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What's New on the Statewatch website: 2019
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Carries all items that have been added or updated to News Online and Observatories.

November 2019

Here to fight: building communities of resistanceu (IRR News, link):

"Two new anthologies of pieces from the magazines Race Today and Race & Class recall important struggles on the streets, the factory floors and in communities, linking them to both class and global internationalism.

It is salutary that at a time when racism is getting redefined in some sectors and official investigations as identity loss, unconscious bias and microaggression, we are reminded just how connected the struggle against racism was in the 1970s and ‘80s to class, to exploitation, state power and to liberation movements. It is significant that two new collections, A. Sivanandan’s Communities of Resistance: writings on Black Struggles for Socialism (Verso, 2019) and the new Race Today anthology, Here to Stay, Here to fight (Pluto press, 2019), come from magazines that were radicalised into political tools during the heydays of the 1970s."

Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey: report

"Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey, documents released by Turkey reportedly show. The process involves returning asylum seekers without assessing their status."

ECHR: Finnish decision to deport an Iraqi man who was killed when he arrived back in his country of origin violated the Convention (Press releaase, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of N.A. v. Finland (application no. 25244/18) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights owing to decisions to deport the applicant’s father to his country of origin, Iraq, where he was subsequently killed."

The End of Parliamentary Government in Europe (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"Has parliamentary government, after almost two hundred years of honoured service, come to an end in Europe? The fact that Spain had two elections in seven months and is still nowhere near a stable government is just the latest of many signs that it is indeed so – and I wonder what the ruling classes in the European countries, excluding France, are waiting for in order to take note of the fact and to do, night and day, in order to put in place the necessary remedies."

Asylum-seekers in Greece, Italy hotspots face ‘years of limbo’ (euractiv, link):

"Asylum-seekers crowded into “hotspots” in Greece and Italy face limbo that can drag on for years because of legal bottlenecks and poorly performing EU schemes, a report said Wednesday.

The document, by the EU’s European Court of Auditors, also found that two agencies meant to assist the two countries with their overflowing camps and caseloads were failing in their missions, partly because of insufficient support from member states."

See also: Greek refugee camp for 640 people is found to be housing 3,745 - Unaccompanied children sleeping on floors at facility on island of Samos, EU audit say (Guardian, link)

ICJ and others intervene in Mediterranean Sea search and rescue case before European Court (link):

"Today, the ICJ, the AIRE Centre, ECRE and DCR have submitted a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of a 2017 rescue operation of migrants, including refugees, in the Mediterranean Sea that involved the SeaWatch rescue vessel.

The case, S.S. and Others v. Italy, concerns the facts occurred during a rescue operation coordinated by the Maritime Research and Rescue Centre of Italy in Rome in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea."

European Court of Auditors: Special report No 20/2019: EU information systems supporting border control - a strong tool, but more focus needed on timely and complete data

"The abolishment of border checks at the internal Schengen borders reinforced the importance of effective control and surveillance of the Schengen area external borders. To help border guards control these, the EU has set up a number of information systems. Our audit examined whether the main EU information systems for internal security support border controls efficiently. We found that border guards are increasingly using and relying on the systems when performing border checks. However, some data is currently not included in the systems, while other data is either not complete or not entered in a timely manner."

See: Press release (link) and Report (pdf, link)

The era of killer robots is upon us (paxforpeace.nl, link):

"Turkey’s state-owned arms manufacturer produces the Kargu, a kamikaze drone that can select targets based on facial recognition. Some reports suggest Kargu will soon be deployed on the Turkish-Syrian theater. The 'Mini Harpy' from Israel can also independently detect, attack and destroy enemy targets."

Europe’s Unauthorized Immigrant Population Peaks in 2016, Then Levels Off (pewresearch.org, link):

"New estimates find half live in Germany and the United Kingdom .

Europe has experienced a high level of immigration in recent years, driving debate about how countries should deal with immigrants when it comes to social services, security issues, deportation policies and integration efforts. Among these recently arrived immigrants are many who live in Europe without authorization. Coupled with unauthorized immigrants who were already in Europe, their numbers reach into the millions, though together they make up a small share of Europe’s total population."

Update on the current situation at the borders to Greece and Turkey (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria, link):

"In the first 10 months of 2019, the Bulgarian Border Police officers prevented 2,122 attempts at ‚illegal‘ entry at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and 3,795 attempts at the border with Greece. This was statet by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior (MoI). In September 2019 the number of people who were trying to attempt the Greek-Bulgarian border was rising. Due to the Bulgarian MoI Mladen Marinov further police units were installed at the border. The Bulgarian premier Boiko Borissow stated that at the moment around a daily amount of 150 migrants are being caught in the border region."

Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement (DW, link):

"As large numbers of displaced people arrived in 2015, some Schengen countries reintroduced border checks. Six are extending controls. That's illegal, EU observers say, and it undermines the idea of freedom of movement."

Denmark reinstates border checks at crossings to Sweden after bombings (Guardian, link):

"Spot checks at ferry ports and on trains and vehicles follow attacks in Copenhagen area.

Denmark has temporarily reinstated checks at its border crossings with Sweden after a spate of bombings and shootings in the Copenhagen area that authorities say were carried out by members of Swedish gangs.

The spot checks at ferry ports and on trains and vehicles crossing the Øresund bridge separating the Danish capital from Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, were aimed at “preventing serious and organised crime from spreading”, the police said. All travellers should be prepared to show identification, they added."

Poland: Independence march of nationalism (euractiv, link);

"Thousands of Poles took part in a nationalist march through the capital Warsaw on Monday (11 November), chanting “God, Honour, Fatherland”, with the march leaders protesting against same-sex liberties, globalism and abortion.

11 November marks the National Independence Day of Poland and yesterday was the 101st anniversary of regaining sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic, after 123 years under the rule of German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires.

But the holiday has become divisive for many in the country, which has become increasingly polarised since the right-wing Law and Justice party came to power in 2015."

Rule of Law in the EU: lost and found? (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"Ursula von der Leyen’s promotional tour before her election did not turn out well. She failed to point to substantive rule of law issues, rather she traced back the division between Eastern and Western European state to emotional components. This text takes a look beyond the political rhetoric and explores what the new Commission might entail for the rule of law in the EU."

Border controls 'the norm' in some EU states since 2015 (euobserver, link);

"Despite the guarantee of free movement of people within the 26 countries of the Schengen area, some countries have introduced permanent border controls since 2015, Yves Pascouau, a senior adviser at the European Policy Centre (EPC) notes in a new study. Although border controls within Schengen cannot exceed a duration of two years, four-year old controls are now into place in Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Sweden and Denmark."

Dear President Macron, being a migrant is not a crime (euobserver, link):

"President Emmanuel Macron,

I am writing to convey my intense shock and horror at the wilful, remorseless neglect of universal human rights, the frank disregard for humanity and the wanton abuse of European law at your country's border with Italy.

During my heart-wrenching trip to Menton and Ventimiglia with Refugee Rights Europe, I saw refugees and displaced people of all ages and from all corners of our planet - compelled to flee poverty, persecution, war, ecological breakdown and compelled to traverse great distances in unimaginably traumatic journeys - dehumanised and demeaned, disregarded and discarded, and dealt with delay and disdain."

Greek islands: Aegean Boat report: 4 -10 November 2019 (pdf)

"A total of 105 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 3740 people. However, 74 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1078 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2754 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police with 91591 people (and). 47548 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1450 boats, so far in 2019."

Are You Syrious (10-11-11.19,link):

"FEATURED

- 10 000 border guards
- Meter-high fences
- Border fortifications, 1000 kilometres long
- The deadly moat of the Mediterranean Sea
- Thousands dead

30 years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall raised hopes for an open Europe; today we are surrounded by more walls than ever before."

News highlights: Italy and Libya prolong coast guard arrangement; Eritrea accuses CIA of plot against government; Greece formalises new law on deportation (eepa.be, link):

"In this week’s news highlights: Eritrea claims CIA has plot to overthrow the government; Eritreans protest against the regime in London; UN official allegedly spreads propaganda; South Sudan calls state of emergency; New measures for protection Kenyan domestic workers questioned; Greece formalises new law on deportation of rejected asylum seekers;

Report urges the UK to change its migration policies; EU funds €663 million to support refugees in Turkey; Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland accused of breaking EU law in 2015; Refugees and migrants participate in local entrepreneurship;

Deal between Libyan Coastguard and Italy continues; People from Libyan detention centre are released but left outside of rescue centre overnight; And Spain’s Prime Minister praises the efforts made by Morocco to lower number of illegal migrants."

New report examines the brutal human costs of 'necroborders'

"Over 1,000 people died or went missing whilst attempting to reach Spanish soil between January 2018 and April 2019, the result of 70 shipwrecks and 12 missing boats on routes crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, traversing the Alboran Sea and travelling to the Canary Islands.

The figures - and the human stories behind them - are recounted in the report Vida en la Necrofrontera (Life on the Necroborder), which was published by the collective Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) in June this year (Caminando Fronteras, link)"

Exposed: Malta’s secret migrant deal with Libya - Office of the Prime Minister official Neville Gafà acted as intermediary in deal (Times of Malta, link):

"Malta has secretly negotiated an agreement with Libya that sees the Armed Forces of Malta coordinating with the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants headed towards the island and returned to the war-torn North African country.

The agreement for “mutual cooperation” was struck between members of the AFM and the Libyan coastguard, with government official Neville Gafà acting as an intermediary.

Mr Gafà, who works out of the OPM in an undisclosed position, has faced repeated allegations of bribery linked to the issuing of medical visas to Libyan nationals, claims he denies."

Belgian asylum centre set on fire (euobserver, link):

"During the night of 10 November a planned asylum centre in the city of Bilzen, in the Belgian province of Limburg, was set on fire. According to fire services and the police it was an arson attack. The federal government was planning to use the building as a new asylum centre in December. There were no victims."

Turkey starts ‘sending home’ detained foreign fighters (euractiv, link):

"Turkey said on Monday (11 November) it had deported two captives from Islamic State, a German and an American, starting a programme to repatriate detainees that has caused friction with its NATO allies since it launched an offensive in northern Syria."

See also: Deportation of suspected IS fighters forces Germany to take action (DW, link)

Migrations in Latin America and the Mediterranean compared: Violence, State cruelty and (Un-)Institutional Resistance (pdf):including: Presentation of the English version of the Atlas of Migrations 2019.

Convened by Véronique Beneï (IIAC Paris), Thomas Lacroix (MFO) and Eduardo Posado-Carlo (Latin American Centre Oxford):

Tuesday 12 November, 2.45pm, Latin American Centre, Oxford and Wednesday 13 November, 9.15am, Maison Française d’Oxford.

Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more (vestnikkavkaza.net, link):

"Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again used the millions of refugees hosted in the country as a bargaining chip against the European Union. As EU Observer reports, speaking alongside Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban on Thursday (7 November), he told reporters the refugees will be allowed into Europe unless the EU provides more support. "Whether we receive support or not, we will continue to aid the guests we are hosting. But, if this doesn't work out, then we will have to open the doors," he said."

Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya (link):

"A German public prosecutor’s office is investigating the shooting of the ship "Alan Kurdi". Its crew could be caught between the fronts of two coastguards equipped and trained by different EU missions.

With the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS) and the Libyan Coast Guard and Port Security (LCGPS), two authorities with overlapping functions exist in Libya. The Ministry of Interior Coast Guard is a law enforcement agency operating within the 12-mile zone and along the coast, while the Ministry of Defence Coast Guard is responsible for territorial waters."

Italy to renew 2017 bilateral deal with Libya to stem migration (New Europe, link):

"Italy is calling for government-run migrant centres in Libya be taken over by UN agencies, public news agency ANSA reported on Wednesday. Rome wants to review a 2017 deal with Libya for combatting immigration.

However, Rome wants the closure of centres criticised for human rights violations and their replacement with new facilities run by UN agencies. According to ANSA, the UN-backed government in Tripoli had voiced willingness to modify the terms of the 2017 deal accordingly."

Turkey starts repatriating IS jihadists (DW, link):

"An "Islamic State" fighter from the US has already been deported and plans are on to repatriate a German and a Danish citizen later on Monday. Ankara is also preparing to return scores of other Europeans. (...)

The move comes days after the Turkish interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, said his country was "not a hotel for IS members from any country." He also warned that Ankara would begin repatriation even if the prisoners had their citizenships revoked."

Human Rights Watch letter to Frontex (HRW, link):

"I am writing in relation to a July 9 statement made by Croatian President Gabar-Kitarovic during an interview with Swiss channel SRF, where she admitted knowledge of pushbacks of migrants by Croatian border officials from Croatia to Bosnia Herzegovina and that sometimes force is used. The president’s acknowledgement is consistent with findings by Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, and other organizations.

It calls into question the effectiveness of European Border and Coast Guard Agency operations on the Croatia-Bosnia borders, and in particular European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s mandate to ensure the protection of human rights through detection activities."

According to the European Court of Human Rights, all is well in the Greek hotspots: Joint Press Release (migreurop.org, link)

"The European Court of Human Rights has rejected for the most part the request made on 16 June 2016 by 51 persons (including many minors) from Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine, who were forcibly maintained in a situation of extreme distress in the hotspot of Chios, Greece [1].

