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What's New on the Statewatch website: 2017
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Carries all items that have been added or updated from News Online, News Digest and Observatories.

January 2017

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.1.17): Commission needs to assess EU-Turkey deal human rights impact; Malta wants to return migrants to Libya; refugees in freezing weather in south-east Europe.

EU-Turkey deal: Ombudsman says that Commission must do more to assess human rights impact

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly has today issued a decision (pdf) that says the European Commission must undertake a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, which could be done by including a section on human rights in its future progress reports on the implementation of the deal.

SERBIA: Migrants face freezing temperatures as they struggle to get to the EU (Vice, link):

"BELGRADE, Serbia — In the gloom of an abandoned warehouse, a weary-looking Pakistani man named Hayat Ali shivers in a blanket, comforting a sick friend lying at his side. Meters away, children as young as nine crowd around an open fire, their faces and clothes filthy. Outside, the ground is blanketed with snow. The temperature has dropped as low as 3ºF in recent days.

This scene is not playing out on the fringes of a disaster or war zone, but in the heart of a European capital. Since 2015, when the migration crisis began to hit, camps like this have sprung up across the continent from Greece to France, crowded with desperate migrants enduring wretched conditions in their quest to reach a better life in Europe."

EU: Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries."

MEDITERRANEAN: Malta wants EU-Libyan patrols to stop boat migrants (Malta Today, link):

"The Maltese government has presented home affairs ministers of the EU with a “non-paper” – diplomatic-speak for a political memo – calling for joint patrols with the Libyan navy in a bid to stop the influx of migrants through the Central Mediterranean route.

Malta has assumed the presidency of the European Union and is currently tasked with the delicate bid to push the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which forces EU member states to process any asylum claims presented at their borders.

In its aide-memoire to European member states, Malta has proposed placing European coast guard patrols just outside the extensive Libyan coast, in joint patrols with Libyan counterparts, who will then take intercepted migrant boats back to Libyan shores."

See also: EU needs Turkish-style migration deal with Libya - Maltese PM (Reuters, link) and more detail on EU-Libya cooperation to date: European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link)

EU: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users

Europol has written to national delegations in the Council of the EU expressing the concerns of law enforcement agencies regarding the use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technology, which hampers "cyber" investigations by making it impossible for officers to "link a particular cyber criminal's activity back to a particular IP address."

See: Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) and the Going Dark Problem - initial debate (5127/17, LIMITE, 16 January 2017, pdf)

UK: Police Taser their own race relations adviser in Bristol (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog has launched an investigation after officers Tasered a race relations champion who has worked to improve links between the force and the black community.

Judah Adunbi, 63, was Tasered by police outside his home in Bristol on Saturday when officers apparently mistook him for a wanted man.

Video recorded by a neighbour shows police scuffling with Adunbi as he tries to get though the gate of his home in the Easton area. He falls to the ground after a Taser is discharged. Adunbi said later he thought he was going to die."

EU-USA: Donald Trump and Europe: A salutary wake-up call (Voxeurop, link):

"With his clear-cut positions and confrontational attitude towards other powers, the thundering businessman who takes up office on January 20th has the merit of centering the attention of the majority of European countries. It's now time to transform this shared attitude into real politics, judges Bernard Guetta."

On the other hand: EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link)

USA: Drone wars, Guantánamo and "homeland security", from Obama to Trump

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, Barack Obama's presidency has been under serious scrutiny. Below is a selection of articles examining Obama's legacy in relation to drone killings; the research, development and deployment of "homeland security" policies and technologies; and Guantánamo Bay.

UK: ABC & Liberty email all headteachers about #BoycottSchoolCensus (Against Borders for Children, link):

"Today, Monday 16th January, every headteacher of primary and secondary schools and academies in England will have received an unprecedented e-mail jointly signed by Against Borders for Children (ABC) and human rights organisation Liberty.

We have asked headteachers to ensure all parents are informed of their right to either refuse the new nationality questions in the upcoming Spring School Census this week, on Thursday 19th January or retract data already collected in the Autumn School Census. The new census data was recently described in a House of Lords debate as having “all the hallmarks of racism”.

As campaigners we have also highlighted that the nationality data collection is explicitly linked to Home Office policy to reduce immigration. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) released in December also allows the Department for Education (DfE) to share the personal details of up to 1500 pupils with Home Office every month for immigration enforcement purposes."

And see: Refuse. Retract. Resist borders for children! (Right to Remain, link)

UK: Detaining torture survivors: the history of a policy facing legal challenge

An article published by Right to Remain gives an overview of the situation regarding the detention of torture survivors in the run-up to a forthcoming judicial review of the government's current 'Adults at Risk' policy, through which the government introduced in 2016 a more restrictive definition of torture than that previously used. The judicial review is based on legal challenges brought by Medical Justice, Duncan Lewis solicitors and Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

Selling the tools of state surveillance: how a would be-cyberweapons dealer from India led to the detention of an Italian bodyguard in Mauritania

An article on the Bloomberg website tells the story of how the sales efforts of Manish Kumar, a 30-year-old from New Delhi who markets surveillance tools to governments through his company Wolf Intelligence, led to an Italian bodyguard being held in pre-trial detention in a Mauritanian military barracks (where he has now been for almost a year-and-a-half, accused of fraud and money laundering) after Kumar promised to provide the Mauritanian government with sophisticated covert mobile phone surveillance tools. The article gives an insight into the murky world of the cyber-espionage trade and the individuals involved.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.17)

Italy: New CIEs and the repatriation of foreigners: ASGI statement on the Chief of Police's circular (pdf):

"ASGI is disconcerted and expresses deep concern for the circular issued by the interior ministry on 30.12.2016 concerning activities to repatriate irregular foreigners and the programme to reopen CIEs (Centres for identification and expulsion), apart from the Government’s desire to strike new bilateral readmission agreements and to reform the norms on the right to asylum in a restrictive direction."

The text of the chief of police’s circular of 30 December 2016 (10/01/2017): "Activity to track down irregular foreign citizens in the national territory for the purpose of repatriation."

Are You Syrious (18.1.17, link)

EU member states want to send refugees back to Greece but not relocate them from there

"While EU member states want to start sending back refugees to Greece under the Dublin agreement by March, they are slow to accept relocation and family reunion requests."

Dublin deportations yes, promised relocations no

"In 2016 the Greek Asylum Service registered 51,091 applications for international protection. Additionally there are approximately 15,000 applications for full registration which will be completed in 2017. “Relocation remains the big challenge. As of 27 December, the Asylum Service had registered 21,431 applications from individuals who were eligible to participate in the program, while it had received 13,634 pledges from other EU Member-States,” the Asylum Service reports.

There are 9000 individuals who are ready for relocation but no host country has been found yet. While the acceptance of the request should only take up to ten working days in reality it needs up to six months. “While Greece has sent to other Member-States 13,345 requests, 10,712 of these have been accepted and only 7,000 individuals have departed from Greece. There are serious delays even after the acceptance of outgoing requests for relocation.” The Asylum Service is blaming the other EU member states for not setting up sufficient reception places and then requesting the postponement of the transfer.

On the other hand these EU member states want to go back to the Dublin agreement in March and send back refugees to Greece to run through the asylum process there. Indeed the asylum process can, and in most cases assumably will, include an application for relocation. Already in 2016 Greece’s Dublin Unit received 4,415 requests to return protection seekers but only three were sent back to Greece."

See: Ministry of Migration Policy: The work of the Asylum Service in 2016 (pdf) and: Statistical Data of the Greek Asylum Service (1.1.2016-31.12.2016) (pdf)

EU: Migration: How to stop the rising tide of death in Mediterranean (MSF, link):

"By Jens Pagotto, Head of Médecins Sans Frontières mission in Libya and its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

The number of people who have died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean has reached an all-time high and is becoming comparable to what Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is used to seeing in war zones. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) recorded at least 5,079 deaths last year.

The actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher. We have no idea how many dinghies overloaded with terrified passengers set sail from Libya in the direction of Italy each day and how many of them sink without trace before they reach busy shipping lanes in the Mediterranean or call for help. Under international maritime law, all vessels in the area, whether commercial ships, military warships or rescue boats operated by charities such as MSF must provide assistance and take the rescued to a place of safety. "

EU: "The winter of our shame", Strasbourg, 18 January 2017. Barbara Spinelli MEP (GUE/NGL) intervened during the plenary session of the European Parliament regarding the declarations by the Council and the Commission on emergency assistance for refugees and migrants who are facing adverse climatic conditions in European refugee camps:

"I ask myself how many asylum seekers will have to die due to the cold, in this winter of our shame.

I ask the Commission to listen to Amnesty and the refugees' Community Leaders in Moria. For migrants on the islands to be moved to the mainland, in places other than camps without electricity nor water. The EU-Turkey agreement does not envisage that the returns should be from the islands, as Erdogan wants. In these conditions, refugees should not be sent back to Italy and Greece on the basis of the Dublin system.

Finally, let's tell ourselves that this is not a crisis of refugees. It is the collapse of our asylum policies, those of relocation, family reunification, and respect for the right to life. Dear Commissioner Stylianides, such a cold winter was not unpredictable. Alongside the refugees of Moria, I ask for an end to the deportations of the most vulnerable people to Turkey, and for all the procedural guarantees to which the applicants have a right to be guaranteed.""

See also: European Parliament:
Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (Press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries.

Several speakers called the plight of refugees in the Greek islands, but also in other countries like Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, “unacceptable” and some asked how many people have to die of cold before the EU reacts. Many MEPs underlined that only 6% of the 160,000 asylum-seekers who should have been relocated from Greece and Italy have so far been moved.""

EU-USA: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (COM 31-17, pdf)

"the report underlines the important role of Europol in carrying out its verification tasks of requests for data from the EU and proactively initiating a series of requests, thus helping to raise awareness of the TFTP among EU authorities.

The Commission also makes some suggestions to Member States to provide regular feedback on the TFTP data received from the US authorities to further improve the quality and quantity of information exchanged and encourages Europol to further continue its efforts in providing support to Member States. The next review will be conducted at the beginning of 2018."

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

Fivefold increase in number of EU citizens held in UK detention centres since Tories took power (Independent, link):

"Some detained for losing their ID card or holding a birthday party in a park - prompting claims the Government is seeking to deter others from moving to Britain.

The sharp rise has led to concerns the Government is trying to “spread anxiety” among people from EU countries living in the UK, in an effort to deter others from moving to Britain.

