Home | News Online | Publications | Analyses | Observatories | Database | SEMDOC | Journal | Support our work
What's New on the Statewatch website: 2016
Carries all items that have been added or updated from News Online, News Digest and Observatories.
- What's New archives:1999 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015: Jan-Jun and July-Dec
- Join Statewatch news e-mail list: Latest e-mail alerts sent out on: 1 February 2016 (pdf), see Email Archive
- Follow us: | | Tweet
- Civil liberties are continually under threat: Support our vital work
See Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: For daily news and document updates.
Refugee crisis: European Commission "State of Play" reports: 10 February 2015
- Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Progress on Priority Actions (Press release, pdf):
"In view of next week's European Council, the Commission is today reporting on the implementation of the priority actions under the European Agenda for Migration and highlighting key areas where immediate action is needed to restore control."
- Managing the Refugee Crisis: Commission reports on implementation of EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (pdf):
"First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "I...We will continue to work jointly with our Turkish partners to fully implement the joint action plan so we can deliver on the commitments taken to bring order into migratory flows.. "
- Implementing the Common European Asylum System: Commission acts on 9 infringement proceedings (Press release, pdf)
"The European Commission today decided to issue reasoned opinions against Member States in 9 infringement cases concerning their non-transposition of the Common European Asylum System. The decisions concern Germany (2 cases), Estonia, Slovenia (2 cases), Greece, France, Italy and Latvia."
- State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration: COM 85-2016 (pdf)
Commission arguing today that Turkey is a 'safe third country' so Greece & other MS should send refugees back
"Safe third countries
The Asylum Procedures Directive provides Member States with the possibility not to examine the substance of an asylum claim where, due to a sufficient connection with a "safe third country", the applicant can instead seek protection there. Where the conditions are met, this provision allows Member States to close the asylum procedure and to return the asylum applicant to the safe third country in question. However, at this stage, not all Member States foresee the application of this possibility in their national laws, or they do so under restrictive conditions. All Member States are therefore encouraged to foresee in their national legislation the notion of safe third countries and to apply it when the conditions are met.
In this context, the Commission underlines that the concept of safe third country as defined in the Asylum Procedures Directive requires that the possibility exists to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention, but does not require that the safe third country has ratified that Convention without geographical reservation. Moreover, as regards the question whether there is a connection with the third country in question, and whether it is therefore reasonable for the applicant to go to that country, it can also be taken into account whether the applicant has transited through the safe third country in question, or whether the third country is geographically close to the country of origin of the applicant." [emphasis added]
- Commission: Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation as of 1 June 2016 (pdf) and ANNEX 1 (pdf)
- Annex 1: EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan - Implementation Report (pdf)
- Annex 2: Greece - State of Play Report (pdf)
- Annex 4: Relocation (pdf)
- Annex 5: Follow up to Western Balkans Leaders' Meeting - State of Play report (pdf)
- Annex 7: Pledges(pdf)
- Annex 8: Implementation of EU law - State of Play (pdf)
- Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Commission reports on progress in Greece, Italy and the Western Balkans (Press Release, pdf)
- Italy - State of Play (not available)
CARRY ON AND IMPLEMENT THE DECISIONS: European Council: European Council (18-19 February 2016) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5078-16, pdf):
"All Members of the Schengen area should apply fully the Schengen Borders Code and refuse entry at external borders to third-country nationals who do not satisfy the entry conditions or who have not made an asylum application despite having had the opportunity to do so...
As far as the "European Border and Coast Guard" proposal is concerned, work should be accelerated with a view to reaching a political agreement under the Netherlands Presidency."
UK: The European Court of Justice has agreed to expedite the hearing of the Davis-Watson mass surveillance case:
"it is clear that national legislation that permits the retention of all electronic communications data and subsequent access to that data is liable to cause serious interference with the fundamental rights laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter (see judgment in Digital Rights Ireland and Others, C.293/12 and C.594/12, EU:C:2014:238, paragraph 37)....
Accordingly, it is appropriate to order that Case C.698/15 be determined pursuant to the expedited procedure."
See: CJEU Order (pdf)
Law Allows Detention of Asylum Seekers in Bulgaria (Detained, link): "These broad discretionary powers represent a serious risk factor for corruption. Regarding zones of movement, their introduction in a relatively small country like Bulgaria, which, unlike Germany, has a centralized model of government, and in which economic opportunities are concentrated in several big cities, appears unjustified, especially considering that the same bill aims at helping asylum seekers participate in the labour market by giving them the right to work after three months from the beginning of their asylum procedure.
European Parliament Study: The context and legal elements of a Proposal for a Regulation on the Administrative Procedure of the European Union's institutions, bodies, offices and agencies (pdf):
"The purpose of this Regulation is fostering compliance with the general principles of EU law, reducing the fragmentation of applicable rules, improving transparency and allowing for simplification of Union legislation by establishing a concise basic set of procedural provisions common to multiple policies."
See also: Better Administrative making at EU level (when the European Parliament paves the way to an, almost reluctant, European Commission ) (EASFJ, link)
EU: Joint Communiqué - Charting the way ahead. An EU Founding Members initiative on strengthening Cohesion in the European Union (link): "Joint Communiqué: The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands met on 9 February 2016 in Rome. They declare... "
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.16)
Where is the EU going?
Turkish PM in Brussels migration talks next week (euobserver, link):
"Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is set to meet leaders from a handful of EU states ahead of an EU summit in Brussels next week... A similar pre-summit meeting was held last December with Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Greece, France, Portugal, Slovenia and the Netherlands at the Austrian permanent representation in Brussels...
Turkey is hoping to get visa restrictions on its nationals lifted in October. The EU wants to start returning people this summer who transited through Turkey to claim asylum in the EU but are not entitled to international protection.... Nato will discuss possible support for patrolling the Aegean, after the idea was raised by Germany and Turkey on Monday.... outstanding political issues remain, with some member states, particularly in the east, reluctant to accept Muslims" and
Turkey, Germany to involve NATO in monitoring Syrian refugee exodus (euractiv, link): "Turkey and Germany plan to seek help from NATO allies in monitoring Syrian refugees trying to get to Europe across the Aegean Sea, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday (8 February)." and:
National reluctance sinks EU's refugee relocation plan (euractiv, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker's flagship plan to stem Europe's migration crisis by redistributing refugees around the bloc risks crumbling, as EU states balk at sharing the burden, according to several diplomats and officials.... some countries are setting unacceptable conditions by refusing Muslims, black people or large families, with Eastern European states the worst for discriminating on religious or racial grounds." [emphasis added]
Council of Europe: Greek Journalist Brutally Attacked during Public Rally (link):
"Greek reporter, Demitrios Perros, working as a freelance journalist for the municipal radio Athens 9,84FM, was brutally attacked by unknown assailants, on 4 February 2016, while covering a protest rally organised by the public and private sector workers confederations, in Athens. According to media reports, the journalist was approached by persons unknown to him on Panepistimiou Street, in the centre of the capital, and asked whether he was a journalist. Following his positive answer, the men started hitting him with wooden planks on the head and the spine while the police stood by without taking any action to intervene. Demitrios Perros was left seriously injured to the head and face and was taken to the Red Cross hospital by colleagues."
and Press release from the European Federation of Journalists (pdf)
UK: Internet monitoring bill 'must do more to protect privacy' (BBC News, link):
"Plans to give firm legal backing to mass data collection and hacking by Britain's spies do not do enough to protect privacy, a watchdog has warned. The extent of the intelligence agencies' computer and internet spying operation has recently become clear.
The draft Investigatory Powers Bill is meant to put it on a firm legal footing. But the Intelligence and Security Committee says the bill lacks clarity and is a "missed opportunity"."
See: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: Report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill (pdf)
And see: MI5 "Covert Technical Operations Specialists" job ad (link)
Israel got real-time leaks from EU security talks (euobserver, link):
"When EU ambassadors met in the Political and Security Committee (PSC) to discuss Middle East policy on 15 January, some of them didn't know there was in effect a 29th delegation in the room - Israel.
They were finalising a statement to be endorsed by EU foreign ministers a few days later. But Israeli diplomats appeared to be reading EU draft texts and amendments in real time.
Some EU sources said Israeli contacts sent text messages to them with requests to alter wording shortly after each new draft went round."
European Parliament study: Reception of female refugees and asylum seekers in the EU Case study Germany (pdf):
"Upon request by the FEMM Committee, the reception of female asylum seekers in Germany is examined. The research is provided for the delegation of FEMM Members to a refugee camp in Munich/Germany. It presents both the EU and the German legal framework concerning the reception of (female) refugees. Attention has been paid whether gender-sensitive asylum application procedures and reception conditions are provided in practice in Germany."
Women's Refugee Commission: No Safety for Refugee Women on the European Route (link):
" There is virtually no consideration of gender-based violence along the route to ensure safe environments, identify survivors and ensure that services are provided to them.
Protection risks for women, girls and other vulnerable groups are present at every stage of the European refugee migration; and at every point where risk could be mitigated, the opportunity to do so is squandered."
GERMANY-TURKEY: Angela Merkel visits Turkey in bid to galvanise refugee crisis response (Guardian, link):
"German chancellor vows to take refugees directly from Turkey into Europe and calls for Nato patrols in Aegean as she meets Recep Tayipp Erdogan. Angela Merkel has promised to take refugees directly from Turkey into Europe and called for Nato patrols in the Aegean on her second visit to Ankara in three months as she desperately tried to enlist Turkeys help in easing the refugee crisis, the biggest threat to her power at home and the stability of the European Union....
The four-page record of a meeting between Erdogan and Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, the presidents of the European commission and the European council, in the Turkish resort of Antalya in November, paints a picture of an EU prostrate before a Turkish leader who treats their offers, pleas, and arguments with derision."
Turkey and Germany agree on plan to ease refugee crisis (aljazeera.com, link): "Turkey and Germany have agreed on a set of measures to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis,... German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in the Turkish capital for talks on how to reduce the influx of refugees into Europe, said after discussions with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's prime minister...
Davutoglu said the two countries' security forces would increase efforts to thwart illegal migration and combat smuggling groups. The two leaders would also be trying to get NATO's involvement in the refugee issue, Davutoglu said. He said they would seek the use of NATO's observation capabilities at the border with Syria and in the Aegean Sea....
Turkey has since started to require Syrians arriving from developing countries to apply for visas, in an effort to exclude those who aim to continue on to Greece. Turkey has also agreed to grant work permits to Syrians as an incentive for them to stay in Turkey, and has announced plans to increase coastguards' capabilities and designate human smuggling as a form of organised crime - which would bring stiffer punishments." [emphasis added]
and see: Germany, Turkey want Nato help to police coast (euobserver, link): "Germany and Turkey are seeking Nato help to police the Turkish coast guard along the Aegen Sea to clamp down on people smugglers."
Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Pass 76,000; Deaths Top 400 (IOM, link):
"IOM estimates that over 76,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe by sea through the first six weeks of 2016. The daily average of nearly 2,000 arrivals is nearly ten times the daily average of a year ago.
Through 8 February, IOM has recorded 409 fatalities on Mediterranean routes: 319 of the dead or missing were on the Eastern Mediterranean route connecting Turkey to Greece and 90 on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy.
During the same period in 2015, only 69 migrants and refugees died or went missing in the whole Mediterranean."
News Digest (8.2.16)
CANADA: Every Step You Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security (link to pdf): "Contemporary consumer fitness wearables collect a broad range of data. The number of floors, or altitudinal changes, a person climbs a day is measured, levels and deepness of sleep, and heart rate activity are all captured by best-of-class consumer-level fitness trackers. And all of this data is of interest to the wearers of the devices, to companies interested in mining and selling collected fitness data, to insurance companies, to authorities and courts of law, and even potentially to criminals motivated to steal or access data retained by fitness companies.
Every Step You Fake explores what information is collected by the companies which develop and sell some of the most popular wearables in North America. Moreover, it explores whether there are differences between the information that is collected by the devices and what companies say they collect, and what they subsequently provide to consumers when compelled to disclose all the personal information that companies hold about residents of Canada."
Report by: Open Effect (link): "Open Effect is a Canadian not-for-profit that conducts research and advocacy focused on ensuring peoples personal data is treated securely and accountably. We use a mix of policy and technical analysis methods to explore how digital services use personal data. We build interactive advocacy tools to disseminate our work and empower individuals to learn about and exercise their rights online."
FYROM Raises Second Wire Fence on Border with Greece (Greek Reporter, link): "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is raising a second wire fence on its border with Greece, in the neutral zone between Idomeni and Gevgelija.
This is a measure along the European Unions efforts for stricter control of the migrant inflow towards central and northern Europe.
On Saturday the FYROM army started cleaning the area and raising a second barbed wire fence parallel to the existing one on the neutral zone in the border crossing point between Idomeni and Gevgelija."
More news and documentation: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.16)
French parliament debates plan to enshrine emergency powers in constitution (France 24, link): "French lawmakers on Friday started debating constitutional changes that would see French nationals convicted of terror offences stripped of their citizenship and make it easier to put controversial emergency measures in place.
(...) The Socialist government now wants to write the measure created during the Algerian war in 1955 into France's cherished constitution, citing what it sees as a persistent threat from jihadist militants."
See also: Valls calls for "total, global and ruthless" war on terror (Statewatch News Online, January 2016) and: France: Disproportionate emergency measures leave hundreds traumatized (Amnesty, link): "Heavy-handed emergency measures, including late night house raids and assigned residence orders, have trampled on the rights of hundreds of men, women and children, leaving them traumatized and stigmatized, according to a new briefing released by Amnesty International today ahead of Fridays French parliamentary debate on entrenching emergency measures in the constitution."
EU: PEGIDA: The far-right in the streets
Far-right protests organised by various branches of the PEGIDA movement took place in cities across Europe at the weekend. On 6 February in Prague, a centre that helps refugees was firebombed, "just hours after thousands of people staged a protest in the Czech capital against Muslims and immigration."
NORTHERN IRELAND: How much did British intelligence know about the IRA during the troubles? (The Conversation, link): "The Shankill bombing now joins a list of atrocities where the involvement of informers and agents is alleged. Also on that list are the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings; the 1976 Kingsmill massacre; the activities of Freddie Scappaticci alleged to be the armys most high-ranking agent in the IRA and accused of involvement in up to 50 murders and Brian Nelson, an army agent within the UDA responsible for passing on the names of IRA members who were subsequently murdered. Beyond these most high-profile cases are potentially hundreds of individuals who died as a result of state collusion with loyalist and republican paramilitary groups.
(...) On a daily basis it appears that protection, denial and obfuscation are often privileged over truth and justice. For victims and survivors and a still fragile society revelations such as those concerning the Shankill bomb reinforce hurt and trauma and undermine the gains of the peace process. If impunity is to be countered and truth and justice delivered, full political commitment to an open, transparent mechanism that is capable of shining a light into all areas of the past is a must."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.2.16)
EU: Council of the European Union: Directive on combatting terrorism:
- Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 5720-16, pdf): "Delegations are invited to examine the modified text of the proposed Directive, as set out in this document. Discussions at the next meeting on 8 February 2016 will focus on these drafting suggestions, including recitals." In part concern the two documents from Sweden and Italy below.
- As above:Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 5467-16, pdf)
- As above: Swedish Delegation - drafting proposals (LIMITE doc no: 5467-add-1-16, pdf): Human rights clause and "An possibility to exempt ones own citizens travelling home"
- As above: Italian Delegation - drafting proposals (LIMITE doc no: 5467-add-2-16, pdf): "Investigative tools" and "Exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences"
See also: Statewatch Briefing: Directive on combating terrorism
EU: DATABASE checks on people entering and leaving the EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 5753-16, pdf):
"Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders... The Presidency submits to the JHA Counsellors this new compromise, which it believes could accommodate most of the remaining concerns of the delegations and could constitute a basis for a compromise at Council level on this proposal. It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the previous compromise suggestions (including the deleted parts) are depicted in bold (and underline).
