politics, link)

"The study uses a comparative-historical perspective to examine the practice of state advertising in the Hungarian media by looking at the relevant practices of three governments. Using previous economic and political theoretical assumptions and data on Hungarian state advertising between 2006 and 2017, we argue that state advertising is a powerful tool of political favouritism as well as an instrument of market distortion, censorship and building an uncritical media empire aligned with the government. This practice can be viewed as part of a broader set of instruments deployed by illiberal states and hybrid political regimes to consolidate their hold on power."

AUSTRIA: Austrian Government Hacking-Law Is Unconstitutional (epicenter.works)

"The Austrian constitutional court decided on 11.12.2019 that the surveillance law that permits the use of spying software to read encrypted messages violates the fundamental right to respect for private life (article 8 ECHR), the fundamental right to data protection (§ 1 Austrian data protection law) and the constitutionally granted right that prohibits unreasonable searches (Art 9 Austrian bill of rights – Staatsgrundgesetz).

(...)

The court pointed out, that the there is a huge difference between traditional wiretapping and the infiltration of a computer system in order to read encrypted messages. Information about the personal use of computer systems provides insight into all areas of life and allows conclusions to be drawn about the user's thoughts, preferences, views and disposition. The court criticized especially that the law allowed to use the spying software for prosecuting offences against property which have a low maximum penalty, like burglary (maximum penalty of five years).

Further, the court empathized that the control mechanisms were insufficient."

UK: How to say ‘no’ to Government’s plan to strengthen police powers against Travellers (Friends Families and Travellers, link):

"On 5 November 2019, the Government launched a consultation to strengthen police powers against roadside Travellers. We need as many people as possible to stand up and fight against the Government’s plans. The information below shows the possible changes and explains how you can respond to the consultation. These are some of the most harmful changes affecting Gypsies and Travellers for decades – your voice should be heard.

The Government’s plan could:

This will affect anyone who stops on land that they do not own, this includes common land."

‘Enormous amount at stake’ in Irish murder data appeal case (euractiv, link):

"There is an “enormous amount at stake” in an appeal against a High Court decision that found the police’s capturing of mobile phone metadata in relation to a murder case breached EU law, Ireland’s Supreme Court has heard.

Graham Dwyer was convicted in 2015 for the murder of Elaine O’Hara, after mobile phone evidence retrieved from O’Hara’s handset was obtained by the Irish authorities. Dwyer’s legal team have since claimed that the prosecution’s use of the data was invalid because the legislation allowing for the capture of this data had been annulled by the European Court of Justice."

Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019 (DW, link):

"According to a confidential EU report, 70,000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to the EU this year. The numbers raise questions about whether a EU-Turkey refugee deal is unravelling.

The number of migrants and refugees crossing from Turkey to Europe has nearly doubled this year compared to last, according to a confidential EU report published by German media.

From January to the middle of December, 70,002 migrants reached the European Union from Turkey, representing a jump of 46% compared to the same period in 2018, Die Welt reported on Tuesday."

Is Processing Biometric Data of Turkish Nationals in a National Database Lawful under the EEC-Turkey Agreement? Reflections on the Judgment in A, B and P (C-70/18) (EU Migration Law, link):

"Overall, the Court’s pronouncements should not be viewed outside the specific context of the case at hand, i.e they should not be understood as generally applicable to the processing of biometric data for immigration law purposes. The Court’s approach favours national prerogatives in managing third-country nationals through data surveillance policies as it allows a significant margin of discretion for Member States.

What is worrisome though is that despite the efforts to distinguish biometric data from other categories of personal data, the Court is reluctant to highlight not only their undoubted benefits, but also their significant limitations, such as the potential for false hits."

See: Judgment, full-text (pdf)

Migrant arrivals from Turkey to Europe nearly double in 2019 (DW, link):

"According to a confidential EU report, 70,000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to the EU this year. The numbers raise questions about whether a EU-Turkey refugee deal is unravelling.

The number of migrants and refugees crossing from Turkey to Europe has nearly doubled this year compared to last, according to a confidential EU report published by German media.

From January to the middle of December, 70,002 migrants reached the European Union from Turkey, representing a jump of 46% compared to the same period in 2018, Die Welt reported on Tuesday."

