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Archive - May 2017
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EU: Council of the European Union: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS )
ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 9580-REV-1-17, pdf, 144 pages): The Council developing its negotiating position:
"Three outstanding issues were specifically discussed at the meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee/Mixed Committee on 24 May 2017...
The Presidency proposal to require all third country nationals to hold a valid travel authorisation in case of airport transit (unless they require an airport transit visa or they are in possession of a valid visa) could be supported by a majority of delegations....
The Committee is therefore invited to examine and endorse the text as set out in the Annex to this note with a view to reaching a general approach at the JHA Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.
The European Parliament is in the process of establishing its position on the proposal.... "
Earlier documents: 9580-ADD-1-17 (LIMITE. pdf) and 9580-17 (LIMITE, pdf)
DATA RETENTION: The judgment of the Grand Chamber dated 21 December 2016 in the two joint Tele2 Sverige and Watson cases: The need for a harmonised legal framework on the retention of data at EU level (pdf) by Xavier Tracol:
"On 21 December 2016....The Grand Chamber ruled that EU law does not allow a general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data. It also ruled that access of competent national authorities to retained data must be restricted solely to fighting serious crime and subject to prior review by a court or an independent administrative authority." [emphasis added]
Met ordered to disclose evidence in Welsh undercover relationships case (Police Spies Out of Lives, link):
"Judge in Court Hearing about Undercover Cop, Marco Jacobs, abusive relationships orders Met Police to disclose evidence. Police have been avoiding and delaying disclosure in this case for several years."
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Difficulties for defence caused by infiltration and observation methods were counterbalanced by adequate procedural safeguards (Press release, pdf): The Court held:
"unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights, on account of a lack of access to a confidential case file...and:
by four votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d) (right to examine witnesses) of the Convention on account of the applicants inability to examine undercover officers, or have them examined,"
EU: Meijers Committee: Comment on the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on countering money laundering by criminal law (pdf)
"In the Commissions proposal, the definition of criminal activity from which the property is derived (the 'predicate offences') has a wide scope. Whereas the Commission explains the necessity of the proposal mainly from the viewpoint of countering (financing of) terrorism, this is in reality only a small part of the proposal. Besides the list of EU-criminal offences, the proposal deals with all offences as defined in the national law of the Member States, which are punishable by deprivation of liberty or a detention order for a maximum of more than one year..." [emphasis added]
EU-UK BREXIT: European Commission: Working paper "Essential Principles on Citizens' Rights" (pdf):
"Objective: For discussion at the Council Working party (Art. 50) of 30 May 2017.
Remarks: The attached working paper on "Essential Principles on Citizens' Rights" contains the main principles of the EU position in this regard, to be presented to the UK in the context of negotiations under Art. 50."
EU: Council of the European Union: New EASO Regulation & SIS:Returns, biometrics and "inquiry checks"
New EASO Regulation: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010: State of play and guidance for further work (LIMITE doc no: 9563-17, pdf): 4-column document with present state of play in trilogues and sets out issues where there is disagreement between the Council and the parliament:
"the Presidency started negotiations with the European Parliament in January 2017. To date, four informal trilogues have taken place on 7 February, 8 March, 21 March and 2 May (continued on 11 May). In preparation for these informal trilogues, numerous
technical meetings with the European Parliament have taken place.... See the attached 4-column table (Annex II) including the text agreed in political trilogues."
See also European Court of Auditors report: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):and Full report (pdf)
SIS & Returns, biometrics and "inquiry chexcks": Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (First reading) & Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... Policy debate / Progress report (LIMITE doc no: 9595-17, pdf):
"This package is composed of three separate proposals, in order to respond to the different degrees of participation in the SIS of several groups of States (the so-called 'variable geometry')...
These proposals contain a series of measures aimed at maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of the system which is the most used of the IT systems in the area of freedom, justice and security in the EU by technical enhancements, focusing on end-users and giving access to more national authorities and EU agencies. In particular, more categories of data, including biometrics, would be inserted, including for search purposes, and new types of alerts, including alerts on return decisions, would be inserted...
Chapter IX of the proposal on police cooperation (15814/16) introduces a new form of check, the 'inquiry check', besides the existing 'discreet check' and 'specific check'." [emphasis added]
UPDATE: Near final version: Doc no: 9571-17 : (29 May 2017, pdf)
EU: Council of the European Union: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (LIMITE doc no: 9082-REV-2-17, pdf): The Council preparing to take new moves to enforce return and readmission policies especially for Africa through so-called "Partnership Frameworks":
"Considers that it remains necessary to improve the rate of return of illegally staying third country nationals as a matter of urgency...
Agrees that comprehensive, [gradual - deleted] incremental, pragmatic and tailor-made solutions are required in order to improve cooperation with third countries in the field of return and readmission, in line with the Partnership Framework approach;
Recalls the views expressed at the JHA Council of March 2017, and agrees on the need to consider the use of the necessary leverage by using all EU policy instruments and tools, including visa policy;
stronger coordination [could - deleted] should be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve cooperation of third countries on return and readmission. Concerted action by the Member States within the applicable legal framework should continue to provide the possibility for achieving results." [emphasis added]
See: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report (Statewatch database) and Viewpoint; Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-29.5.17)
European Commission: latests statistics: Relocations (26-5-17,pdf):
Italy: 6,189 refugees relocated out of 34,953 agreed since September 2015 and Greece: 13,600 out of 63,302 agreed. There are 78,466 remaining places yet to be offered by Member States.
and "Hotspots" (22-5-17,pdf)
UK-EU: We need deal with the EU to combat terror, experts tell Theresa May (Guardian, link):
"Chair of Commons intelligence committee and leading security figures warn that Brexit threatens to deprive UK police of access to key European databases...
The UKs full participation in European Union security and intelligence co-operation will be critical to the fight against terrorism after Brexit, leading British security experts have said, as Theresa May announced wide-ranging new plans to counter extremism.
The growing demands for the prime minister to face down anti-EU forces in the Tory party and make membership of bodies such as Europol, the EUs criminal intelligence agency, a top priority, came amid fears that Brexit could leave the UK with inferior access to key European databases and deprive British police forces of vital tools in high-level, pan-European anti-terror probes."
And: Will the UK lose access to EU's crime-fighting database after Brexit? (Guardian, link)
Comment: To work with Europol. as Denmark has agreed. requires recognising the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
US might ban laptops on all flights into and out of the country (euractiv, link):
"The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said yesterday (28 May)."
Council of the European Union: Entry-Exit System (EES) and LEA access:
Entry-exit: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System (LIMITE doc no: 9468-17, pdf): 4-column document with Commission proposal, European Parliament, Council and "compromise" position:
"Delegations will find in the Annex the four-column table relating to the draft Regulation in the subject."
Law enforcement agencies access: Proposal for a Regulation establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data and refusal of entry data of third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Member States of the European Union and determining the conditions for access to the EES for law enforcement purposes... (LIMITE doc no: 9465-17, pdf): 4-column document with Commission proposal, European Parliament, Council and "compromise" position:
"Delegations will find in the Annex the four-column table relating to the draft Regulation in the subject."
LEA access: State of play (LIMITE doc no: 9415-17. pdf):State of play and 4 column document: Sets out a series of differences with the parliament's position including
"The EP opposes the possibility to transfer information to third countries and international organisations for the purpose of returns, unless there is a decision by the Commission regarding the adequate protection of personal data in that third country or a binding readmission agreement. In particular, the EP opposes the possibility to transfer such information on the basis of an arrangement similar to readmission agreements, arguing that these are not binding, do not contain the necessary data protection safeguards, do not follow the institutional procedure for agreements and should therefore not be legitimised. The EP also insists on the explicit agreement and the provision of guarantees by the third country concerned to use the data only for the purposes for which it is transferred, and that such transfers should only be possible once the return decision is final, and subject to the consent of the Member State that entered the data."
USA: Secret court rebukes NSA for 5-year illegal surveillance of US citizens (repubhub.icopyright.net, link):
"U.S. intelligence agencies conducted illegal surveillance on American citizens over a five-year period, a practice that earned them a sharp rebuke from a secret court that called the matter a "very serious" constitutional issue.
The criticism is in a lengthy secret ruling that lays bare some of the frictions between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and U.S. intelligence agencies obligated to obtain the court's approval for surveillance activities.
The ruling, dated April 26 and bearing the label "top secret," was obtained and published Thursday by the news site Circa."
Hopes for refugee crisis plan fall into chasm between G7 and Trump (Guardian, link);
"Disagreements with US are so fundamental that Sicily summit might not be able to issue communique...
Divisions between Donald Trump and other members of the G7 at the summit in Sicily have become so broad and deep that they may be forced to issue a brief leaders statement rather than a full communique, dashing Italian hopes of engineering a big step forward on migration and famine....
A draft statement shown to the Guardian reveals Trump wants world leaders to make only a short reference to migration and to throw out a plan by the Italian hosts for a comprehensive five-page statement that acknowledges migrants rights, the factors driving refugees and their positive contribution."
Greek Ministry: Number of refugees arriving: Thursday: 48 Samos. Friday: 56 Lesvos and 45 Samos.
ITALY: Milan like Barcelona. Together, without walls, against the racist criminalisation of migrants and the poor. For an international network of antiracist cities (by S. Palidda)
"Following the example of Barcelona, where between 160,000 and 300,000 people mobilised on the past 18 February in support of rights for migrants and to promote an international network of cities against racism where immigrants will be welcomed, around 100,000 people participated in a demonstration in Milan on 20 May.
The appeal for the demonstration (https://www.20maggiosenzamuri.it/ in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Arabic) was launched by the Milan mayor's office, several personalities from all walks of life, 600 associations, NGOs and institutions as well as 70 Italian city councils."
The irregular border (ciutatrefugi.barcelona, link):
"Human rights. A report by Irídia, Novact and Fotomovimiento, subsidised by Barcelona City Council, details and denounces the racism, violence and illegality of migration control policies at the border areas between Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco."
See also: Frontera Sur (link)
EU: Challenge mounted to Court judgment on opposing access to the documents concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016
- the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction"
On 28 February 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rejected three applicants' cases requesting access to the documents held by the Council of the European Union concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016. The Court argued that:
"the three actions as inadmissible on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. In particular, the General Court held that the EU-Turkey Statement did not relate to an act of the European Council nor of any other body, office or agency of the Union and hence that the actions fell outside the Court's jurisdiction." [LIMITE doc no: 9148-17, pdf) [emphasis added]
On 23 April 2017 the three applicants lodged an appeal against the judgment on the general grounds that:
"the appellants claim that the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction. They request the Court of Justice to rule that their actions for annulment of the EU-Turkey Statement are within the Court's jurisdiction and to send the cases back to the General Court for a decision on the merits of their claims." [emphasis added]
Court of Appeal finds Theresa May acted unlawfully in denying refugees access to UK (leighday.co.uk, link):
"Court of Appeal rules that Theresa May acted unlawfully when Home Secretary in denying refugees access to the UK who have been living on a British Sovereign Base since 1998... In a unanimous decision the Court of Appeal has today (25 May 2017) found that Theresa May acted unlawfully by refusing to consider allowing entry to the UK to a group of refugee families stranded on the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) in Cyprus.
The unlawful decision was made in November 2014 when Mrs May was Home Secretary. "
See: Full judgment (pdf)
Brexit transparency is 'political play', says EU watchdog (euobserver, link):
"The promise by the EU to be as transparent as possible in the negotiations with the UK over its exit from the bloc is political play, said the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, at a press conference on Wednesday (24 May).
She spoke two days after the Council of the European Union, where national governments meet, had published a document that laid out rules on when to publish documents relating to the Brexit negotiations."
See: Council of the European Union: Guiding principles for transparency in negotiations under Article 50 TEU (pdf)
EU: New Data Protection Regulation: Commission: Statement by Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Vìra Jourová one year ahead of the entry into application of the General Data Protection Regulation (pdf). See: The Regulation (link)
Libyan coastguard opened fire at refugee boats: NGOs (aljazeera.com, link)
"Aid groups say 70 refugees jumped into Mediterranean waters to avoid being shot as speedboat interrupted rescue."
EU slams Turkeys record on human rights in talks with Erdogan (euractiv, link):
"Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met senior European Union officials on Thursday (25 May) for talks that included Turkeys human rights record following sharp disagreements between Ankara and Brussels on a range of issues.
The EU has expressed concern over the sacking and jailing of tens of thousands of soldiers, police, teachers and civil servants since a failed military coup last July. It has also criticized a revamping of Turkeys constitution backed by a referendum that greatly expands Erdogans powers."
EU states back bill against online hate speech (euobservver, link):
"EU ministers on Tuesday (23 May) backed a bill that seeks to curb hate speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google's YouTube.
The move follows wider concerns over online radicalisation and the incitement to commit terrorist acts.
It also comes on the heels of a suicide terror attack in the UK that ended the lives of 22 people and injured 59 others following a concert in Manchester.
The EU bill still needs the support of the European Parliament before it becomes law.
But if passed, the tech giants will need to remove offensive content, posing broader concerns over free speech."
Italy inks deal with Libya neighbours to stem migrant flow (euractiv, link):
"Italy has signed a deal with Libya, Chad and Niger in order to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean through beefed up border controls and new reception centres in the African nations.