The Presidency believes that the only essential outstanding issue is whether the air borders (along with the land and sea borders) should be included in the scope of possible cases of targeted checks of persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law, in order to address a disproportionate impact on the traffic flow emanating from the systematic consultation of data bases for these persons. The Presidency is of the opinion that this issue should also be resolved in the prism of the need to find a balance between security priorities and the economic impact of the new measures on border controls that this draft Regulation is expected to bring about. "
Includes database checks, advance passenger information (API and/or PNR) and the checking of biometrics (facial images and fkngeprints), at least one biometric must be checked against the travel documents or identity card of the traveller.
The measure will not apply to the UK or Ireland.
EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION PROPOSAL - LATEST DRAFT: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (pdf) 44 Member State's positions.
"During previous discussions, a number of delegations underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation. Some delegations expressed their preference for linking the discussions on this proposal with the efforts which should lead to effective border controls and proper management of migratory flows and insisted on the voluntary nature of the proposed mechanism. Furthermore, several delegations were in favour of addressing this proposal as part of a broader package on asylum ("Dublin IV")."
"The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BG, EL, FI and SI.BE, CZ, EE, ES, FR, HR, HU, LT, LV, PL, PT, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."
Desperate EU to Criminalize Humanitarian Assistance in Greece - Leaked Docs (Sputnik News, link)
"A European Commission report, detailing a plan to criminalize volunteers rescuing refugees from drowning, has been revealed by UK civil liberties group Statewatch. The EU is desperate and is therefore making bad decisions, the groups director told Sputnik.
Statewatch, a London-based civil rights watchdog, has published a confidential report by the European Commission, which reveals the Council of Europes plans to pass a new law, criminalizing volunteers who rescue refugees, stranded off the coast of Greece, from drowning.
The new proposals would penalize NGOs, local people and volunteers -- all providing humanitarian assistance to refugees arriving in the EU - and would remove their exemption from being considered people smugglers.
"The EU has failed, theyre desperate. Theyre trying to take over operations [in Greece] to take control of everything," Tony Bunyan told Sputnik.
"Ive been doing this for 25 years and have never seen anything like it. The EU is in a complete mess. They failed to respond quickly to what happened last spring. The volunteers and smaller NGOs have been helping refugees since the crisis began. Where was the EU then? They only tuned up in November  and by that time already 700,000 people had landed in Greece.""
and see: Rescuing refugees from drowning will be criminalized under new EU law activists (RT, link): " A petition has been launched calling on EU leaders to scrap plans that would criminalize those who rescue migrants and refugees arriving on the Greek islands as part of a push to secure the border between Turkey and Greece. London-based civil liberties watchdog Statewatch has released the confidential Council of the EU report detailing the plan, which was outlined in talks between EU ministers in Amsterdam late last month."
The EU, Turkey and the Refugee Crisis: What could possibly go wrong? (EU Law Analysis, link)
" The key non-EU country in the EUs ongoing refugee crisis is Turkey: the host of over 2 million Syrian refugees, and a transit country for many asylum-seekers. An increasing number of them have been making the journey from Turkey to the Greek islands, leading to a significant rise in the number of would-be asylum-seekers in the EU over the last year. Tragically, many have died making this crossing....
the Samsom Plan proposing the systematic return of all asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey in exchange for increased refugee resettlement in Europe, appears to be not only very difficult to implement (due to both legal and practical obstacles), but also based on the doubtful presumption that Turkey may be (soon) considered a safe third country for refugees and asylum-seekers.
Furthermore, it is unfortunate that the EU and Turkey did not agree to fully apply the Geneva Convention for Turkey, and that there are no mechanisms of accountability in place for the EU institutions to report either in general upon Turkeys compliance with international human rights standards or in particular to explain exactly how the EUs money is being spent."
See also: Common Understanding establishing a Governance and Conditionality Framework for the Refugee Facility for Turkey, the "Facility", Hereinafter referred to as "the Common Understanding" between EU Member States (hereinafter the "Member States") and The European Commission (hereinafter the "Commission") (pdf) There is no mention of ensuring human rights protection.
GREECE: Hot spot work intensifies as Greece agrees to recognize Turkey as safe country (ekathimerini.com, link)
"Greek authorities agreed on Friday to recognize Turkey as a safe third country, which means migrants for whom Turkey is a country of transit, not of origin, can be returned there. The decision was announced after a meeting in Athens between Greek Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and his French and German counterparts, Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere... He added that Germany is sending 100 police officers and two coast guard vessels to Greece...
As of yesterday, 94 prefabricated structures had been delivered to the site in Chios and 87 on Leros. Construction work was under way on Samos, where an old army firing range is being converted. On Kos, riot police who had been sent to the island from Athens fired tear gas to deter some 100 locals who tried to force their way into a disused army camp that is being turned into a hot spot.
European Union sources told Kathimerini they are hopeful that at least three of the five centers will be ready in the next few days given that the army is now coordinating the work..."
Denmark confirms US sent rendition flight for Snowden (The Local.dk, link): "Denmarks justice minister admitted on Friday that the US sent a rendition flight to Copenhagen Airport that was meant to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden and return him to the United States. "
UK: Victims and Villains: Migrant voices in the British media (pdf): "The report explores how migrant voices and experiences are framed in Britains migration debate, against the backdrop of a complex relationship between the media, political debate and public attitudes. Were the voices and experiences of migrants present in media reporting on migration issues in the months leading up to the 2015 General Election? And if migrants were able to have a voice, how were their experiences and perspectives represented and framed?"
See also: Moving Stories: International Review of How Media Cover Migration (Ethical Journalism Network, link)
Holding the EU together with the threat of disintegration (EurActiv, link): "The EU is entering a playing field in which it has little experience European disintegration. EU interior ministers have openly threatened to expel Greece from the Schengen border-free zone and to seal the country off from the rest of Europe at the Macedonian (FYROM) border. While Greece faces the threat of a forced removal from a central European project, the UK is considering a free-will departure from the EU as a whole.
The threat to kick Greece out of Schengen and the UK referendum on EU membership may appear to have little in common. Yet they are both reflective of the EUs struggle to keep together a club of twenty-eight member states in view of tremendous internal and external challenges. At its core, this struggle concerns the question of how to balance functional needs for more Europe with the increasing desire of many European governments and citizens for less Europe."
Turkish PM warns of new wave of refugees from Syria (Hurriyet, link): "Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has warned of a new wave of Syrian refugees totaling as many as 80,000 after people began to move toward Turkey due to increased airstrikes in the countrys northwest.
Some 10,000 new refugees are waiting at Turkeys border [with Syria] due to the airstrikes in Aleppo. Some 60,000 to 70,000 people, who are in camps north of Aleppo, are moving toward Turkey, said Davutoglu during a donor conference entitled Supporting Syria and the region at the QEII center in central London on Feb. 4."
And see: Avramopoulos: Detention and removal centres are also needed (EurActiv, link): "The hotspots are there to support the process of the first arrivals through registering, identifying and fingerprinting - to know whether people will have to be relocated, or whether they should do their asylum procedure in Greece or Italy, and then either be granted asylum or be returned. Of course, during that time, people have to stay somewhere. So it is normal that we need more reception places. Greece has committed to expanding its reception places by 50,000 following the Western Balkans leaders meeting on 25 October - but detention or removal centers are also needed for those who receive the decision to return, particularly if there is a risk of absconding and if they are not willing to return voluntarily."
See: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.2.16)
The British want to come to America with wiretap orders and search warrants (The Washington Post, link): "If U.S. and British negotiators have their way, MI5, the British domestic security service, could one day go directly to American companies like Facebook or Google with a wiretap order for the online chats of British suspects in a counter&SHY;terrorism investigation.
The transatlantic allies have quietly begun negotiations this month on an agreement that would enable the British government to serve wiretap orders directly on U.S. communication firms for live intercepts in criminal and national security investigations involving its own citizens. Britian would also be able to serve orders to obtain stored data, such as emails.
The previously undisclosed talks are driven by what the two sides and tech firms say is an untenable situation in which foreign governments such as Britain cannot quickly obtain data for domestic probes because it happens to be held by companies in the United States. The two countries recently concluded a draft negotiating document, which will serve as the basis for the talks. The text has not been made public, but a copy was reviewed by The Washington Post."
German judges issue damming indictment of TTIP (New Internationalist, link): "A group of German judges have just dealt a serious blow to the European Commissions desperate TTIP compromise. Theyve issued a damning indictment on the proposal for an international investment court, which the EU Commission hoped would get them out of the deep mess that the TTIP negotiations are in.
(...) A primary concern of the judges, and one shared by campaigners, is that the creation of special courts for certain groups of litigants is the wrong way forward. Creating special legal privileges for big business and other investors (who can already afford more access to the law than ordinary people), is clearly the path to further inequality in our already deeply unequal society."
See: Opinion on the establishment of an investment tribunal in TTIP - the proposal from the European Commission on 16.09.2015 and 11.12.2015 (pdf)
UK-SWEDEN: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Deems the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Julian Assange as arbitrary (UN Human Rights, link): "The Working Group considered that Mr. Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange. The Working Group found that this detention is in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, and falls within category III as defined in its Methods of Work."
See: UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Opinion No. 54/2015 concerning Julian Assange (Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (pdf)
Analysis: Free at last? Detention, the European Arrest Warrant and Julian Assange (EU Law Analysis, link) and reaction: Julian Assange: UK to contest UN panel finding over arbitrary detention live updates (The Guardian, link)
VICE News Reveals the Terrorism Blacklist Secretly Wielding Power Over the Lives of Millions (VICE News, link): "An American Muslim civil rights leader praised by George W. Bush, an economist honored by the British Queen, and a prominent anti-extremism campaigner have all been secretly given a "terrorism" designation on a confidential database that banks use as a reference tool for blacklisting customers, a VICE News investigation can reveal.
The highly influential World-Check database has also listed major charities, activists, and mainstream religious institutions under its category of "terrorism"... The confidential service, part of an unregulated industry, claims that it is used by over 300 government and intelligence agencies, 49 of the 50 biggest banks, pre-employment vetting agencies and 9 of the top 10 global law firms. It provides "an early warning system for hidden risk" and is used by banks, for example, to minimize their risk of complicity in terrorist financing or money laundering."
Four reasons to close down the polices domestic extremism unit (Netpol, link): "Today is Domestic Extremist Awareness Day, an annual event launched by Netpol in 2014 to publicise how the label of domestic extremist is increasingly applied by police to anyone involved in political dissent.
This year, we are calling for the closure of the National Domestic Extremism & Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU), the discredited police unit responsible for surveillance on protesters. We are also asking you to share why you think the NDEDIU should shut down.
Here are four reasons we think are important"
UK-EU: Why the EU emergency brake on migrant benefits is sexist (The Conversation, link): "We should heed warnings from the damage caused by changes already implemented before pressing ahead with economically unnecessary proposals that deepen child poverty and homelessness, and push women over a welfare cliff edge.
The emergency brake on in-work benefits creates a sexually asymmetric concept of free movement: women can only enjoy the rights supposedly afforded to all European citizens so long as their bodies do not betray them."
UK: Torture victims face two-year delays in UK asylum claims (The Guardian, link): "Torture victims who claim asylum in Britain are facing delays of more than two years before their cases are resolved, according to a report by the official immigration and borders watchdog.
The delays to torture survivors applications are caused by Home Office unwillingness to accept evidence supporting their claims from bodies other than Freedom from Torture and the Helen Bamber Foundation, the chief inspector of borders and immigration said."
Full report: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An Inspection of Asylum Casework, March-July 2015 (pdf) and: Home Office response (pdf)
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (5.2.16)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.2.16)
European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (1.2.16, pdf).
Little change but see: Hotspots: State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf): Biggest change of the week is the build up of hotspot staff and capacity in Greece (Italy unchanged): In Lesvos reception capacity up from 1,480 to 2,709 and Frontex officials up from 178 to 184. In Chios reception capacity up from 110 to 2,250 and Frontex from 93 to 99. In Samos reception capacity up from 250 to 650 and Frontex from 40 to 53. Leros Frontex up from 29 to 31 and on Kos capacity up from 0 to 290 and Frontex up from 41 to 54 officials.
See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis
Spain: Launch of book marks the tenth anniversary of the events leading to the '4F Case'
Today a book launch will mark a decade since the events that led to what is known as the '4F Case' (Caso 4F) took place, in which four people were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. Three of them were tortured by the police during their detention and one subsequently committed suicide.
On 4 February 2006, the Guardia Urbana (municipal police) arrived at a party in a squatted theatre in Barcelona. A flowerpot was thrown from a balcony, seriously injuring a police officer. The response from the authorities, unable to find the guilty party, was "to mount a case blaming innocent people who were not in the house and some not even in the vicinity."
Four people were subsequently sent to prison, one of whom, Patricia Heras, committed suicide in April 2011. Three of the four were tortured whilst in police custody, events which were subsequntly taken up in an Amnesty report.  The two police officers who served as key witnesses in the 4F case were subsequently found guilty, in a seperate case, of torture, false testimony and planting evidence. No-one has been punished for their part in the 4F case.
UN experts urge Cyprus to address migrant detention conditions, improve overall monitoring (UN News Centre, link):
Cyprus has seen many positive developments concerning the treatment of people in detention, but still faces several challenges, particularly regarding the independent monitoring of places of detention and the treatment of migrants, the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture said today after visiting the country.
Press release (link):
We were very pleased to have visited Cyprus and take note of improvements. But the situation of those in immigration detention centres requires careful attention. It is so important to ensure that such detention is only resorted to when it is strictly necessary. The conditions of detention should reflect the fact that such places are not prisons and those detained are not prisoners, said Malcolm Evans, the SPT Chair and head of the four-member delegation to Cyprus....
We are particularly concerned that the National Preventive Mechanism for torture prevention, which is a part of the Ombudsman's office, should be much better resourced financially and have its legal powers reviewed so that it can continue and expand its good work. It currently does not have the capacity to work as the Optional Protocol requires."
France: Abuses under State of Emergency - Halt Warrantless Search and House Arrest (HRW, link): "France has carried out abusive and discriminatory raids and house arrests against Muslims under its sweeping new state of emergency law. The measures have created economic hardship, stigmatized those targeted, and have traumatized children.."
Transparency in the EU: citizens' right controlled by the elite (journalismfund.eu, link): "Fifteen years with access rules and still no register over documents to look for. Not only citizens, also governments are kept in the dark by the Commission, a new study on EU transparency shows."
See: Transparency through tinted windows - On the conditional openness in the European Commission (pdf)
See also: Statewatch Observatory on Freedom of Information in the EU
EU watchdog says needs time to study data deal with United States (Reuters, link):
"An EU watchdog said on Wednesday it needed time to study a new EU-U.S. agreement on data transfers to determine whether the United States was committed to limiting intelligence surveillance of Europeans.
Negotiators from the European Union and the United States agreed the data pact on Tuesday. It will replace the Safe Harbour framework, which a top EU court ruled illegal last year amid concerns over mass U.S. government snooping.
"We want to receive the documents in order to assess whether this (newly agreed) EU-U.S. Privacy Shield can answer the privacy concerns raised," said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chair of the WP29 grouping of data protection authorities."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.16)
EU: European Commission: Communication on an Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing (pdf) and see: Commission presents Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing (Press release, pdf):
"The Action Plan will focus on two main strands of action: Tracing terrorists through financial movements and preventing them from moving funds or other assets [and] Disrupting the sources of revenue used by terrorist organisations, by targeting their capacity to raise funds."
See also: EU to gold plate international anti-terrorism obligations with "urgent" new law (Statewatch database, link)
UK-EU: BREXIT: The draft renegotiation deal: EU immigration issues (EU Law Analysis, link) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex.