Greece Under Water with Unceasing Refugee, Migrant Arrivals (The National Herald, link):

"ATHENS – Mild late autumn weather has led to a constant stream of refugees and migrants being sent to Greek islands from Turkey, where they had gone fleeing war and strife in their homeland, sent by human traffickers being allowed to operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

They are coming, wrote The Guardian’s Helena Smith, “sometimes en masse, sometimes alone … in rickety boats carrying men, women and children looking for a freedom they hope Europe will offer.”"

France, UK say they look beyond Brexit in Mali cooperation (euractiv. link):

"Sharing the cockpit of a helicopter on sizzling tarmac, French and British air force chiefs vowed to pursue the joint fight against jihadists in the heart of the Sahel even as the shadow of Brexit looms over their countries.

“We’ve got a long, fabulous history of working alongside each other, and I don’t expect anything to change anytime soon,” Royal Air Force (RAF) Chief of Air Staff Mike Wigston told AFP on a visit to the central Malian city of Gao with French counterpart Philippe Lavigne.

“If anything, we are going to work stronger together,” he said."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-16.12.19) including:

GREECE: No-Rights Zone: How people in need of protection are being denied crucial access to legal information and assistance in the Greek islands’ EU ‘hotspot’ camps (Oxfam, link):

"People who have fled war, violence and persecution need support to find safety and rebuild their lives. However, in the EU 'hotspots' in Greece, people are faced with an asylum process which is extremely complicated to navigate. Only 2 in 100 have access to a state-appointed lawyer.

In addition, most people cannot access the basic information needed to help them understand the asylum process, resulting in an unfair, ineffective, and often erroneous asylum system that frequently violates the rights of people in need of international protection.In this context, legal support and information are key.

However, the new law introduced by the Greek Government, and the announcements that they will replace the ‘hotspot’ camps with ‘closed centres’, could further undermine the rights of asylum seekers and create additional barriers to getting the crucial information and legal assistance they need."

Why are we letting the defence industry hijack the EU? (The Guardian, link) by Apostolis Fotiadis:

"For three years now, the European Union, created to promote peace and understanding, has been undergoing a profound pivot to militarisation and hard power. Europeans are served up a relentless narrative about their continent’s duty to stand up to external challenges: Russian assertiveness, the US retreat from Nato and traditional Euro-Atlantic structures and China’s rise as a geopolitical force. But this narrative has served to legitimise a militarising agenda that, away from the spotlight, is being set and pushed by defence industry interests and their political cheerleaders.

Countries in Scandinavia and central and eastern Europe, including the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, Finland and Sweden, have all increased military expenditure as part of this creep towards arming and organising for potential use of lethal force. Major western European countries have kept the annual military spending-to-GDP ratio stable, but at least four are consistently among the biggest military spenders in the world."

Turkey raises prospect to send troops to Libya (EurActiv, link):

"Turkey moved closer to military support for Libya’s internationally recognised government late on Saturday (14 December) when a bilateral deal that provides for a quick reaction force if requested by Tripoli was sent to parliament.

Ankara’s latest move raises tensions in the Mediterranean region and risks confrontation with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya, where rival political factions have been based since 2014.

Late last month, Ankara and Tripoli signed an expanded security and military accord and, separately, a memorandum on maritime boundaries that Greece said violates international law."

EU: New analysis: Monitoring "secondary movements" and "hotspots": Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency

The EU's border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on "secondary movements" and the "hotspots" within the EU. The intention is to ensure "situational awareness" and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

Greece: Six People Found Dead in Evros Region while Authorities Prop Up Border Security (ECRE, link):

"The corpses of six people who had entered Greece irregularly were discovered between December 5 and 8 in the Evros region. Greek authorities are reportedly considering to extend an existing iron fence along the entire Evros River on the Northeastern border.

According to the Greek coroner four men and two women under the age of thirty whose bodies were discovered in the Evros region died from exposure to the cold. They presumably entered Greece irregularly and none of them carried any ID.

An estimated 14,000 people have taken the route through the Evros region to enter Europe from Turkey so far this year. Greek authorities announced in November the hiring of 1200 new border guards, 400 of which were to be located in that area. According to local media the Greek government further plans to extend an existing iron fence along the entire Evros River stretching 230 kilometers."