A joint statement by the interior ministers of the four countries said they had agreed to set up centres in Chad and Niger, key transit countries for migrants who travel to Libya and on to Italy from sub-Saharan Africa."
The character of citizenship: denying the rights of asylum seekers and criminalising dissent (Open Democracy, link):
"Refusing citizenship on grounds of 'character' reflects the criminalisation of global political dissent and resistance, while these subjective criteria normalise an imperialist system of citizenship."
The reception of Basque refugees in 1937 showed Britain at its best and worst (Guardian, link):
"Daniel Vulliamy and Simon Martinez on their family links to the children who fled the Spanish civil war on the Habana and were evacuated to the UK."
Statewatch Analysis: Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases (pdf) by Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy
The topic of counter-terrorism in Europe remains closely linked to the development and expansion of police (and secret service) databases. This was the case in the 1970s, after 11 September 2001 and has also been the case since 2014, when the EU Member States started working on their action plans against 'foreign terrorist fighters'.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-22.5.17) including: Greece: cynical numbers game on refugee relocation
UK: Iraqi deportations: the airlines helping the Home Office deport refugees to war zones (Corporate Watch, link):
"The Home Office is trying to deport dozens of refugees to Iraq, with at least 30 people currently held in detention centres awaiting forced removal. But instead of using high-profile charter flights, the Home Office is now turning to a handful of major airlines to take Iraqi deportees as scheduled passengers: Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Strong resistance by deportees and supporters may yet win out though, and several flights have been cancelled in the last week."
EU: Public access to Council documents: 2016 report (press release, pdf):
"Over 350 000 documents are listed in the Council's register, and over 70% of these are public and can be downloaded for free. That is one of the key points in the Council's 2016 report on access to documents which was approved by the Council on 22 May 2017.
During 2016, 22 671 documents were added to the register, of which 71%, or 16 181 documents, are public. The Council's public register was consulted around 380 000 times and attracted 9% of the Council's website traffic."
See: Fifteenth annual report of the Council on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (7903/17, pdf) and corrections: COR 1 (pdf)
Note: the statistics certainly sound good, but it remains the case that many Council working parties - including some dealing with legislation - produce no minutes/outcomes of their meetings; while legislative deliberations and discussions are frequently shielded from public view, particularly through the trilogue procedure.
UK: The character of citizenship: denying the rights of asylum seekers and criminalising dissent (OpenDemocracy, link):
"Refusing citizenship on grounds of 'character' reflects the criminalisation of global political dissent and resistance, while these subjective criteria normalise an imperialist system of citizenship."
SERBIA: Police blasted for not letting Roma children play in park (b92, link):
""In a video that appeared on social networks one can hear and see communal police officers not allowing Roma children to play in a park. To prevent children from playing in a park just because they're Roma is a brutal, chauvinist, and racist act," said Omerovic.
He added that "such scandalous and disgraceful behavior of the Communal Police of Belgrade is an unprecedented act."
"I ask the authorities to urgently determine the responsibility of those who publicly and knowingly violate the law, of those who won't let the children of our fellow citizens play in a park just because they're Roma. Evil must be recognized and immediately suppressed," said Omerovic. "
FRANCE: Paris: towards a new evacuation if nothing changes (ECRE, link):
"In the early hours of the 9th of May, more than 1 600 people have been evacuated from makeshift camps, at Porte de la Chapelle in Paris to (emergency) reception centres across the Ile de France region. NGOs like France terre dasile were present to inform and accompany them. Evacuations of such camps have almost become routine in Paris, despite the opening of a humanitarian centre by the City of Paris in November 2016.
Afghans, Eritreans and Sudanese form the majority of migrants sleeping rough in Paris under appalling conditions. Among those evacuated in the beginning of this month, there were 75 women and unaccompanied children. For most of them, this is not the first evacuation, and many had come back from centres they were taken to during a previous operation."
Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence (The Guardian, link):
"Facebooks secret rules and guidelines for deciding what its 2 billion users can post on the site are revealed for the first time in a Guardian investigation that will fuel the global debate about the role and ethics of the social media giant.
The Guardian has seen more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts that give unprecedented insight into the blueprints Facebook has used to moderate issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm.
There are even guidelines on match-fixing and cannibalism."
SERBIA: Migrants and refugees in Belgrade evicted to camps
In early May volunteer group No Name Kitchen warned of the impending eviction of over 1,000 migrants and refugees living in disused buildings in Belgrade, who were recently removed by the government to camps, in some cases overcrowded and with poor sanitary conditions.
Council of the EU considers "introducing a legal link" between visa and returns policy
Recognises the importance of linking the negotiations of readmission and visa facilitation agreements...
Underlines the importance of introducing a legal link between readmission and visa in the Visa Code...
Considers that stronger coordination could be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve return cooperation of third countries on return and readmission..."
See: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (9082/1/17 REV 1, LIMITE, 19 May 2017, pdf)
EU: Combating Institutional Anti-Gypsyism: Responses and promising practices in the EU and selected Member States (CEPS, link):
"The notion of anti-Gypsyism aims to refocus public policies addressing Roma discrimination in order to place responsibility for combating structural, historically-embedded and systemic forms of racism, discrimination and exclusion towards Roma squarely on state institutions and actors. This report examines the ways in which policies and funding combat anti-Gypsyism in the European Union and selected Member States and assesses the added value of the anti-Gypsyism concept, with particular reference to its institutional forms. It explores ways in which these institutional forms could be combated by identifying some promising practices or experiences found in five selected EU Member States (Germany, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK). These promising practices include reactive and proactive measures organised around four main themes: i) national, regional and local institutional responses; ii) training and education activities; iii) access to justice and effective remedies; and iv) media, public attitudes and political discourse."
UK: The Conservative Party Manifesto and the Constitution (Public Law for Everyone, link):
"The Conservative Party which, barring an electoral surprise that would make the election of Donald Trump look pedestrian, will form the next UK administration has published its manifesto. What does it reveal about the constitutional aspects of the partys programme for government?
...a new Conservative Government will ensure that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons. The threat is implicitly clear. It is also pertinent. As the UK stands on the cusp of Brexit, the Great Repeal Bill will entail an unprecedented conferral of legislative power upon the executive government, and the role that Parliament including the House of Lords must play in scrutinising the use of that power is plain. That Parliament should embark upon that task against the backdrop of an implicit threat to the House of Lords should it deign to stand in the Governments way is, to put the point mildly, regrettable."
Emphasis added. See also: The White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill: Invasion of the Parliamentary Control Snatchers (April 2017, pdf) by Steve Peers
EU: Facing Europes Crisis of Alienation and Mistrust (Open Society Foundations, link):
"European societies are in dire need of new solutions. But in order to inspire and lead Europe through these crises, leaders who could implement solutions need to have the legitimacy conferred by the trust of their citizens. The lack of civil society voices in policy debates has contributed to the crisis of faith in Europes political institutionsand fueled the perception that national governments and the European Union are not accountable to their citizens.
Too often, EU policymakers who want to discuss and solve these problems repeat the mistake of only talking to the same people in the same venues. These high-level policy conversations are strikingly lacking in diversitynot just in terms of race and gender, but also class, geography, professional or educational background, and politics.
There is a critical need to create more inclusive spaces for discussion and debate, and find ways to bring policymakers closer to the everyday experiences of European citizensfrom majorities and minorities alike. "
NORTHERN IRELAND: Brexit appears to mean taking back control of everything but border (Belfast Telegraph, link):
"Tacitly accepted, if not wholly endorsed, by Leavers and Remainers alike in the Conservative and Labour parties in the months since the referendum result, "taking back control" has gradually become the lingua franca of Brexit. Consequently, there has been little practical opposition to the Government's hard Brexit plan.
On borders and immigration specifically, analysis of each party's election manifesto would suggest there is little disagreement among the main parties in this area.
It is rather striking therefore that, to date, nobody within either the Government or on Opposition benches has yet been able to articulate a plausible plan for taking back control of the only land border that the UK shares with the EU: the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Contrary to the Government's long-established and oft-stated ambition that a hard border in Ireland should be avoided, the lack of any credible proposal as to how this might be achieved tends to suggest a distinct lack of control."
UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Picket against spycop Marco Jacobs abuse (COPS, link):
"Court cases against the police for abusive undercover relationships continue, and on Tuesday 23rd May 2017 the South Wales Case has a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. Show your support at a picket outside the court!
Two women and one man are suing The Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers over sexual abuse committed by an undercover police officer in Cardiff Marco Jacobs.
In conducting these abusive and degrading relationships, the police have demonstrated institutional sexism against women, and institutional prejudice against campaigners. The undercover policing scandal shows an utter contempt for our democratic right to participate in social justice campaigning.
You and your friends are needed to be there, to show that these issues are important to us all."
EU: Is the refugee crisis going to disappear? Is the Council Presidency playing a cynical numbers game with the figures - or are we going to see mass returns?
There are currently 62,184 refugees in Greece. The Council says that: 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but are 13,758 refugees on the Greek islands, 28,426 on the mainland and those still arriving going to be subject to mass returns?
Book review: Refuge: Transforming a broken refugee system. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, March 2017 by Frances Webber:
"when you dig beneath the benevolent surface, the book's message is profoundly objectionable, and dangerous. For the authors' take on the crisis of displacement wilfully ignores the role of the global economy, and their vision of autonomy for refugees is working for multinational corporations in special economic zones coupled with a ban on travelling outside their region of origin - a sort of captive reserve army of labour. It is hard to see the autonomy in that."
Sweden: And now, under-the-skin RFID tags replace train tickets in Europe (Privacy News Online, link):
"The Swedish State Railways has decided to accept under-the-skin RFID tag implants for ticket purchases, arguing it enhances ticketless travel better than having your ticket in your mobile. Actually, they didnt argue that at all. They just said were digital and it works as if that would justify the rest."
EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection.. Period of Validity of Residence Permits issued to Refugees and Beneficiaries of Subsidiary Protection = Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 9001-17,pdf):
"The Presidency proposed that both permits would thereafter be renewed in accordance with national legislation, including for an unlimited period. Although there was some support for this Proposal, it was opposed by those Member States which grant residence permits with a validity period of more than five (5) years to beneficiaries of refugee status, as well as by those Member States which grant residence permits with the same validity period of more than three (3) years to both beneficiaries of refugee status and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection status."
UK: MASS DEPORTATION Charter Flight to Nigeria and Ghana set for May 24th (The Unity Centre, link):
"A charter flight is scheduled to depart from London Stansted at 23:30hrs on May 24th for Nigeria and Ghana, part of the regular Home Office practice of forcibly removing up to 100 people on privately chartered ghost flights that leave from an undisclosed location in the middle of the night. On the basis of previous charter flight reports from Stansted, it is assumed the company contracted to operate this flight is Titan Airways."
German Interior Ministry criticized for curbing refugee family reunions from Greece (ekathimerini.com, link)
"Germanys Interior Ministry has come under fire from the left-wing opposition after a decision to bring down the number of asylum-seeking family members allowed into the country from Greece to 70 a month, Deutsche Welle reports."
These are Africas most powerful passports (World Economic Forum, link):
"Visa-free travel is something many of us take for granted in todays increasingly interconnected world. But for many Africans this modern luxury is much more of a lottery, with citizens of some African countries enjoying similar travel rights to Europeans, while others fare little better than residents of war-torn Syria."
UK: HSBC voice recognition system breached by customer's twin (Guardian, link):
"BBC Click reporter Dan Simmons said his non-identical twin brother was able to fool system and gain access to account.
HSBCs voice recognition ID system used by half a million customers for secure access to their bank accounts has been breached by a customers twin mimicking his voice.
When it was launched last year HSBCs head of retail banking claimed the new system was secure, insisting that just like your fingerprint, your voice print is unique."
European Parliament Study: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): Border management, fundamental rights and data protection (pdf):
"It provides an assessment of the necessity, implications in relation to interoperability, and impact in terms of fundamental rights, including the right to personal data protection and the right to privacy. It finds that the necessity of ETIAS has not been made, that the proposal is likely to introduce interoperability through the backdoor, and that it constitutes a significant interference with fundamental rights."
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 18 May 2017: Press release (pdf) Includes: Common European asylum system reform, Fight against serious and organised crime, Aviation security, Counter-terrorism and Migration:
"During a joint dinner, home affairs and development ministers addressed the external dimension of migration, to ensure full coherence between migration and development policies."
"B" points Agenda for discussion (pdf) and "A" points -adopted without discussion - non-legislative (pdf)
EU: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met
The European Commission has published its 12th report on the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy and progress made in the EU's resettlement scheme, highlighting that while "the number of persons relocated so far in 2017 is almost as many as in the whole of 2016.... the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."
New Police Scotland stop and search code in force (BBC News, link):
"The code received widespread support during consultation and was unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament.
It was introduced following concerns over the number of people being searched without a legal basis.
The code says statutory searches must be "necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law". There is also specific guidance on dealing with children and vulnerable adults. Non-statutory or "consensual" stop-and-searches are now banned entirely."