"ll three proposals are subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, meaning that they have to be agreed with the European Parliament. It is also possible that their legality would be challenged before the EU Court of Justice. I cant appraise the political likelihood of the European Parliament approving the proposals, but I will offer some thoughts about possible challenges to their legality if they are agreed. ...
British voters will also be making an assessment not only of the rest of the renegotiation package, but also on the broader pros and cons of EU membership. These changes go nowhere near far enough for the EUs strongest critics, but much too far for its biggest admirers. Time will soon tell whether the British public believes that they are a reasonable compromise."
The Elephant in the Room - Islam and the Crisis of Liberal Values in Europe (Foreign Affairs, link) By Alexander Betts
"Europe is still struggling to cope with a massive influx of refugees, with over a million asylum seekers arriving across the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly all of them are Muslims. This fact has shaped public and political opinion but has rarely been openly and honestly discussed. Can a Europe of 28 member states share responsibility for a smaller number of refugees than is currently in Lebanon alone? Of course it can. In fact, most European countries need the labor."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.16)
Greek military to oversee response to refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Tuesday heralded the creation of a central body to oversee and improve Greeces response to the migration and refugee crisis and ensure the country safeguards its position in the Schengen passport-free area, noting that the new body will be led by a senior military official.
Greeces military is to have the oversight of the Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration until the Migration Ministry and the Hellenic Police gain the necessary know-how and experience to tackle the problem independently, Kammenos indicated at Tuesdays press conference....
The center, which is to be operational by February 15, is to be based at the Defense Ministry headquarters and coordinate with the Hellenic Police, Coast Guard, Migration Ministry and nongovernmental organizations working with migrants and refugees.
The aim is to increase the efficiency of transferring migrants from the islands to the mainland, to improve the provision of food as well as medical and healthcare to migrants, and to monitor the creation of five screening centers, or hot spots, for migrants on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros....
The screening and relocation centers are to operate in a similar way to the central body, under a local military official who is to coordinate with police and coast guard officers."
EU: European Commission: Commission adopts Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and proposes recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management (Press release, pdf)
"The recommendations seek to ensure that Greece applies all Schengen rules related to management of external border correctly and effectively. Recommendations are made in a number of areas such as the improvement of the registration procedures, including ensuring a sufficient number of staff and fingerprint scanners for registration and verification of migrants and their travel documents against SIS, Interpol and national databases. Greece should provide the necessary facilities for accommodation during the registration process and launch return procedures for irregular migrants who are not seeking asylum and who are not in need of international protection. Border surveillance should be improved, including the establishment of a risk analysis system and increased training of border guards.
Improvements should also be made to infrastructure and equipment at the border crossing points. In order to ensure compliance with these recommendations, the Commission may, in addition, recommend that Greece takes certain specific measures under Article 19a of the Schengen Borders Code, given the serious deficiencies noted in the Schengen Evaluation Report."
See also: Eighth biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area: 1 May - 10 December 2015 (pdf)
UK-EU: BREXIT: The draft renegotiation deal: A genuine red card? Tusks proposal and national parliaments (EU Law Analysis, link):
"The Draft Decision of the Heads of State or Government, A New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union, unveiled by Donald Tusk on February 2 2016 offers the first concrete vision of the changes to enhance the role of national parliaments under the UKs renegotiation efforts. This note provides an analysis of the suggested changes by contrasting them with the mechanisms currently in force under the Lisbon Treaty."
And see: The UK-EU package (link)
UK: Right to rent comes into force today (Garden Court Chambers, link): "The Governments right to rent scheme requiring landlords to conduct papers, please checks on the immigration status of tenants comes into force today, 1 February 2016. It is hard to think of a worse example of a disproportionate policy, classically defined as a hammer being used to crack a nut."
Interview: Safe Harbour 2.0 will lose again, argues Max Schrems - "Silicon Valley doesnt rule world. Respect laws in each country," says privacy campaigner (ars technica, link):
"Over the weekend, negotiators from the European Union's executive body and the US Federal Trade Commission worked frantically to thrash out a deal to allow transatlantic data transfers to take place. But the so-called Safe Harbour 2.0 is far from a done deal.
So how did we get here? Two men are essentially responsible: Edward Snowden and Max Schrems."
and see: The Privacy Shield: The deal on EU/US Safe Harbour data that wasnt there (mcgarrsolicitors.ie, link)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.2.16)
Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italys treatment of Tunisians in 2011: Commissions plans for readmission agreements and summary returns contravene the ECHR (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:
This judgment outlaws much of what is being planned and implemented in the context of the EU's migration plans and especially the so-called "hotspot" approach.
The court's decision that the deportation of Tunisians amounted to a violation of Art. 4 of the 4th protocol to the ECHR and has important repercussions on the Commission's plans because readmission agreements circumvent the need for individual examination of the positions of people from certain nationalities.
What the judgment has described as a "collective refoulement" lacking the necessary safeguards is the process which is being introduced in hotspots whereby nationality appears to be the key management principle for dealing with migrants.
Further, the idea appears to be that if an agreement is in place with a non-EU state there is no need for further formalities concerning nationals of a given country.
The recent deal between Italy and Gambia mentioned in the Italian hotspots Progress report is an example of this, and it states that operative protocols are preferable to either treaties or readmission agreements in relation to the principle of "effectiveness", which shows that there is increasing intolerance of any formal limits or regulatory frameworks to mass deportations.
Another bad day for privacy: Exclusive: New European, U.S. data transfer pact imminent - sources (Rueters, link):
"European and U.S. negotiators are on the brink of clinching a new transatlantic data transfer pact which should prevent EU regulators from restricting data transfers by firms, two people familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.
The European Union and the United States have been racing to replace the previous data transfer framework called Safe Harbour. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck it down last year over concerns about U.S. mass surveillance, leaving thousands of companies in legal limbo.
While the new pact would still need political approval the two sides should finalize the framework on Tuesday, the sources said, a day before European data protection authorities end a two-day meeting in Brussels."
UK: Police refuse to release report into 'destroyed files' on Green peer (The Guardian, link): ""Police have refused to release the confidential report of an investigation into allegations that they improperly destroyed documents compiled on a Green party peer.
The allegations have been made by a police whistleblower who said officers destroyed documents recording the political activities of Lady Jones to prevent her obtaining them in what he called a highly irregular cover-up.
Sgt David Williams wrote to Jenny Jones outlining the allegations, in a letter that was disclosed in the Guardian in January. The peer asked the Metropolitan police to give her a copy of the report on the outcome of the investigation.""
News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (1.2.16)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.2.16)
NORWAY: Disarming the police: "Norway has announced that the armament of its police officers, which began in 2014, will cease "as soon as possible" after it was no longer deemed necessary.
A raised terror threat level saw officers ordered to carry firearms at all times in November 2014, but the measure was described as temporary.
Norways police force has traditionally been trained in the use of weapons in an emergency situation, but firearms were previously locked away in patrol vehicles rather than being carried by officers."
See: Norway to disarm its police force after officers ordered to carry guns for just one year (The Independent, link)
UNDERCOVER POLICING: Interview, public meeting and new play
Interview: We wanted to make the police accountable (The Justice Gap, link): "In 2011, Kate Wilson was one of eight women who sued the Metropolitan Police after the women discovered that they had been deceived into long-term relationships with undercover police officers. At the High Court earlier this month, the police withdrew their defence in respect of Wilsons claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence. Despite that apparent victory, the womens struggle for state accountability continues."
London, 26 February 2016: Public meeting: Big Brother Whos Watching You? Mark Jenner meeting (COPS, link): "The Special Demonstration Squads Mark Jenner was deployed using the name Mark Cassidy.
The Undercover Research Groups extensive profile of Jenner shows the range of issues he spied on anti-racist campaigns, trade unions, Irish republicanism and Hackney community campaigns. He chaired meetings, wrote articles and instigated action.
Why was he there?"
Useful timeline to accompany new play in Nottingham about the undercover policing scandal: A timeline of lies and deceit (Nottingham Playhouse, link): "This February, our world premiere production of Any Means Necessary opens, inspired by real-life events. Kefi Chadwick was inspired to write the play after reading news stories about the exposure of an undercover police officer living amongst activists in Nottingham back in 2012...
The revelations in this case date as far back as 1968, affecting many people, and having ramifications across the justice system. Familiarise yourself with the facts behind this national scandal with our timeline of key events below. You dont need to know all of this information to enjoy Any Means Necessary, but its a fascinating insight into the impact of this story."
UK: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Investigatory Powers Bill: technology issues (pdf): "Previous attempts to legislate in this area have met with criticisms over the lack of consultation with communications service providers (CSPs) on matters of technical feasibility and cost. In our inquiry we have focused on technological aspects of the draft Bill in order to identify the main technological issues involved and how these might affect the communications businesses that will have to collect data and cooperate with the security authorities.
We have not addressed the need or otherwise for the communications monitoring provisions or whether they are proportionate to the threats they are intended to deal with. We anticipate that these matters will be covered by the Joint Committee established to scrutinise the draft Bill as a whole."
And see: UK: Draft Investigatory Powers Bill: official documents (Statewatch Database)
U.S. and Europe Fail to Meet Deadline for Data Transfer Deal (The New York Times, link): "American and European officials failed on Sunday to reach an agreement over how digital data including financial information and social media posts could be transferred between the two regions.
Despite last-minute talks, the two sides remained far apart on specific details required to approve a comprehensive deal. Without an agreement, companies that regularly move data, including tech giants like Google and nontech companies like General Electric, could find themselves in murky legal waters."
UK: Call for time limit on detention of immigrants as report urges "urgent reform" (Herald Scotland, link): " Campaigners have called on the Government to impose a time limit on the detention of immigrants after a highly critical review found that too many were being locked up.
Former prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw also raised concerns about breaches of human rights laws in cases that suggested "problems with attitude and cynicism" on the part of staff.
There were some 3,000 people being detained - a mixture of asylum seekers, ex-offenders and those who had been deemed not to have a legal right to remain in the UK - while the number of people detained "at one time or another during the year" exceeds 30,000, Mr Shaw said."
Full report: Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons - A report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw (pdf)
And see: Response to Shaw review: UK must end 'unacceptable' use of indefinite immigration detention (Amnesty, link)
UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - and in Greece: NGOS and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted
The Council of the European Union is preparing plans to equate the concept of migrant "smuggling" with migrant "trafficking" and potentially criminalise or marginalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who for months have been welcoming and helping refugees and migrants arriving in the EU.
See: The Draft Council conclusions on migrant smuggling (LIMITE doc no 5481-rev-2-15, pdf)
Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, comments:
"'This document fails to acknowledge the crucial role played by Greek islanders and volunteers in rescuing and caring for migrants who cross the Mediterranean in unsafe vessels. The EU should amend its anti-smuggling laws as soon as possible to confirm that no-one giving such vital humanitarian assistance should ever be penalised for it'.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:
"The Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who "register" with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to "register" to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.
Civil society, volunteers and all those throughout the EU who are seeking to help refugees as they arrive having fled from war, persecution and poverty should unite to oppose the Council's plans. Criminalising NGOs and volunteers working to help refugees has no place in a democracy worthy of the name."
LESVOS, GREECE: On the ground in Lesvos NGOs and volunteer groups - who have been working to help refugees from this time last year - are facing increasing hostility from reactionary local forces on the island and in some instances from large IGOs seeking to take over their role of helping refugees on the landing beaches and giving immediate help and aid. Yesterday the following messages were posted on Facebook from a local group:
"The medical station at Eftalou has been attacked for the third time (post Philippa Kempson 30 January 2016). Will the people who did this be punished? Or just those offering humanitarian help on the beaches?" and a second post: "Last night the medical tent in Eftalou was attacked for the third time this week but this time they finished the job and burnt it to the ground!!!!!! and see: Decency And Respect! 30/01/2016 (Eric Kempson. link): On the Hope Centre, the attack.and the EU's shameful role.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.1.16)
HUNGARY CASE IN CJEU AGAINST THE RELOCATION OF REFUGEES IN THE EU MEASURE: Council of the European Union: Case before the Court of Justice Case C-647/15 (Hungary v Council of the European Union) (LIMITE doc no 5490-15, pdf): "By application lodged with the Court on 3 December 2015 and notified to the Council on 8 December 2015, Hungary brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union an action for annulment of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece."
Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex coments:
'Some of Hungary's legal arguments can only be described as chutzpah. One argument Is that relocation of asylum-seekers is disproportionate for Hungary. But the EU Decision - at Hungary's own request - neither moves asylum-seekers to Hungary nor takes them away from that country. Secondly, Hungary complains that the text was amended after the European Parliament voted. But these were mainly amendments to take account of Hungary's own demands.
Finally, Hungary - having built fences against refugees, and criminalised and expelled them - criticizes the EU for breaching the UN (Geneva) Convention on Refugees. This is surely the most hypocritical legal argument in the EU's history.'
Denmark wants to watch everything you do online (The Local.dk, link)
"The Danish telecommunications industry has expressed concerns over the Justice Ministrys plan to reintroduce so-called internet session logging, the registration of residents online activity....
Denmark scrapped the practice in 2014 and the European Court of Justice has previously ruled that the blanket retention of internet usage is illegal, but the ministry not only plans to bring back session logging, it will go even further than before"
Berlin leads plan to ferry migrants from Greece into Turkey (The Times, link):
"Every migrant entering Greece across the Aegean Sea would be returned to Turkey under plans being drawn up by European countries. In exchange, the EU would accept up to 250,000 documented asylum seekers each year from Turkish camps.
If the German-led resettlement programme can be agreed, ferries would begin returning to Turkey all migrants, including refugees, from the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios and Kos. A coalition of countries supporting the plans including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden..." in return for accepting 200,000 Syrians direct from camps in Turkey.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "In desperation 12 EU Member States are considering a plan to simply send back all the refugees arriving in Greece. According to the UNHCR 78% of those who have arrived this year are from Syria (48%), Afghanistan (21%) and Iraq (9%). The EU recognises that refugees from these three countries, where there are ongoing conflicts, should be considered in need of international protection and "relocation" within the EU. All refugees, under international law, have the right to ask for asylum - such a plan would constitute mass refoulement.
POLAND: New surveillance law a major blow to human rights (Amnesty International, link): "This document contains Amnesty International analsyis of and response to a new law governing surveillance powers by police and other agencies in Poland, which will seriously undermine the right to privacy in the country. The law, which could come into force in a matter of days, was approved after a fast-track process, which brought only minor changes to the draft law, despite strenuous opposition from civil society groups and other experts."
See also: EU: Europe wades into debate over Polands constitutional crisis (The Conversation, link): "Polands prime minister Beata Szydlo recently found herself summoned to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to defend her government over accusations that its commitment to democratic values is on the slide.
This was an unprecedented meeting. The parliament had called a debate under the auspices of a law introduced in March 2014, giving it the right to question a national government if it thinks a systemic threat to democracy is about to take place in a European country."
And: The EU favors politics over law in Poland clash (Politico, link)
EU: POLICE AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION: Creation of a European Forensic Area by 2020
In December 2011 a set of Council conclusions "on the vision of for European Forensic Science 2020 including the creation of a European Forensic Science Area" (pdf) was agreed, and the Council and Commission are now seeking to ensure their implementation:
"As a first step in the stocktaking exercise, a questionnaire was drafted that was sent out to Member States in June 2015 to assess (i) the current status of implementation of the 2011 Council conclusions by Member States, (ii) what remains needed to achieve a European Forensic Science Area by 2020, and (iii) whether the 2011 objectives remain valid, 5 years after their adoption, or whether new/updated ones are needed. 24 Member States responded to the questionnaire. This paper contains an overview of the answers provided."
See: NOTE from Presidency to: Law Enforcement Working Party: Creation of a European Forensic Area by 2020 - analysis of replies to questionnaire (15051/15, 15 December 2015, pdf)
The issue of a European Forensic Science Area was on the agenda of the January 2016 informal Justice and Home Affairs ministers' meeting.