EU: Eurojust becomes an Agency (Eurojust press release, link):

"Eurojust today heralds a new phase in its development, as it officially becomes the European Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, with the application of the Eurojust Regulation as the new legal basis. The new Regulation will make Eurojust fit for the purpose of fighting increasing levels of cross-border crime, with an Executive Board dealing with administrative matters and giving the College of prosecutors from all Member States more leeway to focus on the continuously rising number of criminal cases. Eurojust will start applying many of the standard rules of the decentralised Agencies."

See: Regulation (EU) 2018/1727 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) (pdf)

Europe spends billions stopping migration. Good luck figuring out where the money actually goes (The Correspondent, link):

"In a shiny new factory in the Benin forest, a woman named Blessing slices pineapples into rings. Hundreds of miles away, at a remote border post in the Sahara, Abubakar scans travellers’ fingerprints. And in village squares across Nigeria, Usman performs his theatre show about the dangers of travelling to Europe.

What do all these people have in common?

All their lives are touched by the billions of euros European governments spend in an effort to curb migration from Africa."

See also: How the EU created a crisis in Africa – and started a migration cartel (link): "Europe’s largest migration fund bypasses its own rules. After declaring a ‘crisis’ in 26 African countries, the EU can now spend €4.6bn without a transparent bidding process."

Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping (EUobserver, link):

"The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) monitored refugee networks to detect new routes and find smugglers – until the project ran into trouble with the EU's own data protection authority.

EASO combed through social media to monitor refugee routes to Europe over the past three years. The agency sent weekly reports on its findings to member states, the EU Commission and institutions such as UNHCR and Interpol.

The asylum agency, based in Malta, says its reports have helped to detect migrants on their way to Europe, but the monitoring activity has raised concern from data protection authorities."

See: European Data Protection Supervisor: Formal consultation on EASO's social media monitoring reports (case 2018-1083) (pdf)

No need to stargaze, digitalisation in healthcare is already here, say health experts (euractiv, link):

"Using digital tools to deliver care more efficiently presents a massive opportunity to relieve Europe’s strained healthcare systems, but also carries significant ethical and environmental considerations, EURACTIV heard at a recent event. (..)

The digitalisation of health care is set to be a hot topic for the new European Commission, with new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen making clear her ambition to ensure that the next five-year EU legislative cycle harnesses the potential of digital innovation to drive improvements in all aspects of healthcare.

This included a pledge to create a European Health Data Space and to adopt legislation on AI in the first 100 days of office."

UK: Rats in the kitchen, sodden carpets in the living room (IRR News, link):

"When researcher John Grayson visited a family with disabilities living in a Mears asylum house in Rotherham, he was stunned by what he saw."

EU-USA: Joint EU-US statement following the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting (Press release, pdf): The twice yearly meetings of respective Ministers concerning justice and home affair took place 11 December 2019. As usual the press release contain little of substance.

There are references to the threat to security posed by drones and and the need to access electronic eviudence. On digital evidence:

"We also acknowledged that the use of warrant-proof encryption by terrorists and other criminals – including those who engage in on-line child sexual exploitation – compromises the ability of law enforcement agencies to protect victims and the public at large. At the same time, encryption is an important technical measure to ensure cybersecurity and the exercise of fundamental rights, including privacy, which requires that any access to encrypted data be via legal procedures that protect privacy and security. Within this framework, we discussed the critical importance of working towards ensuring lawful access for law enforcement and other law enforcement authorities to digital evidence, including when encrypted or hosted on servers located in another jurisdiction."

Spain: Migrant hailed after rescuing man in wheelchair from fire (Guardian, link):

"Spain could give residency to undocumented hero Gorgui Lamine Sow from Senegal.

Spanish authorities are considering giving residency to an undocumented migrant from Senegal after he rescued a man who uses a wheelchair from a burning, second-storey apartment.

Street vendor Gorgui Lamine Sow was walking in the coastal city of Denia on Friday when he heard screams nearby.

He rushed over to a crowd watching black smoke pouring out of a second-floor window. “They told me there was a man trapped inside the apartment,” the 20-year-old said. “I didn’t think about it. I just dropped my things and started climbing.”

He scaled the balcony, entering the burning apartment as smoke filled the street. Once inside he hoisted the resident over his shoulders and carried him down a ladder set up by a neighbour."

Silencing the Opposition in Hungary (Verfassungsblog, link):

"On 10 December, the Hungarian opposition MPs got a lovely present from the governing majority for Christmas wrapped in a big legislative package amending both the Act on Parliament and the Rules of Procedure.