See: Code of Practice on the Exercise by Constables of Powers of Stop and Search of the Person in Scotland (pdf) and The report of the dvisory Group on Stop and Search (pdf)
Spanish fire-fighters who saved lives at sea must not be criminalised (IRR News, link):
"As petitions are launched to stop the criminalisation of humanitarians, calls for the European Commission to intervene to change the law intensify."
Swedish prosecutors drop Julian Assange rape investigation - Swedens director of public prosecution says she has decided to discontinue the investigation into WikiLeaks founder (Guardian, link):
"UK police say Julian Assange arrest warrant still stands....
Swedish prosecutors are to drop a preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, bringing an end to a seven-year legal standoff."
Lack of solidarity dogs EU asylum reform (euobserver, link):
""There is still no consensus in the Council. I don't hide to tell you I expressed my disappointment on that," said EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.
The European Commission tabled the Dublin reform bill last year, but Malta is looking increasingly unlikely to deliver an outcome.
It has floated a number of internal papers on how to parcel out refugees across all EU states. Most of them enter the EU via Italy or Greece and are meant to stay there, under the existing Dublin regime, until their asylum request is processed."
Poland defies EU over asylum seekers (euractiv, link):
"Poland refused yesterday (18 May) to yield to pressure from the European Union to take in any asylum seekers under a relocation scheme despite an EU threat of legal action."
EU: Council: new criteria for Schengen alerts on terrorism-related "discreet or specific checks"
"The Presidency therefore invite delegations to take into account the changes made and agree on this list of criteria as an initial joint understanding of when a person should be entered in the SIS for discreet or specific checks in the context of terrorism or terrorism-related activities for inclusion in the catalogue of recommendations and best practices for SIS.
Finally, the Presidency would invite Europol and European Border and Coast Guard Agency to continue working on updating the list of criteria referring to foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) or terrorism-related activities involving as much as possible experts in the use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the exchange of supplementary information, whenever this is necessary."
See: Joint Understanding on the list of criteria on when a person should be included in the SIS in relation to terrorism and terrorism-related offences (8806/17, LIMITE, 11 May 2017, pdf)
UK: How the Anthony Grainger inquiry shone a light on policing the murky world of serious organised crime (Manchester Evening News, link):
"Mistakes were made, some of them serious ones. The force is braced for severe criticism about the way it handled the operation and its aftermath, particularly how armed police could be given such wildly inaccurate intelligence overstating their targets potential for armed violence.
Five years ago, a policeman known to the inquiry only as Q9 killed Grainger by firing a single bullet from his powerful Heckler and Koch MP5 sub-machine gun.
Grainger, a 36-year-old convicted criminal, was behind the wheel of a stolen Audi A6 estate in a car park in the Cheshire village of Culcheth. Q9 had been told Grainger and his team were armed and poised to commit a robbery, but no gun, or any weapon, was found: so a police officer had shot dead an unarmed suspect and leaving his two children without a father."
UK: General Election 2017: Partner of abducted Andy Tsege stands against Theresa May in Maidenhead (Islington Gazette, link):
"The partner of abducted Upper Holloway man Andy Tsege feels so hopeless about his illegal imprisonment that she has resorted to standing against the Prime Minister in next months general election.
Yemi Hailemariam, of St John Street, is standing in Theresa Mays Maidenhead constituency. Her ultimate aim is to secure a meeting with Mrs May, nearly three years since Andy was jailed in his native Ethiopia.
Andy, 62, is a human rights activist who fled to the UK in 1979, becoming a citizen and making a new life in Islington. But at a trial in his absence in 2009, he was given a death sentence. And in June 2014, while waiting to catch a flight to Eritrea, Andy was abducted at an airport in Yemen."
Traffickers and smugglers exploit record rise in unaccompanied child refugees (The Guardian, link):
"A record increase in the number of refugee and migrant children travelling alone has left many exposed to sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of traffickers and opportunists.
At least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in 80 countries in 2015-16, a rise of almost 500% on the 66,000 documented in 2010-2011, according to a Unicef report published on Wednesday.
The central Mediterranean passage is one of several migration routes identified as particularly dangerous for children. More than 75% of the 1,600 14- to 17-year-olds who arrived in Italy reported being held against their will or forced to work."
See the report: A child is a child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation (pdf):
"Among the millions of children on the move worldwide, many including hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied children and adolescents undertake dangerous journeys. This report shows how the lack of safe and legal pathways for refugee and migrant children feeds a booming market for human smuggling and puts them at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. Building on recent UNICEF policy proposals, it sets out ways that governments can better protect these vulnerable children."
TURKEY: Govt to Probe Attack on Afghan Migrants in Istanbul (Tolo News, link):
"Turkish media on Wednesday reported that amid rising tension in the Sultangazi district, police evacuated about 300 Afghan and Syrian migrants.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Wednesday said government will launch a full inquiry into reports of an attack on Afghan asylum seekers in Istanbul city earlier this week."
EU: Development serving the purpose of migration control (EUobserver, link) by Bob van Dillen:
"Last November, NGOs gave a guarded welcome to the European Commissions proposals for a major overhaul of the EUs development policy framework, which should guide the EU development efforts until 2030.
One of our key concerns was that despite the rhetoric that Europe is serious about addressing poverty and inequality a series of earlier EU policy proposals for cooperation with third countries had rather given priority to short-term domestic priorities, including migration objectives.
We are extremely worried that such policy objectives have now also been included in the new EU Consensus on Development.
Building on its 2016 Migration Partnership Framework with third countries, the EU will agree to use its development cooperation, policies, instruments and budgets to promote migration management and border control.
Development cooperation will also be made conditional on the cooperation of the partner countries in the areas of return, readmission and reintegration of their nationals, while the EU is willing to agree to maximising the synergies and applying the necessary leverage by using all relevant EU policies, instruments and tools, including development and trade."
EU: European Parliament briefing: Revision of the Blue Card Directive (pdf)
"Attracting highly qualified immigrants to Europe has been one of the EU's key priorities for several years. However, up until now the EU has not been as successful as other OECD countries. This demand for workers is expected to increase due to the increasing shortage of certain skills and the aging of the EUs population.
The proposed directive, which would replace the 2009 Blue Card Directive, increases the attractiveness of the EU highly skilled migration scheme by expanding its scope, lowering criteria for admission, expanding the rights of beneficiaries, and abolishing parallel national schemes.
Stakeholders and experts agree with some proposed changes, while others have received more criticism (for example, the abolition of national schemes). Both EU advisory committees have issued opinions and some national parliaments have made comments on the proposal. The Council started work on the proposal in July 2016."
And see: Council moving towards its negotiating position, documentation from May and April 2017 (Statewatch News Online.
EU: European Parliament calls for action on rights and democracy in Hungary
The European Parliament yesterday (17 May) adopted a resolution condemning "a serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights over the past few years" in Hungary, and calling for the start of the Article 7(1) procedure, which can end in the suspension of the EU voting rights of a state in breach of the EU's fundamental values.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.5.17) including: Commission takes first steps against Hungary asylum law - for the second time
IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council 2016 Impact Report (link)
"The Irish Refugee Councils 2016 Impact Report, published on 13 May, highlights the growing diversity of Irelands refugee community and the variety of issues they face while attempting to move on with their lives."
Frontex: minutes of all Management Board meetings, May 2014-February 2017
Minutes from all the meetings of the Management Board of Frontex held between May 2014 and February 2017, obtained through an access to documents request to Frontex.
Migrant in Greece: 'It is very dangerous here' (BBC News, link):
"Many migrants in the port of Patras, Greece, are prepared to take huge risks to try to reach Italy. BBC News spoke to one of them, 17-year-old Mustafa."
UK: Cage director charged under Terrorism Act after failing to hand over passwords (The Guardian, link):
"The international director of Cage, Muhammad Rabbani, has been charged under the Terrorism Act after refusing to hand over passwords to his laptop at Heathrow airport.
Rabbani, who regards it as a privacy v surveillance test case, said he intended to fight the charge. I am innocent of these charges that have serious implications for journalists, lawyers and human rights, he said.
He is due to appear at Westminster magistrates court on 20 June.
Rabbani, 35, from London, is involved through Cage in investigating torture cases. He said he was stopped at Heathrow in November returning from one of the Gulf states where he had been investigating a torture case allegedly involving the US."
Italian commission says more controls needed on aid groups rescuing migrants (Reuters, link):
"An Italian parliamentary commission said on Tuesday more controls needed to be imposed on humanitarian organisations that are taking an increasingly significant role in rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean.
In a series of non-binding recommendations, the commission also said that Malta and Tunisia should do more to help Italy tackle the huge numbers of migrants who are using Libya as a springboard in search of a better life in Europe.
The Senate Defence Committee launched the inquiry earlier this year amid accusations that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were colluding with people smugglers to help with search and rescue operations close to the Libyan coast.
In their conclusions, parliamentarians said no NGO groups were under investigation, but they called for them to be put under greater scrutiny, saying their ship crews and financial backers should be registered with authorities.
They also suggested that police should travel aboard NGO vessels -- something most humanitarian groups have rejected."
EU: Commission wants a quick march to interoperable, centralised EU databases by 2020
In its latest report on the 'Security Union', the European Commission has called on the Council and the European Parliament to ensure that current proposals on police and border control databases are agreed swiftly, and has announced its intention to publish a host of new legal proposals - including one on the "interoperability" of EU databases and information systems "as soon as possible" to ensure 'one-click' searches of multiple systems, the establishment of a "shared biometric matching service to enable searches across different databases holding biometric data", and a "common identity repository" of alphanumeric identity data.
EU: Commission takes first steps against Hungarian asylum law - for the second time
Following the passing of draconian new asylum legislation in Hungary, the European Commission has taken the first step in initiating infringement proceedings against the country by issuing a "letter of formal notice" - just as it did in December 2015, with the same warning that if no response is received in two months then "the Commission may decide to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure," which can ultimately end up in the European Court of Justice.
UK: The seven security firms that made it onto the FT1000 (IFSEC Global, link):
"Seven security firms have made it into the FT1000, the Financial Times listing of Europes highest growth companies.
All but two the others were based in Germany and Ireland were based in the UK."
Why are there still British military bases in Cyprus? (New Internationalist, link):
"The continued division of Cyprus suits Britains geopolitical interests, as well as those of world powers that see the Mediterranean island as a useful pawn in a longstanding game of chess. Darren Loucaides reports from a country that wants to determine its own future."
Serbian authorities should acknowledge Srebrenica massacre as genocide, eradicate racism among football fans, and address violence against Roma and LGBT (ECRI press release, link)
"Strasbourg, 16.05.2017 Despite progress in anti-discrimination legislation, strong efforts to reconcile with the war past, and improvement of the situation of Roma, much needs to be done in Serbia to address the continued rise in hate speech, fight racism among sports fans, protect Roma and LGBT persons and step up the prosecution of war crimes, said the Council of Europe anti-discrimination commission in its new report published today."
See: ECRI report on Serbia (fifth monitoring cycle) (pdf)
DENMARK: Concerns about tightening of family reunification rules in Denmark, but good progress of diversity in policing (ECRI press release, pdf):
"Strasbourg, 16.05.2017 The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Denmark in which it analyses recent developments and outstanding issues and makes recommendations to the authorities.
ECRI welcomes the Danish authorities support to civil society organisations working with integration, including newly-arrived refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection during the migration crisis. The Council of Europe´s anti-racism body also notes positive steps to increase diversity in policing by recruiting more officers from ethnic minority backgrounds and to address the social marginalisation of members of the Greenlandic Inuit community residing in Denmark.
However, the report criticizes Danish policies vis-à-vis refugees, namely new rules for family reunification for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, including an extension to three years of the normal waiting period before a family can be united. This goes against ECRI´s previous recommendation to address the issue as a matter of priority through a wide-ranging reform."
See: ECRI report on Denmark (fifth monitoring cycle) (pdf) and: ECHR: Danish chairmanship of the Council of Europe to weaken the European Convention on Human Rights (ECRE, link)
USA: Free Chelsea: Seven years ago, Chelsea Manning changed the world. Today shell see how (The Verge, link):
"When shes released today, Chelsea Manning will have served one week short of seven years in federal prison, shuttled between facilities in Kuwait, Quantico, and Fort Leavenworth. The level of isolation varied from prison to prison, but certain restrictions have been constant. For the full length of her sentence, shes been forbidden from accessing the internet or meeting with people she did not know before prison. In some, shes been forbidden from having paper or even clothes.
See: WarDiaries.Wikileaks.org (link):
"WarDiaries.Wikileaks.org is a website which provides an easy way to search through the Iraq and Afghan War Diaries, which were made public by Wikileaks on 22nd October 2010. The documents are a set of over 391,000 reports which cover the war in Iraq from 2004 to 2009 and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009. "
How HIV became a matter of international security (Mosaic, link):
"The rhetoric of national security has shaped the way activists and officials address epidemic diseases today, solidifying partnerships and funding streams. And though there are clear advantages to this large-scale, top-down approach of military involvement, there is much to learn about the best way to stop a pandemic."