The EU has funded dozens of research projects related to improving forensic science tools and techniques - for example LASIE (LArge Scale Information Exploitation of Forensic Data), 3D-FORENSICS (Mobile high-resolution 3D-Scanner and 3D data analysis for forensic evidence), EVIDENCE (European Informatics Data Exchange Framework for Courts and Evidence) and EUROFORGEN-NOE (EUROPEAN FORENSIC GENETICS Network of Excellence), amongst others.
Some background: EU: European Forensic Science Area (Statewatch News Online, September 2011)
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (29.1.16)
Migrant Arrivals in Europe in 2016 Top 55,000, Over 200 Deaths (IOM, link): "IOM estimates that 55,528 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to enter Europe during the first 28 days of 2016 a rate of nearly 2,000 per day. The daily average is nearly equivalent to the total numbers for the month of January as recently as two years ago.
During the same period IOM has recorded some 244 deaths at sea, as well as at least a dozen more deaths of migrants and refugees who died either after reaching Europe or traveling to a launch point in Turkey. By comparison, total deaths on Mediterranean Sea routes were 12 in 2014 and 82 last year."
The UNHCR provides similar figures. on 29 January the agency records a total of 54,518 arrivals by sea since 1 January 2016, and 236 dead or missing in the same period. See: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNCHR, link)
See also: Timmermans blunders on migrant figures (EUobserver, link)
More stories, statistics and documentation: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1.16)
UK: An open discussion about counter-radicalisation measures in schools should be welcomed (IRR, link): "A paper, Prevent and the Childrens Rights Convention, published today by the Institute of Race Relations supports the NUTs call for a more rational debate on the Prevent duty in schools.
In order to encourage an informed and rational debate on the new duty placed on schools to prevent children being drawn in to terrorism, the IRR has tested the duty against key articles in the United Nations Childrens Rights Convention (COROC).
Our analysis is based on around fifteen cases of concern already reported in the media or to professional bodies. These cases raise issues under COROC, Articles 2, 8, 30 (non-discrimination), Articles 3, 19 (best interests of the child, protection of welfare, protection from physical or mental violence), Articles 13-15 (freedom of thought, expression and association), Article 29 (right to education), Articles 5, 18 (parental and community rights)."
See: Prevent and the Children Right's Convention (link to pdf)
NORTHERN IRELAND: Ten police officers disciplined over PSNI probe into Michael Hampson disappearance and death (Belfast Telegraph, link): " Ten police officers are set to be disciplined after failings were founding in the way they investigated a man's disappearance and suspicious death.
Michael Gerard Hampson (53) from Londonderry was reported missing on December 7, 2007. His body was found on the shore of Lough Neagh near Toomebridge just over a month later.
Although a post mortem was inconclusive, the pathologist concluded that there must be considerable suspicions surrounding the death."
The article notes: "Eight officers have since been disciplined, only two of whom received sanctions at the level recommended by the Police Ombudsman. Those officers received Superintendents Written Warnings. The sanctions recommended against the remaining six were downgraded by the PSNI."
See: Police Ombudsman: Police actions in relation to the disappearance and death of Mr Michael Gerard Hampson (pdf)
EU: TiSA: European Parliament ready to defend digital rights? (EDRi, link): "On 18 January 2016, the European Parliaments International Trade Committee (INTA) adopted a non-legislative report, that will be subject to a vote by the whole Parliament on 3 February 2015.
Similar to TTIP, harsh criticism has been expressed on the nature and content of the TiSA negotiations. While the INTA committee remained silent about certain points of concern for digital rights, such as access to open source code, INTAs report on TiSA complies with EDRis position on TiSA."
See: European Parliament Committee on International Trade: REPORT containing the European Parliaments recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) (2015/2233(INI)) (pdf)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.1.16)
EU: Frontex: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community Joint Report: 2015 (pdf):
"Reducing irregular migration through an efficient asylum and visa system is likely to be difficult to implement in the case of West Africa. This is suggested by the current visa rejection rates and the profiles of rejected visa applicants and irregular migrants detected in the Mediterranean."
European Parliament Study: Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants (pdf):
"With renewed efforts to counter people smuggling in the context of an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees into the EU, it assesses existing EU legislation in the area the 2002 Facilitators Package and how it deals with those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants. The study maps EU legislation against the international legal framework and explores the effects both direct and indirect of the law and policy practice in selected Member States. It finds significant inconsistencies, divergences and grey areas, such that humanitarian actors are often deterred from providing assistance. The study calls for a review of the legislative framework, greater legal certainty and improved data collection on the effects of the legislation." [emphasis added]
"There is widespread confusion among civil society practitioners around how the Facilitation Directive is implemented in their Member State, which can lead to misinformation and erring on the side of caution, thereby compromising migrants access to vital services. This is especially true in the context of the current migration crisis, where everyday citizens are obliged to volunteer vital services in the absence of sufficient state provision."
See: Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence (pdf): See Article 1.
Sweden may expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers (BBC News, link): "The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister has been quoted as saying. Anders Ygeman said charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants but it would take several years. Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe."
European Parliament: Trade secrets: EP/Council deal backed by Legal Affairs Committee (Press release, pdf):
"A provisional deal on new rules to help firms win legal redress against theft or misuse of their trade secrets was endorsed by the Legal Affairs Committee on
Thursday. The deal, struck by Parliament and Council negotiators in December, now needs to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole as well as the Council of Ministers."
Council of Europe: Combating international terrorism while protecting Council of Europe standards and values (pdf):
"The fight against terrorism must be reinforced while ensuring respect for human rights, the rule of law and the common values upheld by the Council of Europe. It should be underlined that combating terrorism and protecting Council of Europe standards and values are not contradictory but complementary.
Parliaments and governments of member States are therefore called upon to ensure the necessity and proportionality of measures taken in their fight against terrorism."
And see Report page (link)
IRELAND: Independence of Data Protection Commissioner questioned (Irish Times, link):
"Digital Rights Ireland confirms legal papers to be served on Government in coming days. The High Court is to be asked to make a referral to the EUs highest court for a ruling on whether Irelands Data Protection Commissioner is truly independent under EU law.
Legal papers will be served on the State and the Attorney General in the coming days claiming the State has acted in breach of EU law by failing to ensure the regulator exercises its role independently.
The action is being taken by the privacy advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland (DRI), which took a successful case to the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 overturning the entire regime under which the telephone and internet data of over 500 million European citizens were retained for up to two years. "
Greece targeted by Commission - Schengen suspension process started : European Commission: Commission discusses draft Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece (pdf)
Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The draft Schengen evaluation report on Greece looks at the management of the external border during an evaluation visit of Member States and Commission experts in Greece in November. The report shows that there are serious deficiencies in the management of the external border in Greece. We know that in the meantime Greece has started undertaking efforts towards rectifying and complying with the Schengen rules. Substantial improvements are needed to ensure the proper reception, registration, relocation or return of migrants in order to bring Schengen functioning back to normal, without internal border controls...."
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is seeking to make a scapegoat out of Greece when nearly all the other Schengen Member States have failed to act on pledges for aid funds, pursued legally dubious reception procedures, registration, relocation or return of migrants - and the Commission has failed to act" See: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing: Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed:
EU: Human Rights Watch: European Union: Refugee Response Falls Short: Migration, Security Crisis Challenge Divided Union on Rights (link):
"The European Union struggled to develop an effective and principled response to the 1 million asylum seekers and migrants who reached Europe by sea during 2015, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2016. Human Rights Watch highlights developments in 10 EU member states and union-wide developments on migration and asylum, discrimination and intolerance, and counterterrorism, a major concern during the year in light of horrific attacks in Paris.
The disjointed beggar-thy-neighbor responses of EU governments to 1 million arrivals this year has turned a manageable challenge into a full-blown political crisis, said Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia division director at Human Rights Watch. Asylum seekers and migrants in Greece and along the Western Balkans route have paid the price of a divided EU."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.16)
EU: Commission: Schengen suspension could be extended, 60% of migrants should be sent back (euractiv, link)
"The European Commission today (26 January) said it could agree to a suspension of border-free travel in the Schengen zone of up to two years, and that nearly two thirds of migrants entering the EU in December were not eligible for asylum because they did not come from conflict zones."
Statewatch comments: if this policy of allowing asylum only for those fleeing conflict zones (ie: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) it would be a big change in the EU policy decided in September 2015 which set Syria, Iraq and Eritrea as the states qualifying for "relocation" (ie: in need of international protection). This formula was based on Eurostat 75% recognition rates. The policy of only relocating in the EU refugees from conflict zones has beeen pioneered by Macedonia and Serbia.
and: 60% of refugees are economic migrants: Dutch EU commissioner (dutchnews.nl, link):
"More than half the asylum seekers coming to Europe are not fleeing from war and northern Africans in particular are leaving their home countries for economic reasons, the Netherlands European Commissioner has told Nos. Frans Timmermans, who is the commissions first vice president, told the broadcaster in an interview: More than half of the people now coming to Europe come from countries where you can assume they have no reason whatsoever to ask for refugee status. More than half, 60%.....
In the main they are people from Morocco and Tunisia who want to travel to Europe via Turkey, Nos quoted him as saying. Timmermans bases his claim on the latest figures from European border agency Frontex which have not yet been officially published."
EU: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference after the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Home Affairs (pdf)
"Important decisions were taken in September last year, and promises to implement were made, in line with European values of solidarity and responsibility.
But months later, we find ourselves with more internal border controls, questionable legislative decisions towards asylum seekers or refugees, less solidarity, less responsibility and more individual and uncoordinated decisions.....
What we need is the full implementation of the agreed measures
- We need fully operational hotspots all of them.
- We need to properly register everyone.
- We need to go full-speed ahead with relocation.
- We need more reception capacities in Greece and along the Western Balkans route.
- We need to return people that have no right to stay.
- We need to strengthen the control and management of our external borders" [emphasis added].
See below for the latest Commission statistics showing little change or failure on most fronts.
UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing
Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation small increase. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid pledges compete standstill.
EU: Europol report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks Review held by experts from Member States and Europol on 29 November and 1 December 2015 (pdf):
"There is no concrete evidence that terrorist travellers systematically use the flow of refugees to enter Europe unnoticed. A real and imminent danger, however, is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and being specifically targeted by Islamic extremist recruiters....
There is no evidence however of IS-financing networks in existence. Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement..." [emphasis added]
UK: These are the questions the Hillsborough jury has to answer (Liverpool Echo, link): "The jurors will consider whether the 96 were unlawfully killed... Coroner Sir John Goldring began his summing up of the case this morning and told the seven women and three men who make up the jury that they would be given a general questionnaire, with 14 sections, to complete."
How a Small Company in Switzerland Is Fighting a Surveillance Law And Winning (The Intercept, link): "As of November, 14 countries had passed new laws bequeathing more power to intelligence agencies to spy...."
EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION AGREEMENT: Senate Panel Reschedules Vote on Judicial Redress Act (22.1.16, link):
"The Senate Judiciary Committee announced today they would vote on the Judicial Redress Act next Thursday, three days before American and European negotiators reach a crucial deadline in their bid to strike a new data-transfer pact. The bill is seen as crucial to negotiators ability to reach that deal.
The committee was set to consider the measure, H.R. 1428, yesterday, but opted to delay that vote at the request of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The committee will now vote on it during their next executive business meeting. If negotiators from the U.S. and the European Union do not reach a new pact by Jan. 31, European authorities may begin prosecuting companies for transferring data."
EU: Joint Statement following the High-Level Political Dialogue between the EU and Turkey (pdf)
"Turkey and the EU believe that there is a need to exert huge effort to address the refugee crisis and irregular migration. They discussed the implementation of the Joint Action Plan which was activated at the 29 November EU-Turkey Summit. Measures by Turkey to further improve the socio-economic situation of Syrians under temporary protection, such as the adoption of legislation on granting them legal access to the labor market, were welcomed. Turkey exerts outstanding efforts so far to accommodate the more than two and a half million Syrians currently in Turkey. The need to achieve further results in stemming the influx of irregular migrants and in fighting criminal smuggling networks was underlined. Turkey and the EU agreed to step up their cooperation to reinforce the interception capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard and acknowledged the importance of maintaining a system of coordinated reporting on migration and refugee flows."
More documentation, news and analysis: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.1.16)
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (25.1.16)
UNDERCOVER POLICING: Pressure Intensifies on Inquiry to Include Scotland (Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, link): "The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing is still limbering up and defining its terms, so its unclear how trustworthy it will be. One of the major sticking points is that it is limited to deeds done by officers of English and Welsh forces whilst in England and Wales.
The 13 known officers less than 10% of the true total worked in 17 other countries. Most of them worked in Scotland. When we say worked, we mean doing what the Metropolitan Police themselves describe as being 'a violation of human rights, an abuse of police power abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.'
If this is what we know already, we can be sure there is more to come. To underline that point, the officer newly exposed last week, Carlo Neri, was also active in Scotland."
See also: Profile: New Scottish police chief Phil Gormley linked to #spycops scandal (Undercover Research Group, link)
HUNGARY: States of emergency: Hungarian government seeks new powers: list of 30 measures
The Hungarian government is preparing new emergency powers through changes to the country's consititution that could be adopted with a two-thirds parliamentary majority made up of ruling party Fidesz and the far-right party Jobbik. An opposition party has translated into English a list of some 30 powers that the government would acquire through its proposed changes.
EU: Moving On: One Year Alarmphone (pdf, 7MB)
"Everything is possible, everything can be transformed by strong social movements! Through our Alarm Phone project and during this incredible year of successful struggles for the freedom of movement, we learned this lesson once again.
The different contributions in this brochure reflect on many remarkable experiences made by Alarm Phone members in the projects first year of existence. Most of its articles were composed by working groups or individual members of our transnational network and are
thus reflective of the decentralised character of the Alarm Phone and its collaborative approach. We have grown into a network of more than 100 activists who belong to various groups, have multiple backgrounds, and live in cities all over Europe, northern Africa and elsewhere."
See: more documentation, news and analysis: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.1.16)
UK: RACISM, POLICING AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Dangerous associations: Joint enterprise, gangs and racism (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, link): "This study examines the processes of criminalisation that contribute to unequal outcomes for young Black, Asian and Minority ethnic people. It has been written by Patrick Williams and Becky Clarke of Manchester Metropolitan University.
The research draws on a survey of nearly 250 serving prisoners convicted under joint enterprise provisions. It tracks the complex process of criminalisaiton through which black and minority ethnic people are unfairly identified by the police as members of dangerous gangs."
The key findings cover the following:
1. Establishing foresight: Making associations to support JE prosecutions
2. The gang as a racialised signifier of association
3. Challenging associations: A disconnect between racialised gangs and serious violence
See: Key findings (pdf) and the full report: Dangerous associations: Joint enterprise, gangs and racism (pdf)
EU: New European police centre to fight terrorism (The Local, link): " A new European counter-terrorism centre opening this month will improve information-sharing among national police forces whose performance is under scrutiny after the jihadist attacks in Paris in November, the director of Europol has told AFP.
"It establishes for the first time in Europe a dedicated operation centre," Britain's Rob Wainwright said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland."
The centre will be officially launched at the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Amsterdam today and tomorrow (25 and 26 January), where national ministers will again discuss how to increase the sharing of information and intelligence on counter-terrorism amongst national law enforcement authorities.
More information on the new body: The European Counter-Terrorism Centre: proposed powers and information systems (Statewatch News Online, December 2015) and: Europol's press release: Europols European Counter Terrorism Centre strengthens the EUs response to terror (pdf)
Statewatch Observatory on the refugee crisis: in the Med and inside the EU: 9 December 2015 24 January 2016 (pdf)
New official documents and decisions by EU institutions: Council of the European Union, European Commission, Agencies and European Parliament plus Commentaries and critiques and Daily News Digests (in chronological order)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.1.16)
Arrivals this year in the Med: UNHCR (23.1.16): So far this year 36,528 refugees have arrived. 35,455 in Greece (of which 26,617 have arrived in Lesvos) and : 1,073 in Italy. and 149 dead/missing..