In the rush before the end of the fall-term session, there was no time for wrapping paper, ribbons and bows. However, I am sure that the Fidesz-KDNP coalition’s argument that the modifications will reinforce the authority and the prestige of the House and ensure decorum in the conduct of business will cheer them up."

Publication launch: "From Tampere 20 to Tampere 2.0 - Towards a new European consensus on migration" (Odysseus Network, link):

"The publication is centred on the 20th anniversary of the Tampere conclusions of October 1999. It looks back at the Tampere legacy and puts forward proposals that can inform future EU migration and asylum pact. Its content was informed by the Tampere 2.0 conference hold on 24-25 October in Helsinki as a side event of Finland’s Presidency of the EU."

PDF version available here (link):

"Time might have buried some of the ideas and concepts developed in Tampere in 1999. However, this year’s 20th anniversary provides an adequate opportunity to revisit them. Finland holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, just like in 1999, and is as committed to finding compromises as it was back then."

Bosnia: Police clear controversial Vucjak refugee camp (DW, link):

"Several buses came to the squalid camp to move the hundreds of refugees following an international outcry. Bosnia along with Serbia has been experiencing an unexpected increase in migrant arrivals in recent months.

Bosnian authorities said on Tuesday that they had moved 600 refugees from the squalor of the camp at Vucjak to a nearby army barracks. Journalists were not permitted to document the transfer, though they saw seven buses leaving the area near the Croatian border.

The camp, composed of a collection of tents pitched in the frozen mud and snow, became the subject of recent controversy when pictures emerged showing children still wearing sandals and t-shirts in the snow."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.12.19) including:

LIBYA: Accountability for Serious Crimes under International Law in Libya: An Assessment of the Criminal Justice System (International Commission of Jurists, pdf):

"The upsurge in hostilities in Libya since April 2019 has highlighted the devastating impact that impunity for crimes under international law committed by State actors and armed groups has engendered.

Civilians taking no part in hostilities are being displaced en masse, unlawfully killed and subject to other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and gross human rights violations, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, enslavement, and rape and other acts of sexual violence.

...despite the scale and magnitude of the violations and abuses committed by State and non-State actors, only a handful of investigations and prosecutions of such violations have been undertaken, resulting in a situation of near total impunity.

...The present report provides concrete law, policy and practical recommendations with a view to initiating such a process [to establish the rule of law] and enhancing the ability of the Libyan criminal justice system to deliver genuine accountability."

UK: Mobile fingerprint scanners bring a dangerous new front to the hostile environment (Liberty, link):

"Police technology is being used to draft frontline officers into the Government’s hostile environment, undermining access to vital police services for countless people, Liberty research has found.

In England and Wales, more than half of police forces have deployed mobile fingerprint scanners – devices that carry out on-the-spot ID checks against immigration databases, turning officers into border guards.

Liberty obtained detailed information about police use of mobile fingerprint scanners through a series of freedom of information requests. So far more than 4,000 people have been matched against immigration databases after coming into contact with frontline police."

Croatia Is Abusing Migrants While the EU Turns a Blind Eye (Foreign Policy, link):

"BIHAC, Bosnia and Herzegovina—Cocooned in a mud-spattered blanket, thousands of euros in debt, and with a body battered and bruised, Faisal Abas has reached the end of the line, geographically and spiritually. A year after leaving Pakistan to seek greener pastures in Europe, his dreams have died in a rain-sodden landfill site in northern Bosnia. His latest violent expulsion from Croatia was the final straw.

(...)

Near the Vucjak landfill, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders runs a small clinic opposite a church where sick and wounded migrants line up every day. Such is the sheer number and pattern of the reports that the project coordinator, Miroslav Ilic, believes the violence to be systemic and contends that the EU is complicit in a policy designed to render migrants physically incapable of crossing the border."

See also: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

Germany sets out plan for automatic relocation of asylum seekers (Politico, link):

"Germany has proposed an automatic relocation scheme for asylum seekers in which their applications would be examined at the EU's external borders.

A four-page document, seen by POLITICO, was distributed to member countries by Berlin last week in an effort to make progress on asylum reform ahead of the German presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of next year. European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, is expected to put forward her migration proposals in February.

The German proposal is presented as a so-called non-paper, which means that it's meant merely for discussion — as is made clear in the title, which contains the words “food for thought.”"