In 2015, the last full year for which Home Office data is available, 3,699 EU citizens were detained under immigration powers – 11.4 per cent of all detainees – while in 2009 just 768 were detained, 2.7 per cent of the total."

See: National Statistics - Detention: December (link)

The big freeze – Paris. Police destroying tents and taking blankets from people sleeping out in sub-zero temperatures (EXODUS, link):

"The police had taken all of the bedding (provided by us and other aid groups) from a slightly sheltered sleeping area and put it out in rain…

Please give what you can so that we can purchase waterproof Bivvy bags and keep up with the French authorities’ destruction – www.gofundme.com/prgsdonate

As the temperatures plummet at – 7 at night, the situation is getting very tough in Paris where many thousands refugees and other migrants are stranded. Several hundreds are sleeping in the streets, and the plan for the extreme cold does not seem to be working. No place to go during the day either, for most! They are out in the cold all day. The situation at the official camp getting chaotic, people who have been in the queue all night hoping to get registered start pushing when refused access because the number has been reached (50 new people per day only), and are repressed by police."

European Parliament: Briefing: Prison conditions in the Member States: selected European standards and best practices (pdf):

"In 2014, prisons across the EU were holding over half a million inmates, including both convicted persons, serving their final sentence, and persons accused of a crime. Living conditions in prisons are regulated by numerous laws and guidelines: from constitutional provisions to national criminal and penitentiary laws and international law principles."

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Spycops Activists Demand Meeting with Scottish Government (COPS, link){

"There has been emphatic condemnation of the terms of the Scottish inquiry into undercover policing. Not only is it a self-investigation by senior police, it is limited to the last few years of abuses. Although the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in 1968, the Scottish review will not examine anything before 2000....

Today, a group of the core participants who were also spied upon in Scotland have written to Michael Matheson requesting a meeting. Here is the text of their letter...."

European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link):

"The Libyan navy and the coastguard under its authority are being groomed as gatekeepers of Fortress Europe. Even a migration partnership is under discussion.

Since the forcible regime change in 2011, the European Union has been supporting what it calls reform of the security sector in Libya. Its policy is based on the Berlusconi motto of ‘more oil, less migrants’. The new Libyan Government of National Accord scarcely exercises any control outside Tripoli."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.1.17)

EU: High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability report
"A common repository would be a logical next step after a shared biometric matching service."

Report of the third meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Infomation Systems and Interoperability (dated 29 November 2016, just published):
See:
High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability Third meeting — 29 November 2016 Report (pdf)

USA: Biometrics leads to arrest of accused child molester on the lam 17 years (arstechnica.com, link): "FBI says it matched suspect's passport photo with pics from nearly 20 years ago."

CoE: Court: Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demo (link):

"Human rights judges ruled today that Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demonstration.

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary (application no. 10851/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an anti-Roma demonstration. Király and Dömötör – both of whom are of Roma origin – alleged that the police had failed to protect them from racist abuse during the demonstration and to properly investigate the incident."

See: Press release (pdf)

Anti-surveillance clothing: surveillance for commercial gain not security purposes is what really breeds resentment (IFSEC Global, link):

"There has been growing press coverage about anti-surveillance clothing and paraphernalia to counter the effectiveness of face recognition..."

And see: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (Guardian, link): "Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles that computers interpret as a face, in fightback against intrusive technology."

Swedish minister 'shocked' by xenophobia towards Swedes in UK (Guardian, link):

"Ann Linde says future of 100,000 Swedish people in Britain must be resolved in first part of Brexit negotiations.

The Swedish government wants the issue of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British people settled elsewhere in Europe to be resolved urgently and removed from the Brexit negotiating table as quickly as possible. Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, said she was shocked by the uncertainty and xenophobia experienced by Swedes in the UK since the referendum.

She said the future of an estimated 100,000 Swedish people in Britain and 30,000 British people in Sweden, had to be urgently dealt with. She said: “This is one of the very most important issues and we have to solve it in a very constructive way in the first part of the negotiations.”

EU-TURKEY: UNHCR cannot monitor the rights of people returned under EU-Turkey deal

"What did the European Commission forget to tell us about the returnees of the EU-Turkey Deal?

So finally UNHCR stated formally, very quietly unfortunately, that has no unimpeded access to the returned refugees to Turkey and cannot monitor the returns under the EU-Turkey deal in any effective manner. In short they haven’t seen much of the returned refugees."

EU: Amnesty: major new report denounces Europe's "ever-expanding national security state"

A major new report from Amnesty International examines the expansion of security measures and states of emergency across 14 EU states in the last two years, warning that "the disturbing idea that Europe faces a perpetual emergency is beginning to take hold," because: "Powers intended to be exceptional are appearing more and more as permanent features of national law."

See: Amnesty International, Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe (link)

UK-USA-LIBYA: Press releases and court judgment: Supreme Court rules MI6-CIA rendition case against government can go ahead

The UK Supreme Court has today unanimously rejected the government’s attempts to prevent a case brought by victims of a British-American ‘rendition’ operation from being heard.

EU: Council of Europe: Human Rights Commissioner: Slovenia: Parliament must ensure that legislative reform on migrants complies with human rights obligations (link):

"Slovenian parliamentarians should reject amendments to the Aliens Act that are contrary to international human rights and refugee protection standards by which Slovenia is bound”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the President of the National Assembly of Slovenia.

Two of the proposed amendments recently introduced by the Government would allow the police to refuse entry into Slovenia and to arrest and summarily return foreigners who entered the country irregularly, even if they express the intention to apply for asylum in Slovenia. The parliament could activate these measures for a renewable 6-month period in case of a change of the migration situation in Slovenia that “threatens public order and internal security."

See: Letter (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.1.17): Turkey: 330km of border walls built in 2016; new campaign in France against "solidarity offence"; over 100 dead after shipwreck; Spanish court case into migrant deaths re-opened; and more.

EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link):

"Donald Trump has predicted the crumbling of and eventual collapse of the EU. His damaging assertion was met with a depressingly limp response by the European Commission.

“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump told The Times and Bild newspapers.

Trump followed this up by saying the EU was “basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”

If the future of the EU is your business, this demands a swift rebuttal – to shore up diminishing confidence if nothing else. But we didn’t get that from the European Commission today.

Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the executive “had read the interview with interest”. Asked if that was all the Commission had to say, Schinas said, “Yes”."

EU: European Parliament studies: gender equality, obstacles to EU citizens' free movement in Poland

Three studies conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service: on gender equality policies in Spain; on the use of EU funds for gender equality Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK between 2014-16, and on obstacles in Poland to EU citizens' and their families exercising their rights to free movement and residence.

EU: European Parliament briefing: Review of dual-use export controls (pdf)

"Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. The regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement on the review of the dual-use export control system in 2014 and the European Parliament has since adopted several resolutions related to the issue. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure."

Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems (SIPRI, link) by Dr Vincent Boulanin

"Since 2013 the governance of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been discussed under the framework of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The discussion is still at an early stage, with most states parties still in the process of understanding the issues at stake—beginning with the fundamental questions of what constitutes ‘autonomy’ and to what extent it is a matter of concern in the context of weapon systems and the use of force. A number of states parties have stressed that future discussions could usefully benefit from further investigation into the conceptual and technical foundations of the meaning of ‘autonomy’.

This working paper is an attempt to respond to that demand. It aims to clarify some basic understandings about autonomy: what it is, how it applies to weapon systems, how it works, how it is created and what the key technological enablers are. It is based on a substantial review of the literature as well as a background series of interviews with experts from various expert communities."

TURKEY: 2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls (Hurriyet Daily News, link):

"Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers (205 miles) of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14.

According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers (119 miles) of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security.

The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria."

FRANCE: Migration: collective manifesto marks start of new campaign against the "solidarity offence" as government maintains border controls until July

Over 100 trade unions and local and national associations across France have signed a new manifesto that calls for an end to the "solidarity offence" and denounces the trials of "activists who are only helping people in very precarious situations, victims of dangerous, violent and even inhuman decisions," such as the farmer Cédric Herrou, who was recently tried for aiding illegal arrivals after helping people cross the border from Italy to France.

EU: Refugee crisis: More than 100 asylum seekers drown as boat sinks in the Mediterranean Sea (The Independent, link):

"More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad"."

EU: Why the world fears refugees (narrated by Zygmunt Bauman) (Al Jazeera on YouTube, link):

"Zygmunt Bauman, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, says many Europeans' fear of refugees boils down to the idea of the “precariat” - people whose lives are marked by precariousness, anxiety and fear."

EU: For the record: comments by experts following the April 2016 adoption of the Directive for data protection in the police and criminal justice sectors

"The Directive does offer a substantial improvement for data protection as for the first time it establishes a common data protection standard for the police and justice sectors. It however remains a minimum harmonization text and it only contains loose provisions with regard to the new threats posed by intelligence-led policing. It thus remains to be seen how the Directive will be implemented in practice and which room of manoeuver will be let to data protection authorities and civil society to play their roles as watchdogs."

See: The Directive for data protection in the police and justice sectors: towards better data protection? (KU Leuven, link)

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta

A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

Thousands rally in Spain for ETA prisoner amnesty (The Local, link):

"Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bilbao in northern Spain on Saturday, calling for amnesty for prisoners of the Eta Basque separatist group.

Protesters in the Basque country, who hold this demonstration every January, held up placards of a finger pointing to the sky as they denounced the prison conditions endured by Basque separatists.

Almost all members of Eta, a group that gave up armed resistence to Spain in 2011, have been jailed but the movement has refused to disband.

They have been calling for an amnesty for their incarcerated members so they can be reunited with their families.

Basque newspaper Gara estimated the number of people in the Bilbao streets on a rainy day as 78,000, while police declined to give a crowd estimate."

AFRICA: Available evidence contradicts assumptions about African migrations

An important article by Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas:

"Africa is often seen as a continent of mass migration and displacement caused by poverty, violent conflict and environmental stress. Yet such perceptions are based on stereotypes rather than theoretically informed empirical research. Drawing on the migration and visa databases from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG project) and the Global Bilateral Migration Database (GBMD), this paper explores the evolution and drivers of migration within, towards and from Africa in the post-colonial period. Contradicting common ideas of Africa as a ‘continent on the move’, the analysis shows that intra-African migration intensities have gone down. This may be related to state formation and the related imposition of barriers towards free movement in the wake of decolonisation as well as the concomitant rise of nationalism and inter-state tensions. While African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental, since the late 1980s there has been an acceleration and spatial diversification (beyond colonial patterns) of emigration out of Africa to Europe, North America, the Gulf and Asia. This diversification of African emigration seems partly driven by the introduction of visa and other immigration restrictions by European states. Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future." (emphasis added)

See: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (pdf)

UK: 'Specific' terror evidence not necessary for RAF drone strikes (The Guardian, link):

"“Specific” advance evidence of a terror plot threatening UK interests is not legally necessary before launching pre-emptive drone strikes against suspects overseas, according to the the attorney general.