EU: European Arrest Warrant: reports on Eurojust casework 2014-16 and Member States' prison conditions
EU judicial cooperation agency Eurojust recently issued two reports: one examining its casework in relation to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) between 2014 and 2016, and the other summarising a recent debate held by Member States' representatives at Eurojust on the topic of EAWs and prison conditions.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.5.17) including: 388 people die in one year trying to reach Spain
EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases
- Justice and Home Affairs database could cover terrorism, organised crime and crime in general
- Centralised database will cover "new and existing" databases with proposals for biometric matching including facial images ("the biometric of the future") and a "common repository" of personal data on millions of people
- USA expresses "interest" in EU plan for a single law enforcement database
Migrants in Libya forced by smugglers to kill sick or injured friends - by burying them alive (The Telegraph, link):
"Migrants in Libya have been forced by smugglers to bury alive fellow migrants who are too sick or injured to board boats setting off across the Mediterranean towards Italy, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Migrants often spend months in Libya, held captive in squalid compounds or trying to earn enough money for their passage, and suffer knife and gunshot wounds at the hands of Libyan militia or ruthless gangs of traffickers.
They are even sold as cheap labour in modern-day slave markets, humanitarian organisations say. If they are too badly injured to walk to the beaches from where the rubber dinghies set out or if they are perceived as being too much trouble because of illness, then they are killed, said Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration."
Statewatch Analysis: Who drives EU counter-terrorism? On the legislation of the European Union (pdf) by Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy:
The formal process of developing and implementing EU counter-terrorism law and policy begins with the heads of government, in the European Council, setting out strategic guidelines. Thereafter, the Commission produces proposals for laws and policies that are discussed by the Council of the EU (made up of government officials) and the Parliament. However, this formal task-sharing between the institutions of the EU does not say much about the power relations and impulses surrounding counter-terrorism policy.
EU: Plans to boost information-gathering and exchange by law enforcement authorities and agencies - implementation report
An updated report on the implementation of the Council's 'Roadmap to enhance information and exchange and information management' gives a detailed overview on the numerous initiatives underway that seek to increase the gathering, processing and exchange of data amongst law enforcement authorities in the EU.
EU: Council foresees "strong and effective legislation" on data retention, encryption and "online investigation powers"
The Council's latest version of its 'Cybersecurity Strategy Roadmap' gives an overview of current EU initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, and under the heading of "cybercrime" foresees a need for "strong and effective legislation" on data retention, e-evidence, mutual legal assistance, encryption, online investigation powers, cryptocurrencies and due diligence.
EU: Council pushes to "increase the feed and use of biometric data" in draft conclusions on security checks and irregular migration
"The effectiveness of cross-checking both regular and irregular migrants against security databases depends to a large extent on the availability of biometrics. Illegal border-crossings are often undocumented, which means that it is impossible to run a check against any security database unless biometrics are utilised."
Dead and missing at sea: Information guide for families and their supporters (Boats 4 People, link):
"Today, Boats 4 People published an information guide for the families of migrants and their supporters- who died or went missing while crossing Central Mediterranean sea on their way to Italy.
This guide will be presented at a public conference held in Syracuse during the Sabir Festival, organized by the Italian association ARCI (Associazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana).
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2014, more than 12 000 people lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea during their migration to Europe, 5 022 of them in the year 2016 alone. Most of them remain non-identified.
These intolerable tragedies are the consequence of European migration policies, which, in their attempts to prevent migrants from coming to Europe, force them to take increasingly dangerous routes."
UK: Deputy police and crime commissioner resigns following spycop reports
A deputy police and crime commissioner has resigned following reports that he worked as an undercover police officer in the early 1990s, infilitrating political groups and deceiving a 19-year-old woman into a sexual relationship.
Home Monitors Are Getting Smarter (and Creepier) (MIT Technology Review, link):
"Startup Lighthouses home assistant-slash-monitor can tell you whos in your house, and what theyre doing.
A new smart-home assistant and security monitor can tell the difference between specific adults and spot kids and pets, and send you smartphone alerts about what theyre up to."
TURKEY: Torture & Tyranny in Europes Safe Third Country (Right to Remain, link):
"The recent referendum in Turkey will significantly alter its political landscape and it is vital that torture does not play a part in shaping that landscape. Last summers attempted coup was a shocking reminder of the fragility of Turkeys democracy and it highlighted to the world President Erdogans acceptance of torture as a form of retribution against the thousands of people who have been caught up in the subsequent crackdown.
Sadly, for the people we support at Freedom from Torture this is a story they know too well. The attempted coup shone a spotlight on Turkeys human rights abuses but they are not new. Our new report examines the cases of 60 people who faced often repeated, detention and brutal torture at the hands of Turkish state forces."
BULGARIA: No access to a lawyer for first three days under arrest: no problem, says European Court of Human Rights
"In todays Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Simeonovi v. Bulgaria (application no. 21980/04), the European Court of Human Rights found:
- unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and
- by twelve votes to five, that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) (right to a fair trial/right to legal assistance)
The case concerned the absence of legal assistance for the first three days of the detention of Mr Simeonov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, and the conditions of the detention and prison regime imposed on him.
The Court found in particular that Mr Simeonovs conditions of detention, in combination with the strict regime under which he was serving his sentence and the length of his period of imprisonment since 1999, had subjected him to an ordeal exceeding the suffering inherent in serving a prison sentence, which had amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, reiterating its recommendations in paragraph 280 of the Harakchiev and Tolumov v. Bulgaria judgment.
The Court also found that Mr Simeonovs right to legal assistance had been restricted for the first three days of his police custody, but that that restriction had not irremediably infringed the criminal proceedings as a whole."
See: Lack of legal assistance in police custody did not irremediably infringe the fairness of criminal proceedings, against a person whose conditions of detention amount to in human and degrading treatment (press release, pdf) and the judgment: Case of Simeonovi v Bulgaria (application no. 21980/14, pdf)
ECHR: Danish chairmanship of the Council of Europe to weaken the European Convention on Human Rights (ECRE, link):
"Denmark, once a proud Scandinavian front runner in the global work to strengthen human rights, might have surprised some observers when it was announced in November 2016 that the government had formed a task force of civil servants that were going to lobby the other 46 governments in the Council of Europe in order to change the dynamic interpretation of the ECHR. Those closely acquainted with developments in Denmark, however, would have noticed a series of very restrictive legislative measures following the arrivals of asylum seekers in Europe in the autumn of 2015.
While the 1951 UN Refugee Convention does not contain a right to family reunification the ECHRs Article 8 on the right to private and family life is a vital legal instrument for the protection of this right. When undermining the dynamic interpretation of the ECHR, practiced by the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, Denmark is in fact targeting the right to family reunification."
Italy, Germany call for EU mission on Libya-Niger border (EurActiv, link):
"The German and Italian interior ministers have called for an EU mission to be installed on the border between Libya and Niger to stem migrant crossings to Europe.
In a letter to the European Commission dated 11 May, of which AFP obtained a copy on Sunday (14 May), ministers Thomas de Maizière and Marco Minniti said they are convinced that we all must do more to prevent that hundreds of thousands of people once again risk their lives in Libya and on the Mediterranean Sea in the hands of smugglers.
Italy had already registered nearly 42,500 migrants coming by sea by mid-April this year and 97% of them arrived from Libya, the letter said.
It called for the setting up of an EU Mission at the border between Libya and Niger as soon as possible."
See also: Germany and Italy want EU to halt migrants in Libya (EUobserver, link)
EU: Council moves towards adopting position on audiovisual media services Directive
The Council of the EU is moving towards adopting its position on the audiovisual media services Directive, according to a recent document obtained by Statewatch.
SPAIN: 388 people die on the Spanish coasts in one year including 122 children
Between September 2015 and December 2016, 388 people died in their attempt to arrive in Spain by boat. 31.4% of them were children and 7.9% of them women, according to an extensive report by the NGO Caminando Fronteras. The organisation documents that, behind these deaths, beyond the risk implicit in the sea crossing, are deficiencies in the rescue efforts at the southern border that "give precedence to migration control over saving lives."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-14.5.17)
Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies... Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 8431-17, pdf): Following on from the General Regulation on the processing of personal data comes an important follow-up facing a bit of a rushed procedure:
"The rules of the Regulation on data protection rules for Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and those of the General Data Protection Regulation should be coherent, aligned as far as possible and applicable as of the same date: 25 May 2018."
"State of play: "Changes to the Commission proposal are indicated in bold. DK, FI, SI, UK and the Commission maintain a general scrutiny reservation on this text..... The European Parliament is expected to establish its position on the proposal at its October Plenary session....
Conclusion: The Presidency invites the Permanent Representatives Committee to endorse the text of the Regulation on data protection rules for Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies as it appears in Annex with a view to the adoption of a general approach on this text at the Council (JHA) on 8/9 June."
UK: Police drop investigation into racist gang stabbing of refugee child and tell him 'don't go out alone at night' (Independent, link)
"Exclusive: Search for men who beat Eritrean boy in hate crime attack abandoned, in same week Britain First are accused of targeting asylum seekers in the area."
EU: Council of the European Union: Blue Card ("Legal" Migration) and ETIAS
BLUE CARD: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 8912-17, pdf): The Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogue meetings with parliament. With 139 Footnotes on Member State positions:
"the Presidency has introduced modifications in the text to be discussed at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 15 May. These modifications are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with strikethrough."
ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 8584-17, 10 May 2017, pdf) The Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogue meetings with parliament. With 21 Footnotes on Member State positions:
"Delegations will find in the annex to this note compromise text proposals submitted by the Presidency on the above-mentioned subject."
ETIAS: Previous amendments (LIMITE doc no: 8579-17, dated 10 May 2017, pdf): Substantial revisions:
"Delegations will find in the annex to this note compromise text proposals submitted by the Presidency on the recitals of the ETIAS proposal."
Note from: Czech and Belgian Delegations (LIMITE doc no: 9050-17, dated 11 May 2017, pdf):
"Delegations will find in the ANNEX the non paper prepared by the Czech and Belgian delegations,... In our opinion, there are still many outstanding legal and technical questions"
EU: Council in a twist over data retention judgment
The Council of the European Union is really struggling to finds ways around the Court of European Justice judgment in "Tele 2 and Watson": See: Access criteria for competent authorities to retained communication data - Exchange of views (LIMITE doc:no 8798-17, pdf)
The Court essentially laid down that data could only be retained for the purpose of serious crime and terrorism, that there must be set out in law:
"ex-antereview, oversight, individuals' rights and security and protection of retained data"
And that there must be a legal requirement that the data: "concerned should be retained within the European Union." Thus personal data cannot be transferred to a third state (eg: the USA).
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:
"Despite the 2014 Digital Rights Ireland judgment the Council, the Commission and Member States have simply carried on ignoring the ECJ's verdict that the Data Retention Directive has been unlawful since it was adopted in 2006. In 2016 the "Tele 2 and Watson" judgment came to the same conclusions. For how long will they be allowed to flout the rule of law?"
EU: Council of the European Union: SIS and the return of illegally staying third-country nationals
Proposal for a Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals - Revised compromise version of Articles 1 to 4 (LIMITE doc no: 8108-17, pdf):
"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.
Changes to the original Commission proposal are marked as follows: new or modified text is in bold underlined. Deletions are in strikethrough."
Are You Syrious (13.5.17, link)
"more people are arriving in Greece every day. Late evening on Saturday, a boat arrived on Chios carrying 55 people, including 20 children. During a day, 10 people arrived on Rhodos. The day before, to Rhodos 26 people arrived. After the arrival, people were taken to the detention center that is, as witnesses report, unsuitable for children. There is 23 child inside, including some young as 1 or 2 years."
Italy: Attack on the potential accommodation place
"The situation in Italy is less presented in the mainstream European media but is in the same way warring as in Greece. The latest IOM figures are showing that 53,386 people entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 10 May, and nearly 85 percent arrived in Italy. Among those who arrived there is notable increase of people from Bangladesh and Morocco. (In 2016 a record high 8,131 Bangladeshi nationals were registered by the Italian authorities at the landing points in Italy. In 2017, already 4,645 Bangladeshi have been registered.)"
Spain: Increase in number of arrivals
"The UNHCR report that 5,499 persons arrived by sea and land since January 2017. Last year at the same period, 2,973 people arrived, which is 85 per cent increase.
People who are arriving to Spain are mainly from Guinea (23 per cent), Côte dIvoire (17 per cent), The Gambia (11 per cent), Cameroon (10 per cent), Syria (9 per cent) and Algeria (7 per cent)."
Cyprus: Increase of arrivals
"Since January 2017, according to the UNHCR, 302 people arrived to Cyprus compared to 43 during the same period last year."
Hungary Helsinki Committee: Key Asylum Figures as of 1 May 2017 (pdf)
Greek MInistry reports on 13 May that 153 refugees landed on the Islands: Official figures (pdf)
EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive
With substantive reservations by Member States:
Revision 2 (LIMITE doc no: 8968-REV-2-17, 11 May 2017, pdf): With 186 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"New or modified text compared to the previous version of this document is to be found in Recitals (36a) and (41a), in Article 2 (9) and (14) and in Article 28 (2)."
Revision 1 of text (LIMITE doc no: 8968-REV-1-17, 10 May 2017, pdf): 186 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text and on the Presidency compromise proposals, orally and in writing, as well as explanations given by the Presidency, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."
Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection... (LIMITE doc no: 8968-17, 10 May 2017, pdf): 187 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"The attention of the delegations is drawn to the fact that , following the JHA Counsellors meeting on 16 May, the Presidency intends to submit the text to Coreper and subsequently to the Council for a partial general agreement."
EU: Legislative Tracker : the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (FreeGroup, link):
"The European Commission, on 16 November 2016, has put forward a proposal (COM(2016) 731, 16.11.2016, 2016/0357(COD)) establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulation (EU) (EU) 2016/399 (the Schengen Borders Code), (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624.
This proposal is being negotiated as part of the Smart Border Package and aims to ensure a high level of internal security and free movement of persons in the Schengen area. The Commission didnt conduct an impact assessment but published a feasibility study on ETIAS, conducted between June and October 2016."
EU: Think of the children: the ECJ clarifies the status of non-EU parents of EU citizen children living in their own Member State (EU Law Analysis, link):
"What immigration rights do non-EU citizens have under EU law? There are three main areas of EU law that address this issue: EU immigration and asylum law; EU treaties with non-EU countries; and EU free movement law. The latter area of law is focussed on EU citizens right to move between Member States, and so only covers non-EU citizens if they are family members of EU citizens who have moved to another Member State. Those rules also apply by analogy where an EU citizen with a non-EU family member has moved to another Member State, then moved back to that citizens home Member State. (These are known as Surinder Singh cases: see this discussion of the ECJs most recent ruling on such cases, from 2014)."
See: ECJ: A third-country national may, as the parent of a minor child who is an EU citizen, rely on a derived right of residence in the EU (Press release, pdf)
"The fact that the other parent, an EU citizen, could assume sole responsibility for the primary day-to-day care of the child is a relevant factor, but is not in itself a sufficient ground to refuse a residence permit. It must be determined that there is not, between the child and the third-country national parent, such a relationship of dependency that a decision to refuse a right of residence to that parent would compel the child to leave the EU."
EU: European Parliament: Reception Directive: Report: on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (pdf) Details the parliament's proposed amendments.
See also Council developing its position: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 8258-17, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament. Lots of amendments from the Council Presidency and with 134 Footnotes with Member States' positions: "The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles except for the recitals: placed in square brackets, to be discussed at a later stage."
Entry-Exit System (EES) Council of the European Union: Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (Doc no: 6960-17, pdf): "The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in underline and [ ]."
And see: The European Parliament's amendments to the Commission proposals (pdf)
A second, secret, trilogue meeting of the Council and parliament was held on 10 May 2017.
Istanbul Convention: Action against violence against women and domestic violence: EU to join Istanbul Convention (Coe, link):
"The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, warmly welcomed today the European Union Council's decisions on the signing of the Council of Europe Convention (Istanbul Convention) on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
By deciding to join the Istanbul Convention, the European Union confirms its commitment to combating violence against women within its territory and globally, and strengthens the existing legal framework and its capacity to act. "
See: The Convention (link) and Explanatory report (link)
Germany makes the leap from hate crime to far-right terrorism (New Europe, link):
"Ahead of regional elections on Sunday, May 14, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, DW reports on a hate campaign against foreigners. Hundreds of letters marked with the regional council logo (LVR) are sent to unsuspecting households. The letters include references to women allegedly killed by refugees in Freiburg and Stockholm, complete with appalling photo images designed to shock. The regional council has filed criminal charges, while the national postal service is conducting an investigation."
Nine EU Governments Tell Poland to Restore Rule of Law (Liberties.eu, link):
"Nine EU governments at the UN yesterday called on Poland to restore its formerly independent and effective Constitutional Tribunal and protect the rule of law. But will EU ministers speak up again at next weeks General Affairs Council?"
EU demands urgent talks with Washington over laptop ban (euractiv, link):
"The European Union has demanded urgent talks with the United States over a possible extension to some European countries of a US ban on airline passengers taking laptops into cabins, saying any security threats faced are common."
GERMANY: Second German soldier arrested over 'false flag' plot to assassinate left-wing politicians in terror attack (The Independent, link)
"A second soldier has been arrested for allegedly planning a false flag terror attack to be blamed on refugees in Germany amid fears of a wider neo-Nazi network within the army.
The plot was exposed with the arrest of a German lieutenant, Franco A, who was found to be posing as a Syrian refugee in order to carry out a shooting attack targeting left-wing politicians.
One of his friends at Illkirch-Graffenstaden barracks in France has now been detained for allegedly covering for the soldiers absences as he periodically returned to Bavaria to continue the ruse."
EU: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at the EP: Responding to the security threat landscape (Eurojust, link):
"Today, the President of Eurojust, Ms Michèle Coninsx, presented the Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at a hearing of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE Committee), followed by a question and answer session with LIBE Committee members on topics ranging from radicalisation, freezing and confiscation, the European Arrest Warrant, harmonisation of legislation, and complementarity with other agencies.
Ms Coninsx highlighted the operational, strategic and tactical work of Eurojust. The year 2016 has been challenging in the security context. Eurojust has stepped up its activities to counter terrorism, cybercrime and serious organised crime, including illegal immigrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. To do so, Eurojust connects and cooperates with practitioners networks, the centres at Europol and its network of judicial contact points in third States. Eurojust was involved in the judicial response to all the terrorist attacks in 2016, ensuring speedy mutual legal assistance in 2 306 cases, support to 148 joint investigation teams and assistance with the execution of more than three hundred European Arrest Warrants. Three hundred cases involved third States."
See: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 (7 MB, pdf)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.5.17) including: 500 people turned back to Libya after altercation with NGO ship
GREECE: Between Deterrence & Integration (Refugees Deeply, link)
An in-depth examination of the attempts, succeses, challenges and failures in the integration of migrants and refugees in Greece:
"It has been tempting amid the fallout from Greeces historic recession to dismiss the mishandling of the other crisis forced upon it that of hugely increased refugee and migrant flows as unavoidable or inevitable.
It is a temptation that Andreas Pottakis is determined to resist. A lawyer who took over as national ombudsman toward the end of 2015, a year that saw just over a million refugees and migrants enter Greece, he is putting the finishing touches to a report on the official response. It is expected to compound recent criticism of the Greek government and the European Commission, which, as by far the largest donor, has been party to all aspects of the handling of the crisis."
MEDITERRANEAN: Libyan coastguard turns back nearly 500 migrants after altercation with NGO ship (Reuters, link):
"Libya's coastguard said it had intercepted nearly 500 migrants packed onto a wooden boat and returned them to Tripoli on Wednesday after warning off a ship that was preparing to pick them up for passage to Europe.
Footage filmed by Sea-Watch, a non-governmental organization, showed a Libyan coastguard vessel coming within meters of its own ship as it sped to stop the migrants.
...Ruben Neugebauer, a spokesman for Sea-Watch, said the NGO had received instruction from Italy's coastguard control center in Rome that the Libyan coastguard would be taking over "on-scene command", and that the Sea-Watch ship had stopped to await further instructions.
"Without any warning, they crossed our bow on the way to the migrant boat," Neugebauer said. "They made an extremely dangerous maneuver. They nearly hit our boat, they endangered our crew.""
The EU is currently providing training to the Libyan coastguard. See: Why Cooperating with Libya On Migration Could Damage the EUs Standing (Human Rights Watch, link):
"But Italy and the EU may also see another benefit [in giving training to the Libyan coastguard]: preventing arrivals on EU shores by getting the Libyans to intercept the boats before they reach international waters. Once there they could come into any contact with the EU operation in the central Mediterranean known as EUNAVFOR MED or Operation Sophia, the European border agency Frontex, or vessels operated by nongovernmental groups.
EU-flagged vessels are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which bars returning anyone to a place where they face threats to their lives and freedoms. If migrant boats intercepted in Libyan waters by Libyan vessels are taken back to Libyan shores, however, the EU non-refoulement obligations would not be triggered. Libya has not ratified the international refugee convention, does not have a functioning asylum system, and, as stated above, subjects migrants and asylum seekers to abuse."
See also: Italy investigating some migrant aid workers for people smuggling (Reuters, link)
EU: 85% of refugees in Europe are fleeing explosive violence, new research finds (Action on Armed Violence, link):
"In the first research of its kind, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has set out to examine the impact of explosive violence on the refugee crisis in Europe.
Interviewing over 250 refugees in the UK Germany, and Greece, AOAV found in The Refugee Explosion, that 85% of those interviewed had witnessed explosive violence. In total, some 69% had witnessed shelling, 61% airstrikes, 58% Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and 39% suicide attacks.
Of those refugees questioned from Afghanistan, 92% had been directly impacted by explosive violence, and from Iraq 90% had been affected."
See the report: The Refugee Explosion: How Europe treats refugees fleeing explosive violence (pdf) and case studies: Germany, Greece and the UK (links)
EU: Schengen area: Council recommends up to six month prolongation of internal border controls (press release, pdf):
"On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.
As from this date, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway may prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six months at the following internal borders:
- Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
- Germany at the German-Austrian land border
- Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
- Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
- Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden"
See: Council implementing decision setting out a recommendation allowing for the prolongation of temporary internal border controls (9040/17, pdf) and: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU (Statewatch News Online, 3 May 2017)
India's biometric identity cards spark privacy concerns (France 24, link):
"In India, debate is raging over what's been dubbed "the world's largest mass surveillance project". Over a billion Indians now have identity cards with unique ID numbers associated with their biometric information. The card is essential for many things in daily life, from opening a bank account to accessing welfare schemes. The government says the system will help stamp out corruption and increase digital transparency, but critics denounce a case of "Big Brother". Our correspondents report."
Suspected people smugglers arrested in Maltese waters (Malta Today, link):
"Ilyya Iosifov, 28, Valentyn Mykhenvych, 25, and Roman Koloshva, 28, were detained at sea in Maltese territorial waters on the yacht Vino Tinto II in an operation involving AFM air assets, executing a European Arrest Warrant that had been issued by a Sicilian court just minutes before.
Magistrate Charmaine Galea heard how the yacht was intercepted en route to Italy from Turkey. The men were arrested on the strength of the warrant, which was issued following a Schengen Information System alert from EU border security agency Frontex.
The 35 people who were believed to have been on the vessel were to have been dropped off in Syracuse."
Here Comes the War for Commercial Drone Dominance (Bloomberg, link):
"At some point in the not-too-distant future, fleets of commercial drones are expected to swarm across American skies. Companies in a wide range of industries will employ unmanned vehicles for tactical advantageinspecting infrastructure, surveying crops, maybe even estimating how much your new roof will cost.
And when these drones fly, a torrent of data will follow them like an invisible contrail."
Hungary Indicts 11 for Truck Suffocation of 71 Refugees (OCCRP, link):
"Hungary indicted on Thursday 11 suspected people-smugglers for the death of 71 refugees whose bodies were found two years ago in a truck in Austria during the peak of Europes migration crisis.
Between February and August 2015, prosecutors say the smuggling ring moved more than 1,200 people into Western Europe. From June, they were transporting immigrants to Germany and Austria on a daily basis.
The alleged ringleader of the group was a 30-year-old Afghan man, who funded and orchestrated the operation. He is believed to have personally profited at least 300,000 (US$ 328,000) from the venture."
And see: Italy arrests Libyan suspected of involvement in migrant murder (Reuters, link):
"Italy has arrested a Libyan man suspected of involvement in the killing last week of a migrant, who was shot dead when he refused to take off his baseball cap, police said on Thursday."
EU: Hungary and Slovakias case against refugee quotas gets day in court (EurActiv, link):
"The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has begun deliberating on Hungary and Slovakias case against the EUs refugee relocation quotas, which both countries initially opposed and which allegedly contain a number of procedural errors."
UK: An AI Will Decide Which Criminals in the UK Get Bail (Motherboard, link):
"Get arrested in Durham, England, and artificial intelligence could help decide whether you're held in custody or sent homebut it's not yet clear if the algorithm is more accurate than police officers when it comes to assessing whether someone is likely to reoffend.
Durham Constabulary has worked with academics from the University of Cambridge to develop the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART), an algorithm that analyses crime data and predicts whether an arrested suspect is likely to pose a risk if released from custody.
The tool is similar to those recently rolled out in the United States."
Leaked EU digital progress report reveals hurried changes (EUobserver, link):
"The European Commission revealed some of the last-minute changes it made to its own assessment of its digital single market strategy, by publishing a draft document instead of the final version on Wednesday (10 May).
While EU commissioner Andrus Ansip was presenting the mid-term review of the digital single market strategy in the commission's press room in Brussels, the final report was supposed to be made public on the website of the commission, which is the EU's executive body.
Instead, the commission's press release linked to a word processor document, which showed a draft version, including changes made by two commission officials."
See: Big business interventions leave the EU Digital Single Market with more holes than Swiss cheese (Julia Reda MEP, link)
And: European Commission: Communication on the Mid-Term Review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy - A Connected Digital Single Market for All (COM (2017) 228): draft and final version (pdfs).
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.5.17) including: racism plays a key role in exclusion and violations of migrants' rights
NETHERLANDS: Four arrested; 1 million seized in encrypted phone investigation (NLtimes.nl, link):
"The police arrested four people and seized 1 million euros in cash in an investigation into providers of smartphones that encrypt communication data. Investigators believe the suspects sold these encrypted phones to criminals, RTL Nieuws reports.