See the document: FOOD FOR THOUGHT (13 November 2019) Outline for reorienting the Common European Asylum System (pdf)

SERBIA: Unlawful video surveillance with face recognition in Belgrade (SHARE Foundation, link):

"The installation of smart video surveillance in Belgrade, with thousands of cameras and face recognition software, has raised public concern. Three civil society organisations (CSOs) – SHARE Foundation, Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Partners Serbia) and Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP) – published a detailed analysis of the MoI’s Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) on the use of smart video surveillance and have reached a conclusion that the document does not meet the formal or material conditions required by the Law on Personal Data Protection in Serbia.

The Commissioner on Personal Data Protection in Serbia also published his opinion on the DPIA, confirming the findings of the aforementioned organisations According to the Commissioner, the DPIA was not conducted in line with the requirements of the Personal Data Protection Law."

Secret document: "Club de Berne" criticises member in Austria for possible extremism (link):

"An audit report of the "Club de Berne" finds serious deficiencies in the Austrian domestic intelligence service. Its IT systems were not approved for secret information. The authority should also ensure that it is not infiltrated by "extremist organisations“.

The Austrian Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Fight against Terrorism (BVT) is regarded as a security gap for European intelligence cooperation. This is the conclusion reached by the European "Club de Berne" in an audit report. The document classified as "secret" was leaked to the daily newspaper "Österreich" and published."

Afghan refugee dies in container fire in Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A 27-year-old refugee from Afghanistan died in a fire that started in the makeshift Kara Tepe migrant camp on Lesvos, state-run news agency ANA-MPA reported.

The incident happened at dawn on Thursday when a fire broke out inside the container where the woman lived with her 28-year-old husband and their three children aged 5, 2 and an infant.

The 28-year-old man managed to save the three children before he passed out from the smoke. He was transferred to Mytilene’s hospital where he is being treated for breathing problems."

Migration control: Drones now fly across the English Channel (link):

"1,700 migrants are said to have crossed the strait between France and Great Britain in small boats this year. Both governments therefore requested patrols with drones from the European Union next year. Until then, the border authorities will fly with their own aircraft.

The British Coast Guard will observe the English Channel with drones in the future. This is reported by the British BBC with reference to the British Ministry of the Interior. The government in London wants to prevent the crossing of migrants from France across the 30 kilometre wide strait to Great Britain. However, it is unclear which unmanned aerial vehicles will be used and which company was awarded the contract. The Ministry of the Interior refused to provide any information to the BBC."

'Oval Four' men jailed in 1972 cleared by court of appeal in London (Guardian, link):

"Lord chief justice expresses ‘regret that it has taken so long for injustice to be remedied’

Three men who were convicted nearly 50 years ago on the evidence of a corrupt police officer have finally had their names cleared by senior judges.

Upholding an appeal against conviction by Winston Trew, Sterling Christie and George Griffiths – who, with Constantine Boucher, were part of the “Oval Four” – the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett, told them: “Our regret is that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied.”

The men were arrested in March 1972 by a group of undercover police officers at Oval Underground station and accused of “nicking handbags” on the tube. They were beaten in the police cells and then charged with attempting to steal, theft, and assault of the police."

58 dead as migrant boat capsizes off Mauritanian coast - Mauritanian officials rescued the Gambian migrants from the shore (International Business Times, link):

"A vessel carrying 150 migrants from the Gambia capsized off Mauritania Coast on Wednesday killing at least 58 in the incident said the UN Migration Agency. This route has been used for the movement of migrants from the West African countries to Europe for a very long time. The sinking is being seen as one of the deadliest incidents to happen to migrants who were relocating."

Grenade thrown at migrant children's centre in Madrid (Guardian, link):

"Property in Hortaleza had previously been singled out for criticism by far-right Vox part.

Bomb squad officers in Madrid have carried out a controlled explosion after a practice hand grenade was thrown over the wall of a centre for unaccompanied foreign minors in the north-east of the Spanish capital.

A spokeswoman at the Madrid headquarters of the national police force said the grenade carried a small amount of explosive. There were no reported injuries."

Greece: Camp Conditions Endanger Women, Girls - Asylum Seekers Lack Safe Access to Food, Water, Health Care (HRW, link):

"Women and girls face relentless insecurity in Greece’s overcrowded Moria “hotspot” for asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos island, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a video that shows the dire conditions. The Greek government should take immediate action to ensure safe, humane conditions for women and girls in line with their international human rights obligations and standards for humanitarian emergencies.