In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Jeremy Wright QC denied that the threshold for self-defence was being “watered down” but said not knowing the target, type or time of a terrorist attack should not prevent military action."

Wright has said that he is adopting the series of tests set out in: Principles relevant to the scope of a state's right of self-defence against an imminent or actual armed attack by nonstate actors (pdf) by Daniel Bethlehem.

EU: Malta Presidency of the Council: opinion piece by Maltese interior minister

"It is evident that this presidency is seen as a window of opportunity to reach common, tangible goals in the field of migration. The fact that Malta, given its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea, has been at the forefront of the migration crisis for so many years, makes us a credible, honest broker in this area.

Achieving progress in discussions on such matters between 28 Member States, all with their own different histories, cultures, realities and political agendas, is quite a tall order. Still, I am optimistic that, if we really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward. We owe it to our citizens: the very future of the EU depends on the decisions, as Member States, we will take in the coming few months.

We have a very specific priority: to arrive at an agreement on a comprehensive approach to migration. During these six months, my ministry is tasked with carrying forward work on the seven migration and asylum-related proposals that are on the table."

See: Realistic optimists at the helm (Times of Malta, link)

And: 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

EU: European Parliament briefing: Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (pdf):

"In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, in November 2015 the European Commission presented a package of measures aiming to tighten control on the acquisition and possession of firearms in the European Union, improve traceability of legally held firearms and enhance cooperation between Member States, as well as ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

The proposal to amend the current 'Firearms Directive' (Directive 91/477/EEC) was part of this package. It aims to ban some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use, as well as to include some previously excluded actors (collectors and brokers) and blankfiring weapons within the scope of the Directive. Stakeholders commented particularly on the proposed ban on some semi-automatic firearms and the obligation for collectors to deactivate firearms.

After several rounds of trilogue negotiations, the Council and Parliament reached agreement on the proposal in December. The text is now to be submitted for a vote in plenary at first reading."

Note: a plenary reading and vote is currently scheduled for 1 March 2017 (European Parliament, link).

SERBIA: These Refugees Are Suffering Through Freezing Conditions In Serbia (BuzzFeed, link):

"Thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are enduring “appalling” conditions in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and have been left camped in temperatures that have dropped well below freezing, aid groups have said.

Serbia is currently hosting an estimated 7,200 refugees, according to the UNHCR. Although the majority are being sheltered in government-run camps, aid workers estimate that around 2,000 are still on the streets or sheltering in an abandoned warehouse behind the main bus station in Belgrade."

Statewatch Analysis: Eighth report on relocation and resettlement: Commission welcomes increase in relocations and ignores harmful systematic effects (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

In the eighth report on relocation and resettlement published on 8 December 2016, the Commission continued to welcome developments which are degrading Europe to ensure that the “emergency” its policies and the dysfunctional Schengen/Dublin system have predictably caused persists, particularly in frontline Mediterranean states (Greece and Italy).

Over a year after the start of implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration, the EU Action Plan on Migration and in particular the roll-out of the hotspot approach in Italy and Greece, mounting evidence shows that far from assisting frontline states, they are being punished for shortcomings in implementing a dysfunctional model designed to penalise them.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.1.17)

EU-MALI: Two returnees sent back to France as Mali rejects EU laissez-passer document

On 29 December 2016, the Malian government produced a statement announcing its refusal to recognise the validity of the EU laissez-passer document used to return two of its citizens, who were sent back to France following their arrival in Bamako on 28 December 2016. The Malian authorities also invited air carriers to refrain from transporting its citizens on the basis of recognition of the validity of such documents, noting that they will be made to fly them back to Europe.

EU: Opinion: Then it will no longer be my Europe: Europe would not be what it is today had it not taken in millions of refugees in the past (DW, link) by Krsto Lazarevic (27) was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina and fled to Germany with his family as a child. Today he lives in Berlin:

"For years we have watched as one of the greatest refugee catastrophes since the end of the Second World War has built up in Syria, just a few hundred kilometers from Europe's external border. And we have acted as if it only affected adjacent neighbor states. When - 26 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall - a crack opened in the European fortress, fences were quickly erected: in the heart of Europe and even between EU member states. That was the first step towards getting rid of Europe....

And now Europe is in danger of falling apart because member states with 510 million citizens cannot come to an agreement on how to deal with 2 million refugees? Even though there are more than 65 million refugees in the world? If we allow that to happen, then much of what was achieved after the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall will be lost. Then it will no longer be my Europe."

SCOTLAND: Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link):

"The announcement of the terms of reference for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s review into undercover policing manages to go beyond being meaningless, insulting those demanding answers for historical abuses by spycops, explains Dónal O’Driscoll."

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

UK: School governors forced to declare nationality to Government (inews.co.uk, link):

"Ministers have been accused of turning schools into “Border Control” after it emerged governors are being forced to declare their nationality to a Government register set up in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” scandal.

Concerns have been raised as to how the information about governors’ nationalities will be used, given the register was created in response to allegations that schools in Birmingham were being taken over by hardline Muslim groups. It has led to fears that the details are being collected as part of a crackdown on illegal migrants and the Government’s efforts to step up its national security measures. ‘

"Shameful’ :The policy affects the estimated 300,000 unpaid volunteers who make up England’s school governing bodies. Civil liberty campaigners have branded the move as “shameful”."

Italy: Large-scale expansion of detention centres for tougher migration control (ECRE, link):

"Following Italy’s change of government, a Circular outlining a stricter policy on migration control by the Head of the Italian Police was distributed to police authorities across Italy. One of the measures was large-scale use of detention to control irregular migration and promote returns to third countries.

The Circular echoes the latest position of the Ministry of Interior, which has committed to an expansion of detention centres (CIE) with reference to a target of one CIE in every Italian region. At the end of 2015, 7 CIE were operational across the country according to the Roadmap on Relocation."

GREECE: Lesvos: Moria: Refugees, migrants reluctant to get on ship board or move to hotels (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Refugees and migrants at the hot spot of Moria seem reluctant to be provisionally hosted on bord of the Greek Navy ship deployed for his purpose or to move to hotels leased by the UN Refugees Agency UNHCR.

So far, only 61 migrants, all males, have accepted the offer and went on board of “Lesvos”, the Greek Navy ship deployed to host refugees and migrants from the hot spot of Moria....

There are currently 400 beds available for refugees and migrants families in hotel and rooms to rent facilities leased by the UNHCR. Only just over 200 people have moved in from Moria. alone yesterday 15 of them.

Refugees and immigrants are reluctant also to move to the ‘shelters’ when they realize that they are a couple of kilometers away from the hot spot. They fear there could be delays in their asylum procedure. 25 people reportedly returned to Moria on Thursday when they realized the leased facilities were 10 km away."

HUNGARY: Alien police detention must be reinstated (Prime Ministers' Office, link)

"The Government has decided to reinstate alien police detention, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference...

The Minister referred to the increased threat of terrorism and security risks as the reason for the measure, and in his evaluation, the pressure of migration weighing upon Hungary may increase in 2017. The Government asked the Interior Minister to make the necessary preparations for reinstating alien police custody urgently."

USA: Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months (Independent, link):

"Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.

However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.1.17) including: EU migration control in the Sahel, Germany to return refugees to Greece from March; questions over push-backs in Spain and Serbia; Malta PM wants EU-Turkey-style deal with other states.

Interpol: Red Alert! How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders (Al Jazeera, link):

"Interpol is the world's largest policing organisation connecting 190 member countries in the battle against international crime.

But as representatives of the global law enforcement agency met at their General Assembly towards the end of 2016, they faced questions over a crucial crime fighting tool.

In 2015, Interpol issued more than 11,000 "Red Notices" on behalf of member countries. These alerts inform countries that an individual is wanted for serious offences. It's then up to authorities in different countries to decide what action to take.

But human rights groups have suggested that some countries have used Interpol wanted notices to target political dissidents and opponents across borders, often with devastating consequences.

People and Power sent Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae to investigate."

And see: People and Power: New documentary shows the impact of abusive INTERPOL alerts (Fair Trials, link):

"A new documentary has been broadcast, showing the devastating impact that INTERPOL Red Notices can have when used on the wrong people."

EU-TURKEY: Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Commission Reports on Progress in Fifth Steering Committee (European Commission press release, pdf):

"Today, the Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels for the fifth time gathering the European Commission, EU Member State representatives, and representatives of Turkey. Chairing the Committee, the European Commission reported on progress made to date including the signature of contracts worth over €200 million for the construction and equipping of school buildings for refugee children and their host communities, as well as on the increasing humanitarian support to the refugees through the Emergency Social Safety Net."

EU: Data retention and the law: Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson et al: Continuity and Radical Change (European Law Blog, link):

"The CJEU delivered its judgment in Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson on 21 December 2016. The Court had been asked by a Swedish and British court respectively to consider the scope and effect of its previous judgment in Digital Rights Ireland (discussed here). The judgment reflects continuity in so far as it follows in the line of this, and earlier judgments taking a strong stance on data protection and privacy. Yet, the degree of protection it offers these rights over competing interests, notably security, is radical. In particular, the Court unequivocally states that legislation providing for general and indiscriminate data retention is incompatible with the E-Privacy Directive, as read in light of the relevant EU Charter rights. While the judgment was delivered in the context of the E-Privacy Directive, the Court’s reasoning could equally apply to other EU secondary legislation or programmes interpreted in light of the Charter. This judgment will be a game-changer for state surveillance in Europe and while it offered an early Christmas gift to privacy campaigners, it is likely to receive a very mixed reaction from EU Member States as such. While national data retention legislation has been annulled across multiple Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany and Romania), this annulment has been based on an assessment of the proportionality of the relevant measures rather than on a finding that blanket retention is per se unlawful."

Background: Court of Justice of the EU

Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

Digital Rights Ireland case on the Data Retention Directive: The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

IRELAND: New asylum application process comes into effect (The Irish Times, link):

"New procedures to speed up applications for asylum, which have just come into effect in Ireland, should significantly cut the length of time asylum-seekers spend in direct provision centres.

The move means Ireland will join other European Union member states in having a streamlined process for assessing asylum applications.

Until now asylum-seekers had to navigate a multilayered process that often led to long stays in direct provision awaiting decisions.