The 51 applicants, supported by our organisations, were identified during an observation mission led by the Gisti in the Greek hotspots in May 2016 [2]. These persons were deprived of their freedom and detained on the island of Chios, which had become an open prison since the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement of 20 March 2016, just like the neighbouring islands of Lesbos, Leros, Samos and Kos. The requestees invoked the violation of several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights [3]".

See ECHR: Judgment (French, pdf)

European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): DRAFT REPORT on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters (COM(2018)0225 – C8-0155/2018 – 2018/0108(COD)) Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Rapporteur: Birgit Sippel (148 pages, pdf)

EU: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

The European Commission’s decision to give the green light to Croatia’s membership of the Schengen area has been condemned by human rights groups who say that it ignores “illegal and violent push-backs of migrants” at Croatia’s borders that violate EU and international law.

UK: Information Commissioner’s Opinion: The use of live facial recognition technology by law enforcement in public places (pdf, link):

The main outcome was to assert that existing data protection laws not only already apply to live facial recognition, but that as facial data is "sensitive" data.

Question marks over third country participation in EU military projects (euractiv, link);

"The EU is inching towards an agreement on the conditions under which third countries will be allowed to participate in the bloc’s military projects, which would allow US and UK companies to take part in joint defence projects, potentially removing a source of friction in transatlantic ties."

Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal (euobserver, link):

"Migrants were transferred on Thursday from Malta to Germany, Lithuania, and Romania after they were rescued by the NGO vessel Ocean Vikings last August, the Times of Malta writes. This follows an EU-brokered agreement reached between these member states before the migrants could disembark on Malta. However, the numbers of migrants transferred and those who remain in Malta are still unknown, according to the Maltese daily."

THE ATLAS OF MIGRATION IN EUROPE: A critical geography of migration policies (Migreurop and Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Brussels, pdf):

Presentation evening: 11 November 2010: 19.00 - 21.00: Rm G3, main College Building, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1H OXG.

Data-driven policing: The hardwiring of discriminatory policing practies across Europe (European Network Against Racism ENAR.pdf):

"We, as activists, as anti-racist organisations, and as racialised communities in Europe, know too well what it means to be over-policed and under-protected. Still, in 2019, we feel the need to evidence racial profiling, to contest narratives placing us as a threat to ‘security’ and essentially to unsettle presumptions as to our criminality.

We are still mastering the techniques with which we contest over-policing, brutality and racial profiling. We must now contend with another challenge. When law enforcement resorts to new technology to aid their practice, we find ourselves at further risk. Not only must we consider our physical safety in our relations with the authorities, we also need to be informed about the security of our data."

EU-USA: Meeting on 6 November 2019 discussed agreement on exchange of electronic evidence
- including Life imprisonment without review, death penalty and freedom of speech

The European Commission produced:
Note ahead of the second negotiating round for an EU-US Agreement on cross-border access to electronic evidence, 6 November 2019 (Restricted document 13369-19, pdf):

The key issues discussed included the "categories of data" to be covered including "both content and non-content data" and the "types of offences and criminal proceedings, including both pre-trial and trial state"

EU governments ignore Greek request to help 4,000 child refugees (euractiv, link):

"Greece’s migration minister Michalis Chrisochoidis sent a letter to his EU counterparts asking them to help share the burden of 4,000 unaccompanied minor refugees on Greek islands, but just one responded.

Speaking today (6 November) at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), the Greek minister said they are 4,000 unaccompanied minors on Greek islands who live in conditions that “do not honour the EU”.

Chrisochoidis recently sent a letter to the EU-27 asking them to volunteer to share the burden, but received little response.

“One member state responded. It’s not a matter of rules or solidarity, it’s a matter of civilisation,” he said."

The European Union (EU) will pay Turkey 50 million euros to reinforce its coast guard, as increasing numbers of migrants attempt to travel from this country to Europe, according to a senior EU official.

The Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Maciej Popowski, said that part of the money would help 'improve the capacities of the Turkish coast guard to perform search-and-rescue operations,' for migrants trying to reach the bloc through the Greek islands.

He noted that the rest of the funding would be used to improve conditions in migrant detention centers and to help those people allowed to stay in Turkey to better integrate into its society."

EU: Commission hosted a High-Level International Conference on countering the threats posed by drones (link):

"On 17 October 2019, Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Violeta Bulc and Sir Julian King spoke during a High-level International Conference on countering the threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly referred to as drones. The conference, which was co-organised by DG Migration and Home Affairs (HOME) and DG Mobility and Transport (MOVE), brought together a wide range of stakeholders from EU Member States, third countries, international organisations, industry, academia and civil society."

See: Chair’s Statement on the outcome of the High-Level International Conference and subsequent EU-internal meeting oncountering the threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (pdf, link)

EU PNR: The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice concerning the obligation to transfer passenger information (pdf)

"The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union in light of the review of the law requiring transportation providers and travel operators to communicate passenger information.

The Court inquires whether the system of the PNR Directive, transposed by the contested law, is compatible with the right to respect for private life and the protection of personal data. In addition, the Court asks several questions regarding the interpretation of the Directive.

Lastly, the Court refers a question to the Court of Justice on the applicability of the API Directive, also transposed in Belgian law, that requires air carriers to communicate certain passenger data to combat illegal immigration and to improve border control.
With respect to flights within the European Union, the question arises as to its compatibility with the free movement of persons."

EU: Creation of centralised Justice and Home Affairs database key aim in security plans

The European Commission has published its: Twentieth Progress Report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 552, 2019, pdf).

One of the key sections concerns "Stronger and smarter information systems for security, border and migration management." [emphasis added]

This covers: "The EU has stepped up information exchange, making it easier to tackle identity fraud, strengthening border checks, modernising Europe-wide law enforcement databases, closing information gaps and reinforcing the EU law enforcement agency Europol. Central to this is the interoperability of EU information systems." [emphasis in original]

Migrants, the Libyan government issues a decree to neutralize NGOs (news1.news, link):

"The decree, issued by the Presidential Council of the Libyan national agreement, bears the date of September 14 and has as its object "the special treatment of international and non-governmental organizations in the Libyan area of ??maritime search and rescue".

He has also been sent to Italy and is a grotesque and dangerous attempt to hinder even more the work of humanitarian ships but above all to attack them with police operations with the threat of leading them and seizing them in Libyan ports."

Greece: Pork 'barbecue protest' plan near refugee camp raises hackles (DW, link):

"A Greek nationalist group's plan to throw a pork barbecue near a refugee camp has led to a debate in the country's parliament. Critics want to do something, but some say that would mean attacking the Greek way of life."

European Commission: Answer given by Mr Avramopouloson behalf of the European EU Commission: The objective of regional disembarkation arrangements is to establish predictable disembarkation and post-disembarkation procedures in line with international law (pdf)

France to set migrant worker quotas in bid to appeal to rightwing voters - Policy seen as part of tougher stance by Emmanuel Macron as he prepares to take on Marie Le Pen (Guardian, link):

"France will start setting quotas for migrant workers from next year as Emmanuel Macron toughens his stance on immigration in an apparent attempt to appeal to rightwing voters.

The French labour minister, Muriel Pénicaud, said on Tuesday that France would set quotas for the first time, with the government working with employers to identify industries lacking qualified candidates and where foreigners could fill the gap."

UK ignores warnings of digital election interference - Despite repeated calls for new electoral rules, British politicians and regulators have dragged their feet. (Politico, link):

"As the U.K. general election gets underway, the government has done little to protect voters from malicious and foreign influence online.

Despite a slew of warnings from regulators and politicians, British ministers have not acted to fix vulnerabilities in the U.K.'s antiquated electoral laws. That has raised fears that the December 12 poll will once again be marred by clandestine digital political interference." 

; EU: Meijers- Committee: Opinion of the Meijers Committee on interstate procedures and the
rule of law
(pdf):

"The Meijers Committee hopes that the newly installed Commission and Parliament will pursue the protection of the rule of law in the EU with equal rigor. Our Committee also calls on the Member States, however, to take serious their own responsibility to protect human rights and democracy in fellow Member States. Crucially, all EU Member States are empowered to bring interstate complaints under both the European Convention on Human Rights (Art. 33 ECHR) and the EU Treaties (Art. 259 TFEU). Although interstate procedures before both the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU are rare, they deserve serious consideration in the current political context for the following reasons (....)"

Number of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece rises to 4,800 (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"They are the most vulnerable group among the refugees: unaccompanied minors in Greece. 4,800 children, aged 2 -17. A real challenge for those in and outside Greece dealing with their protection.

30 percent of them are orphans. Seven out of ten have families in Europe and need to be reunited.

The protection of unaccompanied minors is a major issue for the government, the creation of appropriate accommodation structures is imminent, their transfer from the overcrowded islands an urgent necessity.

The number of unaccompanied children in Greece is increasing: while they are approximately 2,500 unaccompanied children in 2017, their number has reached 4,800 in 2019, according to data released by the National Center for Social Solidarity on October 15."

UK fears stoked over data harvesting ahead of general election (euractiv, link):

"UK political parties have been warned by the country’s data protection watchdog that they must comply with relevant laws concerning the storing and safeguarding of data in the run up to the country’s general election on December 12.

The news comes amid growing pressure to release a report examining purported Russian infiltration in the UK elections, a move which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far been reluctant to make.

The UK’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, wrote to all political parties on Tuesday (November 5), reminding them of the importance of “of the continuing need to comply with data protection and electronic marketing laws.”

See also: Information Commissioner reminds political parties they must comply with the law ahead of General Election (ICO, link)

'Repatriation' of Syrians in Turkey needs EU action (Euobserver, link):

""I was deported with about 35 Syrians on a large bus. They handcuffed us and…they beat some of the men on the bus with truncheons when they asked to go to the toilet or for water. We all spoke with each other [and] no one wanted to go back to Syria."

Do those sound like the words of refugees who freely signed papers asking Turkey to return them to an active conflict zone in northern Syria?"

European Court of Justice: Polish rules relating to the retirement age of judges and public prosecutors, adopted in July 2017, are contrary to EU law (pdf):

"In today’s judgment the Court, upholds the action for failure to fulfil obligations brought by the Commission against the Republic of Poland and held that that Member State had failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law, first, by establishing a different retirement age for men and women who were judges or public prosecutors in Poland and, second, by lowering the retirement age of judges of the ordinary courts while conferring on the Minister for Justice the power to extend the period of active service of those judges."

And see: European Commission statement on the judgment of the European Court of Justice on Poland's Ordinary Courts law (Commission press release, pdf)

European Parliament: Refugees in Turkey: MEPs to assess use of EU funds and cooperation with Ankara (europarl.europa.eu, link):

"MEPs will assess on Wednesday the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the results of the budgetary support provided by the EU to the Turkish government."

Briefing: How will Greece’s new asylum law affect refugees? ‘There's no justification for what we're seeing.’ (thenewhumanitarian.org, link):

"Nearly 44,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands so far this year, compared to fewer than 32,500 in all of 2018 – an annual increase of more than 30 percent, but still far below 2015 and 2016 levels.

In response, the Greek government passed a new asylum law on Thursday, 31 October aimed at speeding up procedures and facilitating the return of more people to Turkey under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal signed in March 2016 to curb migration across the Aegean."

Netherlands: Persisting delays in the procedure put strain on reception (asylumineurope.org, link):

"Asylum seekers in the Netherlands are confronted with a shortage of reception places, in addition to long delays in accessing the procedure.

As of 28 October 2019, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) counted 26,975 accommodation places. The Agency estimates that as many as 10,000 additional reception places will be needed as of January 2020 for the country to be able to house asylum seekers."

Land migration in Africa twice as deadly as Mediterranean, says UNHCR (DW, link):

"Even as a migrant rescue ship disembarks 88 asylum-seekers in an Italian port, a UN official says the Mediterranean isn't the most dangerous place for migrants. Many more die trying to reach the coast than in the sea.

While the Mediterranean Sea remains a deadly route for migrants attempting to reach the European Union, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned that the African land journey to reach the Mediterranean coast remains far more lethal.

Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR's special envoy for the central Mediterranean, said in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that around twice as many migrants die crossing Africa as crossing the Mediterranean."

Call for Croatia to Be Kept out of Schengen Until it Improves Asylum Practices (liberties.eu, link):

"Croatia has received the green light from the European Commission to enter the border-free Schengen Area, but nine organisations and initiatives working with the victims of border violence have made their objections clear."

Are You Syrious (link)

Feature Story: Italy-Libya deal renewed without changes

"On Saturday 2nd of November the agreement between Italy and Libya which regulates the “cooperation in the fields of development, the fight against illegal immigration, human trafficking and fuel smuggling and on reinforcing the security of borders”, will be automatically renewed. Saturday was the deadline for proposing an annulment or any changes to the deal, but despite a lot of talk in the media, no official proposal was advanced. The deal is now valid for three more years."

GREECE: Arrivals

"Aegean Boat Report state that from Saturday to Sunday 8 boats arrived on the Greek Aegean islands, carrying 263 people, 7 of the boats arrive on Lesvos and the remaining one to Chios. However, in the last 3 days, a total of 97 boats carrying 3,519 people began the journey towards the Islands from Turkey, but only 28 % arrived — 27 boats carrying 1,098 people. 72 % were stopped."

For a full breakdown of arrivals and more detailed statistics, go to (link)

European Parliament must push for safeguards for journalists in ‘e-evidence’ proposal (cpj.org, link):

"The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern today that a proposed European Union regulation on law enforcement access to electronic data lacks sufficient safeguards for journalists. The Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders is known as the “e-evidence proposal.”