As of December 2, 2019, the Moria Reception and Identification Center was holding nearly 16,800 people in a facility with capacity for fewer than 3,000. Overcrowding has led authorities, as well as some asylum seekers and migrants themselves, to erect shelters outside Moria’s fenced boundaries, first in the adjacent area called the Olive Grove and now in a second olive grove, which has no water and sanitation facilities. In all areas."

All EU security and defence missions to adopt access to documents policies - but enforcement will be voluntary

All the missions and operations launched under the EU's common and security and defence policy (CSDP) have been ordered by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to adopt policies on public access to documents by February 2020, but their enforcement will be voluntary and lie beyond the reach of the Court of Justice of the EU.

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 2-3 December 2019

Including: press release, agendas and background note

EU: Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route

The EU should put a "stronger focus" on "the fight against human smuggling" along the Eastern Mediterranean route, according to the interior ministers of almost two dozen central and eastern European states, who have called for joint investigations and enhanced cooperation with Turkey and Western Balkan countries.

EU-NIGERIA: Europe wants to send migrants home—but what happens when they get there? (Prospect, link):

"A huge experiment is underway in reversing migration and thousands of Nigerians represent the vanguard. But what are "Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration" programmes—and what are the human consequences?

...Calling for the removal of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants used to be the preserve of nativist politicians such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini. But there is less than there used to be between the far-right and an EU leadership that makes no secret of its intention to ramp up returns."

FRANCE: Preventing Violent Extremism in France: from a society of vigilance to a society of suspicion? (CIDOB, link):

"The French government has called for a general detection of “early signs” of radicalization. But, what does it mean exactly and how the listing of these considered “early signs” can avoid generating a climate of generalized suspicion? In the field of preventing violent extremism (PVE) policies, the use of such indicators is not only questionable in theory but dangerous in practice.

...indicators that are presented as a reliable means of detecting violent radicalization and thus promoting a “society of vigilance” are in fact a tool whose design is not based on science and whose practical use can encourage suspicion and denunciation. In such a context, the authorities’ action may encourage the marginalization of certain segments of the society, and work against the inclusion that would make vulnerable communities more resilient to radicalization."

Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border

On 15th of November Mobile Info Team published its first report about illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border. In several newsletters we have already informed you about our efforts to document and collect human rights violations at the Greek border, especially about so called pushbacks to Turkey. These pushbacks are very problematic on a lot of different levels: asylum seekers are denied their human right to apply for asylum, as well as the possibility to receive protection in Europe.

UK: JUSTICE FOR ALFIE MEADOWS: Two weeks discplinary hearing of PC Mark Alston beings 11AM on 4 December 2019 at 21 New Street, London, EC2M 4TP (DTRTP, link):

"On 9 December 2010 Alfie Meadows was a 20 year old philosophy student from Middlesex University when he joined student protests against the tripling of tuition fees.

At around 3:30pm police officers kettled thousands of protesters inside Parliament Square. At the same time police officers temporarily opened up their police lines to facilitate mounted police charges into the crowd. As Alfie tried to leave the containment he was struck around the head with a police truncheon.

...The disciplinary hearing of PC Alston is expected to last until 17 December 2019. The officer faces two charges: one for using his baton dangerously and the other for causing Alfie’s head injuries."

Conclusions of the joint international press freedom mission to Hungary: Hungary dismantles media freedom and pluralism (ECPMF, link):

"Since 2010, the Hungarian government has systematically dismantled media independence, freedom and pluralism, distorted the media market and divided the journalistic community in the country, achieving a degree of media control unprecedented in an EU member state.

While avoiding the physical violence or the jailing of journalists common in autocratic regimes elsewhere, the Hungarian government has pursued a clear strategy to silence the critical press through deliberate manipulation of the media market – engineering the forcible closure or effective government takeover of once-independent media – and through the delegitimization of journalists. The construction of a pro-government media empire serves as a vast propaganda machine for the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, insulating large parts of the public from access to critical news and information so as to maintain the Fidesz party’s hold on power."