Under the new “single procedure” system, asylum-seekers will make one application, which they may appeal once."

And: Ireland – New International Protection Act commenced: A single procedure and restricted family reunification (ECRE, link):

"Secondly, Ireland has changed family reunification rights. Before, there were two categories: an automatic right to reunion with children and spouses, once identity was established and a discretionary category for other family members such as elderly parents or siblings where dependency on the person in Ireland could be established. This discretionary category has now been abolished. In addition, the right now only exists for 12 months following from a declaration of refugee status or subsidiary protection."

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

30 Syrian refugees returned to Turkey from Greece (BT.com, link):

"Almost 30 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum in Greece rejected have been returned to Turkey.

Greek officials said the 17 men, four women and six children were flown from the island of Lesbos to Adana on Thursday.

Under a deal struck last March between the European Union and Turkey, migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey are returned unless they can prove they merit asylum in Greece.

More than 800 people have now been returned under the agreement, while about 23,000 new arrivals have reached the Greek islands."

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages (The Guardian, link):

"A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.

Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

Privacy campaigners said the vulnerability is a “huge threat to freedom of speech” and warned it can be used by government agencies to snoop on users who believe their messages to be secure. WhatsApp has made privacy and security a primary selling point, and has become a go to communications tool of activists, dissidents and diplomats."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Court: Access to totalitarian archives data not to worsen (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The accessibility of archival sources from the totalitarian era will not worsen, but researchers must take into account the protection of delicate personal data if they publish them, the Czech Constitutional Court (US) ruled on Wednesday.

The US has turned down a proposal opposing the exception granted to historians thanks to which they have easy access to the documents from the Nazi (1939-1945) and Communist regimes (1948-1989).

For this, they do not need the consent of the living people whose sensitive personal data appear in the documents.

In some cases, the researchers need the consent by the living protagonists of past events with the subsequent publication of the documents."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. “There should be a political signal from the EU that it is ready to engage with Libya,” the Maltese premier insisted." (emphasis added)

EU-AFRICA: Is Europe’s coke habit funding terrorism? (African Herald Express, link):

"Europe’s cocaine may have a far more sinister journey than most users like to imagine.

The rising European cocaine market has led to South American traffickers using West Africa as a direct transit line into the region. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, $2 billion of Europe’s cocaine is passing through West Africa. Nigeria is seen as the path of least resistance into Europe due to high levels of corruption, low-governance, and the regions extreme wealth inequality.

Boko Haram is said to be one of the main beneficiary parties of the cocaine trafficking in the region. The African Union’s new police cooperation body against transnational crime, the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), claim trafficking is one of the main sources of revenue for the group and helps fund the violent terrorist attacks on civilians."

UK: Counter-terrorism money being spent on redacting evidence to inquiry on undercover policing (The Independent, link):

"Counter-terrorism money is being used to redact police evidence to an inquiry into undercover policing tactics, it has been revealed.

Nearly £750,000 from the counter-terrorism budget has been earmarked for an IT system to assess and redact material which might be sent to the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry, according to papers obtained from a Freedom of Information request and seen by the website PoliceOracle.com.

The inquiry, chaired by senior judge Sir Christopher Pitchford, was set up after it emerged that undercover officers including Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), had slept with activists while infiltrating protest movements."

And see: on further questions raised by the reports in The Independent and Police Oracle: Counter-terrorism money to sort out police chaotic record keeping (Undercover Research Group, link)

Hungary plans automatic detention of asylum seekers (EUobserver, link):

"Hungary is planning automatic detention of all asylum seekers until their asylum procedure is completed due to an increased terrorist threat, a senior minister said Thursday. They would not be allowed to leave transit zones designated for migrants. Under EU law, detention is only for exceptional cases. Last year, a gay Iranian refugee won a case against Hungary at the European court in Strasbourg for being incarcerated for 58 days."

Slovenia Aliens Act Proposal Worries Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Slovenian government backed an amendment to the existing Aliens Act on Thursday, introducing stricter procedures towards asylum seekers and refugees for a special six-month period – with a possible extension for another six months.

It is likely to be backed by the country's parliament in which the plan enjoys cross-party support.

Although the procedure would not apply to persons whose life is in danger if they are returned to their native countries, or unaccompanied minors, the provisions will empower police officers to refuse entry to most asylum seekers on the border.

Zajovic said Slovenia was trying to imitate recent moves by Hungary, which were unfortunately now being copied by the majority of countries on the "Balkan route", including Croatia, "where we have witnessed a lot of cases in which Croatian police deported refugees to Serbia without proper procedure”."

See: Amnesty International: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (link)

HUNGARY: Hungarian camerawoman avoids jail after being filmed tripping up and kicking refugees (The Independent, link):

"A Hungarian camerawoman who was filmed kicking and tripping up refugees as they ran from police has escaped jail for breaching the peace.

Petra László was handed three years on probation for the incident in September 2015 at Szeged District Court.

Footage showed her tripping up a refugee as he an through a field carrying his young son, as well as kicking a small girl as hundreds of asylum seekers broke through police lines near the Hungarian border to make their way towards Budapest."

Cellebrite Sold Phone Hacking Tech to Repressive Regimes, Data Suggests (Motherboard, link):

"Cellebrite's hacking kit is one of the most popular forensics tools on the market, capable of circumventing passcodes and extracting a wealth of data from seized cellphones. US law enforcement agencies have invested heavily in the tech, but Cellebrite may have also sold its wares to authoritarian regimes with abysmal human rights records, such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, according to a large cache of data obtained by Motherboard.

The revelations raise questions around Cellebrite's choice of customers, whether it vets them, and what policies, if any, are in place to stop Cellebrite's technology from being used against journalists or activists."

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications (New York Times, link):

"In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people."

See: Procedures for the availability or dissemination of raw signals intelligence information obtained by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 (raw SIGINT availability procedures) (pdf)

USA-RUSSIA-UK: The Trump revelations: trumped-up?

Donald Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for author's credibility (The Guardian, link):

"His denials – at least some of them – were emphatic, even by the standards that Donald Trump has come to be judged by. The dossier, he said, was a confection of lies; he compared it to Nazi propaganda; it was fake news spread by sick people.

At his press briefing on Wednesday, the president-elect dared the world’s media to scrutinise the 35 pages of claims, before throwing down a challenge – where’s the proof? Nobody had any. Case closed.

But in the rush to trample all over the dossier and its contents, one key question remained. Why had America’s intelligence agencies felt it necessary to provide a compendium of the claims to Barack Obama and Trump himself?

And the answer to that lies in the credibility of its apparent author, the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, the quality of the sources he has, and the quality of the people who were prepared to vouch for him. In all these respects, the 53-year-old is in credit."

And: Trump 'compromising' claims: How and why did we get here? (BBC News, link):

"Donald Trump has described as "fake news" allegations published in some media that his election team colluded with Russia - and that Russia held compromising material about his private life. The BBC's Paul Wood saw the allegations before the election, and reports on the fallout now they have come to light."

GERMANY: Wikileaks publishes classified documents from inside German NSA inquiry commission (Electrospaces, link):

"On December 1, Wikileaks published 90 gigabytes of classified documents from the German parliamentary commission that investigates NSA spying and the cooperation between NSA and the German foreign intelligence service BND. The documents include 125 files from BND, 33 from the security service BfV and 72 from the information security agency BSI.

It should be noted though that all documents are from the lowest classification level and lots of them are just formal letters, copies of press reports and duplications within e-mail threads. Nonetheless, the files also provide interesting new details, for example about the German classification system, BND's internal structure, the way they handled the Snowden-revelations and the use of XKEYSCORE."

The post is being regularly updated as new information is found in the documents published by Wikileaks (link).

Germany to return refugees to Greece starting in March (Al Jazeera, link):

"Germany has decided to start returning newly arrived asylum seekers to Greece starting in mid-March, according to an interior ministry spokesperson, effectively reversing a five-year suspension of such transfers owing to the poor conditions there.

(...)

A German interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that Germany would reinstate the Dublin rule in two months' time and return newly-arrived asylum seekers to their first EU port of call.

"In line with the recommendation from the European Commission, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15," said the spokesman, Tobias Plate."

See: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

Tribute to John Berger 1926 – 2017 (IRR News, link) by Jeny Bourne:

"John Berger, writer, art critic and poet has died. John Berger, anti-imperialist, socialist man and peasant has died.

It is perhaps inevitable that the establishment should claim John Berger for their own, as the famous critic who provided the BBC and them with ‘Ways of Seeing’ in 1972 – and that despite his Marxism. It was and still is a milestone in interpreting art and ‘the gaze’. But he did not live his life in compartments or by accepting borders –geographical or disciplinary. For many of us who now mark his passing, his greatness lies in his practice as a committed and true intellectual and internationalist...."

United Nations Special Rapporteur: On the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Civil Society Guide: A handbook for using the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf) And:

Checklist Implementation: A step-by-step checklist for monitoring implementation of the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf):

"We are pleased to announce the launch of Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai's latest report, the "10 Principles Civil Society Guide", which is designed to help civil society advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of assemblies domestically.....

The Guide provides suggestions, tools and inspiration to CSOs as they consider how they might push for the implementation of the practical recommendations in their own context. It is divided into four parts: Section 1 gives background on the practical recommendations report. Section 2 focuses on how CSOs can determine authorities’ compliance with the practical recommendations. Section 3 discusses methods for gathering the evidence necessary for monitoring compliance and building advocacy arguments. Lastly, Section 4 provides real-life examples of research and advocacy tactics which have been used to advance rights in the context of protests."

FRANCE- UK: ‘Terror’ charges against environmental activists dropped as undercover police involvement comes to light (The Canary, link):

"‘Terrorism’ charges have been dropped against environmental activists spied on by a British undercover police officer. The activists lived in the village community of Tarnac, France. And the undercover police officer – dubbed a ‘spycop’ – was Mark Kennedy, who worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The court dismissed [French] the appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the SNCF (French railways). It ruled [translation] that: "There are insufficient charges to show that the offences were committed by any individual or group whose purpose was to disturb public order, to intimidate, or to cause terror."

The Canary can reveal that, in January 2016, a UK source provided the defendants with crucial evidence implicating Kennedy and his police supervisors in the case.

Who were the ‘Tarnac 9’?

The Tarnac 9 were four men and five women, aged 22 to 34, who were environmental activists. French authorities were investigating them, and subsequently arrested them after a series of dawn raids in November 2008."