EU: Refugee crisis: UNHCR: Report highlights ongoing issues
The UNHCR Winter Operations Cell report (pdf) contains an up-to-date round-up on changing policies, practices and crises including 1) Filtering by intended destination country 2) "Bottlenecks" are created as Greece and Macedonia on let refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan cross the border to go north 3) The Mayor of Kos has set strict conditions before agreeing to the location of a "hotspot" on the island.
EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, Amsterdam, 25-26 January 2015
- Programme (pdf)
- Discussion Paper European Border and Coast Guard (pdf)
"Border control is necessary to prevent illegal immigration and crossing of the borders by persons who pose a threat to the public order or security of MS or the Schengen area."
The paper puts on the table key issues in the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency: a) the power of the Agency to carry out "vulnerability assessments" and require a Member State to undertake improvements - this Decision would be binding and b) "The right to intervene in case of a situation at the external border requiring urgent action".
- Discussion Paper on counter terrorism (pdf) Asks what steps are needed to increase information sharing between agencies and EU Member States and whether the "local approach" is one way forward?
- Discussion Paper on tackling cybercrime (pdf)
- Discussion Paper on the European Forensic Science Area 2020 (pdf)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.1.16)
FRANCE: Prime Minister calls for "total, global and ruthless" war on terror
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said that the war on terrorism must be "total, global and ruthless," and that the French state of emergency should last "as long as the threat is there".
UK: For fsck's SAKKE: GCHQ-built phone voice encryption has massive backdoor researcher (BBC News, link): "The UK government's official voice encryption protocol, around which it is hoping to build an ecosystem of products, has a massive backdoor that would enable the security services to intercept and listen to all past and present calls, a researcher has discovered.
Dr Steven Murdoch of University College London has posted an extensive blog post digging into the MIKEY-SAKKE spec in which he concludes that it has been specifically designed to "allow undetectable and unauditable mass surveillance."
He notes that in the "vast majority of cases" the protocol would be "actively harmful for security.""
See: Dr Murdoch's blog post: Insecure by design: protocols for encrypted phone calls (Bentham's Gaze, link): "The MIKEY-SAKKE protocol is being promoted by the UK government as a better way to secure phone calls. The reality is that MIKEY-SAKKE is designed to offer minimal security while allowing undetectable mass surveillance, through the introduction a backdoor based around mandatory key-escrow. This weakness has implications which go further than just the security of phone calls."
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: KILLER ROBOTS: 40 countries are working on killer robots and theres no law to say how we use them (The Next Web, link): "Artificial intelligence experts have come together at the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss the future or lack of for autonomous killer robots.
Despite calls for a ban made by people like Teslas Elon Musk last year, Sir Roger Carr, the chairman of British weapons manufacturer BAE, said that 40 countries are currently working on this tech, including the United States."
Video: What If: Robots Go to War? (World Economic Forum, link): "Remarkable advances in artificial intelligence may soon have implications for the future of warfare. What if autonomous weapon systems replace both soldiers and generals?
Join an in-depth discussion that explores the possible, plausible and probable impacts of artificial intelligence on defence systems."
UK: Tracked by MI5 to PC World: How judges and Theresa May deemed London minicab driver very highly probably an Al Qaeda courier (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, link): "A London minicab driver who arrived in Britain from Afghanistan as an unaccompanied minor 12 years ago is now highly likely to be an Islamist extremist and a threat to national security, judges have ruled.
The 27 year old, known only as M2, had his British citizenship stripped by Theresa May in 2014 after being tracked by MI5 but re-entered the UK just months later. He is currently living in a west London flat under special bail conditions.
He had appealed the Home Secretarys decision but judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) have now ruled that under the civil burden of proof, it is very highly probable that [he] is an Islamist extremist who has engaged in terrorist related activities by acting as a courier for an important al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan."
See: Special Immigration Appeals Commission judgment: Appeal No SC/124/2014 between: M2 and The Secretary of State for the Home Department (pdf)
The Dublin Regulation: Is the End Nigh? Where should unaccompanied children apply for asylum? (EU Law Analysis, link): "Two recent developments have raised controversy as regards the EUs Dublin III Regulation, the set of rules which determines in which Member State asylum-seekers must make their asylum application. First of all, a British judgment yesterday stated that the UK was responsible for the asylum claims by unaccompanied children in France (in particular the Calais Jungle), who have a family member in the UK. Secondly, a press report indicated that the Commission is planning to propose a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin rules in the near future. Both developments have alarmed some commentators, but thrilled others. I will examine the legal and political context of each of them in turn. "
The British court case regarding Calais: Syrian teenagers in Calais win UK asylum ruling (BBC News, link) and: Four Syrian refugees must be brought from Calais camp to Britain, judges rule (The Guardian, link)
Changes to the Dublin rules: How the EU plans to overhaul Dublin regulation on asylum claims (Financial Times, link) and: UK lobbies against plan to scrap EU's Dublin regulations (The Guardian, link)
And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.1.16)
EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: EU Institutions making steady progress (press release, pdf): "The EU institutions and bodies are making steady progress implementing data protection rules. This is the conclusion of the report published yesterday by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on his latest stocktaking exercise.
Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: "As the EUs independent supervisory authority, it is the EDPS role to keep EU institutions on track in fulfilling their data protection obligations. The institutions themselves are accountable for applying the rules and integrating data protection principles in their daily work. I am pleased that the results of our Survey confirm that they increasingly do."
See: EDPS report: Survey 2015: Measuring compliance with data protection rules in EU institutions (pdf)
EU: Article 29 Working Party on data protection: updated opinion on applicable law in light of Google Spain ("right to be forgotten") judgment
"In its judgement in Google Spain the Court of Justice of the European Union ('CJEU') found that the processing of personal data in question by the search engine operated by Google Inc., a US-based controller, was 'inextricably linked to', and therefore was carried out 'in the context of the activities' of Google's establishment in Spain, considering that the advertising and commercial activities of the Spanish subsidiary constituted the 'means of rendering the search engine economically profitable'. On these grounds, the CJEU concluded that Spanish law applied to the processing in question.
The implications of the judgement are broader than merely determining applicable law in relation to the operation of the Google search engine in Spain."
The opinion notes that the Google Spain judgment "confirms the broad territorial reach of Article 4(1)(a) of Directive 95/46/EC," raises the question of whether "companies having a designated 'EU headquarters'... need only to comply with one national law within the EU or also with the laws of other EU Member States in which they may also have a 'relevant' establishment," and that the judgment "does not by any means exclude the possibility of controllers having no establishment of any sort within the EU being subject to EU data protection requirements."
See: Update of Opinion 8/2010 on applicable law in light of the CJEU judgement in Google Spain (pdf)
Background: DATA SURVEILLANCE: EU court backs 'right to be forgotten': Google must amend results on request (Statewatch News Online, May 2014) and Article 29 Working Party: Opinion 8/2010 on applicable law (December 2010, pdf)
ECHR: Defamation claims against Patrick de Carolis and France 3 were upheld in breach of their right to freedom of expression (press release, pdf)
"In todays Chamber judgment in the case of de Carolis and France Televisions v. France (application no. 29313/10) 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 an accusation of defamation brought by Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal on account of a documentary on the France 3 television channel concerning complaints lodged by families of the victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks."
See: Judgment (French, pdf)
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across Europe (22.1.16)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (news and documents, 21.1.16)
EU Netherlands Council Presidency: Dutch Presidency debate: "counter growing scepticism with visible results, refugee crisis top priority (pdf):
""We must achieve concrete results and make sure they are visible to counter growing scepticism throughout Europe. (..) Keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal in Europe. A deal is a deal", said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the kick-off debate of the Dutch Presidency in Strasbourg on Wednesday."
Prime Minister Mark Rutte may want to tell the authorities in the Netherlands that "keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal". The country still has to make available nearly 6,000 places for the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy. So far the Netherlands has made 100 places available and has relocated 50 people: See: Member State relocation pledges (pdf)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (news and documents, 20.1.16)
Statewatch Briefing: Directive on combating terrorism
[Proposed Directive on combating terrorism to bring EU law into line with the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 2178]:
In early December 2015, shortly after terrorist attacks on cafés and nightclubs in Paris, the Commission published its proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism. This will replace the EU's 2002 Framework Decision on combating terrorism (2002/475/JHA), which was amended in 2008 (by Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA). The EU is already a signatory to a Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on combating terrorism, but is obliged to introduce its own criminal law provisions in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (September 2014). The Commission's proposals also include further measures.
Background, Critiques and Statewatch coverage. Including official documents
UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing
Latest Commission figures, published 19.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation is at a standstill. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid budgets and "trust funds", and civil protection requirements.
Bulgaria: Pushbacks, Abuse at Borders - Halt Summary Returns, Beatings, Robbery of Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):
"Bulgarian law enforcement officials summarily return asylum seekers and migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings and subjecting them to violence.
In research in six countries between October and December 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 45 asylum seekers and migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq who described 59 incidents of summary returns from Bulgaria to Turkey between March and November. Twenty-six people said they had been beaten by police or bitten by police dogs. All but one said they were stripped of their possessions, in some cases at gunpoint by people they described as Bulgarian law enforcement officials, then pushed back across the border to Turkey."
What Happens to the Data Collected On Us While We Sleep (Motherboard, link):
"With the quantified self trend in vogue and wearables escalating, an alarming amount of users biometric data is being generated and collected, and theres next to no oversight preventing it from winding up in the hands of data brokers and advertisers getting rich off your personal information.
We already know that the major data brokers like Acxiom and Experian collect thousands of pieces of information on nearly every US consumer to paint a detailed personality picture, by tracking the websites we visit and the things we search for and buy. These companies often know sensitive things like our sexual preference or what illnesses we have."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.16)
MSF: Obstacle Course to Europe: A policy-made humanitarian crisis at EU borders (pdf)
"The report spells out that Europe cannot continue to count on the deadly sea crossing, fences and poor reception conditions to act as a filter of deterrence. The current narrative and policies cannot hold. As instability continues to rage across Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the EU and European governments must shift their current policies and provide a humane and humanitarianresponse to refugees and migrants desperately seeking its protection and assistance."
EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION MEASURE: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 5312-15, 18.1.16, pdf) Includes 47 Member State positions:
"The present note sets out the outcome of the discussions on the abovementioned proposal at the Asylum Working Party meeting on 7 December 2015 as well as at previous meetings of Friends of Presidency (Asylum) and JHA Counsellors.
The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BE, BG, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI. CZ, ES, FR, HU, LT, PL, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."
European Parliament: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf). The rapporteurs will be taking amendment suggestions until 27 January. It is due for adoption in the LIBE Committee in March. and then during the Plenary vote in April.
UK: Terrorism Act incompatible with human rights, court rules in David Miranda case (Guardian, link):
"Appeal court says detention of Miranda was lawful but clause under which he was held is incompatible with European human rights convention.
A key clause in the Terrorism Act 2000 is incompatible with the European convention on human rights, the master of the rolls, Lord Dyson, has declared as part of a court of appeal judgment. His judgment came in the case of a man detained at Heathrow airport for carrying files related to information obtained by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Dysons decision will force government ministers to re-examine the act, which has now been found to be inconsistent with European law. Dyson said that the powers contained in schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act (2000) were flawed. Schedule 7 of the Act allows travellers to be questioned in order to find out whether they appear to be terrorists. They have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they may be detained for up to nine hours. The stop power, if used in respect of journalistic information or material is incompatible with article 10 [freedom of expression] of the [European convention on human rights] because it is not prescribed by law, the master of the rolls said."
Press release: Summary: The Queen on the application of David Miranda -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department (pdf) and Judgment: full-text (pdf)
European Parliament: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf). The rapporteurs will be taking amendment suggestions until 27 January. It is due for adoption in the LIBE Committee in March. and then during the Plenary vote in April.
UK: UNDERCOVER POLICE: Another spycop exposed: Carlo Neri confirmed as an undercover (Undercover Researxh, link):
"Today we can reveal that Carlo Neri, who was active in the Socialist Party between 2001 and 2005, was in reality an undercover police officer in London, mostly likely deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad.
We have been working on this case since last summer, after people who knew him came to us with their suspicions. Following a long and sometimes winding investigation we were able to identify his real name, and to locate documentation that had his occupation down as police officer at the time he was undercover."
See also: The Fifteen Questions we work with (link)
FRANCE: Encryption backdoors by law? France says 'non' (ZDnet, link):
"A proposed amendment to France's Digital Republic Bill, suggesting mandatory hardware backdoors to bypass encryption, has been rejected by the government... The French government has rejected a proposed bill that would have required hardware makers to design products that give authorities access to stored data, even if it is encrypted.
The draft bill, proposed by a right-leaning politician in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, would have required all tech companies to insert backdoors into devices, on the grounds that encryption should not impede a police investigation."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.1.16)
UK: Exclusive: See Shocking Footage of British Police Officers Attacking Peaceful Protesters (VICE, link):
"Last Thursday, two protesters were found not guilty of violent disorder and actual bodily harm against police officers, which they were accused of committing during a Cardiff Uncut protest at a bank on the 2nd of May last year. As a result of the acquittal, the CCTV footage of the event can now be released, and it tells a remarkably different story to what was presented as evidence against the two men.
The video shows police charging into the protesters, punching, kneeing, choking and hurling members of the group around the room. One defendant, 26-year-old Josh Longbottom, is held in a chokehold. In the scuffle the second defendant, Pete Simpson, aged 30, approaches his friend Josh before being picked up by the throat and slammed into the ground."
UK: Woman who was engaged to police spy sues Met over 'psychological torture' (Guardian, link):
"Complainant wants apology and list of fake names used by undercover officers, after two-year relationship with man she knew as Carlo Neri. A woman who accepted a marriage proposal from a married undercover police officer has begun legal action against the Metropolitan police, alleging that she suffered abusive, cold-hearted, psychological torture from his deception.
The woman, known only as Andrea, had a two-year relationship with the officer, during which time the spy told her that he wanted a baby with her but did not tell her that he already had a wife and child and was an undercover cop."
Portuguese Court Rules Ex-CIA Operative Should Serve Italian Sentence (The Wall Street Journal, link): "A Portuguese court has ruled that a former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative convicted in Italy for kidnapping under the U.S. rendition program should be turned over to Italian authorities to serve a seven-year prison sentence."
The background: Statewatch Analysis: State secrets in the Abu Omar case: the transatlantic relationship undermines the rule of law in cases involving human rights abuses by intelligence services by Yasha Maccanico (August 2014, pdf)
And see: Portuguese court backs ex-CIA agent's extradition to Italy (The Local, link)
EU: FENCES: Bulgaria and Macedonia
Bulgarian IntMin Hopes Fence at Border with Turkey to be Completed in March (Novinite, link): "She reminded that the fence has a length of 132.6 kilometres and is situated at the territories of three regions Haskovo, Yambol and Burgas
The cost of the fence is BGN 60 M, with half of the sum having been absorbed until now.
According to her, the new facility is better than the one which had been constructed by the army during the government of Plamen Oresharski.
The barbed wire of the new facility is thicker, it has three rows instead of the existing two and the fence has warranty service of five years."
European refugee crisis: Macedonia builds 10ft-high razor-topped fence along Greek border (International Business Times, link): "The Republic of Macedonia is just weeks away from completing a 10ft-high razor-topped fence along its border with Greece to stop refugees and migrants entering the Balkans.
Armed security teams from six other Eastern European nations will help Macedonia patrol its southern border. This underpins the idea that Macedonia's fence would operate as a bottleneck to slow the refugees down..."