GERMANY: The Lingering Trauma of Stasi Surveillance (The Atlantic, link):

"BERLIN—It has been 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this group-therapy session for victims of the East German dictatorship still meets every two weeks. Seated at the table in a cozy room off a peaceful cobbled street is a tall, sturdily built man who wears a thick gold chain and heavy boots. It was his penchant for edgy dressing that first got him in trouble with the secret police: He refused to cut his hair and wear a government-approved scarf to school exams. To his left is a woman who also protested the state-administered school uniform. Opposite is a man who made the mistake of applying to leave the country.

...It was an unashamed police state, one in which extreme measures, even by authoritarian standards, were taken to curtail freedoms, until it finally fell and was subsumed into a newly reunified Germany. Yet the impact of the GDR’s measures did not end then. Indeed, that impact continues to be felt today. And if its efforts serve as an example to modern surveillance states—China, North Korea, Belarus, and Uzbekistan among them—its legacy serves as a warning, an insight into how such vast systems of control can affect our minds and societies."

European Data Protection Supervisor: Leading by Example: EDPS 2015-2019 (pdf):

A report looking at the last five years of work by the EDPS: "This report provides an overview of the activities carried out by the EDPS from 2015-2019. In particular, it focuses on how the EDPS has worked towards implementing the objectives set out in the EDPS Strategy 2015-2019, which relate to digitisation, global partnerships and the modernisation of data protection. This involved not only contributing historical pieces of legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation and Regulation 2018/1725, but also bringing the concepts of ethics and accountability to the forefront of data protection discourse and application."

French parliament backs resolution calling anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism (Middle East Eye, link):

"The French parliament backed a resolution on Tuesday labelling anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism.

The motion proposes to adopt the definition issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which states that some criticism of Israel could be antisemitic.

“Criticising the very existence of Israel as a collective composed of Jewish citizens is tantamount to hatred towards the Jewish community as a whole,” the resolution states.

The resolution has passed with 154 votes for and 72 against. It was drafted by Sylvain Maillard, a Paris lawmaker from French President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move) centrist party."

GAMM UPDATE (Limite doc no: 13452-19, pdf) 6 November 2019: 63 pages:

"This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

See also: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report (Statewatch News)

Holidaymakers in Gran Canaria help 24 migrants after boat lands on beach (El Pais, link):

"The bathers were enjoying the warm weather when they saw the small vessel approach the rocky coast with three babies and three children on board."

GREECE: Samos Refugees: A reluctant update on enduring cruelties (Samos Chronicles, link):

"On Samos, as with the other frontier islands, it has now become widely seen as a ‘bad thing’ for refugees to be detained for so long on the islands. But on Samos at least the reality is more paradoxical. Today increasing numbers of refugees on Samos would prefer to stay here rather than be moved to the mainland. Many know that camps such as Nea Kavala in northern Greece – an isolated former airfield- are far worse than Samos."

Commissioner seeks information from the Greek government on its plans to set-up closed reception centres on the Aegean islands (CoE, link):

"Today the Commissioner published an exchange of letters with the Minister of Citizen Protection of Greece, Michalis Chrysochoidis, and the Alternate Minister for Migration Policy of Greece, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, concerning the plans to transfer migrants from the Aegean islands to the mainland and set up closed reception centres on those islands, as announced by the Government a few days ago."

See: Letter from CoE to Greek government (link) and its Reply (link)

EU commissioners to visit Greece and Turkey for migration policy overhaul (ekathimerini.com, link):

"he European Union’s new commissioners responsible for issues related to migration and the refugee crisis will be visiting Greece and Turkey this week.

Commissioners for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas and for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will be in Athens on Thursday, before traveling to Ankara the following day, Schinas said following a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Monday."

Aegean Boat Report: 25 November - 1 December (pdf):

"A total of 74 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 2873 people. However, 47 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1032 people arrived on the Greek Islands."

EU: The political proxy war driving the race for EU citizens’ champion (Politico, link):

"Emily O’Reilly defends her record as she campaigns for reelection as European Ombudsman."

La France renonce à la livraison de bateaux à la Libye : une victoire qui doit marquer un tournant dans la coopération sur la politique migratoire! (Migreurop, link);

"In the context of the appeal brought by our associations before the Paris Administrative Court of Appeal, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has just announced that she is renouncing the delivery of six boats to the Libyan coastguard, a delivery that we were challenging. We welcome the abandonment of this initiative, which would have made France the official accomplice to the crimes committed against migrants and refugees in Libya."