Under the proposal, prosecutors from one EU member state could order internet service providers in another EU state to store or produce data without oversight from a judge in the target country, and a short timeframe for compliance, according to German news website netzpolitik.org."

CoE: Lord Foulkes: ‘Impunity for crimes against journalists must endLord Foulkes: ‘Impunity for crimes against journalists must end (CoE-PA, link):

"Speaking on the eve of the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November), he said: “There is no effective right to information and no accountable policy-making without media freedom and the opportunity for journalists to look into how public money is spent or investigate corruption and the abuse of power. However, attacks on journalists are continuously on the rise, including threats, harassment, physical aggression, arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances and even murder. Unfortunately, our member States do not always ensure thorough investigations into these crimes.”

GREECE: Residents of Chios block access to migrant camp in symbolic protest (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Residents of Chios early on Monday blocked the road leading to the island's Vial reception facility in a protest against the camp's growing migrant population.

The residents have said that they will scale up their protests if central government authorities do not extend an operation to decongest the camps on Lesvos and Samos to their island too.

Some 5,000 migrants are currently being hosted at the camp which is several times above its maximum capacity."

Germany: Vigilante patrols pose far-right 'terror threat' (DW, link):

"Right-wing vigilante patrols claiming to fill gaps in state security have popped up in several German states. The government has warned there's not a big leap between these groups and far-right terrorism.

Self-proclaimed citizen militias patrolling German towns are the "beginnings of right-wing terrorist potential," according to the German Interior Ministry."

Outrage in Calais over death of Nigerian man in tent - Man tried to light a fire to keep warm and died from smoke inhalation (Guardian, link):

"Aid groups have protested over “inhuman” conditions for migrants and refugees sleeping rough in Calais after a 25-year-old Nigerian man died from smoke inhalation in his tent. He had tried to light a fire in a tin to keep warm and prepare food.

Police in Pas-de-Calais confirmed that a man had died from intoxication from smoke fumes at the end of last week and said an autopsy would take place. The man was the third migrant or refugee to die in Calais this year."

Migrants continue to suffer as reception centres remain overcrowded and violence against migrants surges (FRA, link):

"Significant increase in arrivals in Greece, overcrowding of reception centres and violence against migrants at the borders are some of the fundamental rights concerns FRA identifies in its latest migration quarterly report. It also highlights the situation in the Mediterranean, where boats with migrants were still being forced to remain at sea, waiting for weeks or days until they were allowed to disembark."

Dresden: The German city that declared a 'Nazi emergency' (BBC News, link):

"A city in eastern Germany has declared a "Nazi emergency", saying it has a serious problem with the far-right.

Dresden, the capital of Saxony, has long been viewed as a bastion of the far-right and is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida movement.

Councillors in the city - a contender for the 2025 European Capital of Culture - have now approved a resolution saying more needs to be done to tackle the issue."

See also: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator wants EU to target right-wing extremism and terrorism (Statewatch News)

UK: Joint Committee on Human Rights: Right to privacy “may exist on paper” – but not in online “Wild West”, says JCHR (Press release, pdf):

"- Individuals are giving away “vast amounts of data” and are expected to be risk-aware when using web based services

“The consent model is broken”: Committee calls for robust regulation to govern how personal data is used and stringent enforcement of the rules

- “Deeply troubling” evidence that data being used to discriminate in job and housing ads online

The Committee today reports serious grounds for concern about the nature of the “consent” people provide when giving over an extraordinary range of information about themselves, to be used for commercial gain by private companies."

See: Report (pdf)

MP calls for review into police handling of journalists' data as Northern Ireland pair continue battle (Press Gazette, link):

"A Conservative MP has urged the Government to review police handling of journalists’ data as two investigative journalists in Northern Ireland fight to have their seized material deleted from police databases.

Trevor Birney (pictured left) and Barry McCaffrey (pictured centre) were arrested and had their homes raided last year over an allegation that they had stolen confidential material used in their 2017 film No Stone Unturned."

The FBI Spends a Lot of Time Spying on Black Americans (The Intercept, link):

"The FBI has come under intense criticism after a 2017 leak exposed that its counterterrorism division had invented a new, unfounded domestic terrorism category it called “black identity extremism.” Since then, legislators have pressured the bureau’s leadership to be more transparent about its investigation of black activists, and a number of civil rights groups have filed public records requests to try to better understand who exactly the FBI is investigating under that designation."

German migrant rescue boat carrying 88 people allowed to dock in Italy (DW, link):

"After nearly a week stranded at sea, Italy granted permission for migrants on board a Sea-Eye rescue ship to disembark. The standoff ended after Germany and other EU countries agreed to take in the migrants."

GREECE: AEGEAN BOAT REPORT: October 2019 (link)

CJEU: Advocate General Sharpston: the Court should rule that, by refusing to comply with the provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation of applicants for international protection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law (pdf)

"These Member States cannot invoke their responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security in order to disapply a valid EU measure with which they disagree."

See also: Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland ‘breached EU law’ by refusing refugees (euractiv, link)

GREECE: Leros turns away boat with migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Residents and local officials on the Aegean island of Leros on Friday blocked a passenger ferry carrying 40 migrants from Symi from disembarking.

Leros Mayor Michalis Kolias has protested against plans to move more migrants to the island where facilities, originally designed for 800 people, allegedly now hold around 3,000. The vessel was redirected to Kos."

Are You Syrious (31.10.19, link):

Lead feature

"Illegal pushbacks at the French-Italian border are happening on a daily basis since few years, with an alarming increase in the past months, reaching a total number of 1.855 (sometimes the same person is counted multiple times) just in the month of October. More and more unaccompanied minors are being pushed-back by French authorities, in addition to adults, who are forced to spend the night imprisoned in containers and held in inhumane conditions. People are being denied any legal support and advice."

Trustworthy AI requires solid Cybersecurity (ENISA, link):

"At the third annual ENISA-Europol Internet of Things (IoT) Security Conference, it was Artificial Intelligence (AI) that was the newcomer on the scene. The rise of AI technologies requires a new dialogue and awareness of the related cybersecurity challenges."

October 2019

Racist violence – ‘It’s become normalised’ (IRR News):

"Racist violence involving public order offences, physical attack and criminal damage has increased, but the Home Office and the media are in denial as to the real causes.

On 16 October, the Home Office released the 2018/2019 statistics on hate crimes in England and Wales with all hate crime (race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or beliefs, disability, transgender) increasing by 10 per cent from the previous year (a total of 103,379 recorded crimes)."

UK: Activating Newham: Community & Activism 1980-1991An ambitious new project exploring different communities’ experiences of racism in Newham during the 1980s and now (Create, link):

"In partnership with the Institute of Race Relations and supported by Rabbits Road Press, Create are supporting a group of young people to develop an ambitious new oral history project that will take the history and legacy anti-racist organising in the 1980s as a starting point from which to explore different communities’ experiences of racism in Newham then and now."

Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities (CoE, link):

"“The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months. Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living,” said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, at the end of a five-day visit to Greece during which she visited reception facilities in Lesvos, Samos, and Corinth.

The Commissioner is appalled by the unhygienic conditions in which migrants are kept in the islands."

Commission expects Greek reply to allegations of migrants’ mistreatment (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission expects the Greek authorities to follow up on the allegations of the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs over migrants’ mistreatment and the illegal practice of “pushback”, a Commission spokesperson has said.

The tension between Athens and Ankara has heated up recently following a statement by the Turkish foreign affairs ministry calling on Greece to end the illegal practice of “pushback” of irregular migrants at the Turkish border.

Ankara said in the first 10 months of 2019, 25,404 irregular migrants were pushed back into Turkey by Greece compared to 11,867 in 2018."

European Data Protection Supervisor: Facial recognition: A solution in search of a problem? (EDPS, link):

"It is undeniable that facial recognition, the biometric application used to identify or verify a person’s identity, has become increasingly present in many aspects of daily life. It is used for ‘tagging’ people on social media platforms and to unlock smart phones. In China it is used for airport check-in, for monitoring the attentiveness of pupils at school and even for dispensing paper in public latrines.

In the general absence of specific regulation so far, private companies and public bodies in both democracies and authoritarian states have been adopting this technology for a variety of uses."

And see: Sweden authorises the use of facial recognition technology by the police (neweurope.eu, link)

French privacy watchdog says facial recognition trial in high schools is illegal (Politico, link):

"Though non-binding, the opinion hands a victory to digital rights groups, parents and teachers’ unions that opposed the experiment.

The French data protection authority has warned that plans to start trialling facial recognition tools at high schools in southern France do not comply with privacy laws and cannot legally be implemented, the regulator confirmed Tuesday."

No-deal Brexit still possible, EU's Michel Barnier warns (Independent, link):

"Chief negotiator says no-deal could happen in March 2020 or December 2020 as things stand. (...)

Mr Barnier said a no-deal exit could happen at the end of January, if the newly elected UK parliament failed to ratify Mr Johnson’s deal and there was no further call for an Article 50 extension.

He also highlighted that a no-deal could happen at the end of 2020 if the UK government did not agree to extend the transition period and no free trade agreement (FTA) had been struck by then."

Libyan decree to affect NGOs, Protests in Ethiopia, EU Parliament rejects motion on search and rescue (link):

"In this week’s News Highlights: Protests lead to killings of civilians in Ethiopia; Returnees to Ethiopia face difficult conditions; Follow the journey of Eritrean refugees; Human rights in Eritrea the topic of seminar in European Parliament; Right-wing groups in the European Parliament vote against improving rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea; Rescue ship waits 11 days at sea; Eritreans in the Netherlands protest against the presence of the Eritrean regime."

Greece: Aegean Boat Report (pdf)

"A total of 110 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 3940 people. However, 67 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1625 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2559 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 84235 people. 44054 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1335 boats, so far in 2019."

Migration and the Shrinking Humanitarian Space in EuropeFrom maritime search and rescue operations to contested humanitarian action in EU countries (CHA, link):

"As of October 10th, 1071 deaths of migrants were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2019.[1] In their attempt to save lives, civilian maritime search and rescue organisations like Sea Watch or Proactive Open Arms have gained high levels of media attention over the last years. Cases such as the arrest of the captain of the Sea Watch 3, Carola Rackete, in June 2019 or the three weeks odyssey of Open Arms in August 2019 dominate the media and public discourse in Europe."

Data retention under scrutiny: EDPS makes case at EU Court of Justice (link):

"Confidentiality of communications is essential for the functioning of a modern, democratic society. On 9 - 10 September 2019, the EDPS was invited to appear before the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) in a joint hearing in a number of cases primarily relating to the retention of telecommunications data and to regimes governing access to electronic communications data by State authorities."

See: EDPS pleading in the CJEU (link)

What drives African migrants to risk their lives? (DW, link):

"A UN study says that a majority of irregular migrants who made the fraught journey from Africa to Europe would do so again, despite knowing the dangers of the trip. Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), explains why."

SENT TO A WAR ZONE TURKEY’S ILLEGAL DEPORTATIONSOF SYRIAN REFUGEES (AI, link):

"This reportreveals that, contrary to the Turkish authorities’ claims that they do not deport anyone to Syria, in mid-2019it islikely that hundreds of people across Turkeywereswept up, detained, and transported against their will to one of the world’s most dangerous countries.Many people were deported from Istanbul, and were apprehended while they were working or walking down the street. Amnesty International documented 20 detailed cases of forced returns between 25May and 13 September 2019, with most (14) in July."

Libya authorities 'fire warning shots' at migrant rescue ship (DW, link):

"Libyan authorities fired warning shots in the air and pointed mounted guns at rescuers and migrants, according to the humanitarian group Sea-Eye. A group spokesman said the act was unprecedented."

Greece: Asylum Overhaul Threatens Rights - Remove All Abusive Articles Before Passing Law (HRW, link):

"Greece’s parliament should scrap provisions in a new bill that threaten to limit asylum seekers’ access to protection, Human Rights Watch said today. The draft law, to be debated in parliament this week, would reduce safeguards for asylum seekers from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq in an effort to block the arrival of migrants and refugees in Greece, per a 2016 European Union (EU) migration deal with Turkey."

Back to the Libyan Warzone - How Malta Instructed Libyan Authorities to Intercept 50 Migrants within the Maltese SAR Zone (Alarmphone, link):

"On Friday the 18th of October 2019, in the afternoon, the Alarm Phone was contacted by an overcrowded boat in distress, carrying approximately 50 migrants. They had fled from Libya and were in the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) zone when they first alerted the Alarm Phone. The Alarm Phone informed RCC Malta via email and received acknowledgement of its receipt."

Did you say 'deal' on migration? ... or was it 'meal'? (Malta Today, link):

Yet we still blame asylum seekers – and only asylum seekers – for a crisis brought on directly by the incompetence, nonchalance, and sheer ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude of the politicians we rely on to solve all our migration and national security problems (but who are really the cause of all these problems to begin with)."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-28.10.19) including:

UK-EU: Migrant deaths: Britain faces exclusion from elite EU policing unit (The Guardian, link):

"The UK faces being excluded from Europe’s anti-trafficking unit after Brexit, senior MPs and experts warned last night. The unit is coordinating international investigations into the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in the back of a lorry in Essex last week.