And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.1.16)
The draft EU Directive on Combating Terrorism: Much Ado About What? (EU Law Analysis, link): " The slow strangulation of the transnational public sphere continues. The publication last month of a draft EU Directive on Combating Terrorism is the Unions initial (legislative) response to recent murders by Islamic State fighters in Europe and elsewhere. The draft Directive will recast the Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism, first adopted in 2002 and amended in 2008, and will further broaden the impact of EU law in national criminal law as regards terrorism.
Taken as a whole, the Directive continues the ongoing restriction of various mobilities of finance, information, and people in the name of counter-terrorism. This restriction has been the hallmark of international efforts since 11 September 2001. There is an inevitable risk for critiques of such action: on the one hand it appears to be restrictive of civil liberties across Europe and on the other hand its operational usefulness is unclear. Can such a law be both draconian and ineffective? Undoubtedly. As with any EU measure the proof will be in the transposition and implementation."
- Detailed comments by Member States on the Commission's proposals in documents 5201/15 (pdf and 5201/15 COR 1 (pdf)
- EU to gold plate international anti-terrorism obligations with "urgent" new law (Statewatch News Online, December 2015)
- And the original proposal from the Commission: Proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (pdf)
UK: Refusal and revocation of British citizenship for dishonest conduct (Free Movement, link): "In another reminder that British citizenship can be refused on the basis of past dishonest conduct we have the case of R (on the application of Rushiti & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3931 (Admin). This one dates back a few months but Im afraid I only just found it in my drafts folder. It involves two linked cases, both of which are further examples of Albanians entering the UK and pretending to be Kosovar, eventually obtaining immigration status then applying for British citizenship.
I originally drafted this post just as I was reviewing Eric Fripps The Law and Practice of Expulsion and Exclusion from the United Kingdom and was rather surprised to learn that there were zero recorded instances of citizenship deprivation on the basis of dishonesty between 1983 and 2009, but in 2009 there were 30 such decisions. All or almost all are said by the authors to be Albanian/Kosovar cases. Since then, the numbers seem to have been steadily increasing.
The deprivation of citizenship the exclusion of perceived undesirables from our polity is one of the most important trends of our time."
See: Judgment: Rushiti & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3931 (November 2014, pdf)
UK: Majority Of Boroughs Fail To Meet Stop And Search Arrest Targets (Londonist, link): "Two thirds of London boroughs are failing to meet arrest targets set under the Met's stop and search guidance, police data shows.
It means that across the capital hundreds of thousands of people are being unnecessarily searched by the police mostly black people, who are 11.5 times more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts."
See: Metropolitan Police: Stops and Searches Monitoring Mechanism, November 2015 (pdf)
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (18.1.16)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27 news items and developments (16-17.1.16)
EU: Council of the European Union: Checks at external borders, Combatting terrorism, GAMM & Visa Code facilitation and readmission
- Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 5208-15, pdf)
"On entry and on exit, persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law shall be subject to the following checks...
Use of advanced passenger data for border control purposes A delegation, supported by certain other delegations, proposed to include provisions on the use of advance passenger data, available pursuant to Council Directive 2004/82/EC on the obligation of
carriers to communicate passenger data, for the purpose of border control. The approach suggested would allow that certain checks could be carried out on the basis of such information received by the border control authorities in advance of the arrival to the border of the persons concerned, with the understanding that the result of the consultations would be verified at the border control..."
- Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Compilation of replies (LIMITE doc no: 5201-15, pdf) Detailed Member State positions:
"Further to the invitation of the Presidency for written contributions concerning the proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism, which was extended at the meeting of the Working Party on Substantive Criminal Law on 7 and 8 January 2016, delegations will find in the annexes to this note a compilation of the replies provided by the Member States..."
And: COR 1 (pdf): "Portugal also wants to express its discontent in relation to the working plan presented by the Presidency, which provide for seven (7) meetings on the negotiation of this draft proposal for the months of January and February of 2016, two of which in the Working Group DROIPEN and the remaining five (5) in the Friends of the Presidency format (Fop)." [emphasis in original]
See: EU to gold plate international anti-terrorism obligations with "urgent" new law (Statewatch database) and Commission: Proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (link)
- High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (LIMITE doc no: 13426-15, pdf) including: GAMM UPDATE (19 October 2015 - Annex 17 pages). "This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)."
- Connection between the facilitations set out in the Visa Code and readmission (LIMITE doc no: 15507-15, pdf) Contains three options including:
"Introduction of a recital which states that visa facilitation with third countries - beyond the rules provided for in the Visa Code - is reserved only for nationals of third countries that have concluded a readmission agreement."
Policing with accountability or policing with impunity? (IRR, link) by Liz Fekete:
"Media stigmatisation of poor multicultural neighbourhoods of Europe as strongholds of Islamist terrorism and organised crime is lending legitimacy to a more coercive, more militarised style of policing....
Across Europe, with its different policing traditions (Greece, Spain and Portugal, for instance, only emerged from dictatorship in the mid-1970s and elements of authoritarian policing linger on), squads that had by necessity to have specialist roles were not supposed to operate above or outside the law. But now something very different seems to be happening across Europe. There is a danger that we are sleepwalking into a more military-style of policing (in the first instance being tried on poor, multicultural communities) which affords an effective impunity for its officers far more serious and undermining of democracy, than anything we have hitherto known."
EU: The Discreet Charm of Passenger Data: Big Data Surveillance Coming Home (PRIO, link):
"Several governments see in the mass-surveillance of passenger data the key tool of counter-terrorism. These data are generally known as PNR Passenger Name Records, and their potential for law enforcement has been discussed at least since the 1990s. Now European Union (EU) debates about the creation of a European PNR scheme seem settled once and for all. Others have already provided legal analyses of the measure to come. Here the goal is different: I aim to show how urgent it is to start researching the political dimensions of this security program right when all politics fade away."
EU: TRAVEL SURVEILLANCE: Bulgarian Passenger Name Record (PNR) law on the way:
"Bulgarias National Assembly approved on January 14 2016 the first reading of legislation that will empower the State Agency for National Security to be sent airline passenger data.
The change is in line with European efforts as part of the fight against terrorism, Bulgarian National Radio said.
"...The bill specifies the objectives for which data can be processed the prevention, detection, prosecution, prosecution of terrorism or other serious crimes data that is included in the passenger name record, and for the purposes of border control." (emphasis added). Source: Bulgarian MPs give first-reading approval to air passenger data being given to State Agency for National Security (The Sofia Globe, link)
Border control is not covered by the EU PNR Directive. It would thus appear that Bulgaria is "gold-plating" its national implementing law. See: final "compromise" text of the EU-PNR Directive (14670/15, pdf)
Bulgaria previously received funding from the European Commission - prior to the passing of the EU Directive - to set up a national PNR system. See: Travel surveillance: PNR by the back door (Statewatch News Online, October 2014)
And: The Discreet Charm of Passenger Data: Big Data Surveillance Coming Home (PRIO, link): "I aim to show how urgent it is to start researching the political dimensions of this security program right when all politics fade away."
UK: ARMING THE POLICE: Metropolitan Police to get hundreds of extra armed officers
"The Metropolitan police is to increase the number of its armed officers by 600, with a third on standby to respond to a mass terrorist attack.
"The Mets commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said the initiative was a direct response to the Paris attacks, in which 130 people were killed by gunmen and suicide bombs across the French capital."
See: Met police adds 600 armed officers in response to Paris attacks (The Guardian, link) and: Met police to train 600 armed officers to counter terrorism (The Voice, link)
Meanwhile, an agreement has been reached between the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) and regular police forces:
"Routinely armed police force the Civil Nuclear Contabulary (CNC) has entered into a collaboration with Home Office forces to provide firearms backup should chief contables request it.
The development comes after the force's second in command said an "armed surge capability" could be created to help protect the public in times of national emergency."
Police forces' collaboration agreement with routinely armed constabulary (Police Oracle, account required)
And see an analysis of policing across Europe amidst the media stigmatisation of poor, multicultural neighbourhoods: Policing with accountability or policing with impunity? (Institute of Race Relations, link)
EU: Refugee crisis: "If Schengen collapses, it'll be start of end European project" (European Parliament article, pdf): "Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned MEPs the refugee crisis was "getting worse" during a meeting organised by the civil liberties committee on 14 January. He said the EU's unity was at stake amid an increase of "populism and nationalism". The commissioner also called on member states to deliver on their own promises and show solidarity to each other: "If Schengen collapses, it will be the beginning of the end of the European project".
See: Speaking points of Commissioner Avramopoulos from the meeting with the LIBE committee (European Commission press release, pdf)
And: Cash Crisis: If Schengen Goes, the Euro is Finished, Warns Merkel (Sputnik, link): "The success of Europe's single market and currency is dependent on the survival of the Schengen Area, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday, remarking that the EU is "vulnerable" due to a lack of control of migration."
More stories: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.1.16)
EU: Document digest: internal border controls, "common risk indicators" at the external borders, organised crime action plans, human trafficking report
A selection of EU documents: Member States' replies to a questionnaire on the temporary reintroduction of border controls; Frontex's efforts with Europol to support the introduction of "common risk indicators" at the EU's external borders; an overview of Operational Action Plans (OAPs) on organised crime; and a report by Europol on human trafficking in the EU.
- NOTE from: the Presidency to: Delegations: Summary of replies to the questionnaire regarding the temporary reintroduction of controls at internal borders (14800/15, 1 December 2015)
- NOTE from: Frontex to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI): Frontex support to the operationalisation and coordinated implementation of the Common Risk Indicators (14425/15, 23 November 2015)
- NOTE from: General Secretariat of the Council to: JHA Counsellors/COSI Support Group and COSI: Operational Action Plans 2016 related to the EU's priorities for the fight against serious and organised crime between 2014 and 2017 (14861/2/15 REV 2, 22 December 2015)
- NOTE from: Europol to: Delegations: Situation report on trafficking in human beings in the EU (15067/15, 8 December 2015)
EU: European Parliament study: The context and legal elements of a Proposal for a Regulation on the Administrative Procedure of the European Union's institutions, bodies,
offices and agencies (pdf): "This study was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee. It provides for an analysis of and comments on the proposal for a Regulation on EU administrative procedural law prepared by the project team supporting the Working Group on Administrative Law and endorsed by the latter Working Group. The purpose of this Regulation is fostering compliance with the general principles of EU law, reducing the fragmentation of applicable rules, improving transparency and allowing for simplification of Union legislation by establishing a concise basic set of procedural provisions common to multiple policies."
European Court rules bosses can monitor employees' private messages on WhatsApp and other messaging services (Independent, link): "Companies have the right to monitor their workers online private messages, a court has ruled.
The European Court of Human Rights made the ruling on a case involving a Romanian engineer who was fired after using Yahoo Messenger not only to communicate with professional contacts, but also to send messages to his fiancée and brother."
Recommended deading: Is Workplace Privacy Dead? Comments on the Barbulescu judgment (EU Law Analysis, link): "When can an employer read an employees e-mails or texts, or track her use of the Internet? Its an important question for both employers and employees. A judgment this week in Barbulescu v Romania addressed the issue, but unfortunately has been greeted by press headlines such as EU court allows employers to read all employee e-mails. This is wrong on two counts: its not a judgment of an EU court, but of the separate European Court of Human Rights; and the ruling does not allow employers to read all employee e-mails without limitation."
ECHR: Press release (pdf) and Judgment: CASE OF BÃRBULESCU v. ROMANIA (Application no. 61496/08) (pdf)
News Digest: Round up of news stories from across the EU (8 articles, 15.1.16)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30 news stories, documents and developments 13-14.1.16)
European court's blow to Hungary could draw similar privacy complaints (euractiv, link): "The blow dealt to Hungary's surveillance practices this week by the European Court of Human (ECtHR) Rights could usher in a wave of similar rulings from around the EU. On Tuesday (12 January) the ECtHR ruled that Hungary's surveillance of private individuals on anti-terror grounds was illegal. The court took issue with the lack of parliamentary oversight and means for judicial redress in the surveillance programme."
See: ECHR Press Release: Hungarian legislation on secret anti-terrorist surveillance does not have sufficient safeguards against abuse (pdf)
GREECE: "Proem-Aid release:"Good morning, on the morning of today, the Greek coast guard has arrested our team in Lesvos, for an alleged offence of trafficking in persons. From Proem-Aid we inform you that the Spanish Embassy in Greece is carrying out the necessary action to resolve this misunderstanding.
Thank you for your support, we just keep you informed.
Good Morning, in the early hours of today, the Greek Coast Guard ,stopped our team in Lesvos, for an alleged crime of trafficking in persons .
From Proem-Aid , we want to inform you that the Spanish Embassy in Grece is working to fix this misunderstanding. Thank for your support. We keep you informed"
See: website: PROEM-AID: Professional emergency aid (link)
EU: POLAND: European Commission - Fact Sheet: College Orientation Debate on recent developments in Poland and the Rule of Law Framework: Questions & Answers (link)
EU commission puts Poland on the hook (euobserver, link): "The European Commission has triggered rule-of-law monitoring of Poland, in an unprecedented step, prompted by constitutional and media reforms. We have decided that the commission will carry out a preliminary assessment under the rule-of-law framework, Frans Timmermans, the Dutch EU commissioner, who handles the dossier, said in Brussels on Wednesday (13 January), after internal talks. Timmermans used a softer tone than Ziobro (Photo: European Commission) Its the first time the commission has used the instrument, which is designed to prevent breaches of EU law and prinicples."
EU-GREECE: 90 new finger-printing machines ordered: Commission provides additional support for fingerprinting of migrants in Greece (2nd item in Press Release, pdf):
"The European Commission has informed Greece of its decision to award 1.36 million in emergency funding for the acquisition of 90 fingerprinting devices. These devices will be used to ensure proper identification and registration of migrants at Greek border crossings. This emergency funding comes from the Internal Security Fund (ISF). The 90 fingerprinting devices and workstations will be connected to the central EURODAC system to ensure sharing of information, and will be installed at border crossing points throughout the country, including on the Eastern Aegean islands."
EU: European Commission: Press Release: Refugee crisis: Commission reviews 2015 actions and sets 2016 priorities (pdf). Notes the failures of 2015: Relocation is failing - only 272 in 2015 - with very few offers to meet the need for 160,000; only three hotspots set up out of 11, and neither is the returns programme happening. In 2016 the Commission wants the quick adoption of the European Border and Coast Guard, reform the Dublin System, introduce measures on legal migration and migrant smuggling.
See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis
EU: Ombudsman's finding of maladminiration by European Commission in failing to release documents concerning GCHQ: Decision in case 2004/2013/PMC on the European Commission's handling of an access to documents request relating to the surveillance of the internet by UK intelligence services (link):
"The Ombudsman is not persuaded that the Commission has adequately justified its decision to refuse public access to the remaining undisclosed documents. As it has neither disclosed these documents nor provided adequate reasons for refusing public access to them, it is clear that the Commission has rejected the Ombudsman's recommendation in relation to these documents. Furthermore, the Ombudsman notes that the Commission appears not to have taken any action as regards its investigation since 2013. The Ombudsman finds, therefore, that the Commission's actions in this case amount to maladministration and, in fact, to serious maladministration given the importance of the particular issue for EU citizens."
Greece said to propose return trips for illegal migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):
"A senior Greek official has said the government will ask Europe's border protection agency Frontex to help set up a sea deportation route to send migrants who reach the country illegally back to Turkey. The official told AP the plan would involve chartering boats on Lesvos and other Greek islands to send back migrants who were not considered eligible for asylum in the European Union. the official spoke on condition of anonymity because Athens hasn't yet formally raised the issue with other European governments."
PRESS RELEASE: Special Branch Files Project website launches on WEDNESDAY 13th JANUARY 2016
The Special Branch Files Project is a web archive of declassified files focusing on the surveillance of political activists and campaigners in the UK, going live on Wednesday 13th January 2016.
In the early years of the Freedom of Information Act, journalists obtained various Special Branch documents from the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office. Unfortunately this openness was short-lived. The authorities now routinely refuse to disclose Special Branch files, including information which they previously released....