SCOTLAND: Police Inspectorate to probe undercover operations by 'rogue' units and sex spy officers (The Herald, link):

"A review of undercover policing in Scotland will examine the covert operations involving rogue former officers who had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will confirm this morning that its probe will include the activities of two notorious London-based units since 2000, which covers the G8 summit in Gleneagles nearly twelve years ago.....

Scottish Government Justice Secretary Michael Matheson directed HMICS to carry out a separate review of undercover policing in Scotland and the watchdog’s terms of reference will be published today.

Stage one will be an “initial scoping” exercise that will gather the views of “key stakeholders”. The second part will examine the operational delivery of undercover policing since the establishment of Police Scotland in 2013. "

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

US military tests swarm of mini-drones launched from jets (BBC News, link):

"The US military has launched 103 miniature swarming drones from a fighter jet during a test in California. Three F/A-18 Super Hornets were used to release the Perdix drones last October. The drones, which have a wingspan of 12in (30cm), operate autonomously and share a distributed brain. A military analyst said the devices, able to dodge air defence systems, were likely to be used for surveillance."

And see: A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves - Once launched, the swarm can decide for itself how best to execute a mission.(technologyreview.com, link)

Austria wants to discriminate against EU workers (euobserver, link):

"EU citizens should be barred from taking jobs if a qualified Austrian has applied to the same position, says Austria's centre-left chancellor.

Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday (11 January) accused east European nations of "exporting their joblessness to Austria" and wants local employers to prioritise Austrians unless no other candidate is available."

USA: The Trump revelations

John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI - Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump - ‘Unverified and potentially unverifiable’ reports published by BuzzFeed (Guardian, link)

And in case you missed it: The Trump allegations file (pdf, link)

See also: Ex-British intelligence officer 'behind Trump Russia dossier' named (BBC News, link) and Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, 'terrified for his safety' and went to ground before name released (Telegraph, link) 

and BBC claims a second source backs up Trump dossier (The Week, link) and also: BBC correspondent: Ex-British intelligence officer ‘not the only source’ for Russia’s Trump dossier (RAW Story, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.17)

Greek Navy Battleship to Host Refugees From Lesvos (Greek Reporter, link):

"Greek Navy battleship “Lesvos” is to sail to Lesvos island on Tuesday night to host refugees and migrants from the overflowing camps that are suffering from the heavy snowfall.

The ship is to arrive on Lesvos on Wednesday and will accommodate about 500 of the 1,000 refugees who currently live in tents in the Moria camp. The warship will dock in the port of Mytilene.

In the past five days, 1,000 refugees and migrants of the Moria camp are living under harsh conditions in tents covered with snow."

New paper: "Boundaries of Law: Exploring Transparency, Accountability, and Oversight of Government Surveillance Regimes" (pdf) has been published by: Douwe Korff, Ben Wagner, Julia Powles, Renata Avila and Ulf Buermeyer:

"Bottom-line conclusion: "The discrepancy between continuing government surveillance practices and the relevant international human rights and rule of law standards is breath-taking.

The resulting concentration of secret power in the hands of intelligence agencies may prove deeply corrosive to democracy, commerce, and the rule of law. However, in most of the countries studied, citizens and their elected representatives still have the ability to call the State to order and establish appropriate checks and balances on its surveillance powers.

Guided by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles, this report proposes a set of standards for minimum transparency, accountability and oversight of government surveillance practices." (p. 11)"

USA: The Trump revelations: John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI - Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump - ‘Unverified and potentially unverifiable’ reports published by BuzzFeed (Guardian, link):

"Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were “unverified and potentially unverifiable”.

The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents’ contents, and the Trump team has consistently denied any hidden contacts with the Russian government....

CNN reported on Tuesday that the FBI was still investigating the credibility of the documents but added that the intelligence chiefs had included a summary of the material in a secret briefing on Russian interference in the election delivered last week to Barack Obama and Donald Trump."

And is case you missed it: The Trump allegations file (pdf, link)

European Parliament: New Rules of Procedure (pdf) Now in force.

The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis (New York Times, link): Brad Evans and Zygmunt Bauman:

"This is the third in a series of dialogues with philosophers and critical theorists on the question of violence. This conversation is with Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, Britain. His latest book, “Strangers at Our Door” is published with Polity Press."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.1.17)

European Commission: Privacy and telecommunications package

Digital Single Market – Stronger privacy rules for electronic communications (Press release, pdf)

Proposal for a: Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (COM-10-17, pdf)

Proposal affecting EU Institutions: Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC (COM-8-17, pdf)

Communication: Exchanging and Protecting Personal Data in a Globalised World (COM-7-17, pdf)

Q & A (pdf): Includes:

"Processing of communications content and metadata is conditioned to consent.

Privacy is guaranteed for content of communication as well as metadata – for example who was called, the timing, location and duration of the call, as well as websites visited. Metadata linked to electronic communications have a high privacy component and need to be deleted or made anonymous if users did not give their consent, unless the data is needed for billing purposes."

Note: Proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation would repeal the current ePrivacy Directive.

A New Era of Mass Surveillance is Emerging Across Europe (Just Security, link):

"Conclusion

Across Europe, from Poland to Austria, from Italy to Sweden, parliaments have been adopting expansive domestic and foreign surveillance legislation in recent months and years. This wave of legislation, pushed by populist agendas and public outrage in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on European soil, is a flagrant disregard to decades of jurisprudence by the ECtHR and more recent jurisprudence by CJEU, and it puts in danger privacy protections across the continent. The leaders of Germany, France and the UK are setting a dangerous precedent which echoes within the European Community and far beyond it: Mass surveillance by governments has become the new normal.

To show how much has changed, it’s worth remembering the speech German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave to the German Parliament, just three years ago, in January 2014, when she warned Western governments against promoting surveillance policies that collect everything that is “technically possible.” She noted that these foreign mass surveillance programs not only “sow distrust,” but send the wrong signal to “billions of people living in undemocratic States.” The end result, she concluded, “is not more security but less.”

Greece: Snow leaves refugees and government exposed (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Government officials were trying Monday to find an emergency solution that would allow them to temporarily move some 1,000 refugees out of the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos to protect them from the snow and freezing weather.

Authorities met Monday with representatives of the local hoteliers’ association but were unable to reach an agreement as the union held an emergency general assembly three months ago, when members decided that hotel rooms should not be made available for refugees.

“We understand that there is an emergency but for the decision to be reversed there needs to be another [union] general assembly,” the president of the Lesvos Hoteliers’ Association, Pericles Antoniou, told Kathimerini."

Greece: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"05/ 01/ 2017: The government has successfully completed the procedure of overwintering in camps and refugee centers around the country and there are no more refugees or migrants living in the cold, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas told journalists on Thursday. “There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering,” ....

Asked about the NGOs who are operating in various camps, he said that those that do not register with the ministry by March will not be allowed to work in the camps. He also admitted that without the NGOs the government would not have made it through the first phase of the refugee crisis. "

EU Commission: “untenable” situation in Greece’s refugee camps (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said the commission “is aware that the situation is currently untenable, but we also have to be clear” that conditions in reception centers are the responsibility of Greek authorities."

EU plans first laws on robotics (euractiv, link):

"A European Parliament committee will look Thursday (12 January) at a draft resolution relating to the regulation of robotics. The text could become the basis for the first European legislation on automation and robots. ...

The report in question is not a legislative initiative, rather it is a set of recommendations to be sent to the European Commission, asking the executive to draw up a legal framework for the civilian use of robots. If the text gets approval then the first European-wide law on robotics could be just over the horizon."

See also: European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.1.17): refugees at risk of freezing to death; French police accused of stealing migrants' blankets; Germany threatens to cut development aid; and more.

UK: Letter to the government on review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO)

Letter from the Public Law Project to the Lord Chancellor Re: Proposed review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (link to pdf):

"We are writing further to your statement in Parliament earlier this month that you would shortly be announcing the timeline for the review of LASPO which the Government is committed to undertaking by April 2018. PLP welcomes the Government’s intention to conduct a review into the LASPO legal aid reforms which have had far reaching implications for access to justice in England and Wales."

And see: Legal aid cuts are a major human rights issue (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The recent sharp cuts to civil legal aid have hurt not only those people already in the most pain, but the integrity of the justice system itself. That’s the grim conclusion of Amnesty’s year long research into the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) on access to justice in the UK."

UK: Free Movement and Deportation: Nonjudicial Restrictions on the Right to Work are Lawful (United Kingdom Immigration Law Blog, link):

"Like countless other European citizens, the Lithuanian claimant, Lauzikas, came to the UK to work the construction industry. He entered the UK in 2012. However, in June 2014, a row with his former wife’s current partner led him to first threaten and then shoot the man with a BB gun. He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm and in January 2015 he received 14 months’ imprisonment. Serving seven months on remand entitled him to immediate release and he received notification of his liability to be deported and detained... In February 2015, a decision was made to make a deportation order... An appeal was lodged against the deportation decision and removal directions were cancelled after parallel judicial review proceedings were issued. Lauzikas remained in the country but was nevertheless detained until the tribunal granted him bail.

The present judicial review application was mounted on the basis that an employment restriction imposed on Lauzikas constituted an unjustified and disproportionate interference with his right of free movement as an EU worker, and that the interference was also impermissible under domestic law because the home office had no power to impose restrictions where an individual was bailed to appear before the tribunal. Thirlwall J held that the right to work is a “qualified right” which is “an aspect of the freedom of movement.” Explaining that no authority existed on the central EU law point in this case, her Ladyship refused the application because the effect of suspending removal was to merely allow him to stay in the UK in order press his legal rights. Moreover, during that time he was provided accommodation and modest financial support. So no breach of his rights occurred for him to pursue remedies against the executive."

Judgment: Jonas Lauzikas v Secretary of State for the Home Department ([2016] EWHC 3215 (Admin)) (pdf)

UK: Campaign for a free press: Section 40 jeopardises press freedom (Index, link):

"Index on Censorship has for the past four decades published the work of censored writers and artists. Now we face the possibility of censorship thanks to a UK government law that means — as a publisher that refuses to sign up to a regulator approved by a state-created body — we could end up paying both sides in a legal dispute even if we ultimately win the case. The law, Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, as it stands is a danger to a free press."

See: #FreeThePress (link):

"#FreeThePress
Say NO to section 40 and Leveson Part 2.
Press freedom, the lifeblood of democracy, is under attack.

But you can do something about it."

And: What is Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? (Index, link)

Greek asylum claims spike due to backlogs (EUobserver, link):

"Greek asylum applications registered a massive jump late last year, but experts pin it mainly to a backlog.