...The anti-trafficking unit involved in the case, the European Migrant Smuggling Centre, is part of the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, and has been at the heart of a global inquiry into the tragedy. A Europol source said investigators at the centre were “working around the clock trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle”."

EU: European Arrest Warrant: Case C-128/18 Dorobantu – the Aftermath of Aranyosi and Caldararu (European Law Blog, link):

"...due to the fact that the questions in the present case were concentrated on the minimum standards of detention conditions, the Court in Dorobantu took a further step to a more detailed explanation of what factors are important for this assessment. Particularly, the issue of personal space and how to calculate it (sanitary facilities, furniture), where the Court aligned again with the ECtHR, to overcome the lack of minimum standards as regards the interpretation of Article 4 of the Charter."

Judgment: Case C-128/18 (pdf)

UK: British man who fought against IS guilty of terrorism charge (BBC News, link):

"A British man who fought with a Kurdish militia against the Islamic State group has been found guilty of attending a terrorist training camp.

Aidan James, 28, of Formby, Merseyside, had no previous military knowledge when he set out for Syria in 2017.

He denied terror offences but was found guilty at a retrial at the Old Bailey of attending a camp in Iraq where the banned PKK group was present.

James was cleared of attending a terrorist training camp in Syria."

Hungarian absurdity: Homeless people in handcuffs vs. human rights (Fair Trials, link):

"In Hungary, the practices established by the Police and the courts against homeless people seem to be humiliating and strongly discriminative. Since the criminalization of homelessness, which is and of itself is cruel, an affront to human dignity and seriously violating international human rights standards, procedural issues have been emerged. Fair trial guarantees, such as the right to be heard in person and the presumption of innocence are not respected during the proceedings. The Hungarian state fails to ensure their equality before law."

Millions of black people affected by racial bias in health-care algorithms (Nature, link):

"Study reveals rampant racism in decision-making software used by US hospitals - and highlights ways to correct it.

An algorithm widely used in US hospitals to allocate health care to patients has been systematically discriminating against black people, a sweeping analysis has found."

New Technologies: Europol sets up an "Innovation Laboratory" (link):

"The EU interior ministers want to respond to the „challenges and opportunities“ of new technologies. The focus is on 5G networks, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, drones, 3D printing and improved decryption.

The Europol Police Agency will focus more on new technologies in the field of internal security. To this end, Europol will set up an „Innovation Laboratory“ to look for new ways of intercepting, decrypting and monitoring. This was decided unanimously by the European Interior Ministers at their last Council meeting at the beginning of October."

EU migration agenda highlights its shortcomings

"This can mean the application of more broad policy leverage. In this respect, the revised EU Visa Code, in force from February 2020, will be one important additional tool, providing the EU the possibility to adopt restrictive visa measures for third countries which do not cooperate sufficiently on readmission."

GREECE: The asylum draft bill violates international, EU and national law and exposes thousands of asylum seekers and refugees, the majority of whom are women and children, in high risk (Greek Council for Refugees, press release, link):

"Athens, October 23, 2019 - On the evening of October 21, and mere hours after the just 5 day-long public consultations were concluded, the draft bill “on International Protection” was submitted to Parliament through the urgency procedure.

The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) underlines that the proposed draft bill leads to the blatant undermining of fundamental guarantees and rights of refugees and asylum seekers, in violation of international, EU and national law, as well as the principle of non-refoulement."

See: GCR’s comments onthe draft bill “On International Protection” (pdf)

UN refugee agency expresses concern at Greek asylum plans (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The United Nations refugees agency UNHCR expressed concern on Thursday about Greek proposals to overhaul laws affecting asylum seekers, saying they could weaken the protection of refugees.

Greece has adopted a tougher stance on migration since the conservative government led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power in July. The country is currently struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee arrivals since 2015, when more than a million people crossed into Europe.

Greece is proposing to streamline a lengthy asylum process and deport rejected asylum seekers."

EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues (euobserver, link):

"Centre-right and liberal MEPs joined forces with the far right to weaken European Parliament's political pressure on member states when it comes to NGO search and rescue at sea.

The move is part of a larger resolution to be voted on Thursday (24 October) and comes amid internal efforts to kill off a progressive-led draft agreed earlier this week by the European Parliament's civil liberty committee (Libe)."

Europe quietly becoming a spy superpower (euobserver, link):

"Momentous changes are underway in European intelligence, propelled by new technology and a political push for integration.

And without finally having an open and inclusive public conversation about them, we risk losing the democratic legitimacy of these transformations.

The evolution of government surveillance is bold, multi-faceted, and confusing. Agencies across the continent are deploying an avalanche of new technologies, notably machine learning, to both advance new capabilities such as biometric surveillance and master long-standing challenges like information overload."

‘It’s the jungle’: Bosnian migrant camp in crisis (euractiv, link):

"No running water, putrid portable toilets and surrounding woods littered with land mines – these are the bleak conditions of a camp where hundreds of migrants brace for winter in Bosnia.

“It’s the jungle,” says Mohammad Nawaz, a 30-year-old Pakistani living in the tent-city built on a former garbage landfill in the northwest village of Vucjak."

France: Conviction of man who offered tea and warm clothes to asylum seekers must be reversed (AI, link):

"Ahead of the appeal hearing tomorrow of Pierre Mumber, a mountain guide who offered hot tea and warm clothes to four West African asylum seekers in the Alps and was then convicted of “facilitating irregular entry”, Amnesty International is calling for the conviction to be overturned."

EU: PNR: Council wants to "explore the necessity and feasibility" of the surveillance and profiling of all forms of mass transport

A draft set of Council conclusions calls for "a thorough impact assessment conducted by the European Commission on widening the scope of PNR Directive to other travelling forms than air traffic."

UK: Twice as many criminal cases collapse due to evidence failings as key information is not disclosed to defence lawyers over the last four years (Daily Mail, link):

"The number of criminal cases collapsing over failures to disclose key evidence to defence lawyers has almost doubled in four years.

New figures shows 1,078 cases were discontinued in first nine months of last year because of disclosure oversights by prosecutors - up from 567 in the whole of 2014. Over the whole of 2018 the total is expected to have been far higher.

The data, obtained under freedom of information laws, reignites the row over serious flaws in the way police and the Crown Prosecution Service hand over potentially crucial evidence to defence teams."

An agenda for transparency in the EU (European Law Blog, link) by Herwig Hofmann and Päivi Leino-Sandberg:

"Transparency and openness of Union decision-making procedures are foundational values of the EU[1] and essential to a system under the rule of law. But are the existing EU standards of transparency adequate to ensure that these values translate to legitimate exercise of public powers on the European level? In view of today’s challenges, is the EU’s approach to transparency sufficient, given that it is an atypical constitutional structure exercising sovereign powers across multiple levels of government and in constant need of explaining itself?

The European Council’s strategic agenda for 2019-2024 identifies respect of the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and transparency as a key focus, instructing each institution to “revisit its working methods and reflect on the best way to fulfil its role under the Treaties”... Regrettably, the mission letter to Vera Jourova, Commission Vice-President-designate for ‘Values and Transparency’, provides no concrete actions to deliver on the commitments included in the strategic agenda to develop the potential of the EU as a modern, open legal system connected to its citizens. "

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Third review welcomes progress while identifying steps for improvement (European Commission, link):

"Today the European Commission publishes its report on the third annual review of the functioning of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. The report confirms that the U.S. continues to ensure an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred under the Privacy Shield from the EU to participating companies in the U.S. Since the second annual review, there have been a number of improvements in the functioning of the framework, as well as appointments to key oversight and redress bodies, such as the Privacy Shield Ombudsperson. Being in the third year of the Shield's operation, the review focused on the lessons learnt from its practical implementation and day-to-day functionality. Today there are about 5,000 companies participating in this EU-U.S. data protection framework."

See: Report from the Commission on the third annual review of the functioning of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (COM(2019) 495 final, pdf) and: Staff Working Document (SWD(2019) 390 final, pdf)

Vulnerable child and women refugees refused evacuation from Libya (Al Jazeera, link):

"Asylum seekers awaiting evacuation from war-torn Libya say the United Nations has turned down scores of refugee relocation requests, including from women and children previously held in Libyan government-run detention centres where they were allegedly subject to abuse.

The rejected asylum seekers, who are among more than 900 people the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is hosting at a transit centre in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, say they have been asked to leave the facility.

More than 40 people staged a protest at the UNHCR's Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) on Thursday denouncing the move, according to photos provided by sources at the centre."

And see: Closure of detention centre exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions (MSF, link)

UNHCR probes Libya-Malta interception in migrant rescue (AP, link):

"The U.N. refugee agency is investigating why Malta last week allegedly asked the Libyan coast guard to intercept a migrant boat in a zone of the Mediterranean under Maltese responsibility, in possible violation of maritime law, a U.N. official said Tuesday.

Vincent Cochetel, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ special envoy for the central Mediterranean, told reporters in Rome that “there’s some evidence that Malta requested assistance (from) the Libyan coast guard to intervene” in its own search and rescue region on Oct. 18."

Return: voluntary, safe, dignified and durable? (Forced Migration Review, link):

"Voluntary return in safety and with dignity has long been a core tenet of the international refugee regime. In the 23 articles on ‘Return’ in this issue of FMR, authors explore various obstacles to achieving sustainable return, discuss the need to guard against premature or forced return, and debate the assumptions and perceptions that influence policy and practice. This issue also includes a mini-feature on ‘Towards understanding and addressing the root causes of displacement’."

Swiss election: Greens gain while far-right loses ground (euronews, link):

"The Greens made strong gains in Switzerland's election on Sunday while right-wing populist party SVP lost ground, final results showed.

Environmentalists could potentially win a seat in the coalition that has governed Swiss politics for decades.

As climate change and the country's relationship with the European Union were the main focuses of the political campaign, the Greens rode on voters' climate concerns in the parliamentary election."

Aegean Boat Report (link): Latest update 21.10.2019. Total number of refugees on the islands: 34,279.

Analysis 4 of the revised Brexit withdrawal agreement: citizens’ rights (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"The issue of the acquired rights of EU27 and UK citizens has long been a focus of this blog. It’s also one of the key issues in the debate over Brexit. I’m revisiting the issue now that there is a proposed revised withdrawal agreement, which consists of a revised Protocol on the Irish border (for a full text of the revised withdrawal agreement following this change, see here) and a revised political declaration on the future relationship."

European Parliament: Reaserch Services: EPRS: What if technologies replaced humans in elderly care? [Science and Technology podcast] (link);

"Europeans are ageing. In 2016, there were 3.3 people of working-age for each citizen over 65 years. By 2070, this will fall to only two. As the population lives longer, our care needs grow, but fewer people will be available to deliver them. Could assistive technologies (ATs) help us to meet the challenges of elderly care?"

EU data watchdog raises concerns over Microsoft contracts (euractiv, link):

"Microsoft’s contracts with European Union institutions do not fully protect data in line with EU law, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said in initial findings published on Monday (21 October).

The EDPS, the EU’s data watchdog, opened an investigation in April to assess whether contracts between Microsoft and EU institutions such as the European Commission fully complied with the bloc’s data protection rules."

See: EDPS investigation into IT contracts: stronger cooperation to better protect rights of all individuals (link)

Hal Far riot sparked by row between migrant and security (Times of Malta, link):

"Eyewitnesses said up to sixty people were involved in the riot that began at about 10pm on Sunday night but Mr Farrugia later said there were more than 300 people rioted.

Several fires were started and there were reports of stones being thrown at staff who manage the so-called 'Tent Village'. Five cars and a container that housed the administration facility were burnt out and confidential documents were strewn around. A police spokesman confirmed a police car was also damaged."

Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019 (euobserver, link):

"The partly EU-financed and trained Libyan Coast Guard has intercepted 7,404 refugees and migrants at sea and returned them to the war-torn country so far this year, according to figures from the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Many are then sent to notorious Libyan detention centres amid an ongoing backlash from human-rights organisations."

Bosnia Should Immediately Close Inhumane Migrant Camp - Relocate Migrants to Decent Accommodation Elsewhere (HRW, link):

"Over a year after Human Rights Watch first criticized Bosnia’s failure to protect the basic rights of migrants and asylum seekers, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is warning of a fast-developing humanitarian emergency in a makeshift camp near the border with Croatia. Over 20,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Bosnia since January 2019, but violent and unlawful pushbacks from Croatia have created a bottleneck on the border, leaving many stranded in unsafe conditions."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.10.19) including:

EU: Croatia’s Schengen Accession: Reinforcing Legal Red Lines Not Borders (ECRE, link):

"A tussle is taking place in the Commission over the accession of Croatia to Schengen – membership of the Schengen zone through accession to the Schengen treaty. On one side, President Juncker; on the other, a handful of Member States, technical experts, and a mounting pile of evidence about violations at the border.

As is to be expected from the “political Commission”, it is a highly political issue. Rumours abound that Juncker has promised Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic, an ally, that he will get it done before he’s done, and his public statements say as much.

But then there’s the situation at the borders. There is now widespread substantiated evidence of violence at Croatia’s borders, especially but not only at the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Evidence demonstrates breaches of international and EU law, including of the prohibition of refoulement under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the prohibition of collective expulsions under Article 4 Protocol 4 ECHR, of Articles 4 and 19 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights."