The encryption makes it harder for the authorities to listen in on conversations or read text messages from a distance. This trait makes encrypted phones extremely popular among criminals who want to hide their communication from the police.
Arrests were made in Diemen, Berkhout and Huizen on Tuesday. The million euros in cash was found in a building on Plantage Muidergracht in Amsterdam. According to Het Parool, this is the home of the prime suspects in the investigation. Houses and office buildings were raided in Amsterdam, Almere, Huizen, Zandvoort, Koggenland and Zeewolde by the police's High Tech Crime team."
European Parliament: studies on implications of Brexit for UK territories, EU and UK citizens, forthcoming negotiations
The European Parliament has recently published four studies examining various facets of the Brexit process: the legal, political and institutional situation in the UK with regard to the negotiations with the EU on Brexit; the consequences for Northern Ireland; the consequences for Scotland, Wales and Gibraltar; and the potential impact and consequences on the acquired rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.
Statewatch Analysis: Germany: Almost suspicious: the unbearable lightness of legislation (pdf) by Heiner Busch:
The lorry attack on the Berlin Christmas Market on 19 December 2016 was the perfect reason for the German government to demand even stricter laws on counter-terrorism. With 12 people killed and 55 hurt it was the most severe individual attack since the neo-Nazi assault at the Oktoberfest in 1980.
UK: Leaked: The UK's secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones and backdoors (The Register, link):
"The UK government has secretly drawn up more details of its new bulk surveillance powers awarding itself the ability to monitor Brits' live communications, and insert encryption backdoors by the backdoor.
In its draft technical capability notices paper [PDF], all communications companies including phone networks and ISPs will be obliged to provide real-time access to the full content of any named individual within one working day, as well as any "secondary data" relating to that person."
See: Selective, secret consultations have no place in open Government (Open Rights Group, link)
UK: Police take crime fighting to the skies with launch of new drone unit (Wiltshire Times, link):
"WILTSHIRE Police will soon be taking the fight against crime to the skies with the launch of their Unmanned Aviation Support Group (UASG) pilot.
In 2016, Chief Constable Mike Veale began exploring an opportunity for Wiltshire Police to follow the lead of a small number of forces in developing an Unmanned Aviation capability to augment the provision provided by the National Police Aviation Service (NPAS).
The Chief Constable recognised that members of the Special Constabulary already had extensive experience in this area, and decided to harness their experience by asking these Special Constabulary officers to take the lead on the project. Special Superintendent Scott Bateman has led the project and swiftly brought the aircraft into service.
Members of the Special Constabulary and one regular police officer have been professionally trained in the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the proper licences have been obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Special Constables undertake a variety of different roles in their day jobs and have the same powers as regular officers. They all give at least 16 hours a month, many volunteer for many more hours, and get involved in all areas of policing. "
Italy builds new detention centers to speed up migrant deportations (Reuters, link):
"Italy will open new detention centers across the country in the next few months as part of its push to speed up deportations of illegal migrants, despite critics saying that the centers are not only inhumane but also do not produce the desired result.
Violent protests and difficulty identifying migrants has led to the closure of similar centers over the past few years, but on Tuesday the Interior Ministry asked regional governments to provide a total of 1,600 beds in such centers.
Interior Minister Marco Minniti says migrants must be detained to stop them from slipping away before they can be sent home."
Germany grants asylum to Turkish military personnel (Deutsche Welle, link):
"Several Turkish soldiers and their families, all stationed at NATO facilities in Germany, have been granted asylum in a preliminary decision. The German Interior Ministry is said to have confirmed the reports.
According to numerous reports in German media, the soldiers in question and their families are Turkish nationals with diplomatic passports who had previously been stationed at NATO facilities in Germany. The military employees had filed for asylum in Germany after facing persecution following the failed coup of July 15, 2016."
UK: Asylum seekers may have been wrongly deported to Albania (The Guardian, link):
"Hundreds of lesbian and gay asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and survivors of domestic violence may have been wrongly deported to Albania after courts and the Home Office relied on incorrect guidance, it has emerged.
In October 2011, the court of appeal ruled that the courts and the Home Office could no longer rely on expert evidence they had previously used, which stated it was safe to send these groups back to Albania. However, the Home Office and the courts continued to use this evidence for the next five years.
It is not clear why the Home Office or the courts ignored the court of appeal order made in 2011. The lawyers who brought the case said they had never before come across this situation, where the Home Office has in effect ignored a court of appeal ruling for five years."
ITALY/MALTA: 'You have to call Malta': recordings suggest Italy dallied while hundreds drowned (Times of Malta, link):
"By 1.48pm, Mohammed Jammo was on the verge of despair.
"We are dying, please! Don't abandon us! We have no captain, he ran away. I have no credit on my phone, please help," he pleaded with an official at Italy's rescue coordination centre in Rome.
By that time, Mr Jammo - a self-described Syrian doctor - and the hundreds of men, women and children aboard the rickety boat some 60 nautical miles south of Lampedusa had been waiting more than an hour for help to arrive.
The reply from Rome was chilling. "Yes, yes. You have to call Malta. You have to call Malta."
It would take a further four hours for a rescue vessel to make it to their position, despite an Italian warship being situated just an hour-and-a-half away. By then, Mr Jammo and the boat's other passengers were in the water. Hundreds were dead."
EU: The rise of post-national democracy: Macron, Brexit and the electoral reform of the European Parliament (European Policy centre, link):
"Emmanuel Macron is the first European leader to be elected on a platform that embraces the electoral reform of the European Parliament. He is convinced that, in order to change the Union, the EP needs greater legitimacy, and that such legitimacy will only come if the relationship between the Parliament and the electorate gets to be closer and more direct. In this Discussion Paper, Andrew Duff examines the likelihood of electoral reform of the Parliament, and whether or not the circumstances today are right to introduce a transnational list on the ballot in time for the European elections of May 2019. Many electors in the polling stations would be amazed; some would be confounded; but most would enjoy their first material prize from the privilege they enjoy as European Union citizens. European democracy would be refreshed. Mr Macron would have delivered."
EU: Racism plays a key role in migrants exclusion and violations of rights in the European Union
Brussels, 2 May 2017 Anti-migrant political discourses and exclusionary migration policies are having a disproportionate impact on racialised migrants, according to a new report by the European Network Against Racism, covering 26 EU countries. Migrants are increasingly the targets of racist violence and speech; and face discriminatory policies and attitudes hindering their access to the labour market.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Girl Scout threatened after confronting neo-Nazi protesters in striking photo (The Independent, link):
"A Girl Scout has been placed under police protection after a photo showing her confronting a group of neo-Nazis during a rally in the Czech Republic went viral.
The Interior Ministry's centre against terrorism and hybrid threats said the move was prompted by threats against 16-year-old student Lucie Myslikova that appeared on Facebook.
The teenager was among about 300 protesters who confronted a rally of the far-right Workers Party of Social Justice on May Day, in the second-largest city of Brno."
And see: The story behind a powerful photo of a Czech girls contempt for neo-Nazis (The Washington Post, link)
EU-UK: Brexit: Against free movement? Let's start with those northerners flocking to London (New Statesman, link):
"Absolute free movement within the UK means that over 200,000 people move to London from elsewhere each year. This must stop!"
UK: Britains brutal asylum rules allow a little girl to be uprooted with a days notice (The Guardian, link):
"During the London terror attack, trapped pupils from Birmingham represented all the good in the world. Now a 10-year-old from the same school has been forced to move"
UK: Don't let Trump get his hands on our data - Sign now! (Open Rights Group, link):
"President Trump now has unrivalled access to data collected by UK intelligence agencies. And thanks to the UKs Investigatory Powers Act, the UK is collecting huge amounts of data about all our lives in Britain and around the world - in bulk.
Trump has threatened to use torture, ban Muslims from entering the US, and expand use of the death penalty. He plans to ban most refugees and suspend visas for people coming from majority-Muslim countries.
The Investigatory Powers Act is a careless law, passed by MPs who didnt consider future abuse. We cant let Trump use our data to strip away basic liberties.
Can the UK really continue listening in on our lives and putting the data in Trumps hands to use as he likes?"
Why Were So Hypocritical About Online Privacy (Harvard Business Review, link):
"Social psychologists have known for decades that the relationship between attitudes and behaviors is complex, if not weak. This is true online as well as offline. For example, though you may be irritated by the retargeting ads that follow you around the web, it probably hasnt changed your online shopping behavior. By the same token, the widespread anger and distrust reported by the general public when the Edward Snowden NSA saga erupted did not decrease internet use. In fact, it did not even increase the adoption rate of higher security settings on social media. In other words, even when people say they are concerned with online privacy, their concerns may not be strong enough to drive digital abstinence. While more people are using VPNs, ad blockers, and tracking blockers to reclaim lost privacy, theyre still in the minority."
Council of the European Union: Reception, Eurodac & Visas
RECEPTION: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 8258-17, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament. Lots of amendments from the Concil Presidency and with 134 Footnotes with Member States' positions:
"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles except for the recitals: placed in square brackets, to be discussed at a later stage."
EURODAC: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 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]... (LIMITE doc no: 8502-17, 94 pages, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament.
"Delegations will find in Annex suggestions from the Presidency for modifications of the text of the draft Eurodac Regulation."
VISA FORMAT: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1683/1995 of 29 May 1995 laying down a uniform format for visas (LIMITE doc no: 8510-17, pdf): Almost final Council text.
One of the first times that the impending BREXIT is referred to in Council decision-making:
"This proposal envisaged a "hybrid" Regulation, applying to the Schengen States and allowing for Ireland and the UK to opt in by reference to Protocol 21 TFEU. However, the Council Legal Service (CLS) expressed the view that the proposal constituted a development of the Schengen acquis, and therefore it was not subject to Protocol 21 but to Protocol 19. This means that Ireland and the UK cannot opt in. At the same time, Member States agreed that a solution would need to be found to allow Ireland to use the visa sticker format in one way or another." [emphasis added]
'It's like Airbnb for refugees': UK hosts and their guests in pictures (Guardian, link):
"Think of it as Airbnb for refugees, quips Robina Qureshi. Its a simple premise: people with a spare room in their house are matched with a refugee or asylum seeker in need of somewhere to stay.
And its a popular one: before 2015, Qureshis organisation, called Positive Action in Housing (PAIH), used to provide about 600 nights of shelter a year to people with nowhere to go. In the 18 months since September 2015 this has risen to 29,000 nights."
Swiss bank account 'spy thriller' case raises German ire (Reuters, link):
"erman politicians reacted angrily on Thursday to reports that Switzerland planted a spy in a regional finance ministry to find out how it obtained details of secret Swiss bank accounts, days after police arrested another man also suspected of spying.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR reported that the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FSI) had a mole in the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) finance ministry searching for details of German tax investigators. "
Hungary withdraws from negotiations over asylum law, dares EC to take legal action (Budapest Beacon, link):
"The Hungarian government walked away from the negotiating table as discussions with the European Commission broke down over Hungarys asylum policy. In a defiant statement issued by the Prime Ministers Cabinet Office on Wednesday, the government insisted that Since the negotiations were unsuccessful, Hungarys government does not wish to change the rules concerning immigration, and if the Brussels commission launches legal proceedings, we stand ready to fight the legal dispute.
With this, the government has given up on all negotiations with the European Commission over its asylum policy, and openly invited the EC to take legal action. The governments statement made clear that it would not budge on the existence of the so-called transit zones erected along Hungarys southern border, designed to hold asylum-seekers in detention and house them in shipping containers while their asylum applications are being processed.
The Commission opposes the existence of these transit zones, arguing they break EU rules that prohibit the detention of persons based solely on their request for international protection.... "
UK: Director of Public Prosecutions asks Foreign Office to withhold evidence in torture case (Reprieve, link):
"Britains most senior prosecutor has asked the Foreign Office to apply to withhold evidence from two survivors of a UK-US rendition, it emerged today.
The move surfaced in a court hearing involving the 2004 rendition of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his then-pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar. The couple who were kidnapped, tortured and forcibly taken to Gaddafis Libya in a joint UK/US operation are challenging last years decision by Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), not to charge any UK officials over their abduction.
It emerged today that the DPP has asked the Foreign Office to intervene in the victims legal challenge to seek so-called closed material procedures, or CMPs, in the case. The court also heard how the DPP has shared confidential Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) case files with the Foreign Office."
Norway defends NGOs in Hungary and Poland (euobserver, link):
"Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg said Hungary and Poland must allow independent funding of NGOs as part of a 1 billion Norwegian aid scheme, which is currently up for renewal.
Poland and Hungary want Norway to waive a requirement that EEA (European Economic Area) funds to civil society must be channelled through an administrative body that is meant to be independent of their governments. Solberg rejected the demand.
"We cannot allow Poland and Hungary to control the money to civil society. We must have independent organisations that assign them," she told Norwegian press agency NTB."