The Greek Asylum Service noted a 593 percent increase of asylum applications in November alone, or around 7,600 claims, compared to 2015's monthly average of 1,100.

The spike appears to be broadly linked to a large-scale pre-registration programme launched over the summer and a doubling of staff at the Greek Asylum Service."

EU: Cybersecurity: report on the implementation of the Network and Information Security Directive

A brief report from the Commission to national delegations in the Council's 'Horizontal Working Party on Cyber Issues', issued in early December 2016, outlines the situation regarding implementation of the EU's Network and Information Security Directive.

FRANCE: Macron: German response to refugee crisis ‘saved Europe’s dignity’ (EurActiv, link):

"The Europhile candidate for the French presidency has congratulated Germany for saving Europe’s collective dignity by opening its arms to refugees...

In an editorial published on Monday (2 January) in Le Monde, Emmanuel Macron said he believes German society, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, “saved” the “collective dignity” of the European people by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“Chancellor Merkel and German society as a whole lived up to our shared values; they saved our collective dignity by taking in refugees in distress, housing and educating them,” the former minister for economy said."

EU: Refugees living in snow and sub-zero temperatures at risk of death

"Humanitarian agencies have warned that without adequate housing refugees in Greece may die as the country continues to be gripped by freezing winter weather.

Parts of the country have seen more than a metre (three feet) of snow and temperatures as low as - 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and communication lines and roads are out of action on several islands.

In Moria, a large camp on the island of Lesvos, around 15,000 people are still living in overcrowded conditions in thin summer tents."

GREECE: REFUGEES: NGOs' life-saving efforts acknowledged but those unregistered by March will be banned

The Greek minister for migration policy, Yiannis Mouzalas, said on Thursday (5 January 2017) that NGOs operating in refugee camps will be barred if they do not register with the government by March. See: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"Asked about the NGOs who are operating in various camps, he said that those that do not register with the ministry by March will not be allowed to work in the camps. He also admitted that without the NGOs the government would not have made it through the first phase of the refugee crisis."

SCOTLAND: RENDITION: Cops slammed over Scottish airports CIA torture flights probe as campaigners demand update (Daily Record, link):

"Police Scotland have been condemned for “incredible” delays in their probe into the use of Scots airports for CIA torture flights.

More than three years into their investigation, they have refused to reveal what progress has been made.

Campaigners say there is an urgent need to know what part Scotland played in rendition – where US prisoners were sent to be tortured overseas in the wake of 9/11 – ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency.

It is feared Trump, who has advocated “a lot worse than waterboarding”, may reinstate rendition in the US war on terror."

IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council welcome announcement of refugees coming to Ballaghaderreen but express concern at lack of prior engagement with community (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"Nick Henderson, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council said: “It is heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception from people in Ballaghaderreen to this announcement. Many comments have recognised that people have fled persecution and a brutal war in Syria. Coming to Ballaghaderreen is another step in a long journey to safety that has included undertaking a dangerous voyage to Europe and living in very difficult conditions in Greece. This journey does not end once people arrive to Ireland so ensuring that they are welcomed and supported through this transition is essential.”

“However, a consistent theme in comments from people living in the community has been the lack of notice or consultation that was given. It is crucial that in circumstances such as these local communities are properly informed so that questions can be answered, a welcome prepared and services organised. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.”"

French police 'stealing blankets from migrants', charity warns (The Independent, link):

"Police in Paris have been accused of putting migrants’ lives in danger by stealing their blankets in the heart of winter.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also warned of “systematic police violence” targeted at the hundreds of migrants forced to sleep rough on the streets of Paris due to overcrowding in the capital's only reception centre.

MSF accused police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queue for a place in the shelter in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of La Chapelle."

TURKEY: Erdogan renews promise to grant Syrian, Iraqi refugees Turkish citizenship (Rudaw, link):

"The most qualified among three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who are currently in Turkey can receive Turkish citizenship and that the interior ministry is in the midst of a vetting process, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on state television on Friday.

“Our interior ministry is carrying out work, and under this work, some of them will be granted our nationality after all the necessary checks have been carried out,” the AFP news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.”

Erdogan made similar comments last July which some opposition parties said was a ploy to increase the leader’s voting base and to permanently influence the demographic makeup in Turkey’s southeastern provinces, which are Kurdish-majority.

“Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let’s give them the chance to work as citizens, like the children of this nation,” Erdogan said."

Germany threatens to cut development aid to countries that refuse rejected asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believe that countries that cannot accept rejected asylum seekers may not receive development aid, according to recent interviews.

In an interview with news magazine "Der Spiegel," Gabriel said, "those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid."

During an interview on German broadcaster ARD, de Maiziere agreed, saying he "fully supports this idea.""

EU: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Arrests and house searches against a people smuggler ring in Germany (Europol press release, link):

"On 5 January 2017, the German Federal Police conducted several house searches in Berlin and executed two arrest warrants in Mönchengladbach and in Germany’s capital city. At the same time, Italian authorities arrested a suspect in Bolzano (Italy). The arrested individuals are suspected of being part of a criminal network involved in smuggling and trafficking of irregular migrants.

This criminal syndicate, composed mainly of Lebanese nationals, facilitated the transport of Syrian nationals via Hungary and Austria to Germany. They are suspected of having smuggled 29 persons in 12 different smuggling incidents since June 2016. Each migrant had to pay between EUR 500 -1 000 to the network. In some of the cases, the perpetrators transported the migrants under dangerous circumstances, overloading cars with migrants."

UK: London: Schools Against Borders for Children campaign conference, 14 January

"Parents, teachers, everyone: join the Against Borders for Children campaign in the New Year for our first ever public meeting!

*Find out how we’ve managed to make it this far and what we’ve achieved;
*Learn more about the campaign in the context of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants and disappearing data privacy rights;
*Help us imagine what conversations about race and migration in the classroom might look like in the future; and
*Find out how you can be involved with upcoming actions!

The keynote will be given by Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT."

See: Join us at our first conference – Saturday 14th January 2017 (Schools ABC, link)

UK: Blurring the line between slavery & migration: Operation Magnify goes public with 97 workers arrested (Right to Remain, link):

"Trafficked to the UK as a slave, you live an invisible life. Not only are you subjected to slavery by the traffickers, as an undocumented migrant you have very limited rights to healthcare, housing or any social support. If you are being exploited, beaten or abused and you go to the police, you face being arrested, imprisoned and deported back to a home country you risked all this just to escape. And what happens to the perpetrators, who traffic human beings as slaves? They will be “warned that they could face fines.” So, not much."

EU: NGOs demand Commission deny Oettinger human resources portfolio (EurActiv, link):

"A group of NGOs has called on the European Parliament to oppose the proposal by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to put Günther Oettinger in charge of supervising human resources for the EU executive.

Ten organisations, including Transparency International EU, state that they believe that Oettinger is unsuitable for the Commission portfolio.

“Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October,” the NGOs state.

Oettinger, who has been embroiled in numerous scandals, was nominated by Juncker to take over the portfolios of Budget and Human Resources from his Bulgarian colleague Kristalina Georgieva, who left for a position at the World Bank, which began on 1 January."

See: Joint letter from ten NGOs (pdf): ILGA-Europe, European Women's Lobby, Transparency International EU, European Network Against Racism, Corporate Europe Observatory, IPPF European Network, Oxfam Interational, Volonteurope, Stitching ERGO Network, Lobbycontrol.

EU: European Parliament: Anti-euro Italian opposition party to join ALDE? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"On Sunday morning, Beppe Grillo, the leader of the main Italian opposition party, the 5 Star Movement, made a shock announcement, indicating that he intends to join the European liberal family, ALDE. If that were to happen, the 5 Star Movement would become the dominating force in the ALDE group in the European Parliament, currently headed by the staunch federalist Guy Verhofstadt. This would have far reaching implications on the EU’s policy in the coming years. "

UK-EU: Brexit and data protection: Why the UK is unlikely to get an adequacy determination post Brexit (Amberhawk, link):

"Happy New Year (and welcome back to the daily grind).

This blog adds two further reasons why I think a post-Brexit UK is very unlikely to offer an adequate level of protection in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

One reason relates to recent comments made by Prime Minister Mrs May about human rights. The other relates to the non-compliance of the national security agencies with their existing data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.1.17)

Greece: Moria: Thousands of Refugees live in tents covered by snow (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Literally buried in the snow were the tents providing shelter to several thousands of refugees and migrants in the camp of Moria. The snow weather stroke the island of Lesvos and neighboring islands of Chios and had the thousands living in tents desperately seeking protection and warmth.

Many of the Moria residents saw snow for the first time in their lives. It might have been a pleasant experience if it wasn’t for having to live in the snow.

The tents of UN High Commissioner could not protect them from the extremely low temperature."

The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data” (link):

"With the statement “Data protection is all well and good, but in times of crisis like these, security takes precedence” the German Minister of the Interior called in March 2016 for a restructuring of EU databases. Major information systems, including biometric data, will be centralised on a step-by-step basis. The planned population register also affects EU citizens."

USA: Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in last month of election, now claims it didn’t impact one voter (Think Progress, link):

"President-elect Trump says that information published by Wikileaks, which the U.S. intelligence community says was hacked by Russia, had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign."

And see: Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (pdf)

UK: Deportation Charter Flights: Collective Expulsion in 2017 (Corporate Watch, link):

"In 2013, Corporate Watch published a research report titled “Collective Expulsion: the case against mass deportation charter flights”. Three years later, not much has changed. The UK continues to make political deportation deals with governments of its former colonies and war zones. Almost 2,000 people a year are still loaded onto secretive night flights from Stansted airport, handcuffed by private security “escorts”, in one of the most brutal facets of the detention and deportation regime.

This factsheet updates recent facts and figures, but doesn't supplant the more in-depth analysis in the 2013 report. It also adds a new section containing short summary profiles of some of the main companies involved in the charter flight business: security guards Tascor (a subsidiary of Capita), plane charter company Titan Airways, and travel bookers Carlson Wagonlit."

See: Report (pdf, link) and a brief overview in the Statewatch database.

Police Scotland ordered to improve after probe into covert work (The Ferret, link):

"Unpublished reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner show that Police Scotland has been ordered to make improvements to the way it undertakes covert activity.

The Ferret has obtained two recent Police Scotland inspection reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner (OSC). The OSC provides independent oversight of public bodies that have powers to conduct covert surveillance and place staff undercover as “human intelligence sources,” through the RIPA and RIPSA laws.