SPAIN: Attacks on ECCHR partner lawyer Gonzalo Boye (ECCHR, link):

"Spanish authorities have searched the home of our colleague and lawyer Gonzalo Boye, legal representative of Carles Puigdemont and several former Catalan ministers. The action taken by the Audiencia Nacional – a centralized court with jurisdiction over the Spanish territory – in our assessment is based on the assumed identification of Mr. Boye with his clients’ cause, the Catalan independence movement.

From the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights’ (ECCHR) and other international colleagues’ points of view, the search was conducted under a false pretext and with the aim of discrediting Mr Boye as a lawyer."

Desperate African refugees pay to get into Libyan jails - UNHCR (Reuters, link):

"African refugees in Libya are so desperate that some are bribing their way into detention centres in the hope of eventually being resettled out of the war-torn, lawless country, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in April to try to wrest control of Tripoli from forces aligned with the internationally-recognised government, which is based in the capital."

NORTHERN IRELAND: Finucane murder was followed by ‘assault on the rule of law’ (Irish Legal News, link):

"The murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was followed by “nothing less than an assault on the rule of law and the very fabric of a democratic society”, a senior barrister has said.

Fiona Doherty QC, part of the legal team for widow Geraldine Finucane and her family, spoke at the fifth annual Belfast Homecoming Legal Symposium at Law Society House yesterday about the ongoing campaign for the truth about the 1989 killing."

MALTA: Migrants' detention beyond 10 weeks 'on health grounds' is unlawful - court (Times of Malta, link):

"The detention of migrants for more than 10 weeks on the basis of health laws was unlawful and the migrants should be released, a court has ruled.

The judgement was delivered following an application filed by six asylum seekers, detained at the Safi Barracks beyond the legal limit of ten weeks.

The migrants, assisted by lawyers from Aditus Foundation and the Jesuit Refugee Service, filed separate applications claiming that their continued detention was not merely a ‘restriction of movement’ in terms of laws on the prevention of disease, but was a deprivation of their personal freedom."

WhyID: Protecting Our Identity in the Digital Age (Access Now, link):

"To the leaders of International Development Banks, the United Nations, International Aid Organisations, Funding Agencies, and National Governments:

We are a group of civil society organisations, technologists, and experts who work on digital identity developments across the world. We have worked directly with vulnerable populations, and witnessed the impact that ill-considered, badly designed, and poorly implemented digital identity programmes can have on human lives.

A Basic Question: Why ID?"

See also: Facilitating innovation, ensuring protection: the ICRC Biometrics Policy (ICRC, link): "As part of its digital transformation agenda, the ICRC decided to develop a Biometrics Policy that would both facilitate the responsible use of biometrics and address the data protection challenges this poses. So what does the responsible use of biometrics look like from the vantage point of an institution like the ICRC?"

21 Thoughts and Questions about the UK-US CLOUD Act Agreement: (and an Explanation of How it Works – with Charts) (European Law Blog, link):

"The Need to Unpack the Long-Awaited UK-US Data Sharing Agreement (pdf)

After four years of negotiations surrounded by secrecy, the United Kingdom and the United States finally released on October 7, 2019, the text of their Data-sharing agreement aiming to facilitate the cross-border access to electronic data for the purpose of countering serious crime. This long-awaited agreement is the first of the executive agreements envisioned by the CLOUD Act."

European Parliament Study: European Council conclusions: A rolling check-list of commitments to date (pdf): A very useful summary.

"This latest edition of the overview of European Council conclusions to date, presented in the form of a rolling check-list, is produced by the European Council Oversight Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), the European Parliament's in-house research service and think tank. Since 2014, the Unit has been monitoring and analysing the delivery on commitments made by the European Council in the conclusions of its meetings, as well as its various responsibilities, either in law or on the basis of intergovernmental agreements."

Council Conclusions are non-binding but provide a legal basis when two or more Member States decide to cooperate.

76 rescued migrants brought to Malta, as Italy rescues 180 more (Times of Malta, link):

"More than 75 migrants stranded at sea were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) on Tuesday and brought to shore.

The rescue came as an NGO accused Malta's AFM of ignoring a plea for help.

NGO Alarm Phone claimed in a tweet that it had informed the Maltese authorities on Monday night about the boat carrying around 75 migrants, but received no response.

The AFM later confirmed that it had rescued 76 people at sea but did not provide any further details."

Turkish Syria offensive raises Greek fears of new refugee influx - EU states divided over giving Turkey further funds to deter refugees from making crossing (Guardian, link):

"Turkey’s military push into Syria has sparked fears in Greece, already struggling with an alarming surge in the number of asylum seekers, of a new wave of migration to Europe.

With camps on Aegean islands at breaking point, Athens has insisted the topic should be discussed at this week’s EU summit. “Europe shouldn’t be caught unprepared again,” Giorgos Koumoutsakos, the Greek minister for migration policy, told local media. “Nobody can be certain what is going to happen.”"

End the Killing - For a European Policy of Human Rights (kritnet.org, link):

"We call on the European Council and the EU governments to:

– End the EU–Turkey deal.

– End the partnership with Erdogan’s government, cease arms supplies and make use of all possible avenues to halt at once the war against Rojava in northern Syria.

– Immediately evacuate the migrant camps on the Greek islands, and allow their inhabitants freedom of movement in Europe and their reception by Solidarity Cities.

– Lay new political foundations for migration and asylum in Europe, with policies committed to protecting the human rights of refugees and migrants in Syria, the Mediterranean and in Europe itself."

GREECE: Report on Rights Violations & Resistance in Lesvos - October 2019 (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"For over three years we have been reporting on the systematic denial of rights to migrants in Lesvos, and each report includes a laundry list of violations that only seem to worsen over time. The containment policy - at first opposed by UN agencies, NGOs and civil society - has become all but the norm in Lesvos.

Since the start of the year, 45,500 people have migrated to Greece, with approximately 18,000 arriving by sea from Turkey in August and September alone. Currently, over 14,000 people trapped on Lesvos are living in inhumane living conditions as a result of the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement, and the legislated containment policy that stipulates that asylum seekers cannot leave the Greek islands."

GREECE: Fire in Samos Refugee Camp (Pressenza, link):

"Last night there was a fire on the island of Samos, a fire that ripped through the temporary homes of human beings living in ‘the jungle’, the overfill space relied upon to house men, women and children in a Reception and Identification Centre that can no longer cope with the numbers of refugees stuck on the island waiting for an asylum meeting.

Fires, in the RICs are no longer deemed to be news worthy; during the summer months they were occurring on a weekly basis, but like the fire on Lesvos only two weeks ago, this fire was different. The fire on Lesvos led to the death of two people and like last night’s fire on Samos is a symptom of the extreme overcrowding, which leads to frustrations and arguments but that can also lead to far worse."

And see: Samos mayor warns island at breaking point after migrant camp fire (ekathimerini, link):

"The mayor of East Samos has warned that a fire at its Vathy migrant reception and processing center earlier his week has brought the eastern Aegean island to breaking point as hundreds of people are having to sleep in the streets and public squares.

“The island has become destabilized,” Mayor Giorgos Stantzos told a morning talk show on Antenna TV on Thursday, days after a fire and a riot at the facility. “We are counting down for something bad to happen.”"

The Rescue - A flimsy raft, more than 100 souls, and three teenage heroes - or are they pirates? (The Atavist, link):

"Abdalla Bari was hungry. It was the morning of March 26, 2019, and Bari and more than 100 other people were floating in a 30-foot-long rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere in the expanse of water between North Africa and Italy. Men straddled the boat’s edge, each with one foot dangling above the water and the other inside the dinghy. They formed a tightly packed ring around a huddled mass of women and children. At least one of the women was noticeably pregnant. Another, Souwa Nikavogui, was Bari’s wife."

MotM EXCLUSIVE | Going Homeless In Gran Ghetto (Migrants of the Mediterranean, link):

"“Just say ‘ghetto’ and anyone will tell you what bus to take. Just say ‘ghetto.’”

Peter* (Sierra Leone) told me this again and again in the days leading up to my visit. Those are imprecise, if not outright dubious directions when you’re wondering how to meet someone in one of Italy’s most precarious places.

Peter is in a ghetto in Foggia, Italy after leaving Isernia, a small town in the Molise region where I first met him in spring of this year."

UK: London: Police ban climate protests: MET Police statement: Extinction Rebellion protests (link)

Extinction Rebellion: Response to Metropolitan Police outlawing Extinction Rebellion protests in London - October 14, 2019 (link):

"The Climate and Ecological Emergency isn’t going away and we remain resolute in facing it.

We urge the Government and the authorities to join us in doing the same. We cannot do it alone.

This is bigger than all of us."

Also: Police ban Extinction Rebellion protests from whole of London - City-wide Met police operation begins to clear Trafalgar Square and other protest sites (Guardian, link)

Border Violence Monitoring Network: Balkan Region – Report September 2019 (link):

"The Border Violence Monitoring Network has just published it’s September report analyzing collated testimony of pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans. The case material covers extensive violations along Croatia’s border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, chain refoulement from Slovenia, pushbacks from Hungary to Serbia, and incidents from the North Macedonian -Greek border."

Download report (link)

Aegean Boat Report: Week 41: Report (pdf):

"A total of 181 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 5915 people. However, 125 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1776 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2316 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 75947 people. 40209 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1222 boats, so far in 2019."

EU: Meijers Committee: Response to a Note from the Presidency on ‘The future of EU substantive criminal law – Policy debate’ (pdf):

"it believes that the fundamental interests that are at stake in criminal policy, deserve to be reconsidered time and again – especially in the EU context where substantive criminal law competences are limited, either through institutional principles (such as the principle of subsidiarity), or through values-based principles rooted in criminal law theory (such as the last resort principle). The Meijers Committee therefore wishes to express its appreciation for the initiative to launch such a debate.(...)

the Meijers Committee concludes that the discussion has focused on criminalisation, with less or no attention for the (further) harmonization of sanctions."

EU: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM): Council of the European Union: Commission services: GAMM (LIMITE doc no: 11539-19,47 pages, pdf):

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

See previous: Update report - May 2019 (Statewatch News) and March 2019 (Statewatch News)

GREECE: Lesvos protesters said to prevent Spanish charity ship from docking (ekathimerini.com. link):

"Protesters on the island of Lesvos, in the eastern Aegean, have reportedly prevented the Open Arms – a humanitarian vessel operated by Spanish NGO Proactive – from docking at the northern harbor of Skala Sykamias, reports said.

The incident took place on Monday as a group of people, believed to be residents of Petra and Molyvos villages, reportedly threw stones at the vessel which currently remains anchored at around 200 meters from the coast."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-14.10.19) including:

UK: Hate crime surged during Brexit ‘surrender’ bill debates in parliament, police reveal (The Independent, link):

"Hate crime spiked during parliamentary debates around what Boris Johnson labelled a “surrender bill” aiming to prevent a no-deal Brexit, police have revealed.

Senior officers would not be drawn on the specific impact of the prime minister’s language but repeated appeals for moderation from public figures.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for operations said the increases “seemed to coincide with some of the debates” in parliament."

Hungary's opposition wins Budapest election, makes gains in other cities (Reuters, link):

"Hungary’s opposition scored its biggest election victory in a decade on Sunday when liberal challenger Gergely Karacsony ousted ruling-party incumbent Istvan Tarlos as mayor of Budapest and opposition parties made gains in other major cities as well.

The result will not affect Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s grip on national power as his Cabinet is buoyed by a strong economy, fierce anti-immigration rhetoric and hefty wage rises. His ruling Fidesz party remains wildly popular in rural areas.

No general election is due until 2022 and Orban, who rose to power in 2010, holds a huge majority in parliament."

Conservatives sweep Polish vote, put EU rule of law to the test (EurActiv, link):

"Right-wing ruling Law and Justice (PiS/ECR) won the parliamentary elections in Poland by a large margin, obtaining 43.6% of the votes, while the main opposition bloc – centre-left Civic Platform (KO) – obtained 27.4%, according to latest numbers published by the National Electoral Commission (PKW).

During the campaign, PiS has mixed nationalist rhetoric with a vast welfare programme financed by an economic boom and drawn support from poorer Poles who feel they have missed out on prosperity in the past decades."

Security Union: Commission calls on 4 Member States to respect EU exclusive competence in the area of automated DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data exchange (Prüm Decisions) (Commission press release, link):

"The Commission decided today to launch infringement procedure by sending letters of formal notice to Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania for signing an agreement with 5 Western Balkan countries on the automated exchange of DNA data, dactyloscopic data and vehicle registration on 13 September 2018. The Commission considers the agreement is in breach of EU exclusive competence in the area, especially since the exchange of such data between Member States is covered by the Prüm Council Decisions (Council Decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA). The Member States concerned have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion."

EU: European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants

European States must step up their efforts to protect child refugees and migrants who have endured not only difficult and dangerous journeys but continue to face risks and hardship once in Europe, including unsafe accommodation, being incorrectly registered as adults, and a lack of appropriate care, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has urged.

Catalonia leaders jailed for sedition by Spanish court

"Spain's Supreme Court has sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition over their role in an independence referendum in 2017."

Migrant deaths: 19,000 in Mediterranean in past 6 years (InfoMigrants, link):

"The Mediterranean crossing continues to be the deadliest migrant route worldwide: 19,000 migrants have been reported dead or missing since October 3, 2013. So far this year, the crossing has claimed over 1,000 victims.