EU: Support for far-right groups setting the tone for migration debate, EU Parliament told (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link):
"A hearing in Parliament has been told that in several EU member states, governments have made it clear that irregular and Muslim migrants are unwelcome."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-7.5.17)
WIKILEAKS: Archimedes: 5 May, 2017
"Today, May 5th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes "Archimedes", a tool used by the CIA to attack a computer inside a Local Area Network (LAN), usually used in offices. It allows the re-directing of traffic from the target computer inside the LAN through a computer infected with this malware and controlled by the CIA. This technique is used by the CIA to redirect the target's computers web browser to an exploitation server while appearing as a normal browsing session.
The document illustrates a type of attack within a "protected environment" as the the tool is deployed into an existing local network abusing existing machines to bring targeted computers under control and allowing further exploitation and abuse."
Passeurs d'hospitalités English ~ Exiles in Calais and at the British border: Police Officers vs. Judges (link):
"Over the years successive laws have been passed that simultaneously undermine the rights of foreign nationals and diminish civil liberties. However, it seems that for successive governments whatever rights have stayed in place represent an obstacle to their policies sufficient to induce both the administration and the police to violate these laws, despite their severity, on a daily basis. And judges, when they sanction these violations of the law, become the embodiment of the obstacle in question. In this area, as in others, end-term Hollandism meets end-term Sarkosism.
Its in this context that we see the meaning of the show of force put on by the police last Thursday during the distribution of meals arrival with lights flashing, interruption of food distribution, racial profiling, and the spectacular arrest of one minor and three other individuals."
Germany: Four men on trial over beating man to death amid 'hunt for refugees' (The Local.de, link):
" Four men are going to court on Tuesday accused of beating a man to death after prosecutors said they went out to "hunt refugees".
The four men ranging in age from 19 to 35 began their trial before a Bonn state court, charged with assault resulting in death, according to local broadcaster WDR.
Prosecutors accuse the quartet of beating a 40-year-old father, who they knew beforehand, so badly that he died a few days later due to his injuries."
Skyrocketing costs for returning EU migrants (euobserver, link):
"The EU is spending millions forcibly sending people back to their home countries with one case costing up to 90,000 per head.
An EUobserver probe of some 100 joint return flights coordinated by the EU's border agency, Frontex, has revealed some startling facts."
European Parliament: Study: The impact and consequences of Brexit on acquired rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU-27 (pdf):
"examines the concept of acquired (or vested) rights in public international law, analyses the gradual establishment and evolution of these rights and draws from case law as well as other precedents in order to establish the validity and force of acquired rights in customary and conventional international law. It also analyses the protection of such rights within the EU legal order, and examines the citizenship rights that will have to be taken into account during the UK withdrawal negotiations as well as their potential permanence in the EU and UK legal orders after Brexit.
It concludes with an assessment on the legal force of acquired rights after Brexit and recommendations for their treatment during and after the withdrawal negotiations."
Press release: Undercover policing and Scotland: crowdfunding reaches first milestone
Press release from the Public Interest Law Unit, 5 May 2016
On Monday 24th October 2016 the Public Interest Law Unit hrough its legal agents in Scotland launched Judicial Review proceedings against the Home Office and the Scottish government. The proceedings filed in Edinburgh seek to challenge the following:
(1) the decision of the UK Government to refuse to extend the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing to cover Scotland and separately
(2) the decision of the Scottish Ministers to refuse to set up a Scottish Inquiry under and in terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 with terms of reference equivalent to those of the Pitchford Inquiry but covering Scotland.
Greece: More than 100 migrants rescued at sea Friday (ekathimerini.com, link):
"A total of 105 migrants and refugees have so far been rescued at sea Friday, reports say.
Romanian staff of the European Union border agency Frontex reportedly rescued 45 people from a dinghy spotted off the eastern coast of Chios in the eastern Aegean.
Meanwhile, 60 people were rescued at sea off the eastern coast of Lesvos."
European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): The state of privacy 2017: EDPS provides mid-mandate report (Press release, pdf):
"As we approach the mid-point of the current EDPS mandate and continue the countdown to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU must build on current momentum to reinforce its position as the leading force in the global dialogue on data protection and privacy in the digital age, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said today to the European Parliaments Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), as he presented his 2016 Annual Report.
Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: In March 2015 we launched the EDPS Strategy 2015-2019. It outlines three main goals for the current mandate and the actions required to achieve them. Though the publication of the GDPR on 4 May 2016 represented a big step towards achieving these goals, our work is far from complete. As we move into the second half of the current EDPS mandate, I intend to ensure that the aims outlined in our Strategy remain at the heart of all our efforts. This is particularly important in our work with the EU institutions and bodies, which must set an example that others can follow.
See Annual Report (pdf)
Council of Europe: Nils Muinieks: Greece must take action against long-standing and systemic problem of excessive use of violence in law enforcement (link):
"Today the Commissioner for Human Rights published correspondence with the Greek government in which he raises his concern about new reports of ill-treatment by police officers.
Nils Muinieks stresses that these well-documented and very serious cases illustrate a long-standing and systemic problem of excessive use of violence in law enforcement, which requires determined and systematic action by Greece.....
In addition, the Greek government should ensure that the definition of torture contained in the criminal code is fully aligned with that contained in the European convention against torture."
Playing Politics with Peoples Lives - Attacks in Italy on Efforts to Save Migrants Lives in the Mediterranean (HRW, link):
"Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) searching for and rescuing migrants from rickety or even sinking boats in the Mediterranean are saving lives. Thousands of lives.
Enough said? Apparently not.
In Italy, NGOs have come under a barrage of attacks from politicians, particularly from the 5 Star Movement and the far right Northern League, accusing them of providing a taxi service from Libya to the European Union. A media-savvy prosecutor in Sicily has made almost daily statements about his inquiry into NGO search-and-rescue operations, insinuating without evidence that they are colluding with and profiting from smuggling operations. NGOs and others have been called to explain themselves before a Senate committee."
Europes stateless locked in limbo (euractiv, link):
"The European Parliament is currently holding intense discussions on the overhaul of the EUs Common European Asylum System. But MEP Jean Lambert warns that one group of people remain absent from the debate: the stateless."
European Parliament: Committees again reject blacklist of states at risk of money laundering (Press release, pdf):
"The EU should have an autonomous process for judging whether countries are at high-risk of money laundering, say committee MEPs after rejecting for a second time, by 61 votes to 7 with 32 abstentions, a blacklist of countries drawn up by the EU Commission.
The Commission is responsible for producing, under the EUs Anti-Money Laundering Directive, an inventory of countries thought to be at risk of money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing. People and legal entities from blacklisted countries face tougher than usual checks when doing business in the EU."
Greece paying asylum seekers to reject appeals (euobserver, link):
"The Greek government is giving cash incentives for rejected asylum seekers on the islands to forgo their legal rights to appeal their cases.
Some 1,000 and free plane tickets home are now part of a largely EU-financed package to send them packing as quickly as possible.
"This is quite complicated and quite immoral," a Greek lawyer working for Save the Children, an international NGO, told EUobserver...
People have five days to decide whether to take the cash, with reports emerging that even that short delay was not being respected by authorities. Previously, people were entitled to the assistance even if they appealed."
EU-USA: Visa Reciprocity: Commission responds to Parliament
"Today, the European Commission responded to the European Parliament resolution calling on the Commission to adopt a delegated act to suspend the visa waiver for Canadian and American nationals. The Commission considers that, in view of the significant progress achieved during the last year and the positive momentum of ongoing work, the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of Canada and the United States would be counterproductive at this moment and would not serve the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens."
Italian prosecutor investigating NGO rescuers says has no proof of wrongdoing (euractiv, link):
"An Italian prosecutor who began an investigation into possible ties between humanitarian organisations that rescue migrants at sea and Libya-based people smugglers said on Wednesday (3 May) he had no proof of any wrongdoing.
Carmelo Zuccaro, the chief prosecutor of the Sicilian port city of Catania, previously said he had evidence of phone calls between people smugglers and aid groups, but on Wednesday he said he was expressing only a hypothesis and had no proof that could be used in court."
EU immigration 'likely to continue for some years' after Brexit (Guardian, link):
"Whitehall thinktank says it is unfeasible to fully create and implement a new immigration policy by the end of the two-year article 50 deadline"
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-3.5.17) including: Egypt: Europe's other north African border
European Commission: Third report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM(2017) 219, pdf):
"The number of European Border and Coast Guard Team members deployed has more than doubled from 3,584 in 2015 to 8,353 in 2016, and the total duration of deployments has more than tripled from 128,607 man/days in 2015 to 411,939 man/days in 2016. The provision of technical assets has also increased from 2015 to 2016: the patrolling hours of offshore patrol vessels increased by 14%, of coastal patrol vessels by 41% and of patrol cars by 34%.
As of 2017, the Agency will use EUR 10 million per year (EUR 40 million in total for 2017-2020) to acquire its own equipment, in particular small and medium size assets. The Agency is already examining the ways to build up its own permanent capabilities and/or to maintain them operational after acquisition.""
See also: Second report (March 2017, pdf) and: First report (January 2017, pdf)
EU: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU
"The EU member states imposing border controls to stop migration flows from Greece will have to remove them before the end of year.
EU migration and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday (2 May) that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway will only be allowed to extend existing controls one last time.
"This is the last prolongation, I repeat it, this is the last prolongation," Avramopoulos told reporters in Brussels."
EU-TURKEY: It wasnt me! The Luxembourg Court Orders on the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal (CEPS, link):
"We argue in this contribution that the EU institutions purposefully and unfortunately, successfully circumvented the democratic and judicial checks and balances as laid down in the EU Treaties. We find this problematic, especially as the Statement constitutes a measure that produces severe legal effects for the rights of asylum seekers and fundamentally alters the course of EU external migration policy. By choosing to conduct major policy decisions through press releases and refusing to take legal responsibility for the Statement, the EU institutions themselves jeopardise the Treaty-based framework that aims to ensure democratic rule of law and fundamental rights."
FRANCE/ITALY: From Solidar Passeurs to Smugglers: Dismantling Solidarity Through Criminal Convictions (Border Criminologies, link):
"Like other borders within the Schengen area, that separating Italy from France in the Maritime Alps, has witnessed considerable mobility of people. Over the years this mountainous stretch of land has represented salvation, freedom or opportunity... Being a passeur is part of a tradition and a local business. For Francesco Biamonti, passeurs were characterised by a strict work ethic: We shared a lot of our path- he thought while going up the hill- we knew many nomads and wayfarers. We were two honest passeurs, he was of the trade I was not. We never left anyone behind the border.
Today, as the populations crossing this border take a new form, those who assist the most recent groups of people trying to cross this border are no longer viewed through the noble frame of the passeur. Instead, the contemporary solidar passeur has been criminalised under French and Italian national law. French and Italian national laws not only punish the transportation of irregular migrants beyond their borders but they also criminalise those providing help in the form of accommodation or any act which constitutes facilitation or help to people on the move."
And see: Viewpoint: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers
Germany's von der Leyen seeks to reassert leadership in army terror scandal (Deutsche Welle, link):
"The German defense minister has reiterated her "entire responsibility" for everything in the armed forces, including a recent extreme right-wing terror scandal. But criticism of her crisis management continues to grow."
See: Defence ministry investigating far-right terror cell in army: report (The Local, link):
"There is increasing evidence that a far-right terror cell has developed inside the Bundeswehr, according to a report on Tuesday in the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ).
The report claims that Defence Ministry investigators estimate a cell of up to five people conspired with Franco A., who was arrested last week on terror charges.
Franco A. was detained in the southern German city of Hammelburg on Wednesday on suspicion of planning a gun attack which he meant to blame on his alter-ego - a fictitious Damascus fruit seller."
EU: Proposed Regulation promoting Internet connectivity in local communities: Council analysis of Parliament's position
"1. Following the vote by the European Parliament ITRE Committee on 25 April 2017, delegations will find in Annex the four-column document concerning the above proposal. The second column is based on the preliminary version of the final ITRE Report (before a full legal and linguistic revision).
2. Given the intention to start and conclude negotiations with the European Parliament quickly, the Presidency has prepared draft text of compromise proposals in the fourth column. This is based on our understanding of the views expressed by delegations in previous discussions. As such the text proposed in this column is a draft only and subject to a validation of the Member States."
See: Proposal for a regulation of the european Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EU) No 1316/2013 and (EU) No 283/2014 as regards the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities - Analysis of EP position (8459/17, 28 April 2017, pdf)
GERMANY: Young men drive over Egyptian student then mock her as she lies dying, witnesses say (The Local, link):
"In a case of shocking heartlessness, two men in eastern Germany are accused of racially abusing a young Egyptian woman moments after their friend drove over her. Three days later, the woman died of her injuries.
Shortly after midnight on April 15th, Shaden M. was waiting at a tram stop in Cottbus, Brandenburg. The 22-year-old was on an exchange programme at the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) from her Egyptian university and was enjoying a night out with friends.
But then she stepped out into the street, not noticing a car which was driving well over the 30 kilometre per hour speed limit. She was struck to the ground by the vehicle and died three days later in hospital, Tagesspiegel reports.
At first local police opened an enquiry into negligent killing by the 20-year-old driver."
And see: Was the Egyptian student in Germany killed in a racially-charged attack?