Africa relations are ‘not equal’, leaders warn EU (euractiv, link):

"As the field of competitors for investing in Africa becomes more crowded, the EU will have to quickly improve its offer. The challenge for Ursula von der Leyen’s new European Commission will be to turn the so-called ‘partnership of equals’ promised by her predecessor into something concrete."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.11-2.12.19) including:

Med: Mounting Death Toll while NGOs Struggle to Keep up with Rescues (ECRE, link):

"Over the course of the last week at least 41 people have died in two separate shipwrecks, one off Lampedusa and one between Morocco and Spain. After disembarking a total of 353 people in Italian ports in the beginning of the week, NGO ships rescued another 213 people since Thursday.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) confirmed that at least 21 people lost their lives in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, on November 23. The boat, carrying 170 Europe-bound people, capsized 1.6km from the island as it was being escorted by the Italian coast guard. Efforts to Recover and identify the dead bodies are still on-going. 149 people were rescued.

Another 20 people are feared dead after a boat carrying 78 people got into difficulties while travelling from Morocco to Spain. After being alerted by an NGO, Spain’s maritime rescue service rescued 58 people, recovered four dead bodies and continued to search for those missing."

“How the hostile environment creates sites without rights": Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the violations with impunity on the rights of migrants and refugees (pdf)

"On 3-4 November 2018, a number of organisations, under the umbrella of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT, Basso Tribunal), came together to put the ‘hostile environment on trial’ at the London Hearing of the PPT on violations with impunity of the rights of migrant and refugee peoples...

The testimonies (oral and written) included evidence from Spain, Italy and Germany as well as the UK. We wanted to present all the evidence, and the rapporteurs’ contextualising reports, as fully as possible here, in an attempt to spread as widely as we can the knowledge contained in them, and to encourage groups around the country to organise local tribunals. During the PPT hearings we saw how the shameful hostile environment policy has legitimised racism and fostered a toxic social environment. We commend the courage of the witnesses and the commitment of the migrants’ organisations who participated. They are building a world that is better for everyone."

EU: Lisbon Treaty: Commission marks ten years of judicial and police cooperation between Member States of the European Union (press release, link)

"Today in the House of European History, President of the European Commission Ms Ursula von der Leyen marked the ten-year anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The 1st of December 2019 also marks ten years since EU cooperation on borders, migration, justice and internal security is a fully-fledged Union policy.

With the Treaty of Lisbon, Member States created an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, one in which people can move around freely and yet remain safe from crime, as well as have their interests protected by the courts."

UK: EU citizens will need US-style visa clearance after Brexit as Tories unveil 'take back control' border pledges (PoliticsHome, link):

"Under a raft of promises the party claims will improve border security if it wins the election, the Tories said a new visa waiver scheme called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would be brought in for EU citizens wanting to travel to the UK.

Under current EU free movement rules, travellers from the bloc only need an ID card to gain entry.

But the new regime will see them asked to bring passports and fill in an online form before travelling, a move the Conservatives said would allow officials to "to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK"."

ECHR-BULGARIA: A civilian tried by military courts for an ordinary criminal offence did not have a fair trial (press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Mustafa v. Bulgaria (application no. 1230/17) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights

Mr Mustafa, a civilian who had no links to the army, was tried and convicted by military courts for an ordinary offence because one of the other defendants in the case was serving in the army at the time it was committed. Mr Mustafa argued that those courts were neither independent nor impartial.

The Court found in particular that Mr Mustafa’s doubts about the independence and impartiality of the military courts could be regarded as objectively justified."

Judgment: Mustafa v. Bulgaria (French only, pdf)

EU: Guarding the Fortress. Frontex role in the militarisation and securitisation of migratory flows in the European Union (Centre Delas, link):

"The new report “Guarding the Fortress: the role of Frontex in the militarization and securitization of migratory flows in the European Union” intends to study and analyze the context in which the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, is developed and implemented in the European Union, as well as its operation, mechanisms and main operations carried out. The research addresses the context that is built with respect to security policies in the EU, and specifically with regard to border and migration policy. As well as, the development of Frontex in this context.

The report analyzes the role that Frontex has in helping to build walls around the European Union, building what is called the “Europe Fortress”, through maritime, area and land operations that criminalize people who have to flee their homes for force, whether from war or economic inequality. It is in this context that migratory flows are approached as a threat, so that they are approached with the same instruments as border crimes."


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