Journalists and researchers who received these files in the past generously shared them with the Special Branch Files Project for publication so that they can be accessible to the public.
The documents reveal the intricate details recorded by Britain's secret police about a range of protest movements in this country; from those protesting against the Vietnam War in 1968, to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Wapping industrial dispute of 1986-87. Other files relate to the psychological support available for undercover police officers infiltrating activist groups.
HUNGARY-ECHR: Press Release: Hungarian legislation on secret anti-terrorist surveillance does not have sufficient safeguards against abuse (pdf)
"The case concerned Hungarian legislation on secret anti-terrorist surveillance introduced in 2011.
The Court accepted that it was a natural consequence of the forms taken by present-day terrorism that governments resort to cutting-edge technologies, including massive monitoring of communications, in pre-empting impending incidents.
However, the Court was not convinced that the legislation in question provided sufficient safeguards to avoid abuse. Notably, the scope of the measures could include virtually anyone in Hungary, with new technologies enabling the Government to intercept masses of data easily concerning even persons outside the original range of operation. Furthermore, the ordering of such measures was taking place entirely within the realm of the executive and without an assessment of whether interception of communications was strictly necessary and without any effective remedial measures, let alone judicial ones, being in place."
and Judgment (pdf) See paras 68-89
Background: Szabo and Vissy v. Hungary - No Secret Surveillance Without Judicial Warrant (link)
FRANCE: More than 11.000 Roma migrants forcefully evicted in France in 2015 (ERRC, link):
" In total 11.128 people have been subjected to forced evictions in France in 111 living areas. More than the half of those living in slums have been forcibly evicted by the authorities during 2015 and in five of the cases people left their living place because of fire. The Ligue des droits de lHomme and European Roma Rights Centre denounce an undignified, inhuman, and degrading situation regarding Roma migrants in France."
EU: "TOTAL TERRORISM SOLUTION" STUNS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - Hoax highlights failures of military, security approaches to terrorism (Yes Lab, link): "Today in the European Parliament in Brussels, a "defense and security consultant" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, working together with Greek MEP Stelios Kouloglou) presented an industrial solution to terrorism" whichunlike all other military and security solutionsis guaranteed to actually work"
See: Total terrorism solution talk (Yes Lab, link) and video:Kouloglou & Yes Men - Anti-terrorism Hoax - EU Parliament (YouTube, link)
EU: TAXE: GUE/NGL member sues European Commission over document access (link): "A legal study commissioned by GUE/NGL finds that the European Commission violated EU law when not disclosing documents, such as its minutes of the European Council's Codeof Conduct Group on business taxation, and by imposing restrictions on MEPs' access to documents."
Netherlands Council Presidency: Promote the multidisciplinary approach in addressing migrant smuggling (link): "The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is organising the conference in collaboration with the European Migration Network." .
It appears the Presdiency does not know the legal difference between "smuggling" and "trafficking" nor btween migrants and refugees.
And aims to trace: "the entire route travelled by migrants makes it possible to identify where barriers can be erected to deter human trafficking."
UK: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies: Joint Enterprise report launch: Manchester & London 25, 26 Jan (link):
"The Centre will be launching a new research report, Dangerous associations: Joint enterprise, gangs and racism, written by experts from Manchester Metropolitan University, that raises serious concerns about the impact of Joint Enterprise prosecutions on Black, Asian and Minority ethnic communities. Focusing on Manchester, Nottingham and London, the report will reveal new findings that give strong grounds for concluding that black people are systematically discriminated against in joint enterprise prosecutions."
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (13.1.16)
European Commission: HOW DO YOU TRY AND HIDE CONTINUING BAD NEWS - YOU PUT A WEEK OLD DATE ON THE PRESS RELEASE:
European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Brussels ( pdf) This This Commission Press Release is dated 5 September 2016, and list under this date on the Commission website but contains data dated 12 January 2016 - which made it quite hard to find.
Comment on the current situation: The relocation plan is simply not working, "returns" are at a standstill as are Member State pledges of finance for the Africa Trust Fund, Syria Trust Fund, Humanitarian aid to World Food Programme and UNHCR.
- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (pdf): 17 Member States with 4,237 places offered - up 20 - out of 160,000 needed. Actual relocation: 190 from Italy and 82 from Greece: a total of 272, up 11 from 22 December.
- Returns updated on 4 January 2016 since September (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 683 no change from December, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as three weeks ago.
- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Frontex: 165 officers - up 34 (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams - Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hotspots" are planned but only three - Lampedusa (17 Frontex offcials) and Trapani (8 Frontex officials - up 4) in Italy and Lesvos - are operational.
- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, million (pdf) Unmet pledges total: 2,224,890 euro unchanged since December.
- Accepted Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (Communicated as of 12 January 2016) (pdf) Still many unmet needs
.See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis
UNHCR: Lesvos island snapshot - 11 Jan 2016 (pdf)
- Total arrivals in Lesvos (01 Jan 2015 - 11 Jan 2016): 512,470
- Total arrivals in Lesvos during Jan 2016 12,452
- Average daily arrivals during Jan 2016 1,132
and Serbia: Inter-Agency operational Update: 21 December 2015 - 3 January 2016 (pdf)
"According to official statistics, 577,995 refugees and migrants expressed intention to seek asylum in the Republic of Serbia in 2015 as at 31 December.... The practice of denying entry to refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq continued. As of 01 January, maximum 940 asylum-seekers are allowed to board per train, and a maximum of four train departures daily are provided from id in Serbia to Slavonski Brod in Croatia.".
- Recorded daily arrivals in West Balkans (1 October - 7 January, pdf). It is notable that arrivals in Hungary greatly decrease in mid-October 2015
IOM: Migrant Arrivals in Europe by Sea Reached 18,872 in First 11 Days of 2016 (link): "Migrant arrivals in Europe by sea averaged over 1,700 a day during the first 11 days of 2016, according to IOM. The period also saw the years first fatalities in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy, a route that took the lives of almost 3,000 migrants and refugees in 2015."
Arrivals by Sea and Deaths in the Mediterranean 1 - 11 January 2016: Italy: 257. Greece 18,615 Deaths/missing 53
GREECE-ITALY: Appeal Council rejects Italian extradition request for all five students (tovima.gr, link): "The five students participated in the "No Expo" demonstration in Milan that took place in May 2015... Following its previous two decisions, the Appeal Court convened on Monday and decided to reject the extradition request from Italian authorities for five students, who participated in a demonstration in Milan in May 2015."
Background: European Arrest Warrant: Greek students face extradition to Italy on Fascist-era "destruction and looting" charges (Statewatch News Online, 4.1.16) and the same article in Dutch: Griekse demonstranten dreigt uitlevering aan Italië door EAW (Global Info, link)
EU: Journalists and whistleblowers protected under new Trade Secrets Directive (euractiv, link): "The final version of the EU's draft Trade Secrets Directive provides greater legal protection for journalists and whistleblowers who act in the public interest"
See: Prposed: DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure (pdf)
EU-TURKEY: Implementing the joint October 2015 "action plan" on refugees: visa restrictions and work permits
VISA RESTRICTIONS: Turkeys new visa law for Syrians enters into force (Hurriyet Daily News, link) and Hundreds of Syrians Are Turned Back at Beirut Airport (The New York Times, link)
WORK PERMITS: Turkey plans to introduce work permits for Syrian refugees, minister says (Reuters, link)
Overview: The EU and Turkeys Action Plan: a bad deal for the worlds most desperate (Rory O'Keeffe, link)
More detail and other stories and documents: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.16)
USA: UNITED NATIONS: Guantánamo Bay, 14 years on Rights experts urge the US to end impunity and close the detention facility (OHCHR, link): "A group of human rights experts from the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have urged the United States Government to put an end to impunity for the human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the so-called global war on terror, and to promptly close down the Guantánamo Bay detention facility."
Open Letter to the Government of the United States of America on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the opening of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility (pdf):
"In order to fully implement these obligations, the United States Government must end impunity for the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed as part of the so-called war on terror. Everyone implicated, including at the highest level of authority, must be held accountable for ordering or executing extraordinary renditions, secret detention, arbitrary arrest of civilians and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in the name of combatting terrorism."
AMNESTY: Guantánamo: The USA must turn its back on international symbol of injustice (Amnesty International, link): "Guantánamo remains open because politicians are exploiting the publics genuine fear of terror attacks. Instead of identifying effective and legal measures to prevent attacks, members of Congress are busy playing politics with the lives of dozens of men who could die behind bars without ever facing a trial, said Naureen Shah, Director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights Programme.
... There are currently 104 detainees held in the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba -- 45 of whom have been cleared for transfer yet remain behind bars."
See also: Sami al-Hajj: Remembering Guantanamo (Al Jazeera, link): "Very few detainee cases have ever gone to trial. And today, there are still innocent people people who have been told that they pose no threat in Guantanamo. It is an inhumane place; an insult to humanity."
EU: SCHENGEN, SECURITY AND COUNTER-TERRORISM: Ongoing developments
"Before putting the area of freedom, security and justice on trial as some politicians have done it is certainly important to objectively examine the manner in which the workings of this beast have been confronted by the reality of terrorism. Whether it has to do with controls carried out at borders (Section 1 of this article), or cooperation between national police forces (Section 2), it must be noted that the primary responsibility in this case does not rest with the mechanisms created by the European Union. In contrast, the failure to prevent the rather predictable attacks now creates the question of sharing intelligence between the competent national intelligence agencies, a matter which does not fall within the Unions competences (Section 3)." See: The Paris Terrorist Attacks : Failure of the EUs Area of Freedom, Security and Justice? (ELSJ, link):
And: recent Council documents on counter-terrorism plans in the EU and in the 'Western Balkans' (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Kosovo):
- Council of the EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Report: state of play on the implementation of the statement of the Members of the European Council of 12 February 2015 on counter-terrorism (14734/15, 30 November 2015, pdf): information on border controls ("controls have to be increased to 100%"); information sharing; firearms; PNR; internet ("Member States and the industry should improve the focus on identifying and removing extremist content"); promoting European values and human rights; radicalisation ("explore closer cooperation between different areas" such as "education, culture, sports, employment, welfare, security"); aviation security.
- Council of the EU: EU Western Balkan counter-terrorism initative: integrative plan of action (13887/15, 4 December 2015, pdf): highly detailed overview of plans, proposals and actions to strengthen counter-terrorism work and operations in the Western Balkans. The initiative is led by the "informal Working Group on the Western Balkan Counter-Terrorism Initiative (WBCTi) is composed of 17 Member States [Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Slovenia] and supported by the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS), Europol, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the Presidency of the Council of the EU."
UK: DRONES: UK should prepare for use of drones in terrorist attacks, says thinktank (The Guardian, link): "Commercially available drones have the potential to be converted into flying bombs capable of hitting targets such as nuclear power stations or the prime ministers car, a report by a security thinktank has warned.
Drones are a game changer in the wrong hands, warns the lead author of the report by the Oxford Research Groups Remote Control Project."
Full report: Hostile drones: the hostile use of drones by non-state actors against British targets (pdf): "Ever-more advanced drones capable of carrying sophisticated imaging equipment and significant payloads are readily available to the civilian market. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) currently present the greatest risk because of their capabilities and widespread availability, but developments in unmanned ground (UGVs) and marine vehicles (UMVs) are opening up new avenues for hostile groups to exploit."
For more on drones in the UK see the Statewatch/Drone Wars UK report: Back from the battlefield: domestic drones in the UK
EU: PEGIDA demonstrations in Germany, Belgium and soon the Netherlands
German police fire water cannons to disperse protesters amid clashes in Cologne (Deutsche Welle, link): "Police in the western German city of Cologne have broken up a protest by the "anti-Islamization" group PEGIDA. Water cannons were used to disperse demonstrators protesting after the New Year's Eve attacks on women."
- BELGIUM: 300 Pegida supporters take to the streets in Antwerp (Expatica, link): "Some 300 people joined a Pegida march in Antwerp yesterday. The anti-Islam movement Pegida, which originated in Germany, is aimed against the Islam and what it calls "the Islamisation of Europe". Protesters in Antwerp were addressed by Filip Dewinter of the far-right Vlaams Belang."
- NETHERLANDS: Anti-Islam Pegida cleared to hold Amsterdam demo (Dutch News, link): "Amsterdams mayor Eberhard van der Laan has given the go-ahead to a demonstration by anti-Islam movement Pegida in the Dutch capital in February."
GREECE-ITALY: Protesters interrupt play ahead of court decision on student's extradition (Ekathimerini, link): "About 30 people forced their way into Athina theater in central Athens on Sunday night and interrupted a performance to protest against the extradition of five Greek students to Italy.
The demonstration took place despite the fact that Greeces Appeals Court has rejected Italys extradition request for four of the five students, who are accused of being involved in rioting at the Milan2015 Expo.
The court is due to decide the fate of the fifth student on Monday."
Background: European Arrest Warrant: Greek students face extradition to Italy on Fascist-era "destruction and looting" charges (Statewatch News Online, 4.1.16) and the same article in Dutch: Griekse demonstranten dreigt uitlevering aan Italië door EAW (Global Info, link) and Thessaloniki court rejects Italian extradition request for Greek students (Ekathimerini, link)
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (17 stories, 11.1.16)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15 news stories, documents and a major development 9-10.1.16)
EU: Council of the European Union: Belgium: Deficiencies in police cooperation and Refugees: Relocation mechanism
- Commission proposal for a: COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation on the application of the
Schengen acquis in the field of police cooperation by Belgium (LIMITED COM 571, pdf) The evaluation:
"HEREBY RECOMMENDS: Belgium should::
1. continue its efforts regarding the connections of Police and Customs Cooperation Centres (PCCCs) to the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) via SIENA;
2. continue its efforts to giving wide access to international databases for searches on persons and objects to the local police on a need-to-know basis, and in the same line extending the use of mobile terminals and granting access through them to national police databases;
3. finalise full operational implementation of the Swedish Framework Decision;
4. exploit, while following the example of the plans within the BENELUX Treaty, where from September 2015 a working group is going to work on a more practical and
integrated framework for hot pursuits, the possibilities of an enhanced bilateral agreement with France to improve the effectiveness of hot pursuits with this country;
5. improve, while the revision of the entire Belgian IT system is an opportunity to create the basis for a more systematic approach to statistics, the collection of statistics on cross-border operations (in particular on hot pursuits) carried out at all borders."
- Relocation mechanism: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 14951-15, pdf):
Lots of Member State reservations including from Greece: "The number of persons to be relocated shall not exceed 40% of the number of applications lodged with that Member State in the six months preceding the adoption of the delegated act." and:
"The delegations having general or scrutiny reservations reiterated their positions and underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation. Some delegations recalled their preference for addressing this proposal as part of a broader package on asylum.
The following delegations entered or confirmed their general scrutiny reservations: AT, BE, BG, DE, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI.
CZ, ES, HU, LT, PL and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal"
- As above: Relocation: State of play (14513-15, pdf)
"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September3, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues. They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency." [emphasis added]
UK: Hillsborough families say appointing The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh as media watchdog 'beggars belief' (The Independent, libk): "He played a key role in the tabloids accusations that Liverpool fans had urinated on rescuers during the 1989 disaster "
UPDATE: Frontex tweeted to Statewatch (9.1.16): "Frontex categorically denies this report. Officers deployed by Frontex do not conduct checks of volunteers, NGOs."