Although the reports are heavily redacted in places, they nevertheless reveal several previously undisclosed failings at the national police force.

The Ferret is publishing extracts from the reports today along with renewed calls from politicians and campaign groups for further independent investigations into police surveillance."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.1.17)

CoE: Human Rights Commissioner: Immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child (link):

"Commissioner Muižnieks reaffirmed that immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published on 19 December 2016.

In his letter, he warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children. Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner expressed the view that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child."

A template for protecting human rights during the ‘refugee crisis’? Immigration detention and the expulsion of migrants in a recent ECtHR Grand Chamber ruling (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On the 15th of December 2016 the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber handed down its judgment in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, which partially reversed the Chamber ruling issued on the 1st of September 2015. The case is about immigration detention at the Italian borders (including the island of Lampedusa) and the expulsion of aliens from Italy to Tunisia. Whilst the events took place in 2011, during that peculiar time which was in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, the issues raised before the Court by the applicants and the principle outlined by the judgments appears relevant to the current refugee crisis and its management by the European Union Institutions and Member States."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

Austrian defence minister eyes plan to overhaul EU migrant policy (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s defence minister has drafted a plan that would revamp the European Union’s migrant policy by establishing a ceiling for migration and only permitting applications for asylum from outside the EU....

Doskozil’s plan also calls for the creation of asylum centres in countries such as Niger, Jordan and Uzbekistan, potentially using existing facilities of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Migrants who were denied asylum or those who entered the EU illegally but could not be returned to their home countries would be transferred to “protective zones” that were linked to asylum centres, the newspaper said."

Slovenia closing doors to refugees (News That Moves, link):

"Slovenia may allow police to seal the borders to migrants and refugees in case of a new migration crisis affecting the country. The Slovenian government approved on the 5th of January amendments to the law regarding foreigners that will permit police forces to deny entry in Slovenia to migrants and refugees, without considering their asylum claims."

See also: Slovenia: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (AI, link)

European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf):

"The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee commissioned this study to evaluate and analyse, from a legal and ethical perspective, a number of future European civil law rules in robotics."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.17)

EU: Viewpoint: More externalisation of migration control by Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (senior researcher, Barcelona Centre of International Affairs, CIDOB)

We pay but others do it. This first and foremost has been the response of the European Union to the so-called "refugee crisis". Under the title of the European Agenda on Migration, in May 2015 the European Commission proposed a series of measures to stop what it called "the human misery created by those who exploit migrants." This document established as a priority cooperation with third countries to jointly address the causes of emigration. In practice, this cooperation has been limited to promoting the readmission of irregular migrants, border control and the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees in third countries. The EU's agreements with Turkey (March 2016) and more recently with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia (June 2016) represent the implementation of this approach.

Also available in pdf format.

UK: From Orgreave to Rotherham – the trials and tribulations of South Yorkshire Police (The Conversation, link):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s decision to rule out a public inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” is once again back in the spotlight after being publicly condemned by North East Derbyshire Council. The Labour-run council is now calling on Rudd to “think again” about her decision not to order a full probe into the notorious miners’ strike clash between South Yorkshire Police and striking pitmen.....

And in 2016, the conduct of South Yorkshire police was once again called into question at the conclusion of a trial of ten Asian men accused of violent disorder.....

The Rotherham 12 case triggered a national campaign in support of the arrested men. This was backed by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign whose members attended the trial to show support. Both groups have drawn parallels between the Rotherham 12 case and the treatment of the miners at Orgreave."

Governments playing irresponsible charades on counter terrorism (sophieintveld.eu, link):

"It has become boringly predictable: after each terrorist attack, in a knee-jerk reflex one minister after the other urgently and loudly demand more collection of personal data. Last year French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was on a crusade for the mass collection of flight passenger data (PNR), this week Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon uses the Berlin terrorist attacks to push for a scheme that had been on his wish list for some time: the collection of all travel data of passengers on international bus and train trips.

Before that, it was bank account data, mass surveillance of the internet and telecommunication, biometric data, or any other personal data you can think of. Each time "fighting terrorism" is the justification for more mass surveillance. Anyone who dares to ask critical questions about necessity, proportionality, fundamental rights or indeed effectiveness of those schemes, is lambasted for hampering the fight against terrorism."

See also: Belgium prepares to present passenger data plans to rest of EU (euractiv, link): "In response to a number of terror attacks, Belgium wants greater control over who travels on its trains, buses and boats and will present its plans at the next meeting of EU interior ministers at the end of January. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports."

IP addresses as personal data - the CJEU's judgment in C-582/14 Breyer (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In the Breyer case the CJEU was asked by the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) if dynamic IP addresses are personal data within the meaning of the EU Data Protection Directive and to what extent they can be stored and processed to ensure the general operability of websites. Mr Breyer, the applicant in this case, is a German politician and privacy activist. He visited various websites of the German federal institutions. The information about the IP addresses of the visitors (or more precisely of the owners of the devices from which the websites were visited) as well as the information about the name of the accessed web page or file, the terms entered in the search fields, the time of access and the quantity of data transferred is stored in the log files after the visit. "

In 2017 | Immigration will reveal the crisis of human rights inside our societies (Malta Today, link)

"!Immigration has become a litmus test of our societies’ capacity to treat people with dignity. The grim reality is that we enter a 2017 imbued with a solidarity and human rights crisis which will make the quest for social and global justice more demanding, but also more pertinent."

French farmer on trial for helping migrants across Italian border - Cédric Herrou, who was previously arrested for aiding eight Eritreans, faces up to five years in jail and €30,000 fine if convicted (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer, who has become a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and giving them shelter, has gone on trial for aiding illegal arrivals. Cédric Herrou is one of three people to appear before courts in southern France for assisting people fleeing to Europe.

The 37-year-old activist, accused of “helping undocumented foreigners enter, move about and reside” in France, faces up to five years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,500) fine if convicted.... He has been unapologetic about helping people travelling through Europe via the often perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!” he told supporters outside the Nice court on Wednesday, where a crowd of about 300 people gathered."

Helping those who helped Snowden: appeal for refugee families in Hong Kong

"A group of Montreal lawyers is urging the Canadian government to help impoverished asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who say they have faced harassment for having housed whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.

The lawyers have launched a Canadian organization named For the Refugees to raise money for the families and to lobby Ottawa to give them sanctuary as they come under pressure in Hong Kong – a jurisdiction known for being tough on asylum-seekers."

See: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden (The Globe And Mail, link)

The story that revealed the families that helped: Edward Snowden’s Guardian Angels (Handelsblatt, link) and the fundraising project: Canadians Help Snowden’s Guardian Angels (FundRazr, link)

German state of Brandenburg may not deport far-right victims (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The German state of Brandenburg will not deport asylum seekers if they have been victimized by right-wing violence.

Local media reported on Tuesday that Brandenburg's Interior Ministry had asked local authorities to use the leeway available to them to make sure foreigners whose asylum applications had been rejected, but who had been victims of right-wing attacks, could stay in the country.

With the decree issued on December 21, the Interior Ministry implemented a resolution Brandenburg's parliament had passed in April. The directive posits that victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes of a certain severity should be allowed to stay in Germany. This includes crimes such as attempted murder, assault, arson and bomb attacks, but also kidnapping, theft, blackmail, public riots and sexual offenses.

Asylum seekers who have committed a crime or share responsibility for a violent incident are exempt from the new rule."

GERMANY: Cologne police screen hundreds of North African men (Al Jazeera, link):

"Police in the German city of Cologne say they screened hundreds of men "seemingly of African descent" on New Year's Eve as part of a precautionary measure in reaction to last year's allegations of robberies and sexual assaults.

By early Sunday, police had received reports of two women being sexually assaulted in Cologne. One suspect was arrested.

Cologne's police said in a tweet on Saturday, the men were stopped at two main train stations in the city so that officers could question them and check their identities. "

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (The Guardian, link):

"The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face."

BELGIUM: A (Slightly) Common Front Aims to Save the Rule of Law in Belgium (Liberties.eu, link):

"A group of signatories* including civil liberties organizations, lawyers and judges sent a letter to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers so they can urgently take action following the Belgian secretary of state for migration and asylum decision not to accept to deliver a humanitarian visa or a three months laissez-passer to a Syrian family."

UK: Leaked government document names ‘vetted’ organisations in receipt of £1.2 million in PREVENT funding (CAGE, link):

"A Home Office document titled ‘Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue’ leaked by Public Interest Investigations highlights in full organisations and projects vetted and funded by the government to deliver the controversial PREVENT strategy nationally."

See: an overview of the document: Prevent Strategy - Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue (Powerbase, link) and the document: Home Office: Office for Security and Counter Terrorism: Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue: Prevent Strategy (link to pdf)

Background: UK 'grassroots' anti-extremism campaign produced by Home Office (Middle East Eye, link)

MEDITERRANEAN: Members of a Spanish NGO rescued 112 refugees who were traveling on an overcrowded rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea (AJ+ on Twitter, link). The NGO in question is Proactiva Open Arms (link).

GERMANY: Interior ministry "wish list": strengthen central government security, policing and deportation powers

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has announced a series of proposals that revolve around giving the German federal government more power over security agencies, cyber attacks, policing and deportations; permitting the deployment of the military internally; expanding the scope of the proposed EU Entry/Exit System and loosening the the EU definition of "safe third countries".

Bulgaria Opens Investigation into Munitions Found in Syria (OCCRP, link):

"Prosecutors in Bulgaria have opened an investigation after munitions produced in the Balkan country were reportedly found in Syria.

The district prosecutor in the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa launched its probe in December, local media reported last week, after the reported discovery of stocks including high-caliber ammunitions and grenades in areas of eastern Aleppo recently captured from rebels."

ITALY: Riot after death in detention centre near Venice

"A revolt by migrants in a centre near Venice ended Tuesday but a political row erupted about the reception of migrants in Italy. The revolt at the centre at Cona near Venice ended after migrants protested overnight by holing up in some containers, setting fires and barricading 25 volunteers, after the sudden death of a young Ivorian woman, Sandrine Bakayoko. The migrants said the emergency services were slow in responding, a charge the services rejected.

The young Ivorian woman proved to have died of a thrombosis, the autopsy said Tuesday. Venice prosecutor Lucia D'Alessandro said "the cause of the young woman's death has been established. It was a bilateral pulmonary thrombo-embolism". Violence or contagious disease have been "totally" ruled out, she said."