...Here's how many migrants went missing or died in the Mediterranean Sea between 2014 and 2018:

- 3,280 in 2014
- 3,771 in 2015
- 5,143 in 2016
- 3,139 in 2017
- 2,297 in 2018
"

EU: Reform of Council transparency in stalemate (CEO, link):

"EU member states have recently been discussing how to open up their decision-making to more public scrutiny, especially in their legislative forum, the Council of the EU. The Council plays a crucial and powerful role in agreeing new EU rules and regulations, but has been compared to a “black box” by the EU’s own Ombudsman when it comes to transparency. Our Captured states report shows how this opacity provides a major advantage to corporate lobbyists who typically have the significant capacity and resources required to unravel, understand, and influence member states to push for new EU regulations in their favour. This is a deep-seated and long-standing problem with governance in the EU, and tackling it would require a revolution in how the Council operates. Sadly the current reform proposal is far too unambitious, and with the whole process now on hold due to a lack of agreement between member states, real progress seems far off."

UK: Implications of Brexit for asylum policy highlighted in new report (Irish Legal News, link):

"The most significant implication of UK withdrawal from the EU’s Dublin System – which determines responsibility for asylum applications – would be the loss of a safe, legal route for the reunion of separated refugee families in Europe, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Committee’s report Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy [pdf] has found.

In a no-deal Brexit scenario, refugees could be left in legal limbo, facing months of delays and additional distress, while a new framework to allow them to reunite with their families is negotiated.

The committee urges the UK and the EU to honour the right of refugees to family reunion by agreeing a temporary extension of current family unification arrangements in the event of no-deal."

See the report: Brexit: refugee protection and asylum policy (pdf)

Greece calls for more NATO ships to patrol Aegean Sea following Turkey’s Syria offensive (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on NATO to increase naval patrols in the Aegean Sea on Thursday (10 October) after a threat by Turkey to open Europe’s doors to more than three million migrants.

“I asked the Secretary General and the Alliance, and member states to strengthen their presence…in the Aegean Sea with more ships,” Mitsotakis said in a press conference after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Athens yesterday.(...)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier threatened that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in Syria."

Are You Syrious (10.10.19,link)

SEARCH AND RESCUE AT SEA

"Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario has finally received permission to proceed into the Mediterranean — without the permission to carry out rescue.

This is contrary to article 98 of the United Nations Convention.

In the past few days, the Spanish have loaded over seven tonnes of aids that they want to bring to the Greek Islands. that they would be bringing to Lesbos next Wednesday, October 16, via Sicily."

Hungary: Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure for nonprovision of food in transit zones (pdf):

"the European Commission decided to address a reasoned opinion to Hungary concerning the non-provision of food to persons held in the Hungarian transit zones at the border with Serbia. This concerns persons whose applications for international protection have been rejected, and who are waiting to be returned to a third country.

In the Commission's view, compelling returnees to stay in the Hungarian transit zones amounts to de facto detention under the EU's Return Directive. The Commission finds that failure to provide food in these circumstances does not respect obligations under Article 16 of the Return Directive and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union."

EP: Briefing: Role of Advocates General at the CJEU (pdf):

"Today, there are 11 Advocates General, six of these posts are permanently assigned to the larger Member States. Advocates General are Members of the Court of Justice of the EU, and are appointed under the same procedure as judges. They enjoy the same privileges as judges (immunity), and cannot be removed from office before the end of their six-year term of office. They may be re-elected. Unlike judges, however, they only have an advisory role and do not take part in the decision-making on cases."

CoE-CPT: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on the United Kingdom, focusing on police and prisons in Scotland (link):

"The purpose of the visit was to examine the situation in police and prison establishments in Scotland and to assess the progress made since the CPT’s previous visit in 2012; specific attention was paid to inmates in segregation, in remand, women prisoners generally and to overall healthcare issues. In addition, the delegation examined the treatment of persons in police custody and carried out visits to several police custody facilities across Scotland. The main conclusions of the CPT are set out in the executive summary of the report."

See: Report (pdf), Executive Summary (pdf) and: Government response (pdf)

Brexit: EU citizens who miss registration deadline face deportation - minister (BBC News, link):

"The UK will deport EU citizens after Brexit if they do not apply for the right to remain in time, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis says.

He told a German newspaper they would have to leave even if they met all the criteria for a residency permit. Campaign group the3million, which represents EU citizens in the UK, said this was "no way to treat people".

EU Copyright crackdown risks ‘automated censorship’ – Stihler (EU Reporter, link):

"Former MEP Catherine Stihler (pictured) spoke out against “the blind faith many will put in automated technology or systems to oversee enforcement of new copyright rules”. Stihler delivered a public lecture at CREATe, the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Centre based at the University of Glasgow."

Brexit: Travel, trade, new EU migrants and Irish border law: no-deal Brexit plan explained (Guardian, link):

"From employing EU citizens to driving in Ireland, plan aims to show UK ready for crashing out."

Germany warns of a new migration chaos echoing 2015 (euobserver, link):

"Germany has warned of a repeat of the chaotic influx of asylum seekers in 2015 that caught the EU unprepared. Greece and Cyprus have warned of increased migrant arrivals from neighbouring Turkey as the EU interior ministers meet."

EU fails to seal migrant redistribution deal (New Europe, link):

"An EU interior minister meeting on migrants in Luxembourg does not appear to have yielded a final deal on migrant redistribution.

Earlier on Tuesday, French EU Minister Amélie de Montchalin said 10 countries were ready to back the Malta accord to redistribute migrants as soon as possible."

The CJEU rules on consent to cookies under data protection law (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Last week’s CJEU ruling in in Planet 49 is an important Grand Chamber decision concerning the use of cookies and the meaning of consent under the e-Privacy Directive in the light of the Data Protection Directive but also the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation 2016/679)(GDPR). The judgment is therefore relevant for understanding the cookie obligations in the new regime as well as the old."

EU agency kept in dark on forced flight abuse (euobserver, link):

"Witnesses of abuse during a forced-return flight to Afghanistan last year preferred telling national authorities rather than informing the EU's border agency, Frontex.

The returns, on a flight from Munich to the war-torn country on 14 August 2018, had been coordinated by the EU agency, but were marked by reports of severe violations inflicted by German escort officers on a terrified Afghan man."

EU: Joint press release of the Palermo Charter Platform Process on the results of the EU Summit of Home Affairs Ministers on 23 September in Malta and the consequent negotiations on 8 October in Luxembourg (pdf):

"The Malta Agreement ("agreement on temporary reception and distribution mechanism") is not a hard-won solution, but nothing more than a partial emergency relief. We, European civil society initiatives and networks, mayors of European cities and search and rescue non-governmental organizations, demand a real solution that is adequate to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Over 15.000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea in the last five years. “Every single person is one too many,'' says Alessandra Sciurba from Mediterranea. "When we receive distress calls from people on boats, they fear both to drown and to be returned to Libya. The outsourcing of EU border control to Libyan forces and mass interceptions at sea have to stop,“ demands Maurice Stierl from WatchTheMed Alarm Phone. “ The establishment of an operational and sustainable European rescue mission is absolutely necessary in order to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean Sea. Sadly, it is still missing in the Malta agreement”, adds Sciurba."

See: Outcome of the Council meeting here and: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

EU: New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text

The European Parliament is due to approve a corrected version of the new Frontex Regulation, which was originally agreed between the Council and Parliament but has been undergoing revision by legal and linguistic specialists.

See: REGULATION (EU) 2019/... OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of ... on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf)

France Set to Roll Out Nationwide Facial Recognition ID Program (Bloomberg, link):

"France is poised to become the first European country to use facial recognition technology to give citizens a secure digital identity -- whether they want it or not.

Saying it wants to make the state more efficient, President Emmanuel Macron’s government is pushing through plans to roll out an ID program, dubbed Alicem, in November, earlier than an initial Christmas target. The country’s data regulator says the program breaches the European rule of consent and a privacy group is challenging it in France’s highest administrative court. It took a hacker just over an hour to break into a “secure” government messaging app this year, raising concerns about the state’s security standards.

None of that is deterring the French interior ministry."

A Threat from Within? Exploring the Link between the Extreme Right and the Military (ICCT, link):

"Right-wing violence and terrorism have slowly gained more academic and public attention in recent years, with an increase in anti-immigration and anti-government organised violence from the extreme right in most Western countries. Some evidence exists that right-wing extremists have attempted to infiltrate the military in their home countries to gain access to tactical training, weapons, and to recruit highly skilled new members.

...This Policy Brief will discuss available knowledge about extreme right-wing links to the military in Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. It will conclude by formulating concrete recommendations for handling this potential threat."

UK: The Government’s Prevent database isn’t about keeping us safe, it’s about control (Metro, link):

"The human rights group, Liberty, has just revealed that the Government is operating a secret database of every referral ever made to the anti-radicalisation programme, Prevent.

...This database isn’t about keeping us safe. It’s about keeping tabs on and controlling people, particularly minority communities and political activists.

...The majority of information on the database is gathered by public servants who have been co-opted by the Home Office under Prevent and encouraged to view even very young children as potential future criminals."

How a notorious Libyan trafficker was invited to an official Italian migrant meeting in Sicily (The Globe and Mail, link):

"The United Nations’ migration agency says it unknowingly co-operated with a notorious Libyan human trafficker in 2017, when he was invited by the Italian government to a meeting in Sicily at the height of the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday said it regrets dealing with the Libyan criminal, Abd al-Rahman Milad, better known as Bija, but didn’t know at the time that he was serial abuser of migrants."

IRELAND: Why We Need Independent Inspection of Garda Cells (Dublin InQuirer, link):

"Imagine if, for reasons you’re unsure of, you’re arrested and taken into custody. Now ask yourself: would you feel safe if the doors of a police cell slammed behind you?

The worst deeds happen behind closed doors. Detention of any type, whether in prisons, police cells or hospitals, is a dangerous situation for anyone. That’s recognised the world over – hence why human rights principles lay out special safeguards to prevent abuse of people who are detained, and accountability mechanisms so that mistreatment is detected and punished.

But one bulwark against mistreatment while in Garda custody – a system of independent inspections – is absent in Ireland."

Navy ship with 389 migrants and refugees reaches Piraeus (ekathimerini, link):

"A navy ship carrying 389 refugees and migrants from the southeast Aegean island of Symi docked at the Greek capital’s Piraeus port on Wednesday morning.

The asylum-seekers, most of them identified as Afghan nationals, were being taken on buses to unspecified facilities on the Greek mainland."

Delivering Refugees and Migrants to a ‘Place of Safety’ Following Rescue by States at Sea (Maritime Safety and Security Law Journal, link):

"Irregular migration by sea leads states such as Italy and Australia to conduct maritime rescue operations involving refugees and other migrants. During these operations, states must deal with the question of where to disembark survivors.

The law of the sea regime obliges states to ensure survivors are delivered to a ‘place of safety’, arguably requiring maritime officers to merely consider the physical safety of survivors immediately on disembarkation. Non-binding International Maritime Organization guidelines state that the need to avoid disembarking refugees and asylum-seekers in the states of departure or origin is also a consideration. The guidelines refer to other ‘relevant’ international law, including treaties dealing with ‘refugee refoulement’ or refoulement in connection with a risk of torture.

Under the international human rights law regime, including international refugee law, states’ obligations in relation to non-refoulement are broader and prohibit the return of refugees and migrants to states where they directly or indirectly face persecution, torture or other serious harm. In interpreting ‘place of safety’, this work argues that there is insufficient consensus to integrate the two legal regimes. Nevertheless, states can be under co-existing human rights obligations that place limits on disembarkation of rescued refugees and migrants."

UK: The Immigration Industrial Complex: A global perspective on ‘unfree labour’ in immigration detention (Futures of Work, link):

"Labour within immigration detention is not a widely acknowledged phenomenon, yet thousands of hours of work are being undertaken in detention centres throughout the world. In 2014, for example, over 495,000 hours-worth of work were undertaken by detainees in immigration detention centres in the UK alone. In 2015, this rose to over 923,000 hours-worth of work, and in 2016 over 537,000 hours-worth of work were undertaken between January and July 2016 (FOI request).

Taking a global perspective on this type of work is important as common colonial histories and global transfers in capital help to make sense of why detention practices are growing in popularity, and why migrants from particular countries of origin continue to be subjected to exploitative and ‘unfree’ labour at the hands of state parties and private corporations."

Commission starts negotiations with the USA on exchange of e-evidence

- talks start even though EU legislation not yet adopted
- CJEU questions the legality of proposed EU measure
- Commission says deal must include content and non-content data

On 25 September 2019 the Commission started negotiations with the USA on: E-evidence - Negotiations for EU-U.S. Agreement on cross-border access to evidence - report on state-of-play (RESTRICTED doc no: 12318-19, pdf)

The document also covers: in Annex II: Report on the state-of-play of Commission's participation, on behalf of the Union, in the negotiations for the Second Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime

ECHR: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Szurovecz v. Hungary (application no. 15428/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned media access to reception facilities for asylum-seekers.

The applicant in the case, a journalist for an Internet news portal, complained about the authorities’ refusal of his request to carry out interviews and take photographs at the Debrecen Reception Centre, thus preventing him from reporting on the living conditions there."

See: Judgment (pdf)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (link): Commissioner Mijatovic calls for bolder measures to protect the human rights and dignity of all migrants in the Mediterranean:

"member states have a chance to prevent further disastrous human rights and humanitarian consequences by suspending any co-operation activities with the Libyan authorities that impact on interceptions at sea and result in returns to Libya, until clear guarantees of full human-rights compliance are in place."