See: Statewatch Twitter (link)
WHAT HAS THIS GO TO DO WITH FRONTEX? POLICING VOLUNTEERS: Greek Police, Frontex to 'check' volunteers on islands receiving migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "The Greek Police and Frontex are to carry out checks on non-governmental organizations and volunteers on islands of the northern Aegean which have been receiving large numbers of migrants, sources have told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency.... The broader checks will seek to determine that people declaring themselves as volunteers are working for an accredited organization. The aim is to restore a sense of security on the islands, police source said, not to prevent the work of the NGOs."
and see: Greek police and Frontex to begin ID checks of NGOs, volunteers in North Aegean islands (amna, link): "08/ 01/ 2016 Last update: 18:43: Greek Police on Friday announced the launch, in collaboration with the EU border agency Frontex, of round-the-clock ID checks of volunteers and members of non-governmental organisations currently operating on various eastern Aegean islands as part of efforts to assist Middle Eastern refugees landing on the isles after leaving Turkey.... [a sourrce said] that volunteers working on the coast will be asked to produce a police ID card and to name the organisation they are with, at which point police officers will check to see if the specific NGO is accredited.:" [emphasis added]
Also: Greek Police to do ID Checks on Volunteers Helping Refugees (Greek Reporter, link) which adds: "It is not our intention to offend the volunteers or the NGO staff and their work but only to stress the presence of the police along the coast and at the points where migrants and refugees generally alight, a senior police officer told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency..... The entire process, if everything checks out, will end there, he added, saying the aim was to bolster a sense of security among island residents, who had become alarmed by recent reports concerning the hundreds of NGO workers and volunteers who were currently on the islands and were interfering in refugee management issues without any kind of monitoring or control." [emphasis added]
Comment: "working for an accredited organization" means working for an organisation which the state (whether EU or Greek) approves of.
GERMANY-NSA: Germany restarts joint intelligence surveillance with US (DW, link): "Germany's BND intelligence agency is once again working with its US counterpart on Middle East surveillance. Collaboration had been suspended after it was revealed the US was spying on European officials and firms."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16 news stories, documents and a major development 8.1.16)
UNHCR: GREECE: Daily estimates arrivals per location (29 Oct 2015 06 Jan 2016) (pdf) and Total arrivals in Greece (Jan 2015 - 06 Jan 2016 (pdf): 861,354. Total arrivals in Greece during January 2016: 10,035.
ITALY-GREECE: Thessaloniki court rejects Italian extradition request for Greek students (ekathimerini.com, link):
"A Thessaloniki appeals court has upheld an appeal by two Greek students against their extradition to Italy where they are alleged to have wreaked damage during the Expo 2015 protests."
See: European Arrest Warrant: Greek students face extradition to Italy on Fascist-era "destruction and looting" charges
In early January a Greek court will decide whether or not to extradite to Italy five students who face charges including "destruction and looting" in relation to demonstrations against the Milan Expo in May 2015. It is believed to be the first time that European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) have been used to try to extradite protesters.
EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Priorities 2016: Completing the Data Protection Framework (pdf) and detailed: Annex (pdf)
"The EU-US transatlantic dialogue, and in particular the need for a legal framework ensuring transborder flows of data in the "post-Safe Harbour" context, will be one of the main focus of the EDPS. Following the CJEU judgment in Schrems and the ensuing Commission Communication, the EDPS intends to provide comments on a Commission Implementing Decision for a new arrangement for transatlantic data transfers. We will also take position on proposals to be tabled by the Commission regarding a Commission Implementing Decision to replace Article 3 (on the limitation of powers of the DPA) of all existing adequacy decisions."
and see: EDPS issues Guidelines on the use of eCommunications and Mobile Devices (pdf)
UK: Officer claims Met police improperly destroyed files on Green party peer (Guardian, link):
"Whistleblower David Williams alleges his unit got rid of records to prevent Jenny Jones from discovering extent of its monitoring of her political activities. A police officer working for a secretive Scotland Yard intelligence unit that monitors thousands of political campaigners has alleged that police improperly destroyed files they had compiled on a Green party peer in a highly irregular cover-up.
Whistleblower Sgt David Williams said the unit got rid of the records to prevent Jenny Jones from discovering the extent of the polices monitoring of her political activities. Lady Jones is also deputy chair of the committee that supervises the Metropolitan police.
In a personal letter to Jones, which Williams said he had written as a last resort, the officer said: I didnt become a police officer to monitor politicians or political parties, nor to pay casual disregard to policy and procedure."
Police raid on New Zealand journalist ruled unlawful in case which has implications for the UK (Press Gazette, link):
"A New Zealand journalist has successfully stopped police viewing his computer records and notepads in a case which could have implications for the UK. Nicky Hagar sued the New Zealand government and police after a raid on his home.
Police targeted him because he was given emails hacked from the computer of blogger Cameron Slater which were used as part of his book Dirty Politics. They revealed how government figures used Slater to damage their opponents.Instead of tackling the issues raised by Hagar, police raided his house and seized his computers and various documents in a bid to uncover the source who had hacked Slater's computer.
In recent years UK police have made widespread use of their powers to identify confidential journalistic sources by: raiding journalists' homes, using production orders to obtain confidential emails from news organisations and secretly obtaining the telecoms data of news organisations and journalists."
G4S suspends workers at UK youth centre over allegations of unnecessary force (Reuters, link):
"Global security company G4S said on Friday it had suspended seven members of staff over allegations of unnecessary force and improper language at a British training centre for young offenders.
The company, which runs the Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester, Kent, on behalf of the government, said it had referred the allegations to British police, local authorities and the Ministry of Justice."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27 news stories, documents and commentaries 6-7.1.16)
IRELAND: Corrib gas protesters did State some service (Irish Times, link): "Actions secured important safety improvements to the project and helped create a much needed national debate about the management of our natural resources...As gas is flared into the skies above north Mayo, it is worth reflecting on a project that has been one of modern Irelands greatest scandals, a stunning fiasco in planning, economics, environmental protection and the abuse of civil liberties. Far from it being just about energy supply, jobs and development, the Corrib gas project cuts to the core of this republic and asks big questions about how the country is run."
See also: Corrib protesters hit out at Government as first gas comes ashore (independent.ie, link): " Protesters against the contentious Corrib pipeline have criticised the Government after gas began flowing for the first time.Shell confirmed that gas came ashore from the field off the west coast yesterday. The company said the "first gas" flow was an important milestone.
However, activists against the project believe the Government "slipped" the consent to Shell during the quiet festive period. Energy Minister Alex White granted final approval for the pipeline earlier this week. Shell to Sea, the group who have campaigned against the project for several years, described the approval as "desperate and disgraceful""
Less democracy, xenophobia, resentment: bad times for refugees. OM interviews Zygmunt Bauman: Bauman: Walls against migrants are a victory of terrorism (thanks to Open Migration, pdf)
"To win their war, fundamentalist terrorists can safely count on the collaboration of their shortsighted enemies. Suspension of the basic rules of democracy, resentment towards foreigners, the vicious circle between political propaganda and xenophobia, nation-states unable to face a significant phenomenon as migrations. The refugee crisis, before and after the attacks in Paris, is the litmus test of a global crisis of the West, explains the great sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in this interview with Open Migration. An emergency that will last long and to which Europe has yet to find the proper arguments to answer."
See also: Migrants arriving in Italy are mostly economic Incorrect (openmigration.org, link)
UK: House of Commons Select Committee: International Development Committee report: Syrian refugee crisis (pdf): "we are very concerned about the plight of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe, particularly as reports suggest they are falling prey to people traffickers. We urge the Government to come to a quick decision on the proposal by Save the Children as this is a matter of utmost urgency. We would welcome a decision by the Government in favour of resettling 3,000 unaccompanied children, as recommended by Save the Children, and in addition to the current commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees from the region."
The report which shows a terrible flaw in Cameron's refugee policy (link): " The problem is that neither of these policies helping in the region and relocating especially vulnerable refugees at home are being properly delivered. It's a classic example of simplistic political messaging crashing into complex political realities. Today's international development select committee report lays it out in black and white. Behind the rhetoric and the bluster, it offers a very good account of why Cameron's promises on refugees are running into problems..... Now that the UK is participating in airstrikes in Syria, those access challenges are obviously heightened. As the parliamentary report says:
"The recent escalation of military efforts will have an impact on conditions faced by civilians in Syria, and may well make it more difficult for DfID and other agencies to deliver humanitarian aid.""
EU-USA: Time to get serious about Europes sabotage of US terror intelligence programs (Washington Post, link): "The intelligence tools that protect us from terrorism are under attack, and from an unlikely quarter. Europe, which depends on Americas intelligence reach to fend off terrorists, has embarked on a path that will sabotage some of our most important intelligence capabilities. This crisis has been a long time brewing, and up to now, the US has responded with a patchwork of stopgap half-solutions."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12 news stories and commentaries 5.1.16)
Migrant arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean: what do the data really tell us? (Forced Migration Review, link):
"When looking at numbers of arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean, it is important to ask how robust the data are and what they represent. If we are to frame and inform more accurately the policy challenges facing Europe, it is crucial that data are of good quality and as complete as possible and that their limitations are fully understood."
Article by Frank Laczko, Ann Singleton, Tara Brian and Marzia Rango (pdf)
Preventing the return of Europe's authoritarian right (euobserver, link):
"The rule of law framework should be applied to Poland and it should have already been used in Hungary.
At heart, these new right-wing parties are not the robust pro-people forces they claim to be. They are afraid of the people and skew the system to make sure their positions become immune to democratic challenge. In short, they look much like the old authoritarian right..... Europe cannot look the other way when authoritarian rule is raising its head in a member state."
Dutch government backs strong encryption, condemns backdoors (DailyDot, link)
"The Netherlands government issued a strong statement on Monday against weakening encryption for the purposes of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The move comes as governments in the United Kingdom and China act to legally require companies to give them access to wide swaths of encrypted Internet traffic. U.S. lawmakers are also considering introducing similar legislation.
The Dutch executive cabinet endorsed the importance of strong encryption for Internet security to support the protection of privacy for citizens, companies, the government, and the entire Dutch economy, "
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15 news stories and commentaries 3-4.1.16)
EU: European Arrest Warrant: Greek students face extradition to Italy on Fascist-era "destruction and looting" charges
In early January a Greek court will decide whether or not to extradite to Italy five students who face charges including "destruction and looting" in relation to demonstrations against the Milan Expo in May 2015. It is believed to be the first time that European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) have been used to try to extradite protesters.
Council of the European Union: Outcome of proceedings of the EU - US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting (Washington, 13 November 2015) (LIMITE doc no: 14735, pdf):
"the US expressed disappointment with the recent decision of the European Court of Justice ("Schrems ruling") as protection of privacy interests was a common goal for both parties and a strong priority of the Obama administration.... It expressed concern that the collateral consequences would be a limitation of US law enforcement on US soil...
The EU side also informed of its legal obligation to impose restrictions by April 2016, if the US did not lift its visa requirement for five EU Member States.
Europol made comments on increasing criminal activities in connection to the migration crisis, in particular migrant smuggling, but had not seen evidence on a systematic link to terrorism." [emphasis added]
Statwatch Analysis: The Reform of Frontex: Saving Schengen at Refugees' Expense? (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex:
"Overall, the proposals are flawed, in two contradictory ways: they simultaneously seek to do too much in the area of border controls (where the Frontex proposal exceeds EU powers and is politically unprincipled) and too little in the area of asylum (since there is no significant attempt to address humanitarian or protection needs within the EU). In short, they seek to save the Schengen system, at the expense of refugees."
EU: Council of the European Union: Counter-terrorism, Mutual evaluation and C-T information sharing
- Amending the Framework Decision on terrorism: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Comparison table (LIMITE doc no: 15279-15, pdf):
"delegations will find attached in the Annex a table outlining the new elements introduced by the Commission proposal compared to the existing EU rules in this area." (Column 2)
- Presidency's initiative for the improvement of the follow-up to the evaluation mechanism foreseen in Joint Action 97/827/JHA (LIMITE doc no: 15538-15, pdf):
Member States agree to continue using an old legal instrument - a Joint Action adopted in June 1997 (under the Maastricht Treaty) which allows EU Member States to "mutually" evaluate each other without any reference to parliaments:
"to mutually evaluate the application and implementation at national level of the European Union and other international instruments and undertakings in criminal matters as well as ensuing national law, policies and practices".
and see: Member State responses: Compilation of replies to the questionnaire (LIMITE doc no: 13082-15, 72 pages, pdf)
- Information sharing on Counter-Terrorism (LIMITE doc no: 14911-15, pdf): "Information on the percentage of persons checked against the relevant databases on all EU external borders is available only for some MS, and it is unsatisfactory: between 1,5 and 34 % of persons enjoying the right to free movement have been checked (Switzerland checks 100 %)."
David Miliband earns £425,000-a-year as head of refugee charity International Rescue (Yahoo News, link): "Former foreign secretary David Miliband is paid a staggering $600,000 (£425,000) a year by the refugee charity International Rescue, it has been claimed. The huge sum is understood to have been declared publicly for the first time by the Charities Bureau and also reveals that Miliband's income is the reward for working 37.5 hours a week as head of the charity."
UK: Learning from history: The Greater London Council: The GLC Story 1981-1986 (Radio recording link) Opens with a rap song "Kill, kill the Police Bill" produced by the GLC Police Committee Support Unit. The PCSU serviced the GLC Police Committee, produced in-depth reports, ran a bi-monthly newsletter "Policing London", funded local issue campaigns and 20 local police monitoring groups in London boroughs - two continue today in Southall and Newham. See: Website: A Greater London: The GLC story from 1981-1986
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16 news stories and commentaries 31.12.15 to 2.1.16)
France quarrels over revoking citizenship of terrorists (AP, link): "The push by France's Socialist government to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists with dual nationality after the Paris attacks has turned into a harsh political dispute, with the far right applauding the move while some on the left express indignation at what they call a divisive measure.
French President Francois Hollande submitted the proposal three days after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, in a shift toward a hard line on security. The idea appears to have strong support in French public opinion. Several polls over the past week suggest that 80 to 90 percent of the French are in favor of the measure.... Opponents of the measure consider it would create two classes of citizens dual nationals who could lose their citizenship and others who cannot in opposition to the principle of equality set out in France's constitution."
See also: Fury as Hollande calls to strip terrorist passports (The Local.fr, link): "President Francois Hollande's call for convicted terrorists to lose their French citizenship if they have a second nationality has triggered uproar among those who see him adopting right-wing ideas that recall dark moments in France's history. Ever since the French Revolution in the late 1700s, "le droit du sol" ("the right of the soil") has been a fundamental principle, giving everyone born in the country the right to citizenship."
UK: Most UK police forces have disproportionate number of white officers (Guardian, link):
"Figures paint picture of police service in which people from ethnic minorities have less chance of jobs than white counterparts."
And see: The racial gap in recruitment for every police force in the UK (Guardian, link)
EU: LOTS OF MISSING DOCUMENTS: Schengen Information System (SIS II): Council of the European Union: SIS II - 2014 Statistics (7925-rev-2-15, pdf): A total of 981,211 blank documents are recorded as being stolen, lost or misappropriated - 615,112 from Italy, followed by Germany with 165,354 and then Greece with 109,170. See page 12.
"Alerts concerning issued documents such as passports, identity cards, driving licenses, residence permits and travel documents which have been stolen,
misappropriated, lost or invalidated are most prominent in the database, making up 77.81% of the total,"
IOM: Med: Arrivals and fatalities (dated 28.12.15, pdf): 996,645 arrivals with 839,561 in Greece and 152.864 in Italy. 3,771 dead/missing. And see: Over 3,770 Migrants Have Died Trying to Cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015 (link)
Germany: Change of asylum policy: Case-by-case reviews return for all refugees to Germany (DW, link):
"From 2016, Germany will re-introduce individual assessments for refugees seeking asylum. Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans had been subject to a simpler procedure in recent months....
Procedures had been simplified for refugees from Syria and Iraq in November 2014, and from Eritrea in mid-2015, meaning that asylum-seekers from these countries had only to fill out a questionnaire detailing the reasons why they had fled their homelands. With the case-by-case system that is to be re-introduced, they will now face a comprehensive personal hearing."
"What New" archive for year: 2000 , 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 January-June 2015
Back to Statewatch Home page
Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.
© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.