See: Italy: revolt in migrant centre near Venice ends (ANSA Med, link) and: Transfer of Cona migrants begins (ANSA, link): "The transfer of migrants from a reception centre near Venice that was at the centre of a revolt on Monday night got under way on Wednesday with the arrival of two coaches to take them to similar facilities in the neighbouring Emilia Romagna region."

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars (The Intercept, link):

"Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen."

UK: 2016: A Year Of Black Lives Matter In Britain (The Debrief, link):

"For better or worse, Brexit has forced people in the United Kingdom to discuss race like never before. But Brexit has also been a catalyst for not just talk, but action. 2016 might have been the year of Brexit, but it was also the year of Black Lives Matter finally coming to the U.K."

UK: Slavery trafficking victims crippled by fear in UK (Al Jazeera, link):

"The British government estimates that there are around 13,000 people in modern-day slavery in the UK in 2014. And it's on the rise: Police and other authorities identified 3,266 people last year thought to have been the victims of modern-day slavery, up from 946 in 2011, 46 percent of whom were identified as male, and many had mental health issues.

At the safe house, victims are given a 45-day minimum reflection and recovery period, which is often extended to over 90 days, to help them consider their next step. During this time, they are offered financial, legal, medical support and counselling, as well as help finding a job and accommodation.

While many people manage to move on successfully and turn their lives around during the period, mental illness in others puts them at a severe disadvantage, often leading them to destitution and a risk of re-trafficking."

UK: Human rights are under threat – just when we need them most (The Guardian, link):

"There is one almighty fight coming, and it’ll be about human rights in the UK. Those who want to protect our national and international commitment to human rights need to mobilise in defence of those rights now.

An unwillingness on the part of the UK government to withdraw from the European convention on human rights has, up until now, been the major protection of the human rights settlement in the UK – we cannot sign up to a human rights regime internationally and yet deliver a lesser level of domestic protection. That would put the UK in breach of its international obligations.

Crucially, that unwillingness to withdraw has now gone. In consequence the UK settlement is seriously at risk, and the adherence of the world to human rights is in danger of being reduced by the UK signalling a massive reduction in its international commitment to human rights."

Austrian housing project keeps refugees’ hopes alive (UNHCR, link):

"Is she religious? Does she have a philosophy? She shakes her head. It is simple humanity that has motivated her over a long career of caring for the less fortunate. “If someone comes, needing help, I do not tell them to go and see the Pope first.”

Frau Bock, who never married, lives modestly to the point of being ascetic. She has never had a holiday; indeed she doesn’t even have a passport. She thinks fashion is a waste of time and her only luxury is to go to the hairdressers."

Syrian refugees in Greece despair over Aleppo (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The majority of Syrians in northern Greece initially arrived in the country before the EU-Turkey deal which was signed last March. All of them fled because of the conflict in their homeland. All of them have strong opinions on the civil war that has been destroying Syria for almost six years now. Few of them are willing to express their views publicly. They are either tired of talking to the media or they have families and relatives back home whose lives may be put at risk."

NETHERLANDS: A perspective on the new Dutch intelligence law (Electrospaces.net, link):

"Since the Snowden-revelations, several countries adopted new laws governing their (signals) intelligence agencies, but instead of restricting the collection capabilities, they rather expand them. Previously we examined the new laws that have recently been implemented in France. This time we will take a look at the Netherlands, where a new law for its two secret services is now being discussed by the parliament.

The situation in the Netherlands is different in at least two major aspects from many other countries. First, there is no institutional separation between domestic security and foreign intelligence as the two secret services combine both tasks. Second, the current law restricts bulk or untargeted collection to wireless communications only, so cable access is only allowed for targeted and individualized interception."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.1.17): including refugee solidarity activists on bail; Malian consulate in Paris occupied; Dublin returns from France to Norway to Afghanistan; conditions on Greek islands "infuriating"; and more.

UK: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology: briefing on nuclear security

"In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was “one of the greatest threats to global security”. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them."

See: POSTNOTE: Nuclear Security (pdf)

Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert (The Guardian, link):

"Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100m installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure”, a security expert has said.

The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra.

“Reclaim your home,” Rubin told a conference of hackers and security experts, “or someone else will.”"

UK: Cornwall refugee group raises thousands to help resettle Syrian families (The Guardian, link):

"A refugee support group in a small Cornwall town hopes to welcome two Syrian families after raising thousands of pounds.

Bude Welcomes Refugees, a 30-person group based in the north Cornwall seaside resort, wants to be one of the earliest adopters of the community sponsorship scheme to resettle refugee families.

The initiative enables community organisations, including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses, to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK. "

UK: The bigger picture about refugees

This article provides official statistical data on asyulm claims in the UK up to June 2016, resettlement to the UK (prinicpally through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee camps in Europe. It was originally published in the newsletter of Bristol Refugee Rights and is republished here with permission.

GREECE: Refugee solidarity activists arrested in Greece freed on bail

Two activists who were last week arrested in Greece and charged with facilitating illegal immigration were released from preventive detention on Friday 30 December and will have to pay €2,000 within 12 days to obtain permission to leave Greece until their trial takes place.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Interior Ministry wants to enable public to use legally held weapons against terrorists (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech Interior Ministry plans a constitutional law to strengthen the right to use legally possessed arms to provide security and enable their owners to defend themselves against terrorists during attacks similar to those by lorries in Nice and Berlin last year.

The ministry would like to push through the draft amendment, which it has submitted to parliament, by the October general election.

The ministry points out that the possibilities of state bodies to quickly and efficiently prevent casualties and other damage are limited during such attacks. This is why it wants to enable the owners of legally possessed firearms to intervene against terrorists."

And: Czechs prolonging anti-terrorist measures till Friday (link): "The tightened security measures taken over the December Berlin terrorist attack will be in force at least until Friday [6 January], Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists yesterday."

FRANCE: Malian consulate in Paris occupied due to "corruption" and EU-Mali agreement

RFI reported on 31 December 2016 that an occupation of the Malian consulate in Paris undertaken by the migrant collective 'Clean Hands' had been continuing for a week, after the group entered the building on 23 December.

One of the occupiers, Samba, told RFI that there were no consular staff remaining in the building, and that: "We have changed the reception into a refreshment bar," and that people were using the space to eat and drink.

The collective has denounced the "corruption" within the consulate and problems and delays with obtaining documents and information.

Migrants protest after reported attacks in Zagreb (EurActiv, link):

"Around 50 migrants staged a protest in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Monday (2 January) claiming they have suffered attacks by unknown assailants, state-run HRT television reported.

The protesters gathered in front of an asylum seekers centre where they are housed, carrying banners saying “Refugees are not criminals” and “We came for peace.”

The migrants claimed that several of them were attacked in the city at the weekend, and accused the police of failing to respond to their reports of violence."

FRANCE: DUBLIN REGULATION: Dublin to Norway, flight to Kabul (Passeurs d'Hospitalités, link):

"There are many ways to come to Europe. One of them, by Russia, to Norway, crossing the border between the two countries, up in the north.

People seeking asylum in Norway and receiving a negative response often continue their migration to other countries. But if they apply for asylum in Norway, they risk being sent back there, as having their finger prints there will make the country responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin III European regulation.

This puts them in a potential chain reaction of expulsions. In fact, in November, Roman had been sent back to Norway and from there to Afghanistan, without even having time to file an appeal once arrived in Norway. In mid-December 2016, a joint Swedish-Norwegian flight had resulted in the removal of 22 people, including 9 from Norway to Kabul under the agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan.

Hashim is now facing the same risk."

Global executions in 2016 (Reprieve, link):

"Countries with close links to the UK and EU continued to occupy the ranks of the world’s most prolific executioners in 2016, research by international human rights group Reprieve has found.

In Saudi Arabia, over 150 people were executed for the second year running... In Pakistan, the authorities continued to execute scores of prisoners from the country’s 8,000-strong death row. A total of 419 prisoners have been hanged since a moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in December 2014.... In Iran, the government continued to hang hundreds of prisoners, nearly half of whom who were arrested for alleged drug offences... China continues to keep the number of executions a closely-guarded secret, but is widely believed to remain the world leader, with the death toll estimated in the thousands."

The war on cash has already been lost (Money Week, link):

"To its growing army of critics, cash is a pointless relic. It is costly and inefficient, both to manufacture, process and protect. Even worse, it mainly exists to facilitate crime, to finance the black economy, and to help people avoid tax. On top of that, it prevents central banks from driving interest rates significantly below zero, and so traps the economy in a recession. The sooner we get rid of it, the better.

The trouble is, ordinary people don’t seem to see it that way. They like cash more than ever. A new study of 18,000 people in seven countries in the International Journal of Central Banking found that cash was still overwhelmingly the dominant method of payment.

(...)

Finally – and admittedly this is conjecture – people sense that purely electronic money hands too much power to governments and regulators, and hang onto cash because they value its relative freedom. Cash is not just relatively secure compared with the alternatives, it is also very hard to trace. Not many of us are money launderers or drug dealers.

But lots of people might well have a sense that a world where there was no cash, and every payment was made by card or on the phone, would also be one where everywhere they went and everything they did was logged and recorded. They don’t feel comfortable with that – and rightly so. People like cash – it just won’t be possible to get rid of it."

GREECE: Conditions for Refugees on Islands are ‘Regrettable and Infuriating’, Says MSF Head in Greece (Greek Reporter, link):

"Living conditions for refugees on Greece’s islands is “regrettable and infuriating”, the head of the MSF (Doctors without Borders) mission in Greece, Clément Perrin, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday.

Perrin said families with newborn babies or small children are still living in tents even as temperatures have dropped to five above Celsius during the night. According to MSF data, in Samos there are 329 tents available for 100 people – 120 of which are outside the hotspot – without heating and access to hot water. In Moria camp, Lesvos, apart from the prefabricated housing units which house families, the rest of the refugees live in tents without heating and hot water is only available in the morning, which causes large queues.

“Greek authorities promised months ago they would improve living conditions on the islands, but very little has been done,” Perrin said. “Very little has been done for the most vulnerable refugees, while they were supposed to have been transferred to the mainland several weeks ago.”"

UK: Former MI6 chief warns against introducing electronic voting (Politics Home, link):

"The former head of MI6 has warned that introducing electronic voting could leave British elections open to the risk of cyber attack.

Sir John Sawers said a traditional pencil and paper ballot was "much more secure" than using phones or computers to cast a vote.

But the Commission on Direct Democracy, spearheaded by Commons Speaker John Bercow, has called for electronic voting to be available in time for the next general election in 2020."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.1.17) including Lost at sea: The search for missing refugees, New Italian government seeks migration crackdown and Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta.


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