(Egypt Independent, link)
EU: What Does It Mean to Disrupt the Business Models of People Smugglers? (pdf) by Luigi Achilli, Migration Policy Centre, and Gabriella Sanchez, University of Texas at El Paso:
"Despite the scaling-up of EU surveillance, enforcement measures and patrolling operations aimed at border security, the flow of irregular migrants towards Europe shows little sign of abating. This policy brief shows, first, that border enforcement and barriers to mobility lead migrants to rely on clandestine mechanisms to reach destinations abroad, even if this involves significant risk. Second, policy interventions aimed at disrupting smuggling networks may make smuggling more lucrative and increase incentives for criminals to enter this market. Third, more stringent border policies and practices can facilitate involvement by irregular migrants in human smuggling. We conclude by showing that ending irregular crossings is an unlikely outcome so long as emphasis is placed on security vectors alone. If the intended goal of security initiatives is the suppression of smuggling networks, they must be accompanied by structural, comprehensive approaches and solutions. Accessible pathways for people to move across the Mediterranean into Europe are a necessary component of this response."
On World Press Freedom Day, journalists are assailed on all fronts (OpenDemocracy, link):
"Rising authoritarianism and regressive politics signal a new front in the fight to protect and extend press freedom and the right of citizens to be informed. Globally journalists are on the front line of a sustained assault on civic freedoms from state and non-state actors.
The determination of populist leaders to shape and control dominant narratives, together with the rise of fake news, extremist groups and increasing commercial pressure means journalists now not only face detention without trial and criminalisation for doing their jobs, they also face physical attacks, loss of life and livelihoods.
The CIVICUS Monitor, a new online platform that assesses the quality of civic space in every country, records 101 attacks on journalists between June 2016 and March 2017. It indicates that journalists are often at risk of attack for reporting on political issues, protests, conflicts and state corruption."
EU-ITALY: Humanitarian Corridors: A Tool to Respond to Refugees Crises (Border Criminologies, link):
"These deaths [in the Mediterranean] are a direct consequence of the international community's collective failure to implement a credible plan of humanitarian aid to refugees. As noticed by Roberts, Murphy and McKee, the refugee crisis has raised urgent questions about the quality of political leadership to ensure effective and adequate measures both to stabilise the countries from which migrants are coming, thereby reducing the pressure to move, and to make the positive case for migration in a continent experiencing a rapid decline in birth rate. Civil society organisations have often filled the void of this political inaction, by providing adequate basic services to those in need. Their involvement should not abrogate states or for this matter, the EU from protecting people on the move. These initiatives instead indicate a new direction for effective and responsive interventions to the refugee crisis.
One of the best examples of civic actions can be found in the Humanitarian Corridors (HC) pilot project, carried out in Italy by the Community of Sant'Egidio, in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches based on an agreement with the Italian Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. This initiative responded to the May 13, 2015 recommendation by the European Commission that member states should use to the full the other legal avenues available to persons in need of protection, including private/non-governmental sponsorships and humanitarian permits, and family reunification clauses. "
The first in a series of articles. See: Seeking Refuge in Europe (Border Criminologies, link)
FOAA Online! The world's most user-friendly collection of legal arguments on assembly and association rights (link):
"The purpose of FOAA Online! is to provide easily accessible legal arguments to assist lawyers, activists and judges involved in freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association (FOAA) cases. The site is organized per thematic topic or sub-question in order to direct users as straightforwardly as possible to relevant legal arguments. The FOAA Q&A assists users to link actual facts and incidents to pertinent legal questions. The website focuses on the most widespread issues experienced by those exercising their FOAA rights around the world.
The legal arguments in FOAA Online! are based upon a range of international instruments. In addition to legally binding obligations under international human rights law, they refer to standards and principles emanating from international treaty bodies, jurisprudence of regional courts and existing or emerging practice.. These include the findings of UN treaty bodies or of experts under the special procedures, as well as the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights and the European Court on Human Rights. Further, the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are included as well as guidelines and reports on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association emanating from the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and the OSCE."
MEPs call for EU rules on private security companies (press release, pdf):
"Private security companies must respect minimum requirements on accountability, the screening of staff and reporting on misconduct, while staying away from tasks usually reserved for the military said committee MEPs on Tuesday.
Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Sub-Committee MEPs advocate EU-wide rules on private security companies (PSCs). The use of private contractors must be limited to logistical support and the protection of installations and only EU-based PSCs should be contracted for protection tasks abroad, say MEPs.
MEPs suggest drawing up an open list of contractors complying with EU standards on transparency, criminal records, financial and economic capacity, licences, strict vetting of personnel, and adhering to an international code of conduct,. This could be followed by a single set of rules for EU institutions that use PSCs to protect EU staff, modelled on UN or NATO practices."
UK: Govt secrecy over UK strikes profoundly disappointing, say MPs (Reprieve, link):
"Parliaments Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has criticised the Government for refusing to disclose information about the intelligence behind a 2015 UK drone strike in Syria, calling the lack of Parliamentary scrutiny profoundly disappointing.
In a report released this morning, the chair of the Committee Conservative MP and former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve said that ISCs attempts to scrutinise the decision to take strikes had been hampered by the Governments refusal to provide key information.
The Committee was denied sight of the key Ministerial submission relating to the strike, said Mr Grieve. He added that this failure to provide what we consider to be relevant documents is profoundly disappointing. He said: Oversight depends on primary evidence: the Government should open up the ministerial decision &SHY;making process to scrutiny on matters of such seriousness."
See the report: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: UK Lethal Drone Strikes in Syria (pdf) and: ISC press release (pdf)
HUNGARY: Thousands March For EU, Protest Rising Russian Influence In Hungary (RadioFreeEurope, link):
"Thousands of Hungarians marched across central Budapest on May 1 in a show of support for the European Union, protesting against what they described as a rise in Russian influence under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The rally follows a series of major demonstrations in Budapest in recent weeks, triggered by a new law inspired by Russia that would drive out of Hungary a top university founded by U.S. financier George Soros.
Momentum, an upstart political movement, called for the May Day rally, where an estimated 10,000 protesters chanted "Europe, not Moscow!" as they passed the Russian Embassy. It announced it would run candidates in parliamentary elections next April."
NORWAY/DENMARK: The right job measures will lower the refugee bill (Nordic Co-operation, link):
"Getting newcomers into jobs as soon as possible is not the long-term answer to integration. New studies from Norway and Denmark reveal that poorly qualified refugees, in particular, run the risk of finding themselves out of work again later on. Research also shows that the biggest item associated with refugees consists of the lack of tax revenue generated because of unemployment."
EU: The Romanian police officers and their partners in the Schengen states found 808 wanted persons through SIS (ACTMedia, link):
"The General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (IGPR) announced, in a press release that the Romanian police officers and their partners from Schengen member states found, in the last week, 808 persons, 132 vehicles, 63 documents, 2 registering plates and 2 registration licences which were presented in the Schengen Information System.
Following the exchange of information through the SIRENE Office in the International Police Cooperation Centre on the territory of our country, 507 people were identified.
According to IGPR, the Romanian police officers put into practice 24 European arrest warrants, identified 177 people who were wanted for taking part in a judicial procedure and 8 who were given as disappeared by the partners in the Schengen states."
SCOTLAND: Mobiles to offer crime scene access to fingerprint database (The Scotsman, link):
"Fingerprints left at murder scenes could soon be checked against a national biometrics database using a mobile phone under plans being considered by Police Scotland.
The use of handheld devices in police forensic work is being looked at by the national force as part of its 10-year strategy.
Advances in DNA profiling mean that within five to 10 years police will be able to put together a description of a perpetrator, said Nelson.
You could begin to eventually look at someones hair colour, their shape and size, said Nelson. Thats where things are going over the next 10 years."
Bordering on inhumanity: refugees stranded between Morocco and Algeria (EuroMed Rights, link):
"Refugees from Syria, including about twenty children, have been left for over a week in the desert without any resources near the city of Figuig (Morocco). EuroMed Rights and its member organisations stress the urgency of the situation as well as the need for humanitarian support, unconditional access to reception means for these people and respect of their rights.
On 18 April 2017, over 60 people have crossed the Algeria-Morocco border in view of reaching the Moroccan territory. Eleven of them were deported back the same day: EuroMed Rights notes that these refugees have not been able or willing to claim asylum in Algeria, and that they have been deported from Morocco in breach of the non-refoulement principle and in violation of the procedural safeguards enshrined in Moroccan law. They have been left without any resources in Algeria since then, in violation of the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees.
Since then, about fifty people have been left alone, stranded at the border in a desert area near the city of Figuig (Morocco), with no other support than the help provided by non-governmental organisations and local residents (water, food, blankets). Among them were two pregnant women, one of whom has delivered birth on Sunday 23 April, with absolutely no support whatsoever."
Statewatch Viewpoint: Egypt: Europes other north African border (pdf) by Paolo Cuttitta (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):
"This year, there has not been any migrant boat arriving from Egypt so far. Is this an effect of the new Egyptian anti-smuggling law? In the meantime, migrants in the north African country experience arbitrary detentions for indefinite periods, deportations which violate international law and scarce or non-existent protection for those who supposedly have a right to it. Asylum is a taboo for the authorities in Cairo, and the UN agency for refugees does what it can (but also - according to accusations by several workers - a lot less than that), while the work of humanitarian organisations in this sector is limited by the Egyptian regimes repressive actions. In the meantime, the IOM, Italy and other EU countries renew their programmes to support Egyptian border guards, and the EU has agreed a five-fold increase in its budget for Egypt from the Africa Trust Fund."
Greek Hotspots: ECCHR urges European Ombudsman to investigate conduct of European Asylum Support Office (EASO):
"Berlin, 02 May 2017 The work of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the Greek Islands not only lacks a legal basis, it also fails to respect core standards of fairness. This is the conclusion of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) after analyzing a series of admissibility interviews conducted by EASO officers at the Hotspots in Greece. ECCHR with support from Brot für die Welt has therefore submitted a complaint against EASO to the European Ombudsman. The Ombudsman was established as an independent and impartial institution to hold the EU administration accountable for failures to respect fundamental rights or legal principles.
According to the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016, [a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. Under this arrangement, refugees are entitled to first have asylum claims considered before leaving Greece. The decision on their right to international protection processed at the Hotspots on the Greek islands are in effect not taken by the Greek Asylum Service but by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). ECCHR has serious concerns as to the legality and legitimacy of EASOs actions in the context of the EU-Turkey statement."
See: EASOs influence on inadmissibility decisions exceeds the agencys competence and disregards fundamental rights (pdf)
UK: Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism (pdf) by Lina Dencik, Arne Hintz and Jonathan Cable:
"Based on in-depth interviews with a range of social justice activists, we argue that there is a significant level of ambiguity around this kind of anti-surveillance resistance in relation to broader activist practices, and critical responses to the Snowden leaks have been confined within particular expert communities.
Introducing the notion of data justice, we therefore go on to make the case that resistance to surveillance needs to be (re)conceptualized on terms that can address the implications of this data-driven form of governance in relation to broader social justice agendas. Such an approach is needed, we suggest, in light of a shift to surveillance capitalism in which the collection, use and analysis of our data increasingly comes to shape the opportunities and possibilities available to us and the kind of society we live in."
UK: Parliament: Home Affairs Select Committee: Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online (pdf):
"Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, gender identity, race, religion or faith and sexual orientation."
UK: Call for inquiry over 'unbroken pattern' of deaths at prison (Guardian, link):
"The prison service is facing calls for a corporate manslaughter investigation after a litany of failures at one Milton Keynes site resulted in an unbroken pattern of deaths, with 18 inmates taking their own lives in four years.
HMP Woodhall came under fire during an inquest in to one of the fatalities that prompted demands for a national response to a broken and dangerous prison system and the unacceptable death toll.
Deborah Coles, director of campaign group Inquest, said the death of 35-year-old Daniel Dunkley, who killed himself in July last year, showed warnings had been ignored and raised serious questions for senior managers at the site."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.4-1.5.17)
EU: Deploying armed Frontex teams on the 'Balkan Route': agreements with Serbia and Macedonia on the way
Will the deployment of armed European Border and Coast Guard teams in Serbia and Macedonia - with immunity from the civil and criminal law of those countries - improve the chances for protecting the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees, or legitimise the violence and abuse that is currently taking place?
Brexit: UK may have to recognise ECJ court rulings to keep security cooperation - Britains last EU commissioner suggests this could form part of talks with EU27 after bloc agreed tough negotiating guidelines (Guardian, link):
"Britains most senior EU official has warned that a post-Brexit Britain would have to recognise the rulings of the European court of justice if it wished to maintain the current level of cooperation in countering terrorism and organised crime.
Sir Julian King, the European commissioner responsible for security, said the UKs security services had become increasingly reliant on shared crime-fighting tools to carry out their work."
Europol's new regulation: Today, on 1 May 2017, Europols new Regulation enters into force and takes effect in all EU Member States (link):
"Today, on 1 May 2017, Europols new Regulation enters into force and takes effect in all EU Member States. The new regulation was adopted on 11 May 2016, when the European Parliament voted on updated powers that will enable Europol to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. With the new regulation Europol is established as the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation with a view to supporting cooperation among law enforcement authorities in the Union."
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