Mediterranean Fatalities in 2019 Rise to 1,071 with Latest Shipwreck off Lampedusa (IOM, link):

"Authorities found 22 migrants who survived the disaster, while 13 bodies – all women – were recovered by the Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza. As of Tuesday morning, 17 migrants remained missing, including more women and at least two children. Among the missing are nationals of the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry and four Tunisian nationals including three men and one 17-year-old boy.(...)

This latest tragedy brings to 1,071 the total number of deaths confirmed on the Mediterranean through 6 October, nearly two thirds of those deaths coming in the waters between North Africa and Italy."

Council of the European Union: Border management: EU signs agreement with Montenegro on European Border and Coast Guard cooperation (link);

"Today, the European Union signed an agreement with Montenegro on border management cooperation between Montenegro and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).(...)

The objective of this agreement is to allow Frontex to coordinate operational cooperation between EU Member states and Montenegro on the management of the borders that the European Union and Montenegro have in common. The signing of this agreement is yet another demonstration of the deepening and expanding cooperation with Montenegro. It will bring benefits for both parties, in particular in enhancing border management activities."

See: Full-text of agreement (pdf)

Greece: Aegean Boat Weekly Report 30 September to 6 October (pdf): HIghly detailed report:

"A total of 203 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 6,941 people. However, 139 boats were stopped by Turkish Coast Guard/police, and 2,242 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2191 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 71,808 people. 38,433 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1,166 boats, so far in 2019."

Migration solutions begin and end with Turkey (New Europe, link):

"Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened several weeks ago that he would “open the gates” for migrants to cross into Europe if the international community did not accept his pledge to create what he termed as “safe-zones” in Kurdish areas on the Turkish and Syrian borders."

The EU’s new migration policy is a gift to the far-right (euractiv, link):

"Far from taking the refugee issue away from the far-right, the EU’s new migration policy plan will simply hand the far-right a grievance it can exploit for years to come, writes Faisal Al Yafai."

UK: Counter-terror police running secret Prevent database (The Guardian, link):

"Counter-terror police across the UK have been running a secret database containing details of thousands of individuals referred to the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation Prevent programme, the Guardian can reveal.

The National Police Prevent Case Management (PCM) database is managed centrally by national counter-terrorism policing headquarters. It is accessible to all police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Home Office are able to request data from it, according to documents sent to the human rights group Liberty and seen by the Guardian."

See: Liberty uncovers secret Prevent database (link)

EU: Case C-93/18 Bajratari – Unlawful Employment and the Right to Free Movement (European Law Blog, link):

"On 2 October 2019, the CJEU delivered an important decision, which clarifies the ‘sufficient resources’ condition of Article 7(1)(b) Directive 2004/38 and simultaneously reinforces the right to free movement of Union citizens.

The case concerned the right of a third-country national mother of two minor Union citizens to reside in Northern Ireland in her capacity as their primary carer. The UK authorities had found that the mother could not claim a derived right of residence as the children did not fulfil the requirements set out in Article 7(1)(b) of Directive 2004/38. This provision sets out two conditions for the Union citizen’s right of residence in a host Member State for a period longer than three months: having (i) sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the host state’s social assistance system, and (ii) comprehensive sickness insurance cover."

Judgment: Case C-93/18 (pdf)

Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months (InfoMigrants, link):

"Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maion presented a new asylum decree intended to cut the time it takes for decisions on whether a migrant should be repatriated to four months: "It was a team effort," Di Maio told reporters at a press conference at the foreign ministry last week.

"I thank (Justice) Minister (Alfonso) Bonafede, Premier (Giuseppe) Conte and (Interior) Minister (Luciana) Lamorgese because this morning we signed a ministerial decree that enables us to bring down the measures to establish if a migrant can stay in Italy from two years to four months."

The decree would be the "first step in our plan for safe repatriations," he said, adding that only those who need protection could stay."

The Best and Brightest? Not Always for E.U. Leadership Jobs (New York Times, link):

"BRUSSELS — One official wore blackface. Another could not answer basic questions about his portfolio. A third has been accused of misusing public funds while in office, and is still being investigated.

Disgraced politicians? Hardly. All three are likely to be in charge of major policy areas across Europe for the next half-decade, potentially directing thousands of civil servants for the world’s richest and biggest single market."

UK: Deaths in custody: Saturday 26 October 2019 assemble at 12:00 @ Trafalgar Square: NO MORE STATE KILLINGS (pdf):

"The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) was set up in 1997 by families who had lost loved ones at the hands of the state to challenge the injustice in the system. It began as a network of black families because disproportionate numbers of black people were dying in police custody. It is now grown as a group that supports all families of the victims of custodial deaths at the hands of police officer, prison officers or in secure medical units.

Join us for this years annual remembrance procession which takes place on Saturday 26 October 2019 Assemble at 12pm at Trafalgar Square for a march on Downing Street."

UNHCR in Libya Part 1: From standing #WithRefugees to standing #WithStates? (euronews, link):

"October 3rd is a day upon which the UNHCR "remember and commemorate all the victims of immigration and promote awareness-raising and solidarity initiatives."

With that very sentiment in mind, Euronews has undertaken an investigation into the UNHCR's operation in Libya, where tens of thousands of migrants live in detainment camps, hoping to make it to Europe.

We uncover the extent of neglect in terms of care that can be found where migrants wait to be processed. We ask why the UN's humanitarian agency cannot have the required access in Libya when the mother organisation - The United Nations - is working with the Tripoli-based government. We ask why there is a severe lack of transparency surrounding the agency's operation and we talk to some of the migrants involved in the process and allow them to tell their stories."

Plus: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

UK: IOPC publishes figures on deaths during or following police contact for 2018/19 (IOPC, link):

"There were 16 deaths in or following police custody, a decrease of seven from a ten-year high in 2017/18, and in line with the average figure for over the last decade. No deaths took place within a police custody suite. Six people died in hospital after becoming unwell in a police cell, and six people were taken ill at the scene of arrest and died in hospital.

There were three fatal police shootings, compared to four fatalities last year.

There were 42 road traffic fatalities, an increase of 13 on last year and the highest figure in the past decade; 30 of the deaths were from police pursuit-related incidents, an increase of 13 from last year; five fatalities resulted from emergency response incidents, a decrease of three from last year.

There were 63 apparent suicides following police custody, a small increase on the previous year."

Report: Deaths during or following police contact: Statistics for England and Wales 2018/19 (pdf)

EU: JHA Council, 7-8 October: documents on EU-USA e-evidence negotiations; EU accession to the ECHR; right-wing extremism; and problems for plans to interconnect policing and migration databases

The Justice and Home Affairs Council is meeting in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 October. Issues under discussion include e-evidence negotiations between the EU and the USA; EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights; right-wing extremism and terrorism; and the implementation of the EU's plans to interconnect its migration and policing databases. Council documents published here indicate that this latter project is running into trouble.

GREEK ISLANDS: Over 100 migrants rescued overnight, as more transfers in the works (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek coast guards rescued 104 refugees and migrants in three separate operations in the eastern and southeastern Aegean in the early hours of Sunday, just as authorities are planning to transfer 570 asylum seekers from the island of Lesvos to the mainland. (...)

Official figures showed that there were around 13,300 people registered at the Moria camp on Sunday, among which some 1,000 are minors without a parent or chaperone."

Central Mediterranean Regional Analysis (Alarmphone, link):

"Over the past three months, the period of time covered by this regional analysis of developments in the central Mediterranean, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 39 distress situations in that region, involving over 2,337 people. Never before has the Alarm Phone been alerted to so many boats crossing this area of the Mediterranean Sea in such short period of time. 14 of these boats were intercepted and returned to Libya. 17 boats were rescued and brought to a European harbour, including eight by NGO vessels. The fate of six boats remains unknown. Two boats capsized, and about 140 people lost their lives."

Behind the razor wire of Greece’s notorious refugee camp (Observer, link):

"Moria camp mourns a woman’s death, after reports wrongly blamed residents for the fire that killed her.

Last week Moria was in mourning. A deadly fire last Sunday (29 September) killed a woman called Faride Tajik, described by UN officials as a widow with a teenage daughter who has now been taken into care outside the camp. Initial reports suggested a baby had been killed in the blaze that may have been started by refugees protesting over conditions.(...)

However, this account has been shown to be false. There were clashes between residents and the police and fire service but they came after the blaze when people were angry at a perceived failure to help. The Observer has seen and verified a number of time-stamped videos from the fire showing that the first responders were camp residents who brought an emergency firehose to combat the flames engulfing a cluster of stacked containers."

Aegean Boat Report: (link):

Today Aegean Boat Report past another milestone, 25000 followers on Facebook, and counting.

It started out as a small community on Facebook, with one single purposes, to provide information. This community has grown beyond my wildest expectations. It has been a long journey from December 2017 until today, and I’m exited to see what the future will bring.

To everyone who has supported me on this journey, THANK YOU."

See also: Moria Refugee Hotspot Camp, Lesvos Oct 2019 (You Tube, link)

Message from Lesvos (link):

Torrential rain has hit Lesvos overnight!
10.000 people are sleeping in tents!
45% are children!
The situation is heartbreaking!

“It is not enough for your country to be at war, you should be more vulnerable!” (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"I write to you who know my passion for sharing, learning and listening. With many of you, I’ve had conversations about how war and peace are part of the history of all peoples. What I can tell you now, because of what I am experiencing and learning here on Lesvos, is that there are different forms and consequences of what we know as war. The first consequence is death and destruction. After comes the reconstruction phase which is almost impossible. War brings unimaginable destruction, displaces millions of people, and destroys families. Refugees have lived through all of this."

Greece desperately seeking to halt refugees and migrants flows (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Greece is desperately seeking to halt the refugees and migrants flows and intensifies its contacts with Turkey and the European Union. Migration Policy Minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, is meeting with the Turkish Interior Minister and high ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on Thursday.(...)

boats with refugees and migrants keep arriving in Greece. Between Wednesday and Thursday morning, ten boats with a total of 463 people arrived alone on Lesvos; 700 people from Tuesday to Thursday."

AYS Daily Digest 3/10/19: Stranded in misery, from the Aegean sea to the Strait of Dover (Medium, link):

"Stranded in misery, from the Aegean sea to the Strait of Dover - 300 people arrive in a single day to the overcrowded island camps in Greece, the situation on verge of cracking - Turkey-EU grey area spreading to the fourth year / about 400 people stranded in the woods of Grande Synthe

During the day of October 3, at least eight boats arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, with 299 people on board, Aegean Boat Report states. More than 35,800 people had arrived this way since the begining of this year, accordinng to the UN’s statistics. In spite all the tragedies and harsh conditions people face (for a long time) once they reach the Aegean islands, there is a rise in the number of those who make an attempt and reach Greece by boat from Turkey."

More than 700 migrant arrivals in Lesvos in past 36 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 703 refugees and migrants arrived on the island of Lesvos between Tuesday midnight and Thursday noon, authorities announced on Thursday.

Based on the data, 191 people reached the island on Thursday, 177 on Wednesday and 335 on Tuesday.

The number of those hosted in and around the Moria reception centre has jumped 140 percent in the period July-September 2019 from 5,500 to a whopping 13,200, while, in the same period, 4,000 people have been transferred to reception facilities on the mainland."

Third Anniversary of EU-Turkey Statement: A Legal Analysis (Heinrich Böll Stiftung, link):

"During the EU-Turkey Summit held on 29 November 2015, parties agreed to support refugees fleeing civil war in Syria and their host country Turkey, and to implement a Joint Action Plan, adopted on 15 October 2015, which sought cooperation to prevent irregular migration flows to the European Union. "

Sea Watch migrant rescue captain Carola Rackete criticizes EU lawmakers (DW, link):

"The Sea Watch 3 captain, who memorably defied Italy's landing ban, chastised EU lawmakers for the situation in the Mediterranean. She said rescuers were legally compelled not to return migrants to Libya as it is unsafe.

"The EU member states have engaged in a policy of externalization of their responsibilities and a practice of pushbacks and omissions of rescue, delegating interventions to a country at war, Libya, in breach of international law," Rackete said Thursday to both applause and jeers."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: PACE to Europe’s governments: ‘It is your duty not to let people drown in the Mediterranean’ (link):

"While welcoming the commitment of NGOs to carrying out sea rescues, the Assembly has insisted that “it is the duty of States not to let people drown in the Mediterranean.

States should also allow NGOs to carry out their life-saving missions in the Med, and refrain from “stigmatising” their work. The captains of all such rescue vessels should be able to disembark migrants and refugees in the nearest port of safety, as provided for in international maritime law."

See: Adopted Resolution (pdf)

Greece needs to face reality about asylum seekers (euobserver, link):

"The Greek islands are under the spotlight again, as a new wave of tragic events has hit asylum seekers trapped there.

On 29 September, a big fire broke out in Moria - the notorious camp on the island of Lesbos - killing one woman, and injuring at least nine more people, including a baby, the health ministry reported.

On 24 September, a truck killed a five-year-old Afghan boy who was playing just outside Moria.(...)

Comment: The latest government figures (3.10.19) show that a total of 30,666 refugees are present on the Greek islands. Including 14,930 on Lesvos with places for 3,000 and 6,028 on Samos with places for 648.

FIVE EYES: US, allies seek access to Facebook encrypted messaging apps (DW, link):

"US, UK and Australian officials want Facebook to give authorities a way to read encrypted messages sent by ordinary users. Law enforcement has long sought access despite pushback from tech giants and privacy advocates.

US Attorney General William Barr and his British and Australian counterparts are pressing Facebook to create a so-called backdoor to give authorities access to encrypted messages on WhatsApp and other messaging platforms."

EU states given right to police Facebook worldwide (euobserver, link):

"National courts in EU states can order Facebook to delete content "worldwide", Europe's top tribunal has ruled, in what the US social media giant called an attack on free speech.

If content was deemed "illegal" by a national court, then Facebook could be ordered to "remove information covered by the injunction or to block access to that information worldwide", the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in Luxembourg on Thursday (3 October).."

CJEU: Press release: EU law does not preclude a host provider such as Facebook from being ordered to remove identical and, in certain circumstances, equivalent comments previously declared to be illegal (pdf) and judgment: Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek v Facebook Ireland Limited (Case C-18/18, pdf)

Data access blow for EU nationals with UK immigration cases (euractiv, link):

"EU nationals will be unable to access their personal records held by the UK government in immigration cases, following a high court ruling on Thursday (3 October) that said “immigration exemption” introduced last year was not unlawful.

The 3million organisation, one of the civil society groups campaigning for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, had argued that the immigration exemption introduced in the country’s Data Protection Act (DPA), which came into force in May last year, denies people access to their personal records in immigration cases."

Judgment: Open Rights Group and the3million v Secretary of State for the Home Department ([2019]EWHC 2562 (Admin), 3 October 2019, pdf) and see: Open Rights Group and the3million seek to appeal immigration exemption judgment (ORG, link)

UK: Is the prime minister’s defence of free speech ‘humbug’? (IRR News, link):

"If we are not vigilant, the government’s attempts to deny the links between speech that inflames and actual acts of physical violence could be extended to deny or excuse incitement to racial hatred."

New Frontex Regulation: Fortress Europe to be upgraded (link):

"The European Union is setting up a "Standing Corps“ of 10,000 border guards, most of whom will be provided by the German Federal Police. The new President of the Commission wants the unit to be complete by 2024. Frontex will also be given more powers and change its organisational structure."

Greece to unblock camps after migrant deaths (Politico, link):

"Following a Cabinet meeting, the government said it would try to decongest camps on the Aegean islands, by transferring people to the mainland and setting up closed pre-departure centers for those who are to be deported or sent back to their country of origin. It also said it would create a “safe-country list” for people who have illegally entered Greece, making it easier to send them back if they are not at risk at home.

The goal is for some 20,000 people to leave the squalid conditions in the islands' reception centers, Greek officials said. The center-right government also aims to deport some 10,000 people in 2020, compared with the approximately 1,800 people deported in total during the past four and a half years under the previous left-wing Syriza government."

Lesvos Legal Centre: Press release: Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp (link):

"In what comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the hotspots on the Greek islands, yesterday a fire broke out inside Moria Refugee Camp, which currently houses approximately 13,000 people in unlivable, cramped ‘housing’. The fire apparently started after an electric short-circuit in one container and killed at least one woman and resulted in the severe injury of many others

After the fire was finally put out, with the assistance of many residents of the camp, and the bodies of several carried to ambulances, protests over the conditions inside the camp were met with excessive use of tear gas by the police."

Does Frontex arrange illegal push backs? (link):

"The EU Border Agency’s air surveillance could have triggered unlawful deportations at external borders. Such operations took place off Libya and Bosnia-Herzegovina."

Interpol requests from Turkey: Sloppiness of German police puts own citizens into prison (link):

"Two Germans are in extradition custody in Slovenia and Italy at the request of Turkish authorities. Both come from Turkey and were granted asylum in Germany for political persecution and later citizenship. Interpol should have withdrawn the request. The BKA, however, concealed the asylum status of the two."

GREECE-ECHR: The remedies proposed to detained migrants in emergency reception centres in Greece were neither accessible nor sufficient (pdf):

"The case concerned the conditions of detention of Syrian, Afghan and Palestinian nationals in the “hotspots” of Vial and Souda (Greece), and the lawfulness of their detention in those camps.(...)

In contrast, the applicants, who did not have legal assistance, had not been able to understand the content of the information brochure; in particular, they were unable to understand the material relating to the various appeal possibilities available under domestic law. (...)

Even assuming that the remedies were effective, the Court did not see how the applicants could have exercised them. Having regard also to the findings of other international bodies, the Court considered that, in the circumstances of the case, the remedies in question had not been accessible to the applicants.

There had therefore been a violation of Article 5 § 4."

Judgment: Kaak et autres v Grèce (French only, application no. 34215/16, pdf)

GREECE: Aegean Boat Report (2.10.19):

"At least 9 boats have arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands since yesterday, 392 people. (...)"and

"Today (1.10.19) at least 12 boats have arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, 459 people. Seven of the boats arrived on Lesvos."

See also: Third group of refugees, migrants transferred from Moria (ekathimerini.com, link):

215 men, women and children were tranfered to the mainland on Tuesday 1 October folowing the death of a woman in Moria detention centre on Sunday. 350 were transfered the previous Friday.

UN: Migrant, refugee death toll in Mediterranean tops 1,000 for 6th year (ekathimerini.com, link):

"More than 1,000 migrants and refugees have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year, the sixth year in a row that this "bleak milestone" has been reached, the United Nations said on Tuesday."

GREECE-TURKEY: Koumoutsakos visiting Ankara amid spike in migrant arrivals (ekathimerini.com, link):

"speaking to members of the Parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee on Wednesday, Koumoutsakos said there was a 200 percent jump in the number of migrant arrivals in the last five months, and that the EU-Turkey statement worked until 2017, but as of 2018, there had been an “impressive increase.”

Bulgaria: Human Rights Group Under Threat - Halt Attacks on Bulgarian Helsinki Committee; Dismiss Bogus Request (HRW, link):

"Bulgaria’s prosecutor general should reject a call from a political party in the country’s governing coalition to disband the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), Human Rights Watch said today. The party has been in legal battles for years with the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee over its stance on anti-discrimination issues."

UK-BREXIT: Parliament to be prorogued next Tuesday (BBC News, link):

"The government has confirmed it plans to prorogue Parliament next Tuesday and hold a Queen's Speech on 14 October.(...)

Already, however, opposition parties have raised concerns.

A source told the BBC that Boris Johnson was trying to avoid Prime Minister's Questions and Parliamentary scrutiny."

Can Schinas put EU values back into migration brief? (euobserver, link):

"The migration issue continues to dominate the EU corridors of power and its agenda.

The new EU leaders and member states will no doubt be reviewing the union's migration policies. "

Greece must act to end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres, EU support crucial (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today calling on Greece to urgently move thousands of asylum-seekers out of dangerously overcrowded reception centres on the Greek Aegean islands. Sea arrivals in September, mostly of Afghan and Syrian families, increased to 10,258 - the highest monthly level since 2016 – worsening conditions on the islands which now host 30,000 asylum-seekers.

The situation on Lesvos, Samos and Kos is critical. The Moria centre on Lesvos is already at five times its capacity with 12,600 people. At a nearby informal settlement, 100 people share a single toilet. Tensions remain high at Moria where a fire on Sunday in a container used to house people killed one woman. An ensuing riot by frustrated asylum-seekers led to clashes with police.

On Samos, the Vathy reception centre houses 5,500 people – eight times its capacity. Most sleep in tents with little access to latrines, clean water, or medical care. Conditions have also deteriorated sharply on Kos, where 3,000 people are staying in a space for 700.

Keeping people on the islands in these inadequate and insecure conditions is inhumane and must come to an end."

EU: 'Moria is hell': asylum seekers protest conditions at Greek camp (Reuters, link):

"Hundreds of asylum seekers protested conditions at Greece’s biggest migrant camp on Lesbos on Tuesday after a woman was killed in a fire there, marching towards the island’s capital before being halted by police.

More than 12,000 people - mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - live in Moria camp, which has grown to become the island’s second largest town in just three years.

The woman’s death on Sunday was the third there in two months. An Afghan teenager was killed in a fight in August and a five-year-old Afghan boy was accidentally run over by a truck while playing in a cardboard box outside the camp in September."

Guns and glory: Criminality, imprisonment and jihadist extremism in Europe (EPC, link):

"Throughout Europe and beyond, terrorist groups, in particular the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), are increasingly recruiting individuals with backgrounds in crime and using their skills, connections in the criminal world, and experience with law enforcement bodies to finance, plan, prepare and execute their attacks. This recruitment takes place both outside and inside prisons. At the same time, jihadism has provided a specious morality for certain delinquents to rationalise and even justify their criminal activities.

...in the following publication... experts from both organisations carry out an independent assessment of these urgent challenges as they occur in ten European countries (Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom). Drawing on this, they have proposed a number of bold recommendations to European governments and EU institutions to counter the ongoing threat of the crime-terror nexus."

EU: European Commission: report on use of the European Arrest Warrant in 2017

In 2017, European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) were most commonly used for offences falling within the categories of theft and criminal damage (2,649 EAws); fraud and corruption (1,538); and drugs (1,535), although not all member states provided the European Commission with the requested information.

Hungary Denies Claim It Backs Linking EU Budget to Rule-of-Law (Bloomberg, link):

"Hungary rejected a claim by the European Union’s rotating presidency that all member states have agreed to tie the bloc’s funding to rule-of-law conditions.

“No way, this is a misunderstanding,” Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said by phone on Monday, reacting to a statement by Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose government holds the EU’s rotating presidency. Hungary would be ready to veto the EU budget if payouts were linked to new rule-of-law criteria, Kovacs said.

Hungary and Poland, which are already at odds with the EU over alleged rule-of-law violations, have opposed linking billions of euros of aid from the EU to democratic standards, a conditionality currently discussed as part of the next seven-year EU budget from 2021."

See: Finnish PM says EU ready to tie funding to rule-of-law criteria (Reuters, link)

Letter from civil society organisations to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations: Protecting the rights of migrant children (pdf):

"Migrant children are being denied their right to survival and development, to education and family unity, to their cultural identity and to participation in our society by discriminatory and arbitrary migration policies and practices, are denied access to psychological recovery from those harms and to psycho-social, health and welfare resources, detained and separated from their families deliberately and without access to justice and protection measures. Those civil society members who provide assistance and who defend the rights of young migrants must also be free from the fear of prosecution and persecution for so doing, including punitive measures against their families.

There are no justifiable reasons for this systemic harm and abuse of children. States must find new solutions to their legitimate concerns to manage immigration. These measures MUST comply with all existing universally adopted children's rights standards, not be set against them."

USA: Do DNA Databases Make Would-Be Criminals Think Twice? (Undark, link):

"...what if instead of just bringing more perpetrators to justice, the widespread perception of law enforcement’s genetic omniscience was also preventing crimes from happening in the first place? Or to put it slightly differently, what if the fear of being done in by DNA is actually holding potential offenders back from criminal behavior? This would seem like an extremely difficult effect to measure, but some researchers are using sophisticated analysis of crime data to argue that it is real, and that it results in lower recidivism rates.

Just how strong the deterrent effect is, or whether it’s any better at discouraging would-be criminals than, say, incarceration — which studies suggest is at best a weak deterrent — remain open questions. And even if it is more effective, some civil liberties advocates argue that this sort of biosurveillance is likely to weigh more heavily on some segments of the population than others, raising genuine civil rights concerns."

EU: MEPs concerned with peace should worry about the new ‘Defence Industry & Space’ unit (EurActiv, link) by Laetitia Sedou:

"On 2 October, the European Parliament committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) will hear the French Commissioner-designate Sylvie Goulard, whose Internal Market portfolio will include a new Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space... the creation of a DG for the Defence Industry will open the door even wider for corporate interests of the arms industry to dominate the EU agenda. The arms industry has long been calling for such a DG to be created, and the recent set-up of an EU Defence Fund was heavily influenced by it.

...MEPs should all the more be alarmed that the EU is engaged in an ideological, political, industrial and material preparation for war, whatever form conflicts will take in the future; in other words it is undergoing a rampant but characterised militarisation process (something more complex than whether or not to have an ‘EU army’). Elected representatives should ask themselves and Sylvie Goulard if this is really what EU citizens are expecting from the EU."

See also: Open letter to Members of the European Parliament: The EU peace project is under threat (pdf)

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: 'Large increase in anti-Bosnian, anti-Muslim bigotry': Report (Al Jazeera, link):

"Islamophobic rhetoric at the political level, which at its peak in the 1990s Bosnian War played a significant role in the massacre of thousands of Bosniak Muslims, is once again being used by Serbian and Croatian politicians - including those of Bosnian background - with dangerous aims, according to a new report.

Prior to and during the 1992 -1995 conflict, divisive and dehumanising language was used with the hope of splitting the country into "Greater Croatia" and "Greater Serbia".

According to the European Islamophobia Report 2018, which was published by the Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research think tank on Friday, politicians and some sections of the media are today attempting to falsely present Bosnia as a "radical Muslim haven" in order to undermine the country - again with the aim of dividing it territorially."

See: European Islamophobia Report 2018 (link): "This report investigates in detail the underlying dynamics that directly or indirectly support the rise of anti-Muslim racism in Europe in 2